Thursday, June 30, 2011


That title is meant to be funny--I'm not really beating myself up over not finishing my revisions this month. It's been crazy-busy here the past couple of weeks, and the poor little WIP never had a chance. We moved on Tuesday, by which I mean that movers hauled our furniture over. Everything else--plates, pots, pans, etc--is still at the old place and being picked up on an as-needed basis until we can build the momentum to pack it all up.

Here is a photo of my new home office! This is where I will be writing...once we get an office chair. Until then we're using an Ikea footstool, which doesn't feel as ergonomic.

Wondering why my bookshelf is empty? Well, I haven't finished unpacking and arranging. But here's a good start:

I did skip out on moving last Saturday to go out to Pasadena with my CP Liz to the YA in Bloom event. Some very cool local YA authors were there, and I got a copy of In the Path of Falling Objects signed by the supercool Andrew Smith, and won an ARC of Gretchen McNeil's Possess, and since she was there too I asked her to sign it as well. She was so sweet and friendly--I can't wait to read her book. Folks, these are my first two signed copies of anything! I had a great time talking to other local writers (hi Sophia! hi Kristen! oder vielleicht sollte ich eher grüß dich sagen?) Has anyone ever counted the number of YA writers who also speak German? There are more than a few of us. What is up with that? Anyway, so much fun talking with them--I hope there are more social events like that soon.

So there goes June--and now we're halfway through 2011. Fellow JuNoWriMo'ers, I hope you all had more success than I did meeting your goals. This move really threw a wrench in my plans. I'm giving myself the weekend to settle in, eat some bbq and watch some fireworks, and then Tuesday it's back to the grindstone. Enjoy the holiday weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doing The Things We Do Not Relish

I just wanted to post a quick update to say that I'm still around. We got the keys to our new place this afternoon, so the moving madness is about to hit full swing. Oh joy. We packed up about 30 tons of books last weekend, and we haven't even finished the first bookshelf yet. Good thing I picked up that Groupon for a chiropractor.

It was exciting to walk around the new place and imagine what it will be like when it is full of us and our belongings. We've got a great location, right in the middle of Venice. We're increasing our square footage, including an extra bedroom. All in all, this is a big happy step for us.

So why was I feeling a little panicky when I got back home to my apartment? I started to worry about silly things like what cupboard I would put my spices in, and less silly things like what if someone vaults the fence and breaks in? I've only lived in complexes out here, never in a single-family house, so I feel like I'm venturing outside the fortress. And the parking spots, oy--I think I'll need to turn in my Prius for a clown car to make these turns.

These are the kinds of worries that keep people from stepping outside their comfort zone, I know. Life will be different here, and different is scary. But just like starting a new job, going to that conference, sending out those query letters--these are the things you put yourself through to get somewhere better.

The writing has taken and will continue to take a bit of a dip over the next week or so while we reassemble ourselves five miles down the road. I'm keeping my hopes up that it will go smoothly, and using the image of my sunny new home office as incentive. I'll be at the YA in Bloom event out in Pasadena on Saturday, so if you're going, look for the shell-shocked gal with the cramped hands and crooked lumbar support belt rocking back and forth in the corner, and come say hi to me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thunder's Day

Hello, Thursday. How did you get here so fast?

We went out with an out-of-town friend last night for a few drinks, and I'm feeling rather...slow today. I want to start off my post today with a big thank you to Jenna Cooper for bestowing the Versatile Blogger award on me. Posting the button and nominating more folks is sounding really complicated and in truth I'm not feeling especially versatile at the moment. I nominate you all in spirit. And instead of listing 7 things about myself, as I tend to share plenty on this blog anyhow, I'm going to list the next 7 books that are queued up on my Kindle.

1. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan
2. Monsters of Men - Patrick Ness
3. Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly
4. Everlost - Neal Shusterman
5. Unwind - Neal Shusterman
6. Great House - Nicole Krauss
7. Pathfinder - Orson Scott Card

I'm very excited about all of these. Feel free to geek out with me if any of these are your particular favorites.

JuNoWriMo update: I'm still way behind schedule, but I've been kinda kicking butt this week so I'm feeling good. With these revisions, I'm truly learning the meaning of killing your darlings. Scenes that seemed so important before are flying off left and right, and I'm okay with that. An agent (and I wish I could remember which one) once posted that it's okay to kill your darlings because you'll write new and better darlings, and that little token of advice has brought me complete revision zen. And it's true, I like the new scenes better.

And finally, some dates: If you live in the LA area and are free this Saturday, do yourself a favor and get over to Pink Taco for the first ever Kit Lit Drink Night from 6-8. This sounds like so much fun, but tragically I already have plans that I can't get out of. So go, and then tell me how awesome it was and how much I missed out. I'm pouting already.

Also, tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the SCBWI summer conference at the early rate. It's only a $20 difference, but if you know you want to go, why not bite the bullet and write that fat check now? I know it's not cheap, but I went last year and it was worth every penny. If you have any questions about it, or about traveling to LA, feel free to email me.

Did you know today is Recess at Work Day? I hope you're celebrating. I hear ethernet cables make good jump ropes...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Please Sell Me Your Time Machine

I skipped blogging for most of last week, and I'd like to tell you that it was because I was getting caught up on all my revision goals for JuNoWriMo.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

However, I did make some progress, and I'm still chipping away. I've reached a few chapters where I can revise what's already written rather than writing all new stuff, which I hope will help me to bound ahead a few chapters. Because I feel like this is NEVER GOING TO END.

I don't really get time for writing on the weekends, so I have to fit my writing time in during the week. Between my job and the fact that my husband and I have plans most evenings, this leaves a very fine sliver of time for yours truly. Most days I have to make a choice--do I use this time for writing, or to go to the gym? Because for the life of me, I cannot fit in both. More often than not, I end up getting all indecisive and doing neither, and that free time gets sucked into the social networking abyss. And then I don't get a workout, which makes me sad and flabby, and I don't make progress on my WIP, which makes me sad and ornery.

