Give Yourself A Break

Publishing is a competitive sport of sorts. Think about it. How many authors are out there? How many books? (If you’ve seen my growing book wish list, you’ll see it’s quickly getting out of control.)

And only the best get to enjoy some visibility in bookstores and online retailers.

Yet the amount of rejection every author faces is daunting. It can be soul crushing.

I know I look at my work with such a critical eye that I pretty much convince myself no one would ever waste even five minutes reading it. 

(Other authors have felt this way, I’ve heard ’em mention it.)

So what’s a writer to do? Quit, right?

Wrong!

Anyone who’s caught the writing bug knows that while quitting seems appealing from time to time, the urge to write is still inside, perhaps buried or latent or beaten down, but it’s there. And it refuses to be snuffed out. 

Sometimes it takes hearing a reader gush about a character they liked, or receiving positive feedback from a beta reader, or even returning to an abandoned project and realizing its waaaay better than you first thought to get you back in the proverbial saddle. 

Last summer, I’d started a new YA contemporary and got about 20,000 words in before falling out of love with it. I’d taken a few writerly ego hits (a press shut down and I got rights for four novels returned to me–a good thing, but it effectively annihilated my backlist–and I was toiling with the querying of a different YA contemporary written the previous winter), and contemplated quitting. My joie de writing had dried up. 

A few months later, I got new contracts for two of my returned projects (Yay!), and received some good news for the YA contemporary. Riding the good news high, I pulled out the partially drafted novel and reviewed it. I realized it was way better than I’d given it credit for. Who knew?! 

The upshot?

I need to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK. Sure, whatever I write needs editing–that’s par for the course–but I shouldn’t see that as a reason to quit…or to bash myself. I need to recognize I can tell a damn good story. I need to acknowledge my ability to create complex characters. 

I need to keep writing.

How about you? Do you need to give yourself a break? If so, what kind?

When The Movie Is Better Than The Book

I watched Insurgent yesterday (YAY!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it’s better than Divergent turned out, though I really enjoyed it too.

The book Divergent was the reason I saw the movie. 

I cannot say the same for Insurgent. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into the book and gave up 40 pages in (something I rarely do). That didn’t deter me from watching the movie and I’m glad it didn’t.

So what happened? Is the movie really better than the book? Is Insurgent the exception to the rule (where the book is always better) for me?

Looks like.

Honestly, I’ll prolly try reading Insurgent again at some point…I just can’t give up on the story. Nevertheless I still feel the film was fantastic.

  

Interestingly, I’m also reading Shutter, a new YA book about the descendants from characters in the novel Dracula (Harker, Stoker, Helsing, etc). They fight paranormal creatures like ghosts, zombies, and vamps. It’s a good book, however, I’m struck with the thought that this may be another case of the film having the potential to be better than the book. Now, this book isn’t being adapted to film as far as I know, but if it was, I’m sure the special effects would be beyond cool to see. 

  

Gosh, I can’t believe I’m saying this! 

How about you? Have you ever experienced a film that’s better than the book? Do tell! 

Distant Relatives?

When I found Julian Alexander at the Renaissance Faire a couple of years ago, I thought I’d found a truly original, fantastical, magical creature. He was so fantabulous, that he earned a cameo in The Zodiac Collector. (Both sisters, Anne and Mary, have a Drabbit-like creature.) Drabbits are part dragon and part rabbit. Interested in more info? Check out this website HERE, where Drabbits are born.

Julian is refined, intellectual, and driven. 



Today, I met Julian’s distant cousin, Labbitus Tigrus Rotundii, AKA the Labbit.



Mustachioed, chubby, and prone to binge-watching Netflix, the Labbit tends to be more of a wallflower than the Drabbit, but you must admit, he’s just as fantastical.

So, what say you? Are these animals distant relatives or utterly and entirely independent species?

Reading Jag

I’m a book binger. Stick a pile of books in front of me and I’ll binge on them like a food addict at an all you can eat buffet. I can’t help it. I can’t stop myself.

This past week has been a particularly productive binge. (Doesn’t help that I’ve shopped at the bookstore like three times in the past couple of weeks!) 

So what have I read?

SOLD by Patricia McCormack. Soon to be a film, it captures the life of a Nepali girl sold into sex slavery in India. A tragic story; an excellent book.



FIRE AND FLOOD by Victoria Scott. The first book in the series, it shows how far someone will go to save a loved one. I picked up the sequel straight away because I enjoyed it so much!





THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir. I’d give this a hundred thousand stars if I could. It’s about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars and how he struggles to survive. This one is also going to be a movie and I can’t wait to see it!!!



HOLLOW CITY by Ransom Riggs. This is book two in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. I love how the author includes old, strange pictures and weaves them into the plot. 



A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by VE Schwab. Magic, intrigue, & multiple Londons–AWESOME! I just started this one & I’m in love! 





What are you reading these days?

The Creeping Crud

Two weeks ago, I got home from work (around 11 pm) and all was well (because Face Off was on and I love that show!) until my whole body started shivering and all my muscles started aching. I tried to shrug it off since it has been so cold. I tried to convince myself I’d gotten a chill from the sub-zero temps. But the chills and aches lasted all night. And then the congestion came. And then the cough.

