Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ang Talks About Writing A Novel & Has Fun With Gifs

Last night, I put the final (for now) touches on good ole Fluff, Nonsense, & Other Emo Crap. For the record, my wee story doth have an actual name. I've been calling it Fluff & Nonsense for a year and it feels like home. What's the actual title, you ask? Soon, my friends, soon I shall share.

For now, I've got to find ways to occupy the good ole brain-brain while five of my nearest and dearest weed through my madness. I could do the laundry or clean the bathrooms or dust something, but what's the fun in that?

I could do this, but alas, there be no oceans near me.
So here I sit thinking about the writing process and the road to publication. Most published authors have their story up on their blogs or hidden in their FAQ. I've read far too many of them not to be considered a stalker. Who hasn't?

Their stories always begin with I worked really hard and wrote a book and then either a. I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew this agent and BOOM or b. I've landed in every slush pile from here to Timbuktu and after years and years of rejection my amazing super agent took a chance on me and BOOM or c. I decided to take my fate in my own hands and self-published and BOOM.

I like the boom part best. No matter which road an author chooses, every author wants the same thing, an explosion, be it financially or socially or career-ly or mentally or whatever-ly.

But it all starts with that first elusive sentence: I wrote a novel. One of the simplest sentences to write and yet one of the most daunting tasks a person can undertake. So how does it get done? I'm not sure what most people do but I can tell you what I did. And you can take it or leave it. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably leave it.
Peace out, fool.
It started with a book I read last summer. I will not name the book. I will say that while I did somewhat enjoy said undisclosed novel, I felt it was a wee bit lacking. Not in a major way. Just in a *shrug* this book could have been better sorta way. What's a person to do when they are dissatisfied with a story? Rant at their best friend, but of course, which in turn leads to ideas for amazing stories that must be written like yesterday. And what's a writer to do? Well.Write. Duh.

So that's what I did. I sat down around midnight-ish and wrote 3000 words just like that. *snaps fingers* Then I edited it and shipped it off to the best who read it lightening quick (cause she's amazeballz) and responded with I WANT MORE!
An accurate depiction of the best after reading my offerings.
And I thought, why not? So I cranked up my jams, ignored the laundry, the kids, and life in general and wrote. I wrote every day and within a month I had roughly 50,000 words. BUT there was one small speed bump. My final semester of classes started. With a heavy heart and fingers that itched to write, I put good ole Fluff & Nonsense aside and picked up my textbooks (math, Spanish, and astronomy respectively). However, there was one saving grace. I was also taking my final creative writing class. In which, I had to meet with two professors weekly and turn in pages for them to critique. At first, they only wanted thirty pages. Then, they wanted forty. Then, they wanted fifty. When they asked for sixty, I begged for mercy being that I had to edit fifty plus pages, not to mention, pretend to speak Spanish, study the orbit of the Moon, and remember how to add and subtract equations or some other absurdity. Oh, and lest we forget my day job of keeping four kids alive.
The wonderful thing about my portfolio class was the in-depth conversations I had with my professors. For the first time, I was discussing my characters with someone as if my characters were real life people. Please understand, for me, they are real people. I love my characters. I want the world for them. But I never expected others to feel the same. Not only did they care, but my professors enjoyed the story. And let me just say, they are not my target audience.

When the semester was over and I'd regained my sanity after the whirlwind holiday season, I jumped right back into writing. I shut the door, as Mr. King recommends, and I wrote daily. Whether it was ten words or ten thousand, I made sure every day I put a little more of the story down. By the end of January, I had a completed first draft. BOOM.
It happened just like this & there were cupcakes.
Then I set it aside, let the brain-brain rest, and tried not to peek at it. It drove the best and I crazy, but I was insistent on doing things the right way… for about a week, then I emailed the whole kit and caboodle to her and she read it in a night. Meanwhile, the mister took one for the team and read Fluff & Nonsense too.

And then, we all discussed. We discussed characters and plots and motivation and scenery and dialogue. We discussed the good and the bad and the ugly and the flat out horrid. We giggled and high fived. We cried and got flustered. Words cannot express the joy I experienced in those moments. I'd have to say, I believe it was detrimental to my writing process.
Oh, we danced. Don't you dare doubt it!
That is not the end of my story. Far from it. As I’m learning, it’s only the beginning. But it’s the most important part. Without the book everything that followed and everything that could potentially come is null and void.

As I search for a point to this long-winded post, I guess it comes down to a somewhat simple thought. When writing, it is important to reach out to other. To have a support system, cheerleaders with pom-poms ready who don’t mind texts at one in the morning about how you’ve just realized your main character has three different last names and you can’t decide which sounds best and will they please, for the love of sprinkles, sparkles, and cookies, just pick one out before you lose your damn mind.

People who will call you out when you’ve been slacking. People who will laugh with you and sometimes even at you. People who will believe in you, especially when you just can’t believe in yourself. People who will talk about your characters as if they were their best friends. People who won't tell you it's too hard to write a novel, but instead they'll say YOU CAN TOTALLY DO IT!

*takes a bow*
If you don’t have people, find them. They are out there. Check Twitter. Check Facebook. Check blogs. [Hey, look at you, you're already on a blog! *high five*] Check your local library. Check your local community college. Don’t have money for classes? Do what I did, sign up for some financial aid and give it a go.

