Friday, December 30, 2011

Books I Got For Christmas

If you're unaware for some reason, I really like books. HERE and HERE are some previous posts on books.

Now....For the big moment. The books I waited all of 2011 for. The books I'd find in Target, and sit in the aisle and read until people looked at me funny (Or, in some cases, books I'd see on Amazon, and never stop talking about):

From Top to Bottom:
Marya Hornbacher-Wasted (I'll get to meet her at AWP this year, hopefully)
The Pocket Muse; Writing prompts and things! SCORE!
Jennifer Brown-Hate List (This seems intense)
Daniel Quinn-If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways
Gayle Forman-If I Stay (Finally!)
Lauren DeStefano-Whither (Finally!)
Gayle Forman-Where She Went (Yayy!!)

I am super excited about all of these books, but now I'm a little overwhelmed because I don't know where to start! But yay! I got books! Hope you guys got awesome stuff, too!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Change of Dialogue, New Paragraph

Okay, so I might be wrong about this. But, I also may not be.

I've been Beta Reading the last few weeks for about three people. Most have been stellar accounts, and small things to fix here and there, or me just adding suggestions or clever remarks like "Ohhh, I hope these two fall in love!" (Because I'm a nerdy romantic like that. And hey, a girl with commitment issues can still root for cute romances.)

But...the one that has come up in all three:

Change of dialogue, new paragraph.

What does this mean? (If you already know what this means, scroll down to the cute picture, because I haven't posted one recently.)

This means:
James said, "No, I don't want to date you. I'd rather vomit on your face." Change of dialogue, new paragraph. Sarah stepped back, "But James, I thought you loved me."

This is incorrect, my friends. Why? Because Sarah is not James. She is a different person.  So, this is how that should look:
James said, "No, I don't want to date you. I'd rather vomit on your face." 
Sarah stepped back, "But James, I thought you loved me." 

There are some instances where I'm not completely sure where the paragraph break is. In example, when one person talks, another reacts, but the first person continues talking. Most times, I still have that in the same paragraph. (It's one of those you have to be careful and gauge types of things. If all else fails, consult other writers/blogs, etc)  But as soon as the second person talks, new paragraph. Every time there is a new person talking, IT'S A NEW PARAGRAPH.


And a cute picture for you:
I went to go to sleep one night, and found this monster on my pillow. Adorable, no?

Friday, December 23, 2011


So...Sorry I haven't been updating too much, the real world has swallowed me again...and now I'm sick. So I'm just popping in to say:


Friday, December 16, 2011

Information Dumping

Before we get this going, I'd just like to tell you all that the only reason why I keep updating so regularly is because I've been getting sick of writing. Not actually, but...I like to space out. It's how I'm having a momentary lapse of ADD. Sorry.

Plus, this is how I'm usually writing..or his head is right in my lap. Right now, we're on the bed.

Anyways, so this is another round of advice from PNWA.

The Book Doctor talked about the Information Dump (Gahhh, run away screaming!!!!) which takes the reader out of the novel. Why does it take the reader away from the novel?

Jamie and Sarah are having a huge fight. Just as Jamie goes to ball her first and strike....
She thinks back to the time when she was five years old, and skinned her knee. Don't worry though...her mom came to put a band-aid on.
BAM. The fist hits Sarah.
(Get it? Don't give your characters ADD)

The information dump occurs when:
*We are too lazy to be creative
*We are too lazy to write another ten pages, strewn about the novel, and letting people in
*We decide to give back-story at the wrong time
*We're telling rather than showing

An example of the information dump (this is real life, by the way. This was actually in Igniting a Firestarter, in the first five pages nonetheless. No wonder it kept getting rejected!):

Typically Mirrors try to have minimal contact with Firestarters because we can char and burn right along with the flames they throw at us  We can feel their insides, we can absorb their fires. It hurts to be around them. The other down side about being a Mirror is that sometimes, rather than deflecting the attack, we reflect it. We are supposed to be healers. Sadly, most times Mirrors interact with Firestarters we harm them. It’s safer if we adhere to avoidance. Even a hand wave can have repercussions.
When you’re born you’re assigned to your legion. A tattoo is placed on your right foot and inside your left wrist bearing your symbol, your coven, if you will. Generally, your powers are determined by genetics, but sometimes bastards emerge. These complexities can arise from parents sleeping around or an anomaly, but either way, they exist.  Rather than showing you what happens, say...using an interaction between the two different types, I just dumped this on you.

