Inconvenient Times When Inspiration Occurs

Inconvenient Times When Inspiration Occurs

Shannon Thompson wrote about what inspired her Timely Death Trilogy, which took course over many dreams she had. The only thing a dream has inspired for me was Amelia Gareth, my protagonist for When Stars Die. But everything else comes entirely from my head and the previous chapter I had just written. When I both write and re-write, I do it for myself first, and then I edit for what I think my hypothetical number one fan will want to read, as well as my hypothetical fan that will rate my book three stars (because three star ratings DO NOT mean that the reader didn’t enjoy the book. It can simply mean they’re tough raters and they wanted more out of the book that they didn’t get, but it didn’t deter their enjoyment. Although three star ratings for me means I didn’t like the book, but I kept reading, which is what matters. Anything below three stars for me means I didn’t even finish the book). 

In any case, my inspiration doesn’t come from anything sentimental for me. Throughout the day, I am constantly thinking about how to make the story better, how to make the chapter better from a story standpoint–not at a technical standpoint, which is what I worry about last. Here are some inconvenient times when I receive inspiration:

  1. At work: I’m supposed to be doing my job, as in making appointments so I can hopefully earn commission, which rarely happens for me, because, frankly, the mall sucks so hard, harder than a diamond, and because I work the mall, I can’t make that many appointments. The more appointments you make, the higher the probability that you can actually SELL something. But at least I can keep my job, even if commission doesn’t go through. In any case, after making one appointment, I get totally lazy and generally limit how often I call people over to enter for the Fiat, which is the gimmick we use to draw in homeowners who might be interested in getting stuff–after all, even if I make 8, they’re probably not going to sale anyway, so I often say ‘What’s the point?’ Oftentimes while I’m interacting with a customer, I’ll receive this burst of inspiration, and I just HAVE to write it down, even when I am with a customer–and I do write it down. I am an author now. It is my career now, no matter how this career goes. I have saddled myself with a schedule now, so when inspiration comes, it has to be put down, regardless of how my interaction with the customer is, regardless of how rude I may appear.
  2. While in class: There is an exception to this. Geography is the most boring class I have ever taken in my life, so it’s not unusual for me to be working on my writing in this class, or writing down inspiration. However, for my other classes, it’s often advised that I pay attention, especially because memorization doesn’t exist in these classes like it does in my geography class, so I have to pay attention in order to understand concepts more clearly and how to apply them. But when I get a hit of inspiration, I simply have to pull out my outline journals and write it down, even mid-lecture. The professors may think I’m taking notes, but, really, I am doing something totally different from what they want me to do.  I haven’t been caught yet, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if they happen to do catch me. It’s just inconvenient because I really should be paying attention to lecture to understand stuff.
  3. While driving: I think about writing intensely when I’m driving because driving is rather boring for me. But once a piece of inspiration hits, I have to pull out the notebook and pen to write it down, even when I’m driving. At a stoplight, I will write it down, but if I have to finish my thought, I will write, even as I’m driving, and writing while driving isn’t even illegal but is just as dangerous as texting while driving. However, I am a very alert driver and haven’t had any accidents…yet, but I don’t see myself writing while driving too much in the future because TSAI is done, Christmas break is almost here, and so I’ll be spending most of my time at home.
  4. In the shower: So the other day I was mulling over how I wanted to end TSAI, and then suddenly realized how I wanted to end it. Now I was already in the tub, soaking in the hot water before I turned the shower on, but I knew I needed to write it down, that I didn’t want to think about it while showering in the relaxing, hot water. So I immediately got out of the tub, wrapped a towel around me, and went into my room to write down my thoughts. Mind you, I was freezing because my body doesn’t do so well with temperature changes, but I absolutely had to do it.
  5. Right as I’m about to fall asleep: While I’m on Seroquel, a great sleep aide and total mania killer–usually–my mind is still active, thinking about what I’m going to do while in the process of finishing a book, so when inspiration hits, I have to write it down right then and there or else I could possibly forget it the next day. I often do remember it the next day, but you never know. And it’s annoying because I was about to fall asleep and am so sleepy as I write it, but, well, you have to do what you have to do as a writer or author.

So, for those who are writers, what are some inconvenient moments when inspiration has struck? For those who are primarily readers and like to know what inspires writers, what is your favorite piece of inspiration writers have written about? 




