Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Little Love Note

I didn't realize how many people would see the Wintergirls post and I am so, so touched by all of the comments and reactions that I've received as a result of that vlog. I didn't cry when I was making the video, but I cried when I read your comments. I love all of you.

I was telling a friend the other day all about the post and my surprise at its reception in the blogosphere, about how I loved it, but how I didn't want to be labeled as "that blogger who had the eating disorder." She then confessed to me that she had been a wintergirl, too, back in college, and how our stories need to get out. "If that helped one girl, it was worth it." I sort-of, kind-of cried again. It wasn't pretty. But it was wonderful, too.

I blame all of you. ALL of you.

A little over a year ago, I made the decision that I was going to put all of my fears aside and try to write this story that had been in my head for ages. I stepped into this world of tweeting, blogging, #1k1hrs, and conferences with no idea about what I was getting into.  I now giggle about then-me. She was soooooo cute with her wide-eyes and giant expectations! But, though I haven't achieved the totally unrealistic dreams that 1-year-ago-me had expected to achieve by this date, I've gained so much more than I'd ever anticipated.

I'm a Philly-area girl. Of COURSE I'd have these coasters!

Whether or not I ever publish, I'm so thankful for what this journey has given me. Without writing, I wouldn't have joined SCBWI and met some of the most wonderful people on the planet. Without this journey, I wouldn't have:

1. Twitter. I joined twitter for three reasons:
  • To fangirl my favorite authors
  • To follow book bloggers I liked and to get their recommendations on what to read/not to read
  • To learn more about the publishing industry
  • And I can't forget that I also made sure to follow my knitting friends! Yarn forever.
I kept telling myself that, but my list of "following" grew and grew until it became something more than any of the three above. Through twitter, I met new friends (both online and now off, too... including a twittertwin who makes me grin on my toughest days *hug*), Team Kilt!!!!, my new CP/fellow Team Kilter/real life SCBWI friend, and all of the amazing authors and editors and agents who tweet some of the best stuff ever. Honestly, I'd still follow everyone I follow (well, except maybe GoslingLitAgent, but that's because he'd just break my heart) even if I wasn't trying to write anymore, because the YA/kidlit community is just so, so awesome.

2. SCBWI and all of my friends *BIG SMOOSHY HUG*

I'm a nerdy, geeky, bookish girl. I never really felt like I fit in anywhere... and believe me, I tried.(uhm, Star Trek meetups, anyone? Not the conventions or the online RPG forums, just meeting with Star Trek fans monthly at the local diner. It was... interesting. I lasted about two meetups) We shall not speak about my awkward forays into "just getting out there and meeting people." But SCBWI automatically felt like home. And the Poconos conference? I'm still so thankful that Kim talked me into going. Because I fell into a family of awesomeness and found my "tribe."

3. An enormous TBR pile. And a smaller bank account.

Uh, yeah, that might be a downside.

4. All of you who follow this blog and whose blogs I follow.

Your comments make me grin (and made me cry.) Your posts give me something to read when I'm procrastinating on my WIP. I love hearing about your journeys and can't wait to hold some of your books in my hands when you do get published. I fangirl so hard over all of you.

Miss Phoebe-cat (a bit blurry! Sorry, she kept moving!) says she loves you, too!
Up next: I might try a post with content and not just gushing. *blows kisses at everyone*

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Years ago, when I had been skating for about a year and a half, I decided to enter an adult only figure skating competition (competing at the "Pre Bronze" level) I had my waltz jump, toe loop, salchow (all incredibly tiny, but recognizable) and one foot spins, so, of course I was ready.

Since adult-only competitions are about as common as unicorns (okay, not counting regionals and nationals-- yes, those do exist!,) I decided to take advantage of its diversity and signed up for three events-- my freestyle, an artistic interpretive (where you're judged about how your program and "emoting" fit the music. Aka: I got to skate to music with lyrics,) and an improv.

My freestyle dress and program at another competition for my "Harry in Winter" program
Freestyle and Artistic were both choreographed by my coach and I had practiced them enough that I could skate them in my sleep. In fact, I loved my "Harry in Winter*" program so much that people commented on the joy they saw on my face when I skated it (rather than the terror, determination, focus, or pasted-on smiles that many skaters usually show during competition.)

But Improv was a completely different animal. I actually had to improvise. And when put under pressure...

I did three-turns (a basic footwork component) and a jump or two in a circle for the entire, excruciating rap song they had presented to me. Because, while I had bits and pieces in my mental repetoire, I lacked the three things I really needed to make them work-- Experience, phrases, and music that fit me:

1. Experience-- this one is self-explanatory.
2. Phrases-- Over time, you collect more of these bits and pieces of dialogue until you can build an entire conversation. The phrases build in your muscles so that you only need to pull them out of your mental library and go.
3. The right music-- Rap just wasn't something that resonated with me. If I had been given symphonic metal, a pop ballad, or, heck, broadway, I might have been slightly better off, despite my lack of experience and tiny library of phrases. But, instead, I was trying to create in a genre that didn't fit me.

Fast forward to now. I'm slowly growing. I've had six years of experience on the ice. My coach and I have built a collection of footwork and jump combinations that I can start pulling out as needed. And, while I'm not a great improv choreographer, I love playing around on the ice when some of my favorite songs come over the speakers. I'm (mostly) ready for another shot at improv.

