What’s On My Mind

BLOGFEST: Class of 2k14 is Thankful For…

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Click the Class of 2k14 logo to read what the other class members are grateful for!

The Class of 2k14 is having a Thanksgiving Blogfest, a time when we take a moment to share what we’re grateful for.

Where do I begin?

It’s a bright, crisp morning. The dogs are outside barking at the garbage man. My children are off to learn at a great school. My husband is away working at a job he loves. My first novel is finished and off to my editor. I’ll spend most of today working on the second book. I have a deadline to meet, which I’m grateful for because it means I’m really doing this gig I’ve dreamed of doing  for as long as I can remember. I have an agent and an editor who believe in me. This weekend was full of fun, making memories with my family. This morning a friend of mine is having a baby. In a little while I’ll call my parents to chat with them and tell them I love them. Today I’ll drink coffee and dream up what my characters will do next. I will send emails and make phone calls with friends. We’ll make plans to get together after my deadline, where we’ll drink more coffee and talk about books and life. I have amazing friends, from childhood, from church, from writing, from my community. I am surrounded by wonderful people. Tonight my family and I will have a nice dinner and go see the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special screening in 3D. On Thursday we’ll gather with extended family and share stories and make memories. Next week, I’ll meet with my writing friends to chat about our projects and writing and we’ll encourage and support each other. I’m part of the Class of 2k14, an incredible community of debut authors whose books are coming out next year. In a couple of weeks I’ll turn in my second book to my editor and I’ll start on a shiny brand new book. Or two. In a month, we’ll celebrate Christmas, and then the New Year. 2014. A year full of anticipation and adventure.

I’m so blessed.

And I’m so grateful. For all of it. For this life.

What are you grateful for?

Distraction: A Cautionary Tale

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How much of your life do you spend in a state of distraction? How much does being distracted affect your interaction with others?

I recently attended a book signing. I bought a book by the author (who shall remain nameless), and I stood in line to have the book signed. When my turn came, the author was speaking to another person. I waited for the author to finish the conversation, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the author held out a hand for my book. I put my book into the author’s hand. The author signed the book and handed it back to me, all the while still talking to the other person. The author never even looked at me.

:(

I walked away from the table flummoxed and thought, Who does that? Then I got mad and thought, I’m never buying one of [the author's] books again! And then I sighed and thought, There’s a lesson to be learned here. 

I don’t think the author was intentionally being dismissive and rude. I think the author was performing a familiar task (signing books) and was distracted. Which is understandable. We live in a distracting world. I mean, I’m not one to judge here. I loathe to think how many times I’ve neglected to pay attention when my husband or kids are speaking to me, telling me things that are important to them, things I’m too busy checking my email to hear. We’re all guilty of such offenses. I’m not saying what the author did was okay, but I am saying I can understand how and why it happened.

But…it shouldn’t happen.

Is being distracted avoidable? It must be. There was a time before we had screens always-on in our faces and noise coming at us from every direction. It’s avoidable if we stay conscious of the present moment.

As awkward and disappointing the book signing situation was, I’m thankful for the lesson it taught me.

That signing was a reminder to pay attention. To be present. To be aware of what I’m doing and who I’m engaging with. Whether it’s my family, my friends or readers who buy my books, they deserve my respect and they deserve my attention.

I don’t want to be the person too distracted to appreciate the people around me, and thereby miss out on a huge part of living life.

Thoughts?

An Inside Look at Book Cover Design

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I enjoyed this recent video from Random House giving an insight to how their designers approach creating book covers. Thought you might enjoy it, too. :)

Because Doctor Who Fans Rule

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Are you my mummy?
Creepiest kid at Phoenix Comicon ’13

This past weekend was Phoenix Comicon ’13.

*insane cheering*

It was an incredible weekend. Much geeky fun was had by all. Even up to the point when we all had to evacuate the Phoenix Convention Center.

What?

Yep. That’s right. Evacuate.

