Posted in Writer-ish

Author Origin Tag

I caught this cute author origin tag, created by Evie Driver, on Lenn Woolston’s booktube channel two weeks ago. My main character, Jeremy, is way into comics. Now, I don’t have a YouTube channel presently. I’m not sure if that’s something I can keep up with. But still, I wanted to participate since the subject matter was so fitting, so I’ma just take my turn in a blog.

Author Origin Tag

 

Backstory: When and why did you start writing? How old were you? What genres did you begin writing?

I started my memoirs at age ten on an old typewriter in my bedroom. I don’t think I got much beyond a title page, but I had big plans! As an adult, I wrote a couple drafts for picture books. My first completed novel was a fantasy story following two sister witches searching for their mother’s whereabouts. I somehow found the guts to query it, and got some bites. That manuscript has extensive issues though. I wrote my second novel while querying the first. It’s completely different in nearly every way.

Protaganist: What was your first main character like? How has your tastes/muses changed since then?

I write sassy introverts.

Antagonist: What’s the worst writing advice or feedback you ever received? What was your first rejection or confidence-breaking moment like?

Gosh…there’s a lot to choose from here. I lost count on form rejections for my first manuscript. So, I learned to celebrate small stuff. Anything that looked different than a form rejection, I saved.

When I started querying my debut, I got some quick form rejections too, like within the same day. One in particular pinpointed a list of reasons why they wouldn’t publish my work. This one hit hard because I felt this manuscript was much stronger than my first, but maybe I had it all wrong. I contacted a couple writer friends, begged them to take a look, and started rewrites again. I got the email seeking to publish, in its original state, a few weeks later.

Superpower: What part of writing or the writing process do you feel is your greatest strength?

My greatest strengths in writing are perseverance.

Kryptonite: What part of writing or the writing process do you feel is your weakest?

I can get stuck in my head, not really present when I need to be.

Training Montage: What strengths or weaknesses changed over the years? Additionally, what have you done to better your craft?

My first plot I threw everything I could possibly think of into it. It’s like the stone soup of manuscripts. I’ve learned to be more deliberate with my choices and plan a bit more, which isn’t something that comes naturally to me. To better my craft, I read a lot, attend conferences when time/$ allows, and follow some experts online.

Weapon of Choice: What programs have you used over the years? What’s your preference right now?

I started that first MS on a google doc because that’s all I had. I type everything. Writing long hand, while drafting, is too slow of a pace for me.

Trusted Sidekick: Every Batman has a Robin. What is you favorite companion while writing? Has this changed over the years? From day to night?

Coffee in the morning. Water in between. Tea in the afternoon. I don’t usually write anything new at night. I am able to edit during that time though.

Zero to Hero: When you first began this journey, what level of success did you imagine for yourself? Is where you’re at heading toward that original destination? If not, how has your dream evolved over the years?

I only ever wanted to finish writing a book, so I’m ahead of my original destination. Everything from here feels like bonus material.

Remember my name: What authors helped you realize your interest or passion for writing? What books helped shape your writing style or genre or choice?

There’s an interview of Diana Gabaldon where she talks about starting Outlander. I was about the same age as her when she decided to write it, and I decided it was time for me to start stringing some of my scenes together to see what was there. On a whim, I joined a critique group and that turned into a huge motivator for me. Every two weeks, other writers were gonna sit down with my work, I tried not to embarrass myself.

Marvel/DC: Comparison is dangerous. How has comparing your author journey to others dismantled or helped yours? Any advice to overcome this. 

I don’t have any advice except to expect those feelings will come. Feel them, then congratulate your peers, and get back to your own beeswax.

The obligatory love interest: Looking back on your early work, what genres have you grown to love or hate to write?

It’s not that I hate to write it, but world building has proved extra halting for me. I have 20K of a sci-fi written. But, I’m all, oh, here are my characters eating lunch. Wait, where did the food come from and what kind of societal hierarchy exists in order to provide that sweet potato?

Archnemisis: What are the most common excuses you’ve given, or what outside forces have you overcome, that prevented you from writing?

Time and sleep, dudes. My work hours are usually the bookends of a day. I get the most done in the a.m. before my family is awake. Less at night, because my brain is wiped creativity-wise. Like I said earlier, reading and editing usually happen during that time.

Superhero Name: When you began, did you consider a pen name? If you’re using one, why? If you decided against one, why?

I did consider one, but ultimately didn’t find it necessary.

Avengers Assemble: Tag a few of your favorite people! 

You! Yes, you. Have at this.

