Monday, October 28, 2013
I got another pumpkin too, which I will carve out on what some of you consider "Devil's Night". Growing up it was called "Mischief Night", but hey, it's not as if the name makes a difference; people still go crazy then. It used to be pretty bad back in the early Hoboken days; my volleyball season would end by then, and in my freshman year, we all used to walk together so nothing crazy would happen to any of us. Anyways, back to the pumpkin. I'm going to test out the surface shaving kit Mom got for me with this one. I'm excited. I'll post pics if it is successful.
I saw that Halloween parties already started this past weekend, and had instances been different, I'd have gone out dancing (it's been a Santa Fe tradition of sorts). I'm not bummed out about it though, believe it or not. I'm looking forward to having a costumed night at home on Thursday. Even Shadow has a costume, which he can destroy after pictures. I've got Rocky Horror Picture Show on the dvr, Fall Woodchuck in the fridge, tons of candy with or without trick-or-treaters, and these:
A deft icing hand, I have not. This is also the very first time I tried to make Jack Skellington cupcakes. You know what they say: practice makes perfect. There was also a cake...but you can surmise how it came out since there aren't any pictures of it. Next year, I will definitely try fondant. New icing tips to decorate with too.
Book 3 update! Last week, I suffered from the massive muscle spasm from hell. I've had muscle aches and whatnot from all those years of sports, but this was by far the worst pain I've felt. Just so you know, I've had a stress fracture in my heel bone in high school, followed by a heel bone bruise (also in high school), and I've twisted it a lot (all throughout college). My knees have a habit of locking up on me nowadays, and I used to have horrible lower back and shoulder pains. They're all pretty crappy once you combine them with asthma. This muscle spasm? Right between my neck and shoulder on my non-hitting arm (I was actually ambidextrous in hitting, but the point here is that it's basically my non-dominant side, which is my left side). I could not move for most of the day on Monday, therefore I did not write. I spent most of last week sleeping on my back with a special neck pillow Mom uses for whenever her pinched nerve acts up. I lived on the muscle stim machine which I wish I had in college, because everyone needed that machine during their sports season and you had to pray you got to the training room early enough to use it. Massages and stretching left and right. I know the question you're wanting to ask: did I take off from writing all of last week?
Hell no. Just Monday.
Some days it took me longer than usual, but I've come so far already with book 3 that I couldn't stop. I was not going to lose my momentum. If I was going to have to type with one hand, I was going to do it. I know I'm close to the end, and I am determined to be finished before my birthday. I'm a workaholic to the end. I lived through these things in college, and I didn't really sleep then. 90% of the time, I couldn't afford a break. It's not so different now, if you really think about it. I am much better now though. My left side is still sore, but I'm able to type now without wanting to cry out. And guess what? I wrote for four days last week and banged out a total of 11,080 words. I'm pretty sure I'll be breaking the 100,000 total word count of the first draft manuscript this week. It's very exciting.
Off to write now. I'll be done with the book soon! Hooray! :D
Monday, October 21, 2013
I have spent all weekend watching the Tim Burton classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. I feel bad for anyone who watches it with me, because I tend to sing all of the songs and quote the characters more times than a person should. I should mention that it is the best background "noise" to have while carving a pumpkin.
On Saturday, I went to the annual Paint Out of Santa Fe. It's an event that's held on Canyon Road, where the majority of the art galleries in town are. Artists from all over the place come here and paint for your viewing pleasure, and there's usually music. This year...it was kind of a sad version of what usually excited me since living out here. Granted, it was a little chillier than usual, but it was still beautiful enough for people to come out and paint/walk around. Shadow was happy for the cooler weather for sure (black dogs do not do well in summertime walks for obvious reasons). I was really surprised that there weren't many visiting artists this year. There wasn't even any music, other than the pitifully tiny parade that came through (and usually the parade is HUGE). Mom and I stood there at one point and asked one another, "What the hell happened?". Nonetheless, I did manage to snag some nice pics:
I remembered this artist from the previous Paint Out.
This was an interesting process to watch.
I was really proud of how better behaved Shadow was, since normally such an environment would drive him crazy.
Mom and I happened to watch Mr. Danny Champlin start on this piece. We came back about 20 minutes later and found this.
