Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Review and 2014 Goals


I've neglected this blog a bit more this year. I've been lost in revisions most of the year, and wrote a NaNoWriMo novel. Then there's life! I've done my best to up with updates, so here's a 2013 recap!
Google+ made this neat video of my year in pictures and some video that I thought would be fun to share! 

video

There's not much I can complain about when you look at such a list and the video! This is our first full year in San Diego, and from what you can see, it's been a whirlwind. We're so thankful for new friends and the old ones who traveled to see us. 

Now what about those goals I set out for myself?

2013 Goals
1) Organize writings. Make a Scrivener document with ideas and clean out my Google Docs. Let's see what kind of treasures I can find!
2) Write more short stories. Once a month I'm going to open a Scrivener document to write a short story and they will be collected in this file, along with first liners and ideas. The Merry Fates book, The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories persuaded me to try something different now that I'm writing full time. It'll also keep me writing even when I'm revising. 
I started one short story, and the other became my NaNoWriMo project. Hmm.
3) Submit! I feel I'm very close to having something ready for submission and this is the biggest (and scariest goal) I want to see happen this year.I'm in the waiting phase right now
4) Climb a mountain. I grew up on the prairie and surrounded by hills. Fargo was flat. It's strange living somewhere with mountains and I would like to go hiking. It will also help me continue to get my health on. 
We did plenty of climbing on our San Diego Country trip. See blog post above.
5) Rewrite my life list.I found my old one and was surprised by how much I crossed off since getting married seven years ago. It's time to look at the bigger picture.
6) Attend a writer's conference. Now that I'm on the West Coast, there are more to choose from. I would love to go to the summer SCBWI since I'm less than two hours away. Let's see where I'm at in eight months! 

I didn't attend one in person, but I did participate in WriteOnCon. So, for now, I'm going to count that!
7) Get involved in a writer community like AbsoluteWrite. I'm finding YAHighway as a wonderful resource in the meantime, but would love to get in more discussions and ask/give help. 

I've met so many wonderful writers this year online. I'm so excited to see people achieve their goals and dreams in the coming years. Next year, my first column for YAInterrobang will be published about YA fanart. 

Now that I look at this list, I think I've done fairly well for myself in 2013. I will admit, I was a little bummed since I feel like I could have done more. That's one of the reasons why I write posts like this--- it sheds some perspective on that sullen point of view. 


Now what should I do next?

2014 Goals
1) Finish writing my NaNoWriMo project Death Notice.
2) I will have three books to revise once I complete Death Notice. I would like to have two out of the three revised.
3) Write another book. I have several ideas in my head, and I'm thinking this will be the year I write about witches!
4) Write one short story.
5) I was diagnosed with a condition where I need to change my diet. I was at first a bit devastated since I'm already vegan and eat quite healthy. However, this will be the next step to get my body in best working order. I would like to have a handle on knowing on what carbs are best for me. Also, I'm determined to be consistent in walking 10 miles every week and work my way up from there.
6) Whale watching is something I can say we didn't have back in North Dakota and I really want to go out on the ocean for a look. It'll also be fun to go out onto the ocean in a boat for the first time!
7) I'm really in love with the YouTube cartoon Bee and Puppycat. I would love to make a costume for this! I probably should get ideas and update my Jedi costume for 2015!

Looks like I'm going for the number 7 again this year! 

I'm wishing everyone a great 2014 with much adventure and reaching your goals! I'm hoping for bigger things (like an agent), but there are things you can't control. I've learned that it's okay--- and to have the flux of emotions to come with it. My yearly goals have always had one purpose: Keep Moving Forward.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?

Natasha

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Rest of My NaNoWriMo Check-In

Katniss special at my local BN.
This blog has taken a hit in entries for various reasons. The number one reason? I've done a lot of revising and writing this year--- and it feels great!

NaNoWriMo was in full swing in November. Once I finished writing for the day, I didn't feel like staying on the computer. I managed to get my writing done by sprinting with fellow writers and hanging out in the different cafes in my local area. One of the reasons why I love, love, love doing NaNoWriMo is the people. I met so many great writers this year and I'm so proud of the hard work everyone did. 


