Saturday, September 12, 2015

Things are Happening: North Dakota Trip and Adoption Announcement

It's hard to believe that summer has passed and we're heading into fall. Over the past two weeks, this massive tree over our home in San Diego has been shedding its leaves. They are all over our backyard, and even though we share space with three other carports, the leaves love our space. I picked up that large pile yesterday. Crickets were living in the leaves, and they were jumping everywhere.

I grew up in the Midwest in a yard surrounded by trees. A few pile of leaves doesn't bother me much. When I was a teenager, it took me six hours by myself to rake up our front yard. This doesn't include transporting all the leaves away. This was before we had MP3 players and cell phones. We had a cassette player plugged into the garage that I cranked up to full blast (I lived in the middle of nowhere) and went to work. My cats were helpers so I might have gotten distracted a little bit while throwing them into the piles. The air was crisp, and I had to wear a sweater and gloves. As you can see, raking leaves wasn't such a bad memory. It's a reminder of autumn-- crisp air, cloudy skies, and mystery.

I found fall in Southern California!
It's different here in San Diego. We are in the middle of a heat wave, the ocean is warmed up, and I'm obsessed with being in the pool. While raking those leaves, the smell and humidity brought me back in some ways. At the same time, it brought me forward to where I'm at--- which isn't a bad place.

North Dakota Trip
We visit our home state of North Dakota this summer. My parents' 50th wedding anniversary is this week. September is a busy time for my family so we decided to go back earlier to celebrate with everyone. My brothers and I planned a lovely gathering at a hotel in Fargo. It was the immediate family, along with one of my many uncles who was their best man. It was a great time to connect with everyone, especially my nieces and nephews. It's one of the hardest things about being away, but technology helps fill in that space.

Red River cutting between Grand Forks, ND and East Grand Forks, MN
After that weekend, we spent the week visiting whoever we could. We would get up at 7am and stay up until midnight. The sun is different there, and at ten o'clock, the sun was beginning to go down. To us, it felt like 8pm (which it was!). We also attended a local convention, CoreCon, that we helped run for four years, which is like a giant party to us.  It was nice seeing our hard work instilled within the convention after leaving and appreciating how they have made it continue to grow. We entered the costume contest, something we've never done before, and we won Best Workmanship (which is more Joey's doing than my own) with our Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen costumes.

Joey showing his costume to his Grammy
Spending time with friends and family at CoreCon--
in and out of Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen costumes
Flying home wasn't a weird experience this time around.There was nothing pulling me backwards to regret our decision to move away. I still refer to North Dakota as "back home", and I don't see anything wrong with that. I lived there for the first thirty years of my life and its impression on me will never change.

And another reason why I was looking forward to being back in San Diego is we spent the last two weeks celebrating and talking to people about adoption. Joey and I put in our birth mother letter to a local facilitator and we were thrilled that we were able to share the news with the people that we love in person.

Joey and I have talked about adoption since the topic of having children came up. Joey's mother and uncle were adopted, and it made sense for us to grow our family this way. When things aligned in that direction, it was natural for us to make the decision. We're fortunate that we found someone in San Diego to help us fulfill this dream of ours, and has done so for many families in the San Diego area. There is no doubt in my mind when I think about everything that we were lead to this city, and this place, to find our child. We're waiting to be matched with a birth mother (or parents) and not sure how long it will take. However, we're up for what life brings us!

Our announcement we shared with friends and family
And that's June! I will post more about July and August in the weeks to come. And maybe I'll catch up with September. I'm back in RevisionLand with a shiny new project that I'm excited to tackle at last. Feels good getting back into the groove of things.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015 Wrap Up

It's hard to believe that the Spring Writing Bootcamp is over! The last two months have gone by and left quite an impression on me in ways I didn't know possible. But first I want to give a shout-out to the YA Buccaneers for putting on this challenge and to my team members, Heidi Sinnett and AM Hughes! Be sure to keep an eye out for them in the book world.

