Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015!


 *Puddle Scintillations, New Year's Eve, Japan

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Patience for Wings


 
  Sarah Page  © 2014

I took this photograph this December in the gorgeous butterfly conservatory in the Natural History Museum. I love this picture because it's like watching a paper dream peeling away from a page into reality. I've been waiting for my own ink dreams to gain their wings all year. In 2014, I completed two manuscripts, neither of which are currently ready for submission. But you know what? I'm okay with that; the process of revision brings me a little closer each day. Patience for the process is my best ally and also my impetuous nature's greatest foe.

I just keep believing in a wing-ful of sky. Ink on, folks.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shrine time



This November, I've been insanely busy revising an insufferable novel and battling a most annoying cold. In between the bleeding ink and sniffles, I was fortunate enough to take a break and visit a gorgeous shrine in Sasaguri with friends. The daily mundanities of being human are easily overwhelming. That's why it's important to remember how essential it is to occasionally allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the other-worldly, the ethereal, to meditate on the spirituality of nature and ourselves.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The good kind of writer's block

I took one acting class as an undergraduate and was made keenly aware of the fact that I can't act. 

However, I did learn one very important theater term that has helped me in my writing endeavors, and that is "blocking." 

In essence, blocking refers to how actors move and are positioned on a stage. Where are they standing in a room? What are they doing in that space? 

Blocking also refers to the posture and gestures used by an actor. For example, you can display the character trait of laziness through a slouch, or nervousness through hands that are never still and fingers twisting together. Proper use of body language sets the mood of a scene. 

I believe blocking is a useful concept for writers because it's easy to get bogged down in lines of dialogue without having concrete references to what characters are actually doing in the space they occupy while conversing with other characters. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! How I became a "yokai sponsor."


 A dear friend, let's call her "Bridget," sent me a hilarious Halloween card. We are both big fans of the anime series "Natsume's Book of Friends" based on the manga by Yuki Midorikawa. It's a marvelous story about a boy who can see and interact with the spirit or "yokai" world. One of the bittersweet themes of this series is that the yokai world is being diminished by humanity's loss of homage and belief in the spiritual or supernatural.

However, upon finding a gecko charm that looks eerily similar to the lizard yokai that lives on the character Shuuichi Natori, Bridget came up with an ingenious solution: become a yokai sponsor!

In addition to sending me the pictured gecko charm, Bridget included a personal address:

Dear Reader,

Every day thousands of yokai around the world go hungry. Faithless masses no longer believe in the mystical while delinquent youths deface shrines. This behavior has become so rampant that the Soul Umami Philanthropic Phantoms of Entity Relations (S.U.P.P.E.R.) pronounced that this century is looking to be the "worst yet." But you can help right now. As a yokai sponsor you can make the world a more magical place. Please show your support for your friendly yokai neighbors by wearing this snuggle yokai charm which will channel a small portion of your positive energy to a friendly yokai near you whenever you dream.

Sincerely,

Ifrit Drekavac,
President of the Yokai Menu of Friends Foundation


*Personally, I think there is enough fun stuff packed in this paragraph to start another story. Happy Halloween, mina (that's Japanese for "everyone")!


Pumpkin lantern on Nokonoshima Island

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inkmanity



 Growing up, what did you learn about humanity from your ink companions?


From Taran Wanderer, I learned humility and persistence
From Nancy Drew, I learned that girls can be clever problem-solvers
From the Black Stallion I learned the glory of wildness
From Anne of Green Gables, I learned to treasure a runaway imagination
From Galadriel, I learned grace of character
From Lucy Pevinse, I gained the courage to believe. 




Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Review of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen


I’ve decided to review one of my very favorite works, As a man thinketh by James Allen.  First off, it’s free! You can download it from Amazon Kindle. It is a gem of philosophical ponderings on the ineluctable nexus between our thoughts and actions. (You may find the language a little dated/dense at times, as it was published at the dawn of the twentieth century.)

In a nutshell, Allen contends that every single thought we have shapes our circumstances in life to one degree or another. All thoughts, from base to pure “crystallize” into some future action, habit or impact on our character and connections with others. Thus, persistently taking command of our better thoughts and winnowing out unkind, detrimental habits of thinking allows us to transform our destiny, or our way of interacting with the world and viewing it in a positive light:

As Allen asserts, “The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colours, which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.”

