Name Doodle Prizes (part 2)

Almost done with all the prizes! The two bonus winners will get theirs tomorrow.

First, my Aunt Ruthanne. Not really sure what to say about this one; it started out as a cross between a brontosaurus and Nessie, and now it looks more like a cross between a cow and a fish and Nessie. For Ruthanne’s Race to the 8th entry, I blogged about blogging. (And, by the way, she DID start her blog on the 8th: A More Colorful Life.)

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Next up, Jess, of Icarus Falls Design. I think it’s an elf. For Jess’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about how character’s names motivate me to get writing.

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For Caitlin of The Hopeful Heroine, I did a sketch of someone who could be a heroine in a middle grade novel. For Caitlin’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about a moment from our shared summer in Ireland.

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And last for today, the honorable and excellent Lady Higg of Ales to Stouts. She gets a wolf, because SOMEDAY I hope to see a finished, published version of her high school novel about magical wolves and their adventures. For Lady Higg’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about how the writing process has changed since I graduated college.

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Thanks for playing, everyone! Bonus winners, you will get your prizes very soon, and likewise I will email quality jpgs of the prizes I’ve already posted very soon as well.

-Grace out

 

Name Doodle Prizes (part 1)

I said by the end of February, right?

(For anyone just tuning in, I ran a contest during my Race to the 8th writing marathon at the beginning of the month. It’s all in the blog archives.)

I’ve been feeling pretty sluggish ever since finishing that draft of my book a few weeks ago. I also had a job for a few days last week and a few days this week; not a very taxing one, but getting up earlier than normal took its toll on my daily energy. I do have something big and exciting coming up related to writing, though, and Grandma Says nominated me for an award today, so expect some good posts in the near future.

For now, here are the first round of the prizes. I’ll post more tomorrow. Also, to the winners, I will email you a higher quality jpg copy within the next few days.

First, Elise soon-to-be Rich. She’s a rider, so I drew her a horse! For Elise’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote a scene from the point of view of a streetlamp.

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Next, Grace of Homeschool Hijinks. It’s a drawing of a girl and, well, that’s supposed to be an owl. Can you tell? For Grace’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed how Wanderlust got created and what my process is when starting (or re-starting) a story.

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And next, Laura. She gets a dragon. For Laura’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the hypothetical benefits of being a dude.

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Last for today is Celeste, of Celestedewolfe.com. I’m not sure why I thought she would like a sketch of a muscled merman, but that’s what she’s getting. For Celeste’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the role of genre in my writing.

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I hope everyone is having a good night!

-Grace out

Wanderlust: One Goal Reached

I did it. I tied up all the loose ends I am currently aware of, connected all the connecty-bits, and did the best I could do (or at least the best I could do right now) with those sentences that just weren’t hanging together. I hesitate to say I “finished,” because I know I am so far from finished—but about an hour ago, I attached the manuscript of my novel to an email, and I clicked send. It went out to a few close friends, all colleagues from Northern Michigan. The inner circle, if you will. I might let a few other people read it at this stage; certainly my mom.

It’s a weird feeling, knowing that this thing I’ve obsessed over for so long is about to reach an audience of more than me. It’s a relief, and it’s scary, and I feel very accomplished in a drained, completely exhausted kind of way. I think I will go to bed early tonight. I hope to actually begin on the name-doodles for the contest winners tomorrow; I confess this week I was still in marathon mode and pushing to get all the way done with the writing, which left the prizes at low priority. This week, I’ll give them more of my focus. Also, sorry for only posting once last week and for dropping some ongoing conversations in the comments section. It’s been busy around here, and when I haven’t been focusing on life (including some significant food and lifestyle changes) I’ve been fairly single-minded about the writing, and crossing things off my list. And since the connections I’ve made through this blog have provided me with so much support and encouragement for my writing over the past months, I just wanted to drop a line here and say, I did it. I reached the next marker on the road. I completed one goal. I accomplished something big, and I’m a little closer to a finished book. The next step, for me, is to get serious about making the rest of the Wanderlust illustrations.

