Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing Retreat: Update

So last week I set off for lovely Undisclosed Location, courtesy of some lovely relatives. (If you really must know, there were pine trees, fog, and elephant seals. Get crackin', Ghost Writer.)

My goal for four days at Undisclosed Location was simple: finish JRgtC.

And thanks partly to Echo's CD mix, shockingly delicious sugar-free/caffeine free vanilla chai, Diet Coke, and no cell reception, finish it I did.

Now, "finishing" is a subjective term, I think we all know. To me, "finished" means there is a beginning, a middle, and an end, and those three things are mostly tied together. But is it ready to be read?

Oh, dear me, no.

I know this will come as a serious disappointment (just pretend it's a disappointment, ok?), but let me show you a little something:

This list? This is the list of things that have to be done before the draft is REALLY finished--and no, it doesn't include "critiqued" by other writers. That will come after item No. 43 (yes, FORTY-THREE) is checked off.

I started this project last year during NaNoWriMo. I realized somewhere in the third week that it wasn't working and gave up. Mid-December, I figured out the solution and kept going. Around March, something seemed to be going wrong again.

In May, I re-wrote the beginning so I could share it at LDS Storymakers, where Krista Lynne Jensen (yay her!) had some nice things to say about it.

And sometime during the summer, I had an epiphany:

The reason it takes me so long to write (well, one reason, anyway) is that when my story hit a snag, I stop and ponder my way out of that snag. (It's a lawyer habit. I spend a lot of my day staring out my window until BAM! brilliant idea comes my way. Except with the law, that BAM moment usually happens after an hour or so, and writing, it is sometimes ... umm, longer.)

So why not put a few X's where I need to return, and then move along? 

Ahh. Now that To Do list above makes sense, doesn't it? When I say "finished," I mean my characters have all been introduced, their problems revealed to the reader, and those problems have been resolved. But every once in awhile, there might be a [HERE'S WHERE X NEEDS TO HAPPEN] before there's a hop, skip, and a jump to the next scene.

Long story short: I'm going to check everything off the list this week, and that will be cause for a second mini-celebration.

But for now, I'd just like to stare out my window for a minute and enjoy the fact that I can safely say, my characters have reached happily ever after ... ish.

Months drafted: 10
Word count: 51K

Monday, September 24, 2012

I told you there would be something awesome here today ...

Hi All!
You’re probably thinking… that girl on the right isn’t Ru. Where’d Ru go?

Well, that’s a very good question. I assure you, she’s fine. She’s just been nice enough to let me steal her blog for the day and say a few words.

Why me? Another good question (man, you’re a good question asker!) Ru saw my epiphany on my blog here, that I love doing guest posts and invited me to do one on hers. So here I am!

Today we’re talking about balancing it all. (Writing with work, family, friends, hobbies… life.)

As I allude to with the picture of myself on the right, I think this is something we’re always trying to achieve, and it is in the trying we succeed. I’m pretty sure we never reach perfect balance.

Or perhaps some of you have. And if that’s the case PLEASE share your secrets.

Writing is not my full-time job. I have another job that actually pays so until the writing job surpasses the current day job in income (I’m an Engineer… it might be a while) I will stick to having two jobs.

Even with the nine to five, I’ve managed to complete five manuscripts over the past year and have had success in landing two of them a home (one with an agent, one with a small publisher). Since I only know what works for me in terms of balance, I will talk about that. I would LOVE for you all to drop your hints/tips in the comments at the bottom.

I think the most important part for balancing writing with life is to think of it as a job. And it’s this really awesome job. A job that yes, can sometimes be frustrating, but it’s ingrained in us. Someone isn’t forcing us to do it. We are compelled to do it.

But even though we’re compelled, we still have to set rules, timelines, goals, as we would any task or job in our life. How much better do we feel when we mark things off our ‘to-do’ list? The more I cross off my little sticky notes, the better I feel about myself and the more I get accomplished.