The thing about NaNoWriMo is it's about getting words on the page. More specifically, the first 50,000 words. For some projects it can be enough, but mine is about halfway completed. There's about another month or two worth of writing before it's finished. This is the first time that I've used an outline like this, and I have to say, it's working out really well. Usually when I hit the middle, I'm frantically trying to keep my confidence high enough to keep going. Reviewing over my outline again, I'm revved up to complete this story. I'm ready for more times in the cafe and crossing the next finish line--- a first draft. 

Congrats to all the fellow NaNoWriMo participants! I consider us all winners since we all worked hard and learned something from the experience. Even if it means finding out NaNoWriMo isn't the right thing for you. I believe finding more about yourself and your process is worth a lot. 

Here's to more writing and revision!
Natasha

BONUS! The top three songs from DEATH NOTICE'S playlist
1) Kill Your Heroes by AWOLNATION
Morana holds the life of her teacher (hero) in her hands if she fails her trial. 
"I say ya kill your heroes and
Fly, fly, baby don't cry.
No need to worry cause
Everybody will die.
Every day we just
Go, go, baby don't go.
Don't you worry we
Love you more than you know."


2) Just Breathe by Pearl Jam 
Morana also finds herself having the life of a human in her hands since she's training to become a Reaper.
"Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me til I die
Meet you on the other side..."

3) Live Your Life by MIKA
Mortifer, Morana's trainer, has to re-evaluate the end of his life and what it means. 
"You've got the whole world in your pocket
But you just don't know
Everybody's smilin' at you everywhere you go
It's like you've got that secret
That everybody else wants to know"

Friday, November 8, 2013

Week One NaNoWriMo Check-In

Five Random Things About my 2013 NaNoWriMo Project
1) I actually outlined. I'm a pantser when it comes to writing-- which means I write by the seat of my pants. I have no idea what it going to come out of this brain of mine. I write until it's done, sometimes stopping for research. Or better words. 

2) My NaNoWriMo project started out as a short story. After months of revision and query writing, I started a 21 Day Writing Challenge to get back into writing during September. During this time, I decided to work on a short story project. Once I handed in DEATH NOTICE to my Stone Circle critique partners, they mentioned that there were too many unanswered questions. How was I going to wrap this up in a few thousand words? (What would I do without these two? Seriously?!?)

Well, it made finding my NaNoWriMo project easy enough. I took the few thousand words, and using various worksheets, and volia!, an outline was born (let's see if I follow through with it).

In Starbucks wearing my new glasses. 
3) Writing sprints! Write-Ins! Last year, I discovered writing sprints on Twitter. They helped save my word count and my sanity. There's no real competition with writing sprints. It's all about challenging each other and cheering the other people on. Write-ins are something I'm trying out this year. I'm not much of a coffee/beverage person, but I do love getting out of the house. I lived with various roommates in college so I think this habit of finding a quiet spot away from everything rubbed off on me even ten years later.

I attended the LA Kick-Off Party since a friend invited me. I'm so glad that I made the trek up there to surround myself with other writers! I wish we all lived a little bit closer. Thank goodness for chat and Twitter!
LA Kick-Off party with Corrie and Amy.
Found a San Diego mug! And my sticker!
Supplies-- laptop, notebooks,and tablet ready to go!
4) I do have a playlist for the WIP! I use Google Play All Access since I have all my music backed up on the service. My Iron Keys CPs recommended some music, and somehow a list was born! I plugged the different artists into the radio feature and was given similar artists so it keeps growing. I'll have to share it when I'm done since it isn't done growing yet!

5) Oh! And, yes, my WIP is about death. It's working title right now is DEATH NOTICE. For some reason, Death as a character is something I'm actually fascinated by (you can blame Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett for that). When I started the short story, I didn't know exactly where it would go. Death isn't exactly who I thought it would be, and this is the first time I've written a dual perspective. I'm curious how the pieces will come together when I'm done writing! 

And here are the stats!

