What’s Up, Wednesday? // 3 \\

Well, hello! And let me just say Happy October! That seems to be a thing people are excited about.

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, which is hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

Oh, boy. I’m in the middle of my Harry Potter re-read that I started at the beginning of the Hogwarts term. (For those Muggles out there – September 1st.) I’m currently in the middle of Prisoner of Azkaban which used to be my favorite of the series. I’m looking forward to finding out whether or not that’s still the case.

On my slate are a few big re-reads of the first two books in quite a few series:

  • The Untold trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan;
  • The Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin; and
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

in preparation for the third books in each of those series being released. (Yes, I know that Unmade was released in September, but I haven’t had time yet. There’s no time!)

What I’m Writing

I am still steadily plugging along in That Golf Story. I’d say, as of now, I’m about 1/3 of the way in? Maybe? Hopefully. At this rate it will be the shortest ms I’ve ever put together. Which is not a bad thing. So I’ve got about 20k words down. As far as 60k in 60 Days goes, I’m on track. I’m so glad I didn’t pressure myself to do the 60 days consecutively. I’d say I’ve written about 17 days between August 8 – now. My goal is to be done with this draft by Christmas. As the story takes place during the high school golf season, I’ve just (literally just) decided to split the story into three manageable sections – August, September, October – which should help with pacing.

Anyway, I reblogged this excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer quote the other day and it’s been rattling around my head ever since. God, I love Spike. I love Spike the way that I love Jess Mariano, and Logan Echolls, and Damon Salvatore and all of those other bad boys you want to make out with [the heroine] even though he probably wouldn’t make a very good boyfriend IRL. But this quote, this is exactly what I want to evoke between my main character and her arch-nemesis-cum-love interest. It’s just a matter of making the words on the page reflect that feeling.

What Works for Me

Location, Location, Location

I’ve found that I’m at my least productive when I’m trying to write in my apartment. If I’m on the couch, I’ll be too tempted to turn the television on, and my desk chair is too uncomfortable to entice me to work in my room. If I work at the dining room table, I can be convinced to work, but the table’s rarely clean and we don’t have dining chairs, so it’s a whole production.

On the whole, I’m at my most productive when I can get away a little bit. So I pack up my laptop and go to the lobby of my apartment building, or the roof, depending on the weather. The internet is spotty enough that I’m not even tempted to try and connect and when I am there are enough other people milling about that I won’t pull up tumblr for fear of NSFW things on my dash. So I can unplug and write for a few hours before returning to my apartment for nightly TV.

Writing Music

I still (still!) haven’t put together a writing playlist for That Golf Story, but I have a few Songza stations that I listen to – In an LES Dive Bar, Guitars & PBRs, Art School All-Nighter, the Re-Birth of Alt Pop – that feature drums and rock and the kind of music my MC would play when she’s off the course and behind her drum set. Songs that I can zone out to, and nod my head to, and are perfect for me to get some work done.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Quite a few of my friends have celebrated birthdays recently, so I’ve been going out for drinks and generally helping to celebrate another year of them. I’ve been finalizing my grad school list and plotting to tackle the actual applications without actually doing so.

I’ve also been taking part in my new favorite hobby: shopping for British real estate. I know I can’t actually buy any of those places, but oh boy would it be neat to live in a castle in Scotland or a cozy flat in Brighton, or a renovated church in Sussex.

October is also full of trips and visits with friends and family and I’m so very excited about all of it. Friday morning will see me flying out to Memphis with a few friends, just because! I have no concrete plans while we’re there other than to eat my weight in barbecue and drown myself in booze. I have high hopes that the trip will feel rejuvenating because I really need to get out of town and away from work for a few days.

High-Five Romance

Credit for the original gifs (which I made into one giant gif) goes to tinamy.co.vu

Credit for the original gifs (which I made into one giant gif) goes to tinamy.co.vu

Almost a year ago, on a rare trip home to visit my parents, Dad and I painted a familiar picture: sharing the living room as one of us clicked around on our laptop while the other vaunted control of the TV. Aside from golfing and visiting the West Side Market, watching TV together is our greatest bonding experience. Maybe one day I’ll enumerate all of the weird and wonderful moments that have come from that.