I was sitting in room 132, listening to Michael Stackpole, James A. Owen, Peter Orullian, Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, and Timothy Zahn talk about worldbuilding. My husband and children were on the other side of the building, learning how to build a dalek. And then, just as the worldbuilding panel was finished up, the  lights on the ceiling flashed and a siren (that sounded a bit like the alarm on the Enterprise) sounded. We all looked at each other. What do we do? Well, luckily, there also came an automated female voice instructing us to leave the building in an orderly fashion at once.

So we did.

Here’s a video fo how those sirens sounded:

Brandon Sanderson was still talking about writing as he left the worldbuilding panel, and I got to ask him a couple of questions. Very cool.

But the very not cool part was that my phone battery had died just moments before the sirens sounded.

Ugh.

I had no way of getting a hold of my husband and children. Sad me. (I wasn’t too worried, though. I knew they couldn’t be far.) I asked the man standing next to me (not Brandon Sanderson) if I could borrow his phone. He said yes and I made contact with my hubby. Awesome! I told him where I was (just outside the doors) and he said he’d come to me.

But then security said everyone  had to move across the street. And so the plan hubby and I made to meet was thwarted. Not awesome.

I asked a young woman passing me if I could borrow her phone to call my husband. She scowled at me (actually scowled) and said no. I was a bit shocked, really, because this was Comicon and people are Comicon are so cool. Except for her. She was not cool.

Then, I saw a woman in TARDIS socks and a Who shirt and I approached her with confidence. “May I please borrow your phone to call my husband?” I asked, and explained my phone battery was dead.

She said yes. She even dialed the number for me.

You know why?

Because Doctor Who fans RULE.

After I made contact with hubby and told him to stay where he was I was coming to get him, I thanked her profusely and pointed out my own Doctor Who shirt.

We smiled at each other, knowing inside how much better the world would be if everyone was a Doctor Who fan.

I was soon reunited with my husband and children, thanks to the kindness and generosity of the woman in TARDIS socks.

Dear Woman in TARDIS Socks who Let Me Use Your Blackberry to Contact My Family:

Thank you for being awesome.

-Amy

The Power of Letting Go

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Hands of Chrystalee
Hands of Chrystalee (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

The more years I live on this earth, the more I understand there is power in letting go.

Letting go of what you want. Letting go of what you’re better off without. Letting go of the outcome.

When my daughter was younger, she was very attached to her toys (well, she still is). She never wanted to give anything away, whether to sell in a garage sale or to give to a charity. Again and again I would tell her that if she’s clinging to what she has, her hands aren’t free to receive new things, different things, better things. Sometimes she understood. Sometimes it was a battle.

All that time I was telling her this lesson, I was also talking to me.

Writing — more specifically, revising — is teaching me this lesson now. This idea of cutting away what your story is better off without so there’s room for something new, something better — even though you love what is already there.

It can be painful, the letting go. But what I’ve found time and again is it’s always better, after. What comes as a result of letting go is always surprising, and always greater than what I imagined it would be.

In my first rounds of edits with my editor, I had to rewrite the ending of my book so it fit the new two-book structure we’d created. This was very difficult for me. I loved-loved-loved my ending. But it wouldn’t have made sense in the story arc if I’d left it as is. So I cut the chapter and wrote a new ending. That new ending completely opens up the possibilities for the second book.

If you never let go, there’s never room for possibilities.

It comes down to ego, I think, or maybe security. We think we know best and we close ourselves off to the suggestions of others. Or we want to stay with what we know, what’s safe.

Letting go involves releasing what we think we know, releasing what we think we deserve, accepting that we’re not as in charge as we think we are.

When I think back through my life, I can count several situations where I let go of my expectations and the outcome, and it literally changed my life. (And I do mean literally, not the actually not-literal way some people use the word.)

So, ask yourself: is there something you have a death-grip on today? What would happen if you released that grip? What would happen (could happen) if you let go?