Monday, February 24, 2014

Writer Recharge Update #2 & TBG Author Interview: Jennifer Walkup!

So I'll just say right now that I pretty much failed at my goals last week.  I only managed to get on the treadmill once before I had to take the rest of the week off since my foot has been killing me because I need to buy a proper pair of exercise shoes and as for my WIP, I only touched it once and the whole process felt like pulling teeth, ugh.  So I decided to take a short break on that project and focus my attention on one of my new YA Horror ideas I've been playing around with and on Saturday I managed to write the first 1,263 of the story and actually enjoyed the process this time-ha, imagine that! :)

In other news, here's an interview I did with Jennifer Walkup, author of SEOND VERSE, for your reading pleasure!

When Jennifer Walkup isn’t writing or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and young sons, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and coming up with costume ideas for Halloween. She’s obsessed with good coffee and new recipes and likes broccoli on her pizza, flowers in her hair, flip-flops on her feet, and the number 13. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review and teaches creative writing at The Writers Circle. Second Verse is her first novel.

1) How did you first come to the realization that you wanted to be a writer and then later when you decided to pursue publication?
Hi there! I’ve been writing forever, since I was a kid, and then through high school and college. I published a few short stories over the years, but it wasn’t until after I had my kids that I started to think about writing novels and dipping my toes in the book publishing waters.

2) How did you come up with the idea for SECOND VERSE? Did it just come to you, or was it more of a gradual progression?
Like most stories, SECOND VERSE went through a bazillion drafts and changes before becoming the final book it is today. It was definitely a progression. My early drafts are very exploratory. There are a few plot threads that may still be there from the early ideas, but not many. I write a lot of drafts and things often change quite drastically. As for where the idea for the novel came from, it did start with a teeny kernel of an idea, inspired in part by the anniversary of the death of a very famous musician (it’s a long story, and I have it posted on my site!second-verse-extras/c1yhf). I don’t want to give too much away, but I started asking myself lots of questions about what is here besides us, and what happens to us after all this. And it wasn’t just my take on these things that inspired me, but also weighing all the different ways people think about these things.

3) What were the most difficult and best parts of writing SV?
The best and worst parts are often the same for me – figuring the story out. Writing is hard work some days, and completely blissful others. There is no better feeling than the rush of figuring out plot twists or having things unravel in a way that works to tie plotlines together. But other times, getting to know my characters, or figuring out the best way to plot the mystery – keeping it suspenseful, not giving too much away, keeping people guessing – can be challenging. But even with the challenges, on a good writing day, it feels like you’re on top of the world.

4) What did your friends and family think when you told them you were writing SV?
My family has always stood behind me and been really supportive. Second Verse is my fifth novel written (though my first published), so they’ve been through the crazy, fun, 0and hectic ride with me for many novels before this one.

5) What was your journey to publication for SV?
I had been working on my young adult thriller, Second Verse, for a few years. I was in a unique position because I had just parted ways with my agent around the time Second Verse was really ready for editors. I had to decide – did I want to query agents again or did I want to query editors directly? After some soul searching and research, I decided on the latter. And I’m glad I did!

6) What was your reaction and what did you do to celebrate when your agent offered you representation and then later when you found out SV was going to be published?
I was really excited, but it was surreal. After writing and trying to publish for years, it felt like I was being punked! Luckily, I wasn’t.:) I think I celebrated with something small, like champagne at home after I signed my contract. But I think writers should celebrate everything they can. Writers face so much rejection, so I think it’s really important to take the time to appreciate every positive thing along the way: a good review, an award, nice emails from readers.

7) Where do you draw your inspiration from while you are writing? For example, do you listen to music while you write or sit outside?
Unfortunately I don’t have a ton of free time to write, so I try and sneak in a few hours no matter where I am. Optimally, I love being anywhere in nature. A quiet cabin in the woods, surrounded by trees is my absolute ideal, and I love writing at the beach too. But, mostly, I’m sitting on my couch or at my dining room table. I don’t listen to music while writing, but I do often listen to it before sitting down to write or revise, especially if I’m feeling distracted by life and need to reconnect with the story before working. I have my playlist for Second Verse posted on my site:!second-verse-extras/c1yhf

8) How do you stay motivated to write? Even though you are now a published author, have you ever wanted to give up? And if so, how did you pull yourself back from the "edge"?
It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes! Some stories and some drafts come really easily, but even then, it’s work. I have to set a schedule and stick to it. I’m one of those write-every-day writers. I find if I skip a day or two, it’s really hard to get back into my story and my characters. Writing is hard, because we only have ourselves to keep us on track. So it’s basically just BIC (Butt In Chair), and putting one word after another. And yes, I’ve definitely considered giving up (who hasn’t?), but the writer part of me doesn’t like being dormant, and I can’t go too long without storytelling in some form. It’s who I am! I think the best way to come back from the “edge” is to write something I love just for me. If I’m not thinking about publishing it, and maybe not even thinking about anyone else ever reading it, it often releases the pressure, and just lets me do what I love: be creative and tell a story.