Let's see how I did in my goals in the past two months!

1) Write 50,000 words in my current WIP, Prairie Dust.
Overall, I wrote about 16,000 words. How did I think I was ready for this book? I wrote about how this is my first contemporary so I've come across a few challenges like actually having to write a young adult within the perimeters of our world and not one I made up, realizing I was writing some scenes in the wrong weather, and dealing with how geekdom is seen over the past ten years. Is it weird that I find writing fantasy novels so much easier? 

I was also distracted by a secret project where I had to fit everything on two pages, no more or less. It was quite the challenge. When I wasn't feeling Prairie Dust, I was determined to get that finished. I'm pretty proud of it and it was a little more pressing than this book, so I'm not beating myself up too much.

We'll see how the manuscript progresses over the next few months. As you can see by my posts, I had a lot going on with different conventions and events. We're heading to North Dakota to visit family and San Diego Comic-Con is on the horizon. I'm going to work hard on dedicating more time to my work, even if it's ten minutes a day. 

Goal: Develop better habits! My health is improving and I feel like a cloud has been lifted from my head that's been there for the past year. I developed some rough habits so it's time to undo them! 

2) Write synopsis for my three completed manuscripts. Decide on next the next big revision project.
This was actually a great exercise for me to do. I haven't been able to decide on what to start next for a while and those three manuscripts have been sitting waiting for some attention. After I wrote up what ended up being more like a proposal, I sent it off to my four critique partners to help give some insight. Thank goodness for their insights! 

Goal: Listen to my gut. I apply this whole projects or even to a simple scene. I usually know what's right. Time to quit ignoring it. Though, there's nothing wrong with asking for help.

I'm now reading through the first draft of the chosen project, Mirrorspeak. It's been two years since I wrote it and it's always strange to be surprised by your own words! 

3) Rework the revision project outline. 
I'm working on my revision process and this is something that's still in progress. Right now, I'm focusing on getting the outline of what I already have and taking a look at the bigger picture. I'm actually pretty excited about this! 

Goal: Finish reading through the draft and get that outline together!

Time to get work done and start on those goals. Good job to all the Bootcampers! Keep up the awesome! 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check-In #7 (and Faith)

Word Count Update
I've been working on A Secret Project for the past two weeks. I sent off the first draft of it today and hope to have the final version completed by the end of the month. I can't say much else, but I'm counting this! It's one of the hardest things I've ever written. 

In regards to the WIP, I was distracted again. This seems to be a pattern. I did manage to get several scenes together and have a better idea of where the story is taking me. I think I'm going to restate that a new goal of reaching 20,000 words by the end of the Bootcamp and actually is more realistic from past experience. (What was I thinking?) However, this genre is completely new to me and it's proving to be a bigger challenge than I first imagined. (When is writing ever simple?)

Other things
I decided to unplug more from the internet this. I've realized that I've been busier than I'm used to and I needed time to recharge my inner introvert. I think it's so important to listen to yourself about what you need because no one else will do it for you! For the last year, I struggled with some health issues and I'm finally feeling like I'm able to reclaim my life back a little by little. In that time, I collected bad habits that I'm doing my best to break. I'm determined more than ever to work on my writing, and as you can see, I'm still struggling. However, I keep telling myself that I'm writing again and that my voice matters.

A friend and I were talking about querying and writing the other day. She brought up the difference of hope and faith for writers. Hope is wanting something to happen, but faith is confidence that it will happen. In the past year, I've hoped for something happen. It's time for some faith. 

Two more updates left, including the final reflection post. May isn't over yet so let's get to work!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check-In #6

Word Count Update
It's slowly coming along! I've fixed the timeline issue to get things back on track! I have the book split up into the different months of the schoolyear and broken up into scenes instead of chapters for the time being. That was really helpful when I was writing about that snowstorm too early.