Trends in YA Book Covers

Trends in YA Book Covers

Recently I stumbled across this article on Jillian Audrey’s blog on recent trends in YA covers and decided I wanted to share all of these with you.

I would post all the pictures of the current trends right here, but I want you guys to click on the links and look at the covers yourself just so I can spend this blog post explaining each one and either giving my approval or disapproval to several of these trends.

  • The Beheaded: I hate covers with beheaded characters. Why are they all beheaded? Is there some types of social commentary these covers are trying to make? They’re all beheaded women, too. Are these covers just trying to reduce women to just their parts, instead of showing the whole person behind the cover? This one bothers me because it reduces women to just their parts. I don’t know what the marketing department/cover designer is thinking of when they choose to behead the characters on the covers. What say you, Stars?
  • The Big Head: Yes, I know that When Stars Die falls into this trend. But, in my defense, my publisher and I originally wanted Amelia holding her little brother as the original cover, but that didn’t seem like it was able to be done, so we went the big head trend anyway. And you know what? I love my cover to bits, and many of the ‘big head’ covers in the trend’s list are beautiful anyway, such as Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. At least they’re showing the faces of these characters, too, and especially their eyes, which can convey a lot. I like my cover because it really puts Amelia out there, and you can see her innocence, which points to the fact that she isn’t a very worldly person.
  • Baby’s Got Back: This trend doesn’t bother me too much, but, again, it makes no sense. Sure, some of the covers are beautiful, but, admittedly, if you see enough of these, you begin to wonder why the marketing department/cover designers are choosing to take their models and show their backsides. Maybe these covers are trying to portray that these characters are going somewhere super important. I don’t really know.
  • The Mope: This trend doesn’t bother me at all because at least it’s showing the entire model and not just her parts, and at least ‘the mope’ is conveying the darkness of the book. Plus, some of these gorgeous covers just suck me in and make me want to read these books.
  • The Dead Girl: This one doesn’t bother me so much either because at least the characters are varied in how the cover designers chose to portray the deadness of the models. Plus, I read one of those books among the ‘dead girl’ trend, and I can tell you these types of books point to the overall theme of death, and that these ‘dead models’ point to the fact that death is going to be an enormous part of the book, that the main character is just going to be surrounded by it.
  • What Big Eyes You Have: This is another trend that I don’t like. While the eyes are pretty, they don’t really tell much about the story. I especially hate the big eye trend on opaque faces. It’s very tacky. There was this one middle grade book at the school where I do my observation that is called Escaping the Giant Wave, and this cover has a beautiful tidal wave, but there are freaking opaque eyes above it, and I think it’s stupid and cheesy and ruins the whole cover of the book. The eyes also look like they belong to a girl, and the main character is a boy. The cover would have been beautiful without the eyes, and those eyes serve absolutely serve no purpose at all–unless it’s trying to explain that the kid is going to have to escape this tsunami himself, with no adults present to help him. Otherwise, it’s a crap cover.
  • What Big Lips You Have: This is a trend I really hate, especially in YA covers. It’s oversexualizing the model, who is supposed to represent a teenager. Are there erotica books in the YA genre now, because those big lips definitely signify something pornographic going inside of the book.
  • What Big Hands You Have: This one doesn’t really bother me at all, especially the cover of Anna and the French Kiss. I mean, I suppose it’s arguably bothersome because it makes the book seem like it’s all about the hands, but, otherwise, I have no problem with this trend.
  • Kissy Face: Yeah…I don’t like this trend at all, but I’m probably being biased because I don’t like pure romance novels. Plus, some of these covers show the characters about to kiss, or they show the characters barely kissing. Too Nicholas Sparks for me.

So what are some other trends you’ve noticed in YA books lately?

Put When Stars Die in the Top Ten

Put When Stars Die in the Top Ten

WhenStarsDie-3-1As I said at the end of my NaNo post yesterday, today’s post is extremely short. I simply want you guys to vote for When Stars Die in what I believe is a cover art contest. Being put in the top ten will earn me something awesome, and I would very much like that something awesome. So click on When Stars Die to be taken to the poll, find the book, and vote for it! Thank you so much, Stars!

