Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why do you really procrastinate?

Why do you procrastinate? This is something I've had to ask myself recently.

The internet makes it really easy to procrastinate, doesn't it? But why do you really procrastinate? 
Do you allow laziness to take over more often than it should? Maybe your just avoiding the hard work you know you need to do? Maybe its a certain chapter or you just don't feel like taking the time to research what you need. Or is it something bigger?
Maybe you're afraid?

Afraid of what you ask?  Well maybe you're afraid of what happens when you finish your MS? Because once you're finished then you must move on to the next step, which is have a critique partner look at it. Maybe you're afraid your critique partner will come back saying they "don't get it".  Or maybe its because having your work critiqued puts you a step closer to querying. Maybe you're afraid of rejection by agents? Or maybe you're afraid of what happens after you land an agent. Maybe you're afraid you won't land a publisher? Or maybe you're afraid of bad reviews?  And then maybe you're afraid if you are published you're book won't sell? Or maybe you're afraid of public appearances? The list goes on and on. There's a lot to be afraid of and While I'm sure all of these things are in the backs of each and every one of our minds. Are you still ready to go all the way and face each of these things?  Or not?

If you're procrastinating maybe you should ask yourself why.

For me, I procrastinate because I have the occasional lazy fit and I'm short on time. But you know as well as I do, when you want something bad enough you'll work it into your schedule. If you're passionate enough about it.

I also needed a little help in being more productive with out putting crazy amounts of pressure on myself. A big help is setting short term realistic goals and doing short bursts of writing. Micheal Hyatt posted a blog about "batching". What's batching? Well, I've give you a quick idea so you know if you're interested before clicking on the link. 

Batching is simply a form of time management that allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction. Batching is setting aside an intentional amount of time for intentional tasks and making an intentional effort to not allow the distractions or interjections of others break that focus.

He singles out one method of batching called the Pomodoro Technique.

It basically gives you a formula of how long your attention span is good for. How long you should write and break, or do anything for that matter. I found it very helpful, maybe you will too? Good luck with your procrastination!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Citrusy Treat

Last week I started a writers workshop, a six week course. I enrolled with the goal of improving my writing craft, as I believe everyone who enrolled did (accept for the gal from the Philippines who's trying to improve her English ~ awesome for her!)

This was the assignment given yesterday. 

Find a candle, set it in a safe place near your computer, and light it.

Write a one-paragraph only description of the lighted candle. Show us your candle so we can experience it with you. Be honest. Use specific words and sensory details as a way to focus rather than trying to aim for universal truths. The truths come on their own if you are accurate and honest. Feel free to let ideas emerge from your description. Emotion may also play a part. That's fine. Explore the power of description.

I'd skip obvious comparisons like "dancer" and "soldier." I'd push yourself to consider your own unique impressions and experience in this moment.

I like this exercise because it helps you practice focusing outwardly—experiencing what's going on with a burning candle—while you also focus inwardly—listening to your mind coming up with the words to describe your burning candle.

Take a few risks and let illogical words creep in if you like. You're only practicing, so feel free to write poorly. This is how you will learn. Try a first draft while writing freely, then revise, building on what you've written. Reread, rethink, and rewrite a bit.

Enjoy the paradox of trying to be interesting to your readers while you also struggle to be accurate.

And this is what I wrote : 

Citrusy Treat

My candle is almost at the end of its life. Having been used all summer there is only a small amount of honey golden wax left in the bottom of the jar. Reminding me of a jelly jar, it has a small rectangular shape, its upper corners replaced with plump curves. There are thin remnants of wax that cling inside empty walls softening the flames glow.  The wick is long; reminding me I should have given it a trim before lighting. The flame doesn’t mind. It wraps itself around the twine just the same. It’s deceiving, that flame, giving the illusion of a golden ball hovering above the twine when I know how tightly it clings to it. The wax slowly softens releasing its scent, filling my nose with a warm citrusy bouquet and the slightest hint of spice, perfect for summer. As its honey golden firmness transforms to a syrup, it pools deep at the wick shallowing toward the walls of the jar. Through the syrup I can see its clean fresh wick sprouting from a hidden place like a cats-tail in a pond. But soon this citrusy treat will be gone. And I will be eager to replace it with new scents of cinnamon and pine for winter warmth. I will not miss it. Not right away. But when the white crisp snow is replaced with the sadness of gritty gray slush I will wish for it, remembering its summery perfume. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Over at Taherah Mafi's blog, there is a contest with great prizes.


