Showing posts with label Current Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Current Work. Show all posts

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Booyah!

In my last post (yes, I am aware that last post was over a month ago) I mentioned the biggest reason for my blogging absence: I've been hard at work finishing my novel. Well guess what?

I DID IT!!!!

I finished my second novel. *insert girlish squeals here*



My biggest emotion in the light of this news? Honestly...relief. In a lot of ways, I found my second book was more difficult to write than my first. Mostly because my inner critic didn't get the memo that I wasn't interested in his opinion. It turns out I really CAN do this thing called writing, and that the first time wasn't just a fluke.

Take that, critic.

So far, I've gotten very positive reader feedback. Even from people who aren't related to me. YES.



Now I'm just waiting on my dear, unofficial editor to send me her notes, and then this book can be off to a certain inbox where, fingers crossed, it will be loved and welcomed and asked to stay for tea.

I shall do my best to return to more regularly scheduled blogging. But please don't hold me to too high of a standard for at least the next 4-6 weeks, as I'm currently attempting to maintain my sanity until summer vacation, and reminding myself that packing the entire house will be totally worth it once we get into our new digs (It has an office!! Oh, the glorious writing-space possibilities!).

P.S. If you didn't give up on me during the last month of awkward silence, thank you. You're awesome. Like, happy dance awesome.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update and Special Announcement!

Hello, all! We've reached the last week of November, and for all you NaNoWriMo participants, that means winning has begun! To all of you who have reached 50,000 words--congratulations! To those still plowing ahead toward the prize, consider this a big ol' rah-rah-you-can-do-it! complete with pom-poms.

This year will be a first for me. The first time I don't reach that magical 50K. HOWEVER, I did reach those two beautiful words: THE END. I completed my first draft at about 37,500 and decided that this year, I was going to call that a win and be happy to cheer everyone else across the finish line. I'm proud of the fact that I pushed through and completed the very rough, messy, and fractured first draft of my next novel. I'm also quite happy to enjoy the rest of my November with a little less stress. (There are Christmas trees to be put up and decorated, after all.) Editing will begin soon--I gave the first chapter to my writers' group last night to make sure of that.

Now...Announcement!

Next week, I will have the immense pleasure and privilege of hosting an interview with author Erin Healy. She will be sharing some exciting tidbits about her upcoming book Stranger Things. Plus, you might just get to preview her new novel AND have a chance to win a copy for yourself. Make sure you come by the blog on Monday and check it out!

With that, I'm off to prep for turkey day. This year, I'm thankful for all of you who have visited my blog and read my posts. You've helped make this writing journey even more awesome. Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Countdown to NaNoWriMo (T-2)

When it comes to novel writing, I'm a pantser at heart. But in the interest of actually being able to finish what I start, I do have to do some planning before the writing begins. Honestly, I hate outlining, so my process goes something like this...

Figure out the beginning.
Figure out the end.
Figure out the rest as I go along.

That being said, I promised you a summary of this year's NaNoNovel in yesterday's post. Since I'm not entirely sure of all my plot points yet, you'll have to forgive me if it's a little vague and not quite dust jacket quality. Also, there's a slight chance I have trust issues am a bit paranoid about putting my ideas on the internets. (But there's also a chance that being chosen for 30 Covers 30 Days is a secret dream of mine.) All that aside, a promise is a promise, so here goes...

12 year-old Alivia knows what no one else believes: The woods took her mother. And now the forest is calling to her with two words whispered on the wind. 

Follow me...

On the other side of the trees is a carefree world where magic is real and the tea is always sweet. But once she enters, Alivia discovers a darkness seeping through the moss and golden leaves. A darkness she must stop if she's ever to see her mother again. At least, that's what the old white rabbit with the broken pocket watch tells her.

By the way, did I mention her mother's name is Alice?

Your turn. What are you writing this November?



Friday, October 4, 2013

Poetry and Such

Since this is a blog mostly featuring literary themed ramblings, and since I'm an author always bothering you with talk about writing, I thought it might be nice to share some actual, well...writing.

