Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writing and writing and writing

I can spare no more words right now. Working on some art projects, hopefully things that will be finished before the end of the year.

Just wanted to post my novel word count progress bar.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Updated 2009 Book List

My reading list for 2009 thus far:

1. On Writing - Stephen King
2. Faerie Wars - Herbie Brennan
3. The Purple Emperor – Herbie Brennan
4. Playing for Pizza – John Grisham
5. You are so Undead to me - Stacey Jay
6. Ruler of the Realm – Herbie Brennan
7. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
8. Inkspell – Cornelia Funke
9. Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
10. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
11. The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett
12. The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
13. The Faerie Lord- Herbie Brennan
14. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami (A reread)
15. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
16. The Magic Circle: Book 1 - Tamora Pierce
17. Airman - Eoin Colfer
18. Check Raising the Devil - Mike Matusow
19. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
20. Goblin Wood - Hilari Bell
21. The Tower of Stony Wood - Patricia A. McKillip


My eyes hurt right now from crying.

Not from being sad, but from being unbelievably happy. It is amazing, even to me, that I can say these things regardless of the situation I'm in. Just like everyone, some days are harder than others. But unlike everyone, I feel so lucky to have any of these days. It could sound melodramatic, but it isn't. It's the life I'm living right now. Right now.

I'm sitting on an old recliner in a weekly rate motel trying not to imagine what people living here before me have done on it. A spider, at least I think it was a spider, just crawled out of the crevice and onto my arm. Yes, I swatted it away. The carpet is worn and stained with what my imagination demands is blood, and the mattress on my side has an indentation like a crater. I sleep inside the crater every night despite the strong coils that push into my back. It's like my nest.

I wake up every morning and iron George's pants on a round, towel-covered table and the iron that someone lovingly bought me months ago from my Amazon wishlist. I wash our clothes in the sink in the bathroom with free, chalky body soap the motel provides. Hot water goes on, a few t-shirts go in, some soap, and then I rinse and hang them up on the shower door. Socks, underwear follow. I walk in every so often and squeeze the water that collects on the bottom of the clothes, hoping they dry faster.

When I was younger, I wanted things with an insatiable thirst. I wanted everything and everything--and I usually got what I wanted. Alongside the feeling of need, I also clung to a passionate desire for success. I plotted my goals in life when I was eight and nine. They all placed me at eighteen and wildly successful. A book written, a career in music, a famous artist--a famous anything. In the bottom of my mind, way behind the shallow of my day-to-day existence, I thought to myself, "Everyone who is anyone has come from nothing. People who are spoiled like I am, people who are given everything as I have been given--they don't have anything to work for. They don't have anything to provoke them to be better people, to be smarter people, to be more successful people." These thoughts started as early as eleven years old.

Last year, my life of wanting and receiving ended. A lot of things ended last year. For the first time in my life, I felt what it was to desperately need, and even then, I wasn't needing the right things. I envision my decline like on the edge of a dark pit with my fingers dug into the ground, clawing, while something clung to my legs and pulled me into the darkness. I hadn't realized my decline wasn't caused by the shitty economy, but it was caused by my life of wants and gets. It finally caught up to me, all of those years of assuming everything would be there.

After dozens upon dozen of people donated their money, their time and their passion to help keep me afloat--essentially holding on to my arms while I was falling into a pit--there wasn't any use any longer. I slid into that dark hole.

That year I lost my apartment, stopped paying my credit card bills, didn't have the money to make my car payments, and lost years of valuable items in my first storage unit. I ran out of my apartment in a frenzy. I left behind my furniture, my plates, my forks, my clothes. I left a lot of things behind--I left everything behind. My storage unit was auctioned with my entire childhood collection of everything being sold to some stranger. I'll never know what happened to my entire Nancy Drew collection. I'll probably rebuy it back on eBay one day and not even know it.

