A BLOG FOR READERS AND AUTHORS OF MTV BOOKS
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Mile 1. I have started this book at the wrong place, too late in the story. I need to add a lot to the beginning, but where exactly to start? Hmm...
Mile 2. A conversation between Brandon and Zoey at the beach, where they are headed, and why. Hmm...
Mile 3. The secondary characters in this book are driving me insane. I have already deleted Doug’s mother and the llama because they wouldn't behave. If Keke, Lila, and Mike don’t start cooperating soon, I will throw them under the bus too. Hmm...
Mile 4. Somebody has stenciled a computer’s power button on the asphalt. I always step on this button when I finish my jog so my mind will stop racing about my book and I can get on with the rest of my day. Power off.
Monday, October 26, 2009
It would be cool to say I scribble my first drafts on the bald heads of sleeping strangers in the airport or on barstools in 5-star hotels. But I could never let my hard-won words disappear on a jet plane or be rubbed into oblivion by a stranger’s tush.
Almost all of my writing is done on my computer at my messy desk in my equally messy office. The lighting is great, my chair is comfortable, and the controls for both the ceiling fan and thermostat are within reach. If I need inspiration, I can grab one of the many books about writing on my bookshelves.
Writing at my desk poses one challenge, though. I have to pry Raggedy Andy off my chair, which is one of his favorite sleeping places. Every other piece of furniture—including the kitchen table--is his second favorite sleeping place. He's had no problem leaving his feral cat days behind. I remove the towel that's supposed to keep my chair clean, make a few futile swipes at the cat hairs, sit, and pull my wip up on the screen. After that, I’m all business except for an occasional check of my e-mails, snack and drink runs, and breaks to toss clothes in the dryer.
My ideal writing time is 8-11 a.m., but like most writers I rarely have a free day to do nothing but write. Most of my writing happens in late afternoon and early evening when I get home from my part-time job, a school visit, or one of the several writing classes I teach. On my days off I’ve been known to write for 5-6 hours at a stretch; other days I feel lucky to squeeze in 15 minutes. But whether I’m able to write for hours or minutes, I’m always glad I made the time.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
It's Saturday. It's 11:27 in the morning. And I'm at the bookstore. I'm actually sitting right across from that black chair you see to the left. This is where I do my writing. This photo actually shows the cafe next to where I sit. I love writing here. I have rows and rows of books to my right, and food right next to me. Every weekend I come here, buy an iced tea and a cookie or a sandwich, depending on the time of day, and plug my laptop in next to the fireplace (it's gas and has a little fire going at all times so it's very homey). During the winter I drink hot chocolates.
I have wireless access so I can research any topic as I write. I can check emails when I feel like procrastinating (or update my Facebook status, which doesn't help me be very productive).
These days I write mostly on the weekends and at night, if I'm not too burnt out from my day (I'm a marketing consultant, so I split my time between writing and client stuff).
When I'm starting a book (as I'm doing now) I have a hard time writing at home. Being in the bookstore helps me focus, to organize my thoughts. Once I'm more than halfway through a book I can write at home, but until then I need to get away and write somewhere else.
I always wonder what the girls behind the cafe counter think about the woman who sits here all day with a laptop on her lap staring into space like she can't figure something out or typing away with a vengence. I don't think they know what I'm doing. They probably think I have no life, if this is where I come every weekend.
But I like sitting here, knowing that over in the teen section my books are on the shelf. It's motivating - even if sometimes it's depressing when I feel like I'm not getting anywhere on my latest story.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I write whenever I can. That usually means a few mornings a week, some nights and on the weekends. I am a night person by nature but have become more flexible since having kids. I love to write so any time is a good time for me. If I'm under deadline then writing definitely becomes a priority over mounting laundry and mopping. Okay, it's true I'd do a lot of things instead of tackling household chores!
You can usually find me writing at one of two places: my home office, pictured here or at my local Starbucks. I write at home when I need it really quiet (minus the family:) and I write at Starbucks when I need to be away from the distraction of toys strewn about the house and little voices (very cute voices but still distracting:).
