Archive for March, 2010

author appreciation week, day 2

March 16, 2010

And so continues our week-long celebration of Author Appreciation Week. This initiative was sparked by 2010 debut author Heidi R. Kling (see here for more details). I decided to pick 5 favorite authors + 5 anticipated authors to show my appreciation for. I’ll post one from each group each day, Monday – Friday. My first post is here.

FAVORITE AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins. She is the writer of at least ten books, of which I’ve read 8. My absolute favorite book of hers is THE HUNGER GAMES. I can barely explain my love for this book.  I’m not sure if it is because I read the book before the reviews or what. But I do know that I was blown away by the courage, resourcefulness and likability of Katniss Everdeen. I was charmed, encouraged and impressed by Peeta Mellark. And man oh man, I could not turn away from the plot. All I could do was keep turning the page.

It’s one of those books that I wish I could read again for the first time. To be able to recreate the awe, suspense, shock, and relief I felt. But since I can’t have that original experience again, I’ve turned to examining each chapter, each sentence, and each word to see if I could emulate the techniques of this master. The way she builds worlds and creates characters and and paces the story lines and draws the audience in so close, you feel like you’re running right along side Katniss instead of just reading about it. It’s genius.

Collins is the type of author I strive to be.

ANTICIPATED AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken. This is another person I first  heard about via the Twitter webs. And then I found her blog in which each post is titled “The One with……”. How can you not immediately like someone who loves the TV show Friends? Alex’s book debut comes when she is in her early twenties, meaning she wrote this book when she was still a teenager. That fact lends itself to (a) a round of applause and (b) irresistibly because that means she is writing about characters that are her own age. She doesn’t need to research the culture shifts and technology to do’s because she’s living them. It’s no ordinary teenager who is articulate and diligent and motivated enough to write a publishable book. I’m betting her age has given her book a unique perspective and I am psyched(!) to read it.

I’ve also learned from both Twitter and her blog that she is in the publishing business. There’s always something fascinating to me about an “insider” becoming a novelist. I’m not sure why, because, actually it makes a ton of sense. I guess it’s because there are a lot of types of people needed to make a publishing house successful and sometimes that doesn’t involve a huge imagination. But if my sources are correct, her book BRIGHTLY WOVEN (which releases on March 23! next week!) will be full of fantastic characters and spectacular scenarios and drama and romance and will be simply delightful. I can’t wait.

author appreciation week, day 1

March 15, 2010

And so begins our week-long celebration of Author Appreciation Week. This initiative was sparked by 2010 debut author Heidi R. Kling (see here for more details). I decided to pick 5 favorite authors + 5 anticipated authors to show my appreciation for. I’ll post one from each group each day, Monday – Friday. (whew, blogging 5 days a week. go writing go!)

And without further ado, FAVORITE AUTHOR: J.K. Rowling. I came across the Harry Potter series right before the fourth book came out. My younger sister E had all the books and I devoured them. Literally, I opened up my jaw and swallowed. (My mom is so proud.) The complexity of the characters. The continuity of the story lines. The intrigue of a whole new world. The books were about magic, but they themselves were their own brand of magic. The books sucked me into them and spit me out 480 page later. I wouldn’t even remember turning the pages that’s how absorbed I was. THAT’S the sign of a good book.

I also secretly loved that it was socially acceptable to admit that I, as an adult, read and enjoyed these books that were originally just for kids. It was an amazing thing Rowling did – getting kids, tweens, teen, adults, elderly and everyone in between to read. She was true to her characters even when they went through the angsty, annoying teen years. She packed plots with action and tender moments and funny mishaps and scary scenes. She invented an entirely new world and opened the door to everyone.

It’s been a pleasure walking into the world of Harry Potter. Thank you for the invitation. And thank you for making fantasty a reality.

Time to switch gears to ANTICIPATED AUTHOR: Kiersten White. I can’t remember if it was the egg (her blog) or the chicken (her Twitter) which I found first, but all I know is the humor of this woman is right up my alley. She is parts silly and parts serious, but all the time helpful. She blogs about her kids and writing tips and tricks and her path to publication and screenplays and wackiness and answers to the questions her readers ask and anything else that she fancies. Even when she’s sick, her lighthearted attitude is apparent and you just can’t help but adore her. You just want to scoop her up and put her in your pocket so she can dispense sarcastic comments on your own daily adventures. (And if her picture + caption are to be believed, this isn’t that far fetched of an idea.)

Kiersten White
*Not a life-size picture. But almost.

I’m excited for her first book Paranormalcy (which will be released in September 2010. Mark your calendars!) because I’m a sucker for humor. I know her story of Evie will make me giggle, chuckle, and full on laugh out loud. But also, seeing how she writes about her children and her husband, I know this book will have touching moments that I won’t even see coming. They’ll catch me off guard and make me softly say “Oh.” And THAT’S what I’m waiting for.

big top compliments

March 12, 2010

a seemingly simple little conversation on twitter:

mumfusa: i have this weird crick in my back. it’s making me walk and sit tilted. do you think the circus would hire me as a side show?

tawnafenske @mumfusa circus employment is always a worthy alternative for any writer.

did you HEAR that? tawna fenske (a hilarious and witty and funny and successful writer) called ME a writer. did you get that? no? let me repeat. she. called. me. a. writer.


that just made my day on so many levels. thank you!