With newsfeeds overflowing with gloom n’ doom clickbait about society’s failings, I think Allen’s admonition to cultivate the purest, kindest part of our mind is especially relevant. Because I believe that only by nurturing that part of our self can we learn to more easily see and celebrate it in others.

Allen argues, “Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts; your Vision, your Ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration…”

I would recommend this book to everyone, but especially writers! Thoughts are the foundation of our craft—and also our own undoing. Too easily, we fall prey to debilitating fears of failure that scatter our creative will. Yet Allen explores failure not as a shameful weakness, but as an essential opportunity to forge a new, stronger character. He also reminds us of the worth of dreamers, asserting:

 “The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trails . . . are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows them as the realities it shall one day see and know.”

But the following passage is perhaps my favorite excerpt from Allen’s work, because it reminds me of the eager ink beauty just waiting for me to quill it into being: 

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soil a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Interview with an artist: Heather Monson

This October, I am very excited to interview Heather Monson, who has many talents in art and theater, including costume designing!

Wood Witch

How did you first become interested in making costumes? (or is the term cosplay?)

Both terms are correct, depending on what you mean. Making costumes is just what it says. Cosplay is wearing costumes and playing the characters to whom the costumes correspond. It's a Japanese-katakana-abbreviation of "costume play."

As for how I became interested in it... I attended a panel introducing the basics of costuming at "Life, the Universe, and Everything: the Marion K. "Doc" Smith Memorial Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy" (commonly called LTUE). This was just a few months after LotR:FotR came out. I decided to make some Middle Earth-ish cloaks. Once they were done, I decided to attempt a dress that crossed costume elements I loved from LotR costuming with costume elements I loved from "The Princess Bride" costuming. And, from there, I was completely hooked.

 Whisper

What kinds of costumes have you made for yourself and others, and where have you worn them?

Oh, goodness. I've built costumes for a variety of local theatre productions, and have worn a few of my own creations onstage. I've made costumes for local small independent films and trailers. I've made a lot of costumes (film-based and original), for myself and others, for conventions. Quite a few of my costume creations have been for live action roleplay games (LARPs). The LARP creations are probably my favorites, as they aren't just costumes. They are what that character wears (and, in the case of LARP weapons, which I also build, what the character uses to defend himself/herself). LARP gear must be very sturdy and functional, in addition to being attractive and out-of-the-ordinary.

 Poseidon Rising and Desert Sun

Making costumes is very time-consuming. Can you describe the personal rewards of finishing a new piece?

It's the same as writing a story, capturing a poem, creating a painting, etc. Being able to look at something and say, "that exists because I made it" is, in many ways, its own reward.

Other rewards... When I'm sewing for other people, I love seeing their reactions when I deliver the finished pieces. One friend in particular has a face that lights up like a little kid's face at Christmas when I show him a new costume. After the initial reaction, he proceeds to notice and admire all the details, try things on, admire the overall effect, and thank me profusely for my hard work. Thanks to his reactions, he's one of my very favorite people to sew for. I love giving people a chance to step into another character, another perspective, another world.

And the rewards don't end there. At conventions, it's fun to be stopped by people wanting a picture. At Halloween, it's fun to be the person everyone in the office is trying to beat (and, in all fairness, usually succeeding--but somehow I'm still the standard they want to beat). When larping, the garb I made myself really helped me to inhabit the characters I played, and to be very comfortable (in all kinds of terrain and weather) doing it.

This might sound a bit odd, but I love how costuming allows me to combine the love of art I got from my mom with the love of math (yes, math--I suck at everything beyond Algebra II, but it still fascinates me) and things that are built well that I got from my dad into an end result that can be worn and used and enjoyed.

 Arwen Mourning Gown

In other words, how do you feel when you can inhabit a character’s persona?

I enjoy getting absorbed into the character, so I suppose you could say I feel what the character would be feeling. Wearing what the character would wear helps make the experience immersive (which the spellchecker thinks is not a word, but it should be, darn it). How absorbed I get depends a lot on circumstance. For example, onstage in a play or as part of a larp event, I can get thoroughly immersed in the character. At conventions, it's a much more superficial creation of the role, as I need to fill a lot of functions besides just portraying whomever-I'm-dressed-to-portray.

 Sepiroth and Aerith

What advice would you give people who are interested in learning how to make their own costumes?

Get started, and be very, very forgiving of your early attempts. Learning to costume is the same as learning any other skill. You'll improve tremendously with time and practice.