I took out a second storage somewhere else to throw in all of the rest I could drag out of the apartment while running with one shoe on and one in hand. And then I fled. George and I fled. We were taken in, we were fed, we were loved. And then the opportunity didn't exist any longer, and we fled again. Chasing dreams, chasing grandeur, chasing a past we desperately wanted back. What we got was a whole lot of self-slaps to the face and a confrontation with reality. To us, sleeping in the living room on an air mattress in a place that cost so little to live was a dream. I learned to cook and fed us well on the meager allowance we had. It would not last. We pretended and played make-believe as though it would manifest if we fooled ourselves into believing it would. It didn't, the dream faded and a final realization greeted us with a grim smile. I think it was a smile. And so we fled again, fled back to where it began with the hope that we learned everything we needed to survive.

You know where the story is going now, don't you?

I lost my second storage last week, despite the efforts that went into save it. Diaries, artwork, junk paper and credit card statements. Clothes, books and stacks of old bills. It was the last fragment of my life I was hanging onto--these things were auctioned to a stranger who will probably see me as a crazy pack rat and feel absurd for the twenty dollars they spent. As disappointed and sad as I was, maybe it was a sign of something I was meant to let go.

I am not the same person I was a year ago. A year ago, I took my money and flung it in every direction. I thought that helping people with my abundance of money and flinging around gifts like I was amazing automatically gave me a pass--it meant that I didn't take things for granted.

Just because you know other people have it worse than you, doesn't mean that you don't take things for granted. It just means you aren't being a shallow asshole about it.

I helped wherever I could, whenever I could. Random acts of kindness was a standard I lived by, and it continued to make me believe that "Hey, I'm helping out people in need! That means I know the value of money, and I'm compassionate." I never claimed to understand any situation anyone went through, but I didn't realize until much later that my perspective of what was the 'worst' situation was only backed up by my own experience. I didn't get it. I couldn't get it.

We eat once a day--it's all we can afford. It isn't much, but it's enough. We bought some bananas and went through the little cart that has stuff on sale that's about to spoil and bought 29 cent pudding pies. We don't have a refrigerator, we don't have a microwave, so our options are limited, but we still manage.

Today, we had three dollars left with no foreseeable income. After living on money from my commissions, we finally ran dry.

What was my first thought? My first feeling? "How am I going to earn money to survive?" and sadness. Not pity, not anger, not blame, shame or depression. Just sadness. Something so simple and so pure. Something so uncomplicated that I felt a sort of relief. It was an emotion I didn't have to sort through or figure out. There wasn't any tangled explanation to sort through or a mind-altering journey to figure out why I felt that way.

I was rescued. As I am rescued countless times by many, many people right when things look the most bleak. Right when I'm on the cusp of surviving. In those moments, I get it. I realize that I owe it to everyone who has helped me, everyone who has told me things will get better, everyone who has held my hand or listened to me cry, I owe it to them to make it and succeed far beyond anyone's wildest dreams. I now have my reasons to provoke me into being a better person--my reason to push me further and farther than I've ever known. It isn't because of my situation. It isn't because you can label me as poor or say I've lost almost everything. It isn't because I finaly know the RIGHT things to want and receive. It's because of all of the people who have said, "Juli, this will pass, things will get better--you were meant for greater things." I feel guilty sometimes because I don't think I can measure up to anyone's expectations. Some days I'm a little less optimistic than others and have to take each day as it comes.
But I'm happy. I am so happy and so lucky to have a place to live, someone to love me and so many people out there still grasping my hand, determined not to let me fall.

I've become fearless.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strange rituals

Today I had a hard copy of my first draft printed out. Office Max ate one of my pages though, so I'm sort of miffed. Sort of. I can't wait till I can afford a printer.

I wandered aimlessly through Barnes and Noble today. The book on my list wasn't available, so I spent about an hour and a half wandering around and generally having the worst case of indecision ever. I walked out with a Eoin Colfer and a Tamora Pierce Book.

I'm about to edit my hard copy. For some reason, it is a lot easier for me to read and compute the pages in my head when it's on paper. I don't know why--maybe that's just how I've always done it, and I have a hard time adjusting.

