To Kill a Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird was the first book that was all mine.

I had always been a reader. As a little girl, I’d read Caddie Woodlawn, and Pollyanna, and had Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time read aloud to me. And others, of course, and more than I will name here. When I was eleven years old, I found a VHS copy of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird in my parents movie closet. I wanted to watch it, and my mom said no. Not until I read the book. She went to the store and bought a purple trade paperback edition and presented it to me that night.

I was eleven, this was a big book. An undertaking. I set about conquering that mammoth, even so. I read in the car. I read at the park. I read at church and in the tree in front of my house. I finished it on my bed, late at night, with tears in my eyes. I sunk from the edge of the bed to the ground and wept, and hugged it close, and got the edges of the pages all messed up with my salty tears.

I would never be the same.

I reread it a handful of times over the next few years. I got in fights with people in my Texas town that still used the N word because now I understood where that word came from, what that word meant, and why it was wrong. To Kill a Mockingbird taught me that.

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I moved away from Texas at thirteen and started to eighth grade in a small town in Colorado nestled between the Rocky Mountains and an evergreen forest. The day before I started school — friendless, ill-equipped to navigate this new environment — I met my English teacher at the open house. Her name was Mrs. Collette. She was a tiny white woman with wisps of blonde hair and shiny blue eyes. She asked me if I was a reader. I told her my favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird, in fact I had it in my backpack to come with me to school. I felt safer with it. Like I had a friend.

Mrs. Collette, it turned out, was also friends with Scout and Jem. We had that in common. And until I was ready to make new friends, she let me sit in her classroom at lunch and grade papers, talk books, talk writing. Mrs. Collette saw potential in me, in the way I put words together, and even though I was terrified, she encouraged me to be brave.

To Kill a Mockingbird made that happen.

Harper Lee made that happen.

Today, Harper Lee left this world. She moved on to the next adventure, a greater adventure than this one. She changed my life with her words, and forever, I’m in debt to the bravery it took to write a book that was dangerous, but necessary. I’m thankful, forever, that she did.

 

Ready. Set. Write! Update 6

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

How I did on Last Week’s Goals:

Writing — I only got about 10 new pages, but I incorporated the feedback from my consultant, so I am pretty pleased.

Reading — Finished reading Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett. I stayed up way too late one night reading because I couldn’t put it down. This book is so good — sexy and scary and leaves you wanting more. Definitely recommend. Kim is doing a pre-order giveaway through McNally Jackson that everyone should check—out:

Pre-order Blood and Salt

Workout — I was a lot busier this week than I expected. I only got in three workouts this week, but I am glad I at least got that.

My Goals This Week:

Writing— I am feeling really ambitious this week. I would like to get 35 screenplay pages written, or get to the third act of my script by the end of the week. Basically, I am in game face mode to finish.

Reading — Reading screenplays. I just read Almost Famous, and plan to read a few more this week just to keep myself in screenplay world.

Workout — I plan to exercise every day. I may not get to the gym, but at least doing my own thing at home is usually feasible.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

MEMBER OF THE CON HIERARCHY (CONT.)

I’m afraid the best we can do is set you up with a volunteer to help you search the convention.

PHILLIP

Search? A convention of 150,000 people in costume?

MEMBER OF THE CON HIERARCHY

To be fair, not everyone is in costume.

PHILLIP

So you won’t help me at all.

MEMBER OF THE CON HIERARCHY

We said you could use our copy machine to make flyers with his picture on it.

She blinks at him.

MEMBER OF THE CON HIERARCHY (cont.)

Do you need thumbtacks?

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

My son was really needing extra mom time, and I decided that was the most important thing. It meant giving up some of my normal writing time. It effected how much I accomplished. And it was totally worth it.

Something I love about my WiP:

It’s the story I want to be working on. Sometimes our ideas don’t pan out, or they turn into something else along the way, and — good or bad — we have to adjust. Even with this stories evolution, I know I am working on the story I should be working on right now. And rightness trumps everything else.

Ready. Set. Write! Update 3

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

How I Did on Last Week’s Goals:

Writing- I began work on my screenplay revision on Thursday and was able to get 9 pages that day. I also finished the BEAT SHEET for the other screenplay I’m working on. It’s still a rough draft, but I love the idea and where it’s going.

Reading – I finished Things We Know By Heart by Jessie Kirby, but haven’t had a chance to start any new reads yet. I plan to start A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas next.

Workout – I kept up my exercise routine, and added in two sessions with my brother the personal trainer. This week I would like to do the same!

My Goals This Week:

Wrting:

1. Get between 5-15 pages on my screenplay every day this week. I won’t have a full finished revision before I leave for Comic Con and Los Angeles, but I’ll be more than half way through.

Reading:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas next.

Life/Workout:

1. Start knocking stuff off my “getting ready for Comic Con list” and don’t panic about the fact that it’s almost here.

2. Workout every day, do two sessions with my brother this week.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Line of Dialog from one of my characters, Simon.

But here, we can be anything. Here, maybe there’s way to save the damsel. Even if the damsel is you.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Focus. I have a lot going on right now, like everyone, and focusing on the task at hand without getting distracted with future tasks, other tasks I should be dealing with, was a real hurdle this week.

