Month: September 2011

Scraping the sky

I didn’t want to post all these pictures right after the Nashville ones, but I think enough time has passed now. It’s hard to believe, actually, that it’s been 10 days since Andy and I took his brother to Chicago. It seems simultaneously like just yesterday, and forever ago.

We had a great weekend, full of laughter and calories. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of Baby Wants Candy, the musical comedy improv show we saw on Friday, nor of Second City or Blue Man Group. Here are some highlights from the rest of the trip, though:

Chicago with the Butlers 053
Tall Building #1 (John Hancock Tower)

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I’m a bug! (Field Museum)

Chicago with the Butlers 094
It’s not a trip to Chicago without a visit to the Lego store.

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Andy and I tried to make a Lego version of his uncle Keith.

Chicago with the Butlers 109
Buckingham Fountain

Chicago with the Butlers 124
Tall Building #2 (Sears Tower) – The wait is ridiculous, but so is the view.

Chicago with the Butlers 129

Chicago with the Butlers 131

Chicago with the Butlers 135

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Before and After and scars

I just want to say a few things today. Connect the dots as you will.

Everyone has scars.

Some are bigger than others.
Some are so big they split our lives into parts.
Before and After.

Some scars fade with time.
A month, a year, a decade.
Some stay fresh forever.

Scars are a symbol of pain.
Scars are a symbol of healing.
We have an amazing capacity for both.

Scars are stories.
Stories are how we learn, grow, and connect.
Everyone has stories.

Everyone has scars.

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Confession from a former literary snob

Today — late last night, technically — I was over at We Heart YA talking about how YA, like Pinocchio, is a real boy, goshdarnit!

It all started with an email I received from a fellow writer. Once you read the WHYA post, you’ll see. Anyway, that was a year and a half ago, and I’ve come a long way in terms of how I view writing and genre and all that. Still, I was struck by my original response to that writer, and I thought I would share part of it here.

Admittedly, I still struggle with the genre thing, because I come from the viewpoint you do: literary fiction is king, and genre is like the court jester. Entertaining, but meaningless. That said, if I can bridge the two — if I can entertain without compromising quality of writing, without losing meaning — then I think I will have accomplished something. Something greater than just another book that Twilight-crazed girls will read, and something more than just another book that only other aspiring writers will read. (Gross exaggeration on both counts, but you get my drift.)

That’s actually why I stopped working on the paranormal YA story I brought in last night. Because as much fun as I was having, I wasn’t sure what the point was. Believe it or not, the “New Adult” web series I wrote? Had a point, at least for me. It was very much about being 20-something and wanting to be so much more. Being stuck in transition. And the “New Adult” book I’m working on now? Also has a point for me. I don’t want to do genre just for the sake of genre (which is sort of what last night’s YA story was) so now I’m trying to figure out how to take the best of both worlds and make them into something awesome.

A year and a half later, a lot has changed, but that’s still my mission. Produce Something Awesome.

Easier said than done, no?

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Bad girl

Things I am supposed to do this month:
• Finish my manuscript — for reals.
• Start querying agents.

Things I am not supposed to do this month:
• Redesign my website.

Guess which one I’ve been working on today?

(In fairness, I’ve only been sketching ideas. And that’s all I’m going to do. Yep. Uh huh. Sure.)

I’m blaming my lack of focus on vacation brain. Over the long weekend, we took Andy’s brother to Chicago. It was his first time there, so we made sure to pack in as much fun (and calories) as humanly possible. More on that to come.

For now it’s back to the usual post-vacation drudgery: laundry, unpacking, catching up on emails/blogs, uploading photos, grocery shopping, and wondering how on earth you ever get anything done.

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Writerly links for Labor Day

I haven’t done one of these in a while, eh? Well, what better time to load you up with links than right before a long weekend. You’ll have lots of time to read, right? Right.

(Don’t worry, there’s actually only 3, and they’re all great.)

1. Nathan Bransford (formerly a literary agent, currently an author and internet expert) contradicts popular online wisdom by saying: YOU ARE NOT A BRAND.

… brand sorcery used to work in the TV era, but not anymore. The Internet doesn’t tolerate a false front. It loves loves loves nothing more than to expose the truth and stomp all over “brands,” as Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner have discovered all too keenly.

The only, and I mean only way to approach a world of social media is with honesty, transparency, and authenticity. You can’t fake out the Internet for long.

2. Author Lynne Barrett tells you exactly what magazine editors want, and how you can become it. There’s no bit that’s particularly lovely or quote-able — the WHOLE thing is an invaluable rundown of the submissions process. Seriously, everything I learned in 2-3 years of trial and error, she condensed into 4 pages. Read it.

3. I don’t know much about Chuck Wendig, except that his list “25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing” is absolutely spot on. Also: brutally honest, and a tad vulgar, but in a funny way.

2. Not Better, Not Worse, Just Different
Publishing your own work is no magic bullet; it guarantees nothing and is not a “better” or “smarter” way to go than the more traditional route. It’s also not a worse path. Each path has its own thorns and rocks, just as each path offers its own staggering vistas and exhilarating hikes.

7. Your Book Is a Boat Which Must Ride Upon Sewage
Those ass-tastic self-published books are your competition. But they’re the competition of any author.

8. Pinocchio Wants To Be A Real Boy, Goddammit
Treat your book like a real book. […] Make it look nice. Sound nice. Read nice. Force the book to command the credibility and respect that others of its ilk are lacking.

Enjoy the wisdom. Also: the long weekend. Anyone have fun plans?

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