i suppose this means i should get my act (my writing one, not my circus one) in gear and finish my WIP so that i can start on the journey to be a real writer, a published writer, not just one who dreams of such things. i actually sort of feel like a real fire’s been lit under my hiney. (that or it’s the beans i ate for lunch.)

well, if my original dream fails, the circus is always waiting. perhaps they’ll promote me from side show freak to human cannon ball. i can almost hear the oohs and aahs of the crowd beneath the big top.

melting pot

March 11, 2010

america has been called a melting pot. which is true. all those people and languages and flavors and cultures and celebrations and traditions spicing up our country.

i’ve decided to be my own mini melting pot – to stew my own celebrations, brew my own beliefs, and cook my own culture. i will add new words to my vocabulary and traditions to my life. i will defy expectations and relish in the parts of me that are stereotypical. i will be a creature of habit and expand my boundaries. i will be my own individual and be a part of something larger.

the first tradition that i am going to embrace is a bulgarian one in honor of my friend and coworker, adriana. it’s a tradition i have been learning about for the past 2+ years and have (secretly) been wanting to partake in ever since i first heard about it. you see, bulgarians have a pagan ritual (called “Baba Marta“) to welcome spring. a bracelet (called a “martenitza“) of red and white yarn (the white symbolizes purity, and red symbolizes life) is tied onto your wrist and is worn from March 1 until you see a stork or blooming tree, at which point you tie it to a tree. what a lovely idea to cheer on spring’s arrival while waving bye bye bye to winter.

if you really think about it, it’s a genius idea to welcome spring with a celebration. it’ll probably be more apt to arrive sooner knowing that a celebration has begun. if i were spring, i wouldn’t want to miss out on the party, would you?

truth be told, i’m really hoping to see a stork and there’s a good chance i will see one in april. you know why? J’s preggers and we all know it’s the stork who brings the baby. OR maybe i’ll have to modify that part to fit into my american way of life. i do believe there will be flowers and trees popping out where i live. does a blooming onion count? maybe i’ll take my bracelet out on a date to Outback Steakhouse. woah, now there’s a clash of culture. ack. too much. too soon.

anyways, the real reason i decided to take part in this ritual this year is because adriana came to my office with my very own martenitza and ambushed me and tied me up. WOAH, totally kidding. we were at work. we’re always the utmost professionals. (she is anyways). she did tie the bracelet on me because, well, it’s sort of hard to tie a knot with one hand. you may be that talented, but i’m not. i look at the bracelet each day and smile because it’s a symbol that spring will come. that warm weather isn’t all that far away. that winter’s on its way out. that i am taking part in a centuries old tradition. that, for a month, i’m bulgarian (i can speak it too). that i need to be on the look out for flowers and storks. that i will see spring sooner if i’m looking closely enough. that i’m lucky enough to have a friend like adriana.

beginnings, middles, endings (and more beginnings)

March 1, 2010

i was reading through some of my very first blog posts and MAN OH MAN is that embarrassing. for many reasons:

(1) i was 22, had just moved up to boston, and had no clue about life.

(2) or writing.

(3) or editing.

(4) or censorship.

(5) or revision.

it was difficult to read through the posts and not take a metaphorical red pen to them. (i don’t think my work IT department would like it very much if they saw my screen was covered in red pen). i was reading the posts with fresh eyes and the distance that 7 years can bring. i could see so many ways to improve upon each post. how to make it smoother. smarter. sillier. sassier. more sane. but at the same time, for the purpose of preservation, i’m not going to edit those posts because it shows the progression of me as a writer, as a new Bostonian, as a newly independent adult. (unless it’s to remove certain incriminating information. people actually read this blog now, whereas when i started it, i had a limited readership of 5. ok, so now i only have a readership of 6, but sometimes that 6th person is my mom. and there are some stories that need to be slanted so as not to cause her any grief or worry or shock or gray hair).

in terms of other beginnings, i have also gone back to the start of my manuscript. i have been able to take a literal red pen to the extraneous adjectives and redudant adverbs. i’ve combined sentences and removed whole paragraphs without breaking a sweat. (me, not sweating. that’s saying something!) i’ve fixed dialogue and clarified voices. i’ve hemmed and hawed. i’ve tightened action and expanded emotion. i’ve reved up the verb usage and quieted down the questions. in short, i’ve made it readable. and laughable. and relatable. and charming.  (i hope).

i hadn’t gone back to re-read the beginning of my work since i turned in my thesis in january 2008. i haven’t gone back because i have been researching and reading and learning and talking and dabbling and writing and deleting and procrastinating and writing and deleting and reading and scratching out and writing a little more. i’ve been focused on furthering the story and fleshing out the characters and finally reaching the end. i have done that. now it’s time to go back to the future. but yeah, since i’m lazy, i decided it was easier just to go back to the beginning of my novel. so that’s what i did/am doing.

you see though, i’m a slow learner. how am i supposed to write a novel in anything under than (an x amount of) years? how do i create that distance, that objectivity, that cold calculation that allows me to slice and dice my manuscript into tip top shape? what tricks do you have in your editorial bag of magic that you can share with me? how can i get from point A (blank word document) to point B (full, query ready manuscript) in a straight line? i’m getting dizzy from all the back and forth and up and down and left and right and crisscrossing (who makes you want to JUMP JUMP). and i could use your help.

or you could just tell me a joke. that’s always appreciated.