Wednesday, March 28, 2012

false starts + second drafts :: cranky post.

This is the third time I've started this blog post. I'm doing that middle-of-the-night thing again, too. And I'm using words like "this" and "that" more than usual.


I'm drowning in false starts.

Writing is not my friend, these days. I don't feel like I have anything to say. I'm afraid of working on what I need to work on, because I don't want it to fall apart. Again. Again and again and again.

All I want to do is hole up with the books I should have read a month ago and try to make stories feel like fun again.

I *think* I figured out what was wrong with my beginning. A week ago, I was calling this a "breakthrough." Now I'm just calling it stupid. The issue:  If I write it, it will inevitably be wrong in a few weeks time. And so I haven't written it.

First drafts are nothing, guys.
It's the second draft that's killing me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

cat picture + jennifer :: true things.

Hey there, strangers.

Lots of stuff, lots of stuff. Lots of good stuff. Midnight blogging, too. Hello, friends on the other side of the world who are enjoying this lovely March morning. My cat just fell asleep on my arm after attacking my hands. He does stuff like that. It merits a picture.

Oh, Oliver. If you'd stop being cute, I'd stop taking pictures of you.

Anywho, my friends, in 24 hours I'll be watching
The Hunger Games {!}
and probably dying a little bit inside. The question is whether or not it will be the good kind of dying {because there are two kinds, you know}.

It gets me to thinking, do any of you remember this? I had so few readers a year ago when the casting craze began, I'm not sure who knows. I've felt funny about saying anything since then, but it's true.

I grew up going to church with Jennifer Lawrence and her family. Yes, that Jennifer Lawrence. I know. I know. It is amazing. I am so happy for her, and proud beyond words. It is also incredibly weird because, well. You know. I knew her as a little kid, and not as freaking Katniss. The bragging rights pretty much end there, but now you know. In case you didn't before. I just... had to tell you again. I don't even know why. But it's a true thing, and I like for people to know true things about me.

We love you, Jennifer. Louisville girls represent.

Friday, March 16, 2012

double tagged! also, a facelift.

I have been double-tagged!
Once by Colin D. Smith {all the 7s}, and once by TZ Wallace {good old 11 questions}.

Let's start with the questions!

1. What book character do you have a crush on?

Let me tell you guys about my husband. He has curly blond hair and gray-blue eyes. He loves to cook and gets adorably excited about food, especially baked goods. He is quiet and kind, almost to a fault. He has been known to paint and get hopelessly romantic. When I first read The Hunger Games, I couldn't get over the parallels.* So this question is kind of a no-brainer.

Is it any wonder I liked Peeta so much?

*Note: My husband is significantly less perfect and more human, though. Just the way I like 'em.

2. What was the last book that made you cry?

I'm going to go with all-out bawled, here, and not just choked up. I got choked up in Legend over Day's necklace {I don't even know why}, but that wasn't the same. The last book that made me *cry* cry was The Book Thief. I mean, come on people. I cried for so many reasons, and throughout the whole thing. There was the emotional gravity of World War II, first of all, but also the sheer beauty of the storytelling. And the characters in that book. Oh man.

Before The Book Thief, there was A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, which made me weep on a plane.

3. What scenes are the hardest for you to write?

Transitions/decision making. I get bored reading them, I get bored writing them.

4. Are you superstitious about your writing methods, or do you have any rituals regarding your writing?

I'm not superstitious, but I do appreciate ritual. Probably too much, because then I become dependent on the ritual {which, in turn, is the definition of superstitious, so...}. Can I write without coffe/tea? Can I write without checking my email compulsively every fifteen minutes? Can I write in public/at home/in the car, if I'm not used to it? Yes, Julie. Yes you can.

One thing I do, that makes me feel like a weirdo, is migrate while I write. I might start on the couch, but if the juices aren't flowing, I'll move to the table. If I get stuck again, I'll go to the guest bedroom {which is supposed to be my "office"}. After a few days of this, I'll write at the library. I have a Goldilocks complex. I might also be in a funk.

5. Do you listen to music when writing, or do you have to have silence?

Oh good heavens, I can't stand to listen to music while writing. I work in silence. I love music, and I listen to it for mood all the time, but trying to write to it makes me feel punchy/insane. Or like my brain might melt out of my ears. If I'm ever trying to write in a loud or public place, I'll listen to brown noise {a few degrees lower/softer than white noise} on my headphones. Silence is king, though. Or should I say, ADD is king, and silence the most effective medicine?

6. What book antagonist do you love to hate?

Who doesn't have a thing for Voldemort?

7. What is the last book you stayed up ridiculously late to finish reading?

All three of the books I read last month accomplished this. Article 5, Anna Dressed in Blood, and Legend. The again, I tend to stay up ridiculously late, regardless.

8. When was the last time that you waited in line for a book release?

I have only done this once, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

9. What book{s} is/are currently on your bedside table?

My planner. A Game of Thrones. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. The Plot Whisperer. My notebook. Zombies vs. Unicorns. A printed copy of my first draft. A History of Asia.