Clearly I need to work on my time management skills. Last week I told my critique partner I feel like if I could just get a handle on one of these things, then I could figure out how to manage both. So I am dubbing this THE WEEK OF NOT HAVING TO CHOOSE, and layering a gym challenge on top of my revision challenge. I dragged myself out of bed this morning to get to an early spin class, which got me to work early as well, and I'll be damned if I'm not feeling perkier and more ambitious than usual. So for this week: a workout every morning, and revisions on the next three chapters.

Hold me to it, blogosphere. I will figure out how to manage my time if I have to bend the space-time continuum to do it! And tell me, what secrets have you discovered for managing your time?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday, Monday

I have returned alive from my husband's birthday weekend in Vegas. Alive, and with all the energy and ambition of a garden slug. Let's do a Monday Five, shall we?

  • I followed the WSJ kerfuffle on Twitter over the weekend, and damn, the YA folk are a passionate group! It all comes down to parenting, right? People trying to tell people how to raise their kids, those people telling them to back off, everybody swayed by the people who aren't doing a great job of raising their own kids, since those are the ones everybody hears about because they are more likely to end up in the news. Oh, the humanity. I spent my youth reading Stephen King books, so a little dark YA certainly wouldn't have twisted my soul.
  • After reading that article, I decided it was time to finally read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I think I jumped on board a little too late though--I know it's a classic and all, but the 1943 writing style is driving me bonkers. It's like Angela's Ashes, only with a lot more telling. Telling, telling, telling. Don't hate me, I know this book has mega-fans.
  • We signed a lease this morning, which makes it official that we are moving in a few weeks. This is a little scary, as we haven't moved in five years and we are going from an apartment to a full-on house, with stairs and everything. Also, I haven't met the landlords yet (this was done through a realtor), and I hope they are awesome. Scary.
  • Last week my awesome critique partner Liz (who swears she is coming off blog hiatus soon, right Liz?) signed us up for the YA in Bloom event out in Pasadena on June 25th. Anybody else going?
  • JuNoWriMo update: According to my calendar, I need to be done revising chapter 14 by the end of the week. I just finished up 9. Wildly, wildly optimistic, but I'll be pushing myself to get as close as possible. Blog updates may be infrequent this week. And on that note, adios!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Joy of Scent

For about the last five years, I've had a lot of problems with my sinuses. I've tried all sorts of stuff to fix them (if one more person tells me to try a neti pot I will scream), but the problem still comes and goes in waves of sinus infections. Obvious and worst side effect: not being able to breathe. Less obvious but more troubling side effect: loss of smell.

When you can't smell anything, it's not like losing your hearing or vision. Life goes on basically the same, and you walk around oblivious in a scent-free world. Sometimes it's even a good thing, when everyone around you is writhing over some horrible stink, and you're grinning like a fool. But then comes dinner time at a fancy restaurant, and you find yourself eating a $40 plate that looks like a work of art and wondering how it tastes. Fresh mint and eucalyptus leaves are interchangeable for you. Or you're cooking, and you lean over the bubbling pot to waft some steam towards your face, and...nothing.

I'm on a new mix of drugs this week, and the swelling in my sinuses has gone down enough that my smell receptors have resurfaced. I don't recommend it, but if you do ever happen to lose your sense of smell for an extended period of time, it's pretty awesome when it comes back. All of a sudden, you smell EVERYTHING. It's like super-bionic smell, you can smell carpet and paint and grass and dirt and motor oil and everything you walk past, and because it's been so long, it all smells good. It's a symphony in your nostrils. Right now I'm doing some laundry, and the detergent is kind of blowing my mind. It's so STRONG.

Anyhow, that's all I wanted to share for today. Kind of random. Writing progress continues, chapter 9 has been (mostly) dealt with. I just can't blog about writing when I'm so obsessed with grabbing everything in sight and stuffing it under my nose. Anybody else gone through something like this? No? Well, enjoy the weekend. JuNoWriMo'ers, be productive!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No Gloom For Me, Thank You

Here's something I didn't know about Los Angeles when I moved here: June sucks. You may think we're all sunshine and beaches and movie stars out here, but in June a marine layer rolls in off the ocean to hover over our fair city, and we are grey and overcast for pretty much the entire month. They call this June Gloom. Oh, the tourists just love that! Last summer the marine layer started early, with May Grey, and lasted much longer, right through Fogust, and we got cheated out of our southern Cali summer altogether. You should have heard the collective whining!

I'm still a fan of June though, that mild portender of barbecues to come. Back in the day, it was when school got out and the lazy mornings of sipping Kool-Aid and watching The Price Is Right began. It's usually a slow month, sandwiched as it is between Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Folks in the Midwest might be planting their gardens, or harvesting their first tender lettuce and tiny strawberries. Sigh. I need a plane ticket to Chippewa County.

Here in L.A., I won't be letting June Gloom get me down--I've got too much to do. As noted in my last post, I'm taking part in Shallee McArthur's JuNoWriMo challenge, with the intent to revise three chapters a week. This means I'm supposed to be done with chapter 11 by this weekend, and...I may not hit that goal. I'm still negotiating a series of agreements with chapter 9, and I'm leaving tomorrow for Vegas to celebrate my dear husband's (June!) birthday. This doesn't mean I can't try to catch up next week. Six chapters! Double time! I'm also, um, moving in two weeks, which might throw a tiny wrench in my intentions. Will this make me scrap my calendar? No way! Full charge!

How could I be gloomy when I've got so much fun ahead of me? What are your June plans?