So, now...I have to go through this entire effing novel and cut the heck out of it.

Give examples, friends. It's easier to show the first time around than go through 200+ pages and try to come up with ways to show people what you're talking about.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


If you're writing Young Adult novels...there are usually some guidelines to follow. Mainly the length guideline.

Most YA novels fall (from what I've read) between 60,000 words and 100,000 words. The good news is, if you're a little over, or a little under that's usually okay. But try to aim for those guidelines. I've heard that 40,000 is usually too short, and over 100,000 is usually way too long...but we're writers.

There are always exceptions to the rules.

Usually when I start writing, 60,000 is my end goal. Sometimes, I fall a little short of that, but that's okay...rough drafts (for me) are usually significantly shorter then the ending product. But it's nice to hit 30,000 words and say "I'm half way done! Wooo!"

So, as of today, I've finished My Sister's Memories (woo! Huray, my NaNoWriMo project is finished!), however, I'm at 54,338 words, approximately 200 pages. Which even to me, feels a little short. (There is one more scene I technically need to write in, but I'm really tired right now, and I can feel my creative juices dwindling). The good news is, a round of editing will probably give me about another 10,000 words.

Just wanted to pop in and tell you guys I finished, and throw some length guidelines out there for those of you who weren't aware of them.

Have an awesome night!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Character Christmas Party

Sarah Belliston was hosting a giveaway that involved blogging about what your characters would want for Christmas, and though I may be a little bit late for the contest (it had to be in by today, so I'm not sure if posting today means I have an entry, but I may as well try and harass her anyway), I thought it sounded like an awesome blog prompt...So....

Novel being written, My Sister's Memories:
Sarah would want nothing more than for her sister (Allie) to get her memory back. Ideally, she'd like to reverse time and make it so the accident never happened and have everything normal again...but she's getting to the point she can accept the, the people have stopped staring in the hallways at school, so...
Now, she just wants her sister to remember her life. That's all.

Allie would want her memory back, too....but unlike her sister, she's starting to throw the towel in. So, rather than the intangible, she'd like anything that's neon colored, or shiny. The cool thing is, both descriptions can fit into a frisbee to play disc golf with. Or, if she can't have any of that...she'd like to at least start remembering that cute guy...shit..what was his name again?

Jordan would like both Allie and Sarah to just be happy. And maybe his sister, Melanie. She's already lost one friend this year and she still seems to be struggling with it....but Allie and Sarah were hit the hardest. If that's not a possibility, then he'd really like Sarah to attend his college next year. Like, he'd really...really like that. And then...if neither of those are possible....he'd like some video games for the next time Sarah gets drunk and beer tears at his apartment. (He's kidding, he's kidding....sort of....)

I'd write about my novel that's currently in the agent game, but it's in the agent hopefully ya'll will be able to read it and tell me what you think they'd like.  (By the way, wouldn't that be an awesome giveaway for when I get published? Tell me what you think these guys would like and get *Fill In The Blank* from me! Yay!!!)

Anyways, hope you guys are doing well! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reality Check III: My Generation

Note: Today is not a writerly blog. It's a personal "Here is what I think" blog. Read at your own risk.

I live in the Occupy Wallstreet generation. 

Today's world is terrifying; there is war, rape, murder, muggings, vandalism. The horrifying list just goes on. People blame my generation, all the time. They look at all of us like we're criminals already. They look at people like me, people with lip and eyebrow rings like we're filthy. (Okay, sometimes I forget to shower or don't want to...but for the most part, I'm pretty clean.) 