I think conferences, critique partners, and just writing practice are the writing equivalent of learning how to choreograph. All three help to build my toolbox of skills so that, when combined with the right inspiration, my fingers get to fly.

There are days when I still wonder if I'm doing the writing equivalent of three turns. At least, they're better three turns than where I was a year, two years, ten years ago, and I know that they'll be even better six years from now. And when I'm in the moment and writing something that makes me smile, it feels just as wonderful as when I'm hopping around the ice surface to "Call Me Maybe."

*Yes, THAT Harry. The song is on the Goblet of Fire soundtrack and is gorgeous. You can hear the first love in it as Harry trudges through the snow and I thought of first loves when I skated to it.
So... do you have non-writing "improv prep" moments?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

On Being a Wintergirl

I've been bouncing this topic around for a while now. I owe you posts from the SCBWIPA Poconos retreat-- next up are Laurie Halse Anderson's wonderful Revision and Keynote speeches. But, before I go into those posts, I really, really wanted to share this with you.

I cried when I met Laurie Halse Anderson. I thought I wouldn't, but I did, as I told her how she got into my head when writing Wintergirls and how much I wished younger me had read that book. Since this is a really tough (and physical) topic, I felt that a video would be the best way to get my story across:

I talk for approximately nine-ish minutes about disordered eating and body image, and read aloud from a few passages in Wintergirls that really fit exactly how I thought through the "over 800 calories a day are bad" time in my life. You definitely don't have to watch the video! And I'll be back with sparkles and happiness in my next post.

But in a world where teenage girls have to fight and petition magazines not to photoshop models and where unrealistic expectations about appearance are placed on both genders by a media machine churning out "perfect" image after "perfect" image, our stories need to come out.

Wintergirls is a good start.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Team Fictional Dead Boy

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know that I'm the co-advocate for Vincent (Die For Me, Until I Die) in the YASisterhood Crush Tourney. Which means I get to spend WAAY too much time looking through old pictures for cute boys, taking videos of myself being extremely goofy, and harassing my twitter followers for votes (sorry!)

Why should you care?

If you love YA, the tourney is a great way to meet some fantastic books and passionate fans/bloggers. While paranormal romance trends heavily in this tourney and Cassandra Clare's characters usually blow away any of their competitors (her fans are dedicated and her fanbase is huge. This is the second tourney in a row where the character I'm advocating for has only a tiny chance because he's up against one of her characters in the first round,) some great contemporary "crushes" made their way in this year.

The advocates can be incredibly creative. For example: Team Kilt-- the fan base behind Zachary from the Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready-- wins, hands down, for funniest, most philanthropic, and most all-around awesome. They embody the spirit of the tournament-- fun and promoting great books-- with videos, donations, pinterest pages and many, many pictures of hot guys in kilts.

I have dubbed myself, "Team Fictional Dead Boy" in addition to "Team Vincent" because there are quite a few wonderful dead boys on the list and you know how much I love my FDBs.

My fictional dead boy t-shirt!

So... check out the tourney and (until midnight tonight), if you love me, you'll vote for Vincent. If you don't, I'll still love you. And hang around for all of the other matches over the next few weeks!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Most Likely"

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
I don't always road trip (heck, y'all have seen my regular blogging record,) but this week's topic sounded like fun:  
What yearbook "most" category would your character win?

Full disclosure: I was never voted "Most Likely" anything at my high school. With a 300 student graduating class (with 7! valedictorians) and the fact that I basically managed to fly my geeky self mostly under the radar, I was not surprised, either. If "Most likely to attend a Star Trek convention" or "Most likely to move into the library" were on the list, I'd probably have gotten those. As it is, it's fun to see where this applies to my MCs, in both current and past WIPs.

Sooooo... being "most" deprived and all, I went to a local school's website and pulled the superlatives they used:

Best Smile, Friendliest, Most Likely to Succeed, Most School Spirit, Class Clown, Most Musical, Most Artistic, Most Talkative, Quietest, Most Unique, Most Daring, Classiest, Most Laid-Back, Most Gullible, Most Dependable, Best Laugh, Tallest, Shortest, Most Easily Embarrassed, Most Changed since Freshman Year, Class Flirt, Most Athletic, Best Hair, Best Eyes, Cutest Couple, Should've Been a Couple, Best Fashion Sense, Best Friends, Most Likely to become Famous

Sara, who would likely be a staff photographer on the yearbook and who happens to be one of those driven girls who made me crazy in school because they knew exactly what they wanted out of life (unlike flighty, arty me,) definitely would have earned a superlative or two.  

Since she and Jer spend most of their school year time together, it wouldn't be a stretch to say they would probably get "Should've Been a Couple" from their classmates.

Phoebe (MSB Contemporary WIP,) on the other hand, is more like me. So, unless her status is elevated by dating the hottest guy in the clarinet section, they would have to make up a custom superlative for her. I think "Most Likely to Die in an Avalanche of Books" would fit her perfectly.

My current TBR pile (well, add Obsidian and Before I Wake.)
Much deadlier when you add it to my Read pile (AVALANCHE!!!)

What about your characters? Do any of the "Most Likelys" above fit them?