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Enough

1 Jun

Enough.

Six letters stand in the way of your best work.

Six letters can convince you you can’t possibly work harder. Sometimes it’s true. Not always.

Six letters can be the difference between succeeding at your goal and coming up just a little bit short of it.

Don’t settle for good enough.

Settle for your best.

On Conflict

30 May

My grandmother nearly died at our family reunion yesterday, but did not want any medical attention. Three of her four children were present, along with five of her six grandchildren, her husband, and everyone who has either married into or been born into our family.

My grandmother is an incredible woman.

We all love her. We all express that love in different ways; we all feel passionately about caring for her in the ‘best way possible.’ We disagree on what the ‘best way possible’ actually is.

This sort of passion, and love—even with the best of intentions, and especially focused on issues of life or death—can lead to some intense conflict. It can be exhausting.

Perhaps it’s weird that, at the end of the day, my thoughts turned to my novel-in-progress. Or, perhaps it was just a way to think of something else. Whatever the reason, I drifted off to sleep with thoughts about the following:

My novel-in-progress: Emotion, and the various ways people express themselves, is at the heart of this new story I’m writing. I know that sounds übervague, since emotional expression is a huge part of any story, really—but I’m exploring it more heavily than usual for this idea.

As excited as I’ve been about this new project, it’s hard to start from scratch after investing so much in Speck Hawkins. Lots of my heart and soul went into that novel, and this new idea…well, so far, it’s just been a good idea to pursue.

Yesterday made it personal; themes and thoughts that were merely hypothetical somehow made their way into my real life. As exhausting as it was, now I know: my heart and soul WILL be in this new project. I feel more closely tied to it now. For a big idea like the one I’m exploring, I think I needed to have that connection in order to push past the rush of merely starting it.

On conflict, and writing it: I have decided the following are true: 1) conflict—especially the intense, exhausting sort—is not fun to experience, and 2) if you must experience it, at least that means you can come from an honest place when writing it.

Also: how odd is it that we writers put ourselves willingly into the position to create (and, therefore, experience vicariously through our characters) conflict on a daily basis, even though it’s such an exhausting thing to actually go through, you know? There must be something therapeutic to it.

I don’t usually tread into waters so personal here on the blog, but I know I’m hardly alone when it comes to family drama—I think it’s safe to say that any person, with a family or without one, has been affected by it at some point. Prayers for my grandmother’s health, and for any lingering tension certain family members might feel, would be greatly appreciated. ♥

Patience

17 May

Sometimes I wish I could do everything at once:

Hurry up and finish drafting Meren, my new work-in-progress.

Hurry up and finish drafting Tokyo, my *other* new work-in-progress.

Read all the amazing books on my shelf, both published-and-acclaimed and yet-to-be-published-and-acclaimed.

Do another pass and polish for Speck Hawkins, my beloved novel I’ve worked so very hard on this whole time you’ve known me—it needs to lose at least 10K (more than that, if I’m honest) before I continue querying agents.

Give feedback for my crit partners, whose works-in-progress are freaking awesome and leave me hungry for more.

Sometimes I want to do it all, and do it all at once. Today. Now.

But then, I remember: it’s not simply about getting to the other side of goals. It’s about loving what I do, taking joy and pride in doing it with as much excellence as possible, loving the experience. It’s about being patient and diligent, working hard and not shooting myself in the foot by rushing things. That doesn’t mean it’s about ignoring goals, or discipline, or deadlines—those things are essential for anyone who wants to make progress, professionally, and I take them seriously. It’s just that they’re not the only things that matter.

It’s about being a writer who loves to write, not about being a writer who simply loves having written.

Enjoy today, wherever you are. Don’t wish it away.

Late Night Random Thought…

9 May

You know you and your husband are Harry Potter nerds¹ when you suggest the seemingly normal name ‘Brian’ for the Possible Names We Could Name Our Son list…

…and your husband assumes you got the idea because you were thinking of Dumbledore.

