Some Ways to Recharge

We ALL need rest (although try telling that to my five-year-old). So I started thinking about what helps me relax and stock up on energy…here are my ideas.

1. I prepare for recharging like I’d prepare for a visit from a friend. Yes, this is a little counter-intuitive because I’m doing some work up front, but it’s worth it. The house doesn’t have to be spotless, but I try to get it to a decent point. Then I plan some activities and good food, clear my schedule and cut back on obligations, and it’s all worth it for the recharging time ahead.

2. Limit screen time. This is a big one. It’s easy for me to zone out in front of the computer or television, but at the end of it, I totally do NOT feel rested. There’s noise. Noise noise noise noise, like the Grinch says. So turning those off and getting into a book or a notebook or an artsy project (see 4, below) is what helps me.

3. Cat naps! Goes without saying, really.

4. I try to do something creative, but only if it doesn’t feel like “work.” Writing can fall into this category, but if I’m not having a good time, I should work on something else, like a Shiny New Idea, or…scrapbooking, or making my kids’ Halloween costumes.

5. Sort of related to the above, PLAY. If I can sit down, with or without the kids, and break out the crayons and a coloring book, I’m a happy girl. It is SO soothing. Same with Play-Do, LEGO, My Little Ponies….

There’s more, of course, but I’m going to take my own advice and relax. Well, not really. I’m in Tip 1, which is setting the scene for recharging. I’ve got a few writing-related things I need to wrap up over the next few weeks. I’m taking a month-long break from this blog, although I’ll still do my two scheduled posts at the YA Muses, and I’ll try to comment on other blogs occasionally. So, my next post here will be October 11th.

Friday Five

1. I made my first green smoothie yesterday, thanks to advice from my BFF K-Joy! It was a beginner’s green smoothie, with spinach, banana, and lots of blueberries. Actually quite tasty. Maverick loved it. Z loved it until she heard that I put spinach in there. I’ll make another one tomorrow. Wonder if Z will believe me when I say the green color comes from candy?

2. The YA Muses recently gave their website a “mindblowing” overhaul with a gorgeous redesign by Lia Keyes. They also expanded their ranks to include six New Muses, and I’m thrilled to be one of them. My first post went up last week. It was fairly straightforward to write a post talking about myself (although, yes, terrifying). But even worse is next week, when I’m supposed to write something about character. I think I’ve mentioned here before that I shy away from giving advice on craft because I am hardly an expert and have no street cred whatsoever. But I have to figure out something, and soon. It’s probably bad form to find a guest-poster for my first craft post…but I’m tempted.

3. What is it about kids and how no matter what one kid has, the other one wants it?

Never mind. I don’t think it’s just kids who do this.

4. Last week we had four excellent entries in Colonel Shifty’s Haiku Made Easy query critique/poem giveaway! I’ve decided to select more than one winner. In fact, we’ve got four winners. PB Rippey, Randi (AKA my mom), Myrna Foster, and Jamie Weil! Congratulations! I’ll be in touch to find out if you want a query critique or a poem.

5. A Shiny New Idea came to me the other day, giving me some energy & extra motivation to finish up the books I’m working on now. Once again, my Shiny New Idea is about something I know laughably little about. I think that’s part of the fun, though – exploring something so new that I start by borrowing children’s books on the topic. (Apologies to any local kids who need to do book reports on that subject anytime soon. I just cleared a shelf out of the library.)

Colonel Shifty’s Haiku Made Easy – Query Critique or Poem Giveaway

Okay, so I actually used to do this when I worked in a restaurant. On my close-out envelope, I’d write a few 5- and 7-syllable options and ask a coworker to choose and voila, a ready-made haiku. Indulge me?

