De-Stem Your Prose: Writing Advice from SIDEWAYS

“They didn’t de-stem, hoping for some semblance of concentration, crushed it up with leaves and mice, and then wound up with this rancid tar and turpentine bullshit.” Miles  (Paul Giamatti) Sideways.

This is my favorite way to describe over-wrought prose.  Back in college, writing “leaves and sticks and mice” in the margins was a shorthand among my friends to cool it on the adverbs and get back to the action.  Too many writers use miles and miles of description to give their story some semblance of depth, when in reality, the character has spent the first three pages getting dressed.   Yes, description is important, but leaves and sticks and mice do not good wine make.

(A variation on this comes via Nick Mamatas, genius; “I’ve seen more first pages ruined by socks and coffee than I care to count.”)

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How To Not Be a Stressed-Out Monster

After a couple weeks of crushing chest pains and stabbing feelings in random parts of my stomach, I managed to get a doctor’s appointment, where they did a bunch of tests (including an EKG) and determined that I have an ulcer brought on by the debilitating stress that is my everyday existence.

A little background on me.  I am and always have been an anxious person.  I fight it pretty much all the time, but it manifests in weird ways, like waking up in the middle of the night convinced that I reported Common Council voting “yes” when they really voted “no” and my headline will be wrong and everyone will hate me.  Even after I have double and triple checked, it still keeps me up at night.

Lem

#ShieldLife

Couple that general anxiety with editing a book and planning a wedding, and, well, you wind up with an ulcer.  I named mine “Lem.”

Don’t get me wrong — I love my job and my book is awesome and my wedding was magical, but these things are stressful and I internalize stress.  My doctor wrote me a prescription, which included “relaxing activities — music, walking or scrapbooking.”

Well, I wasn’t going to take up scrapbooking, but I did dig out a whole bunch of craft stuff — including cross-stitch, sewing and knitting — to help sooth my nervous soul. When I can’t write, I turn to crafting as a way to keep myself creative.

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On Triathlons and The Myth of ‘Wasted Words’

628x471One of the coolest parts about my job as a reporter is that for all the meetings I attend and hard news I write, I also get to do a whole host of feature stories, which means I get to meet a lot of interesting people.  And last week, once again, I got to dip into my email and pull up Olympic triathlete Sarah True’s (formally Groff) contact and email her congratulating her on qualifying for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

Sarah, like her sister Lauren ( NYT bestselling author of Monsters of Templeton and the forthcoming Fates and Furies) are Cooperstown natives, so whenever they do something awesome — which is seemingly all the time — I get in touch and write a story.

And as I looked through photos of the qualifying race, I thought about what it takes to compete in a triathlon.  I ride my bike into town to get coffee, sure, and I can run to catch a bus pulling away from the curb, maybe swim a little in a hotel pool when I’m on vacation, so seeing someone like Sarah kicking ass on the course just blows my mind.  And she got there by practicing her butt off, swimming Otsego Lake as a teenager, and getting up every day to ride and run and swim some more.  You don’t get to the Olympics twice by playing video games and eating chips all day.
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Keeping a Notebook Pt. 2

Let me introduce you to my papercraft creations:

The Book of Crows: My first!  The spine is a mess, but it’s still got a cool look to it.  I went a little crazy in the papercraft section of Michaels, hence the knob on the front cover.  HOWEVER, the knob makes it impossible to lay the book flat, which is a mistake I won’t make again.  I use this notebook for writing weird fantasy stories, and thus it is filled with skeleton stickers and cut-out panels from The Goon.  This one also has a built-in bookmark, which is its own lovely little piece of artwork.

The Book of Crows

The Book of Crows

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The Book of Crows — Interior

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Galley Copies

UglyCryMy galley copies of The Big Rewind arrived yesterday and…wow.  They’re incredible.  To actually hold my own book in my hands, to see my name on a cover is such a thrill that I lack the words to describe it.  For the whole night I kept picking it up and turning it over in my hands, thinking this is really happening.  That’s my name!  On the cover of a book!  Those are my words, my sentences, my scenes all laid out in actual, book-like form!  Eee!  It doesn’t seem real.

And yes, I cried when I opened the box.

And the best part is that my husband, Ian, who hasn’t read the book in any form, is devouring it.  Not just because I wrote it (he’s very honest which stories of mine he loves and which ones aren’t his thing)  but because he’s actually enjoying the book.  I had to banish him to the other room last night because I wanted to go to sleep and he couldn’t put it down.  That might be the best endorsement I’ve gotten so far!

 

The Big Rewind….Cover Reveal!

Here it is, the cover for my debut novel, The Big Rewind!

 

The Big Rewind Cover

I am beyond thrilled about this.  I had gone back and forth about it, choosing colors and such, with Chelsey (my editor) & Jim (my agent), who are the two most awesome people in the publishing world, but until now, the cover was still top-secret to my friends and followers.

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