So I set goals, deadlines. I use my lunch hours at the day job as writing time. Like clockwork. Every day. That’s five hours a week (unless I have lunch meetings which does happen) that I dedicate to writing, at a minimum.

I tell people I am a writer. Make sure they understand this is something I have to do for myself and it occasionally will get precedence over other things. Especially when deadlines I’ve created for myself are looming. Would you tell your boss you wanted to fit in a workout and didn’t have time to finish the assignment?

No. You wouldn’t.

You are a serious writer. You want to have this be a part of your life. So make it a priority. Like your family, friends and job.

Yes, that means internet browsing, movie watching and your favorite TV shows are even further down on the priority list. (No worries, they won’t disappear. After all, those things are inspiration for your writing ;))

Balance for our writing can only be achieved by taking some things we previously dedicated more time to (cleaning, cooking, TV, movies, walks in the park, etc) and moving them to the other side of the scale. Giving writing priority right up there with family, friends and our job.

Yes, the things we move to the other side of the scale will suffer, but that’s what balance means. We can’t be perfect at everything. We can’t be successful at everything.

But if we give writing a top priority spot, up there with the most important things in our life, we will find time to do what we love. And we’ll be happier, even if the rest of life is a little more chaotic.

What sort of things do you do to help fit writing in your life? To help balance it all?

Kelley Lynn is a YA Author represented by Brittany Booker of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her YA Fantasy, FRACTION OF STONE, will be released on March 21st, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adios, amigos!

Hopefully by the time you read this, I will be far away from the office, working on some projects that have sorely needed attention. In the meantime, everyone get stoked for Monday's post ... trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eye detox

Did you need a good "I'm laughing and smiling and no these aren't tears in my eyes I just looked into the sun too long" moment today?

Click here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How to visit a baby

Do you, like me, sometimes find yourself awkwardly wondering what you're supposed to do with a baby? Particularly the baby of dear friends?

Have no fear.

Do you currently have, or ever had, a beloved pet?

Treat the baby like that pet.

"Ooooh, who's a cute baby?!" "Look at how smart you are!" "Good job, baby!"

And do not--I repeat, do not --bring anyone along who can figure out what you're doing.

Like I did this weekend, as I congratulated my friend Sadie's baby on snuggling down ("Awww, look at who found a good spot?") only to have Diego blurt out, "Are you treating the baby like Spence?"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's better than watching the Utes win once?

Watching them win three times, friends.

Although, I do have to say, by the time the fans rushed the field the second time, I was ready to tear my hair out. STAY IN THE STANDS TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS, people. Also, how about just "don't rush the field unless it's the last game of the season and/or a bowl game and/or a championship"?

Yes, it was Homecoming, and yes, it was our biggest rival, but for pity's sake.

While we're at it, let's throw some additional Rules for Fandom out there.

1. Just because you are a large human does not mean you get more than your previously assigned allotment of bleacher.

This is not a criticism of fat people. This is a criticism of large men, in particular, who think that because they are over six feet tall and built like a brick wall, they get more space than everyone else, including sitting down on someone's THIGH without apologizing when I resumed my normal "seat 13" position after halftime.

I had about seven inches to myself at the game. I spent a lot of time standing sideways.

2.  Speaking of that guy, leave the game commentary to the uneducated professionals in the box.

In addition to unapologetically crowding into my personal space, The Mountain Who Yells At Offensive Coordinators also had some serious issues with any play that resulted in less than 5 yards. "Just two yards!" he'd yell sarcastically. "Just one yard!" All the way down the field.

Behind me, Ryan concluded that he must have been working on his numbers.

Three yards! Ah-ah-ah!

I would have much rather sat with this guy.
3. Work on your burns.

"Mormons! Funny!" - the conclusion of every dummy who didn't actually manage to graduate from the U.

While I was dealing with the Count on my left, Hannah was dealing with the white trash contingent on her right, who felt that certain words beginning with F (you know which two I'm talking about) were the height of comedy.

Look, there are a great many jokes to be made at BYU's expense. But the Mormon thing? Kind of played out. It would sort of be like trying to joke about the Pope, and coming up with, "You're Catholic!"