But really this is the type of person I am;
I hold the door for people. 
I tell people to have a good day.
I may forget to say please but I always try to say thank you.
I go up to strange dogs and pet them because they're cute. 
I put myself through college and obtained a degree in Medical Biology, even when everyone told me to quit because "You're not good at it".
I bought my own car, my first car, without a co-signer at the age of 22, because I left my mom's house when I was 16.
I am the type of person who doesn't usually lock their doors.
I will pick up hitchhikers if it's cold.
I have tattoos, and I have piercings.
I hate hate words, gay bashing, and judging people for what they cannot control.
I WILL defend the underdog (and have almost gotten my ass kicked for it). 

Yesterday while working at the mountain a guest got on my case about picking up hitchhikers because I'm a girl, and in today's society it's not safe. 

It's not safe because we make it not safe. Things happen to people; cars break down, people have to get from point A to point B. I pick up hitchhikers because I believe in the whole "Be the change you wish to see in the world" (~Gandhi). If I were to need to hitchhike, I'd like to think that people like me will be willing to pick me up. When I leave my car unlocked, I try not to panic, because I'd like to think that there are people like me who just walk from their car, into the store, without wanting to break in and steal a GPS. 

My generation is full of unrest. 
We're sick of people stomping on our dreams. We're sick of people telling us to live in reality because we aren't thinking straight. We're sick of hearing about child abusers in the churches and in the schools. We're sick of domestic abuse that goes unreported, because we grew up in those households; I grew up in that household. We're sick of hearing about rape, and murder. We're sick of being the victims of rape and abuse. We're sick of having to lock our doors. We're sick of being afraid to walk the streets at night.

But we don't know how to make this stop, how to make this change. So we camp out, and we protest because we don't know what to do anymore. 

We are the revolution. 
Get ready. Things will change. 

If you don't believe me here are some songs:
City High~City High Anthem
John Mayor~Waiting
Noah Gunersen-Jesus, Jesus
(I had more, but I can't seem to find them....either way, you get the idea)

"Reality's a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there" ~Owl City

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Skeleton Writing

When I write, I see the story in front of me. You know how when you read, you see the characters move and do what they're doing? It's like that for me when I write; I see the characters interact, what they do, where they go, what happens. I'm in the room with all of these people (which is probably why I fall in love with the guy characters and become really good friends with the girl characters). I'm seeing everything that happens as though I'm there with them. (It's probably why I have such a difficult time with telling rather than showing...).

So, as I write, I write the really basic skeleton. When I finish, there are really basic words, really simple sentences. Originally, Character Defects finished at 73,000 words or so. After a couple of rounds of editing, it's holding strong at 86,000 words. I write this way because it allows me to write fast, and crappily, but have my ideas fully written out on paper. I have each scene written, I know EXACTLY where the story went. Plus, because I know it's weak writing, I have no qualms with completely deleting sections........usually.

An example of skeleton writing:
"And then Jake throws a rock. And then Jake is angry because it hit the tree...rather than the car he was aiming for" etc.  (Note: I promise you the writing isn't this basic, nor does it usually contain that amount of 'and's.) But these lines are what the story is made up of...all of the bones that will help it stand up strong, but at the core, it's missing the meat, the emotional pull of a really good novel.

Usually, it's missing the heart, too.

After the bones are written, I go through and fill in the meaty sections; starting usually with the digestive tract, because let's face it, the second draft is usually poo, too. (This made me really happy to write by the way.  I hope it at least made you smile.)

Round three is where I become the characters, where I see what they see rather than what I see. They're no longer another person, they're a part of me. I have to step into their shoes, feel what they feel when the best friend steals the boyfriend, feel when their bones break.

I can't seem to find the quote I was looking for but it basically says something like; If you don't tear up when you write, your reader won't cry when reading. Feel your work, know your work. It's fun to be someone else for a day. (Until you know, the climax of the story...then...we might all dive in over our heads, but that's why it's crazy fun, right?)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Show And Tell

I have a lot of problems with telling rather than showing when I write. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I write in the first person a lot....but part of it is that my brain just doesn't think that way (especially in the way rough draft).
Plus, until about four months ago, I didn't know what the hell people meant when they said, "Show, don't tell."