But not right now. Right now I want to focus on this one particular moment, where Dad and I were reunited in our natural habitat. For the life of me I can’t remember what we were watching, but whatever it was gave my dad pause. He looked over the screen of his laptop at me and said that it was beginning to dawn on him that he and my mom didn’t necessarily do a great job of being affectionate around each other when I was growing up. He wondered if they set a good example of showing me a relationship to aspire to when I was younger.

I had to think about that, because I have never doubted that my parents love each other. They’re still together after 31 years of marriage, they must love each other. But at the same time, I have the kid-goggles of thinking of them as my parents – a unit, but not necessarily a couple. My parents are loving and affectionate, but not in the way that I ever had to worry about walking in on them making out in the kitchen. My parents are not prone to PDA, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.

So after agreeing with him that they aren’t the most romantic of couples, Dad asked what I found to be my ideal standard for judging a good relationship. It wasn’t something I’d given a lot of serious consideration before, despite being surrounded by couples in every day life and pretty much every bit of media that I consume. In the end, it wasn’t difficult to pick one  factor above all others: high fives.

High-Fives are great couple behavior. When I think of the couples on television that I grew up watching, shipping, and envying, they are, overwhelmingly, the ones that would high five. (Or seemed like they would high-five off screen.) There’s a reason that my tag on tumblr for Chandler and Monica is “OTP: high fives”.

The innate knowledge of when is acceptable to high-five is half the challenge. They can be celebratory, like if your team is better at Celebrity, or your fantasy football team won, or something truly excellent happened at work.

In sharing a high-five, you’re acknowledging your SO’s partnership, you’re congratulating them, you’re rewarding them. You’re sharing something. It seems kind of cool. (But also know when you should keep your hand to yourself, because few things are worse than the disappointed little shake of the head you get when it’s “not the time”.)

Unlike it’s cousin Relationship Theory, the High Five Romance is a real-world desirable relationship standard. And that’s kind of the point; whereas the relationship theory demands a passionate, roller-coaster of emotions, the high-five romance is calmer. Yet it still manages to be a thing of passion – I’m not looking to high-five someone over something I’m ambivalent about, rather something I find so exciting and exhilarating that I need an outlet outside of my body. I’m looking to high-five when I have so much joy and such a sense of accomplishment that I literally need to share it with someone else. A high-five can be comforting, but still fun. It’s lighthearted but has significance. And I like that.

High-fives can be flirtatious and/or the product of inside jokes you think are a-mah-zing, but make your friends want to vomit:

Displaying IMG_2126.GIF

Or be a celebration in-and-of themselves AS WELL AS your amazing shared pop culture knowledge:

Or maybe it’s “an expression of elation and teamwork” (shut up, fist-bumps totally fall into the same family as high-fives, especially if they’re done with that beatific expression of joy):

Relationship Theory mainly portends to fictional couples and our desire to live vicariously through them. High-five romance, however, is about how I’d like to apply some of the rules of fictional relationships to real life. Obviously high-fives accompany other relationship habits, but they’re a very good stop on the affection spectrum, and they deserve some recognition.

tl;dr High fives are great and I hope they play a significant role in my next relationship.

Image

#AmReading

RavenBoystweet

I love reading the Raven Cycle books because the writing is so good that I ache.

That was true when I read the first book almost a year ago today, it’s true now, and judging from the excerpt of the next book, it will remain true.

The third book in the series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue comes out in 6 weeks. You can pre-order it here (among other places) and it will come all autographed and pretty. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

What’s up, Wednesday? // 2 \\

I’ve been working on a really fun follow-up post to my Relationship Theory, and hopefully it will be up later this week. But for now, yet another What’s up, Wednesday!

WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY is hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, and to learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages.

What I’m Reading

I stayed up too late reading last night. First because These Broken Stars was so good. Second because I really wanted to have another book to talk about for this post. With TBS, I found it was really interesting how, for a book set on a deserted planet because of a Titanic-like spaceship crash, the more I read, the more sci-fi it became. Sure, it started off with spaceships and hyperdrive engines, but by the end the science-fiction was so much more. More developed, more important to the story, more interesting. It went from feeling like a ‘stranded on a deserted island’ story to an episode of Stargate SG-1, so of course I was all over it. There were moments that were so interesting, and creepy, and confusing that I looked up from the pages as if to check that I wasn’t stranded on that planet, too.