Week One:
Goal 11,669 
Written 15,622

I'm so proud of the hard work of all the writers I've been talking to over the past week.  We survived Week 1 and now onto Week 2! 

Happy writing, everyone!

Natasha

Monday, October 14, 2013

Writing Challenges

I completed my 21 Day Writing Challenge and I'm happy to say I'm feeling so much more creative than I have in a long time. Combining the challenge and doing the sticker calendar method has me really confident about doing NaNoWriMo next month. Also, looking back on my work, It's so great to see how my writing has grown after years of hard (and fun!) work with critique partners and exploring outside a single project. 

So here are my September stats:

Wrote 7232 words over 14 days
Average 516/day

And my October stats:

Wrote 3201 words over 11 days
Average 291/day

My average is lower for the second half, but there's a good reason. For the last three days of the challenge, I found an old notebook I used to write poetry in. For some reason, I never filled this one completely. I decided to change that and have written four poems so far. 

Not my poetry notebook. This one I currently use when I need a break from technology.
Also, my fountain pen of awesome. 
Here's one of the poems I wrote that came from a title I wrote a long time ago, but never the poem. This is what my mind came up with within minutes.

Green

The vines nudge me forward
Into the clearing where
There’s only a carpet of green,
the sun dazzling the diamonds
of dew from the morning
mysteries, and I wait
For another sign before
disturbing the splendor.
The grass yellows
and dies in the fall’s curse 
calling for winter.
Vines shrivel and die,
dust in the careless wind.
A white canvas stares
back at me, and I smile.

What about the other words I wrote? I used the different writing prompts throughout the challenge and worked on a short story. However, this short story has grown into something more. 

After talking to my Stone Circle critique partners, they pointed out there were a lot of unanswered questions that made it appear much bigger than a short story could handle. Thank goodness for their wisdom! So, I've decided to make it my NaNoWriMo project. I'm pretty excited about it so I'm using October to flesh out the world, characters, and possibly attempt an outline. I'm hoping I have a firmer grasp on this project than I did on my list NaNoWriMo novel. 


I'm also going to develop a game plan to revise/rewrite one of the books I wrote last year. So there's a lot of projects to work on for the time being. Each one is completely different from one other so it should be fun to explore and research.

I'm wishing the best to everyone as they plan for NaNoWriMo and their current projects. This is one of my favorite times of year since I love seeing how people progress on their novels. I'm so thankful to be part of such a great community. 

Feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo's website and share what you're most excited for in the comments below.

Write like the wind,

Natasha

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Stats and Such

August was a crazy time for my revision, re-vamping my query and synopsis, and helping with critique. I was finally relieved when September arrived since we had family visiting and then we were off to DisneyWorld for a week. We haven't visited DW since 2010 so we were looking forward to seeing the new Fantasyland.

We decided to stay at a resort and do the full DisneyWorld experience. I will admit, this was the simplest vacation I've ever had to plan. And somehow, I almost managed to leave behind the park tickets!

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip
Inside Beast's Castle/Be Our Guest Restaurant. The stain glass window matches my top!
(Yes, I wore that shirt on purpose.) 
There are three dining halls to eat in. The ballroom (see above), The Rose Room, and The West Wing.
So beautiful! In through those windows in the back it is snowing!
Inside Beast's Castle/Be Our Guest Restaurant.
We had to get our picture taken in "France" at Epcot. See that baguette my husband is holding?
We ate a lot of those. And desserts. I love France. 
There always has to be some type of picture in from of the Castle. I love the sky that day!
Muppets forever! I love their little section of Muppet heaven that seems there for me.
One of my all time favorites. 
I found this in Japan and I had to wear my Ghibli shirt.
A kitsune is one of the yokai in my novel. 
Since we've returned, I've felt quite refreshed. On the airplane, I wrote two pages of notes for stories floating around in my head. I started a short story to help get back into the writing grove and jumped into a 21 Day Writing Challenge. I'm two weeks into writing every day, and I love it. I'm mostly doing writing prompts so I'm creating new things every day.