The Book Doctor at PNWA, whose name is escaping me, gave a badass example of what showing verses telling is.

I'll share this life altering information with you, with an example I'm gonna make up here on the spot.

Are you ready?
Here it is:

Baxter is the best dog, ever. (Of course I'd pick a Baxter reference.)

After we'd both undergone surgery, I went upstairs to take a nap. As per doctor's orders, Baxter stayed downstairs after taking some medication. Soon enough, I heard his paws clumsily making their way up the stairs. He staggered to the side of my bed. One paw at a time, he army-crawled onto my blankets, still careful not to be on me. Together we napped, him at my feet, me at my pillow.
When I woke up, blood started pooling out of my mouth. Though Baxter had just gotten his nuts chopped off, and was probably in pain himself, he saw (or smelled? You pick) the blood and started whimpering and nuzzling me until I pet him and told him I was okay.

Do you get the idea? I didn't just tell you Baxter is a ballin' dog, I showed you why. (This may be a kind of lame example, but it's a true one...and it may give you guys some insight as to why he appears so regularly on my blog :) ) The Book Doctor went through and explained examples of when it's appropriate to tell rather than show..but I don't remember when those times once I dig out those notes, I may post about that, too :)

Anyways, hope you guys have a great night. I'm gonna start falling behind on blogging again, I start my new job tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trusting Yourself

I've gone through two days of hell. After day one, I woke up with what felt like a broken rib and realized that it was because I hadn't used those muscles in over a year. On day two, I panicked in front of my group. I had some votes of confidence, and I allowed myself to learn. The entire time I kept telling myself; I was made for this job, I was born to do this...because well, I am, I was.

This is actually a bad picture to use...I was really hurt in this picture...
After that, I took a day off so that my body could recover. I drank tea, I stayed in sweatpants all day, and I didn't shower. (I also finished my entire thing of mint Oreos, thanks for not judging :) .)

Today, I went back to the mountain, by myself, and snowboarded for two straight hours. And I did it hard. (And started singing some Ke$ha because of the line, "Tonight we're going hard...") While on the chair lift, I started thinking a lot about life, and the applications of snowboarding. I'm constantly terrified because I just had surgery. If I fall wrong, I'm not going to get back up...I'm afraid of turning wrong, of leaning too far...of everything.

The conclusion I came to then, is that writing is a lot like snowboarding. (For those of you who don't know, I've recently been employed as a snowboarding instructor, hence all of this mountain talk. If you're friends with me on facebook, it pretty much says that I like to snowboard and write. So...all of this is rather perfect.)

 There's a point where you stop being scared; where you turn your board out, and barrel down the hill.

After a point, you learn to trust your equipment, your legs (even if they still feel weak, even if you've just had surgery)...yourself. You trust that you know you well enough to know what you're doing. You trust that your board or your bindings won't just come apart. You trust the weather conditions, the mountains...the sport. And you go, because you're at the top of the mountain, and you need to get to the bottom.


No matter how good you are, how experienced you are, you never want to throw your body down a mountain. You learn what you're capable of doing and you do it. And you do it until you get bored, until you're ready to learn something new.

Yea, that's right, I work here. Be jealous :)

Writing is no different, my friends. 

You learn to write, and you do it until you realize something just isn't working, something isn't enough. Then you branch off; you start researching your art, you start calling it your art. You admit to being a writer, you're prideful of this fact. You make friends, establish yourself. You don't expect to be a rockstar, you stumble you fall, you get rejected. You don't throw yourself down the mountain (instead, you edit). You ease into it until you know what the hell you're doing.

And when everything falls together, until you can stand on any mountain and say "I own this," you continue along.