But explaining this to our dear friend, I fear, would have been futile. His favorite form of flirting with his girlfriend was poking her in the back while she yelled at him to quit it ... for four hours. He also enjoyed calling the refs "zebras," because you know, a two syllable word is a lot faster to yell than a one syllable one, and presumably because the Ref People have a terrible fear of animals of the Serengeti.

I'm starting to think that you should have to show your diploma or class schedule before being able to buy a ticket to a college football game.

Friday, September 14, 2012


I was so delighted that so many people entered for a 50-page critique that I thought, "I can't just let choose only one of these people" -- so I decided to pick three extras.*

Congratulations to TAMARA, who will get a 50-page critique!

And the runners up, HEATHER M BRYANT, JESS SCHIRA, and JENNA (of Jenna and Ashley) will each get a 20-page critique.

Congrats, ladies! Feel free to email me your pages at theadventuresoflawyergirl (at) gmail if you see this post before I get a chance to email you.

Thanks so much to everyone who spread the word. This contest was so fun and I'm stoked to read pages from some new friends, so to everyone who didn't win, never fear, I'll definitely be doing this again next month.

Have an awesome weekend, and go Utes!

* (even though so few of you bothered to come up with good BYU jokes - shame, shame)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Freedom of the (Student) Press

There are always a few sides to a controversy.

Fair warning, though: this controversy is about boobs. More importantly, it's about free speech.

A few weeks ago, a professor at American University brought her baby to class. She's a single mom and her daughter had a fever, which meant daycare was a no-go. During her lecture, the baby got fussy, the professor breastfed the baby, and then class ended.

At least one student found the incident unprofessional, and word of what had happened in the class eventually reached The Eagle, the student newspaper for American University. One of the The Eagle's reporters reached out to the professor so the other side of the story could be heard.

Most of the news coverage of this event has focused pretty exclusively on whether or not it is appropriate to breastfeed in class. (Pull out your pitchforks, lacto-army, because I am of the opinion it's not all that appropriate. If you breastfeed in a restaurant or the library or on a bus, and people who may be uncomfortable -- which is their right -- have the option of looking away. No harm, no foul. Breastfeeding in front of a class of 40 students who are supposed to be following your every word, who won't be able to casually bow out without making a spectacle of themselves? Not the same scenario.)

But regardless of how you feel about public breastfeeding -- and in particular, public breastfeeding in front of a captive audience -- that is not really the issue.

The professor in question has written a long, rambling, defensive blog post about how the real controversy is the fact that a breastfeeding is just as normal as menstruating (true) and therefore the fact that a professor did it in front of her class, thereby discomfiting at least one student enough to drop the class, is presumptively not news (not true).

The professor in question described the student reporter who contacted her by (professional) email as a "budding reporter." Because if someone is just learning and practicing journalism, they are to be taken less seriously than a seasoned reporter.

The professor becomes incensed when when the reporter doesn't simply acquiesce to her request to drop the story.

To borrow a page from the internet:

The professor is annoyed that the student reporter has the audacity to show up at her class and then ask if she'd have time to answer some questions (ignoring, apparently, the fact that she could have simply said, "No, I don't have time" or "No comment").

She describes the student reporter as "chirping" instead of "speaking," because apparently you only have to treat women as serious humans when they're breastfeeding and giving lectures on feminism, and not when they're in college and trying to build their resume.

She explains that during the interview, she had to slap her forehead with frustration and roll her eyes at the "naive" and "sophomoric" student reporter, who works for a newspaper the professor deems "third-rate," by which I can only assume she means, "less deserving of freedom of the press." She explains that the newspaper has a "solidly anti-woman slant" and points to a 2010 column by an opinion writer (who may or may not be graduated by now) as her evidence.