Yep, the creeping crud attacked.

And I lost the battle.

Fast forward to today. I’m still tired. (14 hours of sleep a night isn’t enough rest.) I’m still coughing. I’m still stuffing myself with cold medicine.

The doc said it could take a month to get over this. Yay. In the meantime, I’m supposed to rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat healthy.

I’m ok with that. I’m NOT ok with the fatigue, however. For me fatigue not only includes physical sleepiness, but also brain fog. I’m able to read a bit (for the first time in almost two weeks, thank goodness), but I can’t for the life of me muster enough brain power to write. (This blog post is a slight miracle, actually.) So it looks like my little novella rewrite is going to take even longer than planned. Bummer!

But I’d rather draft something with a clear mind than not.

How about you? Are you able to write when you’re sick? (If so, I take my hat off to you!)

Bookshelves, Bookshelves, My Kingdom For Some Bookshelves

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, books play a pretty darn important part of your life. I don’t know about you, but no matter how many books I have, I still desire more. And for this tactile chick, ebooks aren’t where it’s at. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle and have several dozen ebooks, but I *LOVE* holding, caressing, & smelling–yes, smelling–my paperbacks. They are my friends, adventures, and security blanket(s) wrapped all into one.)

Doesn’t take long for stacks of books to pile up and encroach on liveable space in my house. Getting rid of them is just not an option. But where oh where can I keep them all?

Lucky for me, I’ve been doing some renovating in my fixer upper home, and the reno projects include NEW BOOKSHELVES. Yay!!!

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Believe In Yourself

I’ve been reworking rewriting an old project for a couple weeks now and let me tell you I’m struggling with it.

Not the story itself. I loved getting reacquainted with the characters. And once I consulted Save The Cat (a screenwriting guide that’s helpful for plotting novels too), I was able to outline a new and improved plot.

The first couple of chapters practically wrote themselves. Then I ground to a halt. For some reason, I hated everything I wrote. I froze when I opened the Word doc to continue drafting. I fell into a funk. HARD.

The reason?

I lost all confidence in my ability to write.

Some call it writer’s block, some call it procrastination, and some call it an empty creative well. For me, when I’m not writing it’s because I can’t see anything good about my skills. It doesn’t matter that I’ve written a million words. It doesn’t matter that I have published works. It doesn’t matter that people have told me how much they like X, Y, or Z about my stories.

Lack of confidence means all I see are the negatives and I’m blind to the positives.

It totally sucks donkey balls. And I HATE when it happens. I’m basically at a standstill, a dead end, encased in concrete.

I could quit. Then I wouldn’t have to fight myself and feel like crap. I wouldn’t feel guilty about watching TV when I should be writing. I wouldn’t be chastising myself for not working on that cool story that’s nagging at the back of my mind.

But I can’t quit. My friends won’t let me, lol!

And deep down, I don’t want to quit. Because I’ve got more than one story nagging at me. I’ve got more like ten.

And I do know how to write. I just have to remind myself of that.

How do I do that?

I write. And while I write, I let my character(s) talk to me. I transcribe what they see, hear, think, and feel. Once I get in their head(s), the story starts to emerge. And before I know it, I’m writing.

Bottom line: To write, all I have to do is believe in myself.

Sometimes it’s easier said than done.

How about you? How do you believe in yourself?

Of Scifi and Time-Space: When Fiction Meets Physics

I’ve always enjoyed science fiction–the broad expanses of space, the quiet beauty of galaxies scattered across infinite blackness, the raw imagination, the astrophysics.

Something occurred to me in my recent musings as I tried to reconcile a common theme in Scifi stories with a bit of science fact.

Theme: Humans travel across vast amounts of space, either through a wormhole or while hibernating in a ship on autopilot. The goal is to meet an alien race, as in The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, or to meet their makers/engineers, a la Prometheus.

(Cool, right?)

Science fact: Light from the galaxies and stars we see now took, what, billions, trillions, etc, of light years to get to us.

Therefore, the very Galaxy, solar system, star, planet, moon, whatever the intrepid space explorers are traveling toward doesn’t exist anymore.

Bummer.

Any ideas how to reconcile these bits of seemingly paradoxical information? Maybe there’s an answer I haven’t come across yet. Please share your thoughts!

The Zodiac Collector Has A New Home

So the news has been floating around for a few days now, but I wanted to share with you too, ’cause it seems like a big deal.

When I signed the contract to publish The Zodiac Collector with Spencer Hill Press, a huge item on my bucket list got checked. Now I get to add and check off another item–one I never expected to happen!

Spencer Hill Press has been acquired by Kampmann and Company, in the Beaufort Books imprint. Beaufort pubs fiction and non-fiction and is based in NYC.

Here’s the website, if you’re curious for more deets: beaufortbooks.com

And screenshots of the PW announcement: PW link

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How cool is this?!

Congrats to Kate Kaynak, Jessica Porteous (two super fantastic people and incredibly hard workers), and the SHP team! *group hug*

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Go SHP!!!!