Ridiculous Things I Apparently Wish I Could Do

I’ve already shared a bit about how introspective the writing process has been for me. But what I haven’t shared are the strange images I often find myself writing into my scenes that I’ve realized are just a bit odd, but at the time seem perfectly rational to me.

1 ♥ Wishing I could jump into the sky. I’ve always had this fascination with the night sky, especially when I’m swinging and the momentum kicks me up towards the stars. I’ve always wished I could keep going and land in the sea of darkness.

2 ♥ Wishing I could emit beams of power from my chest. Why the chest? I don’t know. I guess I just feel like it’s close to my heart, so it seems natural to be the place where my power emanates from. The beam is invisible of course. I can’t be turning heads with a cylindrical ray of light shooting out of me. That would just be weird. 😉

3 ♥ Wishing my body moved in unusual ways. I often write characters moving gracefully, a little too gracefully. My writing group already pointed it out that one of my characters stretched out a “long arm” which gave my book a spin I wasn’t looking for. And then there’s the instances where I use the verb gliding instead of walking.

4 ♥ Wishing I could be a ninja. I mean this one isn’t so ridiculous. Just think of Katniss Everdeen with her bow. I think one of the best parts of writing a female lead is making her exponentially more bad ass than you. But my character didn’t seem to naturally progress. I was just so excited to get her to a certain level that I pretty much turned her into a ninja overnight, which I think accurately depicts my dream in life.

5. ♥ Wishing I could communicate via dreams. I find myself wanting to write dream scenes quite often, but not just any dreams. There always has to be a sign or omen or foreshadowing of some sorts. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but I’m starting to think I just wish I could warn people in their dreams, or tell them some deep dark secret while they’re getting a bit of shut eye.

It’s funny what you end up writing when you turn off your inner editor. My true desires start to peek out, desires that seem awesome and normal to me but when I turn the inner editor back on, I realize are just a bit odd.

Luckily, being just a bit odd makes for some flavorful writing.

 

Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by brokeandbookish.blogspot.com.

Top Ten Books I’ve Read in 2013

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10. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg ♥ This book was so interesting to me because I’m really focusing on improving my habits. It defines the habit loop and teaches you how to change your habits with examples from business and society.

9. 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron ♥  This is a great craft book that focuses on increasing your daily word count. It really helped me finish my novel on time.

8. Crazy Love by Francis Chan ♥ This book is so daring, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. But in the end it’s a good read and gives you much to think about.

7. Delirium by Lauren Oliver ♥ This book has such a great premise: love is a disease and people need to be cured.  It sets up great conflict and romance and it’s just a great read.

6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth ♥ I read Divergent last year and loved it. Well, Insurgent is even better! The tension is so high in this book that you quickly become hooked and can’t put it down.

5. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years ♥ It’s official. I’ve loved all three Donald Miller books I’ve read and want to read the rest of his work. This one has such a great concept, living the best story possible.

4.  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen ♥ This is not my typical genre, but it was a very refreshing read. It spiked my interest in both magical realism and chick lit.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ♥ My friends have been raving about this book for a while now and I was finally able to check out the audiobook. So, so good. There are so many quotes that I love.

2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi ♥ I had the pleasure of hearing Tahereh speak at a panel at Barnes and Noble and picked up the book afterward. I love, love, love it! Her style is so vivid and unique.

1. A Million Suns by Beth Revis ♥ I love this book so much. It’s the sequel to Across the Universe but it’s even better than the first. I just loved the imagery of space… I genuinely felt like I was in space with Elder and it was at the same time majestic and terrifying.

Throwback Thursday: Adding Color to a Black and White World

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Back in my high school days I had a Xanga called colorinblackandwhite. I know I just took you way back to the pre-Facebook era. But I was kind of obsessed with black and white movies and equally obsessed with color. And then when the two meshed like they did in Pleasantville it was just exquisite.

But as I look back over my most recent novel I’m realizing that I have a little color to paint into a black and white landscape. By this stage in the writing process all of the elements are there: characters, plot, plot twists, tension and conflict.

But what’s missing is that extra oomph, that magic that turns an ordinary, sensible book into an absolute page turner. Granted, it’s hard to write a book like that, but I’m realizing there’s not a lot of difference between the current state of my book and a book that makes the reader beg for more. All that’s missing is a little color. The final touches.

I guess what I’m trying to say is writing a page-turner is not always some sort of divine intervention. It’s a craft. It’s practice and knowledge and skill. It is possible to write like a best-selling author. Maybe I will never be ridiculously famous, but I am capable of writing like that. I just have to give it time and practice, and absorb as much craft information as I can.

So keep pressing on, whatever it is you’re doing. You will get there in time if you put in the effort. And soon your world will be in Technicolor.

A Little Book Happy

It's Monday! What are You Reading? Is a weekly meme by bookjourney.wordpress.com

It’s Monday! What are You Reading? Is a weekly meme by bookjourney.wordpress.com

I know this is going to shock you all, but I’m currently reading a lot of books. I am still finishing The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, A Million Suns by Beth Revis and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. But I have two new audiobooks this week, alternating because one will only load one part at a time and I don’t have wi-fi on the go to keep downloading.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I’ve been listening to this one for about a week now and it’s slow going because of my technical difficulties (grr), but so far I really like Karou and find myself really rooting for her. And this Akira angel-dude is pretty hunky too. A possible spark of romance? I sure hope so.