Don't be afraid to use your imagination. If the pattern doesn't do what you want it to do, change it, or set it aside and make up your own.

Also, when using commercial patterns, check your measurements against the pattern measurements BEFORE you cut your nice fabric. Hardly any of us are shaped exactly to the pattern's measurements, and the pattern's measurements aren't always accurate. Make any adjustments you need to make when you're working with tissue paper, not when you're working with fabric.

 Jester Costume

What would your dream costume be?

lol That changes several times a year. At the moment, with full time work and new parenthood eating up all my time (though I very much love and appreciate both), my costuming dream is just to get caught up on existing projects.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Copacetic

                                           Figure 1: Ceramic creature, species leafkin copaceticus 

"Copacetic." I've never heard anyone but my father use this word, but I'd like to hear it spoken more often considering its fine, no, its completely satisfactory, very good, even excellent definition
For several years during my childhood, each week my mother would compile 25 words in the dictionary for me to look up. I had to write each word down 3 times, look up its definition, and then use it in a sentence. 

Copacetic. Copacetic. Also Copasetic. 

As in, "Life is copacetic as long as I have my pint of Death by Chocolate."

American slang for something that is "in excellent order." 









Friday, September 12, 2014

Celebratory Fireworks!



Hurrah! I just finished novel #2 this year! I think fireworks are in order, don't you? All right, so I am pretending the dreaded revision beast won't come after me (insert shudder). Its running scarlet ink makes a Jabberwocky seem like a cuddly kitten!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wing Fall


 Life. 
Unlife. 
Silk and flutter dropping colors.
Twin dreaming panes on hot summer asphalt 
I (almost) crushed underfoot. 
Now sorrow for grace undone,
Marvel for what remains. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Interview with an Artist: Debbie Barr

This August, I am very excited to interview Debbie Barr, who works in the bookselling industry at 4 Kids Books and Toys, and is also a writer and artist herself. 


As you are both an artist and a writer, do you find balancing different kinds of creativity essential to your process of inspiration, or is it a constant tug-of-war game?

The big struggle between my writing and other creative pursuits is time. I think it’s probably that way with everyone who enjoys multiple creative outlets. Some days I wish for an extra hour (or seven!) to get everything done, but I just have to make do with what time I have. I do think that my crafting side can complement my writing side, but I have to be careful because I will definitely let my other hobbies take over. For me, writing is work and crafting is pure fun, so there has to be a balance there.


How has working in the children’s book market affected your perspective on creativity in literature? How has it challenged you to evolve as a writer?

I absolutely think my work as a bookseller has changed my outlook! The big thing is that I now read much more widely (at least among the children’s and young adult genre) than I used to. Every writer needs to read, and I think it’s important to know what’s selling in your genre right now. On the other hand, it’s also wise to take a step back out of your typical genre and read something else, so you don’t become too entrenched in the tropes and styles of what you like to read.

In other ways, though, it can be challenging. The downside to being so aware of the industry side of things is that sometimes I get much too focused on the business of publishing, which can be depressing. It’s hard to see an industry I love and care so much about struggling in many ways. But in the end, if you want to be a writer you need to write because you love it, you need to write for yourself, and if you can focus on your passion the rest doesn’t matter as much.

(You can purchase these awesome Pi and Cherry Pie earrings at her etsy shop!)

Who is an artist and/or writer that inspires you, and why?

There are so many writers I admire, it’s difficult to choose just one! So I’ll mention two:
First of all, I am a big Shannon Hale fan. She has an incredible way with her prose, especially her metaphors, which I can’t help but admire every time I read her work. One of the things I love most about Shannon, though, is that she hasn’t been afraid to write true to herself. She has hopped genres, written books for all ages, done sequels, stand-alones, you name it! I love that she is a writer who has let herself grow over time, and I think that is hugely admirable.

As an adult I have come to love Kate DiCamillo and her work. I am thrilled that she is now the children’s literature ambassador! She is incredibly humble and I admire that she got her start a little later in her life. She also has written with some variety, but I think what I admire most about her work is her characters, who are always unique and flawed, yet incredibly relatable to readers of all ages. Each of her novels manages to capture some aspect of childhood perfectly, and I feel like almost everyone who has read her books has loved at least one of them.


How do you overcome fallow spells in creativity and regain the courage to create again?

