January 11, 2013

A Day in the Life

Steph from the Steph Likes Books blog asked me to jot out what I do during an ordinary day.
 
The I-Wish Version of a Typical Morning: The day begins with a joyful bounce out of bed at dawn, followed by a rousing bit of exercise. I peruse the morning paper while sipping a cup of herbal tea and nibbling a croissant. I’m seated at my desk and tapping literary brilliance on my laptop by 7 a.m.
 
Makin' this manuscript my bitch, yo.
 
Reality: The snooze alarm button no longer says “snooze” because the alarm has been struck so often that the lettering has vanished. I roll out of bed when Moose, my cat, fwomps directly onto my stomach in a desperate plea for breakfast before he starves to death. (Note: Moose is nowhere near starving to death.) I can’t open my eyes fully before at least two cups of coffee (yes to cream and sugar) and breakfast – usually a bowl of nearly-healthy cereal (no milk) corrupted by a thorough sugar coating.
 
Once I’m more or less awake, I check my two email accounts, flag everything that requires a reply, take a vague count of how much email is piling up, and move on to answering questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter. If I have a blog post to write, a book to review, a colleague’s manuscript to critique, a Q&A due, or bills to pay, I do these first because I’ve convinced myself that my imagination will trigger more easily and the words will flow better once my daily to-do list is checked off.
 
Somewhere between noon and 3:00 p.m., I open my story notes and WIP (work in progress). Often – especially at the beginning and always in the middle of a novel – I force myself sit and stare at a cursor blinking on a blank page for hours at a time (with breaks for whatever’s in the pantry and an unreasonable amount of Diet Cokes). Sometimes I type and delete repeatedly while wondering how I’m ever going to finish an 80,000 word novel when I can’t manage to put a single sentence in my hero’s mouth.
               Oh crap. I can't remember how to write a book...

When I’m lucky, though, I’m filled with ideas and able to dive right in. On a good day, I may write in half hour spurts throughout the rest of the day, or write until my fingers are numb, I’ve missed dinner, and it’s well past time for bed. Falling asleep while writing has been known to occur, making next-day pre-reads more interesting. (One writer friend, Laura Bradley Rede, confessed to falling asleep at the keyboard. The last thing she remembered doing before dragging herself off to bed was changing, That would come back to bite him in the ass to That would come back to haunt him. The next day, she found that she’d actually written, That would come back to haunt him in the ass.)
 
On the day I finish the first solid draft of a novel, it’s like the end of hibernation must feel for a bear. I emerge into a world that shifted when I wasn’t looking, and now it seems unfamiliar to me, and I seem unfamiliar to it. My family and friends are stunned to suddenly receive regular phone calls or lunch invitations. My cats are baffled to receive regular meals. I have time to read and socialize and shower consistently. Once the painful revision/editing phase begins, and during the frenzied promotional phase (both include a good deal of hair pulling - my own - and literal gnashing of teeth), I may determine that I'm never, ever writing another thing again.
 
After hibernation... or before coffee.

And then I wake up with a slightly muddled idea for a new story, and the whole cycle begins again.
 
Sorry, Moose.

January 2, 2013

Favorites of 2012

My list of literary 2012 favorites is ordered as I read them throughout the year, but only includes books published within 2012. (If I read an indie-pubbed book in 2011 and it was republished by a traditional publisher in 2012 - you won't find it here; I consider it to have been published when the author published it originally. These - and new-to-me faves from previous years - can be found on my Goodreads list. As an author, I don't "rate" books. If it's included, I read it and liked it.)
 
I had less time to read in 2012, and that trend will probably continue over the next several months as I meet publishing deadlines that are now contractual. My list contains the books that affected me strongly as a reader and a writer. They not only inspire me to write, but to keep trying to write better.
 
Froi of the Exiles - Melina Marchetta
 
Slammed/Point of Retreat - Colleen Hoover
 
This is Not a Test - Courtney Summers
 
Outpost - Ann Aguirre
 
Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry
 
Fall Guy - Liz Reinhardt
 
The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater
 
Hopeless - Colleen Hoover
 
Every Day - David Levithan