Friday Finds

So… it seems that all I post lately are Friday Finds.

Honestly, they’re all I have time for right now. Last week I was in Miami looking for a house, this week I’m packing. I’m still trying to NaNo but it’s going abysmally (as expected). I may just shelve this WIP and start something new in December.

What? I can do that, right? (I totally don’t need your permission! Right?)

So this week I’ve got some real interesting links for Friday Finds. As always, I try to keep them writing related… mostly.

  • Author Ken Liu swept the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards this year. Read a “A Paper Menagerie” by this amazing author here, via io9.
  • As someone who is hoping to some day make that transition from “”working stiff that writes” to “full-time writer”, I’m fascinated by how “for real” authors spend their days. Kurt Vonnegut liked to watch heart-breaking movies and Gretchen McNeil (author of the YA horror novels) writes in bed.
  • Lies writer’s tell themselves. I’m particularly susceptible to nos. 1, 4, 5, 13 (I obsessively check), and 18.
  • Chuck Wendig, book author and Terrible Minds blog curator, wrote an excellent post in response to yet more “fake geek girl” bashing by… geeks. Let’s be inclusive rather than exclusive, people!
  • Something I think about a lot, both because I have young male cousins and because I am writing a book with a male main character, is the role of masculinity in literature. Malinda Lo, author of Ash, wrote an excellent response to an article by Sarah Mesle (currently a Mellon Fellow in English at UCLA)–Mesle contends that the male in YA literature is “endangered.”
  • 31 debut authors offer some wise words of wisdom.
  • Write a first book is hard (can I get an amen up in here?). Author Holly Black offers some words of encouragement.
  • A hero’s goals shouldn’t–can’t–be a mystery. Matt Bird breaks down some awesome movies as really compelling evidence as to how to make your hero’s (or heroine’s) goals obvious.
  • I don’t read or write poetry but have IMMENSE respect for those who do. All of the poets in my MFA program has a far better grasp on how to make words work for them (color me envious) than I or any of my non-poetry writing cohort mates ever would. This article on the influence of Civil War poetry pretty much sums up why poetry rocks. You should go out and read some. Today.
  • James Bond’s Skyfall villian’s lair is real. It is abandoned and AWESOME.
  • So… how many of you would try to find the owner of $20,000 if you, ya know, “just found it” in a used book? And also… great reason to get thee to your local used book store!
  • Some wise words from author Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone). These are probably the most real words of wisdom and advice I’ve ever run across–and so easily applied to one’s OWN writing!
  • Last but not least, with Thanksgiving around the corner how about some pie? Check out Jane Austen’s apple pie recipe!

There you have it, friends. Some fine Friday Finds! 

Friday Finds

How is everyone on NaNoWriMo? I kinda sucked this past week–I’m only at about 9,000 words. But my excuse is a good one (how many times have you hear THAT?): I was in Miami searching for an apartment. It’s lovely and has a gorgeous kitchen with a gas stove, which is impossible to come by in Miami. The process is a bit annoying–we had to submit a booklet of paperwork to the condo association and promise them our first born, but I remain optimistic that they’ll (the condo association) will approve the application.

As such, this week’s Friday Finds are kinda on the week side number wise (only two). BUT… they’re still kinda awesome!

  • One of the first books I ever truly loved was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. It’s a beautiful story about a young native girl’s attempt to survive after all members of her tribe are forced to relocate. I read this book over and over one summer. Turns out it was real… 
  • I am fascinated by antique machines. This clockwork monk is fabulous.

And that’s all I got, friends. Short and sweet this week. Now… off to NaNo some more and see if I can catch up!