-G

I Don’t Have a Kindle, But Here Are Some Books to Check Out If You Do

At one point this weekend, my brother, my mother, and I all sat on the couch reading. My brother had a sci-fi novel on his kindle. My mother had just downloaded a free book for her ipad mini. I held a real nice trade paperback copy of Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. I don’t own any sort of e-reader. Over the years I’ve watched even my most bookish friends acquire kindles. They usually receive it as a gift, but then find that they actually enjoy the device, or at least find it useful in certain circumstances. I’m not actively agin’ em; I recognize that they can be very useful for travel, or for getting a book right away, or for carrying lots of books with you at once. I even read most of Game of Thrones on my brother’s kindle while visiting him this spring, and nothing about the e-reader impeded my enjoyment of the text. And yet… I am against e-readers. I love books too much. I love their shapes and sizes and smells. I love how they feel in my hand, and how they look on my shelf. I love their covers, I love every nuance of their interior design. Every font choice and every margin size is meaningful, and all these aspects are lost in a digital conversion.

Lately, though, I do wish I had an e-reader, and for a very specific reason: I want to support self-published authors. While trawling the blogosphere, things pop up that look good. Sometimes you can even get past the first paragraph without choking on the bad writing. When I find a self-published book that feels like a real book, I want to read it. But here’s the issue: the kindle version of the book often costs between 3-5 dollars, while the hard copy, even a paperback, often costs as much as $20. Now, I am in a stage of my life right now where $20 is a lot of money. That’s a whole harp lesson, or nearly another month’s harp rental. It’s a whole 10% of a student loan payment. It’s half of what I owe the dentist for last month. It’s two hours of hard work. Basically, I don’t have $20 to spend on books right now, especially not multiple books. I do have a kindle reader for mac, but I don’t enjoy the experience of reading a book on my laptop. It feels illicit, somehow. If I want to read these self-published books as real books, with the amount of respect I would give to any published author, reading on the computer just doesn’t work for me.

So I wish I had en e-reader. I don’t, and due to afore-mentioned money concerns, I won’t have one anytime soon. Since I’m not purchasing and reading these books, I figured the least I could do is share them with you.

Imminent DangerImminent Danger: And How to Fly Straight Into It by Michelle Proulx

Discovered this via a link at Celeste DeWolfe‘s blog. It’s got a good cover, great reviews, and its first few pages are technically pristine. It’s a sci-fi space romp sort of thing, and it sounds like a lot of fun. (Author’s blog: Michelle Proulx)

 

 

Embers of GadrileneEmbers at Gadrilene by A. D. Trosper

Read a great review, and got curious; I do love a good dragon book. While the first few pages seemed a trifle melodramatic, they were also well-written, and totally hooked me. I want to see where this goes. (Author’s Blog: A.D. Trosper)

 

 

The LetterThe Letter by Kahtia Lontis

There’s actually a story behind this one, and you can read all the details at the author’s blog (http://abovetheseaoffog.com/a-tale-of-two-goats/ ) The author is trying to raise the money to travel overseas to meet her boyfriend. As much as my own experience has completely disenchanted me with the idea of online relationships, I’m still a romantic at heart. I find their story inspiring, I enjoy reading this lady’s blog, and I completely support overseas travel, so I want to help them fulfill their dream.  And, okay, I actually just realized I didn’t have a good excuse not to, and I went and bought the book. So far it is delightfully surreal, although it’s an epub file so I had to download a new program to read it. Also, the paragraphs don’t appear to be properly formatted, which is really too bad… but it’s a short book, and I think I can handle it for a 30 pages. Anyway, check it out—it’s a cool feeling to buy a book and know you’re funding someone’s dream in the process.

That’s it for today. Once again, I want to thank everyone who entered the Race to the 8th Contest. Thanks to last week, I am so close to being done with this stage of revision of Wanderlust. Also, I have not forgotten your prizes; I’ll update you on the status of those later this week.

Happy Tuesday!

-G

Writing Marathon Day 8! Race to 8th Final Day! With Winners!

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Day 8! My birthday! The race is over!

(Just by the way: you all saw the photo of my birthday flowers in yesterday’s post, right? They’re really lovely.)

The Writing Day

And… I made it to the end of the manuscript. Wheeee!

Now, making it to the end doesn’t exactly mean I’m done. There’s still that bit I skipped in Chapter 11, all that tidying up in Chapter 1, that one thing to resolve in Chapter 5, and that one formatting decision to make. Still, though, I made it to the end. It’s pretty exciting. I’m going to give myself one more week to fix all of the above, and then I AM LETTING SOMEONE ELSE READ THIS SUCKER.