Honestly, this last one was a difficult question for me to answer, mostly because I’ve been in a low spell for some time now. I think for me, as I mentioned above, you have to focus on the story, why it’s important to you, and why you love to write. I also think you need to learn when to say goodbye to a project and start on something new. The excitement of a new story can always get me back into writing!

Also, I have a lot of fear that I hold onto sometimes when I want to write. Fear that it’s going to be bad. Fear that I’ll never get published. Fear that no one will like my stories. But in the end, that fear makes all of those things happen. So don’t be afraid! The best part about writing is that everything is fixable, nothing is permanent, and you can always try again, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made.

I know you didn’t ask, but I wanted to leave you with a few books to recommend to your readers! It’s what I do. Here are some of my favorites from this year:

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd: My favorite middle grade read of the year, a contemporary story with just a hint of magic. The main character is also a word collector, so it’s a great read for writers!

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: I read this as an early ARC a few months ago, and I’m still thinking about it. A practically perfect contemporary teen novel, about love in all its forms (except for triangles, thank goodness). Definitely for an older teen crowd, but I see a lot of adults enjoying this one, too.

Incarnate, Asunder, and Infinite by Jodi Meadows: If you haven’t read Incarnate yet, drop what you’re doing and go read it right now! I loved this YA fantasy trilogy, which follows a society of people who have been reincarnated for 5,000 years—that is, until Ana arrives, a new soul, and no one is sure what to do with her. They’re fantastic, and every book in the trilogy was excellent.


*You can see more of Debbie's work at:

Nerd Goddess Jewelry - Support your inner geek
https://www.etsy.com/shop/nerdgoddess


Monday, August 11, 2014

Sunday Rain Blossom


Sometimes, I look at the world and my eyes trace necklaces of words in dew-beaded cobwebs, and entire books shivering in a tree's leaves. I am quite certain that the glow of this Sunday rain blossom contains a singular word of perfection. Now, if only I could take less blurry pictures to capture its ethereal glimmer! I have always loved the scripture verse found in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word . . ." I could well imagine that this flower was that very word once! For as the venerable poet William Blake contends, one may find "a world in a grain of sand" (Fantasia!), and "Heaven in a wildflower."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Glory of Kabocha Squash Pancakes

Cinderella can keep her pumpkin coach, give me kabocha! I recently discovered the Japanese pumpkin and my taste buds have fallen in love with its creamy, rich texture. It is a type of scrumptious squash that can be made into all sorts of dishes, from cheesecake and pudding to pancakes and stir fries. It is also possible to buy kabocha in America, although I am not sure how easy it is to find.

I used this wonderful kabocha squash pancake recipe as my guide while adding generous dashes of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon as I am a tad spice-crazed and didn't have a pumpkin spice packet. I also didn't have rolled oats so I used pancake flour.

Step 1: Peel and cut kabocha. You can actually eat the green skin because it is so tender and thin, I just didn't want it in my pancakes. Clean out any seeds at center.

Step 2: Steam kabocha until you can easily push your fork through the slices.


Step 3: Blend and/or mash the kabocha, and then mix in all the other ingredients.



Step 4: Pour the batter. Add more oats or flour if the batter is too runny.



Step 5: Add maple syrup and enjoy!

*Note: I've heard that the smaller kabocha are tastier. I shall have to do more testing to find out for myself!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Serpents and Scintillations



As a writer, sometimes I feel like that cursed fairytale damsel who spits nothing but warty toads and slimy eels and snakes from her mouth when she was hoping for rubies and pearls. (But easy diamonds come with their own curses; read Gail Carson Levine’s delightful The Fairy’s Mistake for that tale.) I will keep inking deep for my scintilla! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Interview with Author Janci Patterson

This July, I am very excited to be interviewing author Janci Patterson about the creative process behind her new novel, Everything’s Fine, and the drive to keep on inking!


1. Everything’s Fine is in part based on your own real-life experiences. How does this affect your process of inspiration? Did this make writing the novel more or less difficult than Chasing the Skip?

To be clear, here are the things in Everything’s Fine that are based on my life:

1) My little sister played softball. She really did have a blue tape square (though it was on the garage, not the fence) to represent a strike zone for pitching practice. To me, softball sounds like a ball hitting a wooden garage door at high speeds over and over and over.

2) I had depression in high school. Some of Haylee’s behavior is based on that, but not much. 

