Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home is Where...

I love this girl. She isn't practical, after all, it's quite a burden to carry your home, your possessions and all the people whom you love around on your head (or like some of us do, IN your head). But this is the curse of the worrier and the curse of the creative.

Monday, January 30, 2012

By Its Cover

I hate to admit it, but I'm definitely a snob when it comes to book covers. Maybe it's the artist in me (or possibly a very well trained consumer), but a book's image can definitely convince me to want to read it. And believe me, this isn't always a good thing.  It really irks me when I am drawn to an amazing cover only to be disappointed by the writing. Likewise, I always think it's such a shame when a great book has a mediocre cover (which is quite often the case).

I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the books I'm looking forward to reading, purely based on their covers. And after I read them I'll have to report back to say whether or not they live up to their design.

What about you? Are there any book covers that have you salivating?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Too Shy: Commenting on Blogs

It's nothing new. I've always been shy. As a little girl I was mortified by the idea of A. eating in front of strangers B. using a public restroom C. raising my hand to answer a question... and the list could go on and on.

For the most part I've grown out of my shyness, although the thought of going to a party where I know only one or two people still makes me break out in hives. And for some reason I have a peculiar shyness when it comes to commenting on people's blogs.

I absolutely LOVE it when people I don't know comment on my blog. In fact, I think I like it even more than when people I know and adore comment (don't worry guys I promise I do love you). But for some reason I freeze up when it comes to commenting on other people's blogs. Even if I have something I really want to say, I suddenly become timid. What if they think I'm dumb for commenting? I ask myself. What if they think it's weird that I'm saying something when I don't even know them? Are they going to think I'm one of those lame kids that hangs around the periphery of a group and jumps in to answer a question that wasn't even directed to me?

I'm afraid of all those things, but if the other bloggers are anything like me, I'm sure they're thrilled to have comments, no matter who they're coming from.

What about you? Are you sometimes too shy to comment.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wasting Words

As a child, I don't ever remember a grown up telling me to finish everything on my plate because there was a poor starving child in Ethiopia who would be more than happy to eat it for me. I've never felt guilty about leaving a pile of uneaten meatloaf on my plate or throwing a half full glass of warm milk down the drain. I mean, what are we going to do, wrap it up and mail it to the less fortunate? Because for starters, it'll be spoiled by the time it gets there, and secondly, I hate to say it... but maybe it wasn't that tasty in the first place.

So if I don't feel ashamed about wasting a good casserole, why do I feel so sad about throwing words away? Yesterday I spent a half an hour writing while I waited to pick the kids up from school. It was a good half an hour, where the pen happily jogged along the paper and by the time the kids piled into the car, I'd filled a couple of pages.

The trouble came later that night when I went to type my work into the computer and realized that while there were some good ideas, there really wasn't much worth keeping. WHAT? YOU WANT TO THROW THESE PERFECTLY GOOD WORDS AWAY! I wanted to scream at myself. But I worked hard for those words.

I stuck to my guns and told myself that they just weren't good enough, and lo and behold, something magical happened. Once I let go of those words that I was so afraid of wasting I ended up coming up with some new words that I liked even better. The writing from earlier in the day wasn't a waste of time. It simply lay the groundwork for what I really wanted to say.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What I Read in 2011

    The list of books down the side of my blog was just getting too long, but I still wanted to keep a record of all the books that I read in 2011. Some of them amazed me and some of them disappointed. If you need a recommendation about one of the books on my list don't hesitate to ask. I'm always more than happy to give my opinion (as my husband would be the first to let you know).
    • The End of Everything
    • The Boys of My Youth
    • The Adults
    • The Future of Us
    • In Zanesville
    • Looking for Alaska
    • An Abundance of Katherines
    • Paper Towns
    • Twenty Boy Summer
    • Lola and the Boy Next Door
    • Gerald's Game
    • Insomnia
    • Shatter Me
    • Will Grayson, Will Grayson
    • State of Wonder
    • Chime
    • Sean Griswold's Head
    • Anna and the French Kiss
    • Betti on the High Wire
    • Moonglass
    • This Lullaby
    • Someone Like You
    • Possession
    • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
    • Beauty Queens
    • Where She Went
    • I am David
    • The Truth About Forever
    • Story of a Girl
    • A Great and Terrible Beauty
    • Mockingjay
    • Catching Fire
    • If I Stay
    • Please Ignore Vera Dietz
    • Divergent
    • Save the Cat
    • Across the Universe
    • Alabama Moon
    • Wither
    • The View From Saturday
    • The Evolution of Culpurnia Tate
    • Delirium
    • It's Kind of a Funny Story
    • Marcelo in the Real World
    • The Fates Will Find Their Way
    • Trapped
    • Before I Fall
    • Blindness
    • Children of Men
    • The Sky is Everywhere
    • Princess of Glass
    • Princess of the Midnight Ball
    • Making Toast
    • Wench
    • Green Angel
    • Matched
    • Anthem

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Why Writing is Like Sculpting

    This week I'm madly sculpting away, trying to get a few more of these funky art dolls ready for a show next week. Of course, if I'd just hunkered down and made one every day or two I wouldn't have this problem. But we all know that instead of sticking to a schedule, I wasted time lounging in the sun reading and flopping around the internet. So now the deadline is almost upon me and I don't have much to show for it.