I have made huge amounts of progress this week. Seriously, huge. In 8 days I’ve finished chapters 9, 10, 11, and 12 (except for that one bit of 11.) I want to thank you guys so much for reading this blog and for encouraging me in this project. It means a lot. I feel very blessed this birthday.

On to the blog topics!

And the winner is…

Lady Higg! Congratulations!

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that Lady Higg is my best friend. Tragically, she lives in Michigan, and I haven’t seen her in FOREVER (or, you know, since July). You should totally check out her beer-themed blog: Ales to Stouts. She’s been having a rough few days, so head over there and show her some love!

Lady Higg’s Entry: Since leaving college, have you found it harder to write, or less hard? Do you find that not being in a classroom everyday, surrounded by people who are creatively challenged (at least academically) a challenge as a recent graduate/author?

In some ways, college feels like a very long time ago! In general, it has been easier to write since graduation. This is because I haven’t had all those other academic pursuits sapping all my strength and focus; writing has been it. That’s sort of the tragic thing about college—you have inspiration coming at you on all sides from so many people and experiences, but then there’s so much to do to keep up with school requirements that it’s nearly impossible to make headway on personal projects. Unless you sneakily make your personal projects into school projects, which admittedly I did all the time. I do miss Writers’ Club, and the Writing Center, and I miss talking with other people who are having all the same creative and literary challenges as me, but the blogosphere fills that gap a little. In fact, the blogosphere is pretty saturated with young women trying to write their first YA book, so that creates a sense of community. Mostly I miss hanging out with the crew; Lady Higg, Leftenant Weatherby, Constable Maelstrom, Lorax, Fights With Centaurs, and all the rest, but I’ve been keeping in touch with them through the interwebs, and I hope to see some of them again soon. I feel like the writing circle is still very much alive. Also, since leaving college, I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve been able to make writing my main focus. Thanks to the generosity of my parents, I haven’t had to worry about room and board, and I’ve been working in a very part time capacity to pay for everything else. Sometimes I feel like a freeloader, but my parents are helping me out because they believe in my book, and so I’ve decided the best thing I can is take advantage of this opportunity and make as much progress toward my dream as possible.

Thanks for your entry, Lady Higg! You’ll be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT: I only have two entries left in my entry box. And, so, I’ve decided that EVERYONE WINS!

Bonus Winner #1:

Taozi. Congratulations, Taozi! Everyone, make sure you visit her blog: Taozi Tree Yoga

TAOZI’s entry: Ingredients found in a “The Wanderlust Salad”:

“Diets” often entail cutting out food. It is more beneficial mentally to bring more INTO it instead. Obviously, bringing the RIGHT stuff. What do the ingredients look like for “The Wanderlust Salad”. We have all heard of “The Waldorf” “The Cobb” and “The Caesar”. Now its time to get creative and put together a colorful, delicious, and INTERESTING “Wanderlust Salad”. Bon A-petite!

Put Music, Magic, and Irish Mythology in a large bowl. These three ingredients make the base of the salad. Next, add a healthy serving of pretty young men, using the Vanya and Taniel varieties. Throw in a handful each of goblins, wolves, swamps, and battlefields. Add some horses, if you have any, and if you’ve got an airplane sitting in the back of the pantry go ahead and toss that in too. Garnish with classic rock, friendship, and adventure. Toss well, and enjoy!

Thanks for your fun question, Taozi! You’ll be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

Bonus Winner #2:

Cora. Congratulations, Cora!

Cora is a friend from the magical realm called The Writing Center, where I used to work. We also got to hang out for a weekend in Maine this summer. 🙂

Cora’s Entry: Write about the legend of the Writing Centaur, how it began and those who made it flourish.

The Writing Centaur is an eternal being. He had no beginning; he has always been. It is true, however, that he didn’t always reveal his presence to those who trespassed on his realm, those mortal children who spent a mere year or two fighting against illiteracy, plagiarism, and misused semi-colons in the Writing Trenches of Northern Michigan University. I believe it was when Leftenant Weatherby ascended to the Writing Throne (have worked his way up through the ranks by becoming a member of the Red-headed Writers Cabal, questing to various writing conferences, and otherwise currying favor with the almighty Z) that the Centaur first revealed himself to the students of his domain. The Centaur knew that here was a monarch worthy of himself, and from that day onward the writing soldiers had to guard their backs, for they knew now that the Centaur was watching. It should be noted that, while the Centaur is a majestic and magical being, he is not safe, and he is a dangerous creature to live with. It was when Leftenant Weatherby was succeeded by Fights With Centaurs that the battles became truly serious; Fights With Centaurs earned her name when she forced the Centaur back Beyond The Door. For the rest of that year, while Fights With Centaurs crafted zombie-escape plans and dealt with the politics of the Writing Court, we of the Writing Trenches heard the ominous beating of the hooves against the door in the back of the room. The Centaur will always knock, and he will always punish those in his domain who fail to respect the Writing Ways.

