Wednesday, October 16


I'm writing!  I'm writing!  For the first time in months!  Dare I say this means it's acceptable to shove off the to-do list for a few hours?  I vote yes.  Indeed it is.

Tuesday, August 20

Honeeyyyy, I'm Hoooommeee!

You know that moment when you take the first step through the front door into your quiet, recently abandoned home after a trip or vacation?  Everything is still, exactly where you left it, and the sense of familiarity mingles with the hint of disappointment that the "fun" is over, but mostly it's relief at being back where you belong.

Clicking on my "blog" link in my favorites bar, and opening up a new post after so many weeks, I feel like I've just stepped through the front door after a long trip away and now I'm home again.  I plan to stop by and visit everyone's blogs as soon as I can, though I suspect it will be a slow process; I want to re-familiarize myself with this place and all of you.

When I last wrote I had just started working two jobs, and life was on the brink of turning crazy.  The weeks that followed found me working 50-60 hours a week, some weeks with as many as four double-shifts, the worst of which spanned from 7:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.  Between work, eating, and occasionally sleeping, my writing time dwindled into obscurity.  My promise to myself to continue writing no matter what curled up on the shelf and accepted it's blanket of dust, but NO MORE!  I have recently been promoted to Shift Supervisor at Starbucks (yay! *throws confetti*) and will be spending my last couple of weeks working both jobs before I focus solely on my coffee career, and consequently gain a little bit more free time.  I have a thousand and one projects to work on--in the house, art projects, and about a dozen different writing endeavors I want to get back to or get started on, but I'm recommitting myself to my goal of writing more consistently.

At the end of June my boyfriend and I visited his family in PA and took a day trip to NYC.  There I got to meet up with one of my childhood best friends; a bubbly, fast-talking, classic NYC girl who I hadn't seen in years but reminded me of how some things never change.  Discussing careers she asked me why I hadn't considered writing as a career.  "You love to write--and you're so good at it."  "I'm not that good," I protested, "I don't have any sort of [writing] degree, and I break lots of writing rules all the time..."  She shook her head.  "You don't give yourself enough credit."  I still think she might be a little biased, but she planted the seed, and it made me realize if I ever do want to write in ANY sort of professional sense, that I would have to be more dedicated and focused about writing.  If I could work 50-60 hours a week, surely with a 40 hour per week job I could dedicate at least seven hours (an hour a day) to writing.

So that's it.  I've said it.  You all have heard it.  Now I HAVE to do it.  The end.

Thursday, May 9

How Perfect is Too Perfect?

So, I picked a friend up from the airport yesterday, and while we drove she started telling me about a new series she was reading.  The books sounded right up my alley--supernatural, character self-exploration and discovery, a juicy love triangle--exactly what I love in a book.  But the more she described the main character, the more skeptical I became.  The fantasy world that the author has created involves a large variety of supernatural characters with various talents, powers, and challenges.  But the main character has a little bit of everything (remember, I'm going off of a casual retelling), and I think absorbs powers from the people around her.  Sounds cool, but it also makes her pretty damn powerful.  And she becomes highly sought after in the story for obvious reasons.  And I started to think, Okay, but maybe that makes her TOO perfect.  A main character who has EVERYTHING quickly starts to become boring again because she is so highly unattainable.  (WARNING::I'm about to make a Twilight reference, please forgive me.)  I think so many girls related to Bella because she was presented as flawed and entirely average--but when she becomes a vampire and is SO PERFECT it was sort of like a slap in the face.  She went from being someone the reader thinks she could be friends with (or thinks she could be) to someone entirely unattainable and quite literally "perfect."  (Or so the vampires seem to think).  And that just plain ole irritates the crap out of me.

I have one character from one of my stories that I have struggled with, wondering if I'm making her too powerful--she is an empath of sorts, and involuntarily sees a person's memories/thoughts when she touches them.  But she struggles with this "gift" tremendously, learning to control it, fighting with it as it evolves, etc.  That struggle is how I balance her being powerful--her inability to completely harness that power lessens it and to an extent causes it to become more of a liability than a gift.