Writing isn't a race. Snowboarding isn't a race. Find your pace, and rock it. Maybe sing some Ke$ha if you're up to it. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don't Be Afraid

Being human...well...kind of sucks. And here's why:

We have all of these emotions, all the time. There's never a time when you're not feeling something. Even if you're feeling blah, you're still feeling. But the worst thing (to me) is being afraid. (Now...start singing some Eminem, no, really, sometimes it helps.)

My sister and I thugging out. (I'm on the left, funny, no?)

Anyways, I hate learning new things. More-so, I hate admitting that I don't already know how to do something. Part of it, I think, is ridicule, "You don't know this?" like everyone on the planet already has this knowledge that somehow managed to elude me, that maybe I should have been born with it. Some of it is shame, like I should in fact already know these things... Some of it is just my typical anxiety. 

But, something I've learned over the last few months is to ASK for help. 

Don't be afraid. 

I got a Twitter account and had no idea how to use it. I thought it was like facebook, where you could like stuff and write on people's walls (profiles). Turns out, I was wrong. In the end, I asked one of my fellow employees how to use it. She gave me advice on how to post and get more followers, how to start conversations, what tags meant, etc. 

Once I was on twitter and rocking it, the entire universe expanded (although I still don't know how to schedule tweets...I'm still trying to learn that one..). 

I learned from Marilyn Almadovar, who I met on twitter, how to more efficiently utilize blogger. Did you know that you can schedule blog posts for the next day? Or a week later? Neither did I, so I asked and she taught me how to do this. (You go to post options, there's a little section that says "Schedule at:" I may or may not have been doing this all week.) 

From Janna Cawrse Esarey, I learned how to perfect my pitch which ended up getting me two agent partial requests. She hosted a panel at PNWA and stayed after, critiquing writer's pitches. But, in order to get help, I had to stop being afraid of her tearing me apart, and it turned out really well. (I made sure to find her by the end of the conference, buy her book, and thank her.)

A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail from a reader on the blog who saw that I'd written two novels in under 30 days, each. She asked if I had any tips on writing quickly, so my next blog post was about speed writing.  

Beyond that, if you just give a call out, "Hey I'm looking for a beta reader," sometimes people will respond. If not, what have you lost? Nothing, really.

Remember: It never hurts to ask, the worst a person can say is no. Most of us writers want to help out because we've all been there. (Just please, don't harass the agents or editors. It makes us all look bad...)

In other, unrelated news, I just finished an entire pack of Mint Oreo cookies in under 24 hours...more like 12 hours. Don't judge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reality Check II: Do Your Research

In my last blog, I talked about the financial costs of conferences, which may lead to a follow up question: 

How the heck do we find conferences in the first place??

First, you need to figure out what you're looking for out of conferences.
*Finding new places to submit to?

I've found that there are conferences that are specific to what genre you're writing in, so that's kind of a jumping point. My sister is the one who got me into AWP. Before that, I didn't even know about writing conferences.

Some conferences actually give you time slots to meet with agents. This one was PNWA.

~I found out about PNWA through Vickie Motter's blog. For those of you not familiar with her, she's an agent who is on twitter and keeps an advice/review blog. On her blog, she posts the conferences she'll be attending which is helpful to writers like me who hope to meet her, and pitch to her.

~I found out about LeakyCon's Lit Day from Jennifer Laughran's blog.

Moral of the story is: find the agents you're interested in. Follow them; their blogs, their twitter accounts. They will usually say something about upcoming conferences, or some, like Ms. Motter, will have where she'll be for the next year. It's an easy way to find out about conferences you wouldn't have otherwise known about. (From there you can decide which ones are feasible, and which ones are out of the question.)

The coolest thing about conferences is that writing is infectious. Literally, I'll be sitting in a panel and have a million new thoughts to write about. The backs of my notebooks are FILLED with random stuff to start; poems, stories, ways to edit existing stuff. And then when there's a break, hit the bookshop to find other authors and literary magazines. It's a great place to talk to editors, authors, etc.

Kinda blurry, sorry. This is Kerry Cohen speaking. She's amazing.

