Writer Recharge Wrap-Up

writer-recharge

For more on Writer Recharge please follow this link. A huge thank you to the brilliant ladies who came up with it. It is always awesome writing with you guys — even if it’s in the virtual sense.

First, my goals for the month:

  • Finish my YA Fantasy WiP. I’ve been steadily building this world and story since August 2013. I need to finish the draft.
  • Finish the TV pilot I began work on in January.
  • Stop starting new ideas until the other ones are finished.
  • Title the YA Fantasy WiP because I’m tired of calling it (awkwardly) Banyan Book.

I met exactly one of my goals. Care to guess which one?

Anybody, anybody?

Bueller? Bueller?

If you guessed, stop starting new ideas until the other ones are finished, then well done. And, to be fair, that was hard for me.

While I didn’t finish my draft, or the TV pilot, of title this manuscript anything less awkward, I did make headway on all fronts. I added word count or scene count. I discovered important layers to my own plot. I had an amazing writers retreat where I connected with other writers I hope to know, support and be enriched by for years to come.

Most importantly, I rediscovered a love of the story. Not just this particular story, but all of them. The undiscovered. The already ignoring. The previously written. February ends with me firmly in love again with just writing. Writing for the mere fact that I must, I am compelled, and I am inspired. That is a huge gift.

I have new goals. Goals to finish this draft in the next two weeks or so, and now I know how to do it thanks to this month. And I am very energized.

#Writer Recharge: Plug me in.

writer-recharge

From the lovely organizers:

January is in the books and you’ve had to deal with:
a) polar vortices
b) ice storms
c) mountains of snow
d) gray skies and general malaise
e) all of the above

We thought our writer friends might be in need of a little boost. A jump start, if you will.

A recharge.

We’d like to invite you to join us for Writer Recharge 2014, a month-long motivational challenge similar to last summer’s Ready. Set. Write! So many of us benefited from setting goals, connecting with other writers, and social media-based accountability. So, hey, let’s do it again! Whether you’re delighting next to the crackling fireplace of a Shiny New Idea with a warm cup of tea and a sleepy puppy at your feet or spinning out on the ice-covered roads of revisions in an attempt to avoid the snow-packed ditch, we want to write with you! What do you want to accomplish this month? Hit a daily word count? Revise a certain number of pages or chapters each week? Complete a draft by the end of the month? Let’s get this party started!

Writer Recharge 2014

Your hosts and cheerleaders: Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren

The timeline:

  • First week of February: Post your goals for the month on your blog, website, or Twitter. Use the hashtag #WriterRecharge. Link your blog post on Sara’s blog.
  • Every Monday in February: Update your progress via your blog or twitter. Link your blog posts on myMonday posts.
  • Throughout the month: Use the hashtag to connect with other writers, have writing parties, and cheer one another on!
  • February 28: Post your final update via your blog or twitter.
  • Anyone who uses the hashtag or links their blog posts will be entered to win one of five query or 3-chapter critiques.

My goals:

*I’ll be in Northern California for the week of February 9 – 15 participating in a YA Novel Workshop and Retreat with Nova Ren Suma. These two writer-centric events beautifully coincide.

  • Finish my YA Fantasy WiP. I’ve been steadily building this world and story since August 2013. I need to finish the draft.
  • Finish the TV pilot I began work on in January.
  • Stop starting new ideas until the other ones are finished.
  • Title the YA Fantasy WiP because I’m tired of calling it (awkwardly) Banyan Book.

The Frozen Wood

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The Frozen Wood can only be found on the coldest days of the harshest years. Stark gray, orange and brown, shivering beneath winds blustering breath. The Frozen Wood moves slowly, an icy dance with nowhere to go, bending branches to break.

IMG_5192Brooks run through the Frozen Wood, where they flee or if they’ll last until nightfall, no one can know. They move, only, and until they can move no more. Trees lean in to one another, chattering leaves, shuddering trunks, stilling themselves for anther gust.

