I SOLD A BOOK! (#BroodyBook)

This is the blog post every writer dreams of writing. I SOLD A BOOK! Follow this blog, and Broody’s Twitter, for more news.This book is a loving parody of the YA genre, narrated by the BroodingYAhero himself. There will be quizzes, games, and a wonderfully Broody storyline.

And add it on Goodreads here! LINK

A quick story:
I was presenting at YALSA, which was an incredible conference, in which I met many incredible authors and librarians!  I spoke on social media on that Friday, and had the time of my life. Saturday, I got an email from my agent.

We had an offer on BROODING YA HERO’S GUIDE TO ACHIEVING MAIN CHARACTER STATUS from Skpony Press.

I celebrated, cheered…
And then the election happened.
It was very strange to feel both overwhelming joy and hope, and utter, heart-crushing grief. (Hence the long delay on writing this blog post.)  But,  I do think it’s important to celebrate small good things, even in the dark days.

So, now it’s time to celebrate. In the comments, I’d love to hear about a small good thing you’re celebrating!

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Here’s the part where I get a little bit motivational. If you told me when I was young, or even a year ago, that my first book would be a YA parody, I would have… been very confused. I learned two things.

First of all, it’s very hard to claim that you’re funny. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, turn to the person nearest you, and say “I’m very funny.”

They will almost always reply, “well, say something funny then. Make me laugh.”

Haaaa. Good. Not like there’s any pressure now, right? But hey, once you get used to being considered at least slightly funny, it’s not all bad. (If my friends don’t laugh at my jokes, I can now say 37,000 people on the internet find me funny)

Secondly, I was quite sure, for the longest time, that I was born to take up the mantle of Tolkien and write sweeping fantasy epics.

I had no idea I’d write a YA parody for my first novel instead.

So, my tiny little motivational speech is to… be open to new ideas. Don’t assume you know what your first published book will be. Don’t be afraid of trying new ideas.

And above all, always be Broody.

Or at least, a main character 😉

Vote for a New Face for BroodingYAHero

So, as many of you know, Brooding YA Hero (found here) is getting a book deal! Woooooo!!!!
And… he’s also getting a makeover!
I’m thrilled to reveal that I’ve been working with the very talented Linnea (check out her site here!) on designing four possibilities that capture Broody in all his gemstone-eyed, swoony jawlined, feeling-avoiding, majesty.
And you, dear reader, get to vote on the winner.

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The winning image will have extra detail added to it, and will be the new face found on his Twitter account.

But it’s not just about giving Broody a makeover. He’s the generous sort of book boyfriend, and wants to give you a chance to win an exciting prize! Vote on your favorite Broody, and you’ll be entered to win a fabulous prize package!

You see, Broody might not admit it, but he’s a big fan of books. And so, to celebrate his new look, we’ve set up a fun giveaway, where you get to vote on your favorite face, and get extra points for other things.

Two Broody Bundles will be given away! Click on the titles for more info on these awesome books!

Ready to vote/enter to win? CLICK THE RED LINK BELOW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The First, for fans located in the USA, contains new copies of:

OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey  Coulthurst

NO PLACE TO FALL by Jaye Robin Brown

A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jess Cluess

SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo

And the second, for international fans, is an ebook bundle of….

SONG OF SUMMER by Laura Lee Anderson

CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber (this is a preorder)

TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim

Plus an exclusive, hand-written, mailed-to-you love letter by Broody himself.

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Vacations, Best Laid Plans, and Other Thoughts

This post may actually be shorter than the title of it. I’ve returned, and recovered, and am reliving in my dreams, from a lovely, lovely vacation to the UK. I’ve been planning the trip for months, analyzing, studying, and learning everything I could.

Turns out there’s still mysteries, confusion, and unexpectedly wonderful occurrences, even when you think you planned the perfect trip.