Thanks for your question, Cora! I miss the Center, and the Centaur. I hope someone is keeping him in line these days. You will be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

And that’s it! I declare the Race to the 8th Marathon officially over. Now it’s off to eat some birthday shrimp (with sugar-free frozen yogurt for dessert!)

-Grace out

Writing Marathon Day 7, and Tonight’s Winner

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Well, would you look at that. Day 7. We are ALMOST THERE.

The Writing Day

I’m making progress. I’m hanging in there. In fact, I’m working on the last chapter—although I confess that I skipped a fairly important section of chapter 11 in the interest of moving on. I did sacrifice a portion of my day to practicing music (worth it), but I’ve been moving forward steadily. Chapter 12 is long, though, and I’m 25% in at the most. It’s likely that I won’t be all the way to the end by the time I post the blog tomorrow… but without this event, and all your encouragement, I’m sure I wouldn’t have made it half this far in the first week of February. And who knows, maybe some birthday-writing magic will kick in on the morrow.

These are the flowers my daddy got me for my birthday; aren’t they wonderful? (He brought them home tonight because we might get snowed in tomorrow!)

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We need a topic!

And the winner is…

Caitlin. Congratulations, Caitlin!

I haven’t seen Caitlin for four years, but we were roommates during a five-week study abroad trip to Ireland. When we met, we quickly bonded over a shared love of books and bookstores. Caitlin is running a really cool blog called The Hopeful Heroine that I suspect a lot of you would enjoy; it is all about books and especially teen and middle grade reads.

Caitlin’s entry: Think about your summer spent in Ireland. Remember your favorite place and/or moment. Take me there.

I had many piercingly wonderful moments during those weeks in Ireland. The place is rich with stories, chock-full of castles, and, like everyone says, so very green. It takes your breath away. If anyone were to ask me to name the most beautiful/magnificent thing I’ve ever seen, I would say the Cliffs of Moher without skipping a beat. The moment that came to mind when I first read Caitlin’s question, however, was the night I climbed Bray Head.

Bray is the last stop on the Dart train that stretches along the coast to the north and south of Dublin. http://www.irishrail.ie/maps/dart  One day, when I had arrived Dun Laoghaire in the afternoon, I was frustrated and started walking. I walked a couple train stops south, and eventually I got on the train and took it to Bray. It was already evening, and I used the bathroom at a casino and started walking down the beach. There was a large, rocky hill (or a very small mountain) at one end of the beach; it took maybe half an hour to climb. It was windy at the top, the sort of wind that blows into all your nooks and crannies and sweeps the gathered dust away. The setting sun turned the far off hilltops to gold, and I noticed there was a trail leading on. I followed it, even though I knew I had to turn around soon to catch the train. That trail beckoned me onward, and I walked until I caught  [Hang on, live blogging break, my brother just walked in the door (ahead of the storm!) to surprise me for my birthday. My mom already blew the surprise that he was driving down tomorrow, but then she assured me he wasn’t coming then because of the storm. I AM SURPRISED. 🙂] and I walked until I caught a glimpse of the coast to the south, and saw the trail stretching on before me. I followed it around one more bend, and then… It may have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I turned back, climbed down the hill, walked up the beach, and caught the last train home.

That moment was my wanderlust moment. It encapsulates how Ireland enchanted me, and how I always wanted to go deeper. I had so many experiences in five weeks, and yet I barely broke the surface.

Thanks for your question, Caitlin, it was lovely to return to Ireland for a few minutes there. Everyone: don’t forget to visit Caitlin’s blog, The Hopeful Heroine. And Caitlin, you will be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

Good night, all! We’ll wrap up this whole shebang tomorrow, on the final day of the marathon. Thanks for sticking with me so far.

-G

Writing Marathon Day 6, and Tonight’s Contest Winner

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Six days in!

