Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Cuteness

So! This week was just sort of blah. So many gloomy days in a row really saps a person's energy. But here in DC we are (finally!) having a beautiful fall day, the sun is shining, the air is dry and cool, and the traffic was light enough that I had time to pick up coffee on the way to work. Delicious, delicious iced coffee.

Either way, I think a lot of people had a bit of a tiring week. And to get through Friday, some of us might need a bit of a pick-me-up.


(Disclaimer: This is not my kitten. If this was my kitten, I would never get anything done, because I would just spend all my time playing with her.)

How was your week? Did you get much writing done? Did you find any adorable cat videos that you'd like to share?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Upcoming: Paranormal/Horror Month!

I had a longer post in mind for today, but then it didn't end up making any sense. Instead, I am going to announce my new blog project!

As some of you may know, I love creepy things. (I know. I'm not very subtle about it.) As you may have guessed from my love-of-creepy-things, October is one of my favorite months ever. So throughout the month of October, at least once a week, I will be posting material of the Paranormal or Horror persuasion!

Depending on how ambitious/busy I am that particular week, this may include:
- Reviews of awesomely scary books on Afterglow
- A post about my process for writing creepy scenes
- An introduction to classic Japanese ghosts and monsters (which are INCREDIBLY COOL)
- Possible flash-fiction for Halloween night?
- And whatever else comes to mind

What do you guys think? Is there anything you'd like to see? Do any of the above sound particularly appealing to you?

Friday, September 23, 2011

On time management

When I talk to many of the people I knew in my high school or college writing programs, many of them will say to me, "You're so lucky. I really want to write, but I can't find the time." 

As an administrative assistant, a lot of what I do is scheduling. I take the things that my bosses want to do and I distill them into a controlled chaos. I try to make everything fit, even when it's not perfect - especially when it's not perfect. Sometimes I get lucky, and things work out. And the rest of the time I can often be heard saying things like "Did you have your heart set on eating that day?" or "How much do you hate that hotel?"

So I spend most of my weekdays doing that, and then I go home and attempt to be my own scheduler. I am generally much less successful.

I would like to take a moment to express my deepest admiration to those of you who have spouses and kids. Y'all have superpowers. Or barring that, Time Turners. As a 23-year-old single woman, I have very few responsibilities, but even I don't have enough hours in the day. I get off work at 5:30, I get home around 6:30, I make myself something quick for dinner, and then I get straight to revisions. Even though I've been out of college for more than a year, I feel like I'm still trying to nail down the rhythms of post-collegiate life, to varying levels of success.

Some nights I'm much more productive than others. Sometimes my brain is on, sometimes it's off. It's certainly off by the time I'm done writing for the day. And then other things get ahead of me. The apartment's upkeep gets ahead of me. Laundry gets ahead of me. Comcast crashes again. My exercise regimen gets shot to hell. I abruptly remember that I need to allow some social time so my friends and family don't think I'm dead. That sort of thing.

The strange thing that happens with these busy days is that people get so overwhelmed with everything they have to do, they'll just leave all of it undone. They can't do everything, so they won't do anything. Some days I feel like that, and I know that weekdays are going to be haphazard. But that's why, on Fridays, I act as my own scheduler and I plan my weekend. Besides writing, what am I going to take care of? What two or three big things am I going to catch up on in my free time?

That simple method just makes everything feel more manageable, and getting non-writing things done lets me get so much more work done on writing. Productivity just creates so much energy and confidence. Instead of lying around and watching bad television all weekend, I feel like I can do anything. I can finish this tough rewrite! I can figure out what I want to do with this scene! I can go buy a shoe rack! (Don't judge. That's the best purchase I've ever made.)

So I tell my former classmates that I understand. It's hard enough to figure out how to function as an adult without adding writing to the mix. It's not an easy thing to settle into at all. But I'm learning how to be my own scheduler. I take the things I want to do and I distill them into a controlled chaos. I make everything fit, even when it's not perfect - especially when it's not perfect. And that's how I find the time to write.

I'm still trying to figure out where sleep fits into all this, though.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting to know you

So it looks like I have a lot of new people around here! Welcome to my blog, guys! My name is Becky, and I'm ridiculous.

I thought I would hold another open thread today to let everyone get to know each other. So come on in, tell me about yourselves, and tell me a little about your WIP if you like! And if you have any questions for me, I'd be happy to answer them. :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Let me tell you some things about myself as a reader:

I love romance, and when a good one comes along, I can get really, really invested in it. But in general, I prefer romance as a great spice, not the main dish. Also, I tend to like my male love interests sweet and dorky, but I can be persuaded to the tall, dark and sexy side of the force. Especially if they are secret dorks.

I love creepy stories, but I'm not big on reading about the zombie apocalypse. I think it plays into my general nervousness about pandemics, and it stresses me out to imagine myself in the characters' position. I do, however, like more lighthearted takes on it.