 Tomorrow’s post will be about my sudden, intense interest in the marketing and launching of a book, so this will be a very new thing for me. 

Finding the Heart of a Novel (Or Ripping it Out)

Finding the Heart of a Novel (Or Ripping it Out)

I hate that when I’m re-writing, I can’t find the heart of the story until a little more than halfway through, and then it just pops up and hits me like a freight train, and I’m left on the rails as a bloody flesh sack wondering why it took so long for the train to hit me. But this at least means that the most complicated part of a novel for me to write, the final few chapters, have been taken care of because they convey the heart of the story so well. Of course, this also means that when line edits come, I’m going to have to smash the heart of the novel into every line that I’ve already written–or at least see if the heart is there, a heart I couldn’t see until that ‘aha!’ moment.

I honestly wanted my second draft to be that draft where everything is all nice and smoothed out, but the truth is, that’s a difficult thing to do because even as I’m re-writing I’m coming up with better ways to tell the story, and finding more plot holes that I can’t smooth out until I do line edits. But what’s different this time around is that I hopefully won’t need whole re-writes with the third draft, that I can actually work on a few chapters a day and get line edits completed in about two weeks.

So what is this heart that I’m speaking of? Originally His Vanity was simply about a suicidal teen being taken on a journey to get better. Of course at the time I knew there was more to it, but you can’t really know the heart until you start writing. Even then it’s difficult to find the heart of anything in a rough draft. In reality, His Vanity is about a sick teen learning to cope with the pain already present. There’s some healing and what not along the way, but I am doing my best to present a realistic view of depression for those out there with treatment-resistant depression or those out there who can’t get treatment for depression. Treatment is not as easy as some media make it out to be. You go through meds, they fail, you try again. You find meds that do work, but you get crap side effects, so you have to drop those meds. For some people, it’s easy. One med and that’s it. But for others, it may take a year or more to find that stability, and so I want Gene to be the voice for those who struggle, really, really struggle because from what I’ve read in the sick lit genre of YA literature, there really isn’t that voice. They pop a pill, and suddenly they’re stable. Crap goes awry when they stop their meds. 

I desperately want this book to be more than just a fantasy novel. I want it to be in the vein of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. His Vanity is a book about mental illness that just happens to also be a fantasy book because the fantasy aspect is needed to show Gene there is an entire world out there that exists beyond his own. It also exists to help foster within Gene another perspective of life that he would not have gotten staying home–because his parents are very protective of him. Not only that, but the fantasy element also exists to show anyone who is afflicted with a mental illness that there is something special in them, even if it can only be a metaphor. There is truly something special. Pain demands to be felt, but it also has the ability to change us, and we can choose to let pain change us for the better. We can use that pain and make a difference (NAMI springs to mind).

It has not been an easy book to write because mental illness is not easy to write about.  It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s so, so, so, painful, but I’m doing my best to show that mental illness needs to be accepted as any other illness; I also have to accept that not everyone is going to get that. You don’t need to have a tragic story to be afflicted with a tragic illness. People simply  need to accept that if you’re sick, you’re sick, and that’s all that matters. The reasons are pointless.

So this is what I want His Vanity to accomplish:

  • You don’t need a tragic story to be sick
  • Getting treatment for mental illness is not as easy as mainstream culture leads us to believe
  • Mental illness is as serious as any other serious illness
  • People who are mentally ill are simply sick, and that is that
  • People who are mentally ill are not broken
  • People who are mentally ill are going to have to accept the pain that comes along with their illnesses
  • But people who are mentally ill have it in them, somewhere, to overcome their pain, even if they can’t completely erase it
Suggestions for Future Blog Posts: Readers’ Edition

Suggestions for Future Blog Posts: Readers’ Edition

I’m really wanting to gear my blog posts toward readers now–not just writers. So I would love your input about what you’d like me to write more of on this blog. It can be anything that interests you, so long as it’s from the perspective of a reader and not writer. I will still do posts aimed for writers, especially if I catch something in the publishing sphere that has my attention, but now it’s about you guys and what you want. So go on ahead! Leave some suggestions in the comments.