The Writing Day

I’m not sure there was a writing day today. I had a really lovely day though; I exercised, played my harp, stir-fried some celery, had a great lesson, bought some oat bran, snuck in a tiny bit of writing that went really well, enjoyed choir practice. I’m hoping to dash out this blog post and get some more work in tonight. I’m past the part of chapter 11 that was really hard, and the editing process seems to have smoothed out again. It’s just that life got in the way today, and since I really like my life right now I don’t feel too bad about it. But hey, maybe I can still get some work in tonight!

Also, by the way, my number of followers has been climbing steadily this week, and I want to thank you all for that. I also seem to be following behind on responding to individual comments, but even if it takes me a day or two to get back to you please know that I read your comment and loved it.

Okay, we need a blog topic.

And the winner is…

Jess. Congratulations, Jess!

Jess is a friend, and one of my classmates from the Illustration program at Northern Michigan University. She’s a really great artist, so you should definitely check out her online portfolio: Icarus Falls Design.

Jess very kindly provided me with a question or a prompt to choose from, and even though the prompt looks like a lot of fun I am going to choose the question, because I suspect it will take less time to answer and I’d really like to make some more headway on Chapter 11 tonight.

Jess’s entry: What motivates you? When you’re thinking about writing or drawing, what is it that gets you to actually sit down and pick up the pen? What’s the first part of the project or story that comes to you?

The thing that usually gets me back to a story, and actually working on it, is the name of the main character. I don’t entirely understand this, but mentally I hang a lot of their personality, their very essence, on the sound of their name. So when I find myself walking around the house and whispering “Vanya” under my breath, well, I know it’s time to get back to creating him on the page (in image and word). Having the wrong name for a character can also be a major roadblock to working on something. Upon my return from Thailand, I had to complete a fiction writing assignment in order to receive credit for the trip. I already had one very good scene for the story that I had scrawled down in my sketchbook on the tour bus as we drove away from the ruined city of Ayutthaya, and I had the basic plot, but I was stumbling over the name of the main character and without it, I couldn’t make any progress at all. Then I took a shower to to clear my head, and the name came to me: Hadley. Just weird enough to be interesting, and with just the right sort of old-fashioned feel to it. It seemed both original and classic. Hadley. Now the story could begin.

Of course, motivation is a big, huge, complicated thing. Right now, I am motivated by tons of things. Here are approximate samplings of motivated interior monologue: “This has taken too long and I need to work harder so I can be done now.” “I want this to be done, yesterday.” “My only justification for living with my parents and not having a real job is that I’m working on this, so I’d better work on it.” “I can’t wait to see the finished book.” “I’m ready to stop messing around with the words and start illustrating them.” “I want to be rich and famous.” “I want to start marketing my book.” “I want to tell this story as well as I possibly can.” “I freakin’ love this story!” “I need to finish this and find out if anyone else will love it.” “I get to write about pretty boys and magical harps today, how cool is that?” “Ogodyes this scene… except I can make it even better, here, here, and here.” “Okay, need to work on this today because… Taniel. Vanya.” “Vanya.”

Somehow, it all comes back to the names. In the peculiar alchemy of my brain, they seem to encapsulate everything else.

Thanks so much for your question, Jess, I had fun answering it! You will receive your name-doodle prize in a week or so, and by the end of February at the latest.

And it looks like I do have some time and energy left to tackle a bit more of Chapter 11. I will let you all know how it goes tomorrow!

Writing Marathon Day 5, and Tonight’s Contest Winner

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So this is a writing marathon. A RACE to the 8th. This implies running through the remaining editorial tasks as quickly as possible, and finishing by Friday. This is a great idea and all, but sometimes the writing won’t run. Sometimes it plods. Sometimes it lurches. Sometimes it limps. Sometimes it crawls. Sometimes it lies on the ground and flails its way forward like an out-of-water fish. And if you try to make an out-of-water fish get up and sprint, it’s only going to lie there in a confused puddle, make some gurgling noises, and stop even the flailing that was moving it forward, however little at a time. So you have to accept the out-of-water fish-ness of your writing, because only by flailing along for a little while will you start crawling again (and limping, and lurching, and plodding), and, if you’re very very lucky, running.