And he’s right.²

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

¹As if this wasn’t the first clue…
²And thus you have the story of how it came to be that our son will NOT be named Brian. (Or Wulfric, for that matter.) I must say, though, the whole four-first-names thing is tempting, given our indecisiveness and long list of possibilities…

Wine + Cheese

4 Apr

(…and other things I can’t have right now.)

So, yesterday, a friend invited my husband and me over for dinner, and she asked this question: “Do either of you have any allergies or aversions I should know about?”

Normally, we’re totally not picky.¹ This time, however, I felt like the Queen of High Maintenance. Thank you, pregnancy, for giving me a ready-made list of foods I either can’t have (and totally want!) or can’t stand (and won’t want for a long while). I typed up The List.

No undercooked meats or eggs—to which I say BAH. I eat my steaks medium rare and my eggs poached and slightly runny, so alas. I am craving these things but can’t have them.

Same with wine, margaritas, piña coladas. I’m not a habitual drinker, and I never drink to get drunk. I don’t enjoy even being buzzed; I like feeling in control of my body. Simply? I enjoy the taste. I love a good cabernet (with a medium rare steak…that I can’t have). Margaritas and Mexican food? YES. And nothing says “It’s Summer!” like a piña colada. My apologies to those of you who are still getting snow and don’t remember what summer feels like.

The worst is this: no soft cheese, because it’s usually unpasteurized. Apparently, unpasteurized = DANGER. I’m not a huge fan of DANGER, the all-caps version or otherwise.

No brie (cue tears!). No feta (cue river of tears!). No gorgonzola, no bleu. The worst? No goat cheese, no fabulous, fabulous goat cheese (my latest pre-pregnancy food obsession).² Sigh.

But you know what I CAN have?

TACOS.

Lots and lots and LOTS AND LOTS of tacos. Spicy-as-they’ll-let-me-have-them tacos. Fresh, non-greasy avocado/black bean/cilantro/sour cream tacos. Shredded chicken with garlic sauce tacos. Tacos, tacos, tacos, and the occasional burrito.

My husband is starting to despise tacos.

The other thing I’ll get to have at the end of all this? A baby. (No, not to eat, you crazies. To love.) An actual human life, a real someone who has directly benefitted from my sacrificing all these things.

So, my point: most of us? Totally don’t get to have everything we want. This is usually for one of two reasons, sometimes both—either we simply can’t have it, for whatever reason, or we’re choosing not to have it, a sacrifice for a specific reason.

What I’m learning is this: focus on the tacos, y’all.

Tacos taste exponentially better (and they’re already AMAZING) when you’re not dreaming of wine, goat cheese, and steak.

¹Okay, so my husband would say that he is totally not picky. Admittedly, there are some things I…um…prefer. There’s hardly anything I truly DON’T like. On that short list are the following: bologna, mayonnaise, green bean casserole, and scalloped potatoes. I’m even coming around to liking the occasional grapefruit.

²I’m still wondering how women in France deal with this whole no-soft-cheese thing—I’m guessing they roll their eyes at that rule, stuff their faces, and produce healthy babies all while looking like Hot French Mamas. Somehow. Since it was one of the few things my doctor actually mentioned, though, I’m not taking any chances.

Massive Update Like Whoa!

31 Jan

Dear Blogosphere (and Twitterverse, while I’m at it)—

I’m so not ignoring you. I know it must look that way, as it’s been FOR.EV.ER since I last posted. But, seriously: I have a good reason.

It’s called morning sickness. I’ll spare you the details.

Since I’m feeling well enough to type out a little update this morning, here goes. Yes, it’ll be mostly pictures, but whatevs—who doesn’t love pictures, right?

The past two weeks have been full of things like the following:

Yes, that is an ARC of Elana Johnson’s not-soon-enough-to-be-released novel, Possession, which debuts in early June! Yes, it was a page-turner! Yes, you want to put it on your to-read list. Here’s a link to the Goodreads page.

Thanks to the lovely Liza Kane—and the rest of the Internet, who simultaneously and inexplicably exploded their love for Veronica Mars one day last week—I proceeded to get myself hooked on the series. I am only, like, seven episodes in to the series, and I know I’m ridiculously behind the rest of the world. That said? DO NOT SPOIL IT FOR ME. Or else.

