One Liner…Or: the inspiration I get From Work

I know I haven’t posted in a while guys. I am very sorry about that! I keep thinking I’ll get everything scheduled out and be able to be on here more often but…we all know my ability to stick to organization is a bit iffy. However! All hope is not lost!

Today I wanted to talk to you for just a second about the types of inspiration I get at work. See, I am a music teacher for pre-k – 12th grade students. My children’s and Middle Grade stories are fueled through real life experiences and little character quirks of my ever day existence. However, I don’t usually get a lot of inspiration out of my 7th-12th graders. Every once in a while that does change…last week, for example, we were doing a group project in the Jr. High class. When it came time to perform, a couple of groups either didn’t have anything done OR were very obviously only carried by one or two lead girls. I don’t say this to be sexist, it is fact: The boys just didn’t want to do the work and expected their girl folk to carry them. So later that evening I texted this line to myself:

The problem with hiding behind the girls’ skirts so that you don’t have to do the work is that those skirts keep getting shorter, and you do not.

I know it isn’t much, but sometimes the smallest line can start off the greatest story. Maybe this will be that line! Or maybe it will sit here, lonely in its italics. I guess only time will tell.

 

Interview | MG Author Chris Grabenstein

In the past few months I’ve discovered an author that’s been around awhile, but that I’ve only just discovered. Since then, I’ve read multiple books by this middle grade author and can honestly say that he is my new favorite author.

Chris Grabenstein is a funny, interesting, and intelligent author from Buffalo, New York. He co-writes the I FUNNY, HOUSE OF ROBOTS, TREASURE HUNTERS, and JACKY HA-HA books with James Patterson, as well as writing many of his own, fabulous, works. My current favorite is a three way tie between Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, and Dr. Libris Library. You can find Mr. Grabenstein at Goodreads and at chrisgrabenstein.com.

I caught up with Chris this past week and he very kindly answered a few questions for me to pass along to you. So, without further ado, here is Author Chris Grabensteins Interview.

1) I stalked your Goodreads page and saw that Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library was inspired by a library in New York and that a 5th grader made the comment that got the ball rolling for Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, which are both amazing, but who did you base the characters on? And are YOU MR. Lemoncello?
The characters come from various sources.  Kyle Keeley, who is the third son in his family, is based on my memories of being the third son in my family.  The only time I could ever beat my big brothers was when we played board games.  Sierra Russell is based on every bookworm I’ve met on my numerous school visits (and seems to be a character that resonates with a lot of young readers and older ones, too!)  Miguel Fernandez is based on (and named after) a fifth grader I tutored at my church’s Homework Help program.   And, yes, Mr. Lemoncello is sort of based on me and also the late Jim Henson, whom I worked for back in the 1980s.   The wackiness comes from me.  The unbridled creativity coupled with a bajillion dollars comes from Mr. Henson.
I, like many of us, adore the late Jim Henson. This makes me love Lemoncello even more (which I didn’t know was possible)
2) Welcome to Wonderland, Home Sweet Motel is coming out October of 2016 and (on your website) features Roadside Americana. Was it a piece of that roadside Americana that prompted and inspired this story? If so, what piece started the journey?
WONDERLAND is based on my memories of visiting my grandmother every summer in St. Petersburg, Florida.  We’d pack up the car and hit the road, stopping at places like South Of The Border and Weeki Wachee Springs (mermaid shows!).   While staying at an extended stay motel in Michigan, helping my wife take care of her father, I remembered how much I used to LOVE staying in a motel when I was a kid.  Swimming pools!  Snack vending machines!  Toilets sanitized for my protection.   So, I wondered, what if I was a kid who LIVED in a motel!
I feel a road trip coming on!
3) You’ve written books across the age levels, is there any difference in your writing process when those age levels and genres change?
When writing for ages 8-12, I have to watch my language.  No, not that way (even though I do).  I have to be more aware of the vocabulary I am using and, if I use a word that may not be in a fifth graders lexicon, put it into a context where the meaning can be understood.  I also write for short attention spans because I have one, too, and get bored easily in the long descriptive paragraphs that most readers tend to skip anyway.
4) What IS your writing process? (I, personally, tend to be a pantser. Do you outline, meticulously write note cards, or just let the words flow?)
When I was writing one, maybe two, books a year I was definitely a pantser.   Now, as I attempt to write or coauthor 5-6 books every twelve months, I craft a very tight outline with all the major beats, twists, turns, etc. planted.  I find that my working on the outline for a week or two, I save a month or two one the back end with rewrites.
Maybe I should start working on finding the right kind of outline again…I gave up that search awhile ago but…saves a month or two on rewrites!
5) Do you have any superstitions or traditions that help you get more writing done and, if so, do those change depending on the story, age level, or genre?
No real superstitions.  Just a very boring, self-disciplined work ethic.
6) I’ve seen you give the advice to ‘write, write, write…’ and ‘give yourself permission to write a bad first draft.’ Do you have any other advice you’d like to give to aspiring (or already there) authors?
Follow Elmore Leonard’s TEN RULES FOR GOOD WRITING
Especially the last bit of advice:  “My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
7) Do you read Indie and/or self-published authors? What advice would you give them?
I must admit that I don’t have much experience with self-published books.  I have self-published a few e-titles of my own and have great respect for those who can make it work for them.  I don’t have the marketing/promotional energy to do it correctly.
He’s not kidding! I am a totally indie author at the moment and I never have that energy!
8) What books are on your reading pile right now?
Edward Eager’s KNIGHT’S CASTLE, HAMILTON, and UNDERGROUND AIRLINES.
Look, even Chris Grabenstein is reading Hamilton, I need to jump on that bandwagon.
9) Finally, in Dr. Libris the protagonist(s) find an island on a lake where story characters come to life. What character(s) would you most like to have come to life to spend a day with you? (yours and/or someone else’s)
Mr. Lemoncello. So he can tell me what happens next.
a) that means we’ll possibly be getting a 4th Lemoncello book (the 3rd is coming soon!)
b) he’d be on the top of my list too, along with Gandalf. I want to see Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Lemoncello hanging out.