So here goes another whacky story concerning the Paint Out! There's a little place on Canyon Road called "Teahouse". It's a little restaurant that serves all kinds of tea and what not, with a cute little seating area. Last year, Mom and I were disappointed that Teahouse was actually closed during the Paint Out. This year, we were happy to see it open...though we didn't end up as satisfied as we hoped (we waited all these years to finally get something from there, after all). Note to self - try Teahouse again when there are hardly a swarm of tourists around. I went inside first, since we had Shadow, to see what I drink I would want. There's this giant booklet of a menu, and I didn't realize there was actually more than one around. Probably should have a little sign or box that says, "Menus here!". I kind of felt the vibe of being rushed since there were a lot of people there, so I went back outside to tell Mom that the only thing that appealed to me while being sort of crammed in that place was a "Spicy Hot Chocolate Chai". She went in to get my drink and to decide what drink she wanted...and considering how many people were there, I did expect them to take a while to make our drinks. When Mom eventually came out, she only had one drink. They only rang up one order instead of two, and they didn't even realize that "Spicy Hot Chocolate Chai" was actually a menu item (the chai section was rather small, so that was a shock to me). They gave Mom a Mexican Hot Chocolate (which actually wasn't too bad, but still...I was actually kind of horrified to see how long it would have taken if the size was taken into account). She was standing inside the place waiting for her drink to be made...only they never rang up her drink. They didn't even ask her if she needed help, so she just stood there waiting for a good chunk of time. After working in Luminaria, my idea of customer service during events like these differed greatly. I, as well as the servers, would have been chewed out and then some, if we did something like that to a customer. We would have been berated for not even repeating the order! There was no excuse for how crowded the place was, we HAD to do it. I pray my next trip to Teahouse will be better...I really do. I'll just have to go on a non-busy day...if that's even possible.
At least my Sunday was more productive! I got to carve this beauty of a pumpkin with a new set of tools Mom graciously got for me. I only started to carve pumpkins last year, if you can believe that. I've gone pumpkin picking loads of times as a kid, but I never did carve them. Last year, I really only had a kitchen knife to work with. I got one carving tool last year for my second pumpkin, since the first one died before Halloween came. This year, I was prepared. The results? A pretty damn snazzy werewolf!
Believe me, I went through all of the jokes about me having a knife in my hands.
A VERY delicate process. The pumpkin carving gods were kind to me.
Trying to clean up the pattern.
I was worried about the pattern at first, but it came out really cool in the end. My hands hated me, however. I already have the pre-makings of carpal tunnel (I've been a video gamer since the toddler days, and I'm a child of the electronic era in general. Not to mention always having a book in my hands, and I am a typing machine...volleyball and lacrosse added to it too. So yeah, I would have that issue so early in my years). I may or may not carve another pumpkin, but if I do, I'll post pics of it!
Champions of Arrygn update! I finished last week with another new record: 13,328 total words. I really do feel like I'm reaching the end of this book. I have one more major event left to write, and then I will happily edit for the remainder of the year. Two huge books in 2013 is an accomplishment I didn't even expect to happen, and you bet that I will be celebrating! No matter what, I will be done writing book 3 by the birthday. It's not pressure; it's just a feeling. I certainly won't expect all of my first drafts to be done this quickly (I don't need that kind of pressure, heh). If it does happen again, I'll have the biggest grin plastered on my face for about a month.
Now, I'm off to the world of book 3. And to stuff my face with candy corn.
Monday, October 14, 2013
So. You're wondering why I'm doing a bit of a Q & A. The answer is simple: I've been asked certain questions so many times, and have seen whacky reactions all the time in regards to why I do what I do. I just thought it'd be nice to have everything in one place, just so I can say, refer to this entry. I'm not even joking. There are people who ask me if I'm insane because I "appear to be an intelligent young woman who can do anything she wants". My response? I just do this:
One learns fast that there are people who do NOT have a sense of humor. A shame, really.
