Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vay... cay... shun...??

I know not this word of which you speak.

But - gosh - it sounds like a lovely concept! You must come from a highly evolved and civilized species.


I don't really... what was the word again?... oh yeah - vacation. Not in the traditional "Summer Vacation" sense. At least, I haven't for some while now. Way back in 2006, the lad and I went to the Dominican Republic for a week. An ENTIRE week. In another country. With an abundance of beach-y goodness and a noticeable dirth of anything that HAD to be done. It was awesome and unaccustomed all at the same time.

But, as I say, that was a rather odd instance. It was, in fact, the first time I'd done that in over a decade and I haven't done it since. For years, I have been in the habit of saving my preshuss preshuss vacation days, hoarding them while my coworkers took two weeks off here or three weeks off there during the glorious summer months (which - as a total aside - WHERE are the glorious summer months this year, hmm?? I've had enough of the grey skies and chill winds, thanks) but I would not. My reasoning was simple.

I hoarded them so that I could do shows. And then twice a year I would wake up at ungodly hours, make my way blearily to a theatre and perform Shakespeare, two shows a day, for hundreds of high school students for two weeks running. Hard hard work. Then I would go back to my office job and everyone would look at me and wonder why I didn't look relaxed from my time off in the slightest.

Funny thing was - I always felt relaxed. Refreshed. Like I'd taken my brain out and given it a good shake and a dusting off and rotated it's tires and changed the oil (go go gadget-mixed metaphors!). In a way, it was almost better than a typical vacation (NOT that I'm casting aspersions on the Dominican beach napping - that was awesome!).

Anyway, this year, I'm sort of doing the same thing but with writing instead of acting. Like Jillian, my summer is being spent - as it was last year - eyeball-deep in the work. And I'm not gonna complain one tiny little bit. But if somebody wanted to bring me a mai-tai, that would be nice!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Being married to a teacher, and having, until recently, taught college, I’ve never quite lost that image of summer that you have while you’re a child in school. You know, that elated feeling when school is out for summer, that you have two months totally free of homework and boring classes. I still get that feeling. Every single summer.

As a child, I spent my summer vacations taking trips to the library with my mom and my sister and then reading books and playing in the pool. We also, every year, would go on a family vacation, which usually meant hours and hours in the car and my sister and I bickering as we had to share a bed in a hotel room. On one of my most memorable family vacations, we went to Montana, stayed at a real ranch for a week and learned to ride horses in the mountains. This was, in fact, so memorable that this vacation was the inspiration for some horse-riding scenes in my upcoming novel, THE LIFE OF GLASS.

But I digress. My summer vacations, as of the past few years, have been designated as writing time. And that is why I now get that elated feeling – two months of freedom to write! Since I have two small children, I like to take advantage of every second that my husband is home/off from work. Last summer, I wrote THE LIFE OF GLASS. This summer I wrote a new YA novel and edited my adult novel, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS. In other words, I worked. A lot. I got up early, and spent the majority of the day by the computer. But I loved it.

Some day when my kids are older and in school, I might think of summer as a time to kick back and relax and take vacations. Because then, I’ll have all year to work and write all day. But for now, I have to admit, that my summer days writing did actually feel like a vacation from my normal day-to-day routine of chasing after the kids.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can. Not. Wait.

This topic could not come at a better time for me, as I am sorely in need of a vacation right now! I just finished doing some serious editing on my young adult book before shipping it off to my agent. I took a day off before I jumped into my edits for my second book/sequel to A BUMP currently titled NOT READY FOR MOM JEANS. I got a (gulp) 14 page revision letter from my editor, so I'm slowly hacking my way through the book. July is definitely Maureen's Month O' Revisions.

MOM JEANS is due back to my editor by early August, just in time for me to head on vacation. My entire extended family and my brother-in-law and his family are all packing up and heading south to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We're going to spend a week on the beach filled with drinking frozen drinks, eating seafood and sleeping late. (Assuming my toddler is amenable to that discussion.)

There's 14 of us heading down south, so we've rented a big party house for the weekend complete with pool, jacuzzi, seven bedrooms and an elevator. It will be the perfect break before I jump into writing my next book, assuming my brain doesn't end up floating away in someone's strawberry margarita.

Of course, there's the issue of actually getting there with my two-year-old. Early morning flight, layover and two planes might equal hundreds of pissed off stares in our direction. Hopefully I won't crack and shout, "Lay off, people! I just finished revising like 700 pages and I need a freaking vacay!" Or something like that...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Combining Business with Pleasure

This past week marked the first time my family tried to combine a business trip with a family vacation. The business portion of this trip was me in DC for the RWA National Conference. The family portion of this trip was my husband and two of our children in VA (about 45 miles from the hotel I was staying in) hanging with my husband's brother and his family.

