Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Travelin' Shmavelin'

I'm in Colorado right now, overlooking the Cherry Creek resevoir and the jagged-toothed horizon that is the Rockies. A strong, warm wind is blowing the grasses out on the preserve, bending the branches down and drying my laundry at the same time. Beautiful.

And tomorrow I will board a plane to L.A. to go to the conference. The conference. Like, SCBWI LA conference 2010. I will reconnect with my RSBs (RockSugarBeets), meet some new friends, get inspired, laugh, have some child-free fun, and maybe swim a bit. Oh, and there's a costume party. And I have a costume all planned out. (Tee hee!) I'll post pictures afterward, promise.

My second draft is moving along. I hit a little bump and am taking a few days off to process info, develop my newer characters a bit more, and refuel. I'm sure that once I get back from the conference I'll be aching, dying, thirsting to write.

And now, Amber's List of Things to Do Today:
1. Go find a carry-on suitcase that won't crush a 60-year old velvet hat.
2. Figure out which non-costume clothing to bring.
3. Remind my parents how/when the children should be put to bed.
4. Not hyperventilate
5. Go out to dinner with my sister, Hazel, who is home from Ukraine for just this week. It is likely the last time I will see her for five years, unless I can afford to fly out there sometime in the near future.
6. Try not to get drunk with my sister.*
7. Kiss my kids because I will undoubtably miss them during the five days I will be away.
8. Call my husband.
9. Relax. (Yeah, right.)
10. Get some sleep.

P.S. My critique partner's book is rockin'. Can't wait till you all read it!

* My sister does not keep secrets.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I've got a new critique partner, and she's awesome. Not only is she local (like, only a mile or so away), but our daughters are friends, she's a HS English teacher, and our books are totally compatible. They're completely different, but they have the same feel. Sort of. I mean, as much as an Arabian Nights-ish fantasy and a dystopian novel can feel similarly.

I love her book. Love it. And she seems to love mine, too. *sigh of contentment.*

I do miss my old critique mates and their stories, though. I know them so well, and they've become great friends of mine. But they live in San Diego, and they meet in person and I was the far-flung member communicating by email and skype. It was hard. I did it for two years, but I really needed someone I could sit with in person and hash out ideas on a couch.

So, dear old critique mates, I miss you. And dear new critique mate, I am so fortunate to have met you (and your well-stocked YA library in your house). So happy that we are urging each other to write often, and well!

[Oh, and I've written a LOAD of good pages this week. Yay!!!!]

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flying and Wishes

Aren't those deeply imbedded in jinni lore?

I am flying by on this draft. So far, on day two, I'm at 3,363 words*. And I wish I had a jinn around at the moment. I've got a big wish to make...but I'll settle for hope. Hope is free, it's attainable, and it's eternal--I hope this excitement and thrill I'm having while writing this draft is sustainable. I need it for the whole damn thing.

Now I'm off to bed.

*Not so speedy for you Robots, but for this mortal writer, it's fast. As fast as...*searches for cheesy metaphor*...a flying carpet. Or would a flying carpet be, indeed, slow? Would it fly more like an albatross, or a jet? I bet I know how my personal carpet would fly...

***** Cindy Pon is having a HUGE YA "people-of-color" book giveaway, by the way. Go check it out! I hope I win...those are all awesome books!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

And now we move on...

to Draft Two!*

I am thrilled to be done with the first yucky bit. It's a load of a mess, and the plot is all wrong, but a few very key elements came out of the past YEAR of writing:

I have...
1. Discovered who my main characters really are
2. Found out what the story is really about
3. Cemented the imagery, feeling, and "decor" of the novel in my mind
4. Gotten to know more about the original Arabian Nights stories
5. Grown committed, but not blind and stupid (I hope), to finishing this story
6. Set up a writing routine using a combination of babysitters, day care, Pandora music, and advanced Sudoku Avoidance Techniques

The Story Fairy came by, you see?

I think the most important element, however, is that I really know my main character and I (hope) can portray her voice well. With her voice, I can show you her story. And isn't that what we all want? A rich story told just as the character experiences it? Plot matters, of course, but not nearly as much as the character. Otherwise, it's just a blip in memory.

I want to write stories that persist, and I think if there is the truth of human experience (and large doses of romance) in it, it will.

In other news, I've been thrifting more and more lately and have gotten obsessed with 1950s full-circle day dresses. Next time I wear it, I'll take a picture of myself in my new yellow striped dress. :-)

* Ok, honestly, I didn't exactly finish the first draft. I wrote right up till the final climax. But at that point, I realized all the things listed above. And I found out what is supposed to happen. I was trying to douse the book in lots of twisted, quick-moving plot. It isn't that kind of story. I don't even like to read those kinds of books, really, so why write one? And now that I've thought through what needs to be written for draft two, I am once again in love. The soul of story has returned.