Something I love about my WiP.

I love that by the end of this revision I will have a largely different story than I had at the end of the first draft, but will still feature all the same characters, just deeper versions of themselves. The power of revision in action!

What are your goals this week?

Ready. Set. Write! and My Goals

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

This is (I think!) my third year participating in RSW, and I can promise that it is worth the commitment. Accountability and community are key to the solitary life of a writer. We need each other more because so much of being a writer means being inside your own head, warring with fictional characters and sorting out plot and stakes and getting words out.

So, I am excited to join in. And here are my goals:

  1. Get my BEAT SHEET finalized for my screenplay There’s Life Outside Comic Con. Now that I am working with a consultant, I am not allowed to move forward until the Beat Sheet (from Save the Cat!) proves this script will hit all the high notes.
  2. Begin the Revision on that screenplay, with the hope of completing another draft by the middle of July. (When I will be at San Diego Comic Con!)
  3. Start a revision of my manuscript Of Blood and Promises. I had back burnered it for a while to focus on screenwriting. I am moving slow with this, and need to be right now since that’s not my #1 priority. So, just knowing how to start and starting is my goal for the summer.
  4. Do a Beat Sheet draft for at least one more feature.
  5. Read the books I want to read, as many or as few, and let myself be moved, take time, stay up all night.
  6. Continue to work out every weekday. I have been exercising for the last six weeks and am seeing happy-making results. I am doing nothing for diet, but don’t want to. My goal is strength and stamina and feeling good about my body. That’s it.

Next week (Monday, June 15th) we’ll be posting our first update using these headings…

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

I hope you join in! I’ll be cheering you on if you do. 

Writer Recharge: I sucked this week, but I’m on YouTube

WriterRecharge 2015

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.

Here’s how I did on my goals last week!

Write/Revise —

This week I sucked it up on my writing goals. I was out of town until Friday assisting Lindsay Cummings on a book tour and making a YouTube video with her about it. I did manage a little over 1000 words, but that is all.

Read —

I read another 50 pages on my CPs MS. That is my focus this week. That is my primary focus.

Self —

I walked by a gym at the hotel we were staying in. Everyday. Everyday I asked Lindsay if she wanted to work out. She did not. Neither did I. We did watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban twice while planning our Harry Potter Tag video. I drank a lot of tea, for my health.

Connect —

I would say that my entire week was connecting. I met readers and aspiring young writers. I learned about the author life in a very real and sometimes emotional way. I was super impressed by my friend for the time and effort she gives (freely) to these kids.

Fun —

  • My sister-in-law and I got badges to one day of San Diego Comic Con. We then had to follow through with our commitment to begin a YouTube channel should we succeed. Check out our blog Books, Booze & Bitches for more info and stay tuned for our first video — airing Wednesday!
  • While you wait, you can watch Lindsay and I discuss Harry Potter in a very ridiculous way:

Good luck this week on meeting goals!

Writer Recharge

WriterRecharge 2015

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.

Here’s how I did on my goals last week!

Write/Revise —

  • Again, didn’t do 500 words a day, but did mange just over 2000 words total. So. Success. 🙂
  • I began the terrifying process of cutting scenes from my screenplay. This stage of revision always makes feel anxious. Hold me.
  • I sent my PILOT outline to my screenwriter friend, and before I finish the script, I’d like to hear back from her.

Read —

  • Read on my CP manuscripts. My goals this week is to have notes on one my the end of the week!
  • Haven’t had a lot of other reading time this week. But I’m bout 25 pages into Ruby Red for the reread. LOVE this book so much. #GwynnieandGideonForever

Self —

  • I went to the gym Tuesday and Thursday, and walked everyday — even the days I worked out! YAY

Connect —

  • Participated in a couple Twitter writing parties!

Fun —

For Galentines Day (February 13th) two of my sister-in-laws and I ordered pizza, popped champagne, ate cheesecake, participated in Lady Talk, and watched two episodes of Supernatural. It was epic girl time.

Good luck this week on meeting goals, and having fun while doing it!

Writer Recharge

WriterRecharge 2015

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Katy UppermanAlison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, and Sara Biren, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.

Here’s how I did on my goals last week!

Write/Revise:

  • Wrote almost everyday, and surpassed my 500 word goal each day. Total Word Count: 4,434
  • Didn’t work on my screenplay revision last week– that’s on the schedule for this week!
  • Finished my Pilot Script outline and wrote three script pages. VERY EXCITED about this project!

Read: 

I need to rework my reading goals for the month.

I have two CP reads that showed up in my inbox, so I am giving this priority.

Also, I am participating in a reread in the Ruby Red Trilogy this spring. Check out the details here and join in!

Self:

Exercise three times in the week.

  • I went to the gym Tuesday and Thursday, and I took my dogs on three brisk, long walks. Success!

Connect:

  • Didn’t do my pay it forward shipment yet, but soon.
  • Participated in a couple Twitter writing parties, hope to do more this week!

Fun:

Haven’t started Supernatural yet, but that is on the books for this week as well.

Good luck on all your goals this week! We got this!