Beyond that, TALK TO EVERYONE. Literally, every chance you get, introduce yourself. Sit next to people. Become the social butterfly you've always wanted to be. You don't know who you'll bump into. Seriously, from one of my conferences, I met a woman who offered to house me for a night because I'd been driving an hour each morning to the conference, and an hour each evening. She and I will be roommates at this year's AWP. At the same conference, I also met another person who housed me in Florida during Lit Day.

So, make a good impression and if you're serious about the game:

Everyone will ask, "What's your novel about."
Make sure you have an answer.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reality Check

Being a writer is a costly endeavor. First, there's the computer, the software. After you get there, there's the hours you devote a day to writing a novel, a story, whatever. If you're one of the rarities (that I'm not sure really exist) that manage to get published in their first shot, then you don't really need to listen to my rant. But even if you are, you may want to. Because even after you get published, it's still about getting your name out there and spreading your fan base.

So let's take a reality check here. Here are some costs of writing conferences and memberships that help boost your bio section of the query letter, help you network, and let you meet agents and editors:

SCBWI Winter Conference:
(Registration is still open to those of you who can afford it!)
Early Registration:   Members- $360
Regular Registration:  Members- $385
SCBWI Membership:
1st Year: $85
Renewal Cost: $70

AWP Conference:
(This year it's in Chicago! See you there!)

Attendee CategoriesPre-registration
Nov. 1 - Jan. 23
On-site Registration
Feb. 29 - Mar. 3
Member +
1-Year AWP Membership

I love this conference because of their student price. This is one of the only conferences I've found that offer this option. It is the first conference I was ever able to go to, and the one I will go to probably the rest of my life.

LeakyCon Lit Day:
(Also in Chicago this year. Woot!)
Okay, If you want Leaky Con it's $200. They don't have the price up for just the lit day portion yet.

PNWA Membership:

  • $65 Regular Dues
  • $25 Full-time Student
I did not know that these guys offered a student discount. I will have to pass this information along. Either way, I belong to this program because, although I live across the country, I saved close to $100 by being a member. Plus, like I previously stated, it's a nice thing to add to your query bio.

PNWA Conference:
They're posting the information, but if I remember correctly, it was like $300-$400. This conference to me rocked my work, and somehow I was able to afford it. 

But look at these costs. I'm a recent college graduate. I own a dog. I work a minimum wage job. Even if I'm able to afford the conferences, if I don't have friends who reside in the cities these things take place, that's an additional $200ish/per night, as well as the cost to get there (depending on location $400+). 

So, another reality check:
*My rent is $425/month
*Car payment is $300ish (somewhat flexible)/month
*Two credit cards: $200/month
*Baxter (without Vet visit): ~$40/month
*Food: Too much, though I tend to stick with Beefaroni, Raeman, and RiceaRoni
Those costs alone make me kind of want to...curl in the fetal this:

In all fairness, this was taken after my first 2,000 ft tandem hang gliding flight

Bottom line: Money is a significantly limiting factor for me, what about you?

So some FREE advice because I like to ramble anyway:
Research the conferences. Find agents you would tear our your kidney and sell it on the black market for. Save up your money and go to those conferences. My college professor is the one who told me to go to AWP, and I am eternally thankful to her. Because of that conference, I started saving up money to go to more. I started writing again. 

If you have the money, they're so, so worth it. Not only for the agent-to-face time, but also for the panels, the authors, the networking, the free pens! 

It's a hard game. Money is just a piece we all play with, so play wisely.

Good luck!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yay! Another Blog Award! for those of you who only know me virtually, not only am I an anxious person (see previous blog, float around through other posts...), I'm also really excitable.

Every time I get a new follower, I literally squeal and possibly jump up and down. It usually looks something like this:

God, these are terrifying pictures. I hope I didn't just scare you away...
So imagine when I get a manuscript request, or heck, even a free cookie. It's dangerous to be within a ten mile radius of my flapping arms.

Yesterday, I found that the lovely writer, Laura Barnes, gave me a blog award!!! Which resulted in the usual tackling of Baxter (who was resting peacefully beside me), and a giddy squeal (then I had to explain to my roommate who is like 60, possibly 70 years old what a blog award was).