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For example, I went into the trip way, way more stressed than expected. My cat, Skunk, had a mild cold that didn’t seem to be going away, so on my last day before leaving, I took him to the vet, assuming I’d get the usual “You’re being an over-worried cat mom, he’s fine”… I didn’t. He had a condition with a 50% chance he might not pull through. I had to decide then and there if I wanted to cancel my trip of a life time to spend the (possible) last days with my best buddy of five years. Thankfully, he turned out okay, and is currently trying to chew on my laptop. So, all’s well there. But, I didn’t know until about the third day of the trip that he’d pull through. I’m so grateful to have a loyal and trusted friend who watched him.

On the plus side of the unexpected were… billions of things. The amount of amazing live music I heard. Meeting total strangers that ended up becoming fun friends. Getting lost but finding incredible pastries (and falling in love with handbaked Empire Biscuits forever and ever) In general, it seemed as long as I kept a positive attitude, happy surprises could be found everywhere. Like this view, below. We came by it on a total chance, because we’d detoured so I could see where Robert Carlyle filmed Hamish MacBeth. (Because who WOULDNT WANT TO WALK IN HIS SEXY FOOTPRINTS?)

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I also got to meet up with internet friends in person for the first time, which was so, so awesome. (Waves to them–they know who they are) and got to see so many sites I’d only ever read about. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. (And yes, there will be blog posts detailing the adventures)

Weirdly enough, I would have never gone on this trip if it wasn’t for the writing community.

We tend to think of the writing community as a network for…well, writing. But it opened so many doors that led me to the trip. I had met friends, through happenstance and happy accidents, who not only answered billions of my questions before traveling, gave me advice and guidance once I got to the UK!

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However, no one warned me pancakes are cold and jam filled. WHY?

Even the whole process of writing a book, from draft to finished product, made it seem so much more possible for me to travel across the ocean alone.

There are certainly low points in the life of a creative person. Rejection, disillusionment, loss of that elusive “muse,” can all make it seem like the process isn’t worthwhile. But the next time you’re feeling down, or that you’ve “wasted” time on a manuscript, try to look beyond the page, to what goodness and connections that manuscript has helped you make in the real world.

And above all, believe that good things will happen. Perhaps not the good thing you wanted, or set out to achieve, but a good thing all the same.

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When the Magic Goes Away

Scene: First day of second grade. Kids running around, showing off new backpacks, new shoes, same uniforms though. 

The teacher clears her throat and announces, “Let’s write a journal entry about what we did over summer vacation.”

Tiny-Carrie, with pigtails and an already messy desk, glances around at her classmates. They’re talking as they write. Disneyworld, Disneyworld, Disneyland, France, a cruise in the Caribbean (with Disney Characters.)

Tiny-Carrie’s summer had been fun, but, not like her classmates. She’d hung out with her Grandmas, learned to make cookies, played  make-believe in her backyard and loved every minute of it. Until her classmates started talking about the Disney princesses they’d met. A bit of fear crept into her brain, whispering that her summer had been stupid, that she was lame and a loser.

But, Carrie never liked being told what to do. Not by a teacher, and definitely not by some dumb, negative voice.

So, Carrie put pencil to paper, and began to write. She might not have traveled, but she had read. A book called THE BOGGART by Susan Cooper had launched an all-summer quest to learn everything about Loch Ness, its mythical monster and the magical-seeming land of Scotland. She’d even worked her way through “grownup” books explaining just how a monster might exist in the loch, and cookbooks about how to make “oatcakes.”

She wrote a story about going to Scotland, and all the things she’d experienced there. And as she wrote, it felt real to her. It felt just as fun, as exciting as her classmates “true” stories about Disneyland. Tiny-Carrie may not have traveled, but she had read. Now, in writing what she read, it was like real magic, making something out of thin air.

That’s what writing has always been to me. Over the years, I wrote my way out of countless bad feelings, out of fear about a surgery, or heartbreak over a person who didn’t like me back. My stories, although they were fictional and full of fantastic events, were woven with real truths, and real emotions.  Re-reading them is re-reading a diary, even if it’s set in a magical land, and the main character is a red-headed warrior-princess sneaking into royal balls, instead of an awkward fourteen-year-old Carrie dreaming about attending prom.

