Autograph Your Book

As a writer, you’ve worked on a glorious assemblage of words that can tower up to 200,000 in the case of one of my critique partners (it’ll probably end up as a trilogy, don’t worry). The longest amount of words I’ve strung together so far is 70,000. Then, once you have every word exactly how you want it, deeply imbued with meaning, and loadbearing-ness, and imagery, you have to summarize it into a one page synopsis, then a paragraph in a query letter, then a two sentence hook, and maybe a 140 character tweet if you participate in twitter contests such as #pitmad.

I thought of something else while I was in the shower–too early for my right brain to be awake and tell my left brain and me how silly we are–what about the authors who summarize their grand literary conglomeration into an autograph?

A couple well-known author autographs in my collection, like Maggie Stiefvater and Rick Riordan, are just their names–and I feel honored to have them on my bookshelves. Many that I have say something along the lines of “good luck with your writing”, which is awesome because it means I had a chance to talk with them in person about the craft of writing.autograph

But some authors take their book itself and connect it to the readers.

I imagine JK Rowling’s is pretty easy. All she would need to write is “Always.”

Here are some of my favorites:2qdeqfyx

“Here’s to finding our edge but never going over it!” -Lena Roy, author of Edges.

This one is great because, as the title implies, there are so many edges in this book: the literal ones of the canyons in the Moab desert, and the figurative ones the main characters must find-Luke with grieving for his dead mom and alcoholic dad, and Ava with tiptoeing the edge of sobriety as she tries to regain control of her life.

autograph2“What’s the one thing you want most?” -Stephanie Lawton, author of Want.

The main theme centers around what the characters, Juli and Isaac, want whether it be a prestigious music career, or something off-limits, juxtaposed with society’s (especially Old Mobile) traditions and familial responsibilities.

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“Stay true to yourself” -Joyce Sterling Scarbrough, author of True Blue Forever.

This novel (and now a trilogy!) is about the ever-changing friendship and rivalry between Jeana, Mickey, Billy Joe, and Wade and staying true to each other.

autograph3“Never give up on your dreams.” -Robin Bridges, author of The Gathering Storm.

Her protagonist, Katiya, holds fast to her dream of becoming a doctor in 1888 Russian royal society which gets her through all the craziness that being a necromancer brings, namely, zombies and vampires.

What would mine be?

Yes, I know it’s way too early to be thinking about this though I thought it would be a fun exercise and maybe help me with query hooks. One of my manuscripts is a YA mystery about a girl who’s brother is missing. My main character, Bea Pearl, copes with memory loss, questioning reality and wondering if her dreams might actually be memories. So my autograph message for her book might be something along the lines of Mrs. Scarbrough’s and Mrs. Bridges’ with “believe in your dreams”.

Another manuscript I have out on submission is an upper middle grade fairytale retelling of Melusine, the two-tailed water spirit on your Starbucks cup. It’s about a girl, Mellie, who is banished and cursed by her mother. It has an ecological theme so I’d want to incorporate that, maybe something along the lines of “It’s not easy being green (-tailed!)” Haha, that’s horrible but I have time to come up with something better.

I’d love to know what your autograph message is (or will be), how you connect your story to your readers. You’re welcome to leave a link in comments if you have a book out, or share what you’ll write once your writing dreams come true.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Time Zones: It’s A Paw-ty

My baby turns three tomorrow.

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So, technically, and according to him when he flexes his super-hero muscles, he’s not a baby.

As very little is more magical than a birth and the thriving, I thought today’s blog post would be apt to talk of that with the combination of writerly things.

Back track almost three years ago: I poured my first cup of fully caffeinated coffee I’d had in a year at our local writers’ guild meeting when a writing-buddy turned to me. “I have a friend who just had a baby and she’s really struggling finding time to write. How do you do it?”

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My baby was six weeks old, my daughter almost three. The schedule my eldest and I had come up with—balancing playdates and naptimes and my writing—had twisted into something unrecognizable with the arrival of my son. Before, I wrote during her naptime. Constantly exhausted keeping up with her, I’d snuggle in and take a twenty minute power nap, then wake up with scenes vibrant, writing furiously for the next hour and forty minutes. We were clockwork, she and I. I was the big hand, she the little and our days spun around the clock face.

The baby was a different time zone. Naptimes where no longer times to write but times to nurse and change diapers and soothe so he would be happy while she slept. Days when their naps coincided were glorious but rare. When I changed course and woke early to write, one or the other did too. I didn’t make a sound but they could feel the moment I turned on the computer through cracked bedroom doors and down a hallway. I grew frustrated and raged that the universe was against me.

I wrote after the three am breastfeeding for a week or two.  The crash was spectacular and messy.

And I felt so guilty that I blamed them for needing me. Writing is a priority but these two amazing children are so much more. I needed to change my mindset on what I expected out of myself. This baby might be my last so I needed to appreciate the fleeting infant time more. The incredible bond while nursing, the coos and gummy smiles. The tiny fist gripping my pinkie.

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He still prefers to hold only my pinkie. It’s like our secret handshake. A way he reminds me that he’ll always be my baby no matter that he’s growing up.

I reminded myself of a pass I had put in place. I had given myself a goal, a manageable 500 words a day, to finish writing a middle grade fairytale retelling before he arrived. I’m goal-driven and finished it a month before his arrival. Revising doesn’t take the same mental capacity that creating does to me so instead, I used my writing time to draft. And journal. I wanted to remember every tiny detail of their babyhood and toddlerhood, so why not exercise my writing muscles by recording? And it was easy to put down when they need me.

My new leniency with myself allowed me to adapt my writing to teething times and night terror times and every time a child needs comfort and attention from their mother.

We figured out our own time zones. Though with my daughter beginning kindergarten in two weeks, I have a feeling we’ll need to figure this out all over again. But that’s a different post.

How has your writing time adapted to new children or new schedules? I’d love to hear what works for you

 

 

Eep! First blog post

Look at me, carving out a tiny piece of the internet to call my own.

I’ve put off blogging for years, unsure that I would ever have anything to say that hadn’t been said before (and probably better–I tend to use run-on sentences and lots of parentheses). But then I thought, couldn’t I say the same about any sort of writing? Don’t we all have those uncertainties? And if I’ve pushed aside my doubts enough to write a novel (or three), then that excuse can’t hold true for me any longer.

So here I go. I’ve jumped off fallen trees into river water so muddy I can’t see what’s swimming around me with less trepidation.

418245_923426778683_2040150944_nAnd the risk to remain tight in my shell became more painful than the courage it took to flap my shells… to paraphrase Anais Nin.

I’ll post about being a mom and being a writer and being both at the same time which is often super hard. I’ll post about watery things, and magically things, and books which can sometimes be both of those things. (Basically things. See how I haven’t tied myself down?)

Say hi if you’re here! I look forward to your comments, so feel free to make yourself known.