IMG_5191The Frozen Wood makes everything unseen visible. Hiding is for Summer Woods, pregnant with green to bursting, intertwined branches and vine, hollows concealed. In the Frozen Wood, what was safe becomes exposed.

IMG_5153There are paths through the Frozen Wood, roads to somewhere anyone can go. Where cars speed by and strangers linger, where cities grow and worlds collide. Where everything thaws, sliding by to tomorrow. In the Frozen Wood, time stills.

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The Frozen Wood is full of jagged edges and hidden nooks where only icicles can fit. Rocks and branches press together, trying to escape the snow invaders on all sides. A silent war of what is, and what has come.

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The Frozen Wood is a chilly playground. It’s a slide that never ends. It’s a mystery that must be solved. It’s a death to be avenged. There is laughter in the Frozen Wood, and also tears. There are ends that melt into beginnings.

IMG_5200When walking in the Frozen Wood, remember always your way home. Where chocolate can be heated, and fires lit, where wool blankets the hills of pillows instead of snow, where laughter resounds and stillness flees.

Go to the Frozen Wood one day, if you can find the way.

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All photographs contained in the post belong to Rebekah Faubion.

Conversations with my Husband

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Me trying to justify my ridiculous crush on Jon Snow to my husband:

ME: So, I told them that my crush on Jon Snow was made exponentially more intense because he reminds me of you. (smiles unconvincingly) I mean, if there was ever a character that was like you, it would for real be Jon Snow.

HUSBAND: (eyeing me suspiciously) If I’m Jon Snow, are you Ygritte?

ME:(being thoughtful) Erm…not likely. I don’t fancy myself North of the Wall. I’m Dany.

(He laughs outright.)

ME: (scoffing in offense) Hear me out. She’s got a strong sense of justice, but not necessarily right and wrong. Totally me. She’ll do whatever is necessary to get where she needs to go. (Points to self) And…

HUSBAND: She’s got a dragon.

ME: (eyes widen) She’s got a dragon. (Pauses, thinks about Dragon babies) Plus, she’s hot.

(Husband questions, not for the first time in our marriage, why he puts up with me.)

Let’s Make a Movie!

In case you missed it on my Facebook and Twitter…I am now officially in pre-production for a short film that will begin shooting in October.

A bit about the film:

Cassie’s Cause tells the story of Cassie Duncan, a young, scrappy animal activist whose older brother Gregory has recently passed away. On the night of his burial, Cassie wishes he could return and things could go back to the way they were. Her wish is granted. But there’s a catch. Cassie is now the proud owner of a Zombie.

Together they embark on an unexpected adventure.

Cassie’s Cause examines the ways we cope with loss, the choices we make to do so, and the power we possess to overcome. Told in sweeping black and white, Cassie’s Cause utilizes the visual and emotional, rather than vocal expression of the actors to beautifully illustrate a young girl’s journey toward letting go.

Sound fun? It will be.

Saturday we submitted all our information to Kickstarter for review. I’m happy to report we received approval yesterday! Please follow the link below to view our Kickstarter video and consider making a pledge in support of the film.

We understand that asking for money in this current economic climate is bold, so please know that any contribution to this film will be used honestly and in earnest to make the best movie possible. We have some fun incentives, but those who support this film will get more than shout-outs and buttons and t-shirts. They get to be part of making a dream come true.

If you’re curious, or just want to show your support but can’t pledge:

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

Follow the blog

To view our masterfully shot and gorgeously rendered (or to see me dancing) Kickstarter click HERE!

If you have comments or concerns, questions or compliments, you can leave them at any one of those locations. I’ll do my utmost to answer! Have a terrific Tuesday.

 

Recounting a day of filming

This weekend was a busy one. I spent Saturday evening setting up a fake diner for the shoot on Sunday with our teen actors . My co-teacher and I wondered around the location, searching for a small podium to use as a hostess station for about thirty minutes before we finally found the person who knew where it was. We learned we can’t fold linens with any skill, and decided light switches should all be on the wall right inside the door, not across a dark and perilous room.

To the benefit of us all.