Nothing I write is autobiographical, but it’s all true to my heart. Be cause of that, perhaps, I’d been reluctant to share my words with others. These stories were part of my very DNA. I couldn’t let random people examine them for flaws any more then I could appear naked on a subway stop and shout “JUDGE MY BODY!”

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You Are More Than Your Book

When I was younger, I could never finish writing a book. Even after I typed “the end”, I’d find a sequel to write, or a spin-off series. In fact, the first seven manuscripts (mind you I started these when I was in 6th grade, so manuscript might be too kind a word) were all directly connected to each other,  featuring the same characters and settings. I simply couldn’t let them go. Their world had become my own.

As my writing journey progressed, that emotional bond to my writing amplified. In fact, some days it seemed my self-esteem was entirely tied to how well my edits went on my book. I’ve noticed this occurring to other writers too, on many different parts of the publishing path. Some might measure their self worth in that request/rejection query pie-chart. Others, in how sizable an advance they receive or how many twitter followers they have. If one is self-published, it’s easy to obsessively watch sales, and let each one impact one’s mood.

But that’s not healthy.

We writers are more than the sum of our manuscript words, or our query stats or our books sales. We are members of families, artists, career-people, athletes and artists.  We’ve achieved so much in our non-writing lives. We’ve bought houses, landed promotions, learned dance moves, taught our dogs to fetch…

We are more than our writing.

So, right now, wherever you are in the writing journey, pause for a moment. Make a list. On paper or on the computer. Include ALL the wonderful things you are, and ALL the things you’ve achieved. Then, keep that list close. Whenever you’re having a bad day editing, or don’t have any book sales, or get a query rejection, review that list.

My list is pinned above my desk. One item on it is “I am a knitter.” And sure enough, I’ve found, on days when the writing is crappity-crap crap, I should pick up my knitting needles to create something new. Something awesome. Something unrelated to my words.

You can do that too. You created amazing words, yes. But you are also an amazing human being, made of so many more parts than just your writing.

 

Health and the Creative Life

Creative people aren’t known for being paragons of wellness. There will never be an article called, “Workouts to get a writer’s body.” We tend to seek comfort as we create, so that all our energy goes towards the art we’re intent on making. We scarf down comfort food, guzzle caffeine, and hunch our shoulders low as we curl around the glowing screen of our computers until the wee hours.

But, that kind of life isn’t sustainable. The junk food may lead to stomachaches, the caffeine to headaches. We writers need to take care of our bodies.

Actual photo of a writer after a revising marathon.

 

Here are some of my favorite healthy things.

Green Smoothies.

You can make these as intense as you want. Kale has a peppery taste, but spinach is surprisingly sweet.  Add a handful of frozen berries, a handful of greens, a cup of yogurt, ice cubes, and milk (almond, soy, or regular) into the blender, and give it a whirl.

Running/walking/hiking

When I’m really stuck on a plot point, I know it’s time for fresh air.

Homemade granola bars

Recipe here– so easy to make, healthy, and a great snack when you’re in the middle of writing!

Yoga

Nothing uncoils the knots in my back like a good time on the yoga mat. I recommend Yoga with Adriene on youtube. Her workouts are free, and the ones for the back (both upper and lower) are lifesavers for a writer who hunches over the keyboard. Here’s the link

Herbal tea

Yes. This is me. Yes, you know me as queen of coffee. But I also enjoy peppermint tea for unblocking my brain, and sleepytime tea for relaxing. Rooibos are great for when my heart wants coffee but my head says no more caffeine. It has a similar, nutty taste.

Now, get up, stretch, go for a walk! Then come back and tell me your favorite healthy routine.

Yinz Gonna Read a Book N’at? (Pittsburghese. Translation below)

*translation “Are you going to read a book?”

