February #writemotivation week 4

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I am almost glad this is the shortest month of the year so I can put it firmly behind me and start over in March. Speaking of which, it’s not too late to sign up for next month and participate in this great gang of writerly support yourself.

(Just click here. You’ll be glad you did.)

I remain on the road to recovery and I am feeling a good 65% back to normal. I still sound like Emma Stone after a hangover, but my voice is improving a little bit every day. One thing it’s easy for me to do right now is fake a dramatic cry, which I find hilarious. My voice breaks so easily and I sound just like a dramatic teen having an emotional outburst (I’ve seen a few so I know what they look like). Any time my husband says they didn’t have something I needed at the store or we’re out of orange juice, I just collapse my face and wail. “But whhhy? You don’t love me, that’s why!” Or some insane, illogical outpouring. It’s quite an impressive cacophony of sadness that one might almost believe if I didn’t crack up laughing in the middle of it.

Yes, I am emotionally immature, especially when I’m sick. You’d think after the first five or six times I’d stop finding this funny, but no. My husband just sighs and let’s me have my moment. He totally gets me.

On to the #writemotivation goals:

  1. Plot out new story arc for Amazing New YA project (PV), flesh out characters, and then start writing out first draft. Stretch Goal: Make past the halfway mark or 40,000K words, whichever comes first. As I said last week, I’ve put this on pause and I’m moving this to March. Manuscript request trumps new project. Almost done so I should return to this soon.
  2. Prepare conference critique submissions and send off. Done! One goal accomplished during this chaotic month is nothing to sneeze, hack, or cough at. Taking it as a win.
  3. Submit completed manuscript(s) to five agents a week. Look! A dinosaur! (Man, that used to work on my kids all the time.) Moving this goal to March.
  4. Read 4 books. Stretch goal: read 7. Might eek by with 3 books (if one is a picture book) by the end of the month.

Even though the timing was terrible, I’m really enjoying my new job with the Autism Center of Tulsa. It’s really busy at the moment with launching the new website and the big autism walk coming up. I do have to learn how to balance my schedule again. I feel like there are so many possibilities coming around the corner, I just have to stay focused on the goals. That’s what you lovely people are here to help me do, stay focused! Let’s have a great month in March!

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Spark Your Creativity – A TGNA Post

Hi All!

Today is my turn to post over on The Great Noveling Adventure. I share a list of five suggestions for How to Prevent Frostbite on Your Creativity during the longest tgnalogorevampmonth of winter, even though it has the shortest amount of days. Stop by if you’re in need of a spark in the creative department or share your own ideas if you have some. We’d all love to hear them.

February #writemotivation week 3, Post 1 (I think that says it all)

writemotivation_header1If you read my last post you’ll know I’ve been slowly recovering from the flu. I have literally been sick this entire month. I am sick to death of being sick. I’ve coughed so much that I’ve damaged my vocal chords and I have no voice to speak of. I’m sure it’s temporary, but it makes it very inconvenient when I’m trying to rant in traffic at the chaotic drivers only to have my ire come out like a squeaky toy mouse. Kind of takes the punch out of my road rage. Probably for the best.

As you all may know, life doesn’t slow down for illnesses, and some very interesting things have happened to me during my quarantine. I was offered a job out of the blue and I received a full manuscript request from an agent.

The job is mostly part-time for the Autism Center of Tulsa, which is a fantastic organization run by two great women I’ve known for a long time. The work will be helping out with their website and later on maybe branching out with some other social media work. So far, it’s been really fun, but time consuming, especially trying to cram work time in while running a fever and hacking my brains out. Thankfully, they are really flexible and very understanding.

The manuscript request is going to effect my initial goals this month, as this will now be my first priority. Since I am no longer hopped up on cough medicine, I can focus on the agent’s suggested edits. I want to get a thoroughly polished draft out to her as soon as possible.