Before I write, I have to clear my mind almost entirely or else the apprehension of writing gets to me, and I stall until I've finally talked myself out of writing. Daunting. That's the one word I will continually use when referring to writing a book. It isn't just writing, it's editing, it's creating, it's everything. There is so much that goes into writing a book, sometimes I feel as though I'm sitting here with eight different directions to go in.

In order to forget about these things, I clear my mind entirely.

By playing a silly online game called Bread N Butter. HEEE. Taho on deviantART got me hooked, and I adore it. It's not fun when you realize you need actual money to unlock goods and products, but for the ten minutes I need to clear my mind, it's perfect. You can check it out here.

Maybe I'll find a new diversion. Maybe not. Until then, I'll serve my customers and aim to please!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's practice, you know?

As I continue to write more and more of this novel, the intensity of anxiety I feel changes dramatically. It isn't any pattern, but it follows my mentality. My perception increasingly changes how I feel about the novel and how I write it.

Prior to beginning my novel, I spent a lot of time writing short stories and writing poetry. I wanted to learn how to make every single word count.

I spent a lot of time reading and researching magazines and publications to submit to.
Feeling satisfied with my first dips back into writing, I set aside the poetry and the short stories to be revised and moved on to flesh out one of my novel ideas.

Prior to beginning my novel, I spent a couple months researching the business. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into and what to do when I finally got there. I lingered on editors' blogs, agents' blogs and authors' blogs. I took in every tip, listened to every bit of advice and soaked up everything.

When I wrote my first words of my novel, I realized I was setting off on an entirely new journey unrelated to all of the aforementioned. Speaking with my good friend, we both came to the conclusion that the first hurdle to jump over was finishing a first draft. Forget all notions of a grand career, forget even thinking about how the revision process would go, forget about my crappy synopsis and my nonexistent query letter--just write.

And I did.

I struggled through the battles of knowing whether I was good enough. I fought with my story, wondering if it, too, was good enough. I wrestled with the idea of how long this journey would take, and I constantly weighed the pros and cons.

Now, at a mere 20k words, I can say that the experience has been incredibly rewarding. I have learned so many things.

I'm beginning to understand how to write (almost) lively characters--ones with great personality that leap off of the page. Identifiable characters.

I know that making it to the conclusion of this story is the most important goal to set for myself, and I need to make sure that I can make it to the end telling it as honestly and pure as I can manage. I don't need to juice up my writing with things I don't understand or things I don't really understand just because I've seen someone else do it.

I believe that this is practice. It is a stepping stone to greater things. Finishing a book is amazing, but the journey there is more valuable than anyone will ever know. This book, this lovely book I'm investing my life in, it is practice. The chances this book will see the light of day before my second is slim to none.

Yes, I believe in the story, I believe in the characters, and I believe in my writing ability.

I know, however, I have so much MORE to learn. Things that I can't take notes on--things that happen subconsciously.

I've seen the transformation already. This feeling creeps up sometimes, when I'm really 'on,' and I just KNOW when things are right and when they are wrong. I've cut and rewritten scenes entirely on these feelings--they just don't feel authentic.

I'm remembering what it's like to be excited to write. What it's like to love what I write, and imagine and dream and create it.

It's practice, you know? This novel... it's done more for me than any extra writing class or any 'dummies' book. The advice I've learned from writers, readers, agents and editors is invaluable... but it means nothing until it's put into action.

Somehow, knowing that I don't have to believe this book will be my bread and butter makes the idea of writing it so much more appealing. I can write my best possible novel (at this point in my life) with no pressure.

I like it.

Before I go off to hit my next writing goal, I'd like to point to a great blog entry from Janet Reid (a literary agent) on when it's too soon to query. Check it out.

Love you all. I hope you're off doing something you're passionate about. I'm going to re-read my first-first novel (unfinished at around 23 chapters) that I started writing when I was fourteen. It's horrible, but the passion and inspiration is undeniable. A little jolt of inspiration.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Layers of writing

I've learned so many things through my writing journey, and I find that the most important thing I've learned in the last few months was how to develop my own style, my own routine and figure out how things work for me.

Reading a lot of advice from other people is a good start to find a direction and develop a path. There have been things I've taken and tossed away, and things I've held onto and used continuously.