I've been using a calendar and stickers to keep track of my progress after watching author Victoria Schwab's YouTube video. For now, I've simply printed out a calendar from Word and my stickers of choice are Star Wars (since I was gifted a ton).

So here are my September stats:

Wrote 7232 words over 14 days
Average 516/day

It doesn't seem like a lot, but then again, every little bit is something. It's getting me back into being creative and letting my mind work. After doing revision for the past year, this is exactly what my mind needs at the moment.

Now that October is here, and NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, I'm going to keep increasing my word count. I also would like to pick a main project to work on starting next week. Things are progressing slowly, but I'm happy with the results.

Write like the wind!

Natasha

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Creative Energy and Critique Partners

What ways help feed your creative energy?

Over the past months I've focused all my creative energy on revision. It have never focused on revision this much with one project. I'm a pantser writer so I don't know if it makes things harder for me or not. I'm nearing the part of revision where I do a *headdesk* at least once a day. However, I do end the day thinking, "I'm one step closer."

My goal is to query this year. The funny thing is, I thought I was closer to my goal before I sent it out to my critique partners. However, their honesty and awesomeness reminded me I need to take more time and not to rush.

What's so great about not-so-wonderful feedback?

1) You find little bad habits you didn't know about before. Take notes and use this to your advantage next time you write or revise. Work at getting rid of the bugs and the writing will come out shinier than before.

2) They point out the things you might be missing in the content of your writing. You will discover the strength and weakness in your story. It can be something that happens once, or throughout the manuscript. This is when I take notes about for future projects. I don't want to repeat my mistakes.

3) Confirming your fears and reaffirming your confidence. Did you notice I only *headdesk* once per day? I'm hoping cut down on that practice after all this revision and query letter writing. 

These are also the same reasons why critique partners and betas are so important to revision. They are your cheerleaders because they know you can conquer the demons. They help you recharge your creative energy when you least expect it.


I'm still struggling a bit with creative energy and confidence. In this last bit of revision, I can see how my writing has changed over the past four years. I had to learn how to blend my writing together. There is also a desire to try something new. I'm going to start making a creative list of things I want to do such as drawing or sewing. I don't want something to take away from writing, but help feed it. I also want to add some writing books to my list to help feed my process a bit. If I could have stayed in college, I probably would have remained there forever. 

Time to feed the Dragon. 

Natasha

Other posts on Critique Partners

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WriteOnCon Character Sketch: Introducing Kin

I attended the online conference WriteOnCon this year for the second time. It was a different experience than last year since I needed my query and story critiqued. I'm so thankful for all the people who took the time to look at my work. There is also so much honor in reading about so many fantastic stories! To think, in a few years, some of these could sit on the shelves!

One of the most unexpected finds was finding LL Tisdel's post for character sketches. All we needed to do was provide description (I shared mine below).

This morning, I finally went to see if mine was posted. Scrolling through the forum, it was so amazing to see so many of these characters alive. Tisdel is such a talented artist and really nailed not just their descriptions, but their personalities.

Then, I found my character. I stared and stared and stared. And the tears came. I kept thinking, "This is her. This is MY Kin!"

So, here I am to introduce the main character of my Japanese inspired fantasy book... Kin!

Here is the description I choose for my character
Character Age: 15
Three Words to Describe their Personality: brave, loyal, unfocused
Describe Appearance: (hair, clothes, physical features, eyes, etc.) 
Hair: messily tied up with sticks with painted flowers on them
Clothes: Simple kimono that sometimes have embroidered flowers on them, bangs out of her eyes
Features: Black hair just below her shoulders, light brown eyes, slightly tanned skin, not-so-dainty nose
Other: She loves scrolls. You can sometimes find her with ink-splattered clothing and blackened fingers. She fights demons and studies them in the scrolls. She lives near the tallest mountain in the land (akin Mount Fuji).

Thank you so much, LL Tisdel! Be sure to check out her website for more of her art. 

I will post more about the conference when I get the chance. I couldn't resist sharing this right away! Forums are open a few more days so I need to focus on that query letter.

Natasha

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Heroine's Geeky Faves: Comic-Con 2013 Edition!

