Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When You Become The Music

It's "So You Think You Can Dance" season. And, thanks to injuries, this is the first year I'm not dancing since my achilles tendon rupture in 2005. Watching the show, though, reminds me why I love dancing and skating.

I love ballet. I've danced for 15 years (not counting this year) and never get bored of a good class. I love barre and the progression of center work. As a tall, long-legged dancer, I love adagio (extensions and footwork) and grand allegro (the big jumps.) I've always been musical, which might come from a decade-plus of playing flute.

But, in all those years of dancing, the moment that touched me the most came during my first contemporary class. The dance school had set up two intensive classes on four dance forms... like samplers. Tap was awful. I'm never allowed to use tap shoes again. Jazz was meh. Hip Hop was just plain comical. But then Aaron, our teacher, started to walk us through his choreography for "Hero and Leander" by Adam Guettel:

For the first time in my life, I was the music and emotion and movement. Little mistakes meant nothing. When I was finished the dance, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I wasn't me anymore, since a vein was opened and every ounce of feeling streamed out of my hands and feet with every pirouette or jete'.
This wasn't a one-shot dance. When we worked on "Apologize" for the recital, I felt it again. Every breath and contraction was powerful. Ballet might have given me a technical base, but the choreography and the music tore through and freed me. Perfection wasn't the goal-- becoming and conveying emotion was everything.  
Sometimes, you just have to let go to make magic happen.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: The "I Need To Blog More" Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 

 No new books this week! I've been lazy and haven't started anything new.

 I did finish Life After Theft and loved it, especially the main character. Slightly nerdy sweet guys seem to be taking over my reading pile and I don't mind at all. ;-)

What I'm Writing: 

A little bit stalled on my WIP, so I've turned to the trick that got me through Bookishly-- writing prompts. Those little scenes are a fun way to get to know my characters.

What Inspires Me Right Now: 

So You Think You Can Dance started up again last week, and watching all those a-ma-zing dancers has been inspiring. One even made me cry with her contemporary. There's power in movement and music (I miss dancing!!!!!!!)

Part of my non-bloggy, non-reading uselessness this past weekend was a direct result of the Eurovision Song Contest finals. Even though Portugal didn't participate this year, I still hunted for a live feed and caught up with the rest of the videos online. Incase any of you missed the cheesetasticness that was Eurovision, I give you Romania's entry (destined to go down in history as one of the more memorable entries):

Falsetto Vampire singer???? Romania, you win the internet.

I did fall for one of the Icelandic songs that didn't make it past their country round (Iceland sent a ballad-singing Viking instead...) I think this one is so pretty:

What Else I've Been Up To:

-More cadaver labs. This last one was awesome, though, since it was held in a mobile lab: A truck pulled into the office parking lot. The driver hit a button and it unfolded, Transformer-like, into a cadaver lab. So. COOL. Have dead bodies, will travel.

-I've begun querying Bookishly Ever After. Confession: I'm pretty zen about the whole thing. Why?

I give you: What I've learned from years of product development (Proof that engineering has hardened part of my soul?):

  1. You are not your design (or book.) When people critique/reject/whatever your product, you are not the product. I know it might feel like an extension of your own body and soul (believe me, I knoooooow,) but it's not-- it's only something you made. If the product disappeared, you will still be here and valuable.
  2. At work, one project I worked on was cancelled, another was top secret and filed away for future use, possibly never to be seen again. Two and a half years on my resume pretty much look like a black hole. Just because I have no physical product to show for all my effort does not mean I didn't grow as an engineer.
  3. Awesome designs and ideas get rejected all of the time. The fact is, companies need to make money and, no matter how amazing your design might be, it might not be right timing-wise for the market.
  4. I really like teal.
  5. Sometimes, you need to put up the batsignal and pull together a group of creative minds to brainstorm solutions. No one has all the right answers all the time.
  6. Passion is essential for design. It gets you through the "boring" parts of product development. Like tolerance analyses. Or waiting.
  7. Perspective: No one will die if my writing isn't loved. Someone could die if I mess up an instrument/implant design (and all the checks and balances fail. Luckily, we have teams made up of very smart people to share the burden!!!) While one of the best feelings ever is to see the first x-ray with something you designed implanted in a patient, the worst feeling in the world is to hear something went wrong with your product. Even if it's out of your control-- surgeon misuse, patient non-compliance, a manufacturing snafu-- it's an awful, awful feeling. Imagine hearing that someone had to be reoperated or, heaven forbid, died, because of something you made. I've been lucky to this point, but even knowing this gives me perspective in everything else I do.
So, yeah. Cue zen POV, an organized spreadsheet, and starting a new WIP. We'll get through this.