It worked out okay, for the most part. Iwish I'd had more time to spend with my family as they checked out the area sights, but my days were fairly filled with one appointment/meeting after another. Not to mention the lunches, workshops, and evening get-togethers. I did, however, manage to finagle a little time to spend with family, and while I enjoyed it, I definitely wished we'd had an extra day or two on either side of the conference.

But sadly, we didn't plan this all that well, and we needed to get home. Maybe next time. Today, I am ready for a true summer vacation, because I am exhausted. I LOVE summer vacations, because for a little while, the rest of my real life evaporates in a blink. My entire focus is soley on recreation, reading, sight-seeing, and staying up and sleeping in late. So--uh--what's not to love, right?

I have two favorite vacation spots, depending on if it's an adult-only vacation or a family vacation. My favorite adult-only vacation is Las Vegas. I LOVE that city, I love the lights, the noise, the pure spectacle of Las Vegas. Going there is like visiting another dimension, and I can honestly state that while I'm there--I forget about everything that exists in the "real world." Because of this total immersion, I can only handle Vegas for three or four days, so it's the perfect getaway for a long weekend. Even better, they like me there, so normally I can get a comped room. Gotta love that!

Now, for family vacations, I love heading out to the pseudo-wilderness to camp. This comes from a childhood of summers camping with family (when I was younger), and friends (when I was older). I don't need a flashy camper (I'm cool with a tent), but I am partial to official campgrounds that have showers and toilets and hayrides (for the kids..really, for the kids!). Yeah, yeah, I know, but I'm not a complete wilderness freak. And it's not really the outdoorsy value of camping that I's the ability to really slow down without a lot of outside distractions. It's telling ghost stories over a campfire, making smores, and finding those moments to really connect with your family.

Somehow it seems so much easier without a television, a computer, and all the other distractions that exist at home.

How about you? What are your favorite vacation destinations?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Plot Thickens...

Oh look! I'm late posting! That NEVER happens. *koff*

Bad Novel Girl. No cookie.

I'm do apologize, gentle and faithful readership (and fellow Girls), for my lapse. But you see, I'm hip-deep in...

...wait for it...


(Don't you just love how I can turn my delinquency on it's head and make it post-relevant? Heh.)

As you may know, my first book WONDROUS STRANGE was the start of a trilogy. It will be followed at the end of this year with DARKLIGHT (and here we must pause for a wholly gratuitous bit of horn-tooting, on account of the fact that I just received the okay to post my incredible cover art!):

Isn't it swoon-worthy? (And distracting in the extreme, I must say - I keep staring at it for long periods of time and not getting any writing done!)

Okay. So.

Right. Plotting. Or rather, plotting Book the Third. Which is a little different, I'm discovering. This isn't exactly like plotting a brand new book. It isn't even like carrying forth book one into book two.

Before I wrote WONDROUS, I have to admit, I was pretty much a "hey - let's see where this goes" kinda girl as far as my first drafts went. I didn't plot in advance. I still don't plot minutely in advance. Meaning, I don't have extensive outlines. But because I sold this series on spec, I did have to have some idea of where the story was going. (My publisher was curious, you see.)

Now that I have come to the third book however, things have changed. They'll do that. The story is still organic, after all. And, while it has mostly clung to the framework which I've set up for it in some places, in others, it's just gone on its own merry way - branching and blossoming in ways I hadn't necessarily envisioned. It's pretty cool.

But it does sort of mean that, to switch metaphors mid-steam, I've gotten to some places now that I didn't know I was going to. It means that now is the time when it would be handy to have a roadmap in the glove compartment. I have that - like I said, the publisher was curious. Only, by now, my map is a little out of date and missing a few place names. Fortunately, I've also managed to leave myself a trail of bread-crumbs, in the form of clues and hints and ivy-covered signposts throughout books one and two. The trick now, is going back and making sure I'm getting to where I'm going in a not-too-roundabout fashion.

Because Book the Third really IS where the plot thickens. But (and yet another metaphor switch - aw, hell - it's just metaphor soup at this point, okay? Go with me...) it's also where you really don't want it to calcify. You want to keep the story moving. But you also need to tie up all your loose ends and sneak in all that cool stuff that you only hinted at in two whole other books-worth of story. Plus there is all of the super cool-stuff you've learned and picked up and want to incorporate since those early days but you have to be judicious. You can't let the thing become top-heavy. It's a bit of balancing act. And I'll let you know when I get it just right. Heh.

In the meantime, I'm re-reading, taking notes, drawing diagrams, staring at walls, taking long hot showers, and trying not to get twitter-distracted. And yeah - I know. This post didn't answer a single one of your questions as to 'how'. Like I say - I'm less of a "seat of the pants" writer than I used to be... but there are times when the entire process is still a bit veiled in mystery. Even to me. Frankly, I kind of like it that way.

But it does make me late with my posts.