1st Lines
sweet peppers pungent
giraffes wear lipstick
television light
traveling rat spa
little mermaid fin

2nd Lines
winter elephant in bloom
LEGO music Clair de Lune
ice cream melts antagonist
Wichita parades at noon
lavender shoe fetishist

3rd Lines
ickle ockle blue
scented miracle
Areola’s smile
superstar panda
jealous macaroon

Post your haiku in the comments! One entry per person, but feel free to create as many as you like. And feel free to switch things up a bit (substitute words or lines of your own or whatever). Winning haiku will be chosen by Colonel Shifty on Thursday, August 29th at 1:36 pm Pacific time. (Colonel Shifty is actually a gopher, so I will help him by drawing a name out of a hat or using some kind of number generator thingie.) The prize…the prize…um. (Can you tell I’m winging this whole thing?) I’ll critique your query letter. If you don’t have a query letter, or don’t want me to critique it, I will write you a poem. A personalized poem! By me! Yay!

Off to Los Angeles

Okay, so now the time travel aspect of this post is even MORE confusing, because I forgot to post it. But I can’t have my gorgeous artwork NOT go up. Besides, my brain is still exploding (mostly in a good way) from all the inspiration and information I soaked up at the LA conference.

Below is what I meant to post last Friday, and forgot….

Well, I’m writing this in advance & scheduling it to post because RIGHT NOW (I mean, in the future, sorta) I am at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA!

This is the first time I’ve been away from Maverick overnight. (I know, sad, isn’t it?) He’ll be fine, in the capable hands of Homes and Gran. I wonder how I’m holding up (that’s me, in the past, writing about the future except I’m writing this right NOW. Is this how writers feel when they write time travel books? I could never do this, whether in the past, present, or future).

Anyway. I made Z and Maverick each a book about me being gone. They’re in such capable hands that I don’t want them to forget all about me. I did a book for Z last time I went to LA, but she’s older now so she gets a new one. (You can click the image to enlarge it; otherwise it’s too faint to read.)

I Love You Mav 2013 Excerpt I Love You Z 2013 Excerpt

Next week, a general report on my experience as a first-time international SCBWI conference attendee.

And, of course, a report on the awesome restaurants DChan takes me to.

The Arms of the Ocean

A beautiful thing happened this week. I finished typing in my handwritten revisions for Draft 3 of my surfing novel!!!!!!

Really, this is a small thing, and probably doesn’t deserve six exclamation points. Because I’d already made these revisions by hand on a printed-out copy, all I had to do was type them into the Scrivener document. So maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

But when I was having a crisis of confidence THE ENTIRE TIME I WAS TYPING, thinking THIS IS TERRIBLE with every keystroke, then, it starts to seem a bit bigger.

And when I was (not so) merrily type-type-typing away, I came to a note that said, “Need scene for such and such,” and I HADN’T WRITTEN THE SCENE. It’s a bit of a smack in the face to have to halt all the (easy?) typing work and actually create something from scratch. Even harder when, as I’m writing it, I’m thinking OH WAILY WAILY THIS IS TERRIBLE with every word.

So maybe it’s still awful (actually there’s no “maybe” about that), but now I can print the [expletive] thing out again and revise it once more.

That’s progress, my friends.

Also, how totally perfect is it that right after I finished typing, I had to pick up Z at school, and when I started the car, “Never Let Me Go,” by Florence + the Machine was playing – and the lyrics are:

In the arms of the ocean so sweet and so cold

And all this devotion I never knew went on

And the crashes are heaven for a sinner released

But the arms of the ocean delivered me

…which is absolutely awesome and goes with the surfing book SO WELL. It was unbelievably cool.

So big thing or little thing, typing up those changes feels big, and it’s gotten me excited again about a book I’ve been struggling with from the very beginning.

The Spider (CONTAINS PHOTOS, NOT FOR FAINT OF HEART)

First I saw this. And freaked out.

DSCN7718

Then I guessed it was an exoskeleton, & freaked out more.