What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: The Ice Cold Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 

Remember my first What's Up Wednesday when I was trying to read a gajillion books at the same time because they all released on the same day?

Uhm, yeah, I failed miserably. But! But! That means this week I'm enjoying a fun read by one of my favorite modern YA authors.

I'm about a third of the way through Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike and I love the voice and story. With no heat in the apartment, staying up late to finish a book probably won't happen, but I probably will finish this in the next day, easily.

What I'm Writing: 
More of Em's story. I like writing from her POV. She's a little snarky, very dramatic, and it's fun to see Phoebe (the MC from my contemporary) through her eyes when they share scenes. I'm at 4K right now and am having so much fun playing with these characters.

What Inspires Me Right Now: 
Last week, I was in two days of cadaver labs (about...9 bodies?) I'll be in another lab later this week. Some of these bodies are not "old." I'm reminded of how short a time we have on this planet. It puts everything into perspective.

I'm inspired because I'm freed from freaking out over the little things, at least for a tiny while.

What Else I've Been Up To:

Post-it pen in action. I've only flagged up to Chapter 4 so far

Remember how I gushed over The Summer I Became A Nerd? Well, I'm going to confess to being a major nerd right now. I'm going through the book with my handy-dandy post-it flag pen and marking every geeky hidden reference I find.

Yes, my post-it DOES say "duh." Some references are self-explanatory!


I bought two new Ravenscroft hair moons and have been having fun with silly moon hairstyles, including Sailor-Moon-esque mini buns.

I love these little moons! They hold so well!
And keeping with the "yes, I'm still five years old" theme, I've planted an "enchanted fairy garden" in my apartment. Let's see if it survives the freezing apartment.

And, incase you haven't figured it out from this post so far, I've had no heat in my apartment for the past week. Which would have been fine if it hadn't gone down to 34F the other night. I've been huddling under multiple blankets for the past week! Not too helpful for productivity.

That's my Wednesday. What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Reactions I get...

... when people find out I'm an engineer (courtesy of a business trip to Vegas, where I heard some of these.)

  1. Blank stare *blink**blink*
  2. "You mean like, train engineer? Or radio?" Really? Really???
  3. "You must like math." Uh, not really.
  4. "You must be smart." Uhmmmmm...
  5. "What kind?" Usually from other engineers or people related to engineers. Sometimes to check if I'm telling the truth. There are people who claim to be engineers who aren't.
  6. You don't look like an engineer. Why? Because I know how to comb my hair (sometimes?)
  7. "What's an engineer?" WTF?
3 and 4 make me laugh the hardest. Confession: I never liked math, except for Geometry. I'm an English and Art girl all the way. But Physics really fascinated me in high school thanks to dynamic teachers who made things like calculating the velocity of a baby's projectile vomit for extra credit fun.

Math is a tool, just like the alphabet. It might come more intuitively for some than others, but, in the end... it's a tool like anything else.

And since I'm a bit clumsy, math was like a hammer I kept slamming onto my thumb.

It didn't come intuitively for me, and while some of my friends were breezing through Differential Equations and Matrix Methods in college, I was editing their liberal arts papers in exchange for tutoring. And while I now refuse to derive equations from scratch (who does that?,) I love the magic that comes from brainstorming and designing something from scratch... and holding the first prototype in my hands. It's a worthwhile trade-off to all the calculations I may have to make.

What tool did you have to "master" even if you didn't love it?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Remote What's Up

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

Today is a remote What's Up? because I'm writing this from *gasp* Las Vegas.

Don't get too excited-- I'm here for work, which, for me, that means two days of cadaver labs *waves at the new followers who are currently cringing and regretting their follow decisions.* Plus, since I don't drink or gamble*, my only potential downfall here might be shopping.

*I've gambled a total of $2 in all my visits to Vegas, just to say I did.

Annnnyway, this veers wildly into the "What Else I've Been Up To," so I'll just start:

What I'm Reading:

Last night I stayed up until 3 am reading The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller. On my flight between Phoenix and Vegas, I reread all my favorite sections. To say I've fallen hard for this book would be an understatement. It's a geek-girl's dream book.

Just an example of how badly I geeked out as I semi-live tweeted as I devoured the book:


What I'm Writing: 

Playing with Em from Bookishly, with her story currently going by the name "Dramatically Ever After"

If I ever write a Grace story (another character from Bookishly,) I'm already tentatively going to call it "Practically Ever After."

What Inspires Me Right Now:

NERDS!!!! (I'm useless at the moment, aren't I?) Boys with glasses. Comic books. Do you see a pattern on this Wednesday?