This year of San Diego Comic-Con was different from the other two times we've attended. We've been living in San Diego for over a year so we have established more friendships here. At the same time, we had some Fargo friends in town for the event. Our best buddy Sulu stayed with us and we're hoping she'll come stay with us again next year.

Unlike other conventions, SDCC always served more as a place for us to see and explore. It's still that way, but when you have other people at your side, it becomes more of a group activity where you elbow that person to say, "Did you SEE that?" It becomes a collaborative thing where you don't just have bragging rights, but your group does!

The first day of con for us is Preview Night on Wednesday. We helped our friend Sue Dawe set up her table in Artist's Alley. That's right! We were able to walk the Exhibit before it even opened. They were still building the Walking Dead exhibit and we found a huge Domo we had to stalk later on for a photo op for Sulu. It also gave a chance for Sulu to see the hall before it fills up wall to wall with people.

Thursday of con was my husband Joey's 29th birthday! I made him a Spider-Man robot pin for him to wear throughout the day so he could get his way. It worked since someone exchanged his Arrow bag for the Batman one (they came with CAPES! this year).  He wasn't there when we set up Sue's table so I was able to hide Spider-Man blue and red cupcakes under her table. I added some robot stickers on toothpicks as little flags.
Joey with his birthday pin and cupcake at Sue's table.
That day we explored the Exhibit floor where I ran into Peggy Eddleman signing her book Sky Jumpers! We're part of an author's group and she didn't know what time she was signing at the Random House booth. Somehow, I was there three minutes after she started! Great timing! Can't wait to read her debut!

With Peggy Eddleman (forgot I was wearing my Hello Kitty ears)
Another highlight of the day was Joey wanted to hold the first issue featuring Spider-Man. Joey told the guy at the booth he can try on his Google Glass if he could hold it. Later that day, while we were at the Nintendo Windwaker exhibit, we spotted Stan Lee walking through the Marriott. Crazy day!
Amazing Fantasy--- first appearance of Spider-Man!
They are going to have KITTIES in the next Mario! We played the demo. 
Friday was a panel day. We were able to get into Hall H for the day with Fargo friends. We sat in the sixth row where we could look at the people and not the screen. SO many amazing panels! World's End (Simon Pegg! Nick Frost! Edgar Wright!), Veronica Mars, Kick-Ass 2, The Mortal Instruments, Game of Thrones (only thing we don't watch--- they gave awesome swag), Robo-Cop (Samuel L. Jackson!), The Walking Dead, Spider-Man 2, Riddick 2 (seriously, Vin Diesel is so gracious and kind!)... did I miss anything?

Josue, us and Sulu in line for Hall H. Thanks Josue and Seth for being awesome!
Spider-Man 2

World's End--- LOVE THESE GUYS!
Veronica Mars

Saturday we jumped into the Indigo Ballroom line to get in for How I Met Your Mother. Geek and Sundry and Machinima were before HIMYM, which was okay with me. I'm a fan of both online sources of entertainment. Later on that day, I walked by Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and their group while walking to my car.

The HIMYM panel was a ton of fun. You could totally see how the cast loves their fans, their job, each other, and their crew. Colbie Smulders sang "Let's Go the the Mall" with us and Jason Segal sang a bit as Dracula from "Saving Sarah Marshall". Neil Patrick Harris ran out into the audience to high five a fan after the guy's impression. It was awesome and probably my favorite panel of the weekend.
How I Met Your Mother cast and creators. Some of the crew was in the audience.
In the afternoon, I was able to pick up a copy of Holly Black's new book "The Coldest Girl in Cold Town" and ran into my local friends in line. It was great to catch up with people I haven't seen since there hasn't been a lot of YA local book events. We discussed how our own writing projects were going and how hard it was to be at con when people in the panels talk about creativity. Author guilt set in for me a few times and I was thinking, "I should be writing! I should be revising!" Silly writer tendencies!

Later that night, we were in the VIP section for the masquerade contest after a Backstage view. It was quite an experience to see some of the costumes up close!