Friday Finds

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on the internet. I may have (or not) awarded myself the title of Mistress of the Webnets (Judge me not! You know you’re jealous!). As such, I find some what I like to call Links of Awesome. This week’s links include the following:

  • Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but left an indelible mark. The Atlantic shared some really sobering pictures of the NYC subway system post-storm. The final image shows exactly how much of the MTA–a vital entity of NYC–is currently not working.
  • Has anyone else seen Fairy Tales for Twenty-Somethings? It’s a brilliant little blog that “retells” classic fairy tales in just a few lines and always with a modern twist.
  • Ever wonder what some of literature’s most beloved characters would be like if they were real people? Well, some of them were… or at least were based on real people. My favorite tidbit from this one: Moby Dick was REAL.
  • Though this is not *technically* writing related, it’s something worth pausing and thinking about. Mandy from Grind Haus formulated a prefect response to the misogynistic treatment women often suffer at various Cons. And not just “geek” cons like ComicCon either, as author Genevieve Valentine’s experience at ReaderCon (a convention for aspiring sci-fi authors and their readership) . Sexual harassment is pervasive in Con culture, sadly.
  • Margaret Atwood is one of my all-time favorite authors; she writes brilliant and poignant books that make one think. Here she provides some wise words of wisdom for would-be writers.
  • NaNoWriMo is upon us. My word count is going well…because I’m cheating. I’m using NaNo as a sort of “game” to get words on the page in an unfiltered manner. If you’re still considering, there’s still time! To help you get started, or keep going, I suggest checking out this site of 60 tips collected over two years (via Galley Cat).
  • How many of you write genre fiction? Ever wonder why *some people* make such a big stink about reading/writing genre? The New Yorker tackles that question here.
  • And to dovetail on that last bullet point, here’s Slate’s analysis of Ursula K. LeGuin’s arguments about the need to classify “genre” as a moot and foolish endeavor.  LeGuin is a wise woman and her stories are timeless. I highly recommend picking up one of her books (Left Hand of Darkness is a good place to start) today.
  • Last but not least, a really wonderful and beautiful short story by Brook Wonders (via Clarkesworld): “Everything Must Go”

Oh! And a late additions:  A number of NYC agents and authors have banded together for an auction to benefit the Red Cross. The fabulous Jenna Malone of Jennifer Malone Writes has gathered them together on her blog. Feel free to take a look and make a bid!

And if one benefit auction wasn’t enough (because it’s not–seriously, people are hurting) here’s a SECOND one, Kid-Lit Cares. Same deal–take a look and bid on the posts.

Happy Friday!



I GOT A JOB. I’ll be teaching Writing about Literature at a small liberal arts college in Miami. It’s been two years since I’ve had gainful employment. There was much of this:

Followed by some of this:

…and a lot of this:

And then my beau joined in with a little of this:

…and this:

We *might* have rocked out a little like this:

But rest assured, NOT  like this:

(Okay… I lied. We did!)

When my beau returned to his office to finish up some work, I found myself doing this:

…and this

… and maybe some of this:

Once I got myself under control a little bit, I shared the good news with my friends and family (via Facebook), they joined in with a little of this:

…and some of those friends and family were kinda like this:

I considered running downstairs and out on the porch to do this:

(But I didn’t).

I free styled twirled a little bit:

Just when I thought the excitement had died down:

Which got me started up again:

One final shimmy:

…before I collapsed in ecstatic exhaustion:

And this, my friends, all on the first day of NaNoWriMo (which I have decided to do… my profile can be found here if you want to be buds).

Updates from Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the Northeast currently. Here in Philly this amounts to strong winds that occasionally cause the house to shimmy and rain constantly pounding on our roof. The cats are freaked out; the humans are drinking beer (Midas’ Touch, if anyone is interested).

So far we have not lost power. I kind of wish we would–I could get some writing done. Currently I’m eye-balls deep into a teen TV series best not mentioned here.

I’m still considering doing NaNo. The issue now is whether–if I participate–to continue my WIP, The Clockwork Cricket, or if I should attempt to bang out some words for this new contemporary YA work that’s been tickling the back of my brain. The two works have very little in common other than the fact the main characters are male… what’s up with that, I wonder?

How about the rest of you–anyone else passing time while Sandy huffs and puffs?

On Seeking Gainful Employment (Hopefully)

I have a job interview with a college in Miami, FL tomorrow. Truthfully, after two years of unemployment the prospect of a job makes me go like this:

The interview is for a position that I’ve occupied before–adjunct writing instructor–and is an occupation that I really love.  It is, admittedly, a time consuming job as there is a lot of prep and grading involved, but I really do enjoy being in the classroom working with students to help develop their writing skills. And all the better if it’s in a creative writing setting!

