The Best Q&A Ever.

 

These past few weeks I’ve been around the world a few times. Perhaps not by plane, but the ole armchair. (Which armchair really should be retired because it had trouble taking off from Marrakech where I was trying to buy teeth and well, we almost didn’t make it back. Had I not had a bracelet of scuppies..well,that’s a story for a different day). Truthfully though, besides collecting teeth I had the opportunity to chat with a few well-knowns and find out the answers to your burning questions.

 

Q: Hey I want scuppies, too!

A: No.

 

There has been a lot of talk about John Green, international teen whisperer, and–

Q: ”if a woman had written TFIOS….” Blah blah.

 

A:  I asked John a few questions about his new-found celebrity status, to see if he agreed with any of it:

Me: John, you’ve been thrust into the public’s eye because of your ability to write teen realism that really resonates with people. What do you think about that?

John: ::whispers:: teen, teen, teen.

Me: There a lot of talk about had the book been written by a female it would have been lauded, or perhaps not lauded but ignored, as another teen romance. Do you agree with those statements?

John:  teen, teen, teen.

Me: Has the celebrity gone to your head at all?!

John: teen, teen, teen

Me: Is that all you say? Is this why they call you the teen whisperer?!

John: Teen, teen–

Me: Okay, okay, okay. Where’s my armchair, I’m taking off.”

 

So there’s that. *

THIS article blew up yesterday. Lots of anger. Lots of rolling our eyes.

Q: Why?

Like I tweeted yesterday, the timing of a “screw you YA lit!” article on the eve of one of YA’s biggest movies makes any logic person suspect “bad press is better than no press” scheme to draw readers to their site. Read it if you want

but

A: there are better much better) things to spend your time doing. Period.

 

Q: Did you know that they have a photograph of one of the Ripper victims?

A: Yes but don’t look it up, it’s creepy. Plus you’ll see all these other victim pictures which is just gory and gross.

 

*For more about what John Green also says, go to the horse’s mouth HERE

photo cred HERE

 

My intern just ran into the room so I must dash. Happy weekend all and go do something fun!!

Back in the Office. My Halfway Point.

After almost one month of wild adventures in the nether regions I am back at the home office typing away (as I do). And would you believe it, I’ve hit my halfway point:

312

Well, past my halfway point actually. To be completely honest, I’ve never made it this far. Not in my five years of writing. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. Usually I hit a wall around the 32-36k mark. And I start all over, re-writing.

But I past it this time. And it’s so freeing.

I might actually finish this book. I will have written a book. Other people will read my book.

Holy cow.

It’s funny, after all this time of dreaming of it happening I’m terrified of someone else reading it. Someone I don’t know, who doesn’t know me. But at the same time I can’t wait for someone else to read it. To believe in it as I do. To love characters as I do.

Which is giving myself more credit then maybe is due, or putting the cart in front of the horse (donkey? mule?) But gosh darn, I’ve had this novel in me for a long time and it’s good.

Actually it’s horrible right now. As first drafts go. But beneath the overgrowth and the dirt, sweat stains and dried blood there is a beautiful set of bones. Glimmering and polished that is starting to emerge. (Which is actually quite symbolic of the story also). I can’t wait to unearth this skeleton and set it up properly with working muscles and systems and a new covering. And life will be breathed into it by you, reader, and you will give it life so that it comes alive. A moving, flawed, rich, emotional happy life.

I can’t wait.

Until then, I’ve renewed my vigor for blogging. I’m also getting Instagram underway hopefully with the collaborative help from some other artists I’ve long admired.

Q and A this Friday. I can promise you it will be a good one 🙂

#makeithappen,

J

Make it Happen. Dont Let Joe the Plumber’s Story be Yours.

File:Clayton Plumbers.jpg

I once knew a man named Joe, who wanted to be a plumber.

This in and of itself is not that interesting, but the sadness of this story lies in how he got exactly what he worked for.

Joe had always been a fan of plumbing and sewage and systems and tools of the trade (probably since high school) but he didn’t find out that plumbing was his calling until his twenties. At that point, Joe began to behave like a prospective plumber. He read voraciously every kind of book on plumbing that he could get his hands on. He almost attended a few plumber’s conferences but he thought they were too expensive. He set up a blog, facebook account, twitter account and an email Joetheplumber [at] plumbers [dot] com. This was all so he could attract fellow plumber hopefuls and those who would one day need his services. It was also so that when the huge corporations needing a plumbing company began pounding on his door, he would look legit.

At night when he went to bed he dreamed about the tv interviews of famous news people asking him how his company had grown so big so fast, why no one had done plumbing the way he had before. He could see himself on stage at national conventions, with a huge projector screen behind him, talking to an overflowing room of people eager to hear what he had to say. They’d queue up afterwards to gush over him and he would be forever turning down requests because he was just too busy.

