Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stress Relievers: #4

Update: I can speak again! Woo! Still sick though. This may be a different type of germ actually. Man, I hate this time of year. The germ-y part anyway. And continuing with the stress relievers...

#4 - Going out with friends and/or significant other and/or un-significant but fun-to-hang-out-with other(s):

Laughter. Fun. Happiness. Adventure. Opportunity to wear your cutest outfits and shoes, and to try new hairstyles. Possibility of meeting new friends, significant, or un-significant other(s).


$6 - $10 for a watered down drink x whatever number of drinks your personal demons allow + the cost of whatever other activity you chose to do = too much money. Or any variation of this formula, such as a quiet dinner and $7 - $11 dollar movie + drinks, popcorn, etc. This is especially true when part of your stress is money related to begin with.

Can be exhausting, and cute outfits/shoes/hairstyles may become uncomfortable after a few hours.

High possibility of things not going well i.e. not liking your date, who asks you the same question 97 times throughout the evening and pretends he's paying attention each time you answer only to ask again 5 minutes later, while making an awkward move to put his arm around you; stares at the waitress (or waiter) a bit too often and conveniently knocks utensils to the ground to watch said waitperson pick them up; or ending up in jail because your friend thought it would be hi-larious to moon everybody at the bus stop, only to have the officer who saw it disagree (particularly bad if you and your friend have similar butts).

Tomorrow, #3

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stress Relievers: #5

#5 - Reading a good book

A good story can immerse you in another world, causing you to forget about the things you've been stressing over. And the distraction usually lasts longer than a good TV show, movie, play, etc.

Added bonus of enriching your mind by possibly increasing your vocabulary, stimulating your imagination, and teaching you something new.

A good book can be motivating and inspirational for writer types.

Thanks to books on tape/CD, you can read a good book without having to stop everything else you might need to get done.

Depending on your stress level, this type of quiet activity might not be enough to distract you, and you might actually ruin the good book with wandering, stress-related thoughts.

You may not always have time to be immersed and there are situations where audio books aren't practical.

You can never be sure a good story will stay good the whole way through. On the other hand, if the story is too good there's always the slight risk of it causing writer envy and nagging self-doubts. "I don't think I could ever write something this well..." and so on. This leads to more stress.

Tomorrow, #4

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stress Relievers: Honorable Mentions

With all the stressful things happening right now (tax season, bad economy, job losses, car repossessions, people losing their houses, waiting to hear back on most recent edits from literary agents, etc.), I've been thinking about the best ways to alleviate stress. Because, really, it's always going to be something, isn't it?

I've come up with my top 5, along with two honorable mentions. I'll start with the honorable mentions and count it down from there over the next few days.

Honorable Mention #1 - Ice cream (or your choice of ice cream-type treat):

The yummy-ness level is through the roof. With so many different variations and flavors, you're bound to find one that fits your taste buds perfectly. My favorite happens to be Cherry Valentine Frozen Custard from Good Times.

Ice cream as a stress reliever is especially effective when curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching a tacky reality show and/or talk show that reminds you how much worse things could be.

Ice cream takes minimal effort and results are quick.

Although ice cream can do wonders in the short term, it has the downside of causing more stress when your butt grows large enough to start attracting satellites. There's also a chance of that tacky reality or talk show sending you into a depression spiral when you begin to wonder just how exactly the world got to be so screwed up.

Honorable Mention #2 - Exercise:

If you do it on a regular basis you start feeling great afterward.

Good way to work out built up frustrations.

You'll be healthier and look better.

Something like kickboxing will be helpful if you need to fight off a mugger or kidnapper.

Gyms can get expensive.

Eventually that perky little blonde running 50 miles an hour on the treadmill, not breaking a sweat, perfect ponytail just a-swinging, or ripped guy who looks like he could pick up the whole rack of weights and lift it over his head with one hand is going to make you feel bad about yourself and your workout. Then you'll probably go home and eat ice cream.

It takes a while of being consistent for exercise to go from "Ouch, ouch, oh my god, I'm going to die, I...can' it actually safe for my heart to be beating this fast or am I having a heart attack?" to "Ooh, yeah, feel the burn, such a rush, I should come here more often!" And in the meantime, it sucks.

Can be time consuming.

Tomorrow, #5.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Trailers and Marge's Sisters

I've had laryngitis for about a week now. On the off chance that my voice actually works, I sound like a combination of Patty and Selma from the Simpsons. But since talking makes my throat hurt, I've been trying to "rest my voice so it can heal" like the internet told me.