Last week, I put together the synopses of the three projects I've written and need revision. I added a short writing sample and sent it off to my critique partners to get their opinions. It was pretty apparent to all of us, after looking at everything, what I will work on next. It's also the reason why I've decided with no uncertainty that first person isn't the right voice for me. How do I know this? One of those novels is written in first person. Like one of my partners pointed out, everything is there. It just doesn't seem to move. It's disappointing, since I've actually worked on that most recently, but sometimes you have to let things go for a while. (Not sure why I learned that lesson the hard way. This isn't the first book I've written in first person and decided that's the problem.)

Other Things
This week I've come to the conclusion that my favorite writing resource at the moment is Chuck Wendig's blog. Whenever I have an issue or need a break from something bothering me, I go over to this blog and I find something that boosts my confidence faster than a shot of espresso. I have promised myself  at the end of this novel, I'm going to reward myself with a few of his books. I just need to decide which ones! For now, I have the blog to taunt me. Go read it too!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check-In #5 (and Free Comic Book Day!)

Word Count Update
I'm really happy with my progress in the past week. This is the first time a book I'm writing isn't progressing in chronological order. I created an outline of the school year for my characters and realized I was writing about snow in October. Yes, snow can happen in North Dakota that time of the year, but that wasn't what I wanted. I finished up those "snow scenes" and backtracked to homecoming and Halloween. It's funny how these characters are working against me! This book is character-driven so I'm at their mercy. Please be gentle, my loves!

I wrote at my local library this week and there were so many words! It would be ideal for me to write this book there since it worked out so well. The bad news is my back and hip didn't like the chair that I sat in. I haven't felt like that in quite some time! I have a bad back so I need to be careful where I sit (my local Barnes and Noble and their bench seating works best for me). There aren't other choices at this library for me to sit unless I want everything on my lap. There is another library a little further from my house I'll try next week and it's by where I like to go hiking. Crossing my fingers that they have better seats and I can go there a few times a weeks. We'll see how it goes! I want to mix things up since I don't want to spend a ton on beverages.

YA Buccanneers challenge
I shared my favorite piece of writing advice above and I've been taking it to heart a lot lately. Maybe it help you in your writing days ahead! 

Free Comic Book Day 
My husband Joey and I volunteered at our local comic book shop, Southern California Comics, for Free Comic Book Day. We were dressed up as Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man. We went down the long lines of people to entertain them for the first few hours of the event. There were also local vendors and food trucks. It was a nice little event!

My favorite part of the whole day was the family of four little girls. The three older girls (the littlest was a baby) took pictures with both of us, but then they each had to have their own picture taken with Spider-Gwen. Since she's such a new character, it's always so fun to see people cheering her on!


Friday, May 1, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check-In #4

This week wasn't like the past three weeks. It was nice taking in the quiet of work days. My favorites are always hanging out at my local Barnes and Noble cafe (the benches are great for my back) or at a local library. The thoughts of what needs to be clean or figuring out how to work with a cat in my arms keep me distracted from my tasks. I've always been like that since college. I loved hanging out at the library with the large windows, the warm corners of the student union, or the local bookstore where I could browse books during breaks. 

Sometimes, you can't ignore what works and makes you happy.

Word Count Update
I've reached 10,000 words and I have been working out some of the kinks while they come along. For example, I went to my old high school's website where I found the classes and requirements. They haven't changed much, but my main characters would take classes I didn't have any interest in doing or didn't have time. It was fun to figure out how it might work into the plot and give me a better understanding of who they are. Since I usually write fantasy, I've never had to think about things like that before. It's funny how flashes of memories come to me about my own high school experiences during the research. 

I've also been using the program Write or Die to help block out everything during my writing time.  It takes up the entire screen and it keeps me on task. It's a great way to get into the zone and stay there for a certain amount of time. I work best with spurts of writing. I also use Strict Workflow in Chrome to time manage. It's crazy how much trial and error I've had to go through to decide on what works. Taking the time to listen to what I need has been a huge help to my process.