3) I also had best friends, and we were at once awful and awesome to each other, as happens when you’re that age. 

4) Mr. Craig is based on my favorite high school teacher, whose first name is Craig.

5) Some of Kira’s observations about the funeral are based on stories my husband told me about his brother who died at nineteen. I stole outright the story of the rewritten poem at the grave--that really happened sometime around his brother’s death.

That’s it. So I wouldn’t say that this book was based on my life. More that I pull details from life, and make up the narrative. That’s what makes it fiction. There are certainly more true life details in EVERYTHING’S FINE than there were in CHASING THE SKIP. I think that’s mostly a factor of me actually having been in high school, but never having been on the road with a bounty hunter. I also drafted the first version of EVERYTHING’S FINE much earlier in my writing career, when I still had some stories of my own to use, and didn’t have to make everything up.


2. Who is a writer that inspires you and why? 

I’ve recently been reading and re-reading Stephanie Perkins’ ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR. She’s a master of getting emotion on the page.


3. How do you overcome fallow spells in creativity and regain the courage to create?

I’m extremely pragmatic about creativity. I have a job. I show up to work. I don’t let myself off the hook for not showing up to work. If all I have in me that day is crap, I write the crap, but I don’t just skip it. That’s about all there is to it. I’ve gotten better and better at this over the years. These days I have a hard time even taking Sundays off (which I do for religious reasons), because the habit is so ingrained.

Everyone told me that writing would be so much harder after I had my first child, but I actually write much more now, because having a toddler who will happily soak up all my time and attention is a constant reminder that it would be very easy for me to simply not make time to write, and soon not be a producing writer any more. I let the fear of that drive me to make writing a priority every day. If I’m only going to do one thing in the day, it’s take care of the basic needs of my family. But if I’m going to do ANYTHING else, that thing is write. (Spoiler: I actually have time for a lot more than that. But writing is always number two.)

As far as courage: I don’t always believe that what I’m doing is any good. But I don’t let that stop me. I just accept that I’m going to write words, be they good words or bad words, selling words or not selling words, keeper words or words to be rewritten. Fish swim, birds fly, I write books. And if the bird can fly without having a crisis about whether or not the flight will get them anywhere earth-shattering, then I am perfectly capable of writing words even if they aren’t brilliant. And if I don’t write them, how will I ever know?

*You can get the latest from Janci at:


Twitter
Janci Patterson (@jancipatterson).






Monday, July 14, 2014

Arting my Ink

Alas, I have few artistic skills, but thanks to PowerPoint clip art I can give my stories pseudo book posters! Both posters contain hidden clues about important elements of the plot and characters in my YA fantasy:

Mirror, Mirror . . .


Shattered . . .



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Archaic Awesomeness: Prickmedainty


Prickmedainty,” also spelled prick-me-dainty, is a marvelous word used to describe a person obsessed with appearance. Dictionary.com defines such a  person as a "fancy and finnicky dresser, a dandy." The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word as an "affectedly nice person," or a "fop." Both noun and adjective, this word surely deserves room in our modern vocabulary. Excuse me, time to go take another prickmedainty selfie!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Dream Dabbling

Hurrah! I just finished a 75k YA fantasy I've been working on since 2012. To celebrate, I played with PowerPoint clipart and made a pseudo book poster for my epic tale. It's not too hard to guess which fairy tale I am retelling! (It also helps that I'd already designed an earlier poster).






Monday, June 9, 2014

Interview with an Artist: Jackie Musto

This June, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jackie Musto, illustrator and web comic creator of The Adventures of Lady Skylark and Kay and P!


What is your process of inspiration for creating art? 

Pretty much everything around me. The first piece of advice I give to any artist of any medium is to carry a sketchbook with you wherever you go. You are going to see places, observe people and get ideas from all over the place, and you want to be prepared to write those down - as quick as they come into your brain, you should be sure that they will go right out again. So I take my book with me wherever I go, and jot notes, sketch bits and pieces and craft ideas all the time. I kind of suffer from almost having too many ideas - there are a lot of them I am sure will never see the light of day because I just don't have time to dedicate to them all!

Who is an artist/writer that inspires you and why? 