Just make sure you give credit where credit is due. This tag was created by Evie Driver. Here’s a link to the original blog post.

https://www.eviedriver.com/the-author-origin-story-tag-original/.

And here’s a link to Lenn Woolston’s booktube channel. She shares a lot of great writing tips.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ845MOBi3mbvszAU6bi0RQ/featured

 

 

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Posted in Writer-ish

Reader Response 3(?) For The Faith of a Writer

Movement as meditation, that’s how Oates regards her running habit. Can I relate? Not while running, no. I blew out my knee the first time I ever tried to ski. So, I gotta focus on all the moving parts when I run. My mind can’t wander into the world of my books because then my breathing gets all wonky.

But when I walk/hike, I get it. In these moments I’m turning the setting over in my head looking for details I’d left out. Or searching for the magical ways a story can connect within itself. Sometimes a piece of character back story clicks into place and takes me by surprise.

With a quick internet search, mediate defined is to think deeply or focus one’s mind. During my walks, I’m not consuming media, I’m not talking to another living soul. I’m just observing the world around me and sometimes stopping to take pictures of something I find beautiful. These are my #writerwalks and they’re as important as any other piece of my process.

 

Posted in Writer-ish

The Faith of a Writer: Reader Response 2

JCO Book (1)

In First Loves: From “Jabberwocky” to “After Apple Picking” Joyce Carol Oates examines her earliest and most treasured experiences with literature and poetry.

Mine came with my grandparents giant stereo. Shaped kind of like a hope chest, the lid opened and a bunch of stuff was stored inside, the turntable, records, puffy headphones, and Granny’s stash of audio picture books. Granny was a kindergarten teacher so there were probably a lot in there, but the only one I remember is Bony Legs by Joanna Cole illustrated by Dirk Zimmer. The story follows Sasha as she travels to a house on chicken legs to borrow something from the witch that lives there. Upon arrival, she helps the gates stop squeaking and feeds some animals. They all gift her seemingly plain items as thanks. All along Bony Legs, with her iron teeth, plots to eat Sasha up. But since Sasha was kind, the animals help, and those gifts they gave earlier prove crucial in Sasha’a escape. Bony Legs is Baba Yaga from Slavic folklore. It’s by far, the creepiest/best story I ever heard as a kid. My sister and I listened every time we visited. I can still hear the narrator’s scratchy lilt as Bony Legs asks, “Are you washing, girl?”

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An amazing friend embroidered this illustration from Bony Legs for me.

I can appreciate anyone’s adoration for their first book loves, mine runs so deep.

_There are two primary influences in a writer's life_ those influences that come so early in childhood, they seem to soak into t.jpg

This line really sparked more reflection about my writer self.

Have you seen writers talk, specifically on Twitter, about the recurring ideas that pop up in their writing? I try and tweet out a funny response centered around absent dads, insects, and the color pink. I can’t really pinpoint why. When I read over those lines about exercising control, I thought of ten-year-old me, with her braces and purple-framed glasses. That year my mom died.

So here I am, thirty-ish years later writing, yeah, absent dads, but also strong, present mothers because I am one, and I lost one.

These things are my marrow.

I love chatting about what keeps showing up in an author’s writing. What do you have on repeat?

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: A Light Amongst Shadows by Kelley York & Rowan Altwood

AlasIn book one of the Dark is the Night series, James Spencer’s arrival at Whisperwood, a last-chance school for boys, marks the beginning of a dreamy romance set amid a fairly nightmarish haunting in a setting that predates both indoor plumbing and electricity.

The authors did a masterful job keeping the tone and setting pulsing with that historic vibe. From page one, the reader stays firmly transported back in time where they first meet James, a sociable young man, who falls for William, the school loner. As the two, navigate getting to know each other, demons are revealed, but not just theirs. The school itself has a secrets and it becomes James and William’s goal to uncover them.

James and William are a swoon-worthy duo. This reader appreciated the slow-burn of their relationship.

Some of the early ghost scenes could have used more of a tension amp. But honestly, as the end came near, I didn’t read it at nighttime.

At one point, I considered how multiple perspectives could have enhanced the story overall. So, to read the afterward and see that might be something included in future books made this reader happy.

A Light Amongst Shadows fulfilled my need for a historical ghost read this summer and I look forward to future escapades in book two!

Alas rating

Posted in Writer-ish

The Faith of a Writer: Reader Response

JCO Book (1)The first short, District School #7, Niagara County, New York, Joyce Carol Oates hones in on her early school experiences and fascination with reading as a child.