Here's to more words or whatever your goals may be in the next week!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check In #3 (and Star Wars Celebration)

Word Count Update
This was our third week of All The Things! However, I did manage to get a good start to my word count. I drafted three different scenes, and am working on another right now. When I said last week about needing a fixed point in time for my novel, this little revelation helped move things along. My newest challenge? I keep flipping between first and third person narrative. I haven't decided on which one works best and I've decided to wait until this weekend to sit down with my words to get a feel on how to move forward. I can fix those other pages later and I don't want to interrupt where I'm going so far.

YA Buccaneers challenge this week
Our goal is to write at least 100 words a day. I did skip Monday since I needed a "day off" after our long weekend. I have managed to squeeze in about 1500 words this week, so not too bad so far!

Star Wars Celebration
Eight years ago was the last time that I attended Star Wars Celebration. Since the announcement of the new movies, and that the books I grew up reading were non-canon, my mood about Star Wars took a turn. I didn't know what to expect. 

Some of you might not know, but Star Wars changed my life. It's how I connected with my mentor and my husband. The second Star Wars Celebration was the first time that I flew-- by myself-- to hang out with 20,000 strangers. However, what I found were people with the same common connection. I've bonded with many wonderful people and it's one of the reasons why I'm sitting here right now. When Celebration was announced for Anaheim, I bought my tickets instantly. That was over a year in advance. 


It wasn't until I was sitting in front of my computer Thursday to watch The Force Awakens panel (we were leaving the next morning for Celebration) that I realized how much it meant to me. My husband and I were chatting back and forth about our reactions. With each one, I was growing excited with each revelation, and then there was a trailer. This was the trailer that I was waiting for! My heart soared, and I was so happy we had our tickets. I couldn't wait to see familiar faces, and meet new ones. 

And that's exactly what happened. When standing in line with Star Wars fans, you always have something to talk about. While waiting to see Mark Hamill, we were in line for four hours. With a scan of the people,  we decided to sit next to a mother and son who we even sat with during the panel. And we got to see Mark Hamill, who was the only of the main cast (and George Lucas) we hadn't seen before. We watched the trailer they made for Rogue One three times and cheered with everyone each time The Force Awakens trailer was shown. I bought a shirt with glowing lightsabers spelling out STAR WARS and lightsaber earrings. I wore my Corellian costume (my Jedi costume is now too big due to weight loss). It was like coming home again.

When I sat down Tuesday in the cafe, there was a new confidence growing inside of me. I wrote my words in two sessions with Write or Die and I was ready to jump back in. In a way, Star Wars saved me once again.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check In #2 (and YALLWEST)

Word Count Update
Over the past week, I have gotten a small start to my word count (about 1500 words). This is my first experience writing a contemporary. I'm coming to realize it will come with its own bit of challenges that I haven't anticipated while writing genre fiction. It wasn't until I was writing to a friend that I knew I needed to focus on a specific time period. Geek culture is a major part of the plot so I need a fixed point in time to move that plot along. 

Now that I have this figured out, let's see how this word count will progress. 

YA Buccaneers challenge this week
Share random facts about your main character (MC). 

1) Her favorite part of her retail job is taping up packages of socks so she can avoid customers. She doesn't question why people tear open packages to look at them (all the time). 
2) She draws fan art and it too afraid to post it online.
3) People never suspect her of anything. 

My husband Joey and I drove up to Santa Monica on Saturday to kick-off the event. One of the best parts of these events isn't just the panels and authors, but the people. I met up with my Pitch Wars team at the Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra panel with the two co-creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and comic artist, Gene Luen Yang. Afterwards, we went to their signing. 

A few hours later, Joey went to grab lunch for us at a local vegan place within walking distance of the high school. While he was there, Bryan Konietzko recognized Joey and they had lunch together. When Joey told me, I was so excited since their show was such a huge influence for my Pitch Wars book.

