April 21, 2014, 3.42 pm
MrD is still in the middle of his two-and-a-half-week school break right now, so it's mostly family time over here, with bits of sneak-writing slotted in wherever/whenever I can manage them. Mostly, we've been doing a lot of reading (MrD and I are in the middle of re-reading Mr. Popper's Penguins right now), visiting castles, playing in the park, and so on.
Oh, and re-watching Frozen, obviously! Because that obsession continues, unchecked. ;)
I was feeling really guilty about how little writing I've managed to get done during MrD's school break...until I actually added up what I've written in all my snatched sneak-writing sessions over the last week: 1797 words of "Courting Magic" (my Kat novella) and 964 words on my Family Magic rewrite. So actually, for a week without any designated writing sessions or childcare, I've been doing pretty well - the great bonus of having two projects I'm excited about and eager to get back to at any opportunity.
(That was NOT how I'd been feeling about the Family Magic rewrite for the past several months of procrastination and stuck-ness...but then this week a new opening and angle finally hit me, and I was off! Not at great speed, obviously, but I'm finally truly excited about this rewrite, and if I weren't already halfway through the Kat novella, I'd be working full-throttle on FM.)
This week, I'm adding a third project to the mix: a new freelance audition for a really fun project. Please wish me luck! I'm trying to put together a soundtrack of quirky-cool music for it. The first two albums I put on the soundtrack were David Byrne's Grown Backwards and Cake's Comfort Eagle. Which songs or albums would you guys suggest adding to it?
And: I finally, FINALLY started watching Star Trek: Voyager, 20+ years late! I so wish I'd seen it when it was first on, but even now, in my late 30s, it still feels shockingly revolutionary to see a woman starship captain, calm, authoritative, and in charge of 140+ people, making smart decisions and issuing commands in both action and strategy scenes. I was trying to think of any other science fiction show where I'd seen a woman captain in command of that many people...and I couldn't.
I've seen female captains of very small ships, from time to time, and in the "Waters of Mars" episode of Doctor Who, there's a (great) woman captain who's in charge of a medium-sized crew...but that's it, as far as I can remember. (Patrick tells me there was also a woman captain of a battlestar in Battlestar Galactica, but I haven't seen those episodes of BG yet!) Can you guys think of any other examples?
In the meantime, I'll just be sitting over here fantasizing about turning into Captain Janeway when I grow up... ;)
April 14, 2014, 12.05 pm
Oof. Well, MrD's 2-1/2-week-long school holidays have started with nearly the whole family getting a Death Cold, in combination with various other complications. Sigh. Patrick has a major freelance deadline at the end of the holidays, so I'm trying very hard to make sure he gets enough writing time every day; as for me, though, I've mostly just been flopping onto the bed in my time off, these past few days...oh, and blowing my nose and moaning. Very decorative, as you can imagine! ;)
On the upside, I'm having strong urges to start reading historical nonfiction again, for the first time in ages, which is a big personal relief. History books - especially books on time periods that really fascinate me - have always been some of my favorite things to read, as well as providing the best story-inspiration ever. For a long time now, though, I've been so exhausted (Baby X still won't sleep for more than an hour at a time!) that I've had to cut down my reading to fiction only - and only very light fiction, at that.
(You wouldn't believe how many excellent books I've had to give up on reading just because I couldn't cope with their darkness - or the necessary concentration levels - when I was so exhausted. Of course, it doesn't help that I do most of my reading at night while Baby X is keeping me awake! It's not the best time for any reading that requires brainpower.)
So the fact that in the last few days, I've actually found myself really, really wanting to sink into some good new-to-me history books feels like a wonderful sign that I'm finally coming back to myself post-pregnancy and childbirth. Whew!
Right now I'm reading the wonderfully named The Secret Rooms: A Castle Filled with Intrigue, a Plotting Duchess, and a Mysterious Death, by Catherine Bailey, which is so breathlessly paced and full of intrigue, it's the best possible re-introduction to nonfiction. I've also got Wendy Moore's Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match and Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future sitting piled by the big rocking chair in our living room, waiting their turn in the queue.
Oh, and I've finally - finally! - got a copy of Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent, a really fabulous-looking adult historical fantasy novel. I can't wait!
What about you guys? What books are on your personal reading lists right now?
April 9, 2014, 12.37 pm
Whew. After three long weeks, my chest infection is finally all gone - and on Monday (aided by my just-arrived inspirational Elsa figurine), I had my first real writing session in 3-1/2 weeks!
I am sooooo much happier this week than I have been for the last few, I can't even begin to express it.