Sunday was the quietest of the days. Met the awesome author of Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell. She signed a button for me since I have an e-book and they ran out of hardcovers at the booth. Such a sweetie!!!
Rainbow Rowell!
Joss Whedon sighting
Took a picture in the Grimm shop. Apparently I'm the main character in this photo (why is my hair so awesome?). Sulu should be since she is a Grim!
Pacific Rim costumes. My favorite movie of this year so far!!!
We ended con by packing Sue's table up and going out for our traditional pizza. I didn't post everything, but these are the highlights! It was another great con and we couldn't have done it without the people! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone next year!

Sulu stayed another day with us so us girls went to the beach and did a bit of shopping while Joey worked (sad!). We tried on British hats in honor of the Royal Baby's birth. The Leaping Lotus in Solana Beach has a ton of them! After Joey got off work, we went to Pacific Beach to watch the sunset.
Sulu and I celebrating the Royal Baby! 
Sunset at Pacific Beach
A great way to end this little vacation. Now back to revisions!

Natasha

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Trip Home

I returned back to my home state of North Dakota earlier this month to visit family and friends. We moved to San Diego over a year ago--- our first year away from "home".

I didn't know what to expect on this trip. Regrets? Guilt? Happiness? Unwanted stress? What I found was something unexpected. It was a sense of calm I never experienced before. As I boarded the plane on the way back, I realized San Diego is where I belong. It reminded me a bit of when I wrote the last scene for KIN. I knew the story was there. What I need to do now is strengthen the groundwork I laid out for the story. In the past year, I feel like I've done the same thing for myself.

I'm only getting started on the path I've chosen. One of the reasons why I wanted to move was because I was determined to grow more as a writer and as a person. I knew I couldn't do what I wanted where I was living. There were no visiting authors, writing jobs, and the closest writing community was in four hours away in Minneapolis. A few years ago, Joey and I created a list of all the things we wanted to do. It's when we realized that we did pretty much everything on that very list that we needed to move.
A homemade Tardis and working Dalek at CoreCon. Joey and I with our friend Sulu. 
One of the things on our list was CoreCon. We returned to Fargo during the fifth year of convention. Joey and I worked for four years with a very talented group of people to put on one weekend a year of fun with fellow geeks. We went back to see our many friends and to experience it as con-goers. During CoreCon's first year, there were 150 people who attended. It now has reached over 700 attendees and overwhelmed me with the love from its fans. I hold a lot of pride for this little con and the people who put it on. It's one of the few things (besides the people) that I wish I could have packed in my suitcase. However, it's nice to also know that we have something to bring us back to our roots. The party rooms with different themes from Star Trek to Mystery Science Theater 3000, a working Dalek costume and homemade Tardis, and the Rock Band contest were my favorite highlights from this year.

Joey created the Rock Band Contest and the people who run the e-gaming room play as an exhibition band. Every year, my husband decides to do something fun. This year he Rick-rolled the crowd, and then they played their actual song with something else in mind. He's the hot guy in the front playing guitar. 

I'm really looking forward to the second half of 2013. My goal is continue revision until I know my manuscript is ready for submission. I'll be working on my query letter and cleaning up my synopsis. I've started a spreadsheet of agents. Things are started to move along in ways I almost didn't imagine possible. I'm very thankful to have the time to do the work of my heart.

Look for weekly updates of my progress in June.

Natasha

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Catching Up After Another Revision

I've been revising for the past three months so that's why the blog has been neglected. I can't believe I didn't post about my birthday! And book events! And gush about the books I'm reading! I've sent off the manuscript to of all my critique partners just in time for a planned break. Here's my catching up blog post before I jump into even more revision.

Revision
This is what my revision process started out with before pumping everything into Scrivener. I spent a lot of time moving things around, writing new scenes, and fixing new ones. I removed 12,000 words and added about the same amount back. I was using the Pomodoro technique, which is similar to the writing sprints. I broke my record of writing 6000 words in a day. My Muse liked me that evening.


Everyday distractions
My kitties Topher and Sophie are my co-workers. Sometimes they make me work. Other times they distract me from it. I mean, look at those faces?!?


