Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 11: Why Can't I Be the Next Big Thing...

Okay, I know that there are millions of other writers out there that are competing and striving for the same thing I am. I understand that doing this is a labor of love, something that only I can do and no one can do it for me. I also realize that unless I keep with it and don't give up, its not going to happen. Writing is a love of mine that will always be a part of me.

BUT, after surfing some of these writer forums and query sites I got a little, I don't know, depressed. It seemed that every FAQ page mentioned something like "If you want to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, give up now." or "If you're expecting to make money at this, don't even try."

I ask you: WHAT IS WRONG WITH HAVING BIG DREAMS?! It seems like the industry is trying to knock you down before you even try.

Yes, I write because I love to do it and I have a story to tell. BUT, I also write because I want people to read it. I want people to like it. I'll admit it: I WANT TO BE THE NEXT J.K. ROWLING!!!

Ah, that felt good. *sip of coffee*

I don't see what's wrong with going for the glory. What's wrong with using daydreams of being richer than the Queen of England as incentive for getting down those next 1000 words?

So, I've decided not to read anymore of those "Why are you a writer?" articles, because I know why. And I'm going to dream big whether they like it or not!

Also, according to my poll in which 2 very cool people voted, I have about a 50-50 chance of finishing this book. Pretty good odds, I'd say :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 10: In Remembrance...

December 29th was a rough one. Its my Father's birthday. Unfortunately, he passed away back in 2002 and his birthday is always tough for the family. I spent a lot of time thinking of him and all the advice he gave me. He told me tons of things that I reflect on daily: "Take care of your teeth, they're the only ones you have", "If you can afford it, get it, cause you can't take money with you when you go", ya' know, all those basic things.

He was where I got my love of reading from. He always had a paperback with him. In fact, the first few adult books I read: It by Stephen King, The Rainmaker by John Grisham, and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, had been from his keeper shelf.

He and Mom instilled in me my love of the Celtics, and old movies (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was his favorite movie, he once told me, and he once sat me down and forced me to watch The Great Escape).

But out of all the advice he gave me, the Big Idea that always seem to permeate his words and the thing that he never let me forget was that I could do anything I wanted to. Anything I dreamed, I could do it. He believed in me.

So, I'm only around a week into this journey but I know for certain that he is exceedingly proud of me and rooting for me up there. He knows this has always been a dream of mine. I've done my time building a home life for me and mine: I got married, we had two kids, and we worked our butts off to buy our own home. And I'm sure he agrees with me that now is the right time.

I have a great memory of Daddy (its one of the reasons Harry Potter is part of my soul): He, Mom, and I went to see the first Harry Potter movie. I'd talked him into reading the books and I just knew he was excited about it even if he didn't show it much. I sat between Mom and Dad. Mom predictably fell asleep, she's a sucker for a nap. Dumbledore delivered what is now my favorite quote of all the books:

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

Daddy turned to me and said simply, "Remember that, Leah." At first I thought he was getting on to me for being so flighty and obsessed with fantasy, but now I know he only wanted me to buckle down and do great things one day. The great things he always knew I would do. 

A year later he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and he was gone within 8 months (2 months longer than the doctors originally gave him, he was a stubborn guy). I think about him daily, of course. I think about him especially while I'm writing. 

I guess this whole thing boils down to the fact that yesterday might have been rough but I ended the day with a new sense of determination. I remember how much Daddy believed in me, and you all know how supporting my Mom has been. I know I can do this and I can't freakin' wait to write that dedication!!!!!

Okay onto a lighter subject because I've had enough blubbering in the last 24 hours to last me a good long while.

I came upon some AWESOMESAUCE yesterday! The YA Rebels rock, people! I'm only finishing up week 2 of their videos and I already love everyone of these gals and guy! I'm about to demolish my bandwidth today. Their videos are helping me to develop my story, giving me much to think about in relation to my characters. Check them out!