And this whole thought process led to thinking more in depth about the characters I create.  When I listed out my characters from the 2-part story I'm working on in my last post, I realized they are quite a damaged cast, yet the people who did respond to that post seemed to respond positively to them.  One of my other stories I'm working on (remember I have several between which I flip flop) also involves two rather damaged characters learning to cope with themselves and each other--in turn helping one another heal.  Most of my characters/storylines echo that same trail--broken people struggling to help each other adapt and survive.  As someone who has struggled with my own internal demons, I think I relate to characters like this in movies that I watch or books that I read, and it leads me to write these characters also.

But it also makes me RATHER intolerant to "perfect" characters--or even characters who have sort of surface flaws rather than internal, deeper wounds.

Do you have a preference for the type of main character in a story?  Does perfection, or unevenly stacked powers/traits/etc. drive you crazy or does it make no difference to you?

Wednesday, April 24

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I'm back!  And I have a confession... I've been avoiding blogging a tiny bit because I knew I needed to write this post, and I feel very undeserving of this award.  I'm still a fairly new blogger (at least THIS blog is rather new), and I have been very sporadic at actually posting.  Even more than that, I feel like I never really say much of consequence--just ramble about writing related thoughts tumbling around in my brain.  So I was not only shocked when Shell Flower of Tangent Shell nominated me for this award.  I'm honored, and I love the little banner--so pretty!

Okay, so here we go.  First, the rules:

  • Display the award logo on your blog post. 
  • Link back to the person who nominated you. 
  • State 7 things about yourself. 
  • Nominate 15 bloggers to the award. 
  • Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back and you can also go comment on their blog.
Everyone was doing really creative things for the seven list rather than just stuff about themselves so I think I shall follow the trend of doing something writing related and introduce you to seven characters in the story I am working on right now.

  1. Andie :: a sassy, belligerent high school senior whose loud music, dark clothes, and attraction to girls completely contradicts all of her stepfather's conservative beliefs, with her mom caught in between.  She sings, plays her dad's old guitar, and tries to avoid being home as much as possible as long as "Lucifer" is around.  She is haunted by her horrendous sophomore year of high school and the events that happened that year.
  2. Nate :: Andie's slightly more straight-edged best friend who acts in the school plays, tutors in math and science, and since Andie "broke his heart" when they became friends sophomore year and he learned she was gay, nurtures a giant crush on his blonde, dancer, lab partner, Phoebe.  His level-headed nature balances Andie's fiery attitude, keeping her in school and out of (mostly) trouble.
  3. Olivia :: at 21, she is finally legally able to drink--though she has been working in a bar since she was 16, and is a recovering alcoholic.  She and her older brother barely made it through high school living on their own together, and she's still caught up in the cycle of just trying to keep her rent paid and electricity on.  All the while avoiding her abusive ex, who wasn't able to escape the lure of the liquor when she did.
  4. KJ :: when Andie's sophomore year of high school shattered into pieces when the school found out she was dating another girl, a popular football player secretly befriended her--keeping his friends away from her during gym class, and keeping her secrets when she confided in him.  What Andie didn't realize immediately was that she had befriended her best friend's little brother.
  5. Cory :: Olivia's ex-boyfriend who has a love of Whiskey and redheads, and a lack of self-control.  When Liv pulled her life together enough to finally stop drinking, and Cory refused, the drunken fights grew even worse until Olivia ended up in the hospital and kicked Cory out.  He's been trying to fight his way back into her life ever since.
  6. Kacie :: Her daughter had always been Daddy's Little Girl, but when her husband died when Andie was 12, instead of it bringing them closer together, it began a downward spiral.  When she unexpectedly fell in love with Ian a year and a half later and married him, the tenuous relationship with her daughter shattered.  Now, she is caught trying to understand her daughter enough to reconnect while trying to balance the volatile relationship between Andie and Ian.
  7. Ian :: a Southern conservative Christian who made the unusual choice to relocate north when his ex-wife took a job in New York and threatened to take his daughter away.  Now, Natalie splits time between his house and her mom's apartment in the city, while he tries to deal with his stubborn step-daughter who has hated him since the first time they met.
Wow, that's a really dramatic cast when I put it like that... but I love writing how their lives have intertwined, and how they work to heal each other from all of the damage their pasts have wreaked.