    So, how is sculpting even remotely similar to writing, you ask? Well, if you read my post from a few days ago you'd know that it all comes down to starting. I don't think it matters how many sculptures I sculpt, paintings I paint, or books I write, it's always a little intimidating to start. Looking at a chunk of clay can be thrilling, but it can also be daunting. It seems like so much work. (You mean I have to get my hands dirty?) But once I get the armature built and start flinging the clay around I'm always excited about what starts to emerge.

    The same goes for writing. It's too easy to sit on your hands, afraid that writing your story is just too much work, but once you start flinging those words around it's sure exciting to see something start to emerge.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    The First Ten Minutes

    I don't know about you, but I'm really quite skilled at procrastinating. I have long lists of things I want to accomplish, projects I want to make, skills I'd like to learn. Yet it's so easy to let the days pass where I don't do anything to get closer to those goals and I'm beginning to realize that it all boils down to the first ten minutes. That's to say, it's all about sitting down and beginning.

    I don't know why it's so hard for me to start a task. My guess is that there's a theory of physics which explains it all, something to do with force and momentum and mass. I'm sure Isaac Newton could explain it all in an elegant formula with many Xs and Ys. But I understand it best when I think of it in terms of minutes.

    When I sit down with any project, whether it be a sculpture, a painting or something that I'm writing, the first ten minutes are always the most difficult. It feels like I'm pushing something very heavy up a hill, poor Sysiphus shouldering his boulder. But luckily for me, once I can push past those first few difficult minutes the work usually becomes a joy.

    The trick is knowing that each and every day I have to struggle with those first ten minutes. It doesn't ever get easier, but at least I know what to expect.

    How about you? Are the first ten minutes always the hardest?

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Light and Shade

    I love getting catalogues in the mail and finding my paintings inside. This happens to be one of my favorited pieces, currently for sale in Ballard Design.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    Author: John Green
    Hardcover, 313 pages
    Published January 10th 2012
    Publisher: Dutton Juvenile 
    ISBN: 0525478817
    Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

    Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

    Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind
    My thoughts: If you could judge a book by the ache in your chest while reading it, this book would get ten stars. I read A LOT of books, and usually don't have too difficult a time giving them a rating between one and five, but The Fault in Our Stars was an exception. Five stars was not nearly enough. I could come up with a silly pun here about the fault in my stars, but I'll spare you.
    This is definitely a book that I'll have to read a few more times to really appreciate. I'm a huge fan of John Green's witty dialogue and unique characters, but this book felt like it had a depth that went beyond his other books.
    While I'm sure some readers will take issue with how this book portrays cancer (because the ugliness of this disease can never really be condensed inside a few hundred pages) I thought Green did an excellent job of addressing the stereotypes that people with cancer face. I chose to look at this book for what it is: a book. And like any good book I felt like A Fault in Our Stars distilled real life into something painful and beautiful and haunting.
    I don't know if I'd change one word.  

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Writing WHILE Reading

    Do you have specific places where Madame Muse tends to visit on a fairly consistent basis? My muse has really good hygiene so she frequently visits me in the shower. She also likes to sit with me while I fall asleep and while I'm picking the kids up from school. But there's nothing she likes more than snuggling up with a good book.

    I have yet to figure out how to put a notebook in my shower, but I do have one next to my bed and I never sit down to read without having a pen and paper within reach. There's nothing worse than curling up with my book only to have a great idea send me scuttling for my notebook.

    There's no end to the inspiration I get while reading, specifically if I'm reading with my current project in mind. That's not to say that l'm looking to steal good ideas from other books. I've never found a good idea to be that straight forward and even if it was, I'd toss it back and send it to the principle for cheating. 

    Often I'll read a single word that moves me enough to form a whole passage in my own project. Reading an evocative image might trigger a completely new idea once I think of it in relation to my characters and my story. While I read I jot down the nuggets of ideas as they come to me so that when I sit down to write I have a whole list of topics, words and images to jump start me. It might not be the cure all for writer's block, but it certainly helps.

    So, I'm curious. Do you read and write at the same time?Where does your muse visit you?  

