Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG: Turbulence

For new visitors, IWSG Day is a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities...or in my case sometimes, just random thoughts. Today’s IWSG question is: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story? I fuel myself with chocolate quite a bit. Once I ran out of chocolate in my home and I don’t know if it was a coincidence that I was just less productive that week. 

Today I don't have an insecurity to share. 

Instead, I will share a short travel piece. During a recent plane flight I was on, the plane was experiencing turbulence near the end of the flight. Passengers were asked to remain in their seats. Then a passenger near me got up. She was chatting with her friend during most of the flight and might've missed the announcement. So as she was leisurely making her way down the aisle toward the bathroom, a flight attendant directed her back to her seat. With a dumbfounded expression, the passenger began to wander back to her seat. Then the plane really started shaking and before the passenger reached her seat, she fell over me. Although I was a bit annoyed, I was fine, as was she. Nonetheless, the moral of this particular story is to remain in your seat during turbulence on a plane flight.

But that doesn't mean when there is turbulence around us, that we must always remain in our seats. Lately, it has been hard for me not to feel affected by the turbulence from current events as well as stuff that has come up in social media. I'm relieved that people have been getting out of their seats and taking a stand for things that are worth standing up for. 

How do you deal with turbulence?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG & Author Interview with Julie Dill

For new visitors, IWSG Day is a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities...or in my case sometimes, just  thoughts on various subjects. Today's IWSG question is: What do you love about the genre you write in most often? Well, I can dish on what I love about any genre I write in. Since I'm working on a YA food novel right now, I will say that writing or reading about food allows me to think about something I enjoy doing, which is eating good food. Nom nom nom! 

Back in December, I shared here that I would like to profile authors here regularly again. 

For my first author interview of this year, I bring to you Julie Dill, an Oklahoma City resident whose debut young adult novel BLUFF (Amberjack Publishing) was released in 2017. You can follow Julie on Twitter @JulieDillOKC.

In BLUFF, 17-year-old Chelsea struggles with managing her cheer team expenses and her financially struggling household consisting of just herself and her single dad. Secretly, Chelsea assumes a new name and takes up playing poker at a local casino. Luck is on her side and a series of big cash wins at the table motivates Chelsea to keep returning. Things get challenging when sparks fly between Chelsea and a young pit boss. The pit boss doesn’t know that she’s an underage gambler. To keep up with her new hobby, Chelsea has to keep lying to those around her, and then things start to get out of hand...

What inspired you to write BLUFF? It’s weird how a character evolves. I really tried to create a unique character- a high school girl who wasn’t the norm. My personal life, as a teenager, could not have been more opposite than Chelsea’s so I really had to get outside of what I knew and what I was comfortable with to get in Chelsea’s head. I was reflecting on my first visit into a poker room, and in the early nineties there were hardly any women at all. Even today, you can still walk by a poker room and notice that the majority of the players are men. I think when you’re developing a character it’s important to raise the stakes as much as possible (pun intended). With BLUFF, I really wanted something different and that wasn’t already “out there.”

While BLUFF can be regarded as an “issues” story about a girl’s oncoming gambling addiction, I also considered this a fantasy fulfillment story. It was fascinating to observe the life of a teen who masquerades as a grown-up with some success. And don’t many teens wish they were adults? What would you say this story is about? Initially, it was Chelsea's attempt to try to get some quick cash. But long term, it became escapism for her. She could enter this world where she didn’t have to think about all of her responsibilities and just escape. My hope is that readers will recognize how easy an addiction can form.

Though I was often concerned for Chelsea’s safety and didn’t necessarily agree with her choices, I found myself looking forward to seeing what she’d do next. Tell me more about the character development for Chelsea.
Life is never easy for Chelsea, and that's what gives her some grit. She manages. She doesn’t have a choice. I think down deep Chelsea is longing for some maternal guidance, and that’s why I wanted her to have Ms. Stella. Overall, I view Chelsea as a good kid making bad choices, and that informed a lot of my decisions.

What books/authors did you enjoy reading when you were younger? THE BOXCAR CHILDREN was always my favorite. I still have the copy from my childhood with my name printed in the front. Bill Wallace (A DOG CALLED KITTY) visited my school when I was in fourth grade. I'll never forget it. I still have his book, too!

Tell me about the sequel for BLUFF. Will readers get to meet Chelsea’s mom? I continue to work on the sequel. Ms. Stella is my favorite character, and readers will get to spend a lot more time with her.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: Doppelgangers

Today is the first Insecure Writer's Support Group event of 2018. Happy New Year. For those visiting here for the first time, IWSG Day is a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives...or in my case sometimes, just general thoughts on various subjects.

Recently, I came across an entertaining article on my news feed showing people photographed near their "doppelganger" in a museum painting. Certainly, at first glance, most of the images appear to show that the person's face has been duplicated in the painting beside them. Peering closer, I might spot subtle differences between the person and the subject in the painting. Perhaps the shape of the person's face is slightly wider than the one in the art, for example. Still, these people feel connected enough to the image in front of them to be photographed with it as if to announce "I found me!"