At home I can play my music as loud as I want, use the internet for research and stare at my little believe sign given to me by my son a couple of years ago when he was five (pictured here). This works great for new scenes. However, when I am editing a book I prefer to go to Starbucks where nobody knows my name and I can fill up on coffee.
One of my favorite things about writing is that it can be done virtually anywhere. I have not written in the shower or in a hot air balloon but I have written at a stop light while driving and in plenty of waiting rooms.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
But what about the CD itself. We couldn't just scrawl Wedding Mix on it with a sharpie like I'd usually do. Leslie offered to burn an image into the CD for us, but she'd already been so generous with her time and resources that Scott decided to take the task on himself. His burner had just died so he bought a lightscribe burner to replace it and put together an image that included three photos of us and a tattoo-style design that matched our theme to burn onto the CDs:
1. Who Would've Thought- Rancid (This is our song. We listened to this Rancid album on our way to dinner on our first date. "Who would've thought that the dreams come true? And who would've thought I ended up with you? And who would've thought what they said was true? But it was and you are, light in darkness come through." That pretty much sums up how I feel about Scott. Rest of the lyrics are here. Woulda been the first dance, but kind of hard to do anything but mosh to. I did drag Scott out onto the floor for it though to try.
2. Talk Dirty To Me- Poison (This is my ring tone for Scott. He brought back my love for cheesy 80s hair rock that I'd disavowed because I was too punk and so much of it is sexist. He loves Poison, GNR, etc without shame.)
3. Brown-Eyed Girl- Everclear (A sweet song, but Scott also jokingly calls me his brown-eyed girl because he knows it drives me crazy because my eyes are hazel, dammit!)
4. Clavicle- Alkaline Trio (Scott introduced me to Alkaline Trio. I knew the band they came out of, Slapstick, but had honestly stopped paying as much attention to Chicago punk after 1996. Scott educated me. This song is just another perfect punk love song.)
5. First Time Ever I Saw Your Face- Johnny Cash (I once noted that I wanted to dance at my wedding to this song. The Man In Black does love songs so well.)
6. Just Like Heaven- Dinosaur Jr (On the original mix I made for Scott. I usually hate cover songs, especially Cure covers, but this is genuis.)
7. Little Rude Girl- Lars Frederiksen & The Bastards (I guess this song reminds Scott of me in some way, he picked it. Our cat is named for Lars Frederiksen too.)
8. I Will Follow You Into The Dark- Death Cab For Cutie (Yeah, I know it's depressing, but it's about eternal love, so I like it. A lot.)
9. Drain You- Nirvana (Nirvana reminds Scott of me. I think Nirvana reminds a lot of people of me since they are most beloved band. I think this is a great twisted love song. Love and bodily fluids, only Kurt Cobain would write this kind of song.)
10. Love Song- The Cure (Pretty self explanatory.)
11. Highway 101- Social Distortion (Scott and I drove up Highway 101 last summer on my IWBYJR book tour. It just captures that moment for me and sums up more feelings for Scott: "I believe in love now, with all of its joys and pains, Follow the palm trees under the California sun, I believe in love now, I believe in love again." More lyrics here.)
12. Swing Life Away- Rise Against (Another Chicago punk band that Scott turned me on to. And this song is all about building a life together despite your scars. It's also seems to be about getting the hell out of Chicago, which I hope someday we will do together.)
13. T.S.R.- Against Me! (Scott and I started dating because of Against Me!. His myspace screen name was an Against Me! reference. My friend Amber had just really gotten me into Against Me! That's what got us started talking. And we listened to AM! a lot. Scott had their CD "As The Eternal Cowboy" in his alarm clock CD player for months when we first got together. This is the first song on that album and we would wake up to it every day. The lyrics start, "The party's over..." and it was so fitting because it meant we had to get up, go to work and be apart. That sucked. The party was over. For the moment.)