* Pardon my interruption of my own recitation of the controversy, but as a former opinion columnist, I must say that if my entire student paper, and every student who wrote for it, was judged by the contents of the opinion page, we'd all have quite the schizophrenic reputation.*

The professor decries the "hostile" environment this student reporter is causing, ignoring the fact that her own actions also could be described as "hostile" by the student who was uncomfortable enough to drop the class -- which is why this is news, and why the reporter is looking into the situation. What's more, calling something "hostile" does not automatically make it so, and that goes double when the scenario involves the power imbalance between a professor and a student.

And finally, the professor apparently finds it incredibly unprofessional that a reporter might not immediately and personally respond to an email demanding that a story not run, and instead refer the matter up the chain to her editor.

Do you know what I find troubling and unprofessional? That this professor, who apparently feels like she is being made out to be "tabloid fodder" (despite posting the entire story herself online, with the names of herself, the reporter, and her daughter) over what is (in her mind) a "non-issue," feels no compunction about attempting to bully a student reporter into not reporting a story. The professor openly admits going to her department chair and other professors, asking them to lean on the student newspaper staff to kill the piece -- without a hint of irony that perhaps this, like breastfeeding your crying child while lecturing students on their first day of class, is not the most appropriate behavior for a professor.

Is it possible this story wasn't completely newsworthy? Entirely.

That is not the point, however much this professor wishes it were.

The point is that deciding that something is not newsworthy, without reading the story, and then exercising your influence as a professor  to censor student journalism, is the very definition of inappropriate in the academic setting.

Which is why I wish this story had involved anything but breasts, because if it had been about any other topic, I think we'd be able to see the forest for the voluptuous, lactating trees.

Adventures in vegetarianism

I am not a vegetarian. I like meat and eat it semi-regularly. But I don't really love more than one serving of meat a day, and there are definitely days I'd prefer to go without it. The trouble is, I feel like whenever I am looking for recipe ideas for entrees, they are all meat-based.

Whenever I do find a good meat-free, impossible-to-screw-up recipe, I feel like I ought to share it. (Hint ... you can also feel free to share yours with me.)

Vegetarian stuffed peppers (and/or enchiladas)

4-5 regular sized bell peppers, sliced in half to make cups, seeds removed

2 8-ounce cans of low sodium tomato sauce

1 can black beans

fresh corn (I sliced the corn off four cobs because I like it better that way -- I'm sure canned would also be good.)

rice (I used Greek lemon rice, simply because Hannah, Diego, and I took a trip to our local souvlaki place and ended up with lots of leftovers. I think it turned out really well with the lemon, but any rice will do. Hannah also uses quinoa when she makes stuffed peppers, which is also super delish.)

Veggies of choice (I like black olives and sweet potatoes.)

Shredded cheese

Chili powder, two cloves fresh garlic diced, basil

Mix the stuffing ingredients in large bowl. Add as much rice and/or quinoa, beans, cheese and vegetables as you'd like until your stuffing is of scoopable consistency (e.g., when you take a spoon and put it into your pepper cups, it isn't going to run out of the cups, but basically stay in the same formation you left it). Add diced garlic and a dash of chili powder and basil. (Or more, if you're into that sort of thing.) Place your peppers in a casserole dish and then stuff those mo-fos with your oh-so-delicious stuffing.

Bake for 35 minutes at 325 degrees, then put some extra shredded cheese on top of each cup, bake for about 5 more minutes or until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly. The stuffing should be heated through, cheese melted, and the peppers should still have a little bit of crunch. (Or at least, that's how I like them. Bake them for longer if you like softer peppers.)

This filling is also super good (not an exaggeration, just being honest) in enchiladas. Just wrap the filling up in a flour tortilla, pour enchilada sauce (I use store-bought, since I am lazy and it always comes out delish) on top, sprinkle with cheese, 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Voila! (Except at this point, I feel like I should write "walla," since that's what I've come to expect at the end of recipe blog posts, and I want to be one of the cool kids.)

Let me know if you try the recipe, and don't forget about the 50 page critique contest! (See one post below ...)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Want a critique?

Hey friends.

I am in a blogging drought. I don't really know what to do about it.