Other times it is always good to take in the city--- or get away from it. This is actually about ten minutes from my house. We went hiking for three hours (nine miles!) and it felt like I found a slice of my hometown. Very strange to find something like this in the middle of San Diego.


Birthday
I celebrated my 31st birthday and forgot to share my wonderful week with my best friends who flew in from North Dakota. We went to the Safari Park, Old Town, the beach, Little Italy--- the fun San Diego experience. One of my favorites was meeting my favorite author, Shannon Hale. She tweeted about a Sandy Eggo so we brought her one! She loved it! We had signed the loveliest things in my book after I gushed how she is a huge inspiration for me.

Shannon Hale signing
My wonderful friends on my birthday. My bffs flew in from Fargo to spend it with me.

Bookish Events
March was when I had four different bookish events. I attended Condor where I was able to visit with Leigh Bardugo and Cindy Pon. Also, there was the Mila 2.0 and Let the Sky Fall launch parties for Debra Driza and Shannon Messenger. Lastly, I was able to swing up to Mission Viejo Library for the Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan event. I was so thrilled to high five Sarah while we talked about Diana Wynne Jones. I'm reading the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassie Clare and completely in love with it.
Shannon Messenger Launch party with wonderful ladies I've been so lucky to meet over the past year!
Fun meeting Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan.
Cassandra Clare and friends

Critique Partners
I also want to give a shout out to my new critique partners, Kaye and Amparo. Maggie Stiefvater (author of Shiver and one of the Merry Sisters) posted a critique "love connection" and we were lucky enough to find each other. Already I know that the world needs to watch out for us!

As you can see, I wasn't completely locked up in a closet with my revisions. I went out there to meet wonderful writers and readers, shared my new favorite city, goofed off with my kitties, and managed to get some work done in there. I'm so thankful for having such an understanding husband who will drag me out when sometimes I want to hide in my own imaginary world.

I'm looking forward to the next step in my process, but also in taking a little break to visit with my family and friends.

Natasha

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

RTW: Writing Quarterly Check-In


Today is Road Trip Wednesday! What is that? It is a blog carnival where the contributors of YA Highway post a weekly topic and participants write their responses. You can jump from blog to blog to see each blogger's take on the question. 

Topic of the week:
Where am I on my reading and writing goals?

My biggest goal this year is to do another revision of KIN and to get it ready for submission. I wish I would have shared this book with people a lot sooner, but happy with the notes given to me recently. I'm focusing a lot of my attention on fine-tuning an outline before proceeding. Happy that I was able to complete that yesterday. My next step is to write a new synopsis to see how things flow before I proceed onto hacking the away.

See, the most helpful piece of advice I was given was get the conflict to happen sooner. So I've focused on making that happen without sacrificing too much of the story I have already set in place. It was difficult since there are things I wanted to keep in place for a reason, but the advice made complete sense. This revision is about letting go of things and seeing things a bit more clearly. As I set the new events in place, I know it is for the best. (I'm hoping I feel the same way when I finally get the story together.) And it's a huge lesson that I hope to use when I step into revising future books and a lot sooner in revision than this one.

I'm behind on writing short stories, but I plan to catch up. My goal is to write one a month. I'm going to use some time when I need a break from revision to focus on that goal again.

I've read 18 book already this year. A few Buffy comic books, my usual YA fare, and research for a novel I wrote last year. It's a good mix and it keeps me sane when I need a break from my own worlds.


Happy writing and reading! Thanks for stopping by!


Natasha

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Our San Diego County Getaway Weekend

Since we moved to San Diego almost a year ago, we've heard a lot about the town of Julian. We didn't make it out to the big apple weekends around October, but Joey promised we would go. He hinted we would go in the winter time, probably in February and March. He was given some ideas in mind of places we could explore from his fellow co-workers, and I left it at that. I plan a lot of our trips, and I liked that he had things in mind.

Once March approached, we started to gather some of the plans. My role? Finding a place for us to stay. That was it. Everything else Joey decided to plan on his own and in secret. 