The set was ready Sunday when the kids arrived, mostly in costume and off-script. I say mostly because with teenagers, everything is a little haphazard and mismatched, especially this close to the new school year. Right off, we had casting and costume issues, which led to me playing a street kid with two lines in one of the scenes we were scheduled to shoot.

The two actresses in the scene with me, both teens, informed me I am not thug. I was in agreement, especially when they wanted me to pop-lock (I think that’s what they called it?) and I looked like I had a wedgie instead. It was also 100 degrees outside, where we were shooting this scene in direct sunlight, and I was wearing a hoodie. This was for two reasons 1) my Doctor Who T-shirt had to be covered, 2) I am a 28 year old woman wearing make-up, not a dirty-faced a 14 year old girl.

We managed to get the scene. I never crossed the thug threshold, but that’s ok. I was hot and slightly irritable the rest of the day.

Shooting multiple scenes with quite a bit of blocking takes a while. We shot for five hours, at the end of which we still had four scenes to get and decided to come back for another day to finish.

The kids were troopers. When you’re working with professional actors, shooting is trying, the waiting around is frustrating, and the pressure to perform sets everyones nerves on edge. When you are working with untrained kids, everything feels exponentially harder. That said, they have all my respect and admiration for how they soldiered on. Filming is not glamorous. Getting usable footage is difficult and requires multiple takes, from multiple angles, and a lot of repetition.

I am excited about what we accomplished yesterday, and I know they can’t wait to see the final product.

A Brief Tale

Today I went to the bookstore to grab a quick gift for my niece’s 20th birthday. As I was inching my way around the YA section, I came upon the pretzeled body of a teen-something. All legs and sideways messy pony, with chipped nail polish the same color as the surface of the sun, and lean tanned shoulders sticking out from a deliberately loose tank, she sat tapping at a list with a hello kitty pen and checking it against the sprawled stacks of books in front of her. Switching and re-stacking and re-prioritizing said hard-backed and slick-jacketed intellectual food, her concentration twisted her brow. I hovered behind her, debating between stepping over her flip-flop adorned, toe-ring accessorized foot, or going around, when her focus faltered. She suddenly turned, clamping her syrupy brown eyes on me and her pen in her teeth.

“Sorry,” she said, drawing a leg out of my path.

I smiled back. “You’re fine,” I glanced at her stack of books. “Summer reading?”

She shifted her gaze back to her stacks. “I have to pick one,” she answered, releasing a choked sigh.

And right then, I was simultaneously thrilled that one book in ten was the mountain she had to climb and ruffled that one book in ten was all she could buy.

“Good luck,” I said, taking another sweeping scan of her choices. I knew what I would pick, if I were her and this was my greatest feat for the day.

Her shoulders fell. “Thanks. I want them all.”

Yeah, I do too. 

“They’re not going anywhere,” I offered and she nodded. “Good to have something to look forward to.”

Later, when I was leaving, she passed me with her mother. Her eyes were bright as they met mine. She flipped the book cover into my view, sideways, but I’d recognize it anywhere. I nodded approval. If you’re going to read just one, The Fault in Our Stars is choosing wisely.

What’s Up Wednesday

whats up wednesdayWhat’s up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of this post. We really hope you will take part.

This is my first time taking part in this blog-hop, but I’ve been wanting to for a few weeks. So, yay for today!

What I’m Reading

I just finished Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I’m taking a workshop with Nova, and hadn’t read this book yet. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something truly unique with heartbreaking narrative. Also, Nova is the bees knees. I just started reading Fuse by Julianna Baggott. Fuse is the second of the Pure trilogy. Julianna is a phenomenal, hardworking mother and writer, who’s prolific and unbound by genre. I firmly believe Pure will be an important series to reference in the coming years. I’m also reading pages from classmates books they are workshopping in Nova’s class. The talent is astounding.

What I’m Writing

I just finished a massive revision on my MS and sent it to a couple readers, and an author friend, for feedback. After every revision I hope to be done, and by done I mean, ready to submit it for publication. I am optimistic, yet not expectant. We aren’t done with our manuscripts until our editor says so, and it’s in copyediting, and that readiness is decided by many different factors. I am mulling what to work on in the interim period. Part of me wants to work on a new project, and part of me wants to get a massage. We’ll see which part wins out.

What Inspires Me

My fellow writers. Writers are readers, and readers are people who never grow up.

The color of my son’s eyes.

Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue

True family stories, full of character arcs that astound.

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What Else I’ve Been Up To

I went to NYC last week, which I wrote about on my blog briefly. It was a bit of a whirlwind. If you do not follow me on Twitters (which you can do with the scroll to you right) I posted a pic of me being supercool when I met Lauren Graham.

Random House Open House. Me and Lauren Graham.
Random House Open House. Me and Lauren Graham.

Can you see how cool I’m being?

My son is on the last leg of potty training. Life without wiping someone else’s ass is a miracle. The end.

I’m exercising. I hate it, like most people, but I believe I will love not feeling like a marshmallow anymore. I am already seeing results, mainly in my face. I haven’t done any face exercises, so this is a bit of a bummer.

Happy Wednesday!

Five Awesome Things About This Week

via Aaron McFarlane
via Aaron McFarlane

1. We moved into our new house. We have only a handful of boxes left to unpack. Of course, when you are coming from a two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, NY, that is not really something to brag about. But still…Yay for this!

2. My son can spell his name. What is even more awesome about this than just the sheer brilliance of him understanding the concept of letters making words, is how epically proud of himself he gets. Not one for humility, he boldly shares this fact with every random stranger he encounters. He’s so stinkin’ cute that said strangers (who are eyed closely by me) smilingly entertain him.

3. I have read three books this week and currently am working on a fourth. Take that Goodreads! Not awesome, however, is that for every one book I finish three appear on my TBR list. I guess it’s saying something awesome about the YA landscape, but it’s a little overwhelming to me.

4. I had dinner with YA author and super cool chick Lindsay Cummings. As Texans, and blondes, and self-professed book nerds, we had A LOT to talk about. I highly recommend you follow her on Twitter @lindsaycwrites and check out her blog by clicking this link. Her book, The Murder Complex is due next year, and she just signed a deal with Katherine Tegen Books for an MG Fantasy called The Balance Keepers. So, yeah, she kicks major writing ass.

5. I have finished a rewrite on three chapters in my novel that I think are, well, awesome. I am now able to dedicate three workdays to writing, which, in itself, is quite possibly one of the most awesome parts of moving back to Texas.
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Hope you all had as awesome a week as I did, and if you did and want to share (*clears throat* brag) feel free to do so in the comments section. Cheers!

Rainy Day Sam

I love rainy days with my son. Not all rainy days. There are the inevitable rainy days when Samuel refuses to engage in imaginary play, or do a craft, or read for large chunks of the morning. Those rainy days fill me with dread. When you’ve been a mom for a little while, you learn to pick up on the cues in your child’s demeanor that warn you’ll have a long day. One filled with arguments, then weighted down by unreasonable requests, and ending in the bedtime battle. When those days also fall on a rainy day, being trapped with your child inside can lead a person to drink in the afternoon.

Today, as slushy rain falls from the sky above Brooklyn, is thankfully not one of those days. Today he woke with wide eyes and eagerness. He discussed the finer points of Spiderman’s origin story with me over a banana and pb & j. (I had oatmeal. If I’m to survive the holidays without a meltdown, dry oatmeal and raw veggies have to become my new best friends.) We read through a plethora of books and sang. We made a birthday card for our upstairs neighbor, Sophia. He dictated a message to me with enough inflection to warrant this — !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— type of punctuation.

And for the first time in a while we just reveled in the pleasure of each others company. Sometimes I am not the best about this. I can be either too involved, or too distracted, too aloof, or too emotionally available. Striking a balance with my son is sometimes harder work that writing 3,000 words ever thought about being. So when it happens, it’s something to treasure.

However, capturing the moment on camera has mostly illuded me.