I really did enjoy the panels since there was a lot of variety of topics. At cons, they usually focus on YA/MG with general topics like "What is YA?". It was awesome seeing actual discussions about female characters, author struggles like depression in real life or in books, and cosplay. My favorite part of the Smackdown event later on was the author's reading their works when they were teenagers.

I walked away from this week with a lot to figure out in my mind, but mostly in a good way. I have another busy weekend ahead and looking forward to putting more energy into my work. Let's do this! 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp Check In #1 (and WonderCon)

April is a crazy month for me on the weekend for a lot of fun reasons. I'm not sure how this will help my progress over the next three weeks, but we shall see!

This past weekend we attended WonderCon in Anaheim, California. We went last year and it has become one of my new favorites. My husband Joey and I have been preparing my Spider-Gwen costume for the past month so it was really fun to finally premiere it.

The first thing we did when arriving at the con was volunteer for the (future) Hollywood Sci Fi Museum, that hopes to open in 2016. We donated to their Kickstarter and attended a fan event with them. We dressed up as Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man to help attract people in stopping by. While volunteering, I was asked to assist at the table for Billy West, the voice actor (Futurama!). It was surreal experience having my picture taken at times while helping out with his fans and hearing his stories.

Above, there's a video of us in costume at the two minute mark that was a bit of surprise and my friend ended up finding it on YouTube by chance. One thing I loved about con, you always knew when Star-Lord was around!

Other than dressing up, we bought a few pieces of Spiderverse (and Captain Marvel) art from many talented artists. The panels we attended were for iZombie and The Flash. People, if you're not watching these shows, you're missing out on a lot of fun!

As you read this, you can see why my goals this week might seem not like very much. My biggest goal was to work on more plotting using the book Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict by Cheryl St. John. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you need a bit of guidance with the plotting side. I jump into my books and write by the seat of my pants, but this time I attempting something different. This book has been the best resource I've come across so far since it can ask some really tough questions, which is exactly what I needed!

My goal this week is to continue plotting and write 2,000 words. I'm halfway there, thanks to the YA Buccaneers YA Sprints on Twitter. I always feel like I could be doing more, but that's the woe of writers!

This weekend, I'll be attending one day of YALLWEST in Santa Monica, which will be a lot of fun. It's been a while since I attended a bookish event like this so I know it will be a blast. I've met so many wonderful people since we moved to San Diego three years ago, so it will be fun to catch up with familiar faces and meet new ones!

There's my weekly check-in! Next week, I'll have an update on YALLWEST and my amazing accountability team!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring Writing Bootcamp 2015: The Goals

I had a great time earlier this year doing the Writer Recharge. April has many fun things ahead, but I didn't want to get too distracted from my writing tasks. This year, I'm writing three month goals and after going through my January through March goals, I wondered how can I jumpstart my writing?

First, better daily habits.
Second, doing another fun challenge.

This morning, on Twitter, I saw tweets on the YA Buccaneers 2015 Spring Writing Boot Camp that will run from April 1st to May 31st. I set my goals and join in the fun with the others who signed up. And the best part? There will be a schedule of writing sprints, weekly challenges, and hanging out with other cool writers. 

I'm doing my best to not use social media as much over the next month so that's the hardest part for me. Except, it's a good test in using Twitter in ways that's helpful for my writing. 

I'm a little nervous about writing my goals since I tend to give myself more than I expect. If I want to create better habits and see this as a challenge, the goals can't be too easy! 

1) Write 50,000 words in my current WIP, Prairie Dust.
2) Write synopsis for my three completed manuscripts. Decide on next the next big revision project.
3) Rework the revision project outline. 

Here's to kicking butt in the next two months! I will do updates every Wednesday to keep myself accountable and include other fun things from the week (like WonderCon or pictures from my weekly hike). 

Good luck to all the fellow Bootcampers, NaNo Campers, and all the other writers getting by!