But I am heading off to an undisclosed location in two weeks where I plan to grill chicken, eat loads of guacamole, and finish my current work-in-progress so I can have some breathing time in October before NaNoWriMo starts.

And I figure, what better way to celebrate my impromptu writing retreat (and some new bloggy follower friends -- hey friends!) than offer a 50 page critique for some lucky writer pal out there. If I can't be blogging regularly, I can at least be writing/critiquing regularly, amiright?

So here's all you have to do to enter. (1) Be a follower of this blog. (2) Leave a comment on this post, with your email address or other, reliable way I can contact you.

Are there the possibility of bonus entries? Heck yes there are. You can have a SECOND entry if you blog about this contest and let me know in the comments. In honor of the Holy War, you will also be given a THIRD entry if you comment with a really excellent BYU joke. (Not really.)

(To be clear, that's just two entries possible. But brownie points for the joke.)

The winner will be selected on Friday (Sept. 14th) at noon and you'll have your critique back by the end of September, if not earlier.

It doesn't need to be finished. It doesn't need to be polished. If you want the critique at some future date, that is also OK, we'll just figure out a different time frame.

So enter away, friendos.

* PS: In case you're thinking, "Ru's an ok blogger and all, but why would I want a critique from her?" I'll just let you know that I am actually a bang-up critiquer (not to blow my own horn, it's just true) with editorial experience (of a sort ...) and everything, and this is an excellent month to catch me before the fall craziness of ________________________ (edited to ensure my future employment) starts up.

Is that enough caveats, do you think?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Geek out with me, if you will

I bet you read the Harry Potter books, didn't you? And saw all the movies? Probably a few times each.

It's very different when you're cramming for a quiz on them. A bit like college, actually. Every detail suddenly seems like something you should remember.

Do you remember the four types of dragons in the Tri-Wizard Tournament in Goblet of Fire? Do you remember which champion got which dragon?

What was the name of the witch Hermione impersonated to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic in Deathly Hallows? What was her job?

What's Ron's middle name?

What school did Dudley attend? What school would Harry have gone to if he hadn't gone to Hogwarts? And what school did the Dursleys tell people he went to?

What is a budgerigar, anyway?

As my friend just said on IM ... I feel like Ron Weasley before a History of Magic test.

If you have any random Harry Potter facts you'd like to share, please, lay them on me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

just like begrudgingly cleaning your room in high school ...

... I have realized I need to rewrite the beginning of my current work-in-progress,* abbreviated over to the right over there (yes ... over there, keep looking, ahh, you found it) as JRgtC. Wish me luck, friendos, and that I keep my goal of finishing by the end of September all the same.

* Little-known-Ru-fact? I hate nicknames and acronyms. I hate them with the passion of a thousand burning suns. I have never L'dOL. I do not ROFL, and I suspect neither have you. I did not go see LOTR:RotK, I went to see Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, or more likely, Lord of the Rings 3. (Yes, I was that person.) I do not watch Sunny, I watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and yes, I know that title is ridiculously long.

And as such, I refuse to say "WIP" instead of "work in progress," or "crit" when I mean "critique," just like I refused to call the "Gibson Reading Room" the "Gibby" in law school. (Unless I was referring to the Gibby Goblin, the one student who was always there when you arrived in the morning ... and left at night ... but that's a different matter.)

I don't know why this is, and if you like "WIP" or whatever, more power to you. I just can't support it, personally.

This is also why I am a subpar tweeter.

Current playlist (good for lawyerin and writin):

1. "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes
2. "Wicked Way" by Benjamin Taylor
3. "One Thing," One Direction (you will have to turn down the speakers for this one, unless you want your peers and colleagues to judge the hell out of you)
4. "Bizarre Love Triangle," New Order
5. "Radioactive," Imagine Dragons
6. "Wild at Heart," Gloriana
7. "Neon Lights," Natasha Bedingfield
8. "One More Night," Maroon 5
9. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift
10. "Blown Away," Carrie Underwood
11. "50 Ways to Say Goodbye," Train
12. "Time is Love," Josh Turner
13. "Enter Telephone," DJs from Mars (Youtube it. You can thank me later.)

