Gangsta

Rejection. Yes, we’ve all faced it, but if you are like most people, you do what you can to avoid it. Not so when you are submitting to agents. Writing is very subjective. Finding that particular agent for your particular project is an experiment in patience—and self-esteem.

For every yes you get, you’ve most likely received dozens, sometimes even hundreds of no’s. So how do you push forward and keep your head in the game? For me, I have a few tricks.

The first—surround yourself with positive people. There are certain people in this world that have that special light. Find them.

The second—relax, trust, and work your butt off. You can’t get that coveted yes on a wish.

And the third—find ways to pump up your spirits. Here’s a short clip that has recently become my new anthem. No, it’s not related to writing. No, it’s not found in any technical book, but I promise, you watch this thing a few times, you’ll be sauntering all over your house like the gangsta you know you are.

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Wiggle, Wiggle

“Shall we make a new rule of life … always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary.”
~ J.M. Barrie via WONDER

There’s this thing that I do with my tongue when I’m trying to stop myself from crying. I open my mouth, ever so slightly, and then wiggle my tongue side to side like some sort of directionally defunct fishing lure. It’s weird. I know.

What I didn’t know is that I do this. Until recently …

Last week I was at the gym pumping my legs in stationary circles while reading. I’ve found that transporting myself into another time or place helps me to forget that I’m actually exercising. It also motivates me. The more exciting the plot, the faster I peddle with apparently the emotions of the characters driving my expression.

The book I was reading was WONDER by R.J.Palacio and, without giving away the plot, let me just say, it’s the kind of story that makes you want to be a better person.

I was at a very emotionally climactic point and could feel the sting in my tear ducts when I sensed a set of eyes watching me. I looked up to see a man grinning my way with a,”Yo, waaat up, babe,” type of expression on his face. At first I thought he must have mistaken me for someone else, but then I felt it–my tongue–wiggling back and forth in my mouth.

There’s nothing like a creepy grin to screech the brakes on my literary world. Within seconds the book was under my arm, and I was halfway down the hall. But later, while finishing that passage in the confines of my living room, I felt myself doing the same thing–tongue whipping back and forth like a sideways pendulum.

I bring this up not only because I’m weird, but because there are just some books so good they can induce asthma attacks, bring forth unknown facial tics, or, in my case, activate the horizontal tongue flicker.

So if you’re ready for a book that will stick with you and, most likely, affect everything you say and do, pick up WONDER. But learn from me, you very well may want to read this alone. The emotions it elicits can’t be trusted.

Baby Steps

Once again, the ideas for my newest story started off like a fireworks display only to, once again, putz out like a car void of gas. But rather than fret or mope, I’m following in the footsteps of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Bill Murray.

Yes, that Bill Murray. And no, he doesn’t know he’s my friend.
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As far as the path he took? It was simple–baby steps. Do what you can can do, one step at a time. It’s from the 1991 movie What About Bob? In case you’ve never seen it, see it. Not only can my bud, Bill, crack you up with a simple nod of his head, but the advice he follows pretty much holds true for any goal.

Enjoy the clip. Happy stepping!

Tasty Inspiration

Anyone who has ever met me knows how I feel about writing and eating.
The two go hand in hand. That’s why whenever I discover a new treat, I
feel it my duty to share it with you. So get ready. Here goes ….

Eggnog cookies. Bam–take that!

That’s right. Eggnog. It’s like the cookie fairies took the simplicity
of sugar cookies, the cinnamon deliciousness of snickerdoodles, and
combined them with a touch of holiday magic reminiscent of wrapping
presents and singing carols.

I usually hold off on sweets, preferring the salt drip of the chip,
but there are just some things in this world too delectable to resist.

You could ask my friends. I made a batch for them last night. But it
wouldn’t do you any good. I kept them. Just for me. Me and my
manuscript. And can I say, I am very happy about that decision.

You see, I started writing a new book last week. Between outlining,
creating, and drafting, let me just say, I need these cookies. Not
want. NEED.

So the next time you seek some tasty inspiration, go ahead, indulge,
and, if you do, stop by. It’s the season of stretchy pants, and I’ve
got a good two months left on this story. 🙂

Not So Accidental Blog Tourist Hop

Last week I was tagged to participate in Crystal Collier’s Not So Accidental Blog Tourist Hop by the talented author/illustrator Kim MacPherson. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community and thank both of you for encouraging these connections.

This is Kim. Be sure to check out her page in case you missed it. She’s awesome. KidLitDish.com
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Now, onto Kim’s questions for me.

1. What am I currently working on?

Well, since you asked, I am currently working on driving myself crazy. A few months back, while finishing my MG novel POPCORN BRAIN another idea came to me in the form of deer pellets.

–Woah, back up, deer pellets you say? Yes, it’s true. I was walking in the park with my sweetie and came across a small cannonball pile of deer pellets. It reminded me of an incident I had with a burnt bellied fisherman, a rusty hook, and an insensitive attitude towards nature. And just like that … spark.

Now as I edit, rewrite, and try to market POPCORN BRAIN, I’m scratching out the first draft of this other story which for now I’m calling MY OTHER STORY.

Working on two novels at once is like riding a manic-depressive bicycle. Euphoria. Devastation. On top of the world. Low to the ground. But all-in-all, it’s a thrilling ride. Although it wouldn’t kill me to take a break every once in a while and wash my hair. But hey, that’s a different story.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The only thing I can say to that question is my work brings me with it. My cp partner, Tosha Sumner, said my style is humorous and/or poignant with a humorous flare.

To that note, you might find me singing at the top of my lungs from the center of the page or sitting covertly off to the side, whispering about the beauty that surrounds us.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

First off, I have to write. I’ve tried not writing. Doesn’t work for me.

Secondly, I seem to find humor in the oddest places, whether appropriate or not—sorry Mom, sorry former teachers, sorry clergymen …. To me, humor is the brainchild of emotions. And those underlying emotions are dripping with dialogue and story.

Thirdly, somewhere along the way I fell in love with grammar. It certainly didn’t happen in high school—college either. But now a well placed comma is like an old friend: comforting, wise, and full of clarity.

Lastly, I’m a professional snoop. Always have been and, from what I can tell, always will be. Just ask my family.

One of my greatest childhood memories was camping out behind our red, blue, and green checkered couch (terrifying visual, sorry) waiting for my sister and her date to make their big move and lock lips. I crouched like a lion, quietly gumming my generic cheese puffs, and waited until the awkward banter stopped and the even more awkward silence commenced. And then, as the sound of spit filled the air, I sprung up, arms over my head, shouting my oh-so-clever, “Boo!”

Call it training, because to this day I listen, I notice, I pay attention. Yes, I may act like I’m not, but I am. That’s part of being a snoop. I can’t help it. People are fascinating. And so I drink it up, let it simmer, and then pour it out on the page.

In other words, I was born to write.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

All my stories start with a small spark, like a ladybug landing on my shoulder. It’s there lingering in my brain, and, before I know it, I’m blasting through notebooks, sticky notes, napkins, etc… writing ideas and making connections.

Then comes the outline. In the past, I didn’t use outlines. It was basically me sculpting blindly. Definitely fun, but in the end my product suffered. So now I outline the beginning, middle, end, and a few important steps along the way, then leave it alone, allowing me to do what I do best–dance in the daisies.

So there, that’s me. Now on to the next two stops on this blog tour.
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Up first, the amazing award winning author, Tosha Sumner.

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Forever optimistic and easily amused, T.L. Sumner is inspired to write magical stories about strong, athletic young women fulfilling their dreams. She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s in business from Villanova University where she ran cross country and track on a full athletic scholarship. She dreams of moving to Asheville, North Carolina, but for now, lives in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains with her husband and their two young children. Aside from writing, T.L. works in healthcare information technology, enjoys running and being the number one fan for her kids’ sporting events. She’s an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Romance Writers of America, including the Young Adult (YARWA) chapter. Her first novel won the MORWA’s Gateway to the Best Contest and was a finalist in the Windy City RWA Four Seasons Contest.

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And last but definitely not least, the wow-your-socks-off illustrator/author, Shanda McCloskey.

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Shanda McCloskey is a wife, mother of two girls, illustrator, and writer. She’s known for a long time that she wanted to illustrate books, but once she got caught up in a writing group, she realized there’s almost nothing cooler than doing both! Shanda blogs about life and art at ShandaMc.com.

Destiny

Destiny. Does it come to us? Do we come to it? Does our behavior alter our course? Or does our course alter our behavior?

My latest project wraps its literary head around that very question.

Choices, fate, and a touch of magic. Stay tuned for more …

Frogger

I feel like Frogger. Remember the 80’s video game where a little green thing tries to cross the street without getting crushed? That’s me. Only I’m the virtual version, and the street I’m trying to cross is Twitter Avenue.

I see you seasoned Twitter vets with your fancy hashtags and “at” symbols twitting and tweeting like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Me? Not so much. These little tweets, as I’ve learned, are like a scrolling board of hieroglyphics. Just when I start to understand one message, another one comes along. It’s maddening!

Then I go online and read blog posts like The Ten Dumbest Things You Can Do on Twitter and Twitter Terror, Amateurs Beware.

The pressure–it’s too much!

Here’s a YouTube clip from an intersection in Ethiopia that pretty much shows how I feel. The cars zooming along without hesitation are most of you. Me? I’m the dude wavering on the corner.

Two steps up– back, back! Another step forward—ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

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