May 18, 2015, 2.16 pm
Last night was a rough night. MrD had the worst nightmare of his life, so I ended up staying with him for about 40 minutes in the middle of the night, helping him to feel safe, and then Toddler X woke up for good at 5:16. Add in hard rain from a dark gray sky, and I was feeling pretty zonked & zombie-ish this morning - and far more tempted to spend my child-free morning pointlessly surfing the internet than writing more of my novelette*...
...But I made myself settle into the writing anyway. Aided by Dario Marianelli's gorgeous, atmospheric soundtrack to Jane Eyre (perfect music for my romantic YA Gothic fantasy novelette!), I wrote 982 new words - and guess what arrived just at the end of my writing session? An early copy of Hilary McKay's new book, Binny in Secret!
Hilary McKay is probably my favorite childen's writer ever, and she is absolutely one of my favorite writers in any genre, so this really did feel like Christmas. I dived into Binny in Secret as a perfect reward for my morning's work, falling more and more in love with every page...and by the time I looked up again for lunch, three chapters later, the rain had stopped
It's a blue-skied, sunny day outside, at least for now. My novelette is growing steadily.* And oh, is Binny in Secret wonderful - quite possibly my favorite Hilary McKay book so far. (Which is saying a LOT, since I love so many of her books! Her Casson family books, in particular, are the main reason I became an MG writer.) It's one of those tricksy books that starts out funny (and I mean, really funny - I laughed out loud at one particular scene in the first chapter!) but then gradually and smoothly turns around on you to become totally heartwrenching...but still with genuinely funny moments. In other words: total LOVE.
What about you guys? What are you reading this week?
*Yes, this is the same piece that I described as a short story last week. It has been growing! (And growing!) Every day for the past few days, I've finished my writing session and thought, Hmm. Feels like about 3,000 words left! Every. Single. Day. Oops! ;) It's a novelette for now...let's just hope it doesn't turn into a full-blown novella!
(I'm happy with the way that the story feels, at its growing length; it definitely wouldn't work any shorter; but it is, undeniably, much harder to sell longer pieces like this to any magazines! Oh well. A very good and smart friend wrote recently to me: "Every time someone writes what she truly wants to, it’s a victory for all creatives." And I know it feels good to me to stretch myself and write something different from time to time! So: this novelette is making me happy, even as it continues to expand...and if worst comes to worst and it gets too long to sell to any magazines, I will just release it as an ebook original, like Courting Magic. Hooray for having lots of options nowadays!)
(But also, if anyone knows of any fabulous YA anthologies looking for novelettes, please do let me know!)
May 12, 2015, 12.00 pm
Ohhh, writer-brain. I spent the last week or so getting more and more panicked about the fact that I didn't have any sparkly, compelling ideas for a new novel to write. (And it had been, like, almost two whole weeks since I'd finished revising the last one!) Then this morning I woke up with 2-1/2 new novel ideas all jostling for position in my head, all of them cool...and promptly thought: But how can I ever choose? And what if I choose The Wrong One????
Sigh. Time to make another cup of tea. I wish I had a calmer and more quietly productive writer-brain, rather than one that apparently operates best on panic-mode. (That's how it always worked with academic papers, too.)
On the upside, the last few days have included some really nice outings with my kids, including a trip to our local market, a play session on the grounds of the local castle (which all the kids in town love - it's a great place to run and climb), and a trip out to a fun children's play at the theater.
I also fell totally in love with Amy Bai's high fantasy novel Sword (you can read my review here), and I'm really enjoying the Firefly-style SF novel I'm reading now, Becky Chambers's The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. So it's been a good reading week.
At some point soon, I'll sort through those new novel ideas and start to make some notes (and some hard choices, too). In the meantime, I'll start quietly reading some research books related to them, just in case...and keep on writing the YA gothic fantasy short story I've been playing with just for fun.
And I'll try not to let myself panic about any of it. ;)
May 7, 2015, 12.01 pm
Today, Toddler X and I went to playgroup, where he was very busy with a variety of important toys. Then Patrick picked us up and we headed off to our local polling station to vote in the UK election. Now Toddler X and I are relaxing from a morning of good work on both our parts with eggy bread (made by Patrick!)...but I had to take time out to mention this:
A whole bunch of writers, agents and editors are involved right now in Auction for Nepal, an online auction designed to raise money desperately needed for Nepal. There are all sorts of offerings, from signed books to the option of having characters named after you in an author's next book, and more.
My own offering just went up last night: I'm offering to critique either a full short story or the opening of a novel, up to a maximum of 12,000 words. If you're interested, you can bid here. And even if not, do check out the rest of the auction, because there are so many great offerings!
May 6, 2015, 11.30 am
Today I'm over on Girls Heart Books, celebrating some of my favorite witches in literature. Come share yours?
And right here, I also wanted to share a recommendation for a free app I got for my iPad from the iTunes store (based on another writer's private recommendation), "Stop, Breathe & Think." It's a meditation app, it's really simple, and it's made a genuine difference for me. Whenever I start feeling really jittery or really depressed nowadays, I turn on the app, I use their basic diagnosis tool (of how I'm feeling at that moment, to determine which kind of meditation I should do), and then I pick one of the short guided meditations that they offer. (Today's was only 6 minutes long.)
And so far, I've always, always felt better afterwards.
What about you guys? Do you have any apps you really love on your phone or tablet?
April 28, 2015, 2.35 pm
Wooot! I just finished a new draft of my MG dragons-and-chocolate novel and emailed it off to my agent for the very first time. Hurrah! Needless to say, I immediately made myself a strong, dark hot chocolate in celebration. :)
The last week was a frustrating one in terms of the M.E., but it was a great revision week anyway, which made me feel better about everything. I was greatly helped by two of my favorite inspirational tools: the dragon figurine that Patrick gave me for Christmas (to help me write the first draft of this novel!) and the writing tiara (which used to be my wedding tiara) that I wear whenever I need extra confidence.
Patrick and I also made it out to the cinema BY OURSELVES for the first time since last August, which was an incredible treat - especially because it was to see Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was my most-anticipated film this year! No spoilers, but I thought it was great, and I came out absolutely determined to hunt down an action figure of the Scarlet Witch to stand on my writing desk (or writing bed, depending on the week) for inspiration.
And Episode #2 of the Worried Writer Podcast came out last Friday, with me as the interviewee! You can listen to it here. Sarah and I talked a lot about writing process, productivity, discipline, life challenges and compassion. It was really fun to chat with her, and I hope you enjoy listening to it. Sarah's a really lovely, generous person and writer, and I was so glad to be a guest on her podcast.
Oh! And I can't forget to mention that I've read two great MG books in the last week - Candy Harper's Perfectly Ella and Jennifer Cervantes's Tortilla Sun. They're very different from each other but I loved them both! (The links are to my Goodreads reviews.)
Now it's time to pick up another book...and start writing another one, too (while I wait for the next round of revision). Whew!