Then I decided to vacuum the whole house (@Izandra thought the best solution was to move and burn the house down…I seriously considered that option first). And when I got ready to vacuum, I saw an extra leg behind the curtain loop. (Please note: that is a vase, not a cup.)DSCN7720

JMH_0647 spider

copyright Homes

I feel only a little bit bad being happy that Homes was here, sick in bed, and I could accidentally-on-purpose wake him up to remove the spider. He took a picture of it outside in its new habitat. (For the record, “the backyard” does not count as “way the hell away from our house EEEEEEE!” as per my instructions. However, the arachnid is no longer residing in our living room and I will have to be content with that.)

7 Things Your Support Network Needs to Hear

It’s me, Colonel Shifty again! (You lucky ducks.) Last week I counseled Support Network Personnel in the things their writers need to hear. This week, the message is for writers. What does your Support Network need from you? Now, I know writers are inherently selfish (at least, one in particular that I know well). However, think of it like this: If your Support Network is drained and resentful, how well can they support you? Nourishing that Support Network is in your best interest, believe me.

So what do they need? I polled* some Support Networks and got the answers for you, right here:

1. Thank you. Put it in the dedication, or put it in the acknowledgments page. Write it in the sky. Write it in a card, an email, or spell it with cookies on a daisy-patterned plate. Or just, you know, say it. Your Support Network needs to know you appreciate them. Please remember, certain methods of showing gratitude will be more effective than others, depending on circumstances of ability on the part of the writer, and tolerance on the part of the Support Network (e.g. Beth, please do not sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” to Homes. You can totally sing it to your mom, though; she’d dig it).

2. Go out! Have fun! I’ve only had twenty-nine different writer-related outings this month. Tonight’s your night! You can leave me with these two short strangers who may or may not be my children. Is it all right if I call them by the names of my main characters? In all seriousness, you writerly types can be downright selfish when it comes to sucking up all the free time for writing. Give your Support Network time to pursue their own passions, even if it might not be your idea of a good time.

3. Let’s talk about you. Some writers I know (cough*Beth*cough) can go on for days talking to their Support Network about their writing. Whether it’s plot issues, or characters, or querying, or agent drama, it can really fill up the conversation, until the Support Network is sitting on the other side of the table (or worse, trapped in a moving vehicle) looking like a blinking piece of haggis. Remember to share the conversation time, writers.

4. What kind of story do you want to read? This is a fun one, and can get you thinking of different genres, or of blending genres. Look out, though, because you might have a snarky Support Network, and you may not appreciate the answer (e.g. “How about a story where your whiny main character drowns on page ten?”). But if all goes well, cool things can happen. If your support network is heavily into magical realism and you write westerns, imagine the possibilities! Naturally, being a gopher, I don’t have a lot of time to read, but if I did, I’d be reading that.

5. Bad day? Help yourself to my emergency chocolate stash. Writers, it may seem like a big deal to give someone the key to your sanity-preserving dark chocolate peanut butter cups, but remember what I said above: Nourishing your Support Network is in your best interest. Who else will run to the store for more chocolate the next time you’re in need?

6. No, the bad guy isn’t based on you. Your mutual love of haggis is purely coincidental. Sometimes your Support Network might wonder, since you’ve stolen every good piece of dialogue they’ve uttered, what else you’re stealing. Their appearance? Their quirk of wiping their face with a napkin every time they take a bite of food? What about their childhood dreams? Are you some kind of psychic vampire, or what? Take the time to reassure your Support Network that this is FICTION and any similarity it bears to any real event or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental (or whatever that legal jargon is that writers use to save their butts).

7. This book is going to Make It Big and then you can quit your soul-sucking job and retire into the life of luxury to which you should be accustomed. As long as your Support Network realizes the minuscule chance of any book “making it big,” no matter how beautifully wrought, this message can give your Support Network hope, and an opportunity to dream with you. As long as these dreams aren’t replacing Real, Actual Writing (TM), use this for the boost in morale it can give you both.

Really, all those other things are great, but no matter what, your Support Network needs a Thank you. (Although rumor among polled* participants has it that massages, favorite foods, and other tokens of appreciation wouldn’t hurt.)

*No participants were actually polled. Sorry, there wasn’t time.