Friday, July 29, 2011

Blogs are awesome! And a hearty "Stay Tuned!"

::peeks out from behind wall of blerg::

Hi? Hi, anyone there? Better yet, anyone had a free 12 hours and a new brain that I can borrow?

This post comes to you after a beautiful wedding (in which my husband, daughter and I all got food poisoning), a 5:30 am flight (that we had to wake up at 2:30 am to catch...and was subsequently delayed for half the morning), a missing pacifier (that had my daughter screaming for two straight hours at the airport) and a lost bottle (see previous).

So Friday and I are not partying today. Partying, partying NO.

BUT! Great changes are afoot at the Archives of the Alliterati! We got new bloggers joining us, new designs, themes and contests coming up next week. Survive the weekend with me and STAY TUNED for some great things!

In the meantime, tell me: what do you look for most when surfing about the world of writing blogs? Contests? Humor? Friendship? Critiques and camaraderie? Huge piles of chocolate and cash? An particular blogs (besides ours BWA HA HA) that are particular favorites of yours? Please share AND pimp out your own blog! I DEMAND SELF PROMOTION HERE, PEOPLE.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Using Real Life to Create Art

My family is going through some tough stuff right now. No one's died, don't worry. I'm not going to go into details, because it's not my stuff to share, but I find it interesting how I view pain as a writer, now.

This pain affects me because I'm watching my family go through it, but other than that, I'm an outsider. Of course I feel bad, and sad, and slightly angry about it, but that outside perspective has turned what would otherwise be just a rumble of emotion into a clinical examination of how pain affects different people.

Simply put, some of us are stronger than others, at least on the outside.

What I find the most remarkable is the difference between how I handle pain and how some other family members do. I wear my every emotion on my face, in my voice, in the way I carry myself. I can't help it.

But my siblings-- they are more stoic. The world can be falling apart around them, and they are totally normal. At least, they seem that way. Their pain is still bubbling up to the surface every now and then, darting out in a tiny shoulder sag, or a sigh, or a lull in the conversation where they just stare at the floor. They are the sort to refuse help and support until or unless they can't take it anymore, and I am the type to oblige, because when I hurt, all I want to do is forget about it. The least I can do for them, even if I can't see that they're hurting, is to help them forget.

So I act normal, and say and do slightly stupider things than normal to try and get them to laugh, and spend more time with them than I typically do. All because even though they seem totally fine, I can only imagine how what they're going through must feel.

And I learn. I think one of the hardest things a writer has to learn is how to get inside their character's head. This is hard, because we all think differently. Can you every truly know how someone else's thoughts work? I don't know, but I do know we can come as close as possible by opening ourselves up to learning from other people. Learning that not everyone handles pain, or joy, or the everyday, like we do.

And so, even while I hurt for their hurt, I am learning from my family. Learning that there can be pain out there that surely cuts deep on the inside, but has no aura on the outside.

This is a risky post for me. I don't mean or want to seem like I don't care, that I'm just viewing my family's hurt as a learning experience. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I can't help but notice that this is how we learn to write-- by living. By experiencing, by observing. We can give our characters voices not our own by being here, being present.

And I think we owe that to future generations who might read our books someday. We need to show them that not everyone has to feel pain the same way, that there is no cookie-cutter/diagram/instruction manual on how to FEEL. There is only feeling.

How do you pull in real life experiences?

Friday, July 22, 2011

What's the deal with these writers? (said a la Seinfeld)

As with all endeavors worth anything, sometimes mustering up that motivation to even BEGIN writing is an absolute nightmare. Who's with me?

I mean, we all get great ideas. We all have those characters in our head that talk to us, outlining cool scenes and great plot points. We see rad pictures and think to ourselves: "That'd make an awesome setting!"

But then we get home and there are blogs to check and twitters to twit and man, I should probably take some time and figure out this google plus thing and whoa! check out all these gifs and funny videos and hey is that a thoughtful infograph on tumblr? I should take a closer look...

I mean...ahem...we can get distracted.

Recently, I read an article on life hack that I just HAVE to share with you guys:


That's right, I said Jerry Seinfeld. How does he stick to writing? What keeps his butt in the chair to come up with new material? (Or, at least, back when he was writing new material? zing!) It's a desk calender with little Xs on it. I know! A calendar! Every day he reaches a writing goal, he gets an X. And, he says,wWhen you start that chain, it's painful to see it broken. So the solution? Just keep writing.

I've started this three weeks ago and I'm really happen to say that my chain has broken only once (I was traveling all day with a sick kid). But I intend to keep going! Good things may not always come out, but at least I'm writing something.

So what about you guys? What gets you in the chair to write and what keeps you there? Especially when you DON'T have a hard and fast deadline from a publisher because of your high seven figure book deal? I'd love to hear your methods!

(Imagine a really great picture here of Jerry Seinfeld holding a calender and saying something crazy funny...imagine it until I figure out why I can't post this picture...)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Writing: the one profession/ hobby where it's totally okay to still have imaginary friends

I can't explain it, honestly. I don't really go through any particular processes to get to know my characters, like writing down their hobbies, or what they would wear. I just... know all that stuff. I pull it out when I need it for my story, and put it away when I don't. They come to me as fully-formed people, and just as deep as they need to be.

I know every writer is different. I know some who have this same sort of instant character birth, and others who have to stop and really get to know their characters before they can write them. And just like any other aspect of writing, I can't really say that one way works better than the other.

I know that regardless, our characters won't leave us alone. It makes us sound crazy, the way we talk about them sometimes. "I had to tell her story, she wouldn't shut up about it!" My second novel was this way. James, the protagonist, sprung into my head one day and just started narrating. I couldn't stop writing until I'd gotten down everything he had to say. The novels that followed haven't been quite as compulsory, but close enough. I think the only reason they haven't been that way is that I've learned to temper that obsession, so I can have a life, still.

