Thursday, December 25, 2014

Dream Big But Be Thankful

I set some goals for this winter break so I'm not being lazy. First one, I need to finish Save the Cat, because everyone keeps telling me this will help me figure out my plot problem. It's a craft book for screenplays but also works well for novels. Second one, I need to figure out my plot.

Outside of writing, I'm going to finish an oil painting I've been working on. I keep forgetting about it and the paint dries and I basically have to start over. Other than that, hoping to go snowshoeing or hiking. Most of my friends are out of town this break so it might have to wait until January.

Having goals and dreaming big are good to do, but this time of year I have to sit back and be thankful for what I do have. It can be easy to complain about things in your life, I am guilty of it myself: getting rear ended, losing a friend, and being heartbroken. And sometimes I forget to remind myself that I have an amazing life! My friends and family are all healthy, I have a roof over my head, and food at every meal. Other people are lucky to have just one of those. I am so blessed to have a good job, with money to pursue my other hobbies, like photography, painting, and writing. None of these come cheap. Writing classes, retreats, and conferences are very expensive and I did one of each this year. I'm thankful that I get the opportunity to do these things.

I guess my takeaway is, your life will never be perfect, but be thankful for what you have, because other people in this world will look at your life and wish they could have it.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sophie's Squash and The Gruffalo

I like to buy my nieces books, because they have enough clothes and toys already. Unless they MUST have those plush Frozen dolls, then I give in. But for my 1.5 year old niece who can't tell me what she wants, I bought her 2 books, Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.

I learned about Sophie's Squash in my writing class. There was a lot of hype for this book, especially for a first time author. We had to get our hands on it, so finally someone found it at the library and we passed it around in class. It's a really cute story about a girl and her pet squash. She takes the squash everywhere and gives it a name. And as you know, a squash wont stay a squash forever. So she lets go of her squash, and at the end something amazing happens. This book won the Golden Kite award, you can see it here:

The Gruffalo I heard about when I was in Germany visiting my brother. It's extremely popular in Europe, so popular they made a cartoon show that my nieces were obsessed with. The author has several books and all have done really well. The Gruffalo sold 12 million copies, which is unheard of for a children's book! It's about a mouse who gets approached by several animals in the forest who want to eat him. But he tells them it's not a good idea, because he's about to meet the Gruffalo, a scary creature he made up. Then the mouse actually does meet the Gruffalo, and the Gruffalo wants to eat him, but he says that is not a good idea, because all the animals in the forest are afraid of him. And he back tracks through the same animals he meets in the beginning. Really fun story, highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Writers Block

I've been in sort of a writing funk lately. The dreaded middle *shudder* is falling flat and I don't know what to do about it. I'm at around page 66 with my writing group. But once it gets to be around page 110 they're going to be like, "Whaaat???" because the story line is not coming together. It's getting frustrating. I wake up at 5am (hit snooze about three times) and sit at my computer to stare at the pages, not sure where the plot is going. So instead I fix my tense and punctuation just so I feel like I've accomplished something.

I'm a planner, I like to have my week planned days in advance. That's usually how I write my stories too. In my previous books, I outlined the entire novel. But with this book, I decided to just go with the flow and let the ideas come. And they did at first, I think my beginning is pretty good. But I need to rewrite about half of the novel to make the rest work. Which is okay with me, that's what revising is all about. Not giving up on it yet.

This year my life has definitely had its highs and lows. I blame nobody but myself. I just need to remind myself that no matter how low you get, the highs are just so much sweeter. And they will come, you just have to wait for it. People in your life will come and go, but if they want you in their life, they'll put you in there, you shouldn't have to fight for a spot.

I hope this funk, in writing and in life, turns into something amazing :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Words of Motivation

Sometimes I wonder, what if I put in all this work, and I never succeed? But then I remind myself, you only fail if you quit. And if I never get published, I know I gave it my all. I will have no regrets or doubts.

My hope for you, if you can't find your motivation, or don't know how to keep going, that you never give up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The First Line

You have to hook your readers with the first line. Rewritten it so many times and will probably rewrite it again. Here it is, currently:

        “Is it alive?” Jack poked its pale, rubbery arm with a stick. “Yuki, check if it’s breathing.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Still Dreaming

When I was fifteen and almost failing English class, I decided I wanted to write a book. Why would someone who hated the subject at school suddenly want to write a book? An idea came to me when I was washing the dishes and I had to get it out.

I wrote that book in a few months. And I wrote another one...and another one...and another... I'm on my 4th middle grade novel now. It'll be a long work in progress but I feel like I have good people and good direction and am finally on the right track.

I wasn't always self motivated. I had it pounded (literally) into my head after 15 years of martial arts that taught me to keep a positive attitude and to never give up. I used to be very negative to myself, thinking I can't do that, I'm not smart enough for this, or I'm just not good enough. But when I reached my first goal of becoming a black belt, I was compelled to succeed again. And my next goal was to get a degree in engineering, even though I had to start at classes below college level. When I completed that goal, I felt invincible. I can do anything! And I've always wanted to publish a book and even though I have no publishing credit to date after 14 years, I truly believe if you want something and work hard for it, you will succeed.

I hope this will inspire you to dream big, work hard, expect to fail, and persist!

Beetle Boy by Margaret Willey

First of all, props to the marketing department for creating such a modern cover. Loved the sleek design and the size/handle of the book. They say don't judge a book by its cover, but let's face it, we all do it. It is a short book, less than 200 pages.

This book is very sad and depressing. If you're looking for a happy story to read on the beach, maybe wait on this one. But if you're in a deep place in your life and don't know how to accept the past, maybe this book will help. It doesn't follow the life of just the main character, Charlie, but of his entire family. It shows how neglect and abuse can propagate each generation. And Charlie wasn't just the victim, he also abandoned his little brother as well. It fluctuates between the current Charlie at 18, who reads very older at times, to his younger self as the worlds youngest published author. There is swearing and sex, which makes this a young adult novel. I wanted there to be a happy ending, but alas, just like in real life, there sometimes isn't a happy ending. In writing class we're always told that the main character needs to grow by the end, needs to have learned something. And I struggled with what exactly Charlie learned by the end, because he was the same whiny, un-empathetic person he was from the beginning. But after some thinking, I came to the conclusion that Charlie accepted his life and would move on. The last line: I think I got this, Mrs. M., is all you get to the new Charlie. The reader is left wondering: Why did the mother leave in the beginning? Does he talk to his dad again? and Did Charlie ever reconcile with his brother?  This is exactly how life is, you don't always get all your why? to life answered.

This book was assigning for the Weekend on the Water retreat that I went to this weekend. The retreat was a part of SCBWI Western Washington. It was my first retreat, and was super excited that I went and had a great experience.

I met the editor of Beetle Boy, Andrew Karre, at the retreat. Someone asked why Clara, the girlfriend of Charlie, had dialogue in bold in the beginning, and he said to keep her as a somewhat controlling person, someone from above. But when Charlie starts to see her as being just like everyone else in his life, her dialogue turns normal. He listened to our comments (summarized above) and said that was exactly what the book was meant to make you think.