And now for my nominations.  I'm not going to do 15, because that's a rather large number comparative to the number of blogs I follow, so instead I am just going to nominate the blogs I draw the most inspiration from.
  • Hart Johnson at Confessions of a Watery Tart -- other than the fact that Hart has been sort of my writing mentor for quite a long while, her blog is insightful, hilarious, and chock full of useful writing related things.
  • Amber T. Smith at Princess of Procrastination -- another person who has encouraged my writing for a long time, but is also laugh out loud (the REAL laughing out loud) funny, and is ESPECIALLY inspiring because her first novel releases NEXT WEEK. *excitement*
  • Pk Hrezo at Pk Hrezo - fearless fiction -- I always enjoy reading her blog, and I'm totally in love with her "good vibe guardian" pixies.  Awesomeness!
  • Elizabeth S. Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder -- absolutely the most helpful, informative, thought-provoking writing blog that I follow.  I also love reading her kind, encouraging replies to all of the people who comment on her posts.
  • Sarah at Fanatic for Fiction -- I know when I was in college it was a huge challenge to dedicate time to writing, or to even find the inspiration to write after writing so many boring papers, so I find it very inspiring that she is writing AND blogging while still going to school.
  • Mel Chelsey at Writings, Musings & Other Such Nonsense -- her blog header's tagline says it all: "If you like dark, sarcastic wit and want to know more about my fantasy writing..." Boom. I'm sold.
  • Stina Lindenblatt -- from whom I always learn so much, and whose posts always inspire me to click past the little blurb on my dashboard to always read the full post.
*claps* I think that's all for now.  I love all of the blogs I follow and read, but these were the ones that instantly came to mind that keep bringing me back to read and learn from some more.

In other news... I've been writing a bit again.  Working 40-55 hours a week has taken a toll on my writing, but I'm scaling back just a little bit on the work, and trying to squeeze in a bit of writing before I fall asleep on top of my laptop every night. ; ]

Monday, March 25

An On the Brain Update

Despite the fact that work has been sapping away my time and energy, I've actually had writing on the brain quite a bit.  First, my boyfriend and I are working on finally putting together our office room.  My dad and I painted it a bright bold teal a couple of months ago, and we are narrowing down our decisions on furniture.  As of now we basically use the room as a laundry drying room--though the closet is also full already, but I am hoping to sort of commandeer this room at least a little bit as my own little inspiration room.  He's letting me hang some of my fairy prints on the wall (he owns the house so final say is his ; ]) and I plan to also hang either a white board or cork board so I can story board like I used to in college.  I know it doesn't exactly work this way, but I am sort of hoping that having that space where I can sit in the quiet by myself, or stare out the window, or listen to music while I write might help me to write a little more.  That maybe having a space to go that is "writing space" will encourage me to carve time out of the busyness.

The second reason I've had writing on the brain is because of a special little project I'm just beginning.  I'm hoping (because it needs to) that it happens like I want it to and wraps up rather quickly, but for now it needs to stay a secret project because nosy kittens like to play in these here parts and I can't have them unravelling the ball of yarn just yet. [/stretchedmetaphor]

I have not yet decided whether I want to participate in April's A-Z challenge.  I attempted it once when I blogged a few years ago and I did not do so well.  I just can never seem to keep up with blogging every day.  But I haven't ruled it out just yet... so maybe.

Last, I want to give a gigantic thanks to Shell Flower for nominating me for the Inspired Blogger Award.  I promise to actually do the Inspired Blogger post ASAP, but alas as it is past midnight and I am actually quite sick right now I shall save it for a time when my brain is more coherent.  At the moment I am finding it difficult to even fathom how my blog could possibly be inspiring, but I'm super duper stoked about it nonetheless. : ]

Thursday, March 7

I have such good balance the floor and I often high-five...

I've never been very good at balance.  Of any kind.  I once had a doctor tell me, after observing me trying to stand on one foot, "No one your age should have that bad of balance."  When I manage to drag myself to yoga class, I am always the least balanced by far.   Maintaining balance in other aspects of my life has also been consistently challenging.  Throughout college I would spend three days straight writing one paper just to have to scramble to get another assignment done that I had "forgotten" while doing the first.  The lists (for the ADHD) helped with this a bit--reminding myself I had many things to attend to--but still certain things often slipped through.

Writing has always been one of the first things to go.  I used to go through periods where I would write all of the time, every day, at least a couple of hours a day.  Then it would be months since the last time I had picked up a pen and notebook.  I started this blog as a challenge to myself to not allow the second to happen when the most recent period of the first had faded.  Since returning to work my writing time has dwindled faster than a birthday candle, and my muse has hidden herself away in protest of my instant neglect.  My brain has still been processing and imagining what I plan to write next, but I haven't actually sat myself down and written anything for days.

