What’s Up Wednesday

Writing Rambles

WUWRocketWhat’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 Jaime’s blog. And in honor of What’s Up Wednesday for the fall, Jaime made some beautiful new buttons. I’ll feature them all over the next few weeks.

What I’m Reading

After I finished Crown of Midnight, I was hesitant to jump right into another book. For the next books sake. So, I waited a few days, in which time Crown of Midnight and The Bitter Kingdom both hit the New York Times Bestsellers list! This makes me happy as both a reader of YA fantasy, and a writer of it. I decided to pick up a book by trailblazer for females writing in Fantasy – both YA and Adult — Robin McKinley. I have already read a handful of her books, but had been putting off the book that started it her career. Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and the writing is…well…beautiful. Robin McKinley tells stories with meandering, dreamy narration, the kind many of us wish we could execute with even half the grace she manages to. It was the perfect book to follow up Crown of Midnight and celebrate two wonderful YA fantasy novels hitting the bestsellers list!

What I’m Writing

A lot. I’ve worked on the sequel to my novel (still querying…with some nice developments) and my WiP, alternating, this week. I’ll have a few days with one story screaming for attention, and then it quiets, and the other takes over. It has gotten very noisy in my brain, but the company of my characters is always welcome. I spent a good deal of time writing a brief history of the world my WiP is set in, and figuring out some major world-building questions. This resulted in the realization that I am now working on a much larger project than I meant to when I set out to write this novel. Which leads to…

I really had hoped my second project would be a) not fantasy b) not a series c) not complicated. Why? REDHUNT, my novel in query phase, is all of the above. I have failed my own goals miserably in my WiP because it is solidly all three, and I am hopeless to ever write anything that isn’t.

What Inspires Me

My Hawaiian Mama. I have mentioned my brother married a dazzling Hawaiian beauty. This last weekend some of her family visited, and I got to spend time with her Mama. Christine talked stories with me about the Hawaiian islands, helping me gain some perspective on the research I had already done, giving me more research to do, and enchanting me with knowledge only a true Kumu could. Here is a video from my time in Hawaii which features my new sis, her mother, and her younger sister. To train their voices, Hawaiian women stand beside the ocean, aiming to be heard above the roar of the waves.

 

On September 11th, hold near the ones you love and remember that time waits for no one. We are here and then gone. Be thankful for now.

Pilot Point, TX. Yesterday the director of our film, Cassie’s Cause, and I met with some local talent in Pilot Point to discuss filming a scene from our movie on the square. I’ll be doing a post about this on the film blog, but the characters and setting have already inspired more ideas in my mind than I can number.

What Else I’m Up To

I spent most of my day cleaning and reorganizing Sam’s bedroom yesterday. I had been meaning to get to it before his birthday. Then I meant to get to it once birthday presents destroyed all semblance of organization. Then I crossed over into full on neglect once we got another piece of furniture for the room. I finally got the courage to tackle it (my OCD makes these kinds of projects really daunting), just in time for my aunt to bring him a fabulous new chair.

"Reading" in his Batman chair.

“Reading” in his Batman chair.

Have a wonder-filled Wednesday! And I’d love to hear…what’s up with you?

What’s Up Wednesday?

Writing Rambles

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!

If you read my post about Hawaii, you’ll know why I’ve not been participating in awesome blog hops like this one. I have been keeping up with what everyone is up to, so, don’t stone me. Anyway…

What I’m Reading

I seem to be only capable of reading one book at a time. This trend follows in writing. I’m not someone who can work on multiple projects at once. I tend to get consumed by one, and everything else will fall to the wayside. This may be a discipline issue. Hmm, not sure. Currently I am reading Legend by Marie Lu. So far, I am casually attached. There are things I do like, and then there are things that almost (but only in the teensiest way) remind me of the epic space opera Farscape — if you haven’t watched it, shame on you — which then makes me grab it a little closer. I’m invested, but not sure yet if I’ll fall in love. I am (when critiquing the aforementioned two book rule doesn’t seem to apply) beta reading for a writing friend. Her book is seriously clever. With what I know going in, (got to read snippets in the workshop we both took with Nova Ren Suma) I feel like I’m in very capable hands.

What I’m Writing

So, as I said in my post about Hawaii, I have been taking a writing break. It’s been like two weeks since I’ve done any real writing. The wheels are beginning to turn again. Characters are beginning to nudge me for attention. But I remain firm in my break taking, at least until next week. I, very politely, tell all of those shiny new ideas (and plot points for the sequel to my novel that’s out with agents) to shut the hell up.

What Inspires Me Right Now

The things I learned and experienced in Hawaii. Here are a few, very important, lessons you too can glean from:

1. Hula dancers do not always wear coconut bras, nor are they swaying their hips. Rather, they have incredibly powerful leg muscles that make the hips move, and the movement is very controlled and intentional. I am a very awkward, slightly scrawny mainlander. Here is a picture of me poorly hulaing. (The very tall guy next to me is my brother who married a beautiful Hawaiian. The man cackling off camera is his father-in-law.)

2. The Hawaiian word for thank you is mahalo. I love this word so much more than thank you. I feel you can say almost anything, then follow it up with mahalo, and the recipient will somehow walk away smiling. “You’re a bitch, mahalo.” Just feels different.  Try it, I have.

