Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Story of the Dress

So I generally try to look my best when I go to work. My mom and I went shopping just before I started working at Cedar Fort, and I have plenty of nice things.

But there are levels of looking nice.

So I had dressed up as nice as I could given how much laundry had been done, and I thought I was ready, but then as I was looking up where we would be going for dinner, I realized that the place was much, much, much nicer than I thought before.

I needed a dress.

Somehow, by God's grace, I had a dress, too. My mother-in-law had given me a dress as a hand-me-down weeks ago, but because of how busy I'd been lately, I hadn't gotten around to cleaning out the car, and the dress was still in my front seat.

So I ran to grab it. And wouldn't you know it had no sleeves? So I needed something to wear under or over it.

Lo and behold, my best friend, Deborah, was wearing a brown sweater that would go with the green dress!

So I rushed to the bathroom to change, but then I discovered something worse: the dress didn't fit. (Yeah, I know, I need to lose some of the post-marriage pudge).

I shoved the dress over my head and threw the sweater on over it and presented myself to my coworkers, who said I looked lovely. I just barely had enough time to put my clothes down when the vendors arrived.

It was a lovely dinner, and I had a great time, but I had to cut myself out of the dress when it was over.

And that is how a single hand-me-down dress saved me from wearing pants to a dinner that was so elegant they had separate plates for every little piece of food.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Beauty of Well-Told Stories

My husband and I recently had the chance to attend the Salt Lake City Comic Con (I'll probably tell more stories about that later), and we got to talking about why we enjoyed the stories we did, the shows we did, and the books we did.

A lot of it has to do with the beauty of a well-told story. There is so much darkness in the world right now, and it's really comforting to hide in a book where there is darkness, yes, but there is so much more hope and a way to fight your way out of that darkness.

In the shows we all love, no matter how dark things get for our heroes, the message we take out of that darkness is not that the world is awful but that the world can be overcome. The world can be great.

Free will can triumph over manipulation.

Human beings have an amazing capacity for love and curiosity.

Friendship can transcend boundaries of race, species, or whatever else.

A good friend can change your life.

Different people can come together to change the world.

No matter how broken you are, you can still be a hero.

There is always a better way than the easy way.

What's on your outside doesn't matter.

Your strength is not weakness just because other people think it is.

You are a hero whether or not the world sees it.

You are a hero even if the world calls you a villain for standing up for your beliefs.

Basically, there is definitely still a place in this world for the so-called "younger" books. Where else would we learn to rise above everything?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Print Version of Birthright Unknown

To celebrate my turning in the files for the print version of Birthright Unknown (which means, hopefully, that I'll be able to hold a copy in my hands soon), I thought I'd tell the story of how this book came to be.

It was my senior year of high school. I'd been doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a while now, and this would be my third year doing it. I sat down and hammered out a pretty little story about a fairy with a destiny and a prophecy and a lot of the pat things you see in fantasy. It was 100,000 words long, and I was proud of that word count, but I wasn't too proud of the manuscript.

For one thing, it was pretty rushed. I'd finished it literally in the last hours of November, and I'd done the majority of it in the car ride to and from Michigan, where we had Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle and their family who lived up that way. It was a nice, long stretch of time to get writing done, but of course, it was only a few days. I basically had to get the last 50,000 words written in the last week of November.

For another thing, I knew that I was playing too hard to stereotypes. I knew that this book would need some major reworking before I really liked it.

So I was content to let it sit in a corner.

But then I was also marketing Lady Thief to different publishers, and my seminary teacher, Sister Erni, saw how hard I was working at my writing. She didn't know I was a writer, and she innocently asked for something that she could read of mine.

I didn't want to give her Lady Thief because I was doing some reworking after a rejection letter, and so I decided instead to give herBirthright Unknown, with the disclaimer, of course, that this was just a rough draft and had been written in one month flat, so she should not expect too much out of it.

For the next month and a half, Sister Erni would find me before or after seminary and tell me how much she was enjoying the book. She told me about different scenes that she liked and characters that really struck her. By the time she finished the book, she had convinced me that this book was actually worth a shot.

So I sat down and started the long, arduous rewriting process. I was rejected by all sorts of publishers, including the one I currently work for, and I was starting to think my initial reaction was right and that this story wasn't really worth all the time I was putting into it.