As far as I can remember, this is the longest I've ever been voiceless. Getting people's attention is hard. Once I have it, they either can't hear me or can't understand me, so I have to repeat myself 27 times. If I want to order a sandwich, the best way to go about it is to write down what I want and let whoever I'm with order for me. But then the person taking the order glances at me suspiciously the whole time I'm standing there, like there must be something seriously wrong with me or I'd order my own sandwich.

These things make me grumpy. They make me wish I owned a rubber band gun.

But then I think about the people who can't speak at all, and I feel bad. Kind of like when I get the hiccups and it reminds me of those people who've had the hiccups for 12 years. When I get them, I worry maybe I'll have the hiccups for 12 years, and I'll end up going on a talk show to let people try to cure me with comic results. Only it wouldn't be funny. Not to me. Then, after I stop hiccupping, I feel bad about those people who can't stop.

This is getting tangent-y and weird. Moving on... Book trailers. There are quite a few on YouTube so it's nothing new, but I didn't even know book trailers existed until today. I'm not sure if I like them. They sound like a great idea, but of the ones I watched, none made me want to read the book. In fact, one made me not want to read a book that I was considering.

Part of it is probably the production quality. And movies have it easy in that all they really have to do is show scenes from the movie. Plus there's usually a lot less going on in the plot of your average movie than there is in the plot of your average novel, so there's less to talk about. I can see how they'd be good for getting new readers interested in an ongoing series.

Anyway, cool idea. Maybe they just need to have more effort put into them? They have potential though; I'll give them a thumbs up.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Editing and Typos

I hate typos. Not your typos; I don't mind yours. In fact most times I don't even notice them. But mine? Mine, I hate. I spell checked my AIM messages for years, until they updated the software and the command stopped working.

When editing a 200+ page document, no matter how much you read it, there will be typos. Unless you're some kind of master typist, eagle-eyed, typo shark with a state of the art computer that reads your mind and refuses to let you push down the wrong keys. I assume those people/computer combinations are rare, so I'll also assume that nearly everybody makes typos on a regular basis. Yet, every time I find one, I get 30 different kinds of annoyed. I guess it's that perfectionist streak in me.

Another thing about editing and typos is that after you've read something 15 times, you start seeing what it's supposed to say rather than what it actually says. At some point you have to let someone else read it for you; someone who doesn't know every word of your story by heart.

The reason I'm fixated on typos today is I finally finished editing Shades of Blue and sent a hard copy to Jen!! I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement!

For those who don't know, Shades of Blue started out as a much longer story. Too long, in fact, for a Young Adult novel. I knew I'd have to cut a lot out, but the story was going to suffer as a result. Jen and I talked it over and decided the best thing to do was split it into two novels. That way I could keep the whole story without having to rush through anything. But that also meant a lot of revising to make sure both novels were standalone stories with satisfying endings.

Getting that first novel right is what I've been working on since September. It's such a relief to not only have it done, but also be happy with how everything turned out. In some ways it was much easier than I thought it would be; in others, much harder. But ultimately I feel it was well worth the work, and thus; happy bouncing.

I had to let go of my typo anxiety and trust that I'd squashed 99.99% of them in order to send that hard copy. Once the words are printed on actual paper, the mighty "backspace" and "delete" keys are powerless, you know?

Okay, I really must stop talking about this before it gets me worrying again. It's a long, slippery road to recovery.

For the record, my most common typos seems to be "becasue" and the always classic "teh".

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New Blog!

I'm new to bloging, so there's going to be a stretch here where I don't know how to do anything. Please bear with me as I tinker. Maybe it will all be easier than I expect and I'll be bogging with my toes in no time...

Now that I think about it, bloging with toes is probably the wrong way to blog. Hopefully that does not happen.

There will be tons of book-talk in this blog because I'm a young adult author. I love to read as well as write, and I like learning about all the different aspects of this industry. And then I want to tell others about it because it's all so exciting, scary, and fascinating, and I can't believe how little I knew when I started. I'm sure still have many, many things to learn, but I'm hoping a few helpful bits of information will turn up here in my ramblings.

The novel I'm currently working on is called Shades of Blue. It's a young adult, urban sci-fi/adventure. My agent is Jen Rofe at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and I'm finishing up what will hopefully be my final edits on Shades of Blue before we start submitting to editors.

So there's that. Now on to the "New Year" part of the title! This year flew by. Seems like Halloween was only a week ago, I can't believe it's already 2009. I hope everyone's holidays were happy.

The start of the year also means new resolutions for a lot of people. I wonder how many resolutions get kept. I've never been big on them myself. It seems more productive to make them throughout the year as they become important rather than in one big lump that you have to work on all at once. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. A lumpy one, with an excess of disappointment in one's self.

For those who've made resolutions, I wish you the best of luck. For those who manage to keep them, how do you do it?