I try to do a seasonal compilation of my favorites, which helps me root down to
the present and really be here, ya know? I don't go for Christmas decorations
already for sale in September, but I really dig pumpkins and mums and cinnamon
right about now!
Here are a few sets from past seasons. The
following are a few things that get me ripe for Fall 2015.
into the past, recalling evenings on screened-in porches, sipping lemonade, and discussing
and bonding over books.
clubs? Maybe you're still in one. Sadly, mine fell away along with dial up, the
fascination with Reality TV, and time. Sigh emoji. Time, always the culprit. I miss
them though. More recently, friends and I started up a virtual "book club"
connecting over texts and in emails, but it just wasn't the same and inevitably—as was the case and the delight of in-person book clubs—we'd start
discussing other things: travel plans, work, kids…and kids! One of the biggies
that makes time management the status quo and shifted priorities. Fast forward to now…and social
loads of literary/book chats online for readers and writers. The upside: pop
in whenever you want. The downside: no snacks. But still, it's super fun to
connect with other word nerds the world over. Below, please find a list of literary chats,
their times and any associated links.
A few points
to make if you join a book chat:
Click LIVE on
the top of the Twitter page so you're not just getting the comments from people
through to find out the topic. If you're late, it's fine to ask the subject of the hour.
answering questions it's helpful to use Q and the number. For example often
times the host will start a convo by tweeting somethinglike: Q1. What's your favorite book? In
responding to question 1, use Q1 or A1 (A for answer) and so on.
the designated hashtag.
respectful. I haven't
come across too many heated debates, but if you do, consider what you'd say if you were in
the room with the person. And since you can't see them/probably don't know
them, they might hold a PhD in the subject, a cop, or just a
plain old human being with feelings. Conduct yourself as such.
I find it
helpful to use an app like Tweetdeck or have two windows open, one for the live
feed and the other for comments directed to me, favorites, retweets, etc.
check/convert to your time zone. Here's a handy converter. I did the times below in EST for consistency.
September! When'd you get here?! It's always the tone of surprise with me when
seasons change, time sifts by, or it's suddenly a holiday. Events like these
shouldn't blindside me—I mean, they're written in months, years, uh,
millennia(?) in advance. Still, time has this way of sneaking, and twirling,
and speeding along. Which brings me to my recent realization that it's been
three months since SUGAR my debut young adult novel was published by
Skyscape. Three incredible, challenging, insightful, and gratitude-filled
months. (Also, psst, the Kindle/digital copy is on sale right now!)
I've written a bit about my
road to publication, first as a fledgling hopeful, querying agents who probably
have my name—in red ink—on a list somewhere under the heading: persistent, (but
polite—I hope! PASS!) Later, as an independently published author with the new adult
series, FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, and then in a shocking twist in my personal
narrative, an offer for publication from Skyscape. Yew!
Now, here I
am on the other side, sorta, whirling and wondering really, how I got here.
It's true, authors tend to be doubters, though confidence rises and falls much
like the hurry up, slow down, slowwww way down, quick, you’re on deadline wacky pace of
the publishing world. Some days I'm like who
wrote this sh!t and then others, it's like, well, not too shabby there, Hall.
Here I am
now, reflecting on the last few months and looking ahead, and ready to reboot
with all this new information. After a stream of consciousness kind of flow,
I'm going to list out several things I wish I knew before… Or if I could hop in
my Tardis (I had one imported) the leaflet I'd print out and give myself to
spare any incurring hardship, hair-tugging, and spazz-outs.
1. Be patient. I know. I say this all the
time. We hear it all the time. But it comes up again and again for a reason.
Several, actually. For many of us who've latched onto the lightning fast
connection of the internet age, we want things now, now, and now. Maybe even
yesterday. In fact, as I write this, my internet/wifi is down, and I'm all
kinds of flustered. I have things to do, people. To do them I NEED the
internet. Ok, not really. Um, maybe that little outburst demonstrates why I
might need a tech-detox and a dose of patience.
processing program is accommodating me just fine for my present endeavor, but darnit I want to check my
Twitter feed and my inbox and… But really, I don't need to. All I have to do right now is write this blog post and the
pumpkin on top of my neck provides all the gigabytes required—just like they
did it in the "old days." So, in this time of internet-instant-gratification,
it's easy to forget or maybe it's just that we expect that everything else moves at
the same rate. The publishing world, at least in my experience, consists of
real humans who do things at the same pace as the rest of us. That means they
read, edit, offer feedback in real time, not the pseudo-speed offered by
technology. So, self, three, six, twelve months ago…be patient with publishing.
