Monday, March 30, 2015

Putting the Creative in Creative Writing

I've been working on a new novel lately. While that isn't particularly worthy of admiration in itself, maybe you'll be more impressed when I tell you that I've been writing it with my thumbs on a keyboard 2" wide.
You see, I have a nine-month-old baby. I also freelance from home, and my hours have been steadily increasing. These two facts combined mean my large blocks of time to write have shrunk to zero. I could have given up, decided to put writing on hold until my son is older or until I can carve out more time.

Instead, I figured out that I can squeeze in ten to fifteen minutes of writing on my phone while I'm feeding the baby. Sounds a bit rough, right? But you know what? I'm managing 500-600 words a day. At that rate, I'll be done with my draft by early June. Not too shabby.

If I can do it, so can you. Pull out your phone or your pocket notebook in line at the bank, on the train during your commute, or while waiting for your coffee. You might only get a few lines down--but that's a few less lines you need to have a completed draft. Need uninterrupted time to get in the drafting groove? Jot down some ideas instead, or write a few journal lines for one of your main characters.

I'd be remiss if I didn't close this post by mentioning the app that I use for my writing. Evernote is an app with versions for your phone and computer that syncs automatically, so there's never any need to do a complicated transfer. My only quibble with it is the lack of a word count feature on the iPhone app, but I get around that by taking a few seconds to copy the text I wrote and pasting it into the Wordcounter.net window. I'm hoping they add word count functionality in the next update!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 YA Scavenger Hunt April 2-5: Prizes and books galore!

Hello Everyone! I'm so happy to introduce the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors, and to announce that Thinking to Inking (and my debut WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS) will be making it's first ever appearance!

There are eight outstanding teams this season. I'm part of #TeamGreen! The Scavenger Hunt runs from April 2nd through April 5th beginning and ending at noon PCT. If you've never been a part of the hunt before THIS IS THE YEAR TO JOIN.

It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team!  THAT'S TWENTY AMAZING BOOKS!

For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website.

In addition to all the already mentioned awesome, not only will I be hiding a sneak peak of my latest project, THE DARKNESS RISES, in the hunt, but I will also have a Thinking to Inking exclusive giveaway via a Rafflecopter. Also, did I mention that you can win a BOAT LOAD of other books and prizes?

You don't want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three days. And now, here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up)

Go #TeamGreen !

Blue Team 1 Pink TeamTeam Gold (2)Team Purple 1Team GreenTeam Red 1Team Teal (2) Team Orange  
I hope you are all as excited as I am!
THE HUNT BEGINS 4/2/15!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Recently, I, along with roughly 200 other High School  
Mitchell getting ready for Carnegie Hall
singers, performed at Carnegie Hall. It was not only
an honor, but a thrill. Since then, people have asked
me many questions.  The most popular being how do
you get to Carnegie Hall?  The answer, of course, is
 practice, practice, practice.

This same statement is true of anything in life, but especially writing.  But remember to keep the balance - or keep it real.  Don't shut out life, but instead embrace it to make your writing that much more alive.  Here are some of my favorite writing suggestions and a great way to experience life:


Make friends.  They make great beta readers.

Friends











Get a hobby - more things to write about.

Sailing


Play a sport.
Football














Travel.


Travel







And who knows where this will lead you.  Maybe someday even to Carnegie Hall or even a bookstore!!! 



Carnegie

Party Boat

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writing Disabled Characters


Last month I attended a really insightful meeting at WGA in Los Angeles, and I met the coolest writer/totally adorable new friend there, the lovely Lara Ameen. The best part of it is that she's an expert in writing characters with disabilities (she even has a degree to prove it), and she's willing to share her wealth of knowledge with us.

