WIP Progress, Social Media, and an Announcement

Hi guys! Just checking in very briefly (after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens tonight. *fangirl flail*) to say I’ll be disconnecting from my online and social media life a bit to focus on my family during the next couple of weeks, but before I do, I wanted to check in for a little update.

Okay, first, I’m excited that the past few weeks have been good for my writing. I tend to over-write and trim later in edits, but I’ve written some new scenes that are tying the story together at last. I have to admit, writing out of sequence was fun early on when I could skip around and write the juicy stuff, but now I have to really up my plot game and fill in all the blanks I left behind and that’s … tricky. I’ve still enjoyed writing this way. I just made it hard on myself.

So, anyway! Bottom line: I’m happy. And hopeful I’ll finally get this first draft completed in the near future. Insert some celebratory emojis here. Maybe a happy dance. And chocolate. Chocolate is always appropriate.

In the meantime, check out my Pinterest inspiration board for this project:

Follow Andrea Brame | Writer’s board Write | Sci-Fi Inspiration on Pinterest.

Next up, I wanted to say I had SUCH a good time experimenting with taking pictures of my son’s picture books to post on Instagram that I dove right in and have discovered the amazing bookstagram community. I’m making new bookish friends all over the world, and I am thrilled. If you are one of those friends and have clicked through my profile link to see this post, welcome! I’m so glad we’ve met over our shared love of reading and maybe a cup of virtual coffee. If you know me from elsewhere and haven’t followed me on Instagram yet, hop on over and do that here.

Finally … my announcement … drum roll please … My website is getting a facelift! If you follow me on Twitter, you know I recently tweeted that I had chosen and purchased a new responsive blog theme.

My blog theme has needed an overhaul for a long time now, but I waited until I could take advantage of the incredible Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales of the theme community. I chose a theme designed by BluChic and I’m excited to begin the updating process sometime early next year. Stay tuned!

Until then, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

 

 

Still (still) here

A photo posted by Andrea Brame (@andreabrame) on


Considering it has been some time since my last update, I thought I’d post a little something just to say I’m still alive and still writing. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, trying to figure out where I belong in the world of kidlit. I haven’t come to any firm conclusions yet, but I know I’m not giving up. I’m sticking with it. I can’t help it!

Being a writer sounds so glamorous, but the reality is lots of early mornings or late nights or stolen moments when you work on plot and characterization and dialogue and story. If there isn’t time, you have to carve it out where it hurts the least. As a parent who hasn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep in months … years, really … I admit I tend to give into vegging out on the couch or simply going to bed more often than not lately. As my husband tells me, quoting someone whose name I don’t remember, “If you don’t know what you want … it’s sleep.”

I should probably be sleeping right now.

But here’s the thing. I’m stuck. I’m stuck on some science and some characterization and some plot holes. I’ve written all the things I know and now I’m stewing on the things I don’t know. I don’t blog here much. I don’t even open Scrivener as much as I should. But I’m thinking it through. Sometimes in the middle of the night, after I wake up and realize what I could next. And then I give myself insomnia because my brain won’t stop thinking and let me go back to sleep! At 3 a.m.!

Whenever this happens, I’ve learned that what I need most is a blast of inspiration. I go to a store I love, solo, and just browse. I take in the art and the design and let myself get lost in it. I even take pictures of things that particularly make me happy. It might be washi tape. It might be towels. It might be a funny saying. But I enjoy it all. Then I stop and breathe in nature. I browse hashtags on Instagram (#instabooks, #bookstagram, and #igreads are faves). I meet up with a friend over coffee. I hug my husband and just savor the moment.

And it works!

So, tonight, in the still evening hours when my son is deep asleep and the dark has drifted in and the rain is falling gently in a mist and chill electronic music is playing on my iTunes radio in my earbuds, I’m writing this update. Then I’m taking some time to write. And it will probably be crappy writing. That’s okay. That’s what first drafts are for. I’m going to hand-wave my way through this science-y mess that is keeping me back in fear, even if it means I make up ridiculous faux science just to make it through. I can go back and fix it later.