My writing pattern is more regular now, and I'm also realizing that my storytelling is basically laying the foundation first, put the bare story out. As things progress and I'm able to continue forward, I can begin to put more and more layers of story and excitement down--essentially making the story something special.

About to break 20,000 today. I can't wait.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm making gumbo

I think I realized why I've begun to enjoy cooking so much in the last six months. Cooking, real honest to goodness cooking, leaves you plenty of time to think while you're chopping vegetables, searing meat and picking out spices. It's been a calming thing, and it's funny that I would find that kind of peace in something I never really did before.

Making gumbo tonight. Faux gumbo. I've found a bunch of recipes, so I'm just sort of mashing my favorite parts from all of them into one ginormous recipe.

I've been writing every day and meeting my word count. Today I have to write 2,000 words, but I think I'm going to comb through my 26 printed pages and grab a red pen. I'm coming to a point where I'm satisfied with my storytelling enough to continue writing. It's possible that the reason I had a hard time writing my novel was because things just weren't flowing properly. I've been focusing a lot on authentic dialogue and making sure everything is... honest. I do realize I need to go back and show, not tell, in a variety of places, but my skill set isn't up to par yet. In 10,000 words I'll go back and see if I can't make it all even better.

2,000 words to write tonight.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dreams, Writing, Confusion

Today was utterly odd and disconnected. There are so many things floating around, so many things to get done, but I can't focus for the life of me. I've been wandering around the house doing half-completed tasks before I drop what I'm doing to stand around and stare blankly into the wall. Or a door. Or the universe. I'm not sure what I'm staring at, but the fact that I'm blanking out at all scares me. I'm questioning my sanity at this point.

I can't tell what it is from. The dynamics of my life haven't settled or become regulated. Nothing is normal, nothing is comfort zone. I don't mind it, I like every day being amazingly different than the last, but I can't help but feel like I'm grasping at straws to keep things together. Mentally, emotionally. I think I'm falling apart.

Falling apart isn't the snap in the midst of something exciting/angering/frightening where you lose it.

Falling apart is a quiet sort of fellow that follows you after all of the ruckus and waits around till you have a quiet moment. It doesn't involve thinking, in fact, it's the opposite. It involves not being able to think at all. It involves mindless staring into space and then when you realize it's happening you fold--crumble--into a pile where you try and figure out what exactly is going on.

I'm trying to figure out exactly what is going on. I'm trying to assign blame to everything I can, really just pawning off this thing called 'Falling Apart' on scapegoats like George's health, being on the borderline between life and failure for so long, traumatic moments where my foundation was going to crumble and I'd have nothing. Things like not being able to finish commission work (and getting odd pokes and prods from people who deserve their work sooner than later) because I don't have the money to buy the supplies/send the work. Things like not being able to write my novel because I'm thinking about all of the aforementioned. ADD. Recovering from destitution. Being afraid for my future (even though it's brighter than it has been).

None of those things caused things to fall apart for me mentally. I've grinded through them all, so to assign the blame for this confusion to any of those things doesn't feel satisfying. It's empty, and it leaves me with more questions and faulty answers like, "I guess it's just me."

Then I wonder if it's really 'Falling Apart' at all. Or if it's just me transitioning into a new phase. It makes sense? I've been able to write more freely than ever before, write with more passion. Things will become successful financially with a little more time, and I'm settling into my new home day-by-day.

I think I've used positivity as a combatant against all of the negative things that have happened... so now that I don't really much to be negative about (either because the problems have been solved or they are moot to me now) I don't know how to be positive? It sounds silly, maybe, but it could be why I'm stuck in this neutral state of mind. It could be why I'm so confused and can't seem to get a handle around things mentally rendering my emotional state confused as well.

I've been having great dreams lately. They never make sense, unless presented to me in a full story/novel form, but they have had worthwhile bits that I could write down in my dream log. I hope that I'll be able to incorporate them into something, no matter how surreal they are. Some of these things are fantastic.

