Tips For My Fellow Early-Birds

Over the past couple of months, I’ve discovered something about myself: my brain is infinitely better first thing in the morning than at night. This makes things a little difficult for someone like me. To keep my depression under control, I have to have a certain amount of sleep. Of course, kiddos don’t always understand that in their toddler years, and my little guy can be a night owl at times. Plus, I’m a huge fan of the snooze button. Seriously, I’ll press that thing for an hour sometimes before getting out of bed. I’m sure my husband hates me for it.

So, I have a few tips for my fellow early-bird writers. These things help make the 4:30AM wake-up a little more bearable for me.

-Go to bed earlier. The obvious one, right? Except it’s not always so easy. I suggest cutting out electronics at least an hour before bed (eReaders, computers, even your phone). Caffeine can also keep you wide awake (well, duh). My personal rule is no caffeine after 3PM.

-Set your clothes out the night before. Also, shower at night if you’re able.

-Prepare your breakfast the night before. Your body needs good food to function properly. I whip up a bowl of overnight oats (plain oats that soak in almond milk overnight) so I can grab it on the way to my desk. Whole-wheat muffins are another favorite. Pair it with an apple and glass of water (and COFFEE), and your brain will thank you. I promise.

-Coffee’s the nectar of the gods, but DRINK WATER too. Hydration doesn’t just make you feel better – your brain truly needs it. It’s science.

-Have something happy at your desk/writing space. I drink coffee from my favorite thermal mug because paisley perks me up.

Ignore the creeptastic thumb.

Ignore the creeptastic thumb.

I also turn on my writing playlist because music is one of the greatest things ever. A fun spot makes “work” more enjoyable.

Those are just a few things that work for me. Now go write ALL the words!

 

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So. About That Book I Wrote.

In May of last year, I was hit by a plot that refused to leave me alone. The main character latched on to me for dear life, begging me to write her story. I loved the premise of her story. I loved her. But I almost didn’t even write the idea down. Why?

I was terrified.

Up until that point, all I’d ever written were contemporary YA and NA stories. Never did I imagine I could write an apocalyptic book, much less one I’d truly be proud of. The world-building! The supernatural! The plot twists! Oh my! But I did write it. And here I sit with a book that I’m ready to share with the world.

When I started writing a few years ago, I was positive I would only settle for the traditional route. I mean, that’s how books worked, right? You write, revise, get an agent, land a book deal, and you’re golden!

No (2)

Yeah, not so much. At least, not in this case. And I’m okay with that.

While I queried my tush off for a few months, I think a part of me has known from the beginning that KINGDOM COME would be a self-published endeavor. That’s why I’m THRILLED to announce it has a tentative release date of May 22, 2013 – exactly one year after I started plotting this crazy thing. I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted as things progress. For now, I’m just excited to finally let the cat out of the bag.

SunIsShining

Without further ado, here’s the official blurb for KINGDOM COME:

Centuries ago, scrolls calling forth the four horsemen of the apocalypse were discovered, sealed until their rightful heirs were born. Now, those scrolls are being opened.

When her small town crumbles during her stay in an institution for troubled teens, eighteen-year-old Kerrigan Monroe is one of the few survivors. She, along with a handful of other patients and their therapist, take cover as everything they’ve ever known is reduced to rubble. When the smooth voice behind a cryptic radio broadcast beckons her to a safe house, she and the others abandon their temporary haven and embark on a cross-country journey toward refuge.

Upon discovering the identity of the man behind the voice, Kerrigan’s smacked with the revelation that he’s not the only heir to these scrolls. Now, she must make a choice: join this dark stranger and lead the New World by his side, or fight for what’s left of humanity.

Either decision will bring power. Either decision will bring death.

Thanksgiving Blog Hop – Day 3

Today, I’m thankful for Twilight.

Yes. Twilight.

During my college years, my interest in reading dropped to a non-existent level. I was just inundated with coursework, as well as job responsibilities. What did it take to rekindle that love for books? Well, first of all, it began with a little newborn who kept me up at all hours of the night. Next, it was a movie that played on Showtime in the wee hours of the morning.

Now, I’d heard about these “sparkly vamp” books, but did I take them seriously? Pfft. Yeah right. But when I saw the movie, all cheese aside, I was drawn into the crazy world of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. So, I bought the books.

And I devoured them.

Ultimately, the Twilight series is what got me back into reading. And thanks to that, my passion for writing was soon discovered, and I haven’t turned back since. So yes, I owe a heck of a lot to Stephenie Meyer and her sparkly vamps and shirtless wolfpack.

Crazy? Maybe. Do I care?

Wordy Wednesday – Advantages of Taking a Break

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a little MIA lately. It isn’t because I’ve intentionally neglected the blog – far from it, in fact. I keep opening a “new post” every few days, wishing that words could transfer from my head to the screen, but it JUST WON’T HAPPEN. Someone get on that, ‘kay?

It has a lot to do with the completion of my most recent MS, KINGDOM COME. My brain was pretty much fried. It still kind of is, actually. And even though I had a lot to say, I just…couldn’t. I mean, I could barely compose coherent tweets for a while there.

So, this led me to discovering the perks of taking a break.