He had a day job, of course, but deep inside he knew his calling was plumbing.

When he became a real plumber, he’d have money to do all the things he wanted to do.

When he became a real plumber, he’d have respect and credibility from his peers.

During the week, after his day job, he spent a few hours here and there actually plumbing. Most days he was too tired though. Or friends came over distracting him. And although Joe set up his social media, he never really posted anything. Nothing he came up with at least. He was pretty good at re-tweeting other plumbers‘ stuff, especially the funny ones. Joe set a goal to blog and for a whole week he put up three posts but when the crowd didn’t come running he decided to try something else. But he forgot about it.

Each day he told himself that tomorrow the stars would align and he’d make a giant step towards his dream of plumbing in the big time. His desperate wish would be recognized just by wanting it. He could visualize it so well, it was almost in his hands.

He kept working his day job and dreaming, and once in a while when another obscure plumber filled his news filters Joe would re-dedicate himself to plumbing. He’d announce to his family and friends that this time he was serious. This time he was a real plumber. And he practiced plumbing. It was a bit mundane, the same room, the same thing every day. He wanted something bigger, more important than going through crap. He just wanted to get into the big time so badly, every small step was one step too small.

I caught up with my friend Joe five years after I first met him.  We met for lunch down the street from his day job office. He told me the dream is still there, it just doesn’t feel like the right time. Once things ease up at work he’s going to re-dedicate himself. Once he and his girlfriend finish building their home he’ll have the extra bathroom he’s been waiting for so that he can have the right space to practice in. A plumber is only as good as his plumbing conditions of course. He still knows he’s a better plumber than so many others out there.

“One day that will be me,” he said to me as his cell phone rang. “One day.”

 

*image wikicommons HERE

I am a Real Writer part 1

File:Piccadillycircus tube station.jpg

I’m in the country office early this morning. I’d love to say that I took the tube because that sounds so posh. And I hate trying to find parking. Alas, I neither tubed it nor drove it, I ran. Which is better for the ole ticker but like, third, in coolness.

Anyway, last week I decided finally that I was a “real writer”. Apparently, the last five years haven’t counted because, guys, now I am a real writer. Interestingly, it has shifted my thinking. I’m more pro-active on twitter, I’m talking about what I’m writing more and I feel more complete in who I am. I will blog about it later, because it’s interesting that plumbers and accountants don’t go through the mental trial period that we writers do. And they don’t dive into sewers every spare minute (usually by themselves) just to prove that they are adept for their vocation.

Writing is nuts that way.

That said, I’m absolutely terrified that I’m making twittery friends and that some of you have signed up to follow my blog. There are ACTUALLY PEOPLE READING THIS! Which, since I’ve wanted to be a “real writer” for so long you’d think I’d be a little bit more prepared for the idea.

Anyway, long ramble this morning. I promise there will be more writery, cool stuff (like cool tube stuff). But I do thank you for reading. And for following me. I will try to be worthy of your trust and interest.

I’m off to write 1000 words this morning before my young assistants get into the office. That and I hear there’s a troll in the dungeons so, you know, there’s that to take care of.

All in a day’s work.

 

 

*Wikicommons image HERE  the last time I took the underground, I was frantically trying to push in far enough to not loose a limb on the doors, not to take pictures.

Readathon Wrapup

File:Mattheus van Hellemont The Alchemist .jpg

 

Last Friday (as in a few days ago) I found out about Dewey’s Readathon. I’ve really been thinking about the literary world and giving back lately especially because John Green has been in the spotlight. (rah-rah!) So I decided to jump into Saturday’s readathon wholeheartedly, unprepared and super excited. Sadly, my total reading hours was, to put it eloquently, very crappy. My Saturday had already been blocked out and I scrambled to cram in as much reading as possible.

But the re-tweets and support readathon-ers showed me and others was palpably exciting and stimulating. What an amazing universe where complete strangers encourage each other in our own private endeavors. I loved that each reader had their own charity close to their heart that they were raising money towards. I was humbled that Reach Out and Read, reached out to ME because of my small efforts for their organization. There were many things I learned this first time around..

1. Why was I asking other to re-tweet all #readathon tweets? Give readers/passersby a reason to be re-tweeting.

2. Re-tweet others’ efforts more.

3. When leaving blog post comments, make it all about that person. Instead of things we had in common or what I was doing.

4. Set a money goal for hours read AND books finished. And set a reading hour goal in the first place.

With the time I did have, I discovered that I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s Lunar series. Sometimes I stay away from books because they are so well liked-hyped but this was a mistake with this trilogy and I’m so glad I’ve rectified it.

So, Dewey’s Readathon was, in my book, a great success despite my paltry offering at the end of the day. Next year I’ve vowed to do better and hopefully raise much more money for organizations that are doing such saving work.