Go on, click on the links... Thaaaat's right... Move your mouse right on top... Too far... Back just a little... There! Go, go, go!!! YAR!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Inspiration Abounds

A place for me to go to when I need a little pick me up (you can come here too if you want to, I guess):

Day 9: My First Write-gasm...

I spent as much time as I could spare yesterday writing. Mainly because I had gotten past the first chapter (ya know, backstory, backstory, flesh out characters, set up some conflict) and I was entering into the goooood stuff.

It was the scene where my hero and heroine get the chance to really talk for the first time. And it was AWESOME! Once I got into it, I couldn't stop! The ideas where flowing! When I was done, I sat back and felt my muscles relax. I was all warm and fuzzy and super happy and satisfied.

I've heard that writing can be similar to sex, that there's a release that happens. This was definitely my first Write-gasm.

I can see how this could become addictive.

I ended up with almost 1900 words. Yeah, I know, not a lot but enough for me considering what the words were.

Hubby comes home and wants to help me work on the story. He's the best. He ended up giving me a few really good ideas and a lot of encouragement. Then my "editor", a.k.a. my brother, a.k.a. Brian, a.k.a. Uncle B, a.k.a. B-rye (he hates that one, which is why I call him that), calls and has some really good notes for me. A couple I was already thinking and a couple that I wasn't sure anyone would pick up on, which is super cool that he did.

Anyway, all-in-all it was a great writing day and I plan on having as many Write-gasms as possible.

I also ordered a couple of books from Amazon:

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully (Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write) By Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

Anna and the French Kiss By Stephanie Perkins

Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal By Regina Brooks

I know those How To books are just kind of a guide, that every journey is different but I'm trying to learn as much as possible about the industry. And its always good to have a reference book around.

I can't wait to read Anna. Stephanie Perkins's blog is wonderful and I've only heard really good things about the book.

Speaking of blogs, I found the most awesome blog post yesterday. It literally brought me to tears, as I say in it's comments. Here's Tori Scott's amazing post!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 8: Just Plow Through it...

I read on Natalie Whipple's blog that she tried to write at least 1000 words a day. I wasn't feeling well and I was at a point in the story that wasn't one of the more exciting scenes (that's probably a sign that I need to rewrite it) but I wanted, no needed, to write something.

I know my mode of operation. I'm a procrastinator in the worst way. I'm the Procrastinator *Arnold voice* "I'll be back... Maybe."

So the idea of getting down something just to get to 1000 words appealed. I plowed through that scene which incredibly made me think more about the characters involved and I ended up making them way more interesting. Yay, me!

Right after that scene is one that I've been very excited to write. But by the time I really got to it, it was too late and my brain wanted to shut down.

Anyway, my point is: at the beginning I didn't even want to write but by forcing myself to do so, I came up with A LOT more meat for the story and I ended up writing 1200 words instead of just 1000.

True, what I did write might have to be fixed up but I found out what I wanted to accomplish with the scene and more. So, if, at this point in my writing experience I'm allowed to give advice, I say listen to Natalie Whipple and just plow through, get at least 1000 words a day because those 1000 words might just turn into way more than you had hoped.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 7: Hi Ho, Hi Ho...

So, there's a magazine that I love, love, love: Romantic Times Book Reviews. I've been receiving a subscription for two years now and have no plans on stopping anytime soon.

I remembered that this magazine runs an article theries *blows nose*, I mean, series, called Pros on Prose. After gathering them all up (22 all together, must find the 2 or 3 I'm missing), marking every article, and picking out which ones I wanted to read immediately, there were only 3 that went back on the shelf.

This goes to show you what an amazing resource this magazine is. I HIGHLY recommend it!

Later in the day, I decided to get right down to the nitty gritty and start putting some words on paper, er, screen. From 4pm to 8pm with headphones on, chocolates by my chair, I wrote, taking frequent breaks I'm ashamed to say. Ending up with 3696 words. Divide that into 175,000 words (I'm not even sure if that's how long I want it to be, just guesstimating) you get about 47.