So here's the award, and it's linked back to Ms. Barnes' blog:

If you're not aware  of how blog awards work, it's like this:
*You get one (Yay!). You can just take it, put up the pretty picture on your blog and do nothing else. That's up to you.
*You link the award back to the giver.
*You pick people to give it to.

She picked ten, so I'll do the same (in no specific order):

90% of these blogs are writing related. One I know in person, and I enjoy her blog because it's down to earth. Plus, I know her in real life, so that's fun, too :) Either way, these are the common blogs I try to pop in on at least once-twice a week...I hope you guys enjoy them, too.

*Once you've selected the fine bloggers, leave a comment on their blog and let them share in the giddy-ness. (I hope you guys get giddy, too)
*Some of the other blog awards have a series of questions so you can get to know the writer a little bit better...This one didn't come with any (yay!)...

But here are some fun facts about me anyway:

~I have the best dog in the world.
~I don't like to say that I own him, we're more like friends.
~I'm really caffeine intolerant, and it usually ends in a panic attack. But, after working at a coffee shop for a few months, I'm now also dependent.
~I'm a fast writer. I think. I'm not sure...people tell me I am. (If you go through my old posts, I have some tips on what I've dubbed speed writing.)
~I like cookies. A lot. Like...I eat a million a day.
~I like cold weather and snow..which works out since I just moved back to Maine.
~I really like Owl City's new album. Mainly because he has a song that says, "Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there"
~I hate TV
~I love music
~My car is a stick shift
~In the last month, I've been in two ditches (one ended up having to get towed out, the other pushed out)

That's all for now :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect (Overcoming Anxiety)

If you're new to the blog, I'm going to direct you to these following posts to gain some background:

*Overcoming Anxiety    *Reading Out Loud      

As you'll see, I have a lot of anxiety. I'm constantly afraid of stepping wrong, saying something stupid, and then when I have an energy drink I all but freak out. (I should maybe consider stopping that, but it just tastes so good!)

New situations terrify me. I hate when I leave a job, because it means I'll have to get a new one, get re-trained, be ignorant for about a week until I get into the flow. I hate it...I like knowing what I'm doing, I like being good at everything I do. Any time I'm out of my element, I'm shaky, it's hard to breathe...and I want Baxter (who I may or may not be trying to train as an anxiety dog).

So just recently, I moved from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to the mountains of Maine. The move itself was making me anxious: will I have enough money? will we have a place to stay? will Baxter be okay? etc. It was relentless, but I kept pushing through it and kept going. And things worked out:

We got a house:

Yesterday, I had orientation in a room that looks like this:

If you've ever been to a conference, you'll recognize the set up.

So...I walk in eating some oreos. I drink too much coffee and start having a bit of an anxiety attack. The woman running orientation asks for four volunteers, and I find myself walking up. The entire time I was shaking, my heart was pounding so loud, I could barely hear her when she told me to read things out loud, but the bottom line is that it was practice. Maybe someday I'll host a panel, maybe even be in a panel. Maybe someday, I'll get to read my novel to a crowd the way I read stories at an open mic night.

When I finally got to sit down, I tried regaining my breath, but it took some time. But I'm proud of myself. Why? Because I did it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone for about twenty minutes, in front of a bunch of people I didn't know. It's something I try to work on, pretty frequently.

As writer's we're going to be nervous, all the time. Querying agents, landing editors, getting our books published. And then the book tour, talking to fans, attending conferences...I'm preparing for this, all the time. Are you?

And as of tomorrow, I'm diving into being a snowboarding instructor. It's completely new to me. I don't know anyone, I'm not even sure my knee is ready for it, but this morning, I was able to kneel down for the first time since surgery. It was awesome. Painful, but awesome. It gave me the ray of hope I'd been looking for.

So, I'm going to keep pushing through, keep pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, all the time. And every once in awhile, I'll stop..

This is the view just down the street from us :)

and be reminded that even with anxiety, this is a really good life :)
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