9) Tell us about your writing habits: where you write, when you write, how much you write, etc.
I typically try for mornings, because I’m most efficient then, before the hectic-ness of daily life gets in the way of my creative thinking. I find if I can carve out two or three solid hours in the morning, I can usually manage 1500-2000 words, sometimes less, sometimes more (it’s usually about a chapter or so). When that happens, it’s enough for me to consider the day a writing win, and little enough that I don’t get overloaded or burned out.

10) What is your writing process like?
I don’t really have one. I write many, many drafts of my novels (I don’t outline). So it’s basically just write and then rewrite and then rewrite and so on.

11) What kind of atmosphere do you prefer to write in, calm or chaos?
Calm. Definitely.

12) Now that you're a published author and a more experienced writer, what advice would you give to your unpublished self?
Don’t give up. Keep writing. (And reading as much as possible, too!)

13) Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?
I’m working on the sequel to SECOND VERSE. It’s expected out in about a year or so! Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

No, thank you, Jennifer! :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Writer Recharge Update #1

Hi Everyone!

Last week went better than expected with my goals for Writer Recharge (and it really helped knowing that I would be held accountable by this challenge)! True, I didn't write 500 words everyday or work out every other day like I had planned to, but by the 14th I did manage to reach a little over 12k words on my WIP, so yay for that! :) This week I want to continue working out and writing until I reach 15K! Wish me luck!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Writer Recharge 2014: Goals!

Hi Friends!

Last month was terribly unproductive for me in that I had an awful, kill-me-now case of the flu that lasted literally all. month. LONG. But now that I'm finally on the mend I thought this would be the perfect time to join Writer Recharge 2014 and whip my writing butt into shape!

I was supposed to post my goals for the month last week, but since I came a little late to the party, I'll post them today:
1. Write 500 words on my WIP everyday
2. Walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes every other day

So there you have it.  I want to keep my goals simple and attainable, and I think I'll be able to do just that with these!

Excited to get started and join in on the fun! Good luck with your own goals this week! :)


Monday, October 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo, HolNoWriMo, and NaNoWriMo Bootcamp!

Long time no see, readers!

In just 11 days time, one of my favorite writing challenges of the year will kick off with a frenzy...NaNoWriMo!  I love everything about this challenge: The community, the incredibly tight deadline, and the idea that hundreds of other insane like-minded fellow writers are going to be right there with me as we all pound out as many words as humanly possible everyday for 30 days. 

I've competed in this challenge for the past 5 years (since 2008) and I still have yet to win!  Every year I say the same thing: This year is going to be different.  This year I'm going to win, dammit, no matter what it takes! And every year, when that doesn't happen, I feel like a total failure and just plain blah about myself and my writing and this year I really want to try and break that vicious cycle and try to not be so hard on myself and just have fun! 

And let's be honest, while NaNo is always a ton of fun, it's also a ton of work and I-like everyone else, I'm sure-don't always have the time, energy, and a lot of times the enthusiasm it takes to attempt to write 50k words in only 30 days on top of trying to juggle family, school, the holidays, and all those other day-to-day tasks that I'm still expected to complete every day (such as sleep, showering, eating, etc. You know, just the necessities, no biggie, right?).  So, with that mind, I wanted to let you know about an alternative to NaNo called: Holiday Novel Writing Months (aka HolNoWriMo) with Anne Riley! 

The idea behind HolNoWriMo is that instead of trying to write 50k in 30 days, you'll write 61, from November 1-December 31!  Awesome, right?  It sounds so fun and it also sounds like a lot less pressure, which I'm totally down with!  So while I'm still competing in NaNo (Add me as a buddy, if you feel so inclined!) I'll also be competing in HolNoWriMo at the same time, which means that this year for NaNo I can take my time (well, sort of) since I'll have a whole extra month to write my first draft, yay! :)

And last but not least, I give you NaNoWriMo Bootcamp with Susan Dennard!  There's already a flourishing group over there on the forum and some great writing advice on Susan's blog, so, (along with NaNo and HolNoWriMo), go check it out!

Getting excited! :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's Up Monday

What I'm Reading 
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare as well as a few writing craft books.