A Light Bit of Housekeeping

Hello! As the title might make you suspect, I have a few things to go over with you today. The first and foremost thing for us to discuss is that the blog will be changing. I’ve spent the past couple of days setting up an “Author’s Blog” here on WordPress and any strictly writing posts, including glimpses at and excerpts from my writing, will be posted there. I will share the odd post on Here There Be Dragons but if you don’t want to miss out on those posts, it might be better to subscribe to Soul Stained Ink (estyreesoulstainedink.wordpress.com). This blog will continue to be used for book reviews and posts about everyday life.

Speaking of reading! I’ve been given a personal challenge, both by some friends and by my own pride, to read George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. As I have a Mass Market Paperback edition, this book is slightly over 800 pages. So I thought, WHY NOT MAKE IT A READ_A_LONG/BUDDY READ? SO…If you would like to read-a-long with me or just follow my journey, please feel free to join my new Buddy Reads with Beth Goodreads Group! If you don’t have a Goodreads or prefer not to join the group, that’s fine! I’ll be attempting to remember to post weekly Game Reads updates on this blog and I’ll have updates and chats on my BookTube channel if you’d rather go watch my face talk about my thoughts on the book.

You can also keep up to date on Twitter (twitter.com/writerbaby13), where I’m sure I will be lamenting my choice to do this!

I am also getting ready to do a series of book recommendation videos, which I will link on Here There Be Dragons AND I will recommend a few books in the same genre/age level to just you guys, something special for you 😉

Finally, I am contemplating starting a newsletter that would include writing and life updates, perhaps images, and snippets from current works in progress. If that is something you might be interested in receiving via e-mail please leave me a comment letting me know! If several of you might enjoy that, I will get it set up and linked for subscriptions soon.

I hope that you all have a wonderful and blessed week. Don’t forget to check out Soul Stained Ink, the blog and/or the BookTube channel, and get your copy of A Game of Thrones ready!

 

 

 

Re-Writing

I’m beginning an overhaul of my first self-published piece: Dragon on My Neck. I absolutely adore this book. The characters are large pieces of myself and I cringe every time I think about this re-write…but then I read bits and pieces of the book and cringe even more. I was a totally different writer 7 years ago! My writing has evolved and matured and is (hopefully) much smoother and just all around BETTER at this point. This writing maturity has come from living more, reading more, writing more…and, more specifically, writing more pieces of the over arching story of The Stone Dragon Saga. So, perhaps, knowing what I know now will help me to create a more streamlined book? Or maybe I will trash the rewrite and keep the original? I don’t know yet, but I do have a question for you, my friends:

As a writer, do you ever go back and completely re-write something like this? If you are not a write, but a reader, do you ever wish the author had rewritten a book?

Let me know!

The Calm…

There’s a calm settling down around the house tonight. Rooms cleaned. Shelves, books, and pens organized. I feel collected and ready, a woman standing on the precipice and preparing to lift the umbrella, to dance in the rain, because that calm will break and that storm will come in just a few short hours.

