Thursday, October 8, 2015

The early bird fell asleep

So the 5:30 a.m. thing fell apart.

I shouldn't say it so lightly. Picture a car stalling with a deep bronchial deathbed cough.

Yep, that was how my early-bird gig went down. What with all the fire and toxicity, I decided to revert to 'sleeping in' until the children wake me at 7 and staying up as late as possible.

I'm so much happier. Also, I got some help two days a week for THREE HOURS to myself to write my assignments. You have no idea what it's like to write without being interrupted every 20 seconds. (Easy. It is easy.)

I even have time to make the occasional pesto batch. (or four).

Hiding from deadlines smells great!

Several days ago I descended the stairs to the basement and found it a raging wreck. Toys everywhere.

I clean all day long, I thought once again.

All. Day. Long. 

I implored Fan Man and the Pomegranate to help me clean up, but he's 4 and she's 2 and they went about their merry ways. At one point I was fuming as I hurried from one toy pile to another trying to get things in order, and I stopped. I took a breath.

Not a mess. None of it was a mess. Maybe messy, but not a wreck.

It was evidence.

The lights told a story of monsters under the couch. The remote controls were a pretend show on a birch box of blocks.

Evidence of creativity.
Embracing creative work. 
The toddler's legos, the musician's sprawling instruments and music sheets, the sticky cook in a kitchen -- evidence of the process. Magazine pictures and internet-glossy photos are not reality, and it wouldn't be very fun to live in a place like that, all sleek and free from grubby fingerprints and horribly unruffled. I will take my butter smears on the counter and toys on the floor and pencils everywhere and paperwork piles on bench.

I'm busy creating.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Finishing a book

This summer I finished my second book.

I finished another book two years ago, but that one was just a trial run. I don't regret writing a book and shelving it; quite the opposite, in fact. I think writing a book sort of taught me HOW to write a book. (Or rather, what I need to do to write a book).

No lie, there's sweet victory in typing the last few words of your very own novel.

It is damnably fleeting, however. It simply feels like the first step to me now.

Here are my steps:

1.  Finish my book with a draft I love. (Complete!) This is a big step for me because I refuse to consider any draft complete that I don't truly enjoy and consider to be beyond a state of rough draft. Writer's group is for rough drafts.  

2.  Send it to 3-5 beta readers and get feedback.

3.  Get to work on the next book.

4.  Work in beta readers' feedback while crafting a great query letter and researching agents.

That seems like a daunting list, right?

Of course, kids and life and a job get in the way. I've started freelancing for a textbook company and while it provides amazingly fun research and writing experience that I'm getting PAID to do (woo-hoo!), it certainly throws a wrench in my timetable.

A friend has been my anchor of inspiration this month, however. She wakes up at 5:30 every morning to work out. Think you read that wrong? I thought I'd heard it wrong the first time! FIVE-blistering-THIRTY every morning except Saturday and Sunday, when she "sleeps in" until 6! I mean…think of all you could get done if you did that. Are you thinking about it? I did. A lot.

So I'm doing it, too. Well, I'm trying. I give myself a pass on the nights I'm up all hours with the babes, or can't sleep from 2-4 a.m. or some such nonsense.

Here's the thing: if I've got goals, they're not going to get themselves accomplished. If I want to write a book, I need to write it. If I need more time, I need to make more time. Period.

So here's to my new job, my completed book draft, and my new book!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A new blog, a new day

Welcome to my new blog!

Growing things: tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, children, books. 
Much like the little sugar snap peas I plant in my garden each frosty May, this space is a promise; a small beginning.

I'll write about the wild world of parenting, writing, and, hopefully, publishing. I'm currently in the editing stages of a first manuscript -- and I'm actually excited about sharing it.

In the next year, I hope to polish my manuscript and find representation from a literary agent.

Blooms crushing hard on summer.

Once a month or so, I hope to write about my book crushes, which are books I love for strong characters, glorious writing, and soaring story structure. Don't think of them as book reviews --imagine them as words and stories so juicy they'll make you skip dinner to keep reading. Yum.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Crush: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

I swoon over this cover.

This book hardly needs any of my praise. It's a 2015 Nebula AND Hugo Award finalist. And just look at that cover! Gracious goblins, I swoon.

The premise of the story is that 18 year-old Maia finds himself both the unexpected and unprepared next Emperor of the Elfin lands.

Maia is hopelessly likable. His character was the biggest hook for me, and I fell for him hard.

I immediately saw a connection to current politics in this story because Maia is biracial, and faces opposition because of his race. In his case, his country is mostly made up of pureblood elves, whereas he is half-elf, half-goblin.

In his infancy, his supreme jerk of a father banished him and his young mother to a remote area. Maia's mother died when he was eight years old, and he was left in the care of a distant, abusive cousin. And there you have it -- a sad, lonely prince.

The story opens when his father and brothers die aboard an airship crash, and much of the tale takes place in Maia's mind as he learns the labyrinth of court rules, figures out the truth of what happened to his father, and assumes his rightful role as Emperor.

The way the author unfolds the plot is slow, deliberate, and masterful. The prose is gorgeous. I listened to this book as an audio file rather than reading it, and there were sections that glowed. One such section -- without spoilers -- is one in which Maia enters a period of prayer before bearing witness to a public execution, where the guilty person has wronged him terribly.

Here's what he's thinking at the time:

"I cannot afford this anger. The Emperor of the Ethuveraz cannot become vengeful, for once begun, there will never be an end of it. Ulis, he prayed, abandoning the set words, let my anger die with him. Let both of us be freed from the burden of his actions. Even if I cannot forgive him, help me not to hate him."

I absolutely adored the characters' physical descriptions. The goblins are black with red eyes, or dark grey with orange eyes. The elves are white or light grey with grey, green, and blue eyes. They have long ears, which twitch, prick up, and flatten to convey their emotion. It seriously made me wish for big, flickable elf ears.

As far as critique, and I echo others here, I struggled with the names and titles in this book. It was on par with Tolkien and his made-up languages, and keeping the people, titles, and places all straight while listening to this story took more work than a Dostoevsky tome.

Go, buy, borrow, download -- whatever. Enjoy!

And here's the official book blurb:

     The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.
    Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.
    Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the na├»ve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne-or his life.