Here were my #writemotivation goals for February before life intervened:

  1. Plot out new story arc for Amazing New YA project (PV), flesh out characters, and then start writing out first draft. Stretch Goal: Make past the halfway mark or 40,000K words, whichever comes first. This will have to wait until after I make revisions to my YA manuscript for the agent. I may get to this before the end of the month, but it may have to wait for March.
  2. Prepare conference critique submissions and send off. Done! Luckily I did eek this out before the deadline last week. Most of the work was done before I fell ill, which really helped.
  3. Submit completed manuscript(s) to five agents a week. I have not sent anything out this month due to my altered mental state and poor physical health. I hope to work on this goal this week.
  4. Read 4 books. Stretch goal: read 7. Sad, sad progress. One book so far this month. Pitiful! I have picked up a new book since I started feeling better. Maybe I’ll get through two books this week.

Can you believe it’s already time to sign up for March? GAH!!!

I hope you’ve made more progress on your goals this month than I have. And as a public service message, don’t be like me; please get your flu shot. Today. Trust me, you don’t want this year’s bug; it is just awful. Take care, my fellow writers, and keep writing!

Jazz Age January Event – Review of Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs DallowayYou may realize that this is the middle of February and I am a tad bit tardy in posting my final Jazz Age January post. Actually this is the final day to post for the challenge, so I’m cutting it just under the wire. Whew!

I have been the unfortunate sufferer of the nasty flu and have been bed-ridden for the better part of two weeks. Although I still haven’t recovered my voice, I am now able to work for brief periods without massive coughing attacks and body aches. I won’t bore you with anymore bodily function issues. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

I think it was most apropos that I read MRS. DALLOWAY while I was ill. I have never read a book by Virginia Woolf before and her stream of consciousness style fit right along with my feverish dream state.

The surface plot for Mrs. Dalloway is simply that Clarrisa Dalloway is preparing to host a party in the evening. But beyond the surface, Woolf explores the thought processes of Mrs. Dalloway as she is prompted to reflect on her life and past events. Central to the novel is reference to the effect of World War I on British society in the post-war years and in particular, the loss of loved ones and the altering fate of those left behind. The consequences of this included the physical and psychological damage done to those who fought and survived, as well as to those who survived despite never having set foot on the battlefield. It all adds up to an odd juxtaposition of people carrying on their lives, with parties, families and friends, while an unspoken suffering erodes their happiness. (Excerpt from book foreword.)

Woolf is much more interested in the inner life of characters than of following a tradition plot. Instead, you find yourself flitting from mind to mind. The story begins with Mrs. Dalloway going out to buy flowers for her party. Then we meet a troubled young couple whose husband is suffering terribly with PTSD. We see the world through his thoughts and then hers and then skip through others traveling along Bond Street.

The story is written in one long, continuous chapter with no breaks. It feels like you’re riding a wave of thoughts and emotions that somehow do weave together with recurring themes. The finality of life being one of them. Here, Mrs. Dalloway reflects on death in the midst of enjoying her day:

What she loved was this, here, now, in front of her; the fat lady in the cab. Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?

I found this preoccupation fascinating, especially considering how Woolf ended her own life years later. That being said, not all of the book was preoccupied with mortality. Another major focus was the missed romance between Mrs. Dalloway and Peter Walsh. Two people who knew each other so well, who could affect each other by merely entering a room and yet, Mrs. Dalloway had refused to jazzagemarry Peter Walsh. Their history was reflected on by both, back and forth throughout the tale.

Here is a brief excerpt from Peter’s perspective after he has called upon Mrs. Dalloway (Clarissa) unexpectedly in the morning before her party:

There was always something cold in Clarissa, he thought. She had always, even as a girl, a sort of timidity, which in middle age becomes conventionality, and then it’s all up, he thought, looking rather drearily into the glassy depths, and wondering whether by calling at that hour he had annoyed her; overcome with shame suddenly at having been a fool; wept; been emotional; told her everything, as usual, as usual.