Of course, I also feel REALLY far behind where I'd expected to be by now, since I'd been writing 5,000 words a week on my Kat novella ("Courting Magic") in the weeks before Baby X and I got sick. So, honestly, I'd been hoping to be nearly finished by now, whereas I'm actually only about a third of the way through - and since this is a 4-day school week for MrD, followed by two and a half weeks of school holidays, I don't think I'm going to be getting back to that 5K/week writing model any time soon!
Oh, well. I'm having an enormous amount of fun with the story, and that's what really matters most. I love reading it out loud to Patrick after each writing session, especially when he laughs at some character interaction. I totally live for that kind of laugh! And he's already bought the image that's going to be used in the final cover! I'm hoping to finish first-drafting the novella by mid-May, then send it out for waves of critiques, then proof-reading, etc., and finally put it online sometime in late summer or (more likely) early autumn. But if the cover is finished earlier, I will definitely post it here! Because I can't wait.
And in other news...well, if you're one of my Facebook or Twitter friends, you'll already know this, but: this past weekend, I FELL IN LOVE - head over heels love - with a movie: Frozen. I know, I know, everyone else in the world had already seen it! But with Baby X still so small (and without any available babysitters for him), I'd never managed to see it in the theater despite all the friends who told me (rightly) that I had to see it. (One of them told me in an email that it was "the ultimate Steph movie". She was so right!) So instead, I pre-ordered the DVD, it arrived last Monday, I used all my willpower to hold off and not watch it until I could watch it with MrD on Saturday morning...
...and it was just wonderful. Sisters and magic and love and guilt and drama and humor - oh, and fabulous trolls! It really couldn't have been more perfect for me. (Or for MrD, for that matter - he says Frozen is not only his favorite movie but also his second-favorite, third-favorite, etc. It's swept the ratings, for him!)
But it wasn't just fun to watch. That's what movies I like usually are, and I really enjoy them. But every so often - very rarely, honestly - I'll watch a movie that turns a key somewhere inside me and sets my mind buzzing with new creative ideas. The very last Harry Potter film did that for me - I loved it so much, it reminded me what I'm really aiming at with writing - how powerful and fabulous fantasy stories can be. Then Frozen did it for me, this weekend. Something went ting! inside me when I watched it.
Ever since, I've been buzzing with ideas for all sorts of stories - a new opening scene for my Family Magic rewrite popped into my head, for one thing! They aren't Frozen-linked ideas or fan-fic - but watching Frozen reminded me of how great a story can be, how hard I can fall for it, with so much personal connection AND fun, and it made me want to try even harder as a writer. Better yet, it made me want to play.
What about you guys? Have you had that kind of response to any movies? Which ones?
April 6, 2014, 2.48 pm
Over on the Girls Heart Books blog, I'm blogging today about one of the silliest and yet most effective writing aids I know: inspirational figurines!
You can read the full entry here (and I'd love to read any comments either there or here).
April 2, 2014, 4.16 pm
It's been a tough week, since my chest infection turned zombie-like (or maybe vampiric?) and Would Not Die. So, not much got done apart from coughing...
But look what came via Twitter and cheered me up immensely!
Sally Jane Thompson, one of my favorite artists (and graphic novel writer/artists!) sent me this sketch of Kat! It makes me SO happy every single time I look at it. :)
In other Kat news, congratulations to sapphireone, Jen Petro-Roy, and Colette, who all won Kat jewelry in my giveaway! If you guys could use my contact form to let me know your mailing addresses and jewelry preferences (ring, necklace, earrings, or charm bracelet - let me know first, second and third choice and I'll see what I can do!), I'll get your jewelry out to you as soon as possible.
And I wanted to link everybody to this beautiful blog entry by Anne Nesbet, Out of the Blue: Embracing the Unexpected, in Writing and in Life. It's worth reading for all sorts of reasons, for anybody, but as a writer, one of my very favorite bits in it was:
I think that one of the most important things we can do, as writers of children’s books, is to hold out our hands to kids and say, “Yes! You’re right! Life is hard and it’s amazing! You are not alone.” Every book is a hand held out to a child, welcoming them as fellow human beings, for whom life is so hard and so amazing.
Good books help us all through. They tell us we’re not alone. They give us ways to imagine things being Otherwise, when ordinary life seems just way, way too hard. They connect us to other people who understand how things are, even if some of those other people are spiders (Charlotte’s Web! James and the Giant Peach!) or dragons or guinea-pigs or hobbits...
But really, you should just read the whole blog entry. :)