I watch a lot of fellow artists on tumblr, and I find it inspiring to see what comics and other things there are up to. I feel like following your contemporaries (especially in this age of modern media) is really important to get a handle on what's going on in your field; as well as networking and idea-sharing. It's great to be able to show your work to a group of people - some of who are on another continent - and get some really excellent feedback.
Some of my favorite folks are: Paige Haisley WarrenTarabbaJessfinkBen BishopAmy FalconeitscarororoKathryn HudsonClaire Hummel... and way too many more to list!

How do you overcome fallow spells in creativity and regain the courage to create?

I tend to just push through and keep working. I have the benefit/problem of working on a schedule of three comic pages a week - so people expect something of me regardless of if I'm having a bad day or crazy life stuff. I do my best to keep on my schedule and that helps me plan my time accordingly. There have certainly been days where I've been tired and didn't feel like working, or didn't really feel inspired - and then I'll take a break, play some video games or go somewhere to shake up the old head-space. I think one of the best pieces of advice I can give people who want to work creatively is to pick bite sized projects at first - they'll be done quickly so you won't tire of them, and then they'll give you some practice to tackle larger projects later. It's great to develop a sense of self-discipline to keep yourself in check. Besides, if you love what you are doing, you'll find yourself coming back to it no matter how much you try to take a break!


You can discover more of Jackie’s marvelous work at:

http://kayandp.thecomicseries.com/
“Life when your best friend is a skeleton.”

The Adventures of the Lady Skylark
http://ladyskylark.thecomicseries.com/
“A steampunk story about pirates, treasure, gentlemen and of course the Lady Skylark herself.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Writing it Wrong to Ink it Right



I must confess that I'm a bit of an outline freak when it comes to preparing to write new stories. I design copious character charts (sociology, psychology, physiology). I create massive history files on the political, geographical, and economic makeup of different kingdoms. I make scene outlines for every single chapter. And don't even get me started on the infernal nature of magic systems! As a result of my pre-ink obsession, I usually have around 20 pages of story material before I even write the first chapter.

But I've relearned an important lesson with the current YA draft I'm working on:

Sometimes, you just have to write the story WRONG first in order to ink it right later. No matter how much I outline in advance, when I actually begin to write the story, it becomes, for lack of a better verb, wriggly. That's right, the syllables coil and lose adverbs right and left, scenes twitch and shed reams of bad dialogue, characters convulse in the throes of acute stereotypitis, and as for me? I despair as my precious outline disintegrates into incoherent ramblings.

And . . . this is good.

While I do need an outline to provide the framework of my draft, at the same time I can't let myself become strictly bound to my initial ideas, either. Some of them stink. Some of them just don't work anymore as the draft progresses, and require me to rewrite entire chapters. Some of the ideas need to evolve further before they are anything more than basic building blocks to character or plot. As author Shannon Hale notes on the process of inking stories, "I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles."

So don't wallow in misery if you recognize innumerable flaws in your first draft, and DON'T STOP WRITING. Instead, (this works for me), jot the flaws you find down in a separate file with page numbers included. That way you can easily go back to them in your manuscript when you've sufficiently mulled over the problem. Repeat this process with every draft. The flaw list gets a little smaller each time, until, finally . . .

I will finish this sentence in 2 weeks!




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Noble Neighbor



I have the sweet serendipity to live near a river canal filled with ravens, cranes, herons, ducks, and a hundred other tiny feather puffs! What I love about this particular heron is the way he owns the river. Even his shadow is sublimely nonchalant. Nothing perturbs him, not even a gawky human with a camera.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Interview with an Artist: Audrey Bagley

 This May, I have the pleasure of interviewing artist Audrey Bagley for my continuing segment on inspiration and creativity!


What is your process of inspiration for creating art?

I have dreams where I meet people in other dimensions or worlds that don’t exist and wouldn’t exist had I not seen them in my dreams. When I wake up I know that without visually documenting the worlds I have encountered, the worlds will never be seen.

I mostly draw girls, and although they have different colors of hair and features, I am drawing an experience or thought that came from me, so I imagine everything as a self portrait.  I like to leave questions and open interpretation. I’m always questioning purpose and life.

I don’t believe art should be identical replicas of anything that’s already created, i.e., a copy of a photograph.

My process for Art is to use the pieces of every different puzzle I’ve ever encountered and put those different pieces together into a new form that connects with a feeling. I like to arrange feeling into something expressive and tangible.


Who is an artist that inspires you and why?