Since I began to focus more on my writing, I've been following a lot of authors through their blogs and Facebook pages. I follow those of both of the writing worlds: traditional and self-publishing. The most noted self-publisher out there is J.A. Konrath. To someone like me, his blog is like the self-publishing bible. There are so many guest posts from people who successfully self-published their works, met the same struggles as the rest of us, and so on. Very recently, I came across a blog entry of Konrath's which includes a quiz. It basically determines whether or not you should be following the path that I have taken. I'll post it here, and the answers I've chosen will be bolded. I'll also give my explanation as to why I chose that answer (and yes, I'm being brutally honest). After that, I'll post the FAQ I've gotten since I really started living my writing life.
True Grit Writing Quiz
a) Two years
b) Five years
c) Ten years
d) I'll never give up
Why: For those who know me personally, they would tell you that I could always been seen with a notebook. I have drawers stacked with old notebooks of stories I've written down for years. My desk is covered with binders and stacks of book one and two drafts, as well as Writer's Digest magazines. I've got books all over the house telling me more about the industry, and books that helped me realize that I would prefer to self-publish. My mom works for a publishing company (it's really a textbook company, but the point being made here is that there are people working there that have given me great advice because they have self-published their works. It's also interesting to see how publishing in general works). I have a cousin who is also a writer. This is my life. I know this dream is possible, even when there are those who think I'm wasting my time and should be off running a company. You can try to crush and belittle me, but I will never stop writing.
How many rejections will you endure before you quit?
d) I'll never quit
Why: Rejections are a huge part of a writer's life. I've gotten a few already. Did I cry? Yeah. Did it stop me? Nope. When you find out about the awesome authors who were rejected time and time again (like J.K. Rowling for example), you just get more motivated. I don't have to be famous, you know. I just want my stories out there. Even if it takes my whole life to do it, I'm going to do it.
How many unpublished books will you write before you stop writing?
d) I'll never stop writing
Why: I have a lot of unfinished storylines, I'll admit. Technically, I never finished the series I'm currently working on (I uh, started college by then). I never finished the original book 2, which is now my book 3. When I finished Child of Blackwen, I proved to myself that I can really do this. I have some storylines that I actually don't want to be published; they're just for me. This question is kind of like the first one, and my answer will remain the same: I'm not quitting.
If you become published, how many hours will you spend promoting your work?
a) 5 hours a week
b) 10 hours a week
c) 20 hours a week
d) As many as it takes
Why: Again, this is my life. Self-publishing means that I must do everything myself; I'm a control-freak, so that's no problem. It's going to be difficult, however, but I'm not the type to shy away from something I really want. Let's just say I also have a pretty sweet manager who is really helpful too.
What are you willing to sacrifice in order to succeed?
b) Personal & vacation time
c) Time with friends & family
d) All of the above
Why: If I really think about it, I already did this. I moved over 2,000 miles away. Most of my family (both sides) lives in New York. I'm on crap terms with my father, so it's not as if I'm missing much there. My buddies? They're scattered all over the east. I don't even talk to most of them anymore; they have their lives, and I have mine. The whole thing about "those who matter will make themselves known"? Very true. You also learn which people to let go BECAUSE of the fact that you're so far away. It's life. I had my first taste of that when I left Woodhaven to Hoboken, and then more of it when I left Hoboken to Poultney in Vermont. As for out here, I do know a lot of people but I really hang out with a few. Those times are rare. I'm a recluse; that's never changed and I doubt it ever will. There's no volleyball out here in Santa Fe, and I'm not going to move out of the state so I can play the real thing again. I've accepted that I most likely never will. It goes for lacrosse too. I'm too poor to travel to the places I want to check out, but I'm not discouraged. I have a lot more patience than people give me credit for, and I know things will happen when they're supposed to. Dating and relationships? Very rare. Do I really care? Not as much as I used to. I'm also quite adept at frightening males away in that aspect. Sometimes without even trying. It's a gift, I suppose. If my being "odd" as well as a writer fails to fit in their "ideal" world, that's their problem, not mine. I've no shame there. And hey, I didn't give everything up. I still make time for my televised sports after all. I hike around now and then, with Shadow in tow. There are tons of events that happen here in Santa Fe, and I try to go to as many as I can. In essence, I do what I want. Writing makes me happy, and sometimes sacrifices have to be made. People do it all the time...why am I any different?