Some Balletic Determination and the Madness of Mental Blocks

Some Balletic Determination and the Madness of Mental Blocks

936236_564447873606956_1758649304_nBallet class on Monday was rough. Since Ms. Toole is on vacation, the director of the school is doing our class this week. Now I love taking class with him because he is meticulous, but I think he sometimes gets carried away with exercises and forgets just what level he’s teaching. Granted, my level is one step below the most advanced class one can take, but still…compared to Ms. Toole’s class, the director’s class was pretty advanced in some exercises. I shined in pointe class, of course, because it seems like once I’m on my toes, I’m weightless

In spite of class being so difficult and me performing poorly half the time, I am not deterred from taking class tomorrow. If anything, I want to improve and am more determined than ever to take class just to see what I can do.

There is an interesting thing in ballet that is very much comparable to writing, and that is the tendency to stumble across deadening mental blocks. When it comes to across-the-floor exercises in upper level classes, that mental block wants to creep upon me because these exercises are where you’re performing in like two or three person cells, so the rest of the class is able to watch you. When you’re performing on stage, you can’t even see anyone, but in class, you can see everyone and everyone can see you.

The class on Monday was already slightly disheartening, so my brain was already trying to disengage itself from the exercise being shown. By the time we got to it, what was in my brain couldn’t go to my feet, even though the exercise was, for the most part, at my level. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it–it was that I had allowed myself to become so intimidated that the mental block overpowered me.

I know this happens in writing for a lot of people. You have it in your head, but you can’t get it on paper. Sometimes you come across scenes that you know are intimidating to write, and you find that mental block doesn’t let the words flow as they should. It’s very much different from a writer’s block. With a writer’s block, you have no idea what to write. With a mental block, you know what to write, but it’s not translating or won’t translate on paper. Mental blocks can be more terrifying than writer’s blocks because you wonder how you’re ever going to take what’s in your mind and put it on paper. As a ballet dancer, mental blocks are terrible. I want to so badly to be able to perform the director’s across-the-floor exercises, but I have to overcome that mental block, which is a lot harder than actually learning new movements because it is entirely contingent on my mind, not muscle memory.

But I’m going to go into class with a renewed sense of vigor and determination. It’s something I love enough to practice on my own in that thirty minutes before class starts. Sometimes, we just need to take breaks from what we’re doing to really assess our problems and get a thorough grasp on them because it’s ultimately intimidation that feeds those mental blocks. Tomorrow, I’m going to go in with a bring-it-on attitude because the only person really being critical is me.

Dance is not a lonely endeavor, and writing doesn’t have to be either. You aren’t competing with anyone but yourself, and so your only competition is to be better than y0u were the day before.



The Increasing Popularity of Young Adult Literature Among Adults

The Increasing Popularity of Young Adult Literature Among Adults

Screenshot (8) This post has been taken out of context, so if you’re curious about the full article, just type the headline into Google.

Young adult literature is popular, as evidenced by the above post. What caught me most about this specific passage though was the mention that it is embarrassing that so many adults read young adult novels, the implication being that you’re hooked on to your teenage years. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wear any rose-colored glasses about my teenage years. I suppose the older one gets though, the more tempting it is to put on rose-colored glasses about one’s childhood, forgetting all the messy emotions you feel as you’re growing up, the total lack of freedom, having to be 100% dependent on people to care for you, and all sorts of other things that actually make me grateful that I am not a child anymore. I suppose one can wish to return to one’s childhood with the wisdom one has now, but no one is going to treat you as any less of a child just because you know arguing with your parents is senseless.

In any case, I find it offensive that young adult novels are still being held below adult novels and literary classics. Sure, there are some classics among young adult novels, but they’re classics for children, not classics overall. No one considers it embarrassing that there are kids who read adult books or that teens are forced to read classics they likely don’t relate to. But we’re still belittling young adult novels as less than other genres, even children’s literature, for reasons I can’t comprehend.

I suppose popularity breeds resentment, but books are popular for a reason. The public isn’t concerned about the nuances of writing so much as writers themselves, so they’re not as picky about artful writing as we are, which is probably why a book like Twilight was so popular among average readers but so scorned among the writing community.

I don’t think young adult fiction is popular among adults because we want to re-claim our teen years. I think young adult fiction is popular among adults because we want to remind ourselves how messy the teen years actually are. And they are. They’re rife with muddled emotions, hormones that screw with every decision you make, relationships that can turn potentially disastrous; forced to act like an adult but treated as a child; and so many other things that make the young adult genre as popular as it is.