That’s right, we are right at 4 hours until midnight. 4 hours until the 1st of June. Which means it is 4 Hours until the beginning of the #HotandSticky Summer Writing Challenge.

488 words a day for the next 4 months. Sound simple? Well, 4 months over summer vacations, camps, the beginning of school…maintain a writing habit over those 4 months and you should be able to maintain it for the rest of your year too!

So what have I been doing to prepare while everyone else outlines and preps? I’m attempting to create an Excel sheet that shows the day, has a blank for me to input how many words I wrote (and adds it together at the bottom, of course), and a row for the amount of words I SHOULD have at the end of that particular day. Of course, I’m not that tech savvy so this has been going on all day long. Oh well, At least I’ll be prepared…write? I mean, right?

If you want to know more about this fun and frustrating good time, check out all the things Adrian and Dalton have to say about it on their YouTube Channel (Stripped Cover Lit). After all, this is their baby!

Are you participating in #HotandSticky? Let me know down below! I’ll see you guys with an update soon…and a book review or two along the way as well. (if you want to watch my announcement and updates videos for #HotandSticky Summer Writing Challenge, or anything else I’ve done, check them out HERE)

Stories

There are other worlds out there, other places left unexplored by human beings. They exist within realms we may not even know about as of yet. And they exist in magical portals that we call ‘stories.’

These stories can help us learn, help us calm or excite our senses, and help us cope with all manner of things. Like right now, I am reading instead of allowing anxiety over a job prospect to overwhelm me. I write when I need to empty myself of ideas, inspirations, anxieties, mental images, emotions, or anything else that might arise and threaten to overwhelm. I write or I am cranky, I read or I am cranky. I need words, I am addicted to stories, they mold my life.

What do stories do for you? 

Girl in a Box – A Story Prompt

I had a half sleeping dream last night, a blur of images that seemed perfectly odd and delicious…something that might make a great story, short or otherwise. The problem, then, is that I’m not sure where to go with it and I think that one or two of you guys might create something more interesting with this so….I’ve decided to throw the prompt out there! YAY!!

Here are the guidelines…

  1. If you choose to use this prompt and post a short story or excerpt…please link back to this post.
  2. Let me know that you’ve used the prompt and leave a link to your post so we can all go enjoy it!

 

Writing Prompt:

Jenny paused outside of the large glass windows of the first store she came to. Inside, there were enormous pastel colored triple helixes slowing twisting and turn all around each other as if they were suspended in an antigravity tank, or that video on DNA they’d watched in science class. This was clearly not your average mall. She was beginning to grow concerned about what would come next. Maybe, she mused, I don’t actually want to turn in my application to Girl in a Box!

Saturday Stories…ON Sunday (again)

So I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t take the time to write this yesterday. It was a fairly busy Saturday, but that’s no excuse (right?). Anyway, the point is that I’m here now. So here we go!

My goals for the past week were completely switched around and messed up but that’s what happens!

First off, I’m not gonna lie…I finished Aesop’s  Fables but put Emma back on the shelf. I just wasn’t able to sit down and read large chunks all together and was getting frustrated with doing that so I set it aside and did a big library haul. I finished “A Study in Charlotte” already and absolutely adored it.

I am a few more chapters into Wired for Story and have videos up for the first several chapters.

As for the writing…well I haven’t gotten caught up yet and most likely will not get to my goal for the month. However, the point is that I tried and will continue to try. I will keep writing and will, eventually, surpass that goal and any others I set.

Here is part of what I did write this week…chapter 5 of The Way We Were (part 2):

Chapter 5

“Oh my gosh,” the blond highlights in front of him blinked owl-like golden eyes and dropped to her knees, babbling apologies like an infant cooing as she scrambled to help Lee collect the groceries that had flown from his arms.

There was something familiar about her backlit curls, her long eyelashes, her…her. There was just something about her. Lee couldn’t shake, or place, the feeling and so he bumbled, grumbled, made a right ass of himself and, with cheeks flaming from the humiliation, turned to stalk away.

The well-manicured fingers lightly glazing his bicep stopped him cold in his cracks. In her other hand, held out between her fingers, was a folded receipt with a number scrawled hastily across it.

“My name is Cecily,” she murmured self-consciously, “Call me sometime and I’ll take you out for some apology coffee.”

“Lee,” Lee responded stupidly, unable to force his mouth to shape itself around any other words.

“Come on Cee,” Another set of highlights and manicures called from the store front, “You’ve been in here for ages!”