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    The Clean Page: Starting a New WIP

    As you might know by now, I'm a glutton for new notebooks- all that promise in those empty pages. It's almost the same feeling that I get when I start a new project. Mmmmmm....A new project.... The thought makes me salivate.

    This past week I finally finished a complete draft of the YA novel that I've been working on and I'm very happy with how it turned out. There are still a few chapters that need some tweeking, but those are small beans. I've sent it off to some of my favorite folks to be read and, for now, it's resting comfortably in its bed before the inevitable surgery that is sure to come.

    So with my last book tucked away, you can imagine that I'm itching to begin a new WIP (work in progress). Last month I started outlining an idea for a new book. I was dying to start. It took everything in my power not to click on Microsoft Office, open a new document in Word, and type the words CHAPTER ONE. But in a move that was very uncharacteristic of my extremely impatient personality I actually WAITED to start writing it until I'd finished writing my other book.

    I was a little nervous that the charm would wear off of my shiny new idea, but I'm happy to say that I'm still infatuated. I still dream about staring into my new WIP's eyes, stroking it's hand and  telling it how much I love it. Yep, I'm happy to announce that this new project and I might be in love. If there was a place on my facebook page for "in a relationship with WIP", I'd probably be ready to click the box.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    You Are The Last

    My baby turned 10 yesterday and although this seems like an event that should have left me panicked and sleepless, fretting about the passing of time and other such fears that are completely out of my control, I actually coped with it all quite well.

    In keeping with the tradition (that isn't really a tradition yet, although I would like it to be), I wrote a poem for my little girl for her birthday. Here it is:

    You Are The Last

    I don’t know when it happened-
    The minute you turned from the little girl
     I thought would be the death of me:
    The one who ran away and hid at the house down the street,
    Who painted nail polish across the duvet cover
    And scribbled on books and freshly painted walls,
    Into the girl you are now:
    The one who fetches me cold glasses of water,
    Who makes her bed without me asking
    And begs to do the laundry.

     I see you filling up with kindness,
     Someone clear and sparkling.
     I love everything about you, sweet ten-year-old girl.
    The way you hug me in the morning,
    Coming up behind me like a secret I hadn’t guessed yet
    And wrapping your arms around my waist,
    Your body still warm from sleep.
    I love your sweet little nose
    And your golden hair
    And the way you giggle,
    Enthusiasm bubbling out of every pore.

    You are the baby, the little one,
    Tiny rose petal lips and shining cheeks.  
    You are the last
    And so I need to remind myself to savor you.
    To keep you here on my tongue
    Something sweet and warm
    That I wish could last forever.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    New Year's Resolutions 2012

    Ahhh... my favorite time of the year, when goals and hopes and "what ifs" culminate in the ultimate list. I can hardly contain my glee when I start dreaming of all the things I want to accomplish during the coming year. Sure, it's true that year after year I make huge lists and usually only accomplish a handful of items, but I'm always proud of those few successes.

    It's amazing what can happen in one year. As I looked over last year's list I could hardly believe where a few of my goals took me. Number one on my list was to finish writing my play with my mom and in the space of that year not only did we finish it, but saw it produced by an amazing theatre.

    So this year I'm breaking up my list into "writing goals" and "everything else". I guess you can see what excites me by what made it on my list. And in contrast you can see where I already feel satisfied in my life. I don't have anything on my list about my family, but it's not because I don't adore them, it's simply that I feel completely content and happy when it comes to them.

    So without further ado... my list:

    "Writing Goals"
    1. Write every day.
    2. Revise YA novel "My Boyfriend the Dog" and submit.
    3. Write new YA novel "The New Generation"
    4. Write a screenplay during "Script Frenzy" in April
    5. Blog once per week
    6. Participate in NaNoWriMo again
    7. Write in a sketchbook journal at least once a week
    8. Read 75 books (I know this might not seem like a writing goal, but I think writing and reading go hand in hand)

    "Everything Else"
    1. Don't bite my nails (yes, I realize that I have this goal EVERY year)
    2. Fix healthy dinners
    3. Paint a series of figurative paintings
    4. Write thank you notes
    5. Clean 30 minutes a day
    6. Be a vegetarian
    7. Floss every day (yep, I admit that I don't floss every day)
    8. Only have sugar in moderation

    So what are your resolutions? Do you make a list every year?

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Winner!!! Starting the Year Off Right

    It's time to announce the winner of "Lone Chickadee". What a fun way to start off the new year.

    The winner is:

    Please email me your address at kebirch (at) hotmail (dot) com and your new little painting will soon be flying your way.

    Thank you to everyone who entered. Stay tuned... with the new year will come many more chances to win.