 

 

 

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I read this one last year and it has to be my favorite book. The sequel just came out so I’m rereading it to freshen my memory. I seriously just love this book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you reading this week?

Shedding the Fluff

Lovingly - Clouds with heart shape

 

I’ve been working on shedding the excess, or the fluff, in my life lately. Things that are a waste of time or things that are detrimental to my health, sanity and general well-being.

But it’s difficult to do because honestly, I think I like the fluff. It’s like a safety net. When we trim the fluff we leave the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts.

In writing, I have to watch for fluff too. Words, scenes, characters that don’t progress the plot or add meaning/depth to the novel have to be trimmed. It’s hard to cut words or characters I’m attached to, even if it’s for the better.

But eventually I find the courage to cut the unnecessary, to shed the fluff, and I look back at my writing, at my life and think, it’s a lot more beautiful without it.

 

 

My Own Personal Character Arc

images“But I also wondered if he wasn’t right, that we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. The point of the story is the character arc, the change.” -Donald Miller,  from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I realized something today. Creating my characters, adding conflict, sending them through danger and heartache and plot twists — it changed them.  But it changed me too.

For the first time in my life I set a goal, committed time, effort, and tears to it. And I achieved it. I wrote a book.

And in the process I realized that life really is about the process. We don’t just wake up skinny, or rich, or happily married. We have to work for those things. We have to give everything, every day, and creating art is no exception. I always thought I’d just write a book from beginning to end. Maybe I would have to tweak some word choices and fix a few spelling mistakes. But writing is so much more than that. It’s taking a step into your own personal character arc, surrendering to the transformation life has in store for you.

A book starts as an idea, a single seed that you water and let grow. The idea expands into a plot, into characters, into dialogue and voice. And then at some point, maybe even after you’ve written the book twice, it becomes a story, a whole world of possibilities. It becomes art.

As a writer, I am my own personal work of art. I learn and grow and adapt and never stay the same. I transform, each day ending differently than I began. While I might be creating arcs for my characters, they are creating a larger one in me. And that is a beautiful paradox.

Throwback Thursday: My Writing History

I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to type on the computer. Ever since those first stories about bunnies and Valentine’s Day capers I’ve been completely encapsulated by the art of writing. Shocking, I know.

During the course of my school years I kept writing, but it wasn’t until eighth grade, until I discovered poetry that I actually became a writer.

I wrote about a poem or two a day, finding it an outlet for my many preteen emotions. I was one of those emo MySpace bloggers who updated their mood and status on an hourly basis.

I did have a following though, a select group of readers who would always comment on my poetry. It felt so good to get feedback that I made a new MySpace, just for my poetry.

And then college happened, and I kept writing poetry while I dabbled in other things, like teaching. By the end of senior year I had an English degree and a teaching certification, but something didn’t feel quite right.

I wasn’t writing books, my original dream.

Post college I started my first actual book, and suffered along in isolation as I attempted to navigate what the heck I was doing. And then I found my writing group, and everything changed. My hobby started becoming a career, and my dream a reality.

I know a lot of people lose their way in college, but I’m so glad I found my way back to writing and reading, and befriended some wonderful people who are just as passionate about writing as I am. There’s a long process ahead of me but I know its worth it, and I know I have a great support system cheering me along the way.

Read All the Books!

It's Monday! What are You Reading? Is a weekly meme by bookjourney.wordpress.com

It’s Monday! What are You Reading? Is a weekly meme by bookjourney.wordpress.com

This week I’m reading all the books! At least that’s what it seems like.

read all the books

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. I’m reading this one for a book club and so far I am really enjoying it, though I’m a bit confused. I’m sure as I get more answers it will all make sense.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver. I know I said I was reading this last month but I couldn’t get the audio file from my library to work. So I decided to sign up for audible and I’m finally listening to it! I can’t wait to finish the series.

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A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I love, love, love Donald Miller. Did I mention I love him? I have a feeling this book will be every bit as good as Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What.

I am also still reading A Million Suns by Beth Revis, which so far, is just as good as Across the Universe.

What are you reading this week?

Throwback Thursday: Gel Pens and the Magic of Fads

BB102874If you wanted to be cool in my fifth grade classroom you had to own an assortment of gel pens. You literally had to carry a gallon-sized Ziplock bag full of gel pens of every color from Pretty in Pink to periwinkle blue.

I’m glad my status is no longer defined by a bag of writing utensils, but I  haven’t quite rid myself of my affections for sparkly, colorful pens.

So naturally, when I started editing paper copies of SOUL TIE I just had to buy a pack of gel pens.

Writing expenses. Perfectly necessary and excusable from the budget, right? Tell my bank account that, brain.

It’s interesting to think about how fads shape us later in life. If something is so popular, so crucial, how can it not have a hint of importance later in life, even if it’s  utterly ridiculous (Furbies anyone?)

Fads may get a bad wrap but we can’t deny the fact that we get sucked into them. They become part of our culture. They become part of our history.

So as I pull out my handy dandy gel pen and practice my signature, I’ll think back to younger Dani, scribbling boys’ names on notebooks with a Red Hot gel pen, coloring in hearts and yet, breaking others at the same time. I’ll think about my childhood and those horribly wonderful, awkward years during which I sought desperately for a sense of self, a personality to adhere to. And I’ll think about my personal history, littered with a bit of ridiculousness and know that it’s fuel for my creative fire, a spark for my craft, and insight into why some things that seem so unimportant end up changing our lives in the end.