** Yinz is the Pittsburgh version of  “Y’all”

*** no one really knows what “N’at” means.

I’d always dreamed of living in a city. As a kid, of course, I usually dreamed about NYC, or Chicago or even London.
I felt at home among skyscrapers, happy in the midst of crowds, alive when all the lights and noise surrounded me. However, I ended up in Pittsburgh, PA, and I couldn’t be happier.

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I’ve got my skyscrapers and my city living full of coffeeshops and live music, but I also get a small town friendliness and community I’ve come to love.  In fact, one of the best things  about Pittsburgh is the vibrant writing community. We have excellent MFA programs at Chatham and Seton Hill, a lovely library system thanks to Andrew Carnegie (just remember in these parts, it’s pronounced “car-NEGGH-gee” rather than New York’s fancy “Carn-e-gee”) and even a really cool program for exiled writers, The City of Asylum.

We have an Andy Warhol museum, a great Children’s museum, incredible theater shows, and amazing parks. Oh, yeah and sports. We have those too. We put french fries in our sandwiches and everyone eats pierogies (we even make vegan ones).

We’ve got films set or partially set here, (Dark Knight!) , video games, (The Last of Us), and plenty of books. The most memorable, for many people is Perks of Being a Wallflower,

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That’s a beautiful shot of a very real part of my city. Likewise, the hit Me, and Earl and the Dying Girl, captures real-life Pittsburghese.

In addition to these Pittsburgh authors, there’s also Joshua David Bellin (aka the YA Guy) author of Survival Colony Nine,Jonathan Auxier , author of The Night Gardener, Laura Lee Anderson, author of Song of Summer, and many others.

Plus we have really cool events. This fall, Rainbow Rowell will be speaking at the library, and this coming weekend, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman will be speaking at Carnegie Mellon University for FREE! Details below.

So, that’s why I love my odd little big city that thinks it’s a small town. Why do you love your hometown?


 

Details for the event.

Lecture Speakers: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2015
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Location: Doherty Hall, Room 2315, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. The book signing will follow the lecture in the same room.
Registration/Fee: There is no charge to attend the lecture and registration is not required for this portion of the program.

If you’re from Pittsburgh, let me know!

Recharging Days

Writers write everyday is a common adage among the author crowd. I’m not so sure it’s true for the rest of the creative world. Surely, an actor is no less an actor if he doesn’t act in a movie every day of his life. Nature photographers can’t photograph beautiful flowers on days the weather is all thunderstorms and hail.

I think the true statement is this: when on deadlines, a writer writes every day.

Deadlines aside, it’s important, I think, to take a break from the project you’re working on sometimes. Even more important if you’ve been working on it for a long time, and you’re hitting a huge stumbling block.

Maybe you’ve sent out 280 queries and haven’t heard from a single agent.

Maybe you’ve been trying to fix a plot hole for six months and your betas are still getting lost in your story’s confusing narrative.

Maybe you’ve totally lost the idea of the story and every word seems like gobbleygook.

This need for space and time away from your art isn’t just a creative person problem. Many professionals tout the benefits of a mental heath day, like in this article from INC.com and this one, from the Huffington Post, provides clear examples of signs you need a break.

So, take a day to clean the house, or go for a run, or knit. At least, that’s how I spend my days off. You might have different hobbies. Clear your mind, and tackle some non-creative pesky tasks on your to-do list. I keep a tab of “worn-out day activities” on my to-do list app, (the incredible 2Do app if you’re curious) so that on mentally rainy days, I can still feel productive by completing little tasks.

But.

Here’s my warning. It’s very easy to let one recharging day become a recharging week. Or a month. And then, suddenly, you’ve lost your flow on your project, and you have no interest in ever putting your butt back in a chair. So, the minute you decide it’s a recharging day, grab your phone or computer, and add a couple timers scheduled for tomorrow and the next day. If you have the functionality, add little reminders about how much you love your creative endeavors. You can even add reminders of what you need to work on next.

