Best Laid Plans (Watch This Space)

Some weeks start by slamming right into you…and only get harder from there. This was one of those weeks. I got sunburned, sick, injured, and my household’s moving budget just lost a significant portion of income that we were counting on.

So, we’ve spent the week huddling close and spending more family time together, because while we don’t know what to do, we do know that before the end of the month my sister-in-law will have headed off to a different part of the country (her travel was previously arranged).

I haven’t been able to get back into my short story writing–for those reasons, as well as other creative ones. My next couple of blog posts will help explain why. In the meantime, since I haven’t been writing, here’s an excerpt from Crossers, the book I published in 2015 on the Goodreads platform before reclaiming it for further revision.

Today’s excerpt: “You’re going to love it,” I told him, snuggling up against his side on the sagging couch. 

“It doesn’t sound like I’m going to love it,” Ben replied skeptically. “It sounds like we’re going to spend another two hours watching people sing about being really happy and then really sad, while no one points out how weird it is that they’re all singing in the first place.”

“That’s how musicals work! We’ve been over this.”

“But it doesn’t make any sense!” He pointed at the basement television. “Nobody actually starts dancing down the halls of our high school. Nobody ever breaks into song in the grocery store.”

Giving him my most winning smile, I fluttered my eyelashes. “But don’t you think they should?”

“No. You know, I really don’t. It’s kind of unsettling just seeing actors do it.”

I attempted to sneak the remote out of his hand, but he knew me too well. Instead of relinquishing the power, he pressed a kiss to my temple and hit play.

“Alexa,” he added as the trailers began, “I’m never going to love musicals. No matter how hard you try–or how cute you are doing it. But you know what?”

“What?”

“I’ll keep on watching them with you.”

“And you’ll keep on complaining.”

“Yes.”

“Good.” I reached over to slide my hand into his. “I’d be sad if you stopped.”

Best Laid Plans (Watch This Space)

Books That Make You Want to Write

This is going to be a short missive, because the real world was exhausting today. 🙂 I’ll be back to writing tomorrow evening.

In the meantime, I’m curious if anyone else has ever read a book that made them even more dedicated to the idea of writing–because it upset them? I’m very familiar with reading books that inspire me because I wish I wrote that well, or because the book offers me ideas about how to improve, but every once in a while a book just bothers me. In a way that makes me feel like what’s been put out into the universe by the book needs fixing, and if only I can tell, then it’s up to me to fix it.

I recently read a book featuring an Autistic girl as the protagonist, that was being lauded in bookstores, and I was very excited to read it. By the end I was quite upset, because it seemed like the underlying message of the book was Autistic kids are such hard work that any parent willing to live with them is a saint and deserves our sympathy–no matter how poorly they treat that child!

Oh, I’m still upset about it. And it makes me feel like I need to throw out all my current projects and start working on one of the ideas I have for an Autistic heroine, just so that there will be more novels about Autistic people written by Autistic authors. (The three most famous I’ve come across, two of which were about teen boys and better than this, were all written by non-Autistic authors.)

Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be a good idea to follow that whim, no matter how worked up I am on behalf of young girls like I once was, and start my writing career all over…again. I’ve done it too often. However noble the cause, it’s likely to end in disaster.

So: have you ever read a book that you found so aggravating you wanted to write even harder? If so, what was it?

Books That Make You Want to Write

Wildcard Weekend Cheat Sheet

Hello readers, and future friends! As you may know, my weekend attention got divided somewhat by very important life news, but that didn’t stop me from kicking off WriteMania with a weekend of short stories, mainly based in my novel worlds and using prompts from a writing community I used to run with my spouse.

So for those of you who might be curious, here’s a list of the stories that Wildcard Weekend has produced so far (this list will be continuously updated throughout Sunday):

Take Me to Church – Set in MirrorWorld. A witch (turned-thief-turned-priest) muses about the past, and the love of his life.

Where You Lead – Set in MirrorWorld. The teenage guardians of two worlds face off over the disappearance of a boy they both love, in their own ways.

A Harmless Drink and a Hopeless Romantic – Two characters from Girl Next Store have their first not-exactly-a-date night, and it does not go as planned.

Hands-Free Mode – Finally together after eight years, Josh and Donna from The West Wing share a heated night–but Donna’s in charge this time.

Wildcard Weekend Cheat Sheet

Flexing Your Fingers and Taking a Leap

I have Bipolar 1 disorder. I tend to tell people this a lot, possibly more than other people with the disorder do. Probably more than people who encounter me wish I would. 😉 But I do so for two reasons:

  1. My personal hero, Carrie Fisher, fought the same mental illness until the day she died, and she did so openly, trying to destigmatize it for others. If I can live up to her example in any way, I’ll be proud.
  2. I don’t think mental health should be a subject of shame and avoidance. I am bipolar–it’s a fact just like my height, or where I was born. If I pretended it didn’t exist, it would affect me all the same.

Having this disorder requires knowing what that means for me, and trying to work around it as best I can. Even at my healthiest, I’m still a person who will have a mental illness for the rest of my life; it’s not as though taking my medication every day makes me not bipolar.

So, what I’ve learned since I was diagnosed and began paying better attention is that I have “up” modes and “down” ones, and during the down ones I can go months unable to write at all. But today, we’re here to talk about the up times, when I’m manic or hypomanic. For me, a manic period equals less sleep, more productivity, and increased creativity. I have all the ideas! I want to do all the things! Nothing could possibly stop me!