The day before we left, I spotted this picture online:


  I didn't know what to expect until I was able to open the first envelope.



This set the whole tone for the weekend. I ignore the words and focus on the picture for the answers. Fun puzzles with no expectations for me to guess it right since they're abstract in a lot of ways. I would take the last letter of the actual answer, and this leads me to the next envelope. 

Here are the places where we ended up in two amazing days. 

First envelope (E) I found a picture of a fire alarm. It was in reference to Jeff, Who Lives at Home where Susan Sarandon's character wants to kiss under a waterfall. That is what lead us to Cleveland National Forest to the Cedar Creek Falls Trail  to see a waterfall. It was a very peaceful walk since we didn't run into any people until we made our way back. 






Second Envelope (T) had an abstract picture that kept me guessing some type of picnic and jalapenos. It took us on a drive to Borrego Springs where we ate at Carmelita's Mexican Grill. We had a delicious meal of veggie quesadilla and a large tostada. We spent some time in the mall it was located in and bought a toy for our cats. We also went to a fudge and ice cream shop where we bought a little bit of both.  

Third envelope (L) were pictures of strange statues we spotted outside of Borrego Springs. It was Galleta Meadows, a metal sculpture park. We bought a neat map that helped us find all the different type of statues. My favorites were the dinosaurs and sea serpent. 





Fourth envelope (WS) I wanted to go to the nearby state park to see the desert flowers in bloom and so we went to the Anza-Borrego State Park. We were too early to see them, but we spotted a few flowers as we took a hike on one of the trails. The picture Joey picked was of the desert flowers so it was easy to guess. 

Fifth envelope (K) displayed four photos of bowls that could be seen as ice cream, porridge or soup. It was for Soups and Such, which ended up being closed when we reached Julian. We attempted a pie place, but they use lard (non-vegetarian) so we had desserts at our B&B. So it all worked out (and we were still pretty full from lunch). 

Sixth envelope (H) was our bed and breakfast, Wikiup. The picture was of space and a spacechip since we rented the Stargazer suite. We missed breakfast the next morning since we needed to be out early, but we really enjoyed everything about the B&B. I'm hoping we will return there to stay again in the future and would definitely recommend the place. 

Seventh envelope (P) was something I completely guessed as a joke. The shapes looked like animals so I wrote "Lions, Tigers and Bears-- oh my!" and we did end up going to an animal sanctuary Lions, Tigers, and Bears. We were hoping to go on our anniversary earlier this year, but it was too last minute. We've been watching Big Cat Rescue on YouTube for year and this is the closest thing to it in the San Diego area. My favorite was the tiger "Natasha", of course.





We had a bit of time leftover to we went to Alpine to the outlet mall there. I needed some new shoes and we found a Skechers stores. So happy I was able to find vegan shoes there! 

Eighth envelope (RS) we drove into the Laguna Mountain for a Laguna campground picnic. I helped pick out the food and Joey found a nice spot by a meadow where we ate some veggies with dip, bread and cheese, chocolate covered cherries, fresh strawberries, and pretzels. There was barely any snow on the mountain, but it was the first patch we walked through all winter. 



Ninth envelope (C) was a bit confusing since it was described as "the image was perfect" of an OceanSpray Ruby Red juice. I figured something with the ocean and we drove a lot around the county until we reached the historic 101 Highway where we drove up the coast through the North County beach cities. It was one of those perfect days where it was hot so lots of people were ending their day on the beach. We even spotted someone recording their dog on a skateboard. It was almost like out of movie until we reached Oceanside to walk on the pier.  At the end it is  Ruby's Diner where we ate dinner and watched the sunset. 



Tenth envelope (R) was where I rated the whole adventure from 1 to 10. I put Infinity +10. We went home to some happy kitties and crashed on the couch with lots of great memories.

It is times like this that I know more than ever that I've married my soulmate. We didn't have the radio on all weekend and were still able to come up with some type of conversation. We went from the city to country, snow to ocean, waterfall to desert. Quite an adventure! We loved exploring San Diego County and we know there is more out there to do-- with our best friend at our side.

Natasha

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