The Writing Day

If you haven’t guessed from that intro, today was sort of an out-of-water-fish flailing day for the writing. Taking that into account, I actually did very well. I rewrote the whole intro to Chapter 11, and completely integrated that new scene with the existing scenes, and began tackling some of the new scenes. I’m about a third of the way through the chapter, and with only three days left… Well, I might not actually make it to the end of the book. I’m still so much closer than I was before.

Also, tomorrow may be an issue. I have a harp lesson tomorrow afternoon (which I am SO under-practiced for!) and then choir practice at night, and possible band practice after that. That’s a lot of chunks out of the writing day. I will absolutely do my best, but don’t be surprised if the blog gets posted later than usual.

Anyway. Let’s draw a winner.

And the winner is…

Ruthanne. Congratulations, Aunt Ruthanne!

Yes, Ruthanne is my aunt. She is also a 2012 NaNoWriMo winner, and one of this blog’s strongest facebook supporters. She and my cousin run a tie-dye business, to which the website is still under construction… but they have a facebook page! You can at least see some photos of their work on there, all of which is really good. Also, Ruthanne’s birthday is February 8th too! I have an older cousin (Ruthanne’s niece) who was born on February 8 as well. When I went to North Carolina this year we were actually all three in the same place for a photo op; it’s still my cover photo on facebook. 🙂

Ruthanne’s entry: I would love it if you would blog about blogging — why you decided to do it, how you set it up, how it motivates you or feeds you or plagues you with a commitment when you’re not in the mood to write — whatever it means to you. This would be of interest to me because I’m thinking of starting a blog — possibly on February 8th, when I turn 59.

I hope you do start a blog, I will be very excited to read it! For me, starting a blog was basically a necessity for my career. I want to be an author, and now-a-days, authors blog. Even if you’re going the completely traditional, send-your-manuscript to an agent route, the word is that you still need an author platform. Even with traditional publishing, a lot of promotion falls to the author, and the blog is  the most obvious way to do that, and to be present and able to interact with your fans. I was also influenced by Robin McKinley’s blog. McKinley is an incredible author whom I idolize, and then I discovered that she has a blog where she rants about life and dogs and bell-ringing and posts serialized blog fiction. She is seriously a world-class author, and if you haven’t heard of her for shame (no, not for shame, for joy! You still have all these Robin McKinley books ahead of you), and suddenly, through her blog, I felt like I knew her a little bit. Of course, Robin McKinley already had a gazillion fans when she started her blog, but reading her blog helped me begin to think of blogs as fun and worthwhile. And yes, it was a business necessity. I needed somewhere to send people for more information when I mentioned my book in a conversation, and I needed to begin building a fanbase in preparation for the book’s launch, and I needed a place to post my artwork. I’ve tried blogging before, but I had a book review blog (I’d link to you to it, but I’m a bit embarrassed about that one pro-twilight review), an art blog, and much later a writing blog. I didn’t keep up with any of them because the topics were too specific to sustain my interest. When I made this blog, though, with just my name at the top, I was free to write about anything. Since my projects vary greatly, I found this really freeing and a lot of fun. This will be my 62nd post on this blog, which seems pretty incredible. I think the reason I’ve been able to keep up with it so well is that, while writing has been a pretty big focus here, I’m free to write about anything else I find important.

As for setting it up, it’s really easy and free to set up a blog with wordpress.com. It’s also free on Blogspot, but WordPress generally looks a lot cleaner, and it’s really easy for other wordpress users to find and follow your blog (and easy for you to find theirs). It’s a really nice community in that way, although I confess at this point I’m not really sure how to reach out to readers beyond wordpress.com. I’ve purchased my own domain name, of course, because that feels more professional, and I also paid wordpress for the extra customization option, I think because some of the colors in this theme didn’t match the colors I wanted and that seemed really important at the time.

What I find most frustrating about the blog is that posting things publicly generates (in me, anyway) a desperate need for feedback. My plan is always to dash off a blog post in the morning and then write for the rest of the day, but sometimes I spend the rest of the day refreshing my email notifications every five minutes and searching for a sign that someone has read my post. This can be a real distraction for an easily distractible person! And sometimes, the posts that I think are my best posts get the least feedback, and don’t find a lot of readers. At times like these, I have to sigh and remind myself that I’m building a platform, and it’s going to take time.  For instance, I have over one hundred “followers,” and I am very grateful for every one, but that doesn’t translate to one hundred hits every time I post. Right now, I average about 20 hits on a day when I publish. People are starting to find me with some interesting search terms, though, which I think comes from the fact that I am always expanding my number of posts and topics. (By the way, detailed and easy-to-understand analytics for traffic on your blog is another good reason to choose WordPress.)