That being said, as I’m currently in Philadelphia, PA and the job is in Miami, FL, I’ll be doing my first ever Skype interview… which totally makes me feel thus:

I’ve spent two days trying to find just the right location ( a combination of blank wall and light) to set myself up in front of as well as trying to find books  to use to prop up the edges of my computer. They need to be the same thickness so that I’m not all lopsided on the screen; three of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice books plus all three of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Triolgy seem to be working well.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a job AND been serious about writing. Right now my writing schedule is free as they get: I do it whenever I damn well please. And often in my jammies. *If* I get this job, It’s going to require a hard look at what available time I have as well as what I’m willing to give up to finish the WIP. Nonetheless, I’m excited to *possibly* have a job again (it would be wonderful to no longer rely on the kindness of strangers my beau for total financial support). Wish me luck, friends!

Therapy…or Just an Excuse to Watch TV?

Hello (waves) and welcome! I’m excited to be participating in this blog hop via Writer Therapy. My blog is kinda like the new kid right now: very shy but desperate to make friends!

I like this idea of “writing therapy”–it makes procrastination (especially my procrastination) seem more acceptable some how. Like I’m doing something instead of avoiding doing what I should be doing (which we all know is putting proverbial–or real if you roll that way–pen to paper and writing like there’s no tomorrow). And if I’m really savvy about my choice of writing therapy, I can actually convince myself that it’s some sort of “homework assignment” meant to help me grow as a writer.


When I’m not writing, you can find me in one of three places:

  1. On Twitter
  2. Parked in front of the TV watching Netflix via the XBox 360
  3. Reading in bed

I know, I know. At least two of these are Really Bad Forms of Procrastination and should totally earn me a Writer’s Dunce Cap or maybe some sort of Bad Human Award. I’ll admit, freely and up front, that BOTH Twitter and Netflix are two of the largest time sucks. I mean, you start with one episode of Doctor Who or Downton Abbey via Instant Watch and next think you know, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you’ve forgotten to feed the cats all day… 

But I digress. Let me start at the bottom of my list with perhaps the most obvious of therapies: reading in bed.

Reading in bed has always, for me, been a way to unwind at the end of the day. It’s a way for me to take all the worries and stresses that accumulated during the day and just not so much forget about them, but rather not focus on them. It’s like Yoga for my mind.

TV is similar, in that it’s really easy to plop down on the couch and just shuffle all my woes to the back of my mind for a few hours. But here’s where TV becomes a bit more instructional. Because TV is meant to be digested in short bursts (the average TV episode is about 50 minutes long and an average movie is about two hours) vs. books, which take hours to read (if read in one sitting) or days/weeks if read a chapter (or two) at a time. In a compact amount of time, one can view an entire story, or nearly an entire story. If one is a savvy viewer/multi-tasker, a few hours in front of the boob tube becomes an opportunity to delve into structures of storytelling!

Last, but not least… Twitter. Raise your hand if you open your Twitter account to “quickly check” Tweets only to find, when you come up for air, that two or three hours have whooshed right on by? (Don’t be shy… raise your hand!).  I’ll admit, I’m a Twitter addict. I currently freelance write form home and it’s really easy to keep Twitter open in a browser (and I do).  But what I’ve done is custom tailored my Twitter feed to include *mostly* writers, agents, editors, publishing houses, and industry insiders. Sure, I have a small smattering of friends and an even smaller smattering of news outlets and  public figures that I follow but I’ve purposefully kept it small… like of the 372 people/entities I follow, about  120 are friends, news entities, or public figures. That means that roughly 250 are book writing and publishing related. I also follow a small number of publishing/writing hashtags like #pubtip, #editortips, #amwriting, #writing, or #writetip for insider tips and, in the case of the last on, chats with writers and agents. There’s an extensive list of hashtags for writers here.