Next week I am starting a second job.  Chances are high that between both jobs I will end up working over 40 hours a week.  As aware as I am that many people work this much, as a person with terrible life balance I'm not yet sure how I am going to handle it.  I am fully preparing myself for it to be a disaster.  I am hoping the two jobs is not necessary for too long, but for now, it is.

Last week I celebrated my 24th birthday, and over the weekend lived out a childhood lifelong dream of having a Harry Potter birthday party.  My incredibly attentive & amazing boyfriend got me all kinds of Harry Potter things and even put them in this amazing little trunk--a mini-HP trunk.  But because I (gleefully) immersed myself back into my first writing inspiration for most of the past month preparing for my partay I have been thinking about all of my unfinished fanfics much more.  Now, I know that writing fanfiction is not necessarily productive per say, but writing in general can only strengthen my writing skills, right?  I've been thinking about using my fanfics as sort of writing exercises when I am lacking particular direction or inspiration for my originals.

Questions for those who may have made it this far.... How do you balance life with writing?  Do you ever do writing exercises of any kind?  For fun?  Practice?  Another reason?  I always love to hear your thoughts and advice.

Tuesday, February 19

Listing for Focus

You know the saying, "You would lose your head if it wasn't attached"?  Well, that saying was quite possibly designed for me.  I have often argued that there's some sort of "faulty wiring" in my brain... where it makes certain kinds of connections, it just doesn't quite fire properly.  As a kid, I constantly forgot my school stuff at home--gym shoes, gym clothes, homework assignments, papers printed and left on the printer, textbooks, lunch.  Everything you could possibly need, I forgot at least once.  Throughout middle and high school my mother would run stuff to school with a glare and a scolding, wondering how I could possibly forget such things.  Thankfully, I went to college only an hour and some change away, so when I would come home to visit and leave medicine, glasses, my phone... my parents would again, with a sigh and roll of the eyes meet me halfway to get me my things.

Psych majors are always diagnosing ourselves.  My best friends in college and I even laid around one evening when most of us were currently in Abnormal Psych and assigned ourselves each with a personality disorder--hey, it helped us learn the material!  But I also realized (as I had considered through high school as well, but my mom adamantly disagreed) that I might, in fact, have ADHD.  My mom thought because I wasn't hyperactive, I didn't qualify.  In my junior year of college I took her to a seminar on adult ADHD and throughout the entire thing she would look at me with wide eyes and knowing looks.  I never got officially diagnosed, but I started trying to find ways to cope with it, one of which was to start making lists.  I don't always necessarily follow my lists, but writing things out, detailing what I need to do, or should bring to something, or absolutely have to remember seems to help that faulty part of my brain work more like it should.

I suspect my difficulty focusing on any one thing for long periods of time contributes to my shifting attention in my writing.  I know several people encouraged me to force myself to focus on one story until it's completed, but trying to do so frustrates me when I get bored or stuck.  I think switching between my different worlds will work for me so long as I continue to make progress on each and provided I don't start anything NEW until I complete one of the stories I am working on.

So my writing list for today:
  • Read the beginning of a story I am reading for a friend.  I am considering this as part of my writing list because I need to include more reading into my free-time schedule.  I used to always be reading some book or another, but in the past few years I barely read three books in a year and I think my lack of reading has affected my writing skills.  So incorporating more reading into my life should hopefully give my writing a little bump.
  • Outline the rest of Story#1.  The first maybe third of the book is written, but I think making an outline (like my lists) will help me focus on where the story needs to go to get to the ending that is already partially written.
  • Continue setting up Story#1 in Storyist.  Storyist is an amazing program that I would encourage all Mac-using writers to look into.  I am a very visual person and it allows me to create character profiles and set images for each character, outline using "notecards," and it even gives you tips on how your manuscript should be setup for publication submission.  As a still rather new and young writer, I find the program to be extremely helpful.
  • Finish typing what is already hand-written for Story#1.  I very much prefer to write by hand.  I don't always, but whenever I do hit a block typing, I sometimes switch to pen and paper and that helps.

Monday, February 11

Are transitions REALLY necessary.....

I mean, exactly how necessary is it for the story to actually make sense?  *cough*  One of my biggest challenges in writing has always been, and continues to be, transitions.  Whole scenes pop into my head, particularly dialogue between characters, and I write them as they come... then end up with a whole bunch of disconnected scenes.  At the beginning of a story I typically start out alright, good descriptions intermixed with the dialogue... it flows.  Then the scenes start flooding my brain and I write, write, write... and have no idea how to properly join the various sections.

In the story I recently unearthed once more, the main character is a high school girl and the first part of her story takes place in sort of four rotating settings.  Her time spent with the girls she has long considered her best friends, though they have been steadily growing apart, her time with a boy who has befriended her and is quickly becoming her new best friend, the time she spends at home in conflict with her mom and step-dad, and her time with the girl she is falling in love with.  Is there a particularly effective way to string together different scenes like this?  This is what the majority of that document looks like (these are just the last and first lines of each scene):

“You’re an insane person.”
Liana laughed at the intended insult.  “Of course I am, darling, I’m friends with you.”
“And that makes you insane?” Andie raised an eyebrow.
“Certifiably,” Liana confirmed.

*   *   *

“We should hang out sometime,” Nate suggested.
Andie shot him a look.
“I’m not asking you out—unless you want me to.”
Rolling her eyes, she replied.  “No, I don’t.  And I’ll think about it.”

So, erm, suggestions?  I know for some pieces I just need to include some more descriptions, and fill in some thoughts and reflections of Andie's that will tie some sections together.  And I think adding in chapters eventually, as this particular story has none yet, will help take care of some of it, too.  I would still love any advice or thoughts any of you might have to offer on the subject!

Wednesday, February 6

A Post About Not Posting About Writing While Not Writing

Today, instead of writing a blog post, I'm just going to write.  I've skipped the last few days, occupied with taking care of a sick boyfriend, returning to work!, and actually exercising for once (aka excuses)... and as I sat down to write a post, filtered through the writing related topics on my mind, and started typing, I realized instead of talking about what I'm thinking about what I'm not doing, I'm just going to do it instead.  So, after that excessively long run-on sentence... Here's to getting at least a few hundred words (remember, I write at the pace of the slowest snail) written before work.  Cheers!

Friday, February 1

Oops, I Did It Again....

Okay, aside from having Britney on the brain (hazard of putting iTunes on shuffle)... I am more so referring to that story I mentioned in my last post.  Over the past three-ish years that I've been attempting to write original fiction (as opposed to fanfiction) I have started about half a dozen stories--gotten farther with some than others--but I have yet to FINISH one.  The first one I ever started that I got far enough to even believe I might finish is the story I referenced in my last post.  It's the closest of any of them to being complete.  I also started writing a prequel to it, as a way to get the main character's backstory concrete in my mind, and ended up actually really loving THAT story, too.  So, I've got the two of them, and with the prequel, it's filling in the middle and the other one rewriting the early middle and then the very very end.  Even though I've started other stories since the two of them, I always go back to them both.  Open up the Word documents from time to time, add a bit, edit a bit, put them away again.  For the past few weeks I have been working exclusively on the newest of my stories, the one I started for NaNoWriMo in November, but I made the mistake of TALKING about Andie, and now I just had to dust her off and start to polish her up again.

I added a pretty decent chunk (okay, for me that means maybe a thousand+ words in a night) last night and read through and surface edited what I have written for the prequel.  I started looking at the other one, but I have a bunch of stuff written by hand for it somewhere that is MIA and until I can find it, I want to hold off on that one.  But now my brain is back in Andie-mode, and I want to keep working on her story while it is.  Part of me doesn't think these books will ever make it past my own laptop screen--how many people actually publish the first novel they ever write?  Haven't I heard you usually have to write a few before you really start to hit your stride?  Or some such thing.  But the other part of me thinks that this story has been some of my strongest writing.  Clearly, this is an issue for future Kas to debate once both stories are complete... and in the meantime, I may just give Andie the attention she is demanding.  I'm still working out some world creation details for the NaNo story (magical limitations and whatnot) so maybe this will give me an opportunity to let those ideas bounce around in my brain while still actively writing as well.

[[ In other news... I was unexpectedly offered a new job today!  I had been in training for the boring, very part-time, pays next-to-nothing job that I took because I was desperate, but a family friend owns a business to which I had stopped by and given my resume a few weeks ago, but didn't think they had any openings for me.  Lo and behold, something in guest service opened up, and I am officially guest service, and probably part-time hostess, too!!  It's a pretty cool place, bowling alley with FULL restaurant AND bar, rentable space & lanes for private parties, etc. and I'm excited!!  I have high hopes that this is a good change for me.  ]]

Wednesday, January 30

Living (and Writing) in a World of Perception

When I was fifteen I leased a pony for a year so I could show her.  I had been riding her for a couple years before, but you had to lease to show.  She was a cute little thing--medium brown, white socks and stockings, a big white blaze, the shaggiest, fluffiest little mane and tail, and a hard to see white splotch on her tummy.  The woman who owned her had rescued her, and when she first laid eyes on her standing at the top of a hill in the distance, she thought, "Look at that Clydesdale..." and then the little pony came galloping down the hill up to the fence and she saw that, in fact, the Clydesdale was not so much eighteen hands as just thirteen.  Perspective is amazing.

Throughout the earning of my psych degree my fascination with perspective grew.  We are products of our perceptions, we live within them, grow based upon them, and relate to people as our perspectives either meld or clash.  And have you ever tried to explain your perspective to someone when it clashed with theirs?  Oh man.  You know, the person who clings so hard to their beliefs that their knuckles turn white and their face turns purple, and they start to hate you for trying to show them anything other than what they already know?

Now, this may just be my perception, but as readers and writers, I think we generally tend to be more open-minded.  We read in order to understand other perspectives, to experience what we might never have had the opportunity--or may have been so blessed as to never had--to experience.  What I'm wondering, is how often do writers set out to change perspectives, or does it just happen sometimes?

The first original story I ever really intended to finish--the one that's closest to being complete--explores the story of a girl who is bullied in school for being gay, but when she comes home, she is bullied just as much by her religious parents.  She ends up running away from home.  I started this book over three years ago, but I keep coming back to it adding some more, editing, intending to finish it.  Even if I never try to publish it, I feel compelled to write it.  To complete her story.  To share it with someone, anyone, who might relate or feel less alone by reading it.  I didn't start writing it because I wanted to change anyone's perceptions, but because once it was in my head I felt compelled to tell it.

Do you ever write to enlighten a potential reader to a new perspective?  Have you ever read something that changed something you thought or believed?

Monday, January 28

Hi, my name is Kas! What's yours?

Sorry, I'm a little delayed on getting my About Me up for today's Blogfest.  I had a job interview this morning, and was a little anxious getting ready for it.  I'm pretty horrendous at this whole talking about myself thing--it literally took me hours to write that little bio over there --->.  So instead of trying to coherently introduce myself, I'm just going to give you some fun facts about Kas:
  • I'm addicted to coffee.  I drink it black with a bit of cream (preferably flavored), but I'm also obsessed with every kind of latte and (white) mocha available.
  • I'm super duper into craftsy artsy funky things.  I paint.  I make jewelry (nothing fancy, just hemp  & bead type things).  I am forever working on some project or another.
  • I collect tie dye.  Collect it.  Shirts, scarves, shorts, socks, bandanas... home-made and otherwise.
  • My favorite color is black.  What?  Black's not a color?  Tell that to my closet...  Also, rainbow things.  And the cool color spectrum.
  • I'm kind of emotional.  The good, the bad, the ugly--but this means that although I have my low days... I can get pretty damn excited about things, too.  I view this is a positive.
  • Reading and writing are my escapes.  They have been serving that purpose since I learned to read at 4 years old and I expect them to continue to function as portals into a world apart from my own for as long as I can hold a pen or turn the pages.
  • My middle name is Uta.  That's pronounced Ooh-tuhh.  My grandmother's name is Ute (pronounced essentially the same).  And no, I don't know what it "means," but it IS a common German name.
  • I'm kind of a massive Harry Potter geek.  Harry Potter changed my life [see earlier post], and holds a very important place in my heart.  (Totally not trying to be melodramatic.)
  • I have a LOT of celebrity crushes.  Don't judge.  Angelina, my first true celebrity love, Megan Fox, my guilty pleasure actress (ie. I know she's not exactly the best actress in the world, but I mean get real... her eyes are TURQUOISE), Jennifer Lawrence--I mean she's Mystique AND Katniss... and have you seen her in an interview?  Whoops... I am definitely digressing...
  • I have two adopted four-legged children.  Both pitty mixes and both utterly adorable, cuddly, energetic.. troublemakers.
  • I am a middle child, Pisces, with a Psych degree.  I promise, this says something about me though I'm not entirely sure what.
  • Oh!  And I HAVE, in fact, lived out an 80's movie romantic moment.  Totally unscripted.  In real life.  Cross that off the bucket list!
Erm.  Okay.  So maybe you kinda sorta know a little bit about me now?  Thanks for stopping by!  : ]

My geeky HP phone cover
The naughty childrens

Friday, January 25

To Edit or Not To Edit.... While Writing

WRITE WRITE WRITE, edit a little, WRITE WRITE WRITE.  This is typically my writing process.  When I wrote fanfiction, I would write the section I planned to post, read through it once or twice, tweak it, check for spelling and grammar errors then post it.  When I started writing original stuff that no one was going to see in the immediate future, I slacked even more on the editing and concentrated almost solely on writing.  Every so often when I was stuck on what to write next or feeling unmotivated, I would read back through and do the tweaking thing, but not really edit.  The story I am working on now is the first I have ever accepted from the beginning that it would need significant editing--serious amounts both cut and added in--before it was even ready for the reading and tweaking part.  I have never completed a book (one is really really close), but because of this I have never tried to edit and clean something I've written enough to try to submit it for publication.  I am dreading that day because I tend to get emotionally attached to EVERYTHING including unnecessary dialogue scenes in my writing.

That being said, the story that I'm writing now is the first one that I've felt confident I can continue to add stuff in, alter scenes, cut out pieces I've already written and really continue to morph and grow this thing even as I'm still writing.  Having first started it for a WriMo, I really wanted to keep that mentality and write as much as possible, leaving the editing for later, but I've found that going back to add things in as it occurs to me or as I realize I need it is actually working really well for me.  My writing buddy has been making suggestions and pointing out holes, etc. (I've been sending her a few chapters at a time) and I've been working on adding in what I can and altering what needs to be changed BEFORE moving forward.  As much as I don't want to get caught up in the editing and fixing, by defining things that need defining, adding details that were missed, and developing characters in different ways or at different times to improve their place in the story, it is actually helping me to write the rest of the story.  By ironing out details and clarifying various things, I am strengthening the foundation upon which the rest of the story will be built.

Tuesday, January 22

How Harry Potter changed my life and taught me to write (otherwise known as the pros and cons of fanfiction)

When I was a kid I wrote horse stories.  All of the "books" I started to write or wanted to write had a horsey theme of some kind.  Why?  Because as a kid I read a lot of horse stories.  Then in fifth grade I was introduced to the Wonderful World of Harry Potter and life changed forever.  No, seriously, Harry Potter changed my life.  Here's how:
  1. Harry introduced me to the fantasy world of magic, and mythical creatures, and worlds apart from our own boring Muggle world.  This led me to pick up a number of other fantasy books in middle school and high school including Lord of the Rings, the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, and the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey all of which are some of my very favorite books, and THAT led me to stop writing horse stories and start writing young adult with a fantasy element type of stuff.
  2. Towards the end of high school I discovered the enchanting world of fan fiction.  It served as a completely new portal into the Harry Potter world, and within a few weeks of reading it, I had determined that I would write one of my own.  I ended up writing several.  Thus began my real introduction to writing, with actual people reading what I was writing and providing feedback.
  3. The website where I posted my fan fiction also happened to be an incredible community of people, and I began to make friends.  Friends that started as writers whose stories I read and loved, and readers that read (and shockingly) loved my stories; both of which eventually became friends that were genuinely invested in one another's lives and well-being keeping up on facebook, through e-mail, and for a lucky few meeting in real life.
Harry (and the friends I made on HPANA) essentially taught me how to write.  I built characters, developed storylines, convinced my readers that Draco and Ginny were destined to be together, and fell in love with the whole writing process.  It never occurred to me until recently, when my awesome new writing partner and friend from HPANA and I were discussing our original works, that entering the writing world with fan fiction could also be a handicap.  She pointed out that she thought it had crippled her because of the shortcuts we were able to take.  My jaw dropped at the realization that it had done the same to me, too.  The setting, the magical world and its limitations, a unique sport, characters, families, everything involved with the school, more details than we could ever describe had already been established.  All we had to do was create the story.  Introducing characters was simplified because we already knew and understood their backstory.  Determining the limits of a magical world--how much can they do--what is still not possible even with magic--was already thought out and answered for us.  So much of the deep thinking and layering of writing, the nitty gritty details that really make a place real, the solid foundation of a universe that is both unique and believable had already been done for us.  While we were developing characters and manipulating relationships that already existed, we weren't creating all of this vital story-making stuff.