Why do you want to be a writer?
a) Artistic expression
b) Fame and notoriety
d) This career chose you
Why: You might not believe this, but I used to fight the idea of being a writer as a kid. I always loved books, and in 1st grade, I inspired my teacher to have a "create your own book" event because one day my aunt and I "made" a book. I wanted to share it with my classmates, and my teacher thought it was an awesome idea. When I found out I was leaving Woodhaven for Hoboken after elementary school, I wrote a story about a girl who was learning how to live in this new place. Mom stumbled upon it one day and said that I had something there. I wasn't serious about it, and kinda shrugged her off. When I was 13, I was sitting in the weight room (it was a "freebie" gym period in my freshman year because NO ONE used the machines at that time...it was just a time to hang out and chat with the teacher who was covering that period) with an empty notebook, thinking about how yet again I was dreaming about someone who first came to me at 11 years old (the age when I first moved to Hoboken). Just a hint: I named my dog after him. I started writing a story with him in it, and yet again, Mom stumbled upon it. You know what she said? "Mel, I know you don't think of writing as something you should do, but it'd be a real shame to let this story to go waste." From that day on, I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I understood how much I enjoyed writing stories, and another motivating factor was that I was having people who normally hated to read bug me about when I was going to let them read another story of mine. Then the "voices" came along. I can't remember a time after that where I didn't write a story "just for the hell of it". This is precious to me, and I have no intention of wasting this.
What is most important for writers?
Why: Perhaps it's just the former athlete speaking, but persistence is definitely the most important. Anyone can write. Anyone can take classes to perfect their craft. Luck? Make it yourself. Without the drive and persistence, everything else is useless. I'll admit that I have my lackadaisical moments...but the day I said to Mom that I want to focus on writing, I haven't been. I kid you not when there were times where I had friends FB message me, "Are we alive in that cave of yours?". I'm a workaholic. I'm relentless. I'm a perfectionist. Deadly combinations, but effective in their own right.
How much will you compromise your integrity to sell a book?
a) I won't ever compromise my integrity
b) I'll only make editing changes if I agree with them
c) I'll make most changes, but not all
d) Pay me and I'll change anything
Why: This is why I'll never make it in the world of traditional publishing. I am an editing maniac in my own right; I will not change what I feel is right to me. I will not change my story to what they think will sell, when it'll make me feel like I'm selling my soul to do it. That's not how I work, and it's another reason why I want to self-publish. I am open to suggestions; I'm not a brick wall, you know. I am stubborn as hell, but not all editing suggestions from the outside are evil. If I don't agree with them, you don't have a chance in hell in changing my mind. Compromises, however, can be achieved...to a point.
If people hate you and your book, you'll:
a) Be devastated and never write again
b) Be upset, and try to please them by any means possible
c) Shrug it off and keep doing what you want
d) Try to understand their points and learn from your mistakes
Why: As I said before, compromises can be achieved. If anything...there's always a pen name to write as. I should also share my high school yearbook quote: "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." - Cyril Connolly. I know I can make mistakes, and I can learn from them. And again...there's always a pen name. Just to stir the pot, so to speak. Otherwise, I'm sticking to my stuff.
If you work your whole life but never get published, will you consider it:
a) A waste of your life
b) A disappointment, but at least you tried
c) A bitter defeat
d) A success, because you did it your way
Why: I am the only one responsible for how my life works. I am the master of my fate. I do what I want, and this is what I want most. People don't understand that you can actually be happy doing what you want. You have to be brave in taking that step and not care about what people think about it. This is my life, and I will be able to answer the question without thought of whether or not I have any regrets when I'm on my deathbed. Could you say the same?
According to Konrath's scoring system, I have what it takes to walk this path. He also wrote this in his blog entry titled "Quitting":
"If all it did was rile you up, well, welcome to hell. I wish you much success.
I also recommend Prozac, alcohol, and lots of understanding friends."
I knew I chose a hard path. I know my limitations...I quit volleyball in my senior year of college of all things. My pissed off coach wrote to my mom in trying to understand why I had, when "it was supposed to be her year!". You can't always expect people to understand why you do the things you do, but this is what life is all about. You're supposed to do what makes you happy. Nothing in life is easy. If you spend so much time focusing on the fear...well, don't judge the rest of us who told fear to fuck off (sorry for the crudeness).