It's a little different from my usual work, since it's a poem. Most of the verses I've penned happened during my childhood, when it was my go-to Mother's Day gift. I wrote this particular poem as a Language Arts exercise for my daughter. I set out to use her spelling words in a story (making it her job to read it and circle the aforementioned words) and this is what came of it. Now, I'm by no means a professional poet, so all you rhyming masters out there will have to forgive me if my meter isn't perfect.

We Are the Books

We are the books,
We have something to say.
A story to tell,
If you say that we may.
Now if you read fast,
Or if you read slow,
It doesn't matter,
We're ready to go.
So come take a trip,
Come along and you'll see,
You can go anywhere,
See any sea.
Fly a hot air balloon,
Sit on a train.
Cut through the jungle,
Sail around Spain.
Meet lots of people,
Some happy, some sad.
Some at their best,
And some horribly bad.
Find a lost treasure,
Wish on a star,
Have an adventure,
Wherever you are.
And when you are done,
You'll love where you went,
And be ready to go,
Where you haven't gone yet.
So open us up,
And soon you will see,
A book is a door,
And you are its key.

So there you have it! I'm attempting to learn more about writing poetry, since I do have a picture book series in the works that is written in verse. I've always written by ear, so I've never really paid too much attention to the technical side of things. So if you have any advice, or links to articles or books that might help simplify things for me, please share in the comments!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 16, 2013

State Your Favorite - Boys' Quest



You can find my latest bit of published work in the August 2013 edition of Boys' Quest! This article about America's many unique state foods--from New York's apple muffin, to Oklahoma's ten-course meal--was the result of one of my assignments while I was enrolled with the Institute of Children's Literature. Even though I've had other stories published over the last couple of years, this one is near and dear to my heart because it was my very first piece accepted for publication. (Nothing like surviving ten rejections, finally getting your first "yes!" and then having to wait three years to see it in print!) After two rejections from agents regarding my book, it was nice to have this show up in the mail this week. A good reminder of what I've already accomplished, and how patience can pay off!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh Hello, Irony

There are times when the truth slaps you with a load of irony.

It goes something like this: First you're like, "whoa", and then there's this awkward moment when you realize you're going to have to admit you were wrong, and then you do and you feel SO much better.

At least, that's been my experience.

You may recall a post I wrote a couple weeks ago involving unicorns and writer's block. Well, the reason I was so desperate to overcome my creatively stuck position, was because something awesome was about to start and I had made a goal--a goal which I had shared with a major author and a couple thousand people.

Let's flashback a bit and this will make more sense...

Earlier this month, I responded to a blog post by Jon Acuff, in which he gave a Safety Not Guaranteed-esque call to those willing to go on an unspecified adventure. If you were willing to embark on said adventure, without knowing any details, you were to email him your name and mailing address. And in true clandestine fashion, the blog post was set to self-destruct in 24 hours.

Thus began the Start Experiment. A group of individuals from all over the world, taking a chance and ultimately being grouped together to encourage and assist one another in the pursuit of a dream or a goal, punching fear in the face in the process. One of the first things we were asked was what we were each willing to risk--what would our goal (to be moved toward over the course of 24 days) be? I immediately knew what mine would be: To write the first draft of my second novel.

Hence the need to be able to actually write.

The entire foundation of Jon's experiment, and the theme of his latest book, START, is that fear needs to be overcome in order for you to move toward your goal. So I was going to overcome the fear of stalling out, the fear of not being able to write, the fear of running out of ideas. Fear was going down!

And then a funny thing happened on the way to the fear smack-down. After coming out of the first week of the experiment with a super lame word-count, I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized that my risk was actually driven by fear. 

Helloooo, Irony.

You see, I finished editing and polishing my first children's novel in May, and queried my first agent the beginning of June. And instead of taking time to celebrate my accomplishment and focus on getting an agent/getting published, I immediately put a huge bunch of pressure on myself to write a second book. I convinced myself that one book wasn't enough to make an agent feel I was worth his/her time, that I needed to at least have a second one started to prove I was a real author and not a one-hit wonder. 