2. Be patient. Yes, I'm repeating myself. How's
that saying go, "Rome wasn't built in a day." I think that's what it is. I can't
cross-reference because my internet is down. (How did writers fifteen, twenty, a hundred years ago
do it?!) This brings me exactly to my point. Rome wasn't built in a day, but
it's still standing. Mostly. I've been there and it's pretty phenomenal despite
all the influences that, over the years, routinely threaten it. If, as writers,
it's our desire to evoke a lasting response, connection, and impression on
readers with our body of work, it's essential we give the sauce—our
manuscripts—time to develop flavor. That means, the first draft is just that, a
first draft. Mine are an embarrassment. I will never, ever, not even for a
real chocolate chip cookies show someone my first draft. Actually, it's not
because I'm truly embarrassed…I'm a fast drafter and get down the bones of a
story quickly, otherwise distractions and my own forgetfulness sieves the story line into some inaccessible part of my brain. I learned this about myself.
Thank goodness. If you're a fast drafter, like me, or even if you're somewhere in the
middle, or deliberate every word on the first go, the first draft is the layer,
or three, just above the gold. By stepping away, we allow the novel to
marinate. Then, going back, revising, and editing, we add a little, take away,
refine, and perfect our recipe. (All this talk about Rome and food is making me
hungry. Mmm. Sauce.)
patience. With self-publishing and the accessibility of agents and editors,
there's sometimes a sense of urgency, to get it out there before…before what
I'm not sure, but it's valuable to let the writing process unfold (marinate) fully,
before launching into publishing. (Insert wine or cheese metaphor since we're dabbling
in Italian cuisine.) I'm just now settling into this notion, downshifting a
little away from frenetic energy, but still maintaining my drive, my desire,
and the fire that keeps me stoked to be in this biz.
3. Be flexible. The schedule for my
forthcoming novel, PEARL, was derailed over the summer. It was one of those
situations that could have been prevented, but my frustration wasn't going to
get the manuscript edited and where it needed to be. I had days blocked out far
in advance for revisions with my editor and when that didn't go to plan and
camps, playdates, childcare was for naught…I sulked, but very quickly, I picked
myself up, dusted off, and got back to work.
comes with two caveats: one, guard your writing time. Don't give it up unless
you have a really, really good reason. Writers NEED to write. Vitamin W or
something. Two, don't let people take advantage of the patience you cultivated
(see above). If a request or timeline seems unreasonable, respectfully speak
up. The thing was I did my best to maintain a flexible attitude and it all worked out quite nicely.
flexibility in mind, it's also valuable, especially after what can be hours
spent at the keyboard (depending on how your writing time is blocked out) to
move the body. I find occasional 5-15 minute yoga breaks throughout the day or
one long session early on or in the evening is super useful in rebooting and
keeping my body and buns from aching too much. If yoga isn't your thing,
recharge with some form of physical movement. The bonus, this stimulates the
creative juices! Folding laundry doesn't count, unless it's Thursday.
4. Be connected. I railed above about the
hyper-connectivity we experience nowadays, but what I mean is, reach out or
maintain connections with real humans (not just the ones we make up.) I tend
toward retreating into my writing cave and happily staying there until I'm
running on a food and water deficit, not to mention human interaction.
it's vital for writers to get writerly support. The unique thing I wasn't
necessarily expecting when I launched into the writing/publishing world, was
this amazing collective of friendly and supportive fellow word nerds. Twitter,
writing groups, and conferences are all great places to meet like-mindeds along
with learn, discuss relevant topics, and geek out about ALL the bookish things.
And last, but not least, celebrate. That doesn't mean book spamming all the feeds from here to the satellites in the outer reaches of space, but it's important to mark small and big victories, a completed chapter, manuscript, publication! I believe the universe appreciates when we recognize our triumphs—and those of other writers. So let's remember to give a little hollah, some emojis, a glass of something bubbly, or a whatever feels festive when we cross the various writerly finish lines.