Now, onto the FAQ.
Q: Are you crazy? Why do this when you're capable of doing greater things?
A: I'm not crazy; I'm creatively insane. I am capable of "doing greater things", but writing IS considered a "greater thing" to me. This is my dream. I can't apologize for it not matching the dream YOU thought of for me.
Q: Why isn't your Mom trying to convince you to get a "real job"?
A: Well, perhaps because writing IS a real job. Yes, anyone can write. Not everyone can write WELL, however. Not everyone can be disciplined and focused enough to write a book. Hell, there are books out there that aren't even well done. Is that person happy though? Yeah, pretty much. I'm lucky where my Mom believes in my dream, and from day one she said she would support me in this. I actually did not take that offer the first time around after graduating college. I took that offer after the summer I left the Inn and Spa at Loretto. It's not as if I'm not helping her out while this is going on. There's also the fun little thing called a "part-time" job. Nonetheless, writing is a real job. Us BFA people are underappreciated.
Q: Why write fantasy/sci-fi? Isn't there something more interesting for someone like you?
A: It's my favorite genre. I love mythology, I love mysticism and magic, and I love the different kinds of creatures that come from the genre. I've written "just plain fiction" for classes before, and they bore me. I like reading fiction though, don't get me wrong. I know I've given the "scholarly" vibe to people, and I'm not insulted by that...I was just insulted when people tried to convince me to be a literary critic, or to write something that could be considered "literature". This makes me think back to my time at GMC and the various reactions of my English/Writing professors when I told them I was going to be a fantasy novelist. Devastation all around. I apparently did not "fit" whatever vision they conjured up of a fantasy writer...I guess I seemed "too normal". I got upset when there were those in my workshops who wrote fantasy shorts and got praised for it, whereas I was ridiculed for writing my fantasy worlds. There was only ONE professor who actually liked my fantasy creations, and he said then that I had potential. The one thing I can always say too is that my advisor, who thinks vampires are a complete cliché and I had no business writing about them, wanted me to finish the rest of my senior writing piece at my reading. Is there something more interesting for someone like me? Not when I can still make people want to hear a story that they normally would not be caught looking at, no.
Q: When are the books coming out? We've been waiting forever!
A: It hasn't been forever, but yes, even I am antsy about book releases. In traditional publishing, you would be waiting for ages because of the number of processes a manuscript goes through (not to mention the amount of people). For a first time author, it's even longer. I've chosen the route of self-publishing; it's taking longer than "expected" because I need to do this right. However...keep an eye out for book 1, Child of Blackwen, sometime in 2014.
Q: If you're going to self-publish, am I going to need to invest in a kindle?
A: Not necessarily. There are apps one can get to have the kindle reader on their computer and smartphone for when I do publish e-books, but there is a way for me to make hard copies for the "purists". It's an option I've been working on as well, so no need to worry.
Q: Can I read what you're working on?
A: No. Well, I'm sort of joking. I am considering readers for my stories, I just haven't picked or asked them yet. I have one right now, only because she knows all the versions of the storyline, but you must understand that not everyone can have this "privilege". It's a delicate matter, after all. I can tell you about my progress through my Facebook author page and my blog, but I will not be posting pieces of a story I'm planning on publishing...when I do publish and time goes on, I'm not going to object to sneak peeks. You're just going to have to be patient.
Q: How many stories do you have in that head of yours?
A: There's no definite number. This current series continues to grow, and even I have no idea how long it's going to be. Every time I thought I knew, something happens in the storyline to prove me wrong. I have a few more storylines to work on after the Artemis Ravenwing series, including my senior piece. I'll be writing forever.
Q: Do you think you'll be lucky for movie deals and all that jazz?
A: Eh, it doesn't matter if it happens or not. I don't care if I get famous or not. I don't think I even want to think of all that right now, heh.
Any questions you have that I have not already answered, feel free to ask. Just thought I should set the record straight.
Monday, October 7, 2013
The house is semi-done with Halloween decorations, the "Halloween-a-thon" of movies has begun, and my costume should be arriving tomorrow (maybe even today!). I can't say this enough: I love this time of year! This will be the first Halloween in this house too, and for once we can expect trick-or-treaters! I am excited.