Writing has been amazing. My characters are starting to come alive and I'm FINALLY feeling like they aren't just characters--they are real people now. Almost 9,000 words, and I don't see any sign of stopping.

'Crowns' is starting to take flight, and I thought it would be neat to provide a little bit of information about the story and the characters :D

'Crowns' isn't a fairy tale, it isn't a cinderella story, but it does have a Queen and a princess, both of who want entirely different things. Our princess wants to live in the stories she writes, for her mother, keeps her under lock-and-key, so she can complete her agenda.

There isn't a prince, but there is a young man who is forced to chase the dream of becoming a prince, a King, by his father whose plans to catapult his family into the Ruling Crown blinds him from what seeing he wants and understanding what he needs.

Love, treachery, death--it all exists, and hopefully I can weave it together into an engaging story. The characters deserve their stories to be told well.

The cast:

The Queen
Elinor (the Princess)
Eric (the Nobleman)
Tobin (the Nobleman's son)
Alastair (a friend to the Nobleman)

There are a lot of secondary characters, and I have yet to find how big or small of a part they will play.

Lilah (maid from the Nobleman's house)
Esther (servant from the Ruling Crown's household)
Mary Sue (servant and daughter of Esther)
Marigold (Tobin's lover)

That's all I'll say for now--I don't want to commit to saying anything that may (and will) ultimately change.

<3 Love you all!

My reading list for 2009 thus far:

1. On Writing - Stephen King
2. Faerie Wars - Herbie Brennan
3. The Purple Emperor – Herbie Brennan
4. Playing for Pizza – John Grisham
5. You are so Undead to me - Stacey Jay
6. Ruler of the Realm – Herbie Brennan
7. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
8. Inkspell – Cornelia Funke
9. Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
10. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
11. The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett
12. The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
13. The Faerie Lord- Herbie Brennan
14. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami (In progress/second reading)
15. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman (In progress)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another book; Crowns on Hold

10. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Ah, this was a good book. It took me three real tries to get into it, but I finally did and really loved all of the characters. I'm always amazed at how writers can bring characters to life. And that's one first person narrator book that I couldn't even tell. Win.

Crowns, my book, is on hold for now. I've been scouting out places to write it, and I think I should be ready soon. I'm working hard to get all of these commission obligations off of my chest. Gah. I can't wait till I'm caught up.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

FHT; It is hard to write a novel.

9. The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

I finished this book in about a day. I think I am continually thrown off by these first-person narrative perspective books, but ultimately FHT was a wonderful book. It was dark, moving, contemplative and so much more. I'll go ahead and consider myself a fan of Carrie Ryan, and I'm looking forward to the next book out in 2010.

And I'm continuing to solidify my first four chapters. I'm reworking chapter two, and I'm mildly satisfied with the progress made with one. It really is an artform, and it is so easy to second guess yourself. I want to finish going through chapter two and three today and then finish chapter four.

I've finally compiled all of my notes for this Crowns into one tiny notebook. It's organized, has a pink cover and plenty of blank pages. Hopefully, not for long.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book List & Novel Writing

It's amazing how you can feel so satisfied with a mere 500 words. Some nights I feel like I'm writing a thousand words of garbage. Other nights, like tonight, a couple hundred really amazing words make up for the garbage. It is an artform like I've never known before. Constantly extracting words and replacing them. Moving them around like a puzzle.

Tomorrow will be a test to see how far I'm going to take it. I know I have a good four thousand words inside of me. It sounds like a lot, but I'm going to go through chapters two through four to see if I can't flip them into something magical like I did with Chapter one tonight.

I'm nicknaming my novel 'Crowns' for now. I have a placeholder title that I don't really like, but this nickname will help distinguish between other projects I'm working on.