1 – I’ve been able to catch up on my TBR list, which was only getting bigger. And bigger. And bigger. I fully believe that in order to be a good writer, you MUST be a reader first.

2 – My house is actually clean. Not gonna lie – “draft mode” is synonymous with “survival mode” around here. We have clean clothes, clean dishes, and food to eat. That’s all I can promise you during that time. What is dusting?

3 – My brain has been recharging. While the writer in me is screaming to SIT MY BUTT DOWN AND WRITE!!!111!!, I’m finally able to think a little more clearly. Because even though I’ve gotten tons of plot ideas during phases of sleep deprivation (helloooo toddler sleep regression), the plots make a little more sense when brainstorming with a clear mind.

All that said, I should be back in full swing soon. Promise. 😉

Wordy Wednesday – Being Passionate

pas·sion (p sh n). n. 1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger (via The Free Dictionary)

As a writer, it’s safe to say that I view my characters as living, breathing people. I created these guys from scratch. I built their worlds, I formed their histories, and I hold their lives in the palm of my hand. I know what makes them tick. I know their quirks. I know how they spend their free time. When you truly invest yourself in a story, you should know these things.

We’ll use Only Human as an example. Elaina’s birthday is June 29. Her middle name is “Joy,” which was her grandmother’s name. She’d live off mochas and muffins if she thought she could get away with it. Her childhood sweetheart broke her heart, and even though she hates him for it, part of her will always love him. She cries over animal cruelty commercials. Her favorite book is The Outsiders.

All of those facts came to me with no thought, because I know Elaina as if she’s my best friend. I could go on and on, but my point is this: you have to breathe life into your characters. Whether it’s the good guy or the villain, you have to have passion for these people you create. That passion can be in the form of love or hate. That’s what will make them jump off the page. That’s what makes you eager to tell their story, and in turn, that’s what will make the reader eager to know more.

Wordy Wednesday – Accepting Criticism

“Writers need to be willing to accept criticism,” they said. “Writers need thick skin,” they said.

Thick skin? That’s all? A coat of armor would be a nice addition, if you ask me.

I’ve always been a sensitive girl. I still am at times. So, when I first started writing a few years ago, imagine how I reacted when I received my first negative review.

I cried. My husband looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong with you?” And my response was, “They don’t like my story!”

Oy. My, how times have changed. Criticism will always sting – there’s no getting around that. As writers, we pour our hearts and souls into our words. It’s how we communicate. Heck, to a writer, putting words on the page is equivalent to breathing. When someone doesn’t like what you have to say, it’s tough to grin and bear it.

Ah, but that’s the beautiful thing about opinions – everyone is entitled to his/her own. Opinions are what make the world go ’round. Wouldn’t this world be a dull place if we all gushed over the same books? There are books I’ve read that made me go, “Eh? I don’t get it.” Those same books are the ones that have other readers posting enthusiastic 5-star reviews on Goodreads. I even have a few friends that don’t like Harry Potter. And even though I think they’re insane, I still love them.

So, back to that icky word: criticism. In my eyes, there are three ways you can deal with it. And remember, we’re talking constructive criticism, not people that have an ax to grind.

You can:

A) Stomp your foot like a toddler and say THIS IS THE BEST STORY EVER AND YOU’RE STUPID.

Yeah, I don’t recommend that one. Though some people do go this route.

B) Give up. Obviously, you’re not cut out for this. These people hate your story, hate what you have to say, and there’s no point in continuing. You and your story just aren’t as awesome as you thought you were.

This option makes me sad. Don’t give up, ‘kay? No one likes a quitter.

C) You refuse to give up. You polish that manuscript until it shines and you’re determined to make that story the best it can be. Do your story justice. Rewriting/editing/revising all suck, but they’re necessary evils. They’re evils that make your story stand out from the mediocre. You think this draft is perfect? Great. Know what? It can be better.

The choice is yours. Though I will say, no one looks too kindly upon bad author behavior. A little graciousness in this crazy world goes a long way.

Wordy Wednesday: What Inspires Me?

My brain is a funny thing. I can be inspired by just about anything, anytime, anywhere.

Take my current WIP, KINGDOM COME, for example. The entire story was pretty much built around this:

I looked up at the sky one afternoon, and told the kiddo, “There’s a storm comin’. We need to go.” And my brain went into overdrive, plotting out a story that makes me smile every time I sit down to write it.

Sometimes, however, the words don’t want to come. Or a rejection pops up in my inbox. Or my day just flat-out sucks. For these moments, I have a few go-tos for inspiring words.

This cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” is just full of awesome and never fails to brighten my mood.

This recent post of Myra McEntire’s. The title? “You Can Do It.” Seems simple enough, but y’all – this post hits me in the heart every time I read it. As a writer, there are some days that I feel like a complete and utter failure. Sometimes, this writing thing is just plain hard. And it’s nice to read the encouraging words of an author that I admire so much.

“Own it. Boss it. Don’t give in to yourself, don’t give in to anyone else. Ultimately, YOU are responsible for YOU.”

I have this quote written on a Post-It beside my monitor. Whenever I need a kick in the butt, I repeat those words in my head over and over until I’m able to confidently say, “I’m owning this.”

Writing can be grueling, and stressful, and downright infuriating. So why do I do it?

Because I am a writer. It really is that simple.