Friday, August 31, 2012

Day #8774 - Sharing a Story

I claim that this blog is all about my writing life, though I never really have much to report on. Well, that's about to change. But only slightly.

On the one hand, I'll say that I haven't been doing much in the way of querying lately. I was feeling a little beaten down about the lack of movement there, so I decided a break might not be a terrible thing. Then earlier this week, Queryland became less dreadful, but I'm being superstitious and don't want to jinx things, so I can't say more than that quite yet.

Something I am more comfortable with sharing here is a story I just finished! I entered the Defy the Dark short story contest - the winner will have their story included in the upcoming Defy the Dark YA anthology. While it'd be awesome to get there, for me writing a short story was such a fun experience that I really enjoyed just giving it a shot. My entry (and all the others) can be read over at, but here's a handy dandy link for you: =) I can tell you this story isn't quite like anything I've ever written before, and it was a great challenge to try something new. So yay!

That's it for me and my writing life this time. My other life as a librarian and employee at a high school is also in full gear now that the kids are back from their summer vacations. I can honestly say I missed them and it's good to be back. Never a dull moment, that's for sure!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day #8769 - August Favorite Things

In which I talk about a few of my favorite things from the month of August.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day #8764 - 23 Things

This Thursday is my birthday, marking the end of my life as a 23 year old 23rd year and the start of my time as 24. It's been a very, very long year to be sure. You know how Blink 182 famously sings "nobody likes you when you're 23"? Well, it feels like they sure hit the nail on the head with that one. It wasn't exactly a year I'll look back on with extreme fondness, but it was an undeniably eventful time. And so it is time for me to look back, search for the silver lining of it all, and come up with 23 things I did while I was 23.

  1. Finished graduate school
  2. Got my first "grown-up" job
  3. Made new friends at said job, young and young at heart
  4. Sent a manuscript out into the world for the first time
  5. Kept writing even though that manuscript didn't get the response I'd hoped it would
  6. Became a book blogger
  7. Met other incredibly awesome book bloggers, aspiring writers, and published authors
  8. Went to South Carolina for the first time, checking another state off my list
  9. Started making YouTube videos
  10. Joined a gym
  11. Chaperoned two high school dances and lived to tell about it
  12. Visited the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time
  13. Went on exactly one date...I think...I'm pretty sure it counted as a date?
  14. Joined the American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association
  15. Took my Anglophilia to a whole new level when I started watching Doctor Who and Sherlock
  16. Helped direct two plays at the school where I work
  17. Saw my favorite musician in concert for the first time
  18. Went to two Chicago Blackhawks games (and they won both times!)
  19. Smiled on as several people I know got engaged and/or married
  20. Taught lots of lessons and did lots of book talks
  21. Went on adventures of various sizes in a variety of places
  22. Spent many hours amused by my dog
  23. Made it to 24
So those are all good things that happened this year, and thinking about the positives helps make the harder times a bit more bearable. Even still, let's all keep our fingers crossed that being 24 goes a bit better, shall we? =)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day #8749 - Citius, Altius, Fotius

When it comes to the Olympic Games, viewers seem to be divided into two camps: you either love them, or you're indifferent.

For those of you who fall into the second category, you'll be put out of your misery tomorrow when the games of the 30th Olympiad come to a close.

I, however, definitely fall into the first category. I don't really know how it happened - I've never been particularly athletic and the only sport I follow regularly is hockey - but I'm glad that it did. Every two years, I'm completely consumed by the Games. Athletes who have worked oftentimes for years to be able to compete on this, the most public and elite stage of them all. The pride that comes with representing their countries. The joys of victory and dreams coming true combined with the agony of defeat when sometimes it all comes down to hundredths of a second. Getting to learn about sports that often don't get a whole lot of attention, and getting insight into the culture of the host nation. I LOVE IT!

It's true that it all the coverage on can easily be a bit overwhelming. It also doesn't help when NBC continually plays 'background' pieces that by the end of the Games we've all seen a dozen times rather than show less popular sports or athletes from other countries. But at least in the digital age if you want to look into those things (like when my father was disappointed that they weren't televising the hammer-throw), you can usually find them online instead.

All in all, I've always found the Olympics and those who most of the participants to be admirable. I'm not saying I'm necessarily a fan of everyone there, but you cannot deny that to be an Olympian has required a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that those who don't share that same path could ever imagine. And the reactions the athletes have to the results speak volumes, too. Of course winning the gold medal is the ultimate prize, but Tuesday night I watched a women's track race where the girls who each won the silver and bronze medals were just as excited, jumping up and down, clapping with smiles from ear to ear and flags draped around their shoulders. No matter if a participant walks away from those games with a medal, they can go home and for the rest of their lives state that they are Olympians, which is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself.

Citius, Altius, Fotius. Faster, Higher, Stronger. These three words make up the Olympic motto. They are good words to keep in mind whether or not you are an athlete. They serve as motivation to keep going, keep pushing, keep trying. Words that we may not hear for another two years until the Winter Games take place in Sochi in 2014, but that doesn't mean their impact should lie dormant for that long.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day #8751 - Short and Sweet

It's been a trying summer as far as my writing is concerned, readers. My agent search and time in Queryland continues to drudge on. At least on that front I seem to be developing quite a thick skin - form rejections aren't any more welcome in my inbox, but I'll still take them over the more uncertain policy that some agents take with a general 'no response means no' policy. 

Also, earlier this week I read a blog post by one agent (who yes, rejected me) who said that she is much less likely to request pages or sign new clients in the summer because her attention span is shorter and she'd rather be outside. Unless she is totally and completely wowed while the sun is shining and the weather is warm, it's an automatic form rejection. So naturally, I started to freak out. I've put a lot of time and hard work into my manuscript and the many, many drafts of my query letter and now I find out that I'm doing this at the wrong time of year? Not exactly the best feeling in the world.

My current WIP wasn't exactly a place of solace and escape from this defeated feeling, either. It's hard to write well when it feels like everyone and their assistant is telling you that you actually totally and completely suck. (Okay, none of them have actually said anything remotely close to that, but it can feel that way when they respond with indifference and tell you 'no thanks, not for me, but good luck!'.) Add that to the fact that I'm incredibly hard on myself with my writing in the first place and this is a first draft so of course it's really rough, and there was a lot of negativity in the room. If I were a cartoon, I'd be walking around with a little thought bubble declaring DOUBT over my head, pannel after pannel.

What I needed was a change. Something completely different. I get ideas for novels, but I find myself lately getting caught up in the little points that keep me from moving forward even though I try so hard to remember to just focus on the bigger picture the first draft around. So right now, I've turned to short stories.

Now I haven't written a short story in years. We're talking not since maybe junior high, and even that may be a generous estimation. I certainly haven't read any short stories since then, and those were usually more canonical ones. But I think it's well past time to reintroduce myself to this form of storytelling, starting shorter with the bare bones and still writing an effective piece and build myself up to longer word counts to build my confidence back up. After all, writing is like any other skill you want to master in this life - practice, practice, practice. I'm currently reading the YA story collection Up All Night featuring authors such as Libba Bray and David Levithan, and I'm hoping this will help me warm back up to this medium.

So that's my writing life as of late. If anyone out there knows of good (YA) short story anthologies or good websites where people can post stories and get feedback, please let me know in comments! I'd greatly appreciate it. Until then, back to work...