And then I wondered why I felt stressed-out, overwhelmed, uninspired and generally unhappy with my writing.

And so, after a jolly good laugh, irony and I parted ways and I took a new path. Now my risk is pursuing my dream of getting published by focusing on my finished book and preparing more queries to send out in the next couple of weeks. I've created a neatly ordered list of agents that I would love to have represent me, and I'm going to start tailoring my individual queries next week. I'm also continuing to write by working on some picture book ideas that I've been cultivating. This has been much less stressful and--hallelujah!--FUN. And come November, I will happily don my novel writing hat once more and leap into the literary abandon of my fifth NaNoWriMo. Until then, I will pour my heart and soul into a project fueled by hopes and dreams, not fear.

So, in case that was a lot to follow, here's a quick recap:

Fear 0 - Ashley 1


Friday, July 12, 2013

On Unicorns, Rainbows, and Rest


I came across this photo in my Facebook feed last week (courtesy of The Institute of Children's Literature), and I couldn't help but breath a giant sigh of relief. Which was immediately followed by a torrent of doubt. But so many other people say you have to work through it. Write every day even if it sucks. Write yourself out of writer's block! Don't stop, no matter what!

For weeks I felt like I was beating my head against a wall with my current work-in-progress. I just couldn't seem to get back to that beautiful place of writerly bliss. You know, the place where I sit down and look at the blank screen and suddenly the story begins to flow effortlessly and the words stack up as my fingers fly across the keyboard like a unicorn galloping across a rainbow on the wings of inspiration.

Okay, in reality maybe there's not quite so many rainbows and unicorns, but you get what I'm saying.

I was forcing myself to write, waffling between two ideas--both with potential--but coming out with exactly what the above quote describes: uninspired dreck. The more I wrote, the more frustrated I became, and the more I fell into an "I love you but I don't like you right now" relationship with both of my stories. So, with few other options and still feeling like I was breaking some sort of set-in-stone, thou-shalt-not-stop-writing rule, I took the above advice and stepped away. I didn't touch my laptop for several days in a row, worked on other creative projects that didn't involve writing, and curled up for some much needed reading therapy. I cleared the clutter from my word-mired mind and made room for inspiration to return from its vacation.

And it did.

After a week, I began to feel the itch to take up my pen. And as of today, I finally have a solid outline for my book and am ready to press forward. 

Also, my house is freakishly clean.

I learned a couple things from this little exercise. One: At some point I think you have to release yourself from the notion that there's a perfect formula for anything. Otherwise, you'll waste valuable time trying to follow other people's strategies. Everyone's process is different, and that's okay. Maybe your path to inspiration looks like plowing forward now and straightening your plot lines later. Maybe it looks like taking a long walk or watching your favorite comedy. Maybe it looks like closing the laptop (or notebook) and only writing to jot down notes as they come to you. Whatever works for you, go forth and do without guilt.

Two: I think it's important to remember there's a difference between quitting and resting. Quitting is a result of fear. Resting is a result of movement. It's a natural and necessary part of the cycle: work, recharge, work, recharge. 

No matter what your strategy is for getting unstuck, I think it would benefit all of us to give ourselves permission to rest. You can't go forever without burning out. Just because you take a break, doesn't mean you're giving up--it means you're filling up. And that's not just okay, it's good.

What about you? What strategy works for you when it comes to tackling creative block? What refills your cup of inspiration? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Milestones and Hope

I reached a new milestone in my writing career this week--I sent out my very first book query! *SQUEEE!* My book has officially left the nest to try and find its place in the world. It was a lot more nerve-wracking than I anticipated and I definitely felt some nervous jitters as I hit send. But that was nothing compared to the excitement I felt when the confirmation email popped up in my inbox.

My first ten pages are sitting in an agent's inbox right now. Whoa.