 

 

*image Wikicommons Chemical Heritage Foundation, Mattheus van Hellemont The Alchemist

The Game is On!!!

::Sounds of Typewriters clacking, shoes rushing the floor, doors slamming::

Oh the flurry and commotion at the foreign office today!! I’m out of the country office and in our bunker down below the streets of London heading up a small branch of a secret global organization. What we’re exactly doing, I can’t say. But what I can share is the outreach effort of our branch plus hundreds of others around the world. HUNDREDS.

 

Intro, the Dewey’s Readathon + Geeky Blogger Twist!

As I sit here typing, trying to keep my thoughts straight –“stop that shouting! Who is shouting!?” I’m super excited to be involved with a world literacy effort in memory of Dewey. I’ve got a pile of books TBR and a delicious breakfast smuggled in to me from a local bakery up top.

The charity I’m reading for is Read Out and Read, an “evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud”.

Because boy howdy, do I believe in parents reading with their children.

As is usual in my life, I’m about 2-4 weeks behind everyone else (hence the scramble happening here. “Stop that racket!”) so I’m desperately re-arranging our schedule to read as much as possible today/get the word out.

“Where are my books? The books! Where are they?”:: Mad scramble ensues as I turn back to the keyboard::

As it is, I’m donating $2.50 for every 30 minutes I read. Beginning with the marvelous Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (as Marissa is also donating $ for every one of her books read). In addition to $1.00 for every blog comment on this post and .25 cents for every re-tweet of any #readathon tweet I ..tweet. Hmm. You get the idea.

Ahhhh! This just in: the super secret list of incredibly helpful links:

Get Started HERE (Marissa Meyer’s blog post)
Read Felicia’s How-to HERE
My twitter (.25 cents/tweet!) HERE
Readathon Twitter HERE
Hashtags: #readathon #rahrahreadathon #dewey

Band with me readers! As we take the world by storm one book at a time!

Why are you still here?! Go! Read!! 🙂 Then come back and tell me 1. What you’re reading 2. What charity you’re reading for (if you are) or 3. Your favorite book of all time!!

 

#Bradburychallenge

Out of the country office today, so a quick word from the field..

If you’re participating in the #Bradburychallenge to read one short story/ essay and one poem per night, here is the line-up:

1. Edgar Allen Poe-short stories

2. Emily Dickenson- poetry

 

We’re starting with the Greats, but next month I’m shifting to writers not as notorious but equally valuable.

 

JG out.

There and Back Again. With a Ray Bradbury Challenge.

 

File:Hobbit Hole.jpg

Dear reader,

I’m out of the country house today and am, well..actually, in the shire. In a hobbit hole to be exact. Which, if you’re looking for a place for sheltered hospitality, this is the place to be.

It smells of bread baked the day before, damp earth and something ancient and musty in the wood that makes up the tables and the chair I’m sitting on. The house is quiet besides a ticking clock. Outside, I can see the trees bending in the fierce winds and good folk with their heads bent leading animals to their pens and carrying baked goods and tools on their shoulders. If there is anyplace on earth (or, Middle Earth) where one needs to just be, this is it.

But I am getting carried away, the true purpose of this post is to invite you to do something with me. Earlier I listened to an Evening with Ray Bradbury (a man much beloved by the hobbits here) in which he proscribes reading one short story, one poem and an essay each night before going to bed. For one-thousand days. (Watch HERE.) I’ve decided to take up his challenge myself. Will you do it with me?

In case you don’t know this, Ray Bradbury received every literary award conceivable. I think it’s safe to say the man knew what he was talking about. Listen to his whole address for the old-fashioned, non-nonsense advice for writers if you so care too. (WORTH IT).

So I’m going to try him out. For three-hundred and sixty-five days rather then one-thousand. Each week I’d like to post the order of stories, poems and essays I’m reading. Feel free to read them with me and let’s discuss. Or, of course, follow your own fancy but we can still discuss.

I just don’t think you can loose, doing an exercise like this.

What say you then? I do hope you’ll stay tuned for next Sunday night when I post the weeks’ readings!

 

*To be posted when back above ground in wi-fi

 
**art from wikicommons

Kill Your Darlings, Lessons From My Bathroom

File:Teniers the Younger Operation.jpg

 

Dear Patient Readers,

I apologize for the long absence. I’ve just returned from a taxing trip to Zanzibar where negotiations with the locals did not go as well as I’d hoped. It’s a work in progress but if there is one thing I’ve learned from writing is that persistence is key for anything better you want in this life. (At least that’s what the professionals tell me. If I ever get through the “persisting” and to the “enjoying” part of persistence, I shall confirm it myself).