In her own words:


Why Disability Portrayal in the Media?
As a woman with cerebral palsy, I think it's important for people with disabilities to be represented both in front of and behind the camera. There are taboos associated with disability. That it's scary or something to be feared. People don't know what to say or will not know how to provide proper accommodations, etc. Disability is the most underrepresented minority in the media yet anyone at any point in their life can become disabled. It's important to include accurate portrayal of disability representation in fiction, film, television and online media because otherwise those stories will not be told. There's a saying that originated in the disability community: "Nothing about us without us." 

Will you tell us more about how to write characters? Of course. Here is a link to a presentation: https://vimeo.com/116270997

Some of the highlights from the presentation (totally worth watching the whole thing just for the video clips alone):

*There are two models of disability studies. 1. The medical model: The problem with the disabled is that there is a problem with the person, and they are miraculously cured of the disability by the end of the story (BAD) 2. The social model: Stigmas, attitudes, etc. in society about someone with disabilities are more problematic than the disability itself. 

*Don't be afraid of going to all the normal places you'd go with other characters (if you would've written a sexy scene for your character, don't stop just because they're disabled! Everybody needs some lovin')

*Introduce people by their NAMES and not their disabilities (person-first language)

*Avoid these common stereotyping traps: The victim (don't define your character as a victim just because they're disabled), the hero (don't define them as a hero because they overcame their disability to become more normal) , and the villain (portrayed in crime/taking revenge as a portrayal of mental illness and how that makes them bad).

*Hint: Check out My Gimpy Life


Finally, who is Lara Ameen? I've wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old (3rd grade). I had a Spottie Dottie notebook from the Sanrio store that I would write in all the time. I also wrote short stories and plays that I would perform with my friends. I love singing and acting, too, and participated in musical theatre, various community theatre productions and was active in choir class from third grade until community college. I also took some private voice lessons. So I have some performance background, but I LOVE to write! I wrote songs, poetry and fanfiction in high school. I've actually known I wanted to go to graduate school and get an MFA since I was 15. Later, in college when I wasn't in screenwriting classes (there are only 2 at Berkeley), I was writing on my own. I'm interested in TV writing, so I started to write comedy and drama spec scripts and my friend and I wrote a drama pilot together. I also minored in Disability Studies and interned at various disability rights non-profits in Berkeley, which ignited my love for disability advocacy and activism. My minor has definitely influenced my work in many ways. My Screenwriting professor, Mira, at Berkeley also ended up becoming my mentor. I credit her in my decision to pursue an MFA in Screenwriting at Cal State Northridge. 

To stay connected to Lara's witty insights, follow her on Twitter at @trucherrygirl and follow her blog at https://cherrylara.wordpress.com/

Monday, March 16, 2015

YA Book Pick: ORDINARY MAGIC

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's book pick is ORDINARY MAGIC by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway. I'm cheating a little, since it's technically upper-middle grade rather than YA (a 12-year-old protagonist), but I liked the book so much I wanted to spotlight it anyway!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society.

The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary—it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!

First Line: "The day of my Judging dawned bright and clear and hot."

Like so many of the books we feature for Book Picks, this one has a great first line. We immediately want to know what a Judging is (and why it's important enough to be capitalized).

Highlights:
I heard this book talked about as "a reverse Harry Potter," and I think that's an apt description! The author turns the fantasy trope of the chosen one on its head by making the main character the only one around who wasn't chosen. This makes for a refreshingly different story.

A huge highlight for me was Abby's large, extremely close family. This is another way this book is the opposite of Harry Potter--when her family finds out she doesn't have any magic, they rally around her and protect her fiercely rather than casting her out or being ashamed. Since it's common for middle grade and young adult books to feature dysfunctional families, reading about a supportive and loving one was a nice change of pace.

Notes for Writers:
Although this is billed as a MG novel, I think it almost works as young YA. Some of the scenes are very scary (especially one with a goblin attack!), which I would have loved when I was twelve or thirteen. The author does an excellent job of balancing issues that would matter to the younger set (family, making new friends) with older ones (living apart from your parents for the first time, a budding romance).

A Good Read For:
Anyone writing books that fit into the space between funny middle grade and dark YA. This book expertly blends elements of both.