“Gotta go,” one more brilliant smile and she was off, jogging with her lethal cart to the checkouts.

Lee looked around bemusedly and tucked the highlight’s – Cecily’s – number in to his pocket before wandering outside.

A well timed text reminding him not to forget the eggs propelled the poor man back in to where his hapless groceries were still sitting in the middle of an aisle, waiting for him to wake up and buy them.

 

Wired for Story Chat | Intro and Ch. 1

I have decided to do a series of videos dicussing each chapter in this book and how it affects what I, as an author, am writing. This is a nonfiction that connects Neurology with Writing and is not only important, but interesting and well written as well. I hope you enjoy this (long) video. I promise the rest will be shorter!

Please comment with any suggestions, ideas, constructive criticisms, etc.

Saturday Stories 4/9

Hello Friends. This week has not been the best. I won’t go into details again here but suffice it to say that the week has been long, difficult at points, frustrating, and a little surreal. Yesterday, however, was great.

So let’s talk about my goals real quick:

This week I wanted to get Leonard the Lemur completed and ready. Guess what?? I DID! As of yesterday afternoon you can find Leonard on Amazon and Createspace for paperback and as an e-book on Kindle!!

I cannot put into words how amazed, grateful, and proud I am to have the opportunity to put this together. I love all my book babies, but I truly believe that Leonard is something special. Please go check him out.

This week I also kept saying that I was going to focus on finishing up the first draft of Paulonious Punk and the Search for an Adventure. My first children’s book, this was a lot more difficult to write than I had expected. The first draft is rough and I’m sure there are a lot of things that need edited and revised…but I did it guys. I FINISHED IT!! Yesterday morning as I awaited my class’s completion of their quiz, I jotted down a few pages of things that were twisting in my head and suddenly (because I had no idea it would be that quickly) I was writing ‘to be continued’ on the bottom of a page. I’ve finished the book and I may have started a series.

I was at school 3/5  days this week and I don’t typically read while the kids are in class UNLESS it is an AR reading day (in which case I model by reading a page or two and then I get up and walk the class) because it is very difficult to monitor the and read at the same time. I don’t know how so many people do it. However, I was able to read 30 more pages in Rachel Caine’s Prince of Shadows and start John Elder Robison’s Be Different, in which I’m on page 29. I am still enjoying both immensely and will be sure to review them for you when I’m done. Genrethon starts tomorrow so I’m hoping to finish them up and get a few more things ticked off the to-be-read pile in the coming week.

Finally, here is the short story. I began this at some point last week. It has no title and is not a completed work. However, I did write it in the past week so here you go 😛

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend. (trigger warning – abuse and foul language (mild) )

He took three quick, mincing steps towards her and raised a fist, swinging his body just short of releasing it. She stared him down without flinching. Only a very observant onlooker, who knew what to look for, would have noticed her subtle push of feet and skull backs into the brick wall she leaned on. To the world, she looked completely at ease. The veneer of nonchalance was thick and shiny across her surface. She had worked years to make it so. Worked years to bury the past and move on. It wasn’t going to all be lost just because of one asshat that raised a fist to her. He probably couldn’t hit half as hard as her ex had anyway. This guy was just an old mistake. Sometimes they liked to pop back up to remind her how far she’d come. All of this would fly through her mind later, at the moment all she could think was don’t flinch, don’t flinch, don’t look scared. Concentrate, you have to watch for weaknesses and listen so you can make a sassy comment in a minute. Be the strong female lead in your own life. Don’t flinch. DO NOT FLINCH.

She didn’t flinch, but boy howdy he did. When she had gathered herself up and used the foot propped behind her to shove quickly off the wall, his forward momentum couldn’t be stopped. The fist meant for her soft nose instead smashed into the side of the old building, sending dust softly fluttering down around them as he howled in pain and anger.

“What was that?” She asked softly, examining her nail beds as he rounded on her again. “Did you hurt yourself? You really should be more careful.”
“That smart mouth of yours is what got you in this mess,” he ground out between teeth clenched in pain, “You might want to keep it shut before it gets you hurt.”

“So far it seems that your anger is only hurting you,” She retorted smartly, “My mouth had nothing to do with that.” “Why you little whore,” he growled, “You’ve been talking shit on me and now you’re blaming it on me too?”

“No honey,” she purred, name calling only serving to help strengthen the walls she put up. “I’ve only been telling people the truth when they ask. Besides, whores get paid and I barely even get anything.”

“You had me,” now his anger took on a whine that made him sound like a petulant child.