This is my story. I’m the writer stuck in the wilderness of the middle of her book. So I can write my way out … I control my fate.

And when I have, you’ll be the first to know. Well, second. I’m pretty sure my husband and son will hear my triumphant shout of victory when the last word is written.

(Oh, and by the way, if you are also on Instagram, drop by and take a look at my feed. I’m scratching a creative itch while my writer wheels spin by sharing a photographic series of the books we love and live with as a family. Check it out!)

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp-Winner-2015-Web-Banner

Ahhhhh. It feels SO GOOD to be able to post this little banner. Some writing friends and I challenged each other to participate in the spring camp session and we all completed our goal word counts. Go us!

I appreciated the low-key atmosphere of camp. I participated in and won my last full NaNo back in 2012 (with my YA contemporary WIP), but life got a little busier when my son arrived the next year, so a goal of 10,000 words on a current project was much more doable. I put Man Cub down for his nap or bedtime and booked it to my laptop for thirty minutes, or even an hour or two at a time if I was lucky, before clocking out and reporting back for mom duty the rest of the day. I’ve come to appreciate loose outlining and comments to myself in the margins of my writing, because without those two things I would be lost without longer chunks of time in which to write. I still pants the heck out of some individual scenes, but always with character goals and the overall outline in mind.

The little over 10,000 words I added to my current WIP, a near-future YA book (working title: The Echelon Project) has taken me well past the halfway point in projected word count, although I’m not sure if it is past halfway according to the plot or not. The more I spend time in my main character’s world, the more twists and turns have presented themselves and as a result some of my earlier writing will need to be evaluated to see if it still belongs in the story or not.

That being said, I am feeling good about my progress and hope to realize my goal of finishing the first draft and starting revisions by summer.

Downtime (And a Projected Project Timeline)

I’m giving myself permission to rest. Well, not really REST rest, but rest from writing for a little bit. Don’t worry. Just a little bit. I’ve been feeling guilty about the two drafts I have that are 50% and 90% written and yet are still 50% and 10% UNWRITTEN. I need to stop with the guilt. I’m at a point with both projects where I need to stew for a week, or two, or three. And when a plot point comes into focus, I can make a note and then, when I am ready again, pursue it.

My family and I will be taking a vacation in the coming months, and when that happens, I’m going to really set aside everything and just enjoy the moments I have with my husband and son and just unplug, unwind, and relax. But, until then, I need a bit of time to reboot other areas of my life.

For instance, finally organizing those last couple cupboards in my kitchen that are lingering bastions of clutter. The ones I have been studiously ignoring in favor of napping.

Or, you know, I could also just keep napping. The sleep war continues in this household and the struggle is real, y’all. Nobody can fight sleep like a teething eight-month-old boy.

So, I’m going to focus on me, and my little family, for a couple of weeks. If writing or plotting happens, that will be wonderful, but I am not planning on it. Then, when the time is up and I can’t hold back the urge to write again (it never takes long!), I’ll dive right back in. I have a crazy goal to have both manuscripts ready for submission by this time next year. And, who knows, probably be at work on my next one once they are nearing completion.

Here’s how that projected timeline looks:

September: Tackle the pesky household and personal matters I’ve been ignoring since our son was born. Kind of like a back-to-school (but for grown-ups) thing, baby-proofing for our almost-crawler, and spring cleaning, all rolled into one. Or, maybe this is that infamous “nesting” instinct finally kicking in that I was supposed to get back when I was pregnant?

After that:

  • Autumn months – Plot and write.
  • Winter months – Finish drafts.
  • Spring months – Get feedback (beta reads, critiques, etc.) and revise.
  • Summer months – Final feedback and revisions, copy and line edits.

and then …. submit!

Am I crazy? Maybe. Could others do it more quickly? Definitely. But, for me, that’s an aggressive timeline. It’s worth trying, though!

