Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nerdiest Thing About Me

In celebration of Cassie Mae's new book HOW TO DATE A NERD, I've joined her blog hop - The Nerdiest Thing About Me. Before I get to that stunning revelation, I want to tell you a little about Cassie's new book.

Zoe has a great pair of legs, perky boobs, and wears exactly what she needs to show it all off. She works hard for the easy sleazy ‘you only wish you were me’ reputation, burying who she really is—an all-out nerd.

The only time Zoe gets to be herself is when she hides under her comforter to read X-Men comics, sending jealousy stabs at everyone who attends Comic-Con. Keeping up her popular rep is too important, and she’s so damn insecure to care about the consequences. But when Zoe’s sister takes her car for a ‘crash and burn into a tree’ joyride, her parents get her a replacement. A manual. Something she doesn’t know how to operate, but her next door neighbor Zak sure as heck does.

Zak’s a geek to the core, shunned by everyone in school for playing Dungeons and Dragons at lunch and wearing “Use the Force” t-shirts. And Zoe’s got it bad for the boy. Only Zak doesn’t want Popular Zoe. He wants Geek Zoe.

Click here to go to Goodreads for more info and to put HOW TO DATE A NERD on your TBR pile!

So - what's the nerdiest thing about me? Where to start? Obviously I'm a book nerd - any writer worth their salt is obsessed by books. (Side Note: "What is a nerd?" My nine year old daughter asked me recently. "A nerd is someone who is passionate about something and doesn't care what other people think of their passion." "Oh. I thought it was something bad." "NO!," I said. "I'm a nerd about books and music," I told her. This did not convince her.)

But I think I'm AM music nerd. I listen to a lot of music. Music is my poetry (not knocking poetry here.) I have trouble doing work - paid or writing - without some kind of soundtrack. I know there's a great divide with writers as to whether they can write with music or with silence better. I am not a silent type of writer.

The nerdy part I can describe two ways. First, when we were drafting names (in an Excel document. See? I told you I was a nerd) for our first daughter, I was brainstorming with my husband. I said to him, "Do you like 'Charlotte'?" because it was on my maybe list. He immediately said, "Sometimes." Which made me love him even more than I did before. Because Charlotte Sometimes is a great Cure song and we are music nerds.

Second illustration of my music nerdery. Husband and I don't get to go out much but every so often a movie comes out that we move heaven and earth (and shovel cash at our babysitter) to go and see together. This summer that movie was THE WORLD'S END. At the climactic end, against an old school goth soundtrack - I nearly had an aneurysm of joy. Because I'm a nerd.

What's your secret Nerd Power?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Mother the Cheerleader

My mom is probably something like your mom. At times annoying, other times wonderful - always bringing up a mix of complex feelings. She's got the ability to make me happiest and angriest and often that's in the same conversation.

And one more thing: she's a relentless cheerleader.

This is why my mom is NOT one of my crit partners. She cannot see when a plot has more holes than the road she lives on. She doesn't see the problem with having a villain who's motivation is weak or murky. Frankly, she thinks I'm a wonderful writer and she's enjoying my book very much and why doesn't everyone else think the same? I take everything she says with a shaker full of salt.

But even so, I need her cheers. I have lots of people telling me what to do differently in my WIP - what's working and what isn't and each CP has ideas on how to make things better -wildly different ideas, of course. CPs are my mirrors, reflections of how my work is perceived. I get to take those reflections and make sense of them, weave them together into coherence. In other words, I have to make it work.

My mom is having surgery today. It's not terribly serious, but when you're 75 any surgery can be serious. When we skyped yesterday and I wanted to hear all about her surgery, her preparations and who was going to call me after the surgery (my mom lives in Uruguay so I cannot be with her and yeah, it's kind of killing me a little) she only wanted to talk about my WIP. How much she liked it, how it reminded her of people she knew when she was little - a cousin here, an aunt there who had some magic in them. I said, 'thank you' and told her that I was really having trouble with it, it was driving me crazy.

"That's okay," she said. "You'll do it. You just have to work."

Of course I only have to work. It's the simplest advice and the hardest to follow when you just want to give up. But my mother believes that what I'm doing is worthwhile. And I can't believe how much that makes a difference to me. My mom believes in me because she has to. But because she does, I will keep working.

I'm amazed that her opinion is still so important to me.

Besos, Mama

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Farmers and Writers

A woman stands in a field of corn, running her hands along the silky tops of her ripening crop. A man sits in a cramped dark office, whiteboards filled with scribbled plot notes on one side, tottering piles of research on the other. What could these two people have in common?

A lot, it seems.

Farmers toil, oh man do they toil, without any guarantee that the crop will be good. A lot is out of their hands. Even the best soil, best seeds, best weather conditions of a season can end in blight. A freak storm or a draught can funnel months of back breaking work (and money) down the drain.

Writers do the same thing, farming with words instead of tractors. Toil, toil toil with no clear expectation of success. I'm not even talking about publishing success - writers don't even know if they are going to finish something they love (hands up, how many trunked projects do you have in your digital drawers?) never mind something that is viable. So many things can go wrong when you are writing - and writers are famous for making their own bad weather (I'm talking to you, Evil Inner Critic.)

I started thinking of Farmers and Writers after hearing about a Philadelphia publisher with a business model that resembles a CSA (Customer Supported Agriculture.) The Head and Hand Press is accepting 'shares' ($50) in exchange for a 'literary harvest.' It's an intriguing idea, isn't it? But is it a workable model? That remains to be seen. But it's just another creative way in which publishing is seeking to change the status quo.

Even when writers are successful, published and loved, they can come up against the same stormy conditions, the same plague of locusts or potato blight or whatever. I was reading THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray when I came across this blog post by her - a post where she publicly, hilariously (and I say, bravely) detailed her struggles with writing the second book in this series. I was flabbergasted. I LOVED THE DIVINERS. I thought it was frigging brilliant. I couldn't understand how a writer who made THAT book could ever have any trouble writing anything. I mean, didn't she have it down? Weren't her other brilliant books proof against that kind of struggle?

Nope. Writing is struggle. Creating is struggle. And success or failure doesn't change that. The work is the same.

Happy Harvest.

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