It could be the lack of sleep talking, too.

What Else I've Been Up To: Vegas, dead bodies, OMG hotel room that is bigger than my apartment (not.kidding.)

Just the bathing part of the hotel bathroom-- shower and GIANT tub.
I may soak in that for a tiny, little while.
And humidity is back!


That's my Wednesday update.

So, what have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Writer's Voice

Has it been a year already?

Well, I was very lucky to make it into The Writer's Voice blog contest, hosted by Cupid of Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), and Monica B.W. of Love YA. That means all of you get to see my query and first 250 for Bookishly Ever After. (sorry)

To learn more about the contest, go here.

One of my (many) embarassingly overstuffed bookshelves.
It goes well with Bookishly. Really. Kind-of. Uhm..
Okay, I just needed an image for a break.
Edited 2-June-2013: I've updated this post to keep only the most up-to-date info on my blog. If you would like to see my query and first 250, please feel free to contact me (Contact info on my "About me" tab or via twitter)

What's Up Wednesday

Yes, I've been gone a WHILE (sorry,) but on a positive note, I've been spending that time revising and writing... and conferencing in the Poconos in the cutest cabin in the planet (yes, I'll blog about that later. Promise.) So, when I saw this meme on Jaime Morrow's blog, I had to hop on! What a great way to catch up with everyone!

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading:

Oh, boy. This has been one of thooooose weeks. Two new releases, a new release from last week that I had to order, and a friend's WIP.

I want to read them all. And a part of me is trying.

WIP: I'm 4 chapters in, loving the concept and writing. The problem with going to conferences like the SCBWI Eastern PA Poconos retreat is that you get to read and hear excerpts from so many awesome WIPs. I'm dying to read more! (hint, hint Poconos ppl)

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer. A) Set in New Jersey! YAY! B) I loved Smart Girls Get What They Want and the beginning of this book has the same, fun voice I expected from Sarah Strohmeyer.

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike. All of you must know by now that I love my fictional dead boys, so a book about a fictional dead girl means that she'll probably move very quickly into bff (best fictional friend) status.

Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins. Oh, Kai. *swoon* That's all.

What I'm Writing:

I finished rev 6 of You And I, which I've renamed to Bookishly Ever After. While I'm waiting for feedback, I'm playing with two different WIPs-- one about a character from Bookishly, and a completely new, shiny contemporary.

If the me who started this blog had known I'd willingly write contemporary and love it, she would have had a heart attack.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

Wil Wheaton. Everyone needs to see his video on why it's awesome to be a nerd or read the transcript.* No matter how many times I see or read it, I start tearing up. I wish nerdy teen me could have seen this.

"It's not about what you love. It's about how you love it."- Wil Wheaton

*Thank you, Jaime, for tweeting me this link!

I'm also inspired by all the support and love I've found in the writing community, especially the kidlit community. It's incredible to watch (and join in) as we lift each other up, cheer for our friends' successes, offer valuable time for critiques or guidance, and send silly cat pictures when someone has an awful day.

From the Poetry Garden at the Highlights Boyds Mills facility
Picture courtesy of my Poconos retreat roomie, D.B. Graves

What Else I've Been Up To:

Work. And more work. And more work. The day after the Poconos conference, I was in a cadaver lab, I'll be in another two next week, and another one the week after. Possibly one in June. That's a lot of dead bodies.

But! That also means that I'm in the learning and development phase of a new project for work. This is the fun part of being a product development engineer, that rush of watching a surgeon in action, watching how they have to adapt to current instrumentation or implants, and trying to figure out how to make the surgery faster and easier for them. There are lightbulb moments and brainstorming sessions where the team builds off of each other's ideas. I get to model new parts in CAD (3D computer aided design) and send them to a 3D printer or to the prototype shop.

Sometimes you invent new things: As of the end of 2012, I'm the proud owner of two patents, one for an instrument and one for an implant (currently in people, which is awesome and scary at the same time.)

It's that same honeymoon period feeling of creation I get when diving into a new writing WIP.

Skating: My coaches predicted that I'd need six months to adapt to my new boots and blades. So far, they're right. I've gotten back almost all of my jumps and most of my spins, though some of my footwork (*cough* twizzles *cough*) still needs work.

The skates are powerful. When I go into a jump with the right entrance and speed, I fly. As long as I concentrate on hooking into my spins, they're faster and more centered than spins in my old boots. Both Coach #1 and Coach #2 agree that the fitter did an awesome job. I love these skates.

That's my Wednesday update.

So, what have you been up to lately?