For many readers, that can be the appeal of reading a book (or watching a movie, TV show, etc...) where there's a character they can somewhat relate to, even if they're not exactly the same.

From a writer's perspective, when I come across a story another author had written with elements that mirror my own story, I can respond internally in two ways. One, I might think, Someone else gets it! Yay! Or two, I get insecure. Now people would think I'm biting off this work if and when mine gets published. Or my work might not even get published because industry folk would point to that other story and say, there's already a story like that on the market.

And still, I continue to write on.

Have you ever come across art that made you go, "That's me!" How do you feel when you come across another writer's work that's similar to what you're working on?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: End of Year Thoughts

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day, a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

This is a timely question because I was just thinking about a regret I have and it’s regarding this blog. I realize it has been a long time since I’ve done an author interview here. I want to start featuring authors again. I’d like to reach out to illustrators too. That will be a New Year resolution of mine for 2018, among many others. 

What resolutions do you have for 2018?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IWSG: A Sign from the Universe

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day, a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. First, how was your Halloween? The good number of trick-or-treaters who came by my house as unicorns, Rubik's Cubes, and Ghost Buster characters tells me that the '80s are making a comeback. 

Today's IWSG question is: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?  I "won" NaNoWriMo awhile back and am still working on the manuscript- it's my YA food novel KISS MY BUTTER. Earlier this year, I had to put the project aside although I still worked on it inside my head. As I was preparing to immerse myself back into the writing and re-read the working draft, I worried the break I'd taken would make me rusty. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. Reviewing my manuscript, I can better see the story's strengths and weaknesses now.  

What's funny was that the night after I picked up my manuscript again, an author friend I hadn't corresponded with for a really long time emailed me out of the blue that following morning.  She wanted to know if I was still working on my novel. She even remembered my book title. I took this as a sign from the universe that I should continue to push forward on this book project....even though it has been quite awhile since I started it. 

What do you think of when you think of the '80s? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this month? Have you ever received a sign from the universe?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Overfilled Cabinets

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day, a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. I'm posting late Wednesday evening. First, I want to check in with my readers. How have you been feeling? I'm feeling overwhelmed and sad about troubling current events, with the most recent being the horrific and tragic incident in Las Vegas last weekend. My deepest sympathies go out to any of you who have been affected by any of these events in the past month.  

Today I don't have a writing insecurity. I just want to share some thoughts about cleaning out an overfilled cabinet. A few years ago, I subscribed to several magazines at a time. Sometime after the first three months of getting these magazines, I realized I didn't have time to read everything. I could've cancelled the subscriptions but never got around to doing it. So I kept the magazines stored away in a cabinet. Being environmentally conscious, the idea of just throwing the magazines away made me feel bad. (Think about all the trees that were cut down to produce these glossies!) But for the longest time, whenever I opened this cabinet, the magazines would start spilling out. Recently, I finally took a couple of hours to clean out the cabinet by dumping most of those magazines into the recycling bin. (Sorry, trees!) 

The cabinet is much neater now.  But it still fills up rather easily, as magazines can easily be replaced by other stuff.  I have to continue making the effort to clean out that space. 

Treating an overfilled cabinet can be an analogy for other things in our lives. 

What was your experience cleaning out an overfilled space? What magazines do you subscribe to or have subscribed to?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

No Good Deed...

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day, a monthly event where authors in the blogosphere can share about insecurities and other stuff going on in their lives. Today's IWSG question is:  Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? I don’t know if this counts but once I wrote a short story about the supernatural and later found myself frightened by some of the ideas I created in my own work. 

Today I don't have an insecurity. I just want to speak in vague generalities about some stuff I've been thinking about: Back in the winter, I did a small favor for someone. It was a favor I didn't have to do, and refraining from this favor wouldn't have been a breach of ethics in any way. Someone I know needed guidance and I helped out. Since then, the ripple effects of my favor have sometimes been a source of stress for me.  

My experience makes me think of the saying: "No good deed goes unpunished." Come to think of it, I can think of a bunch of other instances in my life that this quote supports.

That said, I still believe in helping others (but while being mindful of my personal boundaries and natural instincts.) 

Being a writer and a reader, I have been reflecting on how much of the fiction I've seen tend to show positive reinforcement for kind deeds. While I've also come across fiction where negative consequences punish a good doer, I'd say I spot this less frequently. But with the latter kind of story, the potential for character development could be quite interesting. After all, what is the motivation for one to continue doing the right thing if they have suffered for doing just that? A story that addresses this question could be more enticing to explore than a story about a character who consistently gets a pat on the head for doing the right thing.

Have you ever been "punished" for doing a good deed? Can you name stories that illustrate negative consequences from good deeds?