Manic periods are temporary, and they happen this way for me because I also have ADHD–unless I’m manic, the ADHD keeps me too scattered for my work to amount to much, so I’m even more determined to Get Stuff Done once I hit an up patch. Who knows how long it’ll last?

Today, I’ll be posting my first WriteMania fanfic, and it’s based on an anonymous request I got a long time ago via tumblr. The reason I prefaced all of this with an explanation of mania is because I got this request, and a few more, after soliciting them with a specific goal in mind: to challenge myself.

If you’ve joined me for WriteMania, you’re likely noticing the pattern already. When I get manic, I want a challenge. Not just want, need–and feel I can handle. Suddenly I’m ready to do big things, and truly believe I can…which sounds inspirational, and isn’t inherently bad, but does usually lead to a downfall when I return to reality. Because if I’m manic, I’m not thinking clearly, so there’s almost always a downfall.

Now, I’m lucky, because compared to other people’s manic periods, “didn’t live up to my goal” is a harmless consequence to face. But it doesn’t change that fact that I regularly get manic–and once, when I was, I decided it was time to stretch my writing abilities and try my hand at writing “smut fic,” or I guess what could be thought of as erotic fan fiction. Even in these stories I don’t get terribly explicit, but my usual style is much tamer, so it really is a stretch for me.

However the challenges are induced, I do think stretching myself as a writer is good for me. Challenges, trying new things, improving through failure–all of it is good.

What are you doing lately to challenge yourself, and do you feel like you’ve grown as a result?

Flexing Your Fingers and Taking a Leap

What We Leave Behind

I’ve been going through all of my partially completed novels, to put them on my mental list of potential worlds as I write short stories.

Including my three finished drafts, two of which are from the same series, I have about a dozen.

I honestly have no idea how that compares to other writers; I know a few, but it seems an intimate question somehow, and we’re always talking about the projects we haven’t currently abandoned. But I’ve got almost ten drafts gathering metaphorical dust because I can’t write more than one book at a time and it’s too late to stop them from having multiplied in the past.

This is something I wanted to mention because my family has confirmed that we will be moving in July…in less than a month, technically. And as I began to mentally prepare for everything that’s going to entail, my top considerations definitely weren’t ‘old novel attempts’ for understandable reasons.

But, one of my unfinished novels is an idea that I still think holds amazing promise. It’s YA, and it makes the setting a central character, with a scavenger hunt that in the end leads the protagonist to friends and love within her new home.

The problem is, I came up with the idea and made the setting so crucial to the story because it’s set here, in Salt Lake City, a place I’ve gotten to know very well over the decade we’ve lived here. I know it not just the way any resident would, but as someone who relies on public transit, who has lived in a car and became familiar with places most people don’t notice.

I was all prepared to channel that expertise into finishing that book, someday down the line after others I’ve deemed more worth my time. Now my time is up. Sure, I could Google Maps-and-bluff my way through a draft, but there’s a real possibility I won’t ever come back here—making revision and fact checking, especially over time, pretty difficult.

And yes, it’s possible I could learn my way around a new city and then transplant the idea…but that wouldn’t change the fact that I would still never be writing this book, one that felt like it was meant to be written.

So, how do you say goodbye to a good idea that’s still good but no longer viable? Do you mourn and move on, or just keep it in that “someday” folder and refuse to accept defeat?

I think for now, I’ll choose the latter. 🙂

PS: Wildcard Weekend is still ongoing, and tomorrow I’ll post a list of the stories I’ve completed so far, with links for easy reading.

What We Leave Behind

Wrenches of the Best Kind

Happy weekend, everybody! It’s Day 2 of my personal writing challenge, WriteMania, and I’ve only completed two (very) short stories so far, well below where I expected to be by this point.

The reason for that is that my family got some good news about our July plans yesterday, which had me a bit distracted by non-writing work that needs doing. However, you’re welcome to read both tiny ficlets and there will be more up tonight. I’m only just getting started. 🙂

This wrench tossed into my weekend–I expected to have more on my plate soon, but not yet–is really an excellent one. I’m grateful for it. Now I just have to balance my responsibilities with my goals, and keep moving.

Do you approach happy distractions differently from unpleasant ones? What’s the best wrench that’s ever been thrown into your works?

Wrenches of the Best Kind

WriteMania: Wildcard Weekend

It’s June 8th, everybody! That means than my marathon month of trying to raise funds for a potential move on July 7th has begun. Welcome to WriteMania. 🙂

You can find detailed information here, including links to my fanfiction and how to request stories. However, all you really need to know when it comes to my original fiction is that I will be writing short stories over at In Want of a Reader and mentioning them here during my usual blogging.

This weekend in particular, I’m going to be utilizing the prompts that piled up in that community to produce as many stories as I can. You can also suggest new prompts for me at any time–I’ll enjoy the challenge!

Until July 7th, all of my posts will contain donation links for anyone who might willing, but donations are not expected or required. My family is just facing great economic hardship and this is my way of trying to help.

My daily updates aren’t going to include a “Today’s Excerpt” sample as long as I’m publicly posting everything I write. If I do have a sick/emergency day at any point that keeps me from completing projects, though, then I’ll include an excerpt from private novel work I’ve been doing.

Thanks to everybody who’s been reading. 🙂 My first prompt-based short stories will go up tonight at IWoaR, so keep an eye out!

WriteMania: Wildcard Weekend