My own school memories come in odd flashes because there was never too much time spent in one place. Dad walked me to kindergarten. That’s me, the one with long pig tails and knee socks, hopping over the corners of our neighbor’s garden, careful not to disturb a seed with Dad right there. Running along the edge of our backyard, the garden was this massive patch of tilled dirt. Its size directly correlated to mine at the time. The neighbor must have complained about my sister and I playing in it, because there was a constant source of warning surrounding the thing.

“Stay out of the garden!” Came calling like a distant slogan from behind the screen door.

But we couldn’t. And in that way, I lived out my very own tale with Mr. McGregor, or something. Peter Rabbit was kindred.

Oates goes on to talk about her near lust for understanding reality through the adult world of books. She mined through the mysterioso language of adult lit that represented ideas of grown, sophistication, and real.

I literally never felt this way about kid’s books though. I love them still, but even as a kid I preferred the text-to-self connections I drew from books made with a kid audience in mind. I never felt an urge for a distinction between the fantastical and the real. They existed together. Peter understood the pull of my neighbor’s garden.

 

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: There Goes Sunday School

TGSS (1)
This cover though! Into it.

There Goes Sunday School by Alexander C. Eberhart is told from main character, Mike’s, first-person point of view. A perspective that comes from a closeted teen living in a conservative and uber-Christian home. As the blurb says, “Gay is NOT okay.” To cope, Mike leans on a pair of exuberant friends and his sketchbook. When Mike develops feelings for the hellfire and brimstone pastor’s son, things really get interesting.

Right off the bat, this book is filled with so much voice! Mike, along with his friends, participate in this snark-filled, crass banter that I pretty much adored. And, they were funny! I highlighted jokes, guys. Interestingly enough, I didn’t always love Mike. He’s flawed, often times super critical of others, and sometimes as judgmental as they are. As expected, his angst-level is high throughout the majority of the book, so it can be stressful to be in his head for the duration.

If we’re looking at the suggested age range for YA, which is 13-18, I’d keep this book in the hands of your upper YA readers due to some high heat and language.

Modification-wise, a secondary character makes derogatory jokes about a teacher’s short stature. Now, surely, in this privileged private school setting the reality is that some teens talk this way, but I’m not sure how responsible it is to leave something like this unchecked. In 2018, some teenagers would call out one of their peers for using a slur. I wish Mike had.

Beyond that, There Goes Sunday School does have heart. As Mike grapples with repeatedly hearing he is an abomination, the reader gets a glimpse at some of Mike’s actual prayers. These are pleading snippets of inner monologue that worked really well at highlighting the damage caused by such hurtful diatribes against the LGBTQIA community.

TGSS rating

*I received a free copy of this book.

Posted in Randoms, Writer-ish

Book Recs: Hope Edition

Some events of the past week got me thinking about books that left me feeling optimistic and connected. What books touched on that inexplicable sense of a bigger picture in which we all take part? I scanned through many pages of my GoodReads account and rustled up these gems. Some of these I read recently and others nearly ten years ago. But for the most part, I still think they hold up.

The Hobbit

Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent. (GoodReads Blurb)

I read this as a kid and many times thereafter. Actually, it’s one of the few books I have re-read. Now there’s a lot to be taken from The Hobbit, but one idea I always find intriguing is how uncomfortable Bilbo is, and that it was okay for him to be so. We tend to shy away from unease, but those awkward moments often hold the most potential for growth.

WildRobot1

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. (GoodReads Blurb)

One of my best-loved reads from earlier this year, The Wild Robot made me think about what it means to be human. In a sense it’s wrapped up in our ability to care for others. A trait that, in the thick of 2017, seems easily forgettable.

Holes

Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption. (GoodReads Blurb)

A favorite classroom read-aloud from way back when, Holes makes connections in a fun, authentic way. The way in which Sachar weaves in this idea of interdependence is a beautiful thing.

Walk2Moons

Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.  (Goodreads Blurb)

I read this in college for a kid-lit course and used it for literature study with a few groups of young readers. There may have been some ugly cries, but man, this book has so much heart. The character’s relationships just fill you up with love.

Hoot

Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter? (Back of the book blurb)

With a strong focus on eco-consciousness, I loved sharing this one with kids. To care, and fight, for every living thing is important and super relatable.

Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey! (Blurb from GoodReads)

This one made my list of hope because it’s awesome fun. Plus, positive diverse representation always gets two thumbs up from me. It matters.

And just so ya know…

Matilda by Roald Dahl