I love the young adult genre because I love dramatic character change and emotional stories. Teens are chockfull of the potential to develop dramatically, thus creating emotion-centered characters that are very much about themselves.

While Suzanne Collins may not have the best prose available, she sure the heck knows how to craft an ingenious story, and story should take precedence over whether or not you can create artful prose that rivals the prose of the classics (I shoot for both, but at the end of the day, I want readers to love my story more than my writing).

I think it’s fantastic that teen fiction is popular among adults. This popularity has brought more notice and awareness to the young adult genre as a whole, and I find that amazing. While some people still scoff, you can’t deny how popular young adult literature has become within the last ten years.

My Book Needs Reviewers (ARCs Included)

My Book Needs Reviewers (ARCs Included)

Leave a comment if interested in receiving a free paranormal romance ARC of my soon-to-be-pubbed novel by AEC Stellar Publishing.

This book is looking for reviewers to do, well, reviews and possible quotes for the book before it is released. I am already creating an e-mail list of potential reviewers to give to my contract manager and would love to include anyone interested in reading a paranormal romance. Here is some more information on When Stars Die:

Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being…

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We’re All Professional Writers

We’re All Professional Writers


For years I felt like I could never justify the scribblings that occurred in the back of my room, often for hours. I could justify it to myself, that I’m doing this so I can land this agent, this publisher, this whatever, but trying to tell anyone else that I was a writer sounded silly. I could easily say I was an editor because I do get paid for freelance gigs and have my own lit magazine, but a writer, never. I mean, how can you easily tell people that you’re a writer when you’ve never had a contract before? People want to know you’re making money off anything nowadays because then it makes more sense to them why you bother being a shut-in for months.

Now that I have a contract, it is so much easier for me to justify being a writer. “What do you do for a living?” “I’m a writer.” As well as my other various jobs that can earn me some cash. It’s also so much easier to tell people I need time to work on this new book. In fact, I told my fiancé yesterday I needed to leave his house early so I could finish the other chapter I started that day to meet my goal of doing two. I never would have done that before a contract. In fact, I would have felt guilty knowing that because I didn’t really have a career, there would have been no reason to leave my fiancé and that my time with him is invaluable. It still is more valuable, but I want to build my career to possible full-time writer, and to do that, I have to keep writing.

Why is it so much easier to justify being a writer now that I can officiate my career as a writer? Why can’t people just understand that art isn’t going to bring immediate results? In fact, why do I feel the need to justify anything to people who really don’t get it? After all, I have no problem telling people that I am an adult ballet dancer, even though I am far from being a professional. I proudly claim that title because so many adults wish they could do ballet but are afraid to and I am one of the few that doesn’t fear being a late starter.

English: Classic ballet-dancer Español: Bailar...
English: Classic ballet-dancer Español: Bailarina de danza clásica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I can easily claim the title of adult ballet dancer, then I should be able to claim the title of writer without a contract under my belt. However, people think you’re so much more interesting when you tell them you’re a ballet dancer, especially when the ballet community is so small. They’ll tell you they did it when they were younger and wished they’d never quit. They’re convinced it’s too late, and perhaps that’s just it. People see an age limit on ballet and think you’re awesome for defying that and you don’t have to justify the sweat you pour into ballet by saying you get paid for it. Because I don’t. In fact, I spend my own money on ballet classes, leotards, tights, pointe shoes, soft shoes, knowing I am never going to get paid for doing what I do.

But with writing, there is no age limit. Anyone can pick up a pen and write. Every single person on earth is technically a writer because all people have picked up some utensil to communicate through writing at one point or another. This is when it becomes problematic to justify only you are a writer. You’re the one who picks up that pen or keyboard or whatever and puts serious thought into what you write. You’re the one who spends hours researching to build incredibly believable worlds and believable characters. You’re the one who writes because you want to, not because it’s some school assignment. You are a writer because you want to go beyond what everyone else does with his/her writing. You don’t need money to justify your sweat. All you need is you and hard work and your dream. So let’s all keep the Writer’s Manifesto with us and tack it somewhere on our hearts so that way the next time someone asks what we do, we can say we’re writers and no one bats an eye.