I'm not big on dystopian stories about the all-powerful government. I like a messier take on the post-apocalyptic landscape. Actually, my ideal dystopian story is a mixture of both: a society that's only organized on the surface.

I prefer my mysteries in creepy small towns. Shiny crime thrillers don't grab me as much... except when they do.

I'm not a huge fan of gritty revenge stories, except when they are emotionally driven, have sympathetic protagonists, and explore the characters' morality without getting preachy. Then I love them. (If they're done well.)

There are lots of things I don't like. Except when I do like them.

I can work a bookstore like a pro. I scan the shelves, pick up what looks interesting, and read the summary and first page. If it grabs me, I pick it up. If not, I put it down. I put a ton of books down, even books that people have raved to me about. But depending on what's going on in my head that day, the criteria changes. Random little things can turn me off. Any number of factors go into that split-second choice, and I leave without all kinds of great books.

And these are all published books!

This particular ramble was triggered by reading several posts on various forums along these lines: "X agent said they wanted urban fantasy, but they still rejected me!" I know how frustrating it is to be rejected by an agent you think is perfect for you, but this is what they mean by 'this business is subjective.' Maybe your dystopia went organized when they wanted disorganized. Maybe your MC reminds them of someone they really don't want to be reminded of. Maybe you're writing a genre they love, but not the tropes that made them love it.

So to those of you on those forums: next time you get a rejection from someone who seemed so perfect for you, think about how many books you don't buy when you go to the store. It doesn't mean those are bad books. It just means, for whatever reason, they're not for you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've been tagged!

Good morning, all! I had a wonderfully restful weekend, and I'm feeling vaguely human again. And as it turns out, I have also been tagged by the lovely Tiffany to post ten random facts about myself!

Since I did post some facts not too long ago (bad Becky, getting ahead of yourself), I'm going to do something slightly different with this. Since last week sort of made me want to punt my desk through a wall, I'm going to post Ten Things To Be Happy About Today! So without further ado, here I go.

1. I finished my line-by-line notes this weekend, and I'm going to start rewrites tonight! I'm really happy, because this is the fun part. I feel like the reread was some kind of editing triage: figuring out which passages would be okay with a little patching, and which ones needed more intensive rewrites. But now I actually get to start fixing it. I can't wait!

2. My favorite time of the year is quickly approaching! I may be alone in this, but I think that October, November, and December are the best months of the year. I can't wait to bust out the sweaters and scarves, and I especially can't wait to curl up with some hot chocolate or a pumpkin spice latte.

3. I am flush with fantastic reading material lately. Besides all the great books in my to-read pile, I plan to pick up Wildwood (which is going to have a stop-motion movie adaptation, BE STILL MY HEART), Possess, and Isle of Blood. Two horror novels and a quirky fantasy - that's pretty much all I need to be happy.

4. After my sudden burst of productivity over the weekend, my apartment is sparkly clean. This is more monumentous than I care to admit.

5. Inspiration struck last week, and now I think my next project is all set to go. I may still change my mind while I'm revising this one, but I think this new idea fills in the gap that had been preventing me from getting invested.

6. It's so wonderfully quiet today. I am taking the opportunity to bask in it. 

7. I talked about writing with non-writing people yesterday! And they didn't look at me funny! I have always been a bit nervous about discussing my writing with people for the first time, but my friends seemed genuinely interested in the manuscript and are cheering me on. I was going through some slight revision panic that day, so it was good to hear.

8. Maybe as a result of all the things above, I am feeling relaxed and confident. And that's always a wonderful thing.

9. I have you guys! When I started this blog, I thought I'd have one or two subscribers, but I managed to find some really great people. I love logging on in the morning to check your posts, and I'm really enjoying watching you all follow your dreams. I can't wait to see where you end up!

10. I am buying brie tonight. And yes, that totally belongs on this list. Brie is delicious, y'all.

Tagged: I think most of you have already done this (or have already been tagged) but feel free to share a random fact/something that made you happy/etc in the comments!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Revisions. Revisions forever.

It is a very good thing that I had a relaxing holiday weekend, because I have gone right back to my 'office by day, revisions by night' schedule of unholy doom. And as if to prove a point, in the middle of writing that sentence I was dragged off to negotiate with florists. (Oh, day job. You give me such interesting life skills.)

I'm working very late tomorrow night, so I want to make sure to get lots done tonight. I've got four chapters left to mark up and make notes on, and my outlines and lists of new/extended scenes grow longer every day. Right now I am mainly focusing on the gaps where I can weave in the new material, and the areas that can be rewritten to strengthen voice. Making the exposition and worldbuilding richer is going to be tons of fun, but the real work will be giving this manuscript a beating heart.