Nobuo Uematsu. He is a video game composer for the most beautiful video games I’ve ever played (given I haven't played video games hard core since high school). I used to think I would become a composer because of him. When I did more research on the video games he was involved in creating music for, I later found Yoshitaka Amano, who was the main artist of those games. They were both self taught artists, which really encouraged me in my teens to work hard at what I love. I really thought I was going to work for Squaresoft video games back then, haha.


How do you overcome fallow spells in creativity and regain the courage to create again?

When people say, “Wow you are doing a lot,” or, “You’re on a roll,” I don't let these comments allow me to become too comfortable and settle down. I’m not done yet and I never will be. I always take note, "If I don’t do it, it isn’t going to happen.”

Not too long ago I found myself in a dizzy spell after a few hard blows. Over time I recognized a parallel between my physical well being and my personal energy and willpower to create. I exercise more and take one or two days a week to focus on hanging out with friends. Then the other days I have to say no to everything and get to work.

*View more of Audrey Bagley's fabulous art at:


Monday, May 12, 2014

Conquering Wegitude


Dictionary.com has several illuminating definitions for the word "reject." They include "to discard as useless or unsatisfactory. To cast out or eject; vomit." I must confess my ego/soul has felt the stamp of rejection more times than I care to remember. But maybe I should remember them, for rejection has a twin: reboot, which in computer operating system lingo means,"A boot with the implication that the computer has not been down for long, or that the boot is a bounce intended to clear some state of wedgitude." Or to simplify, "to shut down and restart."

Perhaps the worst and the best thing happened to me the very first time I sent a query out. I got a request from a top notch literary agency. Though the agency ended up rejecting my clumsy manuscript six months later, the experience lit a tiny spark of confidence inside me that I could write something worth telling, just not well enough . . . yet. Fast forward several long years into the future, past multiple manuscripts, revisions and rejections, and I have new, better stories, and the chance to work with my fabulous agent, Natalie Lakosil. But I never would've come to this point if I refused to press the reboot button after each rejection crashed my fragile writer's ego yet again. I have no idea how many times I'll need to press that reboot button before my words find a home, but I've come this far, so only a fool would give up now, right?

Never give into wegitude, fellow scribblers! Never.

References:

"reject." Dictionary.com. Retrieved May 13, 2014 from
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reject

"reboot." Dictionary.com. Retrieved May 13, 2014 from
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reboot

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Ink


Some of my most vivid memories are of my mom reading The Green Knowe series by L.M. Boston to my sisters and I at night. I can still picture Tolly boating across flood waters over the garden to the manor, the ghost children who haunt its walls, and the tiny pearl ring that was lost in a chimney. Although my dear mother passed away over six years ago, she still breathes through every page of fantasy and adventure that enriched my childhood, and now, adulthood. She taught me to treasure the chance to dive into new perspectives and worlds much different from my own, and always hunger for new ink wonderments.

I am a writer today, because first, I was an avid reader. Thank you, Mom.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Revising . . . & launching Young Ravens Literary Review!

I just hit the 100 page mark on my revisions. I am also proud to announce the launch of Young Ravens Literary Review with my co-editor, Elizabeth Pinborough! Why am I starting this project in the midst of revising my new YA novel? Because I believe that experiencing the creativity and inspiration of others is a writer's fundamental nourishment. I want to celebrate and showcase the talent of scintillating minds!

Young Ravens Literary Review is a biannual online literary journal.

We accept material from both new and established writers and artists. We want to know what haunts, inspires, maddens, and exalts you on our common journey through existence. Give us your kaleidoscope musings on splendiferous ephemera, fantasy, and the sacred mundane!

We are the hungry ones who cast our souls to the edge of the universe in our never-ending migration for creative nourishment. Our name is inspired by Psalm 147:9: “He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.”

"Why are there so many songs about ravens, and what's on the other side?" --Sarah McLachlan
"Why is a raven like a writing desk?” --Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

These are the questions we ask you.

Call for submissions!

For our inaugural issue, we are scouring ink for beauty. In her poem "Night," the poet Sara Teasdale wrote:

Look for a lovely thing
And you will find it.
It is not far–
It never will be far.

We are looking for works that quest for beauty.  Share with us what you have found on your many wanderings.

We accept fiction, nonfiction, visual art, and poetry of all flavors, from free verse to found. We are also interested in submissions that include raven artwork.

Submissions will be accepted until September 1st, 2014.

Visit us at http://www. youngravensliteraryreview.org to see our submissions guidelines.