Ultimately the result of our music was a lot of crazy dancing at times. For example, toward the very end my dad asked if he could dance with me. "Um, Nirvana's on," I pointed out. "We can't really dance to that. We're going to have to mosh." So that's what we did. I dragged my brother along too and then got my friend Eryn to help me show them how it was really done. Hopefully the professional photographer caught us actually slamming, but this is all I have for now:
Ultimately there were good times had by all out on the dance floor at my wedding:
My dear friend Anna and her boyfriend Adam:
Kathy and Joe and Amber and Ryan:
Katie, Amber and Anna crash one of me and Scott's dances:
Amber and Anna doing some kind of dance while my cousins Jeff and Natalie laugh:
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
1. I have a family. And a cat.
2. My shoulder hurts from sitting in one position at the computer for 90 hours of the past 120.
3. I have been living on Red Bull and black-eyed peas.
4. I have not run in two weeks, and I look it.
5. I have been wearing the same jeans for three days.
6. Bloggers are posting very kind reviews of my novel The Ex Games and sending me the links, and I am just looking at them like, did I write that? HELP I AM LIVING INSIDE A DIFFERENT NOVEL NOW!
7. The Foo Fighters have a new single! Purchase!
8. I have no idea what is going on with Jon and Kate!
9. I am speaking at a local high school tomorrow, and the paralyzing stage fright has not even kicked in yet. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME!
10. Oh God, I have missed my day to post to the MTV Books Blog. Back to writing...
Friday, October 9, 2009
October has dropped over Iowa like a cold, soggy towel. People who smiled their way through September are lurching down the sidewalk with their jackets pulled over their ears. If you dare to look at their faces, you’ll catch a glimpse of haunted eyes and snarling lips. You think zombies are scary? You haven’t seen Midwesterners when the weather changes for the worse.
All of us have different tastes in weather. I stand on the front porch to watch thunderstorms. My friends run to the basement. I’ve known guys who sunbathe on their car hoods in ninety-degree weather. You’ll find me with my head stuck in the refrigerator.
With so many opinions about the weather, it makes sense that our characters respond to the weather, too. And--as the independent beings they are—characters’ reactions aren’t always what we expect. Let’s say a bad breakup has your protagonist feeling down, so you treat her to a gorgeous sunny day to bring back her smile. She steps outdoors, raises her face to the warm sun—and bursts into gut-wrenching sobs. Not what you had in mind was it?
Weather can set the mood, ground readers in time and place, throw characters’ plans into a tailspin, and reveal a new facet of personality. And we know weather is an excellent way to create problems. One rainstorm can wash out a camping trip, cause a mudslide, send a car hydroplaning across a highway, and ruin the prom queen’s carefully styled hair. A multi-tasking natural disaster!
Weather is the perfect antidote for writer’s block, too. Stop banging your forehead on the computer keys and take a weather break. Stare out the window until your eyes cross and start typing. Describe the colors of the sky—no robin’s egg blue copouts allowed--and the shapes, textures, and motion of the clouds. Work your way through wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. How many colors and nuances of light can you find in the tossing leaves? Are squirrels scampering in carefree abandon or eyeing the power lines with suicidal thoughts? Leave no detail unrecorded. By the time you finish, you’ll have setting details for several chapters.
The next time your weather turns ugly, wipe the snarl off your face and get every nasty detail on paper.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I'm pulling up my sweater to try and save Shrinking Violet from going out of print. I found out the other day that the book may not be reprinted, unless demand increases. Yes, the economy sucks! Of course, this makes me very sad because it's only been out for four months, not enough time to make the rounds.
So to try and spread the word I started a Save Shrinking Violet Campaign on my blog, complete with cool prizes! Check it out here: http://daniellejoseph.livejournal.com/13551.html
I have been so touched by all the support that I've been getting from the book lovers community. BLoggers, reviewers and authors that have enjoyed Shrinking Violet have emailed me and blogged/Tweeted and Facebooked about the campaign, even offering up their own prizes. If my book is not reprinted, the one good thing that's come out of this is that I really feel the love. I feel so fortunate to work in such a warm community of writers and readers.
In Shrinking Violet, Tere goes for her dreams, despite the obstacles that she faces. So that's what I'm doing to try and keep Tere's voice alive!