What I'm Writing
I haven't written anything in a few weeks, mostly because of doubt and fear that I'm not working on the right story idea/that I'm not going to do it justice, but I have managed to keep up with my non-writing goals, which are:

Read/take notes on 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron
Last week, I used One Hour Plot to plot out my YA Horror WIP and even though there are still quite a few plot holes to figure out, I feel like I have things a little more figured out just from doing that one little exercise, so yay!
What Else I've Been Up To
Honestly, nothing really except gearing up for school, daydreaming about/plotting my next WIP, and enjoying the rest of my summer vacation!

What Inspires Me Right Now
 Not surprisingly, T.V. and movies have continued to provide a ton of inspiration! Recently I started watching The White Queen on Starz and it's sooooo addictive!  I've also been pleasantly surprised to learn that I've become a fan of Charles Dickens (well, not of the books but of the movie/T.V. adaptions, anyway!) my two favorites so far have been a T.V. adaption of Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood!
Until next time,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Review: 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD

10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis is one of those “right time, right place, lifesaver” books, and I’m not sure what I would have done without it over the past month.

One day almost a month ago my boyfriend texted he’d just taken a screening for ADD, scoring a 41 on a test where 35 is considered severe. I’d taught kids with ADD so it wasn’t a new concept and thanks to the commercials adult ADD was at least on my radar. But that was as far as my knowledge went, so my first (and worst) move was to Google “dating someone with adult ADD.”

A few days’ worth of panic attacks later I did what I should have done from the very start. I turned to books. When I found 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis its rating wasn’t the highest or the lowest, and it didn’t have the most reviews or the least. The cover was simple, lost among the striking statement covers on either side, but something about the hummingbird on the cover compelled me to take a closer look.

The back cover made it sound like one of those self-help books where ministers claim in 10 easy steps they can cure someone of being gay, but I liked the hummingbird so I downloaded the sample anyway. Five minutes later I was waiting for the full thing to down load because… the person Stephanie described in the Intro was my boyfriend (even though in reality it was some woman named Sarah). I finished it that night.

The book itself is tiny, more a pamphlet with delusions of grandeur than a true book, but the information inside more than made up for any size issues 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADD might have had.

I think in the beginning the boyfriend agreed to give it a try because he knew it would make me happy, but like me by the time he finished Sarah’s story he was hooked.

Now we read a couple chapters a night, and it's a really helped both of us. Thanks to Stephanie he's realized he isn’t alone, I found out a lot of new things about him, and we both got a lot of really great coping strategies for his ADD.

He spent an entire hour saying “I do that too,” “that’s me,” and “I always wondered why I did that…” I learned why his phone is constantly buzzing, why he repeats everything back to me, and why he is so easy to excite. We both discovered “Plan B,” which in this case has nothing to do with birth control. This Plan B is where a person with ADD has a cleaning buddy who comes over whenever they clean for the soul purpose of handing them trash bags, labeling boxes, and plugging in the vacuum, and for the first time in as long as I’ve known him his apartment is actually clean and organized.

The truth is there are no "simple solutions" to adult ADD, or to loving someone with adult ADD. I once told someone the quote I've come across time after time about being in a relationship with someone with adult ADD "it's like having another kid," and their reply was "except they're an adult so you have to accept that they can be like a kid but still treat them like an adult." It's something I struggle with everyday, and Stephanie's book has been the one thing that has really helped us both find a balance. It helps us both make sure he has the tools he needs so that neither of us have to feel like I'm the care giver in our relationship.

So please, if you have adult ADD, think you might have adult ADD, or know of someone who has adult ADD, please, read this book. If you have adult ADD it might help you the way it's helping him, and if you know someone who has adult ADD it may help you to see what their life is like. It's made more of a positive difference in my life than any other book I've ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

What's Up Thursday

What I'm Reading 
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare as well as a few writing craft books.

What I'm Writing
So, as I do every week since I decided to join Ready Set. Write!, my intention has always been to set small, yet manageable goals, but lately, even reaching those goals has become difficult.  Because of this, I've decided to readjust my goals yet again by taking a step back from my current WIP and instead focusing on reading some books dedicated to the craft of writing and if any actual writing ends up happening in the midst of that, then great, but if not, then that's okay too.

Now, here are my Ready. Set. Write! goals for (the rest of) this week, August 7-11:
What Else I've Been Up To
Honestly, nothing really except gearing up for school, daydreaming about/plotting my next WIP, and enjoying the rest of my summer vacation!

What Inspires Me Right Now
All the great YA book-to-movie adaptions coming out soon, such as: City of Bones, Vampire Academy, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, and If I Stay! :)

Until next time,