Whatever you do, get yourself some people. Because you might write alone, but let’s be honest, you are writing because you have something to say, something to share. So find some people to share it with and listen to them. I think you’ll find that you’ll stop writing for money or fame or any of that other unimportant stuff and you’ll start writing for you and your people. And in return, you'll find the motivation to earn the right to type that ever elusive sentence: I wrote a novel. BOOM!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The One Where Ang Attends A Book Signing & Almost Pees Her Pants

Last night, I attended The Smart Chicks Kick It! tour. It was my first author signing. After decades of being an avid reader, I FINALLY got the chance to actually meet a few of my writing idols. And let me just say, they did not disappoint! So excuse me for a moment whilst I fan-girl out. The likelihood of me rambling on like a loon in this post is extremely probable. Please forgive me. I know not what I do. Please forgive me, I can't stop lovin' you. *dramatically bows head*

1. Where Ang says thank you.
Before this party gets started, I must thank two people.

First, the best, Kim, who emailed me last week & said: Hey, some of our favorite authors are coming to your hometown and you are going. The end.

Secondly, I want to thank Carrie from Stalking the Bookshelves for answering all my n00b questions about signing etiquette and what to expect.
*high-fives & twirls all around*

2. Where Ang looks for a sucker date to drive her to go with her to the shindig.
I needed a date, cause let's be frank, fan-girling alone ain't no fun. I knew only one person would do:
 That would be me & Sarah of Sea Sarah Blog aka my sister 
aka the hottest up and coming book blogger in the world,
I know, we're smexy.
We can't help it.

3. Where Ang gets a new book & some swag.
Now, I've heard of the wonders of swag. I'd be remiss if I didn't admit I've spent the last few years in a perpetual state of jealousy over those who swag seems to rain down on like manna from the heavens and lil ole me in the corner stuck in a never ending drought. But, by the book gods, the storm clouds rolled into my desert home last night and rained down upon me!

From tattoos to chocolate my cup runneth over.
At the event, I bought a copy of
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr. 
I brought five books from home to be signed, as well. 

4. Where Ang accosts an author & chit-chats about nonsense. 
While the Q & A session was fun times, my favorite part was actually getting to meet the authors. I had no game plan going into the night, I just hoped I wouldn't wet myself or turn bright red as is my M.O. I am happy to report I:

a. did NOT jump over the tables and beg the authors in attendance to be my best friends.
b. pee myself when said authors actually laughed at my lame jokes.
(the p.s. This is a Christmas miracle as I drank a huge cup of iced tea right before the Q&A started and was virtually on the verge of wetting myself the whole night. I kid you not.)
c. manned up and asked one of my all time favey-faves to take a picture with me.
Oh that's me and Kimberly Derting.
Excuse me whilst I gush. She has no CLUE how cool I had to play it in this moment. She is not only one of my all time favorites, but the first published author I have EVER spoken with in the real world. *swa-oooon* For the record, Sarah refused to use the flash cause she didn't want to blind Mrs. Derting. Thusly, the picture is a blurry mess (at this moment in time, I will not point out that my sister's husband is a professional photographer and she's better than this). Alas, the picture is proof we actually met and I'm a happy camper.

5. Where Ang is encouraged & rambles on a wee bit. 
After leaving the signing last night, I felt this great sense of purpose and exhilaration. Writing is not easy, for the most part we authors are alone. Sure, if we are blessed, we have amazing support systems and people raining down encouragement on us, but when push comes to shove, when an author sits down to write their little ditties, they are lone-dogging it. And when the time comes to take a step out and try to make your dreams come true, it's hard not to feel as if every door has slammed in your face before you've even begun. It's hard not to feel too young or too old or too small or too naive or too unconnected or ... 

But being at the signing last night and meeting the authors really pulled into focus what I want to achieve. I might be too naive and far too small and waaaaaay too unconnected, but by golly, they were once right where I am. They had a story weighing down on them and a desire to have it heard and they worked and they stressed and they probably felt just like I do, but they didn't allow it to hold them back! 

*cues the music* 
And this is how you end a post, folks. BOOM!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Five Favorites

It's been a good long time since I've done a favorite things post.
They make my heart happy and remind me of my good friend, Annie.
Let's give it a go, shall we?

Drink Me
photograph taken by Aka
I *heart* lemons.
They are all the good things.
This summer I perfected the art of lemonade makery.
You can find the recipe here.
I tweaked it a wee bit. 
When making the simple syrup I add the zest of one lemon
and I fill a two quart pitcher about a third of the way with ice
then strain the simple syrup over the ice before adding
the juice of four (large-ish) lemons & four cups of water.
Make this today.
As in now.
Like now NOW.

Read Me
Once again I am behind in my reading goal for the year.
I bumped my goal down to a hundred (that's from 150).
I'm still seven books behind, but determined to get 'er done.
So I've picked out seven books I've been meaning to read.

I started with
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
and I do so enjoy it.
It's a mob story set in a future when chocolate is banned
and kids are drinking beer legally.
The story centers around Anya,
a young girl whose dead father
was the city's most notorious crime boss. 
She has to take care of her dying grandmother,
her older brother who is special needs,
and her baby sister,
all while avoiding falling in love with the DA's son
and murder charges. 

All These Things I've Done is a wild ride.
Ms. Zevin's writing is simple yet beautiful
and always profound. Plus I got meself a new book boyfriend.
Thusly, all is right in the world.

Hear Me
This weekend, the mister picked up Relient K --- Is For Karaoke. 
It is-- for lack of a term befitting its greatness-- amazeballz!

Wear Me
I bought this from esty--
pic taken from heathers happy
Annnnd I love it!
The shop owner is heather of heathers happys.
She's got some extremely adorable rings & other charm necklaces.
The cost of shipping was excellent (two bucks, thank you very much)
 & my order arrived days after I ordered it.
Overall, heather made me exceptionally happy!
Go forth and check her out.

Think Me
I found this quote on Pinterest this weekend.
Just something to ponder.

And there they be, 
a few of my favorite things. 
Got any favorites you'd like to share?
You should.
Come on.
I dare ya.