But my sister read it and loved it and said it made her cry, so I figured someone might enjoy it. But I decided I'd try an experiment with this one, since really the whole book was one long experiment in whether or not I could get it done.

I tried self-publishing.

I figured that was the way to go, and I'd heard lots of success stories about it. So why not go for it?

And then I started working for a book publisher, and I learned how to do interior design. And I started thinking: I bet I can design the inside of my book to look professional. And then I can get it printed.

So I started working on that several months ago, and in my spare time, I've been cleaning it up. Now, finally, I've finished in InDesign, and I think it's ready to go.

And now that I've spent more time with it, now that I've pruned and polished and gleaned, I love it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Measure of a Story

So, occasionally, my coworkers and I go off on random philosophical tangents.

It doesn't really matter what the topic is. Sometimes it's nerdy things like Star Trek or Doctor Who, or sometimes it's linguistic change like the new definition of "literally."

But today, we had a really good and interesting discussion on the value of books.

Specifically, my coworker mentioned that he wanted to do a study of classics around the world, not just in English, to see the depth and influence of these works.

So, we started talking about what defined "influence."

There's all sorts of factors to consider. What about how far the book spread physically? If people from other countries were reading a copy of the book, doesn't that count as influential, at least on a world scale, and especially given the time periods we were looking at?

What about controversy? Given the time frame, Galileo was considered controversial, but now we celebrate his achievements. Can we measure a book based on the backlash against it? Or, interestingly, can we say a book was a real success if the author was killed for it, such as the authors of English versions of the Bible? 

(I certainly hope not. I don't want to die to make an impact with my stories!)

Popularity? 

Oh, I hope not.

Fifty Shades of Gray.

Just saying.

Moving on.

What about whether or not we're forced to read it in class? Well, this one is actually a good argument. There must be some kind of measuring stick by which the forces that be choose which books to inflict upon us in those precious teenage years. Unfortunately, I don't know what the measuring stick is, so I can't debunk this argument (or bunk it or whatever the opposite of debunk is), so we'll just have to keep assuming, like we did in high school, that teachers pick them arbitrarily based on what they think will put us to sleep the fastest.

Yeah. Let's go with that.

Anyway, it was an interesting discussion, and it got me thinking about how intangible books are. There's not really something that you can set down and declare to be "classic" or "good reading" because it's all so subjective. Books are thoughts and ideas put to words, and maybe that's why it's hard to say why some are enjoyed by millions and others read in a few solitary rooms. The readers get the same joy out of it, based on their own desires and views, so how do you take six billion people's worth of ideas and intangibles to determine what a classic is?

Basically, I think this is really cool, and I'm discovering again what a nerd I am when it comes to words and books and writing and stuff.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dreams

I think so much of writing is based on dreams.

When you wake up from the greatest superhero dream and you really want to write it down, but the only thing you can remember is that it was fantastic and exciting and you didn't want it to end.

But a little piece of it stays behind, just in the corners of your memories.

And then one day that little piece becomes a person. Fully fledged. With arms and legs and hands and a personality.

And all of a sudden you have backstory.

You have a living, breathing person.

Because of a corner of a glimpse of something your subconscious discovered. All on its own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Write When I'm Happy

I've noticed that the way I feel directly correlates with how much writing I want to do.

For example, we've had a few crises at the publishing house I work out. It's been crazy. It's been stressful. It's been hard to get out of it. And I haven't gotten anything written.

Last month, I was in a bad ATV accident with my husband. We had to stay home all the time. We could hardly move. Even though the pain medicine they gave us was non-drowsy, we still felt miserable. And I didn't get anything written.

Contrast this with the last few weeks before the crises, when I was writing every single day. Writing fanfiction or Michael's series or even the nonfiction book I've been meaning to write. Every. Single. Day.

And a lot of that has to do with being married. Matt has been such a source of pure energy and joy in my life that it's hard not to want to run like crazy. To do anything and everything because, guess what, I can!

I don't think I've ever been happier before, and I don't think it's an accident that I've been averaging 2,000 words per day rather than 200.

So thanks, Matt. You're my muse, apparently.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

*Sigh

Sometimes, you get disillusioned.

It doesn't matter what it is, but sometimes, you just . . . start to question your sanity in wanting to write for a living in the first place.

Monday, January 28, 2013

On the Other Hand

There is nothing better than getting word from a preteen that she liked Lady Thief so much she's reading it again.

Thank you for cheering me up.