This morning I began my re-read of Summerland by Michael Chabon. I really wanted to fit it in while it still feels like summer. At this point, I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read it, but I think the first was back in 2005 around the same time my mom was reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (which I also love). Summerland is very important to me – is has everything I could have wanted in a MG/YA book: it’s long (500 pages); it plays heavily with mythology (Norse and Native American and American folklore); the characters, though children, never feel like children. There are miniature adults and the book is written toward miniature adults as well, not children. There is nothing simple about the book. Summerland is about a boy and his dad, it’s about baseball and dirigibles, it’s about werefoxes traveling through dimensions, and friendship, and trying to prevent Ragnarock. It’s amazing.

What I’m Writing

Copying Bailey, who is working on That Ghost Story, I’ve decided to refer to my newest WIP as That Golf Story. I’m still chugging steadily ahead. I’ve roped my friend Kate into reading each chapter as I finish, and her cheering for me (and frequent threats to edit the finished product to hell and back) has been excellent encouragement. I’m so happy to be writing off of a detailed (and complete!) outline. It makes everything feel so much easier. I’ve removed one character and made another one better and I think I wrote one of my favorite sentences ever when I have the MC describe her antagonist-cum-love interest. I managed to write another 1600 words on Friday, finishing Chapter 2. I’m hoping to finish chapter three before I go on vacation this weekend.

What Inspires Me Right Now

During the Emmy’s on Monday night, my best friend texted me to say, “My new dream is for you to become a successful writer and win an award and have to give a speech. Literally make my whole life.” And I guess the fact that he has faith enough that one day, maybe I can have the potential to win an award by writing things is kind of cool. Even if it was evil of him to make me want to give a speech in front of countless people just so I could squirm and flounder and be generally uncomfortable.

Thinking about what inspires me is also a gentle reminder that I have yet to create a writing playlist for That Golf Story. For each story that I write, I create a writing playlist based partly on mood, but mostly on the music that my MC likes. Sometimes it’s not my favorite kind of music, or what I want to listen to at that moment, but I’ve found that it really helps me get inside the head of my characters.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Aside from writing 1600 words on Friday, I also drank 3/4 of a bottle of wine and saw Calvary. The movie was amazing. The cinematography, the acting, the accents, brilliant all. The movie did well at not giving away the ending. I laughed, I gasped, I recommend.

Sunday I took the GRE. I didn’t fail. I could have done much worse than I did. I did better on math than I had anticipated and not quite as well on verbal as expected, but still, a good showing! It’s those damn reading comprehension questions. They got me on the ACT and they got me again on the GRE. But that’s okay. It is! I’m sure of it. Now I just have to reach out to old profs for recommendation letters and begin the application project. I’m on schedule!

What’s up, Wednesday? Inaugural Post

WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY is a blog meme I heard about from my dear friend Bailey Knight and have decided to implement on my own blog. This is happening in the vain hope that it will get me to a) think about this oft neglected blog more often, b) post here more, and c) write more.

As it has once again been months since I’ve posted here, I thought it was about time to breathe some new life into this blog. Look, I even gave it a facelift. What more could you possibly want from me?

What I’m Reading

I finally, finally picked up a copy of These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I’ve been meaning to read it for months since I saw Meagan Spooner at the NoVa Teen Book Festival way back in March. She sold it as a sci-fi ship wreck and so far it has delivered. Really enjoying the cross between Titanic and Firefly that somehow totally works.

Last week I finished Vicious by VE Schwab and oh my god, you guys. It was so good. I can’t recommend it enough. The protagonist might be a villain the villain is believed to be a hero, there are superpowers and intrigue and death and gunfights. So, so much fun. I’ll definitely be picking more books up by Schwab in the future.

What I’m Writing

I made a big deal out of it on tumblr, but didn’t mention it here and here it is, the big news: I finished the first draft of that novel that wouldn’t end! It is currently way too long, and has a few plot holes, and some things just don’t make sense BUT that’s what revision is for! The draft is done and in a metaphorical drawer so that I can get some perspective on what changes will need to be made for the first round of edits. While I wait to do those…

I started a new project! I got a jump-start and outlined it in its entirety before I started writing. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’s a contemporary YA novel about a girl playing golf on the boy’s team. There will be snark and banter, angry make-outs and rock shows, but for now I’m still trying to figure out just who the characters are.

