Category Archives: writing

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! 



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).

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!

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:


What I’m Writing

So now that I’ve got this little writer’s blog, perhaps I should talk about my writing…

By training–I hold an MFA–I am a creative non-fiction writer. I am not, to be clear, a memoirist. I’m not that exciting nor have I ever suffered a great personal or familial trauma. Rather, my non-fiction work focuses on essays in the vein of George Orwell and Charles Dickens’ non-fiction with a dash of Paul Theroux thrown in for a good measure. (Yes, both Orwell and Dickens wrote non-fiction. In fact, Dickens got his start as a journalist NOT a novelist. Both authors are brilliant, poignant, and critical in their observations). If I really had to label myself, I’d say I’m a travel writer. Some day, I’d love to write something along the lines and magnitude of  Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee or take creative license with a true story as John Hersey did in Hiroshima. So far, I’ve published only one creative non-fiction piece–you can read it here if you want–and hope to publish more in the future. I enjoy this flavor of writing.

In fact, I enjoy many flavors of writing. I don’t see why, as a writer, I must write myself into corner, become *only* this type or that type of writer.

Case in point? My current WIP, The Clocwork Cricket,  is a Steampunk novella (possibly novel) about a young Chinese immigrant living in Gold Rush Era California. There are spies selling secrets to remnants of Santa Ana’s army, damsels who refuse to be in distress, race riots,  and steam powered cars (which DID exist at the time believe it or not… mine just happen to resemble Astin Martins rather than clunky trolley cars). I’m using my training as a non-fiction writer–specifically my research skills–to delve deeper into the history of the 1850s. I’ve accessed laws regarding mining and the Chinese (a lot of racist legalese). I delved into the history of steam powered vehicles, INCLUDING first hand observation of one such conveyance at a historical car museum. I even got to examine close up–as in touch!–period clothing. My non-fiction training has helped me create a world (and it’s inhabitants) that feel (to me at least) real just by tweaking the very real details.

Cause really, who doesn’t want to drive a steam powered Astin Martin?