For me, my writing therapies are about maximizing my time. If I’m not physically banging out a story, I’m thinking about the intricacies of structure, character development, or other elements of writing.

Tricky, no?


  • Reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente; Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce
  • Watching:  Revenge, Boardwalk Empire, Alias
  • Tweeting: all sorts of stuff! (find me @tinapickles)

To Nano or Not to Nano…

If you’re an aspiring writing, you’ve most likely heard of NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. Every November, thousands of wanna-be writers (this girl included on an occasion or two) park their backsides in booths and tables at coffee shop across America (and beyond!) and apply fingers to keyboard in an effort to tap out 50,000 words in a month.

It’s a daunting task. I’ve participated twice in NaNo and failed twice.

If I were to sit and think about why I failed, it really comes down to things:

  1. Daily word count
  2. Winning

I am an incredibly competitive person. I’m not very good at sports, but I am ruthless at board and card games. I’ve been known to doggedly play the same game over and over until I win… and then quit. (Hey–I said I was competitive, not stupid!). Winning, as ridiculous as this sounds, means something to me. Probably because I’m not incredibly athletic, never played sports growing up, and was nearly always the last person chosen for a gym class team.  The idea of winning at writing is VERY appealing to me–hello? (Wanna-be) Writer over here! However, NaNo has kinda become like the only game I’ve ever played and never won: Chess.

I am a terrible Chess player not for lack of trying–trust me, I try all. the. time!–but because I can never strategize correctly. When I plan out my moves in advance, carefully analyzing the board and all possible moves, my opponent inevitably finds the one available move I did not. When I play by the seat of my pants, I inevitably find my Queen sidelined and my King backed into a corner by a band of evil pawns.

Winning then becomes a chore rather than a fun goal. NaNo winning, the two times I participated, were kind of like that. I found myself either stymied by some minor detail that slipped my attention during all my pre-writing planning or backed into a corner and facing far too many narrative threads to bother untangling them.

Daily word count is no friend of mine either. I like to choose my words carefully. I frequently write, read, delete, and rinse and repeat. This idea that to “win” one has to write X amount of words a days is in some ways a bit too much pressure for me.  I inevitably throw my hands in the air and say “f**k it” when my word count falls behind.  The headlong  rush to the daily finish line just doesn’t suit my writing style.

So I’m on the fence: To NaNo or not to NaNo? I have roughly 20K written. NaNo, if I completed the challenge, would give me another 50K, leaving about 10-15K to write to complete the manuscript. (Whew! That’s a LOT of K!).

I don’t want to race, but I desperately want to finish.

What about it friends? Are you NaNo-ing

Sunday Snippet: 101 Word Teaser of WIP

Ying-Shi dipped one of the clean bandages into the water and pushed the woman’s hair away from her wound. It was soft and well cared for, not the crackly straw of a woman who labored under a hot sun. His mother’s hair had been like that once.

Then he began. He cleaned the dirt and coagulated blood from the wound as best he could. He made the stitches tiny and close together, and was careful not to pull the skin too tight lest it bulge when it scarred. He didn’t realize that he’d been holding his breath until he was done.

Revisions… They are Hard.

I have a confession to make: I’m not done writing my WIP. Not even close. In fact, I’d say I’m somewhere between a quarter to a third of the way done.

And I’m taking a pause to revise.

You heard me right–I’m revising.

I know, I know. Write the rough draft and then revise. And this is what I’ve told my students in the past (I taught college level creative and composition writing for a few years). And I *usually* heed my own advice–I’m a research and outline the bejesus out of a project before writing it kind of girl.

And yet I’m revising.

Here’s why. I’ve researched (I like authenticity), and I’ve started writing and despite my preparation, I’m stuck. I *know* where my story is going, but I think I’m treading water because it’s been about eight months since I last shook the dust off the manuscript and took a whack at it.

Absence does not make the heart grow fonder; rather it makes the brain forget and the creative juices sour.

So I’m re-reading what I’ve written so far, making some minor and major tweaks as I go along, hoping that my memory is jogged and my juices… juiced.

God that sounds gross.

Anyway… the whole process is kinda like this: