Hump Day Happy, Pre-New Year's Eve Edition

Whew. Did you survive Christmas? One more holiday and then it’s back to normal, whatever that is. (“Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.”*) If you’ve had enough family time, here are a few things that have caught my attention lately:

“Almost every day I wince at typos I missed during a first pass of some document I’m editing. Just days ago on a first read, I breezed right past two references to ‘viscous rumors.’” A Word, Please: Why is it so difficult to catch our own errors?

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Hump Day Happy, Christmas Eve Eve Edition

Please tell me you’ve done your Christmas shopping. You’re all wrapped up (so to speak), right?

I find your lack of planning disturbingYou’re not? Seriously? You know you’re one of the people I’m going to be silently judging tomorrow, right? No, really, my partner and I are going to the Panera at the mall so we can do a little work, drink a little coffee, and watch the people slowly (or, more likely, quickly) lose their mac and cheese. It could become a holiday tradition.

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Trust your instincts

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As you may or may not know, I’ve been working on the sequel to my young adult novel The Unwanted this year. (The tentative title is Prophecy Boy, but that’s liable to change at any minute.) I’ve also been working on a bunch of other things, but I’ve finally come back to the YA book after some time away from it.

In case you’re interested in process (I’m a sucker for hearing how writers approach their work), I’ve reread what I’ve written to date and made a bunch of edits, and as I transferred them from a hard coy to my electronic file, something felt… off. Continue reading

Hump Day Happy: The Force Is Strong with This One

One of the nice things about freelancing and writing is that I can block out time in the middle of the day to take care of things that are hard to do outside of the nine-to-five, and I don’t have to ask permission or check with my supervisor. (Well, I do have one boss, and sometimes he’s a jerk, but I give him a stern talking-to in the mirror and then quickly stop as I think this makes me seem slightly [more] unbalanced [than usual].) That includes doing things like doctor appointments, post office runs, and shopping trips.

This Friday at 10 a.m. it will include a reserved seat to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Continue reading

Just finish

So, I ran a 15K race this past Sunday. I almost didn’t. My ankle has been bothering me for a while (that’s a story for another time, though, and it would be a boring one anyway). For the past few months the most that I’ve run at one go has been 10K, and that’s been about 50/50 running and walking. I did finally get a new pair of running shoes a few weeks ago, though, so I figured what the hell, why not give it a go? If it came to it, I’d walk most of the route and call it a day.

Of course, it would turn out to be a gross, rainy day. Even though it’s the middle of December, it was also in the mid-60s, which upped the gross factor accordingly. I thought, there’s no point in trying to run this. Just consider it a long walk and leave it at that.

And wouldn’t you know it, once things got going, I ran the whole way.

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#FridayReads: Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett (and #GiveABook!)

Jam on the VineI’ll blame the fact that it’s the most wonderful time of the year for why I’m so slow to read things lately. As you may recall, my reading goal this year was to read more books by writers of color, and my current read is Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett, which I picked up after hearing her at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. I’m going again in 2016, and I always look forward to it, both for reconnecting with fellow writer friends and also finding out about new books like this one. As someone whose career started in journalism, I was especially interested in reading her debut novel:

Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return overqualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially biased employers.

Ivoe eventually flees the Jim Crow South with her family and settles in Kansas City, where she and her former teacher and lover, Ona, found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer—the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest—Ivoe risks her freedom and her life to call attention to the atrocities of segregation in the American prison system.

I’m hoping that by posting this here, it’ll encourage me to finish reading it by next Friday so I can post about another book. I’d like to read at least one more before the end of the year. It seems that whenever I pick up this or something else to read, though, I’ve been thinking to myself, You know, you really should be writing. After the momentum of November, anything less feels like hopelessly slacking off, and I know that’s not true, to say nothing of the fact that writing without reading is like cooking without eating.

So, if I’ve got time for one more book before we kiss this year goodbye, which one would you recommend?

(Also, notice that #GiveABook hashtag at the top? That’s because every time you use it on the Twitter until December 24, Penguin Random House is donating a book to the literacy nonprofit First Book, up to 35,000 books. So, there’s that.)

Thowback Thursday(ish) – No Wrapping Required

As a bit of a follow-up to my last post, my friend ‘Nathan makes an excellent point: The best gift you can give a writer this holiday is word of mouth. That can be writing a review, like ‘Nathan recommends here (and that is such a good thing to do!). Or maybe you want to ask your local library to stock a well-loved book (or a well-loved writer’s latest book) for circulation. You might take the opportunity to recommend a book in person to a friend or, as I did recently, give them a copy.

The thing that helps writers and their books thrive is awareness. Pass it on!

Hump day happy, awesome friends edition

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when you have to figure out what to buy people. I’m easy to shop for this year: I don’t need anything… except maybe for number eleven on this list.

Here’s something in no way related to writing, but is related to how many fantastically talented friends I have: Airlie Trescowthick named a Tomorrow Maker for her contributions to Australian agriculture, in particular her website The Farm Table. Good on ya, Airlie!

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Make the Most of Your Wilderness Years

Back in my twenties, when I’d just graduated from college and was working at my first (and then second) job, I don’t think I did any writing worth talking about. Did I even write at all? I feel like I must have, but I would have to go page through my old journals to confirm that.

Well, heck, why not? Let’s step into the wayback machine!

Picture from paper journal from 1993

My epitaph: “He had such nice penmanship.”

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