In conclusion, I really enjoy the blog. Keeping up with it has felt pretty natural; I usually enjoy writing the posts (the ones I don’t enjoy usually don’t get posted) and I do it because it’s part of the whole proces of becoming someone who gets taken seriously as a writer. This is also my second week-long blog event experience, and I’ll admit the writing a post every single night is getting really exhausting… but it’s also motivating me to work really hard on my book, and I’ve also picked up a good number of followers in the last few days (thank you all! I hope you stick around!) So I’m still trying new things, but overall it’s been really rewarding.

Thanks for your question, Ruthanne! You will be receiving your name doodle prize in a week or so, and definitely by the end of February. And happy early birthday!

-Grace

Writing Marathon Day 4, and Tonight’s Contest Winner

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 10.22.27 PM

Looks like we made it to Day 4! I had a great day today. This whole no-sugar diet is actually kicking in, and I feel great. I exercised today, I painted a ceiling, I made a delicious cabbage stir fry, I learned a new salad dressing recipe, I practiced my harp. All sounds pretty good, right? Well…

The Writing Day

This has been my worst writing day on the marathon so far. Chapter 11 is just… well, I said it yesterday: Chapter 11 is a mess. Today I scrawled out a choppy handwritten version of a new scene I’m adding to the beginning. I thought I was adding the new scene to make the transition into an existing scene less boring, but then I realized that the existing scene itself is boring, and it has to go. Eep. This is the first time (in this project, so far) I’ve really come up against the “Murder your darlings” adage (Sir Arthur Quirrel-Couch). In the scene, Vanya tunes his harp and the boys each share something about their past. Not really relevant (sigh), because there will be time for the backstory in the next books. It’s also a “this is how a harp works” lesson, which I put in there because I think are harps fascinating (and also because I know more about them now than when I started writing this thing), but it doesn’t really move the story. Still, removing it was a wrenching decision—and then I had to write this new scene. Not edit an existing one; write a whole new one. For some reason that seems really hard right now, and instead of making myself crazy over it I opted to help with dinner and spend some time with my family and prepare for my harp lesson on Wednesday. I did get some work done on the scene. Today wasn’t a total loss. At any rate, all I can do is hope for a better day tomorrow.

Let’s find out what our blog topic is tonight.

And the winner is…

Celeste. Congratulations, Celeste!

Celeste is a friend of mine from school, and an aspiring author. Make sure you check out her blog! http://www.celestedewolfe.com

Celeste’s entry: What is your favorite genre to read? Is that the same genre you like to write in? Do you think you would ever write outside of that genre? Why or why not? Lastly, what are two genres that you wouldn’t immediately put together, but might make an interesting story?

A genre question! My favorite genre to read is fantasy… or sci-fi. They pretty much do the same thing for me, and they can be difficult to distinguish between. I’m just not interested in books that are completely realistic and could happen in everyday life. I’m not sure why; some of them are really good reads. I understand some people feel the same way about fantasy literature, and I respect that. I think it’s that my inner child just gets so excited about magical harps and spaceships, and also that the best fantasy books speak so much truth about life and humanity. I love them. And yes, I write fantasy. I think I’ve only written realistic fiction for class assignments (although some of those assignments turned out pretty well). Wanderlust is urban fantasy, which, honestly, helps me take it a little more seriously right now. There will be time for writing high fantasy later in my career. I love high fantasy, but I’ve reached a point where I can only take so much of the epic swords and sorcery world-building story with all the made up names—unless it’s really, really good. Right now I’m much more interested in high fantasy that’s about a smaller scale, more individual journey than the save-the-whole-world thing.

I’m also working on a dystopian sci-fi novel that I hope to spend more time on when Wanderlust is completed. It’s my first real sci-fi project, but I’m pretty excited about it and like I said, sci-fi and fantasy pretty much do the same thing for me. I may write some realistic fiction stories in the future, but I don’t see myself ever writing any novel-length projects that aren’t sci-fi or fantasy. My idea box just doesn’t get excited unless there’s something fantastical going on. I also don’t see myself drifting into paranormal romance, which is a nearby genre. I think romance is great when it’s done well, and of course there will be occasional romance in my books, but I’ve realized lately that I don’t like to read books in which romance is the central plot issue. There needs to be something else of substance going on. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the romance in teen reads, even just the romantic subplot, has been annoying me lately. I think this is because I’m almost five years away from teenagerhood now, and it is very apparent that, out here in the real world, teen romances almost never work. I’m so jaded! Maybe that’s something I’ll grow out of again in a few years. And, that’s another thing, I don’t know who I’ll be in five or ten years. Right now I don’t see myself writing outside my genre, but anything could happen. And for the last question; two genres I wouldn’t immediately put together, but that might make an interesting story? Oh, I don’t know. I feel like genre-mashups are actually fairly popular now-a-days. How about a steampunk children’s book? You know, one of the big books with pictures. It may have already been done, but with the right illustrator I think that would be really, really cool.

Thanks for your question, Celeste! And everyone else, don’t forget take a look at The Official Site of Celeste DeWolfe. Celeste, you will be receiving your name-doodle prize in a week or so, and definitely by the end of February.

Have a good night everyone. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Writing Marathon Day 3, and Third Contest Winner

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.50.29 PMThree days in already? It’s all happening so fast!

The Writing Day

Finished that pesky Chapter 10 (Swamp Times). It wouldn’t have taken too long… except for those couple paragraphs that took HOURS, and that one transition/flashback thing that, well, I actually just glanced at it again and I’m not even sure it’s a 100% now, even after all that work. Sigh. So anyway, when I thought I’d finally finished chapter 10 (which I keep wanting to call chapter 9 because it was chapter 9 for years before I added that whole thing about the wolves), I was a little emotionally exhausted from dealing with the peskiness of those scenes, but I still had a couple hours of writing time. Now, Chapter 10 was pesky because it was already pretty tight, but it needed small amounts of polish applied in hard-to-reach places. Chapter 11 is pesky because it’s a mess. I didn’t really have it in me tonight to put on the hazmat suit and start the serious cleanup. Instead, I went through and typed in the red-pen corrections I’d already made on my printed manuscript. I fixed anything that jumped out at me, and anything I had an easy fix for. More importantly, I read through the whole thing and asked questions and made editorial notes and let it soak into my subconscious to stew for the night. I actually made a fair amount of progress on the little things, and I’m looking forward to tackling the larger issues in Chapter 11 (The Harp and the Hound) tomorrow.

Time for that blog topic! Drawing a contest entry now.

And the winner is…

Laura! Congratulations, Laura!

Laura’s entry: If you woke up as the opposite sex one morning, would it change your life plan, and how?

Well, that’s something I don’t think about every day. And, seeing as my life plan right now is to become a published author and to travel as much as possible, I don’t think it would. Actually, being a guy might make the traveling part easier. There are certain dangers associated with traveling alone as a woman, and you sort of have to weigh those risks and cautionary tales against your common sense and good judgement and the fact that you can’t really live and experience life while playing it completely safe. It’s risky just being alive, of course, but I feel like guys have a little less to worry about in the safety department. I’m pretty sure I’d be just as good a writer as a man (some of my best writer friends are male), and, bonus, I’d finally have an inside view on that whole male camaraderie thing I’m always writing about. If my masculinity as a man were equal to the level of femininity I have as a woman, well, at 5′ 10″, it would be so much easier to find girls who are shorter than me than it is to find guys who are taller than me. If I remained completely feminine girl me in this hypothetical gender-bending scenario, I guess I don’t know what I’d do (besides wonder how I got stuck in an anime. My eyes just aren’t big enough, you see.) I know it takes a lot of strength to deal with that kind of confusion and mind/body disconnect, and I’m grateful that it’s a burden I haven’t had to bear.

Thanks for your question, Laura. Hmm, I actually came up with a lot of pros for that whole being-a-guy-thing. Good thing I really like being a girl. 🙂 You will be receiving your name-doodle prize in a week or so, and definitely by the end of February.

Have a good night, all! I hope you enjoyed your superbowl and your superbowl snacks. I didn’t watch the game, but we did eat some guacamole. While making a batch of guacamole earlier this week, I reflected to my father that some people probably only get guacamole once a year, on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a depressing thought, and we shared a moment of silence. But anyway, I hope you had a good party if that is the sort of thing that you do. May your cupboard brim over with tortilla chips, and may your guacamole bowl never go empty.

-G