Do I want you to head over there and enter? No, not really because it lowers my chances but I did my job and promoted :o)
In all honesty though, I've had Shatter Me on my goodreads "to read" list since May when I read a review by Nathan Bransford who said the book would be taking the world by storm this fall. The man is beyond credible in my opinion. Here are some other great reviews by Taryn at A fools golden paradise , and raving reviews from Abigaile over at Reading Teen and Emilia at YA Highway.
I'll be happy with any place!
Good luck to everyone!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This Week 7/31-8/6

The following are blogs/aritcles I found especially helpful this week.

On QUERIES (I can never read enough tips myself). - Query Writing, a guide for the anxious by Sarah @ Greenhouse Literary Agency. Query writing by Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. And what definitely not to do if you want to land an Agent by Janet Reid (Query Shark) Red Flags in the Query Hoard

Writing Tips (I can't get enough of these either) - Describing appearance: moving beyond hair and eye color by Author Jody Headlund.

Why are so many writers plagued with insecurities?  Author Jody Headlund explains how insecurities plague writers/authors at every stage of their careers. (So it's not just the unpublished).

This is a blog by Author CJ Redwine that I found inspirational, You're kind of a big deal

Thoughts on making it big, written by a literary intern. I found this extremely insightful and wondered it this isn't exactly what's going on with authors Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins right now. (It's a bit lengthy but so worth the read).

What is high concept? Some agents say they only want this. I'd read tid-bits here and there wondering exactly what the definition was but never got a clear answer. Here in her video blog, Rachelle Gardner, explains it perfectly.

And finally a terrific new blog for writers called The wordserve water cooler  by Authors all represented by Rachelle Gardner.

Tips for landing an agent from The WordServe Water cooler,  in other words authors who've been there.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bye-bye Borders

It's kind of old news now but it's kind of a bummer that Borders is going out of business. My heart really goes out to the employees, I hope everyone is able to find another job ( I know it's a stretch but there's nothing wrong with hoping for the best).

One good thing that has come from their liquidation is that my personal library has radically improved. Check out my great buys.

In the 1st picture I bought $100 worth of books for $27 (4 hard backs). In the 2nd I spent like $21 (2 hardbacks ~ not sure how much I saved). All the red stickers were 10% off.

Now, in the 3rd pic, 3 of the 4 were originally $17.99 and the other was $16.99. I got them at 25% off so I got $80 worth of books for $53 ~ not too shabby. Cheaper than Wal-Mart or Target and they're all hardbacks and books I really wanted. (side note- I bought the last Wildefire and Shiver in the store, yay for me!)

I will go back and hit them at least one more time in hope that I can score decent prices on Longer & Forever (sequels to Shiver) and there are a couple of other old school books I want. They were out of Divergents so I will have to go somewhere to grab that up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Strong Readers

I just read an article in Publishers weekly that Janet Reid posted on her blog. It actually brought tears to my eyes. It really surprises and upsets me how thoughtless parents can be sometimes when referring to their children while their children are present. In this article, a young girl about 14, was in a book store searching for just the right book. She would occasionally bring different books up to the counter and ask questions. At on point the book store employee went with the girl back to the YA shelves and made some recommendations. Upon seeing the recommendations the mother made the comment, "She's not a strong reader" then made some reference that the girl rarely finishes books. It kind of irritated me. There have been times where I didn't finish a book, does that mean I'm not a strong reader? No. It doesn't. Like this girl I'm very selective in what I read. If I can tell from reading the back of a book or the first page that I'm not going to like it, I don't start reading it. There have been books that in the beginning held my interest but somewhere around the middle I lost interest. That in no way classifies me as someone who's not a strong reader. And how horrible that girl must have felt to hear that. Obviously this girl was taking her time looking for just the right one.