And I wonder-- is the obsession writing, or the story? Do I go on relentlessly because I love my hobby, or because I can't wait to find out what happens to these people? People I've just met, but feel like I've known for years?

Let's be honest-- the answer is always the latter, even when I know the ending first (and I always know the ending first). I wouldn't want to write my characters if they weren't interesting people. And when I'm done with a manuscript and ready to send it off, I feel like a proud parent watching their child graduate college. Time to send them into the world, and see how they do. Sink or swim.

Of course I hope they swim. They're my newest oldest friends, and the children of my mind.

Does anyone else ever wonder if being a writer is just a socially-acceptable label for crazy?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Word of the Day is: Herbivore. HERB-i-vore. (Or: Adventures of a Newly-Minted Summer Camp Instructor)

Today was the first day of summer camp. I've been waiting for this day for about a month, ever since they asked me to teach it.

Today's focus was on herbivores. You know, plant eaters. And BOY are there a lot of plant eaters at my job! We visited our gorillas, even though they weren't on exhibit (boo), and then went and set out enrichment for our elephants IN their enclosure-- that was amazing, and the highlight of the day for most of the kids! We fed an okapi. We toured the rest of the park (just about). We made special goggles to see what it would be like to have monocular vision (see like a prey animal, with your eyes on the sides of your head).

It was a great first day, and man-- if I were those kids' parents, I would be SO. HAPPY. right now. I mean, as exhausted as I am (and I'm relatively used to it!), I can't imagine any of those kids staying up much past eight o'clock tonight. Heck, I might not even stay up that late myself.

I get four more days of this awesomeness, and then two days off, and then start all over again. Can't wait!

Here are some highlights from today:

Camper: ... and they have these monkeys there that are extinct in the wild, and they only exist in zoos now!
Me (trying to read my schedule, listen to my radio, walk, and listen to the camper at the same time): Oh, cool!
Camper: That's not cool! You think extinction is cool?!

Me: *shows campers picture of a sloth skull* Can anyone guess what animal this belongs to?
Campers (nearly unanimous): A zombie!

Me: Sometimes this okapi will stick her whole tongue out for us and lick her own back! That's pretty cool, huh?
Campers: Yeah!
*okapi sticks her tongue out and licks her own back*
Campers (all together): EW!

So yeah. Can't wait for more! Kids are hilarious :)

WOO! Summer camp!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The book party continues!

So last night, I hosted a book party. In light of my leaving the States (and subsequent weight restrictions on things we pack) I realized that a lot of my books had to go in storage or to someone else. But to me, books are like...I don't know, kittens. They just don't do well in storage!

And awesome people came! Seriously, some of my favorite people in San Diego (and beyond!) joined me for lots of sugar, delicious dip (Thanks to L.T. Host!) and a whole glut of books. ARCs! Fiction and non-fiction! Kids and adult books alike! Even a handful of signed copies of books thanks to friend Charles!

There was swapping of stories, practiced elevator pitches and even a reluctant performance of an American Idol hopeful. (She's auditioning today...fingers crossed!) All in all, a crazy awesome shindig. Thank you to everyone who came! And the four boxes of books I had hoped to give away? Well...I still have four boxes. But full of a lot of different books! I guess I have three weeks to read REALLY FAST.

Our physical distances certainly keep us apart...there were hundreds of people around the world that I would have loved to invite to my hard-to-find house in San Diego! But that's the beauty and joy of the internet, especially to us bookly people. There's no distance between blogs and tweets and emails! Our community is right at our fingertips.

So who's up for a party? There's been a lot to celebrate this week and we want to hear everything. Any great news coming your way? Any great ideas? Need to practice your elevator pitches?

Pull up a seat on the sofa and grab some of L.T.'s delicious dip. Ain't no party like a bookly party 'cause a bookly party don't stop! (Except if you gotta sleep. Then it can stop for a little bit.)

Cheers, good people!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


It's been another rather crazy week in the Wonderful World of Delman. I finished an on-spec travel article for The Boston Globe, got signatures on contracts from the first authors who will release their work through Doctor Fantastique Books, and started packing for the vacation I'm going on in a few days.

Yes, you saw that right up there -- I'm launching my own publishing company. Actually three if you want to get technical. There'll be Doctor Fantastique Books focused toward "-Punk" fiction, Show of Wonders Press for general fantasy and science fiction, and a non-fiction line that I've yet to name. The magazine itself is going to do double duty as print and digital, with sales of the print edition as a download for eReaders.

So yeah ... apologies if I've not come up with the best topics as of late. However, I'm trying to get better at this. Maybe writing four blog posts at a time ahead of the game or something.

Hmm ...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Elephant poo, destruction derby, and good company

I don't know if you guys noticed or not, but yesterday was a holiday. Weird, right? Yeah. It was also a very busy holiday, at least for me. I worked in the morning, shoveling elephant poo for five hours in 90 degree weather. Then I went home and cleaned up (much to my husband's joy), and we went to the fair.

We stayed there long enough to eat some horrible fried food, find some yarn my sister had spun (and won awards for!), and watch the destruction derby. On our way, we indulged in our yearly tradition-- buying a new set of high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

Then we went home AGAIN, changed AGAIN, and went to our good friends' house (Keriann Martin and her husband) in the evening. It was a very fun day, but a very long day, and exhausting to boot. I had a good time with everything, even work, especially with Keri and her husband, but I did not have any time to sit down and write a blog post as I'd foolishly hoped I might after an also-action-packed Sunday. So today's post might be a day late and a few dollars short, but here it is!

Tell me-- what did you do for the 4th?