And that all hinges on my protagonist, Kalinda. Oh, Kalinda. I know she's not the cold fish everyone thinks she is, and I know she wants to look that way because she thinks people will take her more seriously. I know how desperately she wants to be the hero, the knight in shining armor, and I know how deeply rooted her fears, doubts, and insecurities are. I know that she has a crush she emphatically does not want to have, and I know that she keeps her mouth shut because when she doesn't, all the awkwardness just pours right out.

But Kalinda? Just because you're reserved doesn't mean you can hold all these things back from me.

The challenge here is going to be to really break that character open and let the readers see her as she is, not how she wants to appear. That's the main focus of my reread right now. And I think that if I nail that in the rewrites, my MS is going to be so, so much better.

So, y'know. No pressure or anything.

On an unrelated note, I'm loving all the writing excerpts around here lately! I'd love to join in the fun, but I don't know what I'd post. Do y'all have any suggestions/things you're curious to see?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ego Boost Friday

When you're revising, it's pretty easy to lose track of what you like about your own writing. Last night I reread the pivotal chapters at the midpoint of the manuscript, and the number of notes I took and passages I marked up was a little overwhelming. I know a lot of you are going through revisions as well, and I'll bet some of you are sitting there and thinking about your flaws, just like I am right now.

Well, don't get me wrong, it's so important to stay critical of your writing. But every so often, I think it's important to remember that you're not some hopeless, worthless hack. So I declare today Ego Boost Friday! How do you participate in Ego Boost Friday? Easy. Just comment here and tell me one thing you like about your WIP. It can be as tiny or significant as you want. Feel free to send your friends over to play, too!

As for me... hmm. I'm probably happiest with the reveal in chapter ten - I marked up comparatively few passages in the last scene. And in general, I'm excited for some of these new scenes I'm going to write!

Your turn, bloggers!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Random Becky Facts

Eek. So I started writing this post hours ago, and then my entire morning sort of exploded. 'Tis much quieter now, and I have managed to get my hands on a calming mug of red milk tea. I am finally approaching a vaguely human state again, and I need a silly, lighthearted post more than ever!

I've been seeing the Ten Random Facts posts crop up here and there, and I thought it looked fun. Here's mine!

1. As you may have guessed from the above, I am a bit of a tea fiend. But different kinds of tea serve different purposes! Fruit-flavored teas should be served with honey and lemon juice, sweet red or black teas should be served with milk, and you should never add anything to Japanese green tea. I have more loose-leaf tea in my apartment than I will ever be able to drink.

2. While I do the majority of my writing at home, I think the best place to write is 30,000 feet in the air! The best thing about writing on a plane is that there are no distractions, and I won't be tempted to go waste time on the internet. And on top of that, when I have a dying laptop battery on my hands, I don't spend nearly as much time obsessing over which word to use. The only problem is when the person in front of me reclines right into my laptop...

3. I took writing workshops for six straight years. I 'majored' in creative writing at an arts high school, which involved taking several classes in my 'arts area,' and then I took workshops for my first two years of college. I also did a summer course at the Sewanee Young Writers Conference in Tennessee, which was AWESOME.

4. I used to write a lot more poetry than fiction, even though I always wanted to be a novelist. Weirdly enough, the poetry that I wrote five years ago is way better than anything I can write now.

5. I am bilingual: English and Japanese. I lived in Tokyo for half a year, and I'm currently at a Japanese workplace. My reading/writing isn't that great, but in my defense, there are three different writing systems used simultaneously.

6. It is a great source of shame to me at the office that I am terrible at origami. I was so excited when I finally made something that looked vaguely bird-ish, and then my coworker looked at it and gave me the Japanese version of "What the hell is that?" Even my best crane looks like a mangled duck.

7. I. Love. Cooking. I don't cook as much now that I live by myself, but my college roommates and I used to prepare fabulous three-course meals together. The first thing I ever made was risotto, and I still love making it: there's something almost calming about all that stirring, and it's so easy to be creative and make the recipe totally different. Other things I love to make: mac and cheese, chilled cucumber soup, avgolemono, lentil stew, goat cheese and chive mashed potatoes, and Japanese curry.

8. One thing I really miss: theatre. I love being on stage, even if I don't get many opportunities anymore. I've gotten to play some really great characters, but I think I had the most fun playing Peter Pan when I was in fifth grade. They didn't hook me up to any wires for the flying scenes, much to my disappointment.

9. Some women have a shoe problem. I have a scarf problem. I have scarves in every freaking color of the wind, and I still leap to the cash register whenever I see a cute one. I'm getting better at curbing my impulses, though.

10. I love love love ghost stories, but I have absolutely zero interest in paranormal investigation or anything like that. I so do not want to know if those kinds of things exist. I would be a horrible protagonist in a horror movie, because if I moved into a haunted house, I would be out of there in the first fifteen minutes. Incidentally, the basement of the older building at work is supposedly haunted, but I have never stayed there long enough to see for myself.

And that's it for me! What are some random facts about you?