On reading books:

I'm greatly amused. I finished Inkspell tonight and began reading the new debut from Carrie Ryan. My reading list for 2009 thus far:

1. On Writing - Stephen King
2. Faerie Wars - Herbie Brennan
3. The Purple Emperor – Herbie Brennan
4. Playing for Pizza – John Grisham
5. You are so Undead to me - Stacey Jay
6. Ruler of the Realm – Herbie Brennan
7. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
8. Inkspell – Cornelia Funke

Eight books. And some were huge. I am amused because these eight books are more books than I've read in 2008 and 2007 combined. I did pick up reading again in 2008, but the last few years have been so dry. I can't wait to read Ryan's book, and I have the Discworld series (books 1 and 2) waiting for me afterwards. It's wonderful to read again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


YES. Today was breakthrough. Lots of scene breakdowns, motivations, conflicts, plot twists. Today was epic. I have enough direction to get me through about 10,000 more words. Yes. Win.

Starting WC this morning: 3503

Ending WC: 6117

Bedtime an hour early tonight. Can't wait for tomorrow

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tumultuous Night

My night was pretty bad.

But it forced me to rethink my stance on certain things, and rearrange my priorities. It's almost three in the morning (George has to be up in three hours) and I'm trying to squeeze in as much writing as I possibly can right now.

I miscalculated my original word total from my novel because, initially, I had more words. I forgot that I had gone back and edited out (condensed) quite a few things.

1500 was my true word count.

Final count for the night:

A little over 2,000 words with a very weary mind. <3

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Short Stories, Poems and Novels

It's taken me a week to get into the mindset to write again.


I'm going to start writing again. I want to go through my old work from two months ago and re-edit them all. Doors was rejected by Jabberwocky, so I'm going to spend some time and re-edit it, and try and add as much dimension and conflict as possible. It's pretty confusing and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, so a new ending is in order. My short story Hearse for my Heart is still out, but I really want to just edit it--it definitely isn't ready for publication.

I also want to focus on some poetry. I need to re-learn the meaning and impact of words and word choice.

My novel has started, I think I posted about that earlier, but I'm going to throw a word count meter on here to show my progress daily.

I need to remember that my editing eye needs to be limited if I'm ever going to finish the novel.

I'm reading Inkspell by Cornelia Funke, and I picked up some Pratchett and Carrie Ryan's debut, In the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

It's gotten some great reviews, and I can't wait to read it! :]

Sorry this post has been so monotone, but I think it's just me listing what I need to do today. :D

Friday, February 27, 2009

Free time

A lot of free time, when your mind is tied up, means a lot of time for reading books. I finished the Stacey Jay book and it was pretty darn good! It was interesting, new and very different from the normal teen books that have been coming out--refreshing!

I also got my hands on, and read, the third book in the Faerie Wars series. I can't wait to read the last one.

My favorite book this year, I can tell 30 pages in, is Inkheart. Funke has an amazing storytelling ability. I'm sad I didn't pick up her books sooner.

I also... started my own novel. Finally. I'm 3,000 words in, and I have a long way to go. The 3,000 words are really rough, but I started. After months of planning and thinking, I couldn't think of a better time to start.

I'll have more on that later. xD

Love you guys and gals

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Write, damnit.

Well. Here I am in Texas. It isn't where I thought I'd be, but we never where we thought we'd be. In any meaning of the word "where."

I need to start writing--I don't have excuses. I have a laptop, and it's propped open on the kitchen table waiting for me to type on it. I want to say that the whole world shifting and the fact that I'm still getting my grips on moving is a good excuse, but it isn't.

Maybe writing today.

I finished The Purple Emperor (Herbie Brennan, Book 2 of Faerie Wars) and even Playing for Pizza by John Grisham.

I'm appreciating the Faerie Wars books for it's intricate plot details. There are seven or eight things always going on at the same time, and interwoven almost flawlessly.

Reading Stacey Jay's You are So Undead to Me. She debuted this first book this year, and I'm excited to read it.

More later

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Five hours

I spent a great deal of the day packing things up for my move. I'm worried, scared, excited, scared and a little more scared. Despite all of the packing, I was able to write a little bit for my short story 'Red Meat,' transfer more stuff from paper to my laptop, and wrote about 1,000 words for my trucker romance novel. Laugh, Trebor, I dare you. But I did. I DID.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I've used livejournal and a few other applications before, but since it's the new year, I thought it would be nice to start a new journal here. :D