Because I’m insane, I’ve challenged myself to write 60k in 60 Days, like a more reasonable version of NaNoWriMo. I’m not going to count the days consecutively (otherwise I’m already way, way behind schedule) but after 4 days I’m already at ~5000 words, so I’m feeling good!

What Inspires Me Right Now

My friends have been passing around the DVDs of the one-season show Life As We Know It for a few months now and it’s finally my turn with them. So I’m using those as the proverbial carrot to make myself study for the GRE.

As I just got home from a week with my parents, I can honestly say they’ve been a good source of inspiration. I talked to them about my grad school plans, and my worries, and were really helpful. They were so supportive, and helped me realized that this is the best decision for me. I know it’s time that I leave DC, and they’ve been so understanding – about my plans to move home next summer, about moving hundreds of miles away for grad school, about my aspirations – that it’s really helped assuage some of my fears, if not my anxieties.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Last week I went home and Mom and I took a little road trip up through Michigan. We were originally supposed to hang around the beach reading for two days, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes, and saw a few lighthouses, but for the most part, Northern Michigan was cold and dreary. But we managed the better part of five days together in a car and didn’t kill each other (or even fight once!) so I consider the trip a resounding success. I also got to play in the first annual Bay Girls Alumni Scramble while I was home, and catching up with the golf team was a lot of fun. I even went to the drive-in while home, even though I had to endure the Expendables 3 in order to fall asleep during re-watch Guardians of the Galaxy.

Now that I’m back in DC, I have plans to take the GRE this Sunday. Which means that this week is dedicated to studying for the GRE. Next month grad school applications open, so I’ll start in on those and email some former professors to beg ask for letters of recommendation. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Anything is Better than Nothing

I… haven’t got much going on right now. Don’t get me wrong, I have goals. Both long- and short-term. I know what I want to do in the abstract but making any of those ideas reality is challenging. Not because of roadblocks or anything, I’m just… lazy. I’m working on it. My current mantra is “Anything is better than nothing”.

Like, going to the gym and struggling on the elliptical for 30 minutes while smiling maniacally at a Friends rerun is better than being pestered by cats while I sit on my couch playing Dylan O’Brien 2048 while watching a rerun of Friends and smiling maniacally.

Or, researching grad programs is better than re-reading my favorite fic. Eating yogurt, blackberries, and cheerios for lunch was better than going downstairs to Chipotle. Making my own gifs of my favorite shows and posting them on tumblr is better than scrolling through tumblr lamenting the lack of gifs for my favorite shows.

Anything is better than nothing.

Which is also why I participated in Camp NaNo this year. It was the first time that I participated in any NaNo event because NaNoWriMo is in November and until very recently that was the lead-up to finals and, well, that wasn’t going to help me be any more productive or write any better. But now, now that I’m out of school and have all of this free time, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t “win”. To win NaNo you have to hit a specific word count. In November, for National Novel Writing Month, that means writing 50,000 words of a new novel. For Camp NaNo, participants can set their own goals. I set mine at a much more modest 15,000 words. I did not write 15,000 words. I added about 10,000 words to my draft in the month of April. I wrote another 1300 words or so as part of an outline, but that doesn’t count.

So I didn’t “win” Camp NaNo. But I wrote. I wrote a lot. I wrote in DC and Virginia and even in Boston.

I wrote up to the climax and then I froze.

Which is dumb. I’ve known how the climax will play out in this novel/draft/manuscript/whatever you want me to call it for ages. I know what’s going to happen next and I even have it written out in what is, for me, a surprisingly detailed outline. I just need to write it.

So that’s where I am. Trying to be a more productive human. Trying to finish this goddamn draft even though it’s already 99k words and I haven’t even written the climax. Trying to figure out what programs I’ll apply to for graduate school.

But I am working on those things. I’m being proactive instead of reactive. I’m writing, and planning edits, and thinking up the outline of a short story. (I’ll need something to work on after this draft is finished and I shelve it for a month or two to really let it ferment before I cut it to hell and back.) I’m still madly researching grad programs, and thinking of which professors to ask for recommendations. I’m making gifs. I’m occasionally going to the gym and trying to eat healthier. I’m reading books and impatiently waiting for new ones to be ready for me to pick up at the library. I’m marathoning TV shows to be prepared for ATX Festival in June. I’m looking for concerts to go to. I’m planning game nights with my friends and day trips to amusement parks and paintballing, and to trampoline parks.