Several years ago I began an epic journey into writing all seven years of the Marauders' time at Hogwarts.  Reading Marauder-era stories was one of my favorites and I wanted one of my own.  Throughout college my posts became more and more infrequent, as did everyone else's on HPANA until it was eventually shut down.  I had reached partially into their fourth year, but by that point I had really fallen in love with the original characters I created and the relationships I established.  This past NaNoWriMo I decided to try to transport my own characters and an adaptation of a couple of the marauders into a world of my own, continuing to write the story I had worked for so long on, but in an original format.  Turns out, characters respond completely differently when you put them into a new setting with new people, and anything reminiscent of the fanfiction story has become so minimal I believe it's rather difficult to recognize.  This is awesome, and even better than I had hoped, but establishing my own world has definitely been a challenge.  Yet at the same time, the chemistry between the characters remains, and I think that's why for the first time since my fanfiction days, I have consistently written something new almost every single day for over a week now.  It's not huge, a week and some change, but it's a big step for me, and a positive one at that.

Monday, January 21

Why I Find Naming Things Impossible (otherwise known as the explanation behind the name)

When you name something, whether it be a pet, character, or car, you want it to be just right.  That name will identify the person, thing, whatever, for as long as it shall live (so to speak).  I am notorious for taking eons to name anything, particularly characters.  Often, I name a character, change its name, change it back, give it a third name, and still don't decide until I've written one of the names so many times that it becomes the default when mentioning that character.  OR I just do this _____ in place of the character's name and end up with lots of blanks all over the place.  It's awful, but I can't help but feel like everything has a perfect name.  Five months ago I bought my first car (of my own).  I knew there was any one of a few cars I really wanted, and different colors I could tolerate.  I had a name picked out for each type of car/color--if I got a red anything it was going to be Auntie Snix;  if I got any car with a moonroof it was going to be Moony.  I ended up with a little blue hatchback with a moonroof--but Moony seemed too masculine for her.  It just wasn't right!  So I named her Luna Moony.  The cute name that fit her, but still the Moony I had my heart set on.

When I decided I wanted to write a blog again, particularly focused on writing, I hadn't the slightest clue what to name it.  Just my name?  Meh.  I have yet to decide what name I want to (eventually in the somewhere distant future) publish under--chances are my name will be changing by the time that day comes (or will possibly be changing not long after) so that's a decision to be made later.  And as such, not a good blog name.  I thought about playing off of the word INK...  As a person who prefers to write in a notebook with an ink pen, and who also has a gigantic love affair with tattoos I thought it would be fitting, but the few names I came up with that I liked were taken, and I know of an InkyGirl and didn't want to have anything close to her name.  So I started to think about what kind of stories I write.  I have begun writing or are in the process of writing five different novels to this point (I know, I have the WORST writer's ADD), and none of them are really anything alike except for having one thing in common.  All of my main characters are spunky, quirky, strong-willed female characters.  Quirky is one of my favorite words, and it always makes me happy when someone uses it to describe me--my favorite things about myself are all of the weird stuff that makes me a little different.  Because of this I find that I translate that part of me into my creative works--my main characters in writing, and in my artwork, too.  When I had considered starting an Etsy to sell my artwork (on hold because my sister and I are collaborating on one) I wanted to name it Spunk & Spice.  Because I like to make things whether it's jewelry, paintings, or drawings that are just a little bit funky.  When I told my boyfriend what I was thinking of naming this blog he said, "Well, that's fitting."  And that decided it for me.  It reflects me, it describes the characters that I write, and also it sounds a little bit like Pumpkin Spice and anyone who knows me knows I'm obsessed with Starbucks, so I kinda like that, too. ;]

Why I'm Here (otherwise known as Welcome to Kas Rambles 101)

A little over two weeks ago I walked into work as if it were any other Friday afternoon.  Ten minutes later I found myself unexpectedly walking back out, flooded by the strangest mixture of relief and devastation.  For three and a half months I had been working at a wine store, recruited by the owner's wife--a regular customer at my previous job.  I had become bored at that job and was looking for something new, and when the woman described the position as, "in need of a young creative