So, it should take a little over a month and a half to finish the first draft IF I write about 4 hours a day.

BWAHAHAHA, yeah right... it is to laugh.... Why do I do this to myself? Because I can already tell that about a third or more of what I wrote will have to be redone. So that tags on about another 15 days. Maybe I should just abandon the whole idea of nailing down how long it should take me.

I called my brother, who is also a writer and way better at grammar and punctuation than I am, and asked him to be my unofficial editor. His feedback was good, pretty much what I wanted to hear. But he wanted a blurb, a short description of the book. But, by the time I spoke to him my brain felt so fried I couldn't put the whole idea in a semi-short paragraph. That will be my task for Day 8.

I realize this whole post is a testament to how naive I am about this whole writing business. But that's the whole idea of this blog. This way I can look back from Day 2000 and marvel at how cute I was thinking I could even be close to a first draft in 2 months and how asking my brother to be my editor was a good idea.

Plus, I'm hoping this blog will garner me some good advice from experienced writers. Because apparently I need it, lol.

Speaking of good advice from experienced authors, I must say once again, Twitter is awesome! Got another response about whether or not I should read while writing. This time it was from Kiersten White, author of the YA novel Paranormalcy.

Day 6: Christmas Day...

I thought of Christmas as a day to completely relax. That doesn't mean my brain agreed with me.

I kept thinking of different scenes I'd love to include in the book. Like a dummy, though, I didn't write any of them down and now they're lost to the "that's a good idea, I'm sure I'll remember it" graveyard.

So I've decided to carry a small notebook around. I've heard this advice a million times but I've never been so obsessed with an idea that I thought about it almost constantly.

Day 5: A Very Nice Surprise...

On this day, I received a very cool surprise in the mail. After entering a contest at the blog of Beth Revis (author of the upcoming Across the Universe), I actually won something! I never win things... Anyway, this very cool collection of promotional items for her book is all signed, yes hand signed. It made me feel super awesome.

All these pieces will have a place of honor on my inspiration wall in my office. A reminder that IT CAN BE DONE! Beth is on Twitter, follow her because she's awesome!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 4: Saying it makes it so... Right?

On this night, I met up with a lot of old friends from high school and whatnot. Many I had not seen in a long time seeing as I didn't attend my 10 year high school reunion this year (yes, I feel old, *le sigh*). Anyway, at one point someone asked me what I was doing these days.

"Well, just living life, raising kids. I own my own small business. Oh, and I'm a writer."

I actually said that. And it felt weird.

The people who know me well know I've always been a writer, but I've always been scared to label myself as such to others. And his immediate question of, "Done anything I might know?" is the exact reason for my fear. The question is a perfectly polite and unoffensive one, of course. Its just I hate having to answer with, "Oh, no no no no. I'm so not published yet." Because then I can just see him thinking, "Oh, so she's not really a real writer." Of course, this could all be in my head and he could actually be thinking, "Where is that waitress? I need another drink."

On the other hand, it felt very freeing to own up to it. To say it and be proud of it. Plus, I feel like by actually saying it out loud to a not-quite-stranger, I made a promise to myself and the universe. I put it out there and now I have to live up to it.

So maybe saying something doesn't exactly make it so, maybe saying it is one of the first steps in making it so.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 3: What a little @Mention can do...

Yep, Stephanie Perkins answered me back which makes me feel great! I know it wouldn't be that big of a deal to most but it is to me. Waking up to this this morning just gave me more impotence to continue down this path. 

I read a statistic on one of those author blogs that said 81% of people who answered a poll said they wanted to write a novel but only 2% actually finished. I'm not naive, the odds are not in my favor but I'm okay with that. The idea that I could be one of that 2% is enough to keep me going. 