Another exciting thing as of late is the amazing progress of book 3. Mom jokingly said once that I would be done with book 3 in three months and considering my word counts lately, she could be right. I'm technically in my second FULL month of creation, since I only started writing in the last two weeks of August. I finished last week with 9,780 words total, and the rough draft has now broken the 60,000 word mark. My café day last week gave me a total of 2,978 words (I'm enjoying this new tradition!). I've reached the point where I just shove the worries of "new territory" away by constantly reminding myself that I am an editing maniac no matter what I do, and whatever I don't like I can do away with. I already know I'm going to go through some extensive editing BECAUSE this book is new territory for me, so there's no limit to my madness this time around (not there was much of a limit to my madness beforehand, but after a while you try to avoid molding to the "norm" of how things are supposed to be done). That seems to be working with each writing session, heh heh heh. Truthfully, even if I do not finish within the time frame of my Mom's prediction, I will still be proud of myself for doing as much as I have with this book. I can say for sure though that I will be done with this book before the year is over (I very much feel that I have made it to the halfway mark last week). I can imagine the fun responses when I say, "Yes, I wrote two books in 2013!".
I can also admit that this kind of progress can be credited to my new villain, the raven familiar. He is soooooooo much fun to write. He's a scheming manipulative bastard for sure, but I can't help but keep writing as him. Perhaps it is because I can relate to him in some aspects (like some parts of his motivation for being "evil"), and perhaps it is because he is the best outlet for the moments where certain people annoy and infuriate me. I also enjoy having him bicker with the fox familiar character; I love a battle of the tricksters. I guess you can tell that while I greatly enjoy battles of the sword (hello action movies and television shows!), the battle between intellectuals are far more intriguing and dangerous (*cough* Tyrion Lannister is a favorite *cough*). I am a fan of the ideal that the pen, or quill, is mightier than the sword. This is where someone will tell you that when I hit a moment of silence during an argument, you should be VERY afraid for what words are said afterwards by me. People are more afraid of me by my "word-lashing" than a physical smack by the volleyball hand. I guess it's just the "raven queen" in me. ;)
As for the publication of book 1...keep the fingers crossed and send me all your luck that it will happen sometime in 2014. I am far more determined for it to happen then (I'm really focusing on the construction of the series right now). It's as Imagine Dragons like to sing: "It's time to begin, isn't it?". It's true that you can never have enough research for a subject, but it's definitely time. Money is a big thing here as well, but I know everything will all work out despite my poor bank account. I got reminded recently that money tends to stop people from living, and you know...I don't like being in that hole. It's true sometimes, but it's also a cop-out. When you really want something to happen, the universe tends to help you out (prime example is how much I've gotten done since the day I said, "Yes, I am going to focus solely on writing!"). I even have a name for my publishing house once I self-publish (you have NO idea how difficult it is to come up with a name that really describes you and your work in a few selective words)! *wink wink* So yes, keep the fingers crossed for me!
In other news, my college volleyball teammate is getting married!! Yay! My night was made the other day when I found an envelope from her where she wrote this: "Misty (May) Rodriguez". "Misty" has been a nickname of mine since elementary school (NOT from Pokémon, but it stuck more during that era when people said that I looked like her, and even more when I did have red hair), but it kind of stuck around during my volleyball years. When I joined lacrosse, I made it known that "Misty" cannot be used anymore (I stuck to the usual "Mel" by then...I wanted a fresh start after the "dark period" of that fall semester). At this point in my life, I only let high school people, college volleyball teammates and college friends/fellow sports peeps before the senior year debacle call me by my nickname. At the rare moments of dating, I made it clear that they were not allowed to call me that either. This particular teammate is one of the few who actually addressed me as Misty May (Mom does it too once in a while), my volleyball idol who is now retired. The little things like that still bring a smile to my face, even though being called by that nickname has become a rarity now. I've just stuck to using it as my gaming name (speaking of which, I need to resurrect the Wii and get back to my Zelda games).
I'll be spending a lot more time with the book this week, as I am also creating character profiles in my traveling notebook. It's getting to the point that I'm forgetting how certain phrases go and it's just easier to reference back to a notebook for things rather than going back to the electronic versions of the books. Workaholic Mel is back, ladies and gents!