I have joined the ranks of e-reader readers. Thanks to this post by the fabulous Natalie Whipple, I decided to devote a good chunk of my birthday money to a sleek gray Kindle like the one you see here. Before Natalie’s post, I wasn’t sold on how useful it would be to me, but since I do a fair amount of beta reading (and, let’s face it, regular reading) I decided to take the plunge. The verdict? AMAZING.

These Jamba Juice Sorbet & Yogurt Bars are INCREDIBLE. I’ve been eating the Vanilla Strawberry Jubilation flavor, but while looking for a photo to use—the one pictured above—I stumbled across a whole blog post that informed me of four other incredibly incredible looking flavors. Want…neeeeeeeeed…

And, finally, we have Seryn. This band is fantastic. I posted a shout-out about them on Twitter last week, and I’ll say it again—check out their music. They’re wicked talented and their sound is chill in a really refreshing way. PS: I am not just saying that because I’m friends with three-fifths of the band. (The bass player, the awesome dread-headed girl, and the one with the banjo, FYI.) They just released their first album last week—it’s called This is Where We Are, and you can find it on iTunes or listen to a sample here. [UPDATE! Paste Magazine posted a video of the title track from Seryn's new ablum—you can watch it here.]

Okay, that’s it for now. Must get back to watching Veronica Mars. I’ll post again soon, but disclaimer: my MWF posting schedule may be a bit erratic for a while.

Christmas Traditions

24 Dec

Since I don’t have pictures of snow—and besides, many of you have seen more snow than you wanted to this year (insert unrelenting snow-envy here)—I thought you might enjoy this picture of Mr. Cat in the tree!  Yes, while my sweet husband risked his wrists and busted out the oven mitts to extract him from the tree, I helped by taking this adorable picture.

For my Christmas post, I thought I’d talk a bit about the traditions we have in our family.  They seem normal to me, but of course, they’re probably not.  (Okay, so I KNOW one of our traditions is anything but normal…) I got the idea for this post from one Linda wrote a couple of weeks ago.  At the end of it, she asked us to describe our Christmas trees and holiday traditions.

Since I practically wrote a blog post in her comment section, I decided to just copy and paste it here for you guys to read:

Every year, my grandmother gives my sister and me a new ornament (and now, she gives them to our husbands, too)—that means I have 28 unique ornaments decorating our (fake, but full and real-looking) tree. I usually add some bows made of muted gold ribbon and lots of berry-colored glass ball ornaments (tied on with ribbon, not hung with paperclips like at my parents’ house).

We always celebrate on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, we eat an awesome meal (backstrap venison, twice-baked potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, red wine, and dessert), drive around and look at Christmas lights, and then open one gift each. (ALWAYS pajamas. And they usually don’t fit, though they are cute.) Christmas morning, we all take turns opening gifts (NEVER all at once).

Nothing says Christmas like an ugly Star Wars wind-up toy!

Oh, and my sister and I have what is quite possibly the weirdest Christmas tradition EVER: the walking Sebulba.

Yes. The walking Sebulba, as in Sebulba from Star Wars: Episode One. We have this plastic wind-up Sebulba toy (you wind him up and he—that’s right—walks!), and when my mom decorates her tree, she hides the Sebulba somewhere inside it. My sister and I compete to be the first to spot the Sebulba. (Winner gets bragging rights.) Oh, and you have to pronounce “The walking SeBULBa” with the BULB accented really hard, with this exaggerated, sing-songy British accent.

Yes, we are dorks. Told you it was weird. But that’s what we look forward to, so I’ll stand by it, haha.

So, that’s what we do.  I’m curious about you guys—I fully expect to be all on my own with the whole find-the-Sebulba-in-the-tree thing, but I want to know about YOUR traditions! Are there any quirky things your family does, or are y’all straight-up traditional?  Or, do you not celebrate at all?