This article reminds me of when I started getting into reading. I was a junior in high school. I was not an early reader (That's what I call those that started reading prior to junior high). I wish I had been. I was not encouraged at an early age to read for enjoyment.  It wasn't until someone from high school turned me on to the Vampire diaries that I really understood why all the early readers read for fun. Then I went nuts reading Christopher Pike and RL Stine. And then  I was discouraged. Usually because my mother didn't like the fiction and fantasy that I did. She called it junk or trash. After that I went through phases where I would get really into a series but it wasn't until the last few years that I started reading on a regular basis. It's it's mostly YA. Now I can't imagine not reading. It makes me wonder how my life might be different if I had been encouraged to read at an early age. I mean, it is what it is. No use wasting wishes now it all played out the way it did for a reason. But because of it I strongly encourage reading to my son. He's not quite two but he loves to be read to. He brings me books when he wants them read. Or there's time where I check on him in his room and I find him sitting contently in the middle of his floor flipping through a book. It all played out for a reason. Just gotta go with it.

Some of the best writers...

Do you know who I think some of the best writers are? Songwriters. Specifically The Killers, Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci.  

Now, maybe it's because I love everything they've ever written. And I continue to wear our their Albums on a weekly basis in my car and on my iPod (my personal fav is Day & Age). I think what appeals to me about them is their brilliant lyrics, incredible music and Brandon Flowers voice. I love his voice, it's light and airy. He has a smooth feel good sound.  But really, songwriters tell a story in limited words. It's kind of amazing. And since they are limited, the words they choose are usually very powerful.  Sure it's easy to get your story out in 50,000-100,000 words in a novel but in 300, smooth flowing words in a much bigger challenge I think.

When I first sat down to day I had a couple songs in mind that I wanted to use as an example but when I started reading the lyrics, they're all just so great it was really hard to choose. I finally decided on Dustland Fairytale (a bit of trivia~ this song was written about lead singer, Brandon Flowers, parents). It was really hard to decide between this and When you were Young. 'll put the lyrics below. I won't go into detail about what represents what and all that. Just take a couple minutes to really read the lyrics and I'll also post the video. I love this song.


The Dustland Fairytale beginning

With just another white trash county kiss in '61.
Long brown hair, and foolish eyes.
He'd look just like you'd want him to
Some kind of slick chrome American prince.

Blue Jean serenade
Moon River what'd you do to me
I don't believe you.

Saw Cinderella in a party dress, she was looking for a nightgown.
I saw the devil wrapping up his hands, he's getting ready for the showdown.
I saw the minute that I turned away, I got my money on a pawn tonight.

Change came in disguise of revelation, set his soul on fire.
She said she always knew he'd come around.
And the decades disappear
Like sinking ships but we persevere.
God gives us hope but we still fear what we don't know.

Your mind is poisoned.
Castles in the sky sit stranded, vandalized.
The drawbridge is closing.

Saw Cinderella in a party dress, she was looking for a nightgown.
I saw the devil wrapping up his hands, he's getting ready for the showdown.
I saw the ending when they turned the page, I threw my money and I ran away.
Sent to the valley of the great divide
Out where the dreams all hide.
Out where the wind don't blow,
Out here the good girls die.
And the sky won't snow
Out here the bird don't sing
Out here the field don't blow
Out here the bell don't ring
Out hear the bell don't ring
Out here the good girls die
Now Cinderella don't you go to sleep, it's such a bitter form of refuge.
Why don't you know the kingdoms under siege and everybody needs you.
Is there still magic in the midnight sun, or did you leave it back in '61?
In the cadence of a young man's eyes.
Out where the dreams all hide

If you want to know exactly what some of my other favorite songs of theirs are. Here they are in no particular order.
Neon Tiger, Bones, Uncle Johnny, When you were young, All these things I've done, Joy ride, Sams Town, Indie Rock n Roll, Forget about what I said, Human, Spaceman, Mr Brightside. 

Enjoy The Killers, as I do.