Here’s a screenshot of my phone for tomorrow, since I took a break today.

Motivation!

Motivation!

So, that’s my plan to give my brain a break, without losing my place in my writing. What about you? When do you know it’s time for a break? How do you get back to work?

A Thank You to the Writing Community

I’ve always been a writer, but aside from classes, I’ve never shared my writing with anyone other than my long-suffering best friend.Then, a little over a year ago, I realized the story I’d been drafting was something I really, really loved, and wanted to share with other people, maybe even see in print someday. It had been years since I’d declared myself “a writer” to anyone, but, it was time.

So, I hit up Google  for writing sites. Absolute Write, Ladies Who Critique, and Maggie Stiefvater’s annual CP love connection. I met amazing critique partners, who encouraged me to keep writing. They saw potential in the messy, plot-less draft I’d created.

As summer turned to fall, my writing picked up steam, and I was selected for the Pitch Wars mentoring contest, and gave me a whole new network of awesome writing friends. Between that, joining SCBWI, spending (too much?) time on twitter, and crashing in on Nanowrimo meetups, I met even more awesome writers. Seriously, if you’ve ever considered doing any of those things, try it out. You never know who you might meet.

Then an amazing thing happened. The more I interacted with the writing community, the stronger my writing grew. Even more valuable than the editing and writing tips is the sense of fellowship, that bolsters  me on rough days, and cheers with me on great days.  I ‘m not alone anymore, writing stories for only me  and my cat.

This is a thank you to all the writers and creative folk I’ve met so far. Loyal critique partners who will brainstorm plot twists and listen to my rambling tangents, incredible beta readers who offer feedback on the manuscript as a whole, and the hundreds of people I’ve interacted with on Twitter and Tumblr.

I’ve even been lucky enough to meet a few of you in real life.

Your kind encouragement helps me through days when writing a novel seems impossible. Your thoughtful feedback sharpens the story from the vague draft it was into something sparkling. The way you fangirl (or fanboy )over my characters re-ignites my own enthusiasm for them. Your sympathetic ear when real life explodes and writing seems impossible makes the struggle to get words on the page easier. Your joy at my success makes it ten times more awesome.

You have no idea how much you matter.

What I’m Working On

In the last few days, my to-do list and email accounts have been on fire with all sorts of cool things. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m happiest when I’ve got a few different projects going on.

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DYS-PUNK-TIONAL

This has been my baby for over a year now, although it used to be called FATHERS, FENDER GUITARS, & OTHER F-WORDS. It’s my young adult contemporary novel,  and it totally rocks. If you’re curious to learn more about it, click on the link above.

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(art of DYS-PUNK-TIONAL characters by Giles)

PROGRESSION: a feature-length narrative film, set in Lawrenceville, the hispter-est neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

From the Website: Dubbed “a gentrification farce,” this film features arty young professionals colliding with the fourth-generation locals who watch bemusedly as their neighborhood transforms under their noses.  This film features three soups, two salads, and culminates in a raucous single entree where secrets are revealed, true love is conceived or destroyed, and a baby is delivered on the dining room table. The filmmakers pay stylistic homage to the great screwball comedies of 1930s American cinema, as well as the mannered farces perfected by French New Wave auteurs.

I am the Marketing and Social Media intern for Progression, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work on such a cool project! Stay tuned for more!

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BROODING YA HERO

photo 2 What began as a procrastinating silly twitter account has morphed into… a silly twitter account used by many people to procrastinate. He’s a cool guy, and far funnier than me. Check him out above, (he’s already been gazing at you with his cerulean, vivid, intense gaze, so you might as well) or find his broken-hearted, lovelorn tweets on @broodingYAhero

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Hail to Pitt! Hail to Grad School! Hail to Coffee!

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So, those are all the things keeping me busy and mostly out of trouble. What about you, folks? What are you working on?

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