And with that, I’m off to drink some eggnog, eat what’s left of the Ninjabread Army, and ready the oven mitts for when the meows inevitably curl up in the tree.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Where the Magic Happens

23 Dec

As promised—(whee, I found my camera!)—here’s a picture of the writing room at our new apartment!  That desk was my grandfather’s, and it’s where I do most of my writing.  Well, when I’m not at Starbucks, anyway.  Oh, and lest you worry that my bookshelf isn’t well-stocked, just remember we have several more bookshelves.  This one’s just for books on writing and pretty hardcover new-releases.

It’s true!  We have two desks in the writing room!  This is the less-used one, because it’s small and antique and has a large crack running from end to end.  However, it’s the PERFECT size for laying out note cards while attempting to rearrange and rework troublesome sections of the novel.

This is pretty similar to the first picture, obviously, except it shows you my fun dandelion painting (which was a MAJOR score at Urban Outfitters—it had no price tag and a tiny smudge on it, and they let me buy it for a mere $5) and my guitar.  That’s, you know, for when I get stuck or tired or frustrated and just need a relaxing little break.  Lately, my go-to songs for this type of break include the song Gwyneth Paltrow sang on Glee (“Forget You,” the clean version of a song by Cee Lo), “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” (because Christmas is about much more than presents and decorations and ninjabread, and singing about it helps me remember that), and “Hey, Jude” (by the Beatles, but I hope you knew that already).

You can’t tell from these pictures, but the windows look out into trees and hills.  It’s a peaceful room for writing and reading (there’s a big reading chair on the opposite end of the room, but the pictures I took of it looked kind of lame, so I spared you all).

So, speaking of writing and reading, I have a LOT to do.

But…um…it’s Christmas Eve Eve today, and that only happens once a year.  Plus, I will be running full-speed ahead starting next week.  There’s a time for goals, and a time for rest.

Today, I shall rest.

Hope everyone’s having a lovely week—remember to rest amid the busybusybusy!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve to you all! ❤

 

Fresh Start

1 Dec

You know what feels good?

DECEMBER.

That’s right—in all its frigid glory¹, December is already rocking my face off.  Why, you ask?  Because that means NOVEMBER IS OVER!

Hallelujah!

No, seriously.  Hallelujah.  November was one of the best—and one of the worst—months I can remember.  Austin is fresh and fantastic, though.  All the stress, all those days spent not writing, all the goodbyes, all the everything?  It’s ALL worth it.

We have more space (ENOUGH space! More than a one-bedroom apartment space! SPAAAAACE!), we’re surrounded by all things green and gorgeous, it’s quiet, it’s steadily becoming organized and delightful, and the Starbucks (four minutes from parking lot to garage! Wheee!) is even better than I hoped for.  Except I don’t really have to go to Starbucks as much, because a) there are a TON of coffee house options here, b) I bought a fresh bag of espresso + cleaned our fancy espresso machine, and c) I have an actual writing room!

Yes: WRITING ROOM!

Even better?  I actually get to write in it today.

After an entire month of no WIP progress—zero words!—while watching everyone lasso the moon on their NaNo projects, I am SO. FREXING. EXCITED. to get back to work today.  On the agenda: back to work on the fourth draft of WIP #1, followed by (*hopefully*) 500ish new words on the first draft of WIP #2.

Happy December to you all!  Oh, and I’m glad to have the internet again, which means a return to regular blog and Twitter interaction—YAY!  What’s on your December agenda?

¹Which, um, in Texas? Is about 37ºF at the moment.

Accio Chopstick Wand!

19 Nov

Remy the Ravenclaw Cat. Yes, that is his wand. And, yes—it IS a chopstick.

Here at our house, ALL of us are excited about the Harry Potter premiere.  This afternoon, we’ll be taking a break from the boxes (the Chick-Fil-A waffle fry boxes, obviously)(sans cats) to go be awed and amazed by what looks to be an incredible movie.

Can. Not. Wait.

No, seriously.  I can’t.  I’m about to throw on that Ravenclaw scarf, whip up some fake butterbeer (vanilla bean ice cream + butterscotch syrup + cream + blender = AWESOME.), jump in my car, and drive to the theater.

Soon, I shall be out of this moving phase and will stop posting pictures of our cats.  Thanks for hanging in there with me. ❤

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