Since I’ve been home, I’ve ordered the house to detox itself from clutter and random trash. Like the Zanzibarbarians though, House was very stubborn and refused to yield up its hoards. Not only was the house resistant, but the clutter also seemed put-out that it was being, well, put-out. Like the laundry room’s six empty soap bottles and two pounds of lint I had to pry from the dead-hand walls. I had to take them all outside so the bottles would stop sneaking out of the trash bag and climb back onto their shelves above the washing machine.

Needless to say, dear read, it’s been quite the time.

An epiphany came to me, though, while I was thus engaged.

I was in the bathroom, googles on and plunger in hand, trying to rid the cupboard above the toilet of unnecessary old junky jewelry. The toilet, obviously disgruntled it was being used as a step-stool, was keeping up a vengeful geyser of water. As though that would have stopped me! ::racks with maniacal laughter, then pulls self together to type once more::

As one gush of water rolled off my hindquarters I stood there looking at the jewelry, wondering if I should toss it, when the phrase “kill your darlings” came to my mind. A reference for doing what you have to in books, I saw the real-life reason for why it is always necessary to kill your darlings to produce your best work.

You spend days, months, even years clinging onto what you love most about your story. It fuels the late nights or early mornings, all of those sacrifices you make to get those words onto paper. This is why I’m doing this you tell yourself This is what I love. And then you get stuck following your tight outline. Or, your critique group hates the chapter you proudly displayed with all the love of an eager parent.  Wailing and throwing yourself onto your bed (or am I the only one?) you despair over your art.

What you most likely need to do in these situations is to kill your darlings. Let go of those sentences, chapters or characters that simply put, do not belong in THIS story. Disentangle those strings from your brain to the computer and store those darlings away somewhere else and find the ones the story is wanting you to tell.

Art MUST be honest. A work of great ark MUST be honest. And if you push and wheedle away that small voice inside telling you that something just isn’t quite like the others, well..

Much like that toilet-water-soaked-tarnished-old jewelry. It was cluttering up my space. Once I tossed it, I forgot about it and now the bathroom shines with the story I want my house to tell about me. The story it’s been supposed to tell all along.

 

 

 

*image: wikicommons

Why Do You Write Fiction? Or in Other Words, I Put on My Doctor Phil Hat

File:Johann Heinrich Füssli 052.jpg

Dear writer-readers, -adjusts fake Dr-Phil ‘stache,

The country office is quiet tonight. It’s dark outside, dogs bark in the distance and my computer’s humming on my desk. (also I’ve eaten half of a graham cracker package and have the empty milk cup to prove it #theregoesmydiet).

Why do you write fiction?

I don’t mean the obvious reasons:

I write to escape.

I write because I have something to say.

I write because I want to entertain.

I write because I can’t not write.

I write because I want to make money/be the next jkrowling/sign lots of books like a star.

I write to leave my mark in the world. For future generations.

I write because it is how I express myself.

I write because I am a writer.

May I propose this theory to your astute observation?

 We write fiction to OVERCOME and MAKE SENSE of our own FEARS.

Let it sink in for a moment because I really want your thoughts on this.

Deep down why is your character the way she/he is? Is she the girl you never felt you could be in HS? Is your character overcoming the same deep-rooted insecurity you’ve carried around for years? And instead of standing and facing that real-life bully that makes you feel small your character fights dragons?

If you’re good, no one will ever know the you that’s in your book. No one will know that it is a exorcism for your own fears.

Neil Gaiman’s book, Ocean at the End of the Lane was one I read in two days. It is a brilliant piece of literature. It is a breathtaking work of fiction. A fiction book he was scared to put out into the world because it is intensely personal. (link to Amanda Palmer’s review of the book and the man).

Maybe you’ve been writing a book for a while. For years even. And it’s just not clicking. It’s the same characters and the same story but each time it’s told in a different way. Like a wind sock twisting with each new gust of wind. Without root or enough depth to carry a story with as much emotion and feeling and realism that you want to convey.

Can I hazard a guess of why not? (I AM a Hogwart’s grad, ’03 Delta Alpha Puff (Huffle, that is))

 It’s because you’re afraid to face your fear in writing. You’re not telling the story you’re supposed need to.

Face your fear. Find out what that fear is and why you’re telling it. Submerge your self-conscience in it and swim through it until you’ve broken the surface and can harness it. It will still and always be picketed in your heart. It will scare you and perhaps dredge up feelings and memories you desperately want to let lie.

 But your story will be incomplete. It will be no masterpiece. Until you can FEAR LESS. Until you realize you DO have the tools and skills to beat the bully. That you ARE worth everything you imagine yourself to be and MORE. If it takes fighting a dragon, then gird on your armor. Every day. Every day. Until that dragon is beaten.

By then, you’ll probably have an amazing, moving, deeply rooted novel as well.

*image Wikicommons