3. The Hawaiian people didn’t have a written language until the English Colonists (invaders and plague bringers) showed up. This meant that the recording of ancient history, customs, pastimes, etc. was maintained orally. Talking stories remains to this day to be a valued pastime among the native Hawaiian’s.

4. The Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the most beautiful, warm, genuinely kind people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I grabbed onto the arm of my brother’s mother-in-law and cried, “Please don’t make me leave.” They are that spectacular.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Did you get that I went to Hawaii? Have I made that clear?

Black rocks and blue water.

Black rocks and blue water.

*Sighs* Other than that, I am spending time getting my house settled. We’ve been back in Texas for four months, and still our living room is unfurnished, our walls need touch-up paint and pictures, and I just discovered two boxes that need to be unpacked. Yeah, lots to do on that front.

So…what’s up with you?

Break Taking

Uncategorized, Writing Rambles

I’ve been gone. Literally, and mentally, for about 10 days. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will know I have been in a state of bliss. Seriously. I was in Hawaii, a place of magical sunsets and mysterious beauty, a place where the smell of saltwater and plumeria mingles in your nostrils, where your tongue is flooded with savory, moist, sensuous flavors, and your mind is captured by rare and treacherous beauties. It’s Paradise built on dangerous black lava fields and volatile ocean waves.

Need proof?

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The funny thing about being gone is that I now have to come back. While on the Island, (Yes, I thought a lot about LOST too, while hiking. No smoke monster sightings though.) I found it within myself to let go, and hold on to the experience at hand. When you work on a book for 18 months with almost no breaks, soaking up other experiences becomes difficult. The lives of your characters can take you over.

Before we left for Hawaii, I was frayed. I was worn out. The last two years of my personal life have been filled to the brim with change. We moved to New York with our then two-year-old. I wrote a novel and then revised it four times. We flew back and forth from New York to Texas 14 times. We moved back to Texas, bought a house, and sent our son to school.

There wasn’t a moment in the midst of that where I didn’t also have to find a way to make my son’s world consistent and stable. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t wonder what the hell we were doing? There wasn’t a day in there that I wished I could go back to a simpler time in my life. To a time before change became my normal.

It did take its toll. When I finished this last draft, the agent I’ve been working with (who happens to be a good friend and supercool chick) advised me to give my brain a break. This was hard advice to take, and in a lot of ways, I think I would have ignored it if not for my time in Hawaii. The week before I left on that trip, I had a panic attack at the dentist. I freaked out about traveling without my son (who had informed me he would not go to Hawaii with me), contemplating not going at all. In that moment, the need for control became more powerful than the possibility of new experiences. The reality of missing my brother’s wedding, was outweighed by the chance that I might take a wrong step.

With grace, and wine, I got on that plane and got to spend 9 days with my brother’s new ohana. The open arms we were received with, the beauty and kindness I met at every turn, began to melt away the hard shell. The shell of survival. The weariness created by yanking myself up again and again even when I didn’t have the strength. The passion it took to press through four (often MAJOR) revisions. The challenge of living in two places, and then leaving one, and then not always feeling at home in the other. The loneliness created by realizing that while I was changing, so was everyone else, and now very little is the same.

What was left was softer, and more recognizable. It was someone closer to being ok with living and breathing and not always moving. I went parasailing with my brother a couple days before the rest of our party arrived. Flying over the deep blue water off the Kona coast, the wind whipping my hair wild, I felt strangely at peace. Settled. And I realized it wasn’t going to kill me to feel that way.

What’s funny about that is I know it doesn’t last forever. I know a part of me must be restless, must be unsettled, must be searching. A part of me will never cease the need for new discovery. That part makes me a writer. But that part can’t always be in control. That part doesn’t stop to stare at the sea just because it’s beautiful. That part can’t sit still and finish a meal, or listen rather than speak.

So, as I reemerge into the world, I am trying to hold that in my head. As new words begin to fill new pages, and new characters begin to surface, as I try to place a finger on the next story I want to tell, or the way to continue the story I am already telling, I remember to look out. To see the stories developing in front of me, not just inside me. To be inspired, but to be available. The writing cave is somewhere to go, when necessary. That isolated space, where nothing can take you away from your world, is vital. But it’s not somewhere to live.

When I got home, and I saw my son’s face, and I listened to his stories about his time without me, I was glad I could listen. I was glad I didn’t feel the need to open my computer or worry over word count. I was glad that, for just a little longer, I was free.

Many times the life we choose can force us to sacrifice that freedom. The concept that we can have it all, all the time, is a false one. We can’t. Some days I can’t write because I have laundry to wash, or a son to engage, or a house to maintain, or a friend or a sibling or a parent that needs help. There have been times when that made me angry, when I wanted, secretly, to be alone in the world so I could be surrounded by my characters without responsibility. I’m not proud of that, but I won’t pretend it’s not true. And the best I, or you, or anyone can do is recognize that without grace we are all colossal failures.

Try just once, to live on island time. To sit too long at a cafe. To read a book when you should be ironing. To listen to a stranger who just needs an ear to bend. To say mahalo, thank you, even when you’re not feeling it. There will always be time to be unsettled, but giving your roots a chance to establish is how you grow.