Anything is better than nothing.

One More Page

photo

Look at all the pretty.

So, alright, this is one resolution broken. I had a list of totally manageable New Year’s Resolutions, or so I thought. One of them was to blog once a month. Once a month! That’s not even difficult! And I kind of equivocated with “yeah, but February is the shortest month” but that’s bull. I just didn’t do it. I put it off until the last minute, like always, and didn’t follow through. Instead of blogging on February 28th, I spent it watching Teen Wolf with my best friend. So I don’t regret the decision, necessarily, but I could have blogged while we watched (I had my laptop, after all) or I could have, you know, just not procrastinated. [See: me finally finishing this post on March 31st.]

And yeah, I did my usual roundtables over at Off Color TV, [uh, okay, no. Nope. I'm behind on Parks and the last few eps of Teen Wolf fell through the cracks.] but that was contributing to a post, not actual blogging, and… you don’t care.

Anyway, BOOKS! I’m kind of glad this post got delayed because I have even more book-related stuff to talk about. Y’all know that I love books. Love, love, love ‘em. I’ve been buying them more and more, which is wonderful. There’s a certain sense of joy and also comfort in having shelves lined with books. I keep mine organized by color because they’re my books and I can do what I want. Also, I’m more likely to remember what the book looks like than the author or the title at any given moment. It’s my system, it works for me. And gives me some pretty cool looking bookshelves.

So the last month or two have been more bookish than usual. It’s glorious. I’ve been going to the library more often because it’s just through the park and it’s a really nice walk. Sure, the loan-period isn’t very long and the renewal limits are even worse, but books! Free books! And they have a rotation of books for sale that are never more than a dollar. So far I’ve already acquired The Age of Miracles (Walker), Great House (Krauss), Middlesex (Eugenides) and Telegraph Avenue (Chabon). I also wanted to get the copies of Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and send them to friends as a fun project, but alas, when I returned they had already disappeared.

But I’ve also made more of an effort to buy new books. Because, as much as I love second-hand books – books that have had their pages turned, that have a life of their own – authors don’t get those proceeds. So I’ll still use the library or my Kindle to find books and authors I adore and admire and then once I feel that tug of connection with a book, or an author, or just a sentence that was so beautiful you wonder how someone managed to write it, I have to buy it.

I’ve recently fallen in writer-love with Maggie Stiefvater. She seems amazing, her life seems cool, and her books make me want to die a little bit. But in a good way. I once pulled up a review of The Raven Boys on my phone in the middle of a bar to show my friend Kate one of the (many) amazing sentences that filled its pages. Since I read TRB, I’ve been picking my way through her other books. I bought Forever at a Half Price Books when I was visiting my parents over Thanksgiving. It’s the third in a series, though, so it sat prettily on my shelf while I worked through the first two. Shiver I got from the library. A day after I picked its sequel, Linger, up from the holdshelf at the library – while I was still carrying it around in my purse – I bought a signed copy from One More Page, an independent bookstore where my friend Kate was participating in a reading/author panel. (Don’t worry, I bought the anthology she appeared in, too!)

There’s some small addiction in buying books. I love to see my shelves fill up, to support authors, to know that I can read any of them, any time I want. I can’t suddenly drop everything to follow the assassination trails of past presidents or skip a little league game to save the world from Coyote, but I can pick up these books and be transported into those situations and that’s kind of thrilling.

So, I’m going to read Kate’s short story and give her some feedback before diving back into Forever. And then tomorrow Camp NaNo kicks off and, though I don’t really understand how it works, I’m hoping to finish the first draft of my novel. The novel I have been working on for two years and then end is in sight, people! Maybe one day, in a year or even ten, I’ll have my very own novel to add to my bookshelves.

Oh, I also picked up a few galleys when One More Page had their 3rd anniversary party. I got:

  • The Unnaturals (Barnes – whom I follow on Twitter and kind of adore)
  • Etched on Me (Crowell)
  • Be Safe, I Love You (Hoffman) [I actually got this book as the result on Buzzfeed's What New Book Should You Read This Spring? quiz]
  • The Remedy (Goetz)