A Creative Challenge

While stories and characters and ideas flow around in my mind all the time, catching them and committing them to paper and ink (or, rather, screen and pixel) can be a challenge these days. I’m learning how to make the use of minutes (or seconds!) instead of hours. Oh, how I used to be lazy with my time. I’d take hours to stare at the laptop screen in front of me while revising a manuscript and when my muse didn’t strike fast enough for my liking, I’d wander into Facebook land or idly browse Pinterest. You know, “for inspiration.”

Not anymore.

I think this can only improve my work since it must be so focused as a result, but it is certainly difficult to keep continuity of thought. I’m not sorry, though. In fact, I wouldn’t change a thing.

See, there’s a new little man taking up a lot of my time and attention these days (in fact, he’s the reason I haven’t blogged since September, as my last few months of pregnancy and then postpartum were difficult), and he’s worth every minute of this creative challenge. It has made me so much more appreciative of the struggle others face to balance their family and creative work. For me, writing is my passion, yes, but it is also something I hope to make my full-time job one day, and as my infant son takes most of my time and attention right now, I’m learning how to use my few minutes of downtime to write. I’m also blessed with a husband who cultivates my creative side, which makes things a little easier. Earlier this week he sent me out to a coffee shop with a pen and a notebook so I could have some uninterrupted time to work on plotting a new project I have under way while he watched our little one. I’m very excited about this story that wants to spill out, and I am so grateful for that hour. I made good use of every minute!

There are other moments I have free, of course. In fact, I’m currently blatantly disregarding the sage advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” so I can write this blog post while he dozes in his swing. And then there are the times we go out for a walk and I push his stroller and hash out details of the new idea while circling the neighborhood.

I do fantasize of technology that would allow me to mentally write an entire scene while out on one of our walks, without resorting to awkwardly typing on my phone with one hand. Or looking like I’m talking to myself while my iPhone takes bad dictation through the hands-free microphone on my ear bud cord. I mean, I am talking to myself. But I’d rather not look like the crazy mom on the block.

The new project is set in the near future. Maybe I should just invent this technology in the story. It would be so satisfactory. Somebody should have it, even if it isn’t me in the present day.

But for now, excuse me … the baby stirs …

 

Words, Style, and Creativity

There are many things I love and live for in this life: God, family, friends, my dog, lattes, bookstores, indie music, vintage knick-knacks and ephemera, and handmade things top the list. But how do I define myself? First, I am a child of God. Then, I am a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, friend. Lastly, I am a creative.

Three overall loves have always defined me. In fact, I can’t even tell you when they found me—by influence of nature or nurture—or if I found them on my own first. These three loves are words, style, and curiosity, and together they form my version of creativity.

Words

Words draw you in, create worlds, explore concepts, document events, and make you think. They surprise. They focus. They ignite. They inspire. I began exploring words early on, and I moved in swift succession from being read picture books and poetry by my parents to dictating (horribly amateurish) poetry to my mother, reading copious amounts of fiction, eventually writing novels of my own, journaling, and then even meeting and falling in love with my husband through the power of words through chats and emails.

Style

Style is the arrangement of form and color and texture or “feeling” of things. It appeals to our senses. It could be an article of clothing, a feeling, a tableau, or a moment in time captured by the purest forms of nature. It just … is. My personal sense of style tends toward a heavy use of white space, splashes of life-breathing color, and a delight in the unexpected; I play with it to design things, create outfits, and arrange items in my home or décor at a party. I make things with it.

Curiosity

Curiosity searches for meaning and finds it in a dewdrop on a blade of grass or in the arches of a great cathedral. It devours information, digests it, and nourishes the body and soul with it. Curiosity creates a spark that only dies when a question has been answered in full. Curiosity is the child perpetually asking “why?” It is the scientist asking “how?” It is the explorer asking “where?” It is the internal clock asking “when?” It is the journalist asking “to what extent?” And like a kitten, it pounces, catching the answer and playing with it until the heart and mind are satisfied. I can’t imagine a life spent without curiosity. I’ve followed its whims my whole life. It has led me to new friends, hobbies, ideas, knowledge, and passions.

How do you define yourself?