10. What is your "guilty pleasure" book that you read and re-read?

I don't know if I would call this a guilty pleasure, since there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but I generally always want to go back to I Capture the Castle.

11. How comfortable are you calling yourself a "writer?"

Today, not very, since I have little to show for it.

Sweet! Moving on to the 7's.

I don't know who decided to call this Lucky 7 meme "lucky." Haaaaaaaaaaaa. The seven lines starting with line seven of page seventy-seven of my horrid rough draft from a year ago are, predictably, horrid. Excuses, excuses. But seriously. Those words aren't going to see the light of day. They occur 'midst things that are no longer relevant. I haven't reached page 77 of the rewrite, yet. And so, I'm treating you with seven lines from page 77 of my NaNo project, instead. But watch out. I haven't looked at this in three and a half months, and it has never been edited. Not a smidge. Wahoo!


She tips the suitcase onto its spine, there on the floor in the middle of the little back room attached to the kitchen. No one else seems to notice this corner, or care for it. Embarrassed, I can’t stop thinking about the contents of the cupboards behind me. My mouth actually starts to water over nothing in particular, and I train my attention back to Nan. No one else is eating. I wonder if Catie and Donovan realize that I’m still starving, burning up on the fumes of hospital coffee and eating them whole.

Nan unclasps the hooks on the old suitcase and half of it thuds to the floor.


Oh man, check out ALL of my slap-dash writing flaws. Way too many words? Check. Run-on sentences? Check. Descriptions that make no sense? Check check. How on earth does one "eat" coffee fumes whole? After burning up on them? Ah, NaNo. I even remember being proud of this paragraph. *goose laugh* But that's the thing about rough drafts, I guess. You write them to iron out your thoughts, not to please anyone else. Right?

Also, I had forgotten that I wrote most of this in first/present. Interesting.

Well that was fun. I actually just got excited about NaNo again. If you feel like playing along, consider yourself tagged!

While you're here, how do you like the new look?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

pi day.

Doesn't make me think of math or food.

Pi day makes me think of this:

A girl can't help her favorite book.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

and by tonight, i meant tomorrow morning.

Good morning!

The moment has arrived! Our winners of a signed copy of Article 5 are:


Anonymous {look at you go, Anonymous! Haha.}


Sarah Pearson!

Congrats to you both! I am emailing you right now. And then I'm hitting the road for Knoxville, and the most fun afternoon ever.

Yay books!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Guess what I'm NOT forgetting to post about today?!

It's Tuesday (...right?), and I'm going to talk about YA. Or maybe teenagers.

I'm going to talk about myself as a teenager, and why some YA is lost on me.

There I am on the left {in blue}, at the tender age of 14. Here is what I remember thinking about back then:

~my friends.
~my beliefs.
~how to relate to people.
~does anyone like me?
~do I fit in?
~my values.
~helping others.

As I got older, the thoughts expanded to include:


Boys were low on the list. My heartbroken days wouldn't happen until college. But as a teen? It was about my friends. I had a ton of guy friends. They were my brothers. I cared about them. Sure, I had crushes, too, but they meant less in the grand scheme, even then. They existed for the sole purpose of being thought about, not talked to. And if a crush and a friend overlapped? I did what I thought was best. I tried to turn it off. I kept up the friendships. I devoted myself to what I valued most {God and theatre}.

I don't know why I was like this. I may have been prudish. Naive. I shrug off those accusations, though, because I was living the way I wanted to. I won't deny that I got emotional and overwhelmed and pined after the occasional boy who would never know my name. And I won't deny that I struggled majorly with social norms, and that I put way too much pressure on myself to be "good." Yet, somehow, I remember understanding my place in life a little better than I now realize is normal.

If normal is based on teenagers in books, that is. I often wonder what sixteen-year-old me would have done if any book premise had been real. What if I had been selected for The Hunger Games? The real me from 2001, and not some archetypal teenage figurehead. Sixteen-year-old Julie would have either screamed and panicked and tried to run away, or walked forward like a martyr, with absolutely no hope or expectation of surviving. Maybe a little of both. I was no Katniss.

What if seventeen-year-old Julie had found herself surrounded by, oh I don't know, werewolves or faeries or something? What would she have done? First, the reality would have taken a long time to sink in. There would have been mixed feelings of, "Is this entirely true? Am I completely losing it?" and, "I knew fantasy was real, I knew it I knew it I knew it." Also, "how can I work this into a college application? Because that would be awesome."

However!, if some hot werewolf boy had come forward and immediately pledged his undying love, replete with possessive undertones, I would have made this face:

or something equally offensive.

And perhaps that is why there is a chunk of YA that just does not connect with me. I was never that girl. I don't know how to relate to her. 

I'm tired of reading books about teenagers that propagate adult fantasies. You know? It's fine if you like that, and I'm not saying I don't enjoy the odd romp through such things, but what exactly are you trying to say?

A question: Are you writing about kids? Or adults in wish-fulfilling teenage bodies? Not saying one is better than the other, just saying we should stop fooling ourselves. You're going to make money either way. Maybe.

Wow. Snarkfest, out.

{{In other news, Article 5 winners to be announced tonight!}}