Now comes 6-8 weeks of waiting. For me, this is one of the hardest parts of being a writer. Not because I have a hard time being patient, but because I have a really hard time being optimistic. I'm much more of a realist when it comes to things like this. Part of me wants to believe my manuscript can and will be accepted by my number-one agency/agent pick on my first try. But the other part of me thinks, if it took sixty queries for a book like The Help to find success, who am I to think I'll find success right off the bat? Plus, there's this feeling that--besides it being statistically unlikely--it wouldn't be fair. After all, so many amazing authors have had to work incredibly hard to land an agent. Who am I to hope I could nail it on a first try? And isn't it better not to hope for too much, so I won't be disappointed if things don't work out?

But despite all of that, I hope. This time, optimism seems to have taken hold of me. I really, truly hope that this particular agent will choose to represent me. Sure, it might not happen. And that's cool. I'll find another potential agent, send another query, and hope some more. Because I realized something as I waffled between optimism and my perception of reality. Even though it may seem like I'm hoping for too much, what point is there in trying if you don't hope for--and even anticipate--success? If all you hope for and expect is failure, your dream is going to have a super sad existence. And dreams aren't meant to be super sad, pessimistic creatures. It goes against their very nature.

So...make your dream happy. Feed it some hope.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Small Things - May Edition

Encouraging Words

I've started getting feedback from my beta readers and I gotta say, they've put a gigantic smile on my face. From my mother-in-law's (slightly biased) praise, to a mom who was inspired to read it aloud to her kids, they've been both helpful and super encouraging. But the highlight was this week at writers group when my friend brought me a message from her two boys: They like my book so much they've already planned the movie trailer. *Cuteness overload* Combine that with their love of the characters and the fact they beg for more at the end of each chapter, and my day was made. Heck, my year was made. I'm more excited than ever to take the next step toward publication. A huge shout out and thank you to all my beta-readers!


An Old Favorite

I've been revisiting one of my favorite children's books, The Wind in the Willows. My own book's style and characters were hugely inspired by this story, so it has an extra special place in my heart. What makes it even better is the fact that this particular copy is part of my collection of vintage and antique books. I love the delightful simplicity of the cover of this 1933 edition, but the best part is the inscription inside, from a mother to her son on Christmas. I love imagining that little boy curled up on a snowy winter day, absorbed in the very same book I now hold. You can see a photo of the inscription here, in my Instagram feed.



A Beautiful Mess App

Now that I've finally joined the current century and upgraded to an iPhone, I'm even more in love with taking and sharing photos. As a lover of doodles, type, and creative flair, A Beautiful Mess is everything I could dream of in a photo editing app. With beautiful hand-drawn borders, great fonts for custom type, and fun doodles and phrases, it's the perfect way to add your own funky style to your pictures. You can also create custom backgrounds using a variety of included images/patterns (like the vintage library card in the Beta-Reader thumbnail above). Just to show you how awesome this app is, I used it to create all the images in this post. It's well worth the $0.99 to download. You can also visit Elsie and Emma's lovely lifestyle blog here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Meet Pinkletin

One of my early sketches of Pinkletin

Wondering why my blog is called Lemon Biscuits? For the answer, here's the synopsis part of the pitch I submitted to Pitchapalooza last month:

"But now, Pinkletin found that his list was much larger than his knapsack. And so it was that Mole found him, trying to decide between a set of encyclopedia and a tin of lemon biscuits..."

Dear Reader, allow me to introduce you to a teacup-sailing frog named Pinkletin. A frog with an adventurous spirit and an insatiable curiosity to find out what marvelous things are waiting across the pond, down the stream and over the horizon. From falling under the spell of the fairies' tales, to battling river pirates and accidentally joining the circus, Pinkletin soon discovers it doesn't take much to turn an ordinary journey into a fantastic adventure.

Hopefully Pinkletin and his delicious pastries will be hitting the shelves of a bookstore near you in the future. For now, I hope to have The Fantastical Adventures of Pinkletin Frog ready for beta-readers around June.