Although I couldn’t always tell where Woolf was taking me with her tale, I really enjoyed her use of language and the questions she brought into the reader’s mind. This description of Peter observing a group of young people out on the town is just delicious:

They dressed well too; pink stockings; pretty shoes. They would now have two hours at the pictures. It sharpened, it refined them, the yellow-blue evening light; and on the leaves in the square shone lurid, livid – they looked as if dipped in sea water – the foliage of a submerged city.

Overall, this book was a delightful way to end this Jazz Age experience.

Ah! Lest I forget! The winner of my DOLLFACE giveaway is…

ELIZABETH BEVINS!

Thanks to everyone who entered.

I had a great time with this whole event and with the contest. I’m sure there will be more contests the near future.

Jazz Age January Event – Review of The Beautiful and Damned

TBATDI really struggled with this latest Jazz Age January pick. As this story was supposed to be a semi-autobiographical account of F. Scott Fiztgerald’s relationship with his wife Zelda, I was expecting a little more depth of character in this novel. What I found instead was a train wreck that I couldn’t wait to see the end of and where I had no invested interest in any of the characters on board.

In 1921 F. Scott Fitzgerald was twenty-five and heralded as the most promising writer of his generation, owing to the success of his first novel This Side of Paradise. Recently married to the girl of his dreams, the former Zelda Sayre, Fitzgerald built upon his sudden prosperity with The Beautiful and the Damned, a cautionary tale of reckless ambition and squandered talent set amid the glitter of Jazz Age New York.

The novel chronicles the relationship of Anthony Patch, a Harvard-educated, aspiring writer, and his beautiful young wife, Gloria. While they wait for Anthony’s grandfather to die and pass his millions on to them, the young couple enjoys an endless string of parties, traveling, and extravagance. Beginning with the pop and fizz of life itself, The Beautiful and the Damned quickly evolves into a scathing chronicle of a dying marriage and a hedonistic society in which beauty is all too fleeting.

A fierce parable about the illusory quality of dreams, the intractable nature of reality, and the ruin wrought by time, The Beautiful and the Damned eerily anticipates the dissipation and decline that would come to the Fitzgeralds themselves before the decade had run its course. (Plot Summary from Barnes and Noble.)

It has all the elements of a tragedy, yet for me to feel anything for the characters, to want to care anything for their fates, to weep over their sorrows, I have to care that bad things happen to them. However, these characters are so incredibly self-absorbed and unsympathetic that I just don’t care.  When they have the power to alleviate their own suffering, but are just too lazy to do anything about it, I have no compassion.

Don’t you ever form judgements on things?” he asked with some exasperation.jazzage

She shook her head and her eyes wandered back to the dancers as she answered:

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything about – what you should do, or what anybody should do.”

She confused him and hindered the flow of his ideas. Self-expression had never seemed at once so desirable and so impossible.

“Well,” he admitted apologetically, “neither do I, of course, but -”

“I just think of people,” she continued, “Whether they seem right where they are and fit into the picture. I don’t mind if they don’t do anything. I don’t see why they should; in fact it always astonishes me when anybody does anything.”

“You don’t want to do anything?”

“I want to sleep.”

For a second he was startled, almost as though she had meant this literally.

“Sleep?”

“Sort of. I want to just be lazy and I want some of the people around me to be doing things, because that makes me feel comfortable and safe – and I want some of them to be doing nothing at all, because they can be graceful and companionable for me. But I never want to change for people or get excited over them.”

“You’re a quaint little determinist,” laughed Anthony. “It’s your world, isn’t it?”

“Well -” she said with a quick upward glance, “isn’t it? As long as I’m – young.”

And believe it or not, this is the beginning of true love. Blech! No wonder it self-implodes in a hideous way. At one point a few years down the road when the two have had a row, the whole scene is described as a triumph of lethargy. That’s how I felt about this entire story. After reading it, I felt emotionally drained, and not in a good way.  Not my favorite read from this event. I must read another right away.