What I’m Reading & Resolutions Update

Wow, I haven’t been on here in a while, except for blogfest posts!

Right now, I’m reading Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, y’know, the Lemony Snicket guy. (We were actually in college at Wesleyan together, overlapping for one year. I think I might remember him a bit. Or maybe I’m just imagining that since he’s somewhat famous.) He’s the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events guy, all of which I listened to on audiobook.

Anyway, I picked it up without even looking at the blurb because I knew I’d like anything he wrote. Plus there’s the title. How could you not want to know why Min and Ed broke up?

What’s unusual about this book is that there are gorgeous paintings (by Maira Kalman). Each chapter starts with another object that explains their break-up, painted beautifully by Kalman on the story’s glossy pages.

I’m in the middle of the book right now, but I’m liking it. I just need to stop putting it down to play on Twitter. 🙂

AND… TOPIC NUMBER 2:  MY RESOLUTIONS!

At the beginning of the year, I vowed to read 50 YA books during 2012. Well, it’s about 8 weeks in, so, to hold myself accountable, here’s my progress:

YA books:

Why We Broke Up (Handler)

Smack (Melvin Burgess)

Ten Miles Past Normal (Frances O’Roark Dowell)

Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)

The Thirteenth Little Blue Envelope (Maureen Johnson)

Hmmm. That’s actually not that impressive. 6 in 8 weeks. Will I make it?

I think part of my problem is that I spent quite a bit of time reading 1Q84 by Murakami, which was 900 pages! (Good thing my Kindle doesn’t give page numbers, or else I would’ve hesitated to read it!)

Ah well. Keep me honest, blogging world….  I’ll report back in March.

Hearing Voices: Emotion Flash Fiction

February 10th – Friday – Emotion Flash Fiction: Emotion is the engine of a story. Pick an emotion and in a flash fiction piece of 250 words MAKE us feel it! We want to connect with your character. This will be a challenge in 250 words.
ALEXIS
The thing about Brynn is, she’s perfect. She’s a soprano in choir–that’s where they first met–and her voice just floats in the air. She’s got that kind of curly hair that cascades or something–I don’t know what the right word is. Her clothes are so cute. I wouldn’t know how to find those clothes. I didn’t even know those clothes existed. She laughs and I can tell she’s so laid back. Like I said, perfect.
The thing about Ben is, he wants her instead of me. It’s easy to see why. She’s everything I’m not. When I see them holding hands–his large one covering her tiny one–I’m pierced inside, knowing that he used to hold my hand, but he doesn’t anymore. He says he doesn’t love me anymore. He says that things were wrong for a long time. Nobody told me that.
The thing about me is, I’m invisible. I’ll get my good grades and everyone will leave me alone, even Miranda and Kelly who think they’re my friends. I’ll make sure my mom’s satisfied and that Ms. Bryant thinks I’m getting better, and then I’ll hide inside myself. Inside myself no one can see the cuts and burns and no one can see me.

Hearing Voices: Part 2

February 8th – Wednesday – Dialogue Introduction:  Have two characters introduce each other using only dialogue—no backstory, no internalization, just dialogue between the two. Max 250 words.

“Ms. Bryant?”

“Ah, Mrs. Holden. Thanks for coming. Have a seat. Please, call me Melissa. May I call you Ellen?”

“I suppose. You’re the school counselor?”

“Yes, that’s right. I–”

“What’s this about? I don’t know why we couldn’t have this conversation over the phone. It’s a two hour ride down from Lexington, you know. And this is quite a busy week for me.”

“We need to talk about Alexis.”

“Is she in trouble?”

“Of course not, Ellen–”

“Her grades. Did they slip?”

“No, not at all. We need to–”

“Wait. What kind of counselor are you?”

“I’m an LICSW, a licensed social worker. Like a therapist. I’ve worked here at Sullivan for ten years.”

“Is Alexis crazy? Is that what you’re telling me?”

“No, of course she’s not crazy. But she is having some… emotional problems.”

“What is it this time? Jesus Christ. All I ask is that she keeps her 4.0. And let me guess, she’s whining about that.”

“Alexis was brought to the Health Center by a friend, with cut marks all over her arms and legs. I’ve started weekly therapy with her.”

“So she’s hurting herself to get some attention. Well, I’m not going to give her any attention for this behavior.”

“It’s not a matter of getting attention. It’s– Ellen, where are you going? Ellen? Ellen?”

I’m Hearing Voices (blog hop): Character on the couch

Okay, don’t hate me for participating in another one of these contests. I’m trying to win a query critique here!

Today’s task is to have your character (not your main character, but one that you find tricky to write) answer some questions….

Ellen Holden (Alexis’s mom)

1. What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?

I’m desperately trying to prove to my (dead) parents and my friends that I’m a success, through my daughters’ accomplishments. People know that my daughters are successful but they don’t know how much it means to me for my own life. I can prove my success through them.

2.      What do people believe about you that is false?
People (mainly Alexis and her therapist) believe that I’m mean and disapproving. They think that my standards are impossible and I’m too harsh.
3.      What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
My best friend is probably my husband. He would say that my fatal flaw is that I’m more partial to Courtney than Alexis. But Courtney has exceeded every expectation I’ve ever set for her. Alexis needs to be pushed.
4.      What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why?
Jim knows that I love my children even if it may seem otherwise.
5.      What do you want most? What will you do to get it?
What I want most is to be respected in my community. I will push my children and myself as far as I need to in order to maintain that reputation.
I have more blog assignments later this week….

Writing prompts

Writing prompts are so cool.

Sometimes a good writing prompt can help warm up your writing muscles, or force you to think about a topic in a new way. I like the ways I can respond–although I write prose, sometimes I found myself responding in poetry.

The best thing for me is when a writing prompt leads to a story or a new way to look at your story. One time I had a whole novel grow out of a writing teacher’s instructions to write a page of conversation, all dialogue. When NaNoWriMo came along that year, that page grew into a whole novel! I also like to respond to a prompt from the perspective of one of my minor characters.

This book in particular has been great for writing prompts in my own growth as a writer:

So can we try it? Will you do it with me? If I post a prompt, will you quick-write (10 minutes or less, firm!) into the comments? Please?

Here’s a prompt:  SAYING GOODBYE

Here’s mine:

Saying goodbye (time: at least five minutes)

Lisa: Okay, guys, I’ve got to go.

H: Mommmmmeeeeeee! You didn’t give me a hug!

L: You didn’t give me one either!

Lisa: I gave you both hugs already. But come quickly and I can give you another one.

H: Don’t go yet.

Lisa: I have to. I need to go to work.

H: Why?

Lisa: Well, would you like it if you got to school and your teacher weren’t there yet?

H: But don’t you want to see my picture?

L: Wait, just listen to my piano piece.

Lisa: No, really, guys. I’m sorry. I’ll see you this afternoon. I love you.

H: Kissy?

Lisa: Okay, kissy. Have fun at swimming.

H: I love you Mama.

L: Bye, Mom.

Lisa: Oh, wait! You didn’t pack your library book. Oh, and B—can you make sure she takes her recorder?

B: Yeah.

Lisa: Bye, everyone.

H: I love you, Mama!