Tuesday, April 26, 2016

One of These Books Is Not Like the Other

It's been an interesting journey, writing Engaged to an Alien Pop Star. This is the first ever sequel that I've written over the years, even after writing about 8-10 books (including poetry collections).
Sequels in a trilogy are already hard enough, when you think about it. A sequel must keep old readers interested even though they know everyone. It must keep new readers interested, even though they don't know anyone. Oh, and it also needs to set events up for a third book. No big deal!

This book was challenging in more ways than just by being a sequel, though. I started writing an early version of it almost two years ago, the day after I finished Dating an Alien Pop Star. After about 70 pages of enjoyable, funny content, I realized that what I had written was better suited for a third book than a second, and I temporarily scrapped the project. After all, real life was taking over, and I had just written two books back to back in the space of about 9 months (Unlove Spell, and Dating an Alien Pop Star).

I spent the first half of 2015 living in Columbus, OH. The art scene there was cool, the food was great, the people were fascinating and colorful. I worked as a waitress at a dive bar, soaking in all of the grease, rampant sexual harassment, and crazy drama that the place had to offer. It wasn't a great job, maybe, but I really enjoyed the work, and it left me plenty of time every day for writing.

My writing during that time was awash with the new life I was living, with the people I'd met, the surreal nightclub experiences I took part in, the daydreams I was allowing to grow bigger and bigger in my head. My writing became both introspective, but also maniacally huge, reaching out into the very tendrils of my known universe.

The second half of 2015 was spent in my favorite city in the world, New York City. I soaked up life there, too. Every day was a new story, a new experience. I didn't write much while I was there, but I did sign the dotted line on something very exciting... a contract for Dating an Alien Pop Star, the first book in the Alien Pop Star series. 

After a 48 hour editing bender that launched me from couch to couch in various Starbucks locations across Brooklyn, and then to a red high table in a quiet Five Guys location near Union Square, I realized something.

I needed to write a sequel. Within a few months.

In early January, I had to make a difficult decision and return to New Hampshire to see my doctors here about a sinus infection, and write Engaged. Depression and bad health colored everything, though, including the writing. Some scenes leaped onto the page, others crawled. Some had to be dragged like a cat on a leash. I had to restart the book several times, delete chapters at a time, carve things up and move them around. It was stressful even before the deadline loomed, but especially after.

The revision stage is one of my favorite stages, because it takes whatever you managed to write, and makes it amazing. I'm so thankful to be in that stage now, and for the first time since the beginning of the year, I'm looking forward to writing again. The third book will surely be a challenge. I can't expect it to be as fast, fun, and super easy to write as the first book. But I also don't think it will be the stressful learning experience that the sequel was.

Even after a lifetime of wanting to be an author, over ten years of hard work to make that happen, and five years of professional writing experience, there's always something new to learn. This book was not like any of the others, especially the book before it, but I can't wait for the adventure the next book takes me on.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Self Image and Red Carpet Days

Self image has never been an easy topic for me. As a child, I was always a little heavier than other children, and my struggles with low confidence started early, as chronicled here.

Over the years, I've dealt with an eating disorder and countless days of low confidence. Very, very low. Depression tends to make low confidence even worse, and the two issues can spiral into an ugly, overwhelming mess. You feel you have nothing to dress up for, and then you feel that dressing up is too much work. In turn, you feel bad about yourself, and it continues on and on. You lose all hope of having a red carpet day again.

After all, the bad thoughts say, you have nothing to celebrate, and no one will want to celebrate you. If you were a stronger/smarter/better/more beautiful person, you would have the strength to put yourself together. Look how easy it is for other people!

But sometimes you need to break out your favorite lipstick or mascara, even when you don't plan to go anywhere, or see anyone. Sometimes there's magic in the physicality of setting out your favorite 'getting ready' tools. Sometimes there's magic in the right black eyeliner.

Lately I've fought back at low confidence and depression through a variety of means, but one of them has been busting out my favorite makeup and jewelry and getting red-carpet ready. Any day can be a red carpet day, if you feel like you need one. Get dressed up. Take some great pictures. Wear your amazing outfit just for sitting at your computer to write, or draw, or meditate, or bake a pie, or watch your favorite movie.

You can have a red carpet day at 2am or 6am or noon or 7pm. You can do it ANY time you want.

Here's a few pictures from recent "red carpet days."

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