(I know everyone else gets all fancy with their Spotifys and embedded playlists, but I'd actually recommend Grooveshark. Just food for thought.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet and Greet

Hello to everyone from the Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest! I'm very excited to meet you and hope to make it around to a few other blogs before all these events are through. In the meantime, here is the questionnaire Deana passed around. Hope it helps you to get to know me a little better. 

-Where do you write?

I try to write in my office. When I bought the Casa, the office and the porch were my favorite things. The office has taken a little longer to spruce up than other areas of the house, but I'm a big fan at the moment.

(Please ignore all the lawyer stuff. This room is presently pulling double-duty.)

Home office: Fake Tiffany lamp, robot clock, cartoon lineup, San Pellegrino. Three of these four things were actually purchased by Diego. Can you guess which three?

However, I can make myself write just about anywhere, though not quite as effectively. Waiting for someone at work to call me back? Watching a reality TV marathon on the couch? I probably also have my laptop and Word document open.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm re-reading the entire Harry Potter series in preparation for a pub trivia tournament on Thursday. Wish me luck!

Oh, you mean of the stuff that is usually here? Well, to my left is a built in book shelf full of staplers, code books, The Federalist Papers, a food scale for weighing letters, and a can of Four Loko that is very near and dear to my heart.

-Favorite time to write?

Afternoons and evenings. This having a "real job" nonsense seriously cramps my style.

-Drink of choice while writing?

Diet Coke, except when I'm trying to get off Diet Coke. Then probably some kind of sparkling or flavored water.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

It kind of depends on my mood. I almost always have music or TV on in the background, unless I am stuck. Then I'd rather have silence to try to figure out where I should go next.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

I am currently working on two projects, both of them semi-inspired by my sorority days. One is a New Adult contemporary romance with LDS themes. The other is a murder mystery. Both are chock full of fun facts about my alma mater! Ahh, sororities are fun.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?

Writing is like exercising. The more you do it, the easier it gets. But if you need a break, you need a break.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ladies ...

... I think we need to have a talk.

I've noticed an unpleasant trend among our ranks. Namely, it's you thinking anyone who expresses appreciation for your attractiveness is per se creepy.

Now, I'm not saying this is per se NOT creepy. There are times you just don't want a homeless guy saying, "Daaaayum!" as you walk by. (Not me, though. I get nearly all my compliments from the homeless, so KEEP EM COMING.)

But the fact that someone said something flattering* about you does not automatically make them a creep.

You do not have to start waving around your engagement ring, as if to say, "Hey buddy, I'm already someone else's chattel! Move along!"**

You do not get to object to someone remarking on a picture of you (that you put on the INTERNET, presumably to prompt similar compliments from other people) that you look nice or pretty or hot.

You especially do not get to say something along the lines of, "Ugh! How DARE he say that my eyes sparkle like the Mediterranean and my hair is shinier than a Pantene commercial!" to all your friends, so everyone can hear that that you have great eyes and hair, but also that you don't like being "objectified."

(By someone you don't like. Objectification from a significant other would probably be an entirely different story, amiright?)

Think of how your grandma would respond. And then smile and nod, and perhaps change the subject, because no one ever went wrong with that course of action.

And don't run around telling everyone about the creep who dared tell you that you look very nice today. Because you know what is creepy?

Drawing unnecessary attention to yourself by telling people how attractive someone else finds you.

* OK, it might not be objectively flattering, but if it's obvious that the complimenter thought it would be flattering, you should probably just be a damn lady and accept the compliment in good graces.

** I do not think engagement rings, or marriage, make you chattel. I do think it's really weird that you would try to use your ring instead of your words to fend of unwanted attention. THIS TERRITORY HAS ALREADY BEEN MARKED, MISTER!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I built that

And by "I," I mean "my dad, brothers, and I."

And by "built," I mean "started."

Yay patios!