So, I really began the process. I just sat down and started writing. I ended up with around 4 chapter synopsizes. I don't know if this is the way it's supposed to be done (truly I don't think there is a right or wrong way), but I've always liked to write a nice long paragraph that gives a rundown of what happens in each chapter. Then I start writing the chapter above the synopsis. 

At the end of the day, I did a little more Twittering. Just so you know, Twitter is an AMAZING  thing! I asked a question of some pretty darn great writers and they responded! How awesome is that?!?! I really want to start reading the Evernight series by Claudia Gray, but I was afraid that immersing myself in that world would affect what I was writing. So, I asked Holly Black, Cassie Clare, and Stephanie Perkins if they allowed themselves to read other YA books while writing. Here's their answers: 

I still don't know whether or not to read... Who am I kidding??? There's NO way I can not read for however long it takes to finish this book. It could be years!!! Not possible. I'll let you know what I think of Evernight :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 2: A Place to Focus is Needed...

I wake up on December 21 and my book idea is the first thing on my mind. Coffee in hand, I give my Mom a call (a morning ritual for us). I decide to tell her what happened and how excited I am. I expected her to be encouraging but not truly interested. To my surprise, she becomes excited, too. She reminds me that I've always had a need to create and that this could be just the outlet for it. She wants to help so she suggests that I need a place to focus.

Up 'til this point my "office" has been the laptop propped in front of the living room recliner, Dora the Explorer on the TV. Hardly a place conducive to writing the masterpiece I want to create. Mom suggests moving my sons into the same room and making the spare room my home office. The boys are young, 2 and 4, and hardly ever use their rooms anyway. I think it's a good idea so I consult my husband, he says go for it, and Mom's here 10 minutes later.

As we work on the rooms, ideas are still flowing and I have to keep a pad of paper handy to jot them down. By the time Mom leaves, everything is moved to its appropriate room and I'm already setting up an inspiration wall for my book.

That evening I jump on Twitter in order to follow Stephanie Perkins. I get the urge to thank her for her inadvertent involvement in the whole situation.

Day 1: It Begiiiiinnnnssss....

It's December 20, 2010, the night of a beautiful lunar eclipse and I have spent my day trolling the blogs of YA authors. I hit upon Stephanie Perkins's blog and open new tabs from her blogroll. Seriously, I just go down the list, soaking up what everyone has to say, bookmarking most pages.

Suddenly, inspiration strikes and I'm swept up in an idea for a book that will not leave me alone. I spend the entire evening working on it and am amazed at the feeling of finally thinking of something that seems perfect for me. In fact, I wasn't creating it... more like I was discovering it. So obsessed was I that I missed the eclipse entirely.

Everything fell into place. Every song that popped up on Pandora had something to do with the idea. Every piece of research added something more. My husband seemed to be able to help me fix any problem in the plot perfectly. My journal began to fill up with ideas, questions, and inspiration for the book.

Finally, I force myself to go to sleep. I drift off with the story still running through my head.

Hi, I'm Leah.

I was born and raised in small town Natchitoches, Louisiana. I'm married to my best friend and the love of my life. We have 2 boys and live on a hill in the country. I've always loved to read. I've always loved to be crafty. And I love to cook, a recent development. I also run my own very small business from home. And I've always dabbled in writing of all kinds: poetry, lyrics, and stories. Never done a haiku before though, hmmm...

Top 5 Movies (in no particular order except for #1)
1. The Princess Bride
2. Amelie
3. Singin' in the Rain
4. Oklahoma
5. My Fair Lady
Runner up: Moulin Rouge

Books on my Keeper Shelf
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Any thing by Mary Balogh
Abhorsen series by Garth Nix
Twilight, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers (because I didn't like New Moon, sorry Stephanie)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
And mostly YA paranormal novels

My goal with this blog is to chronicle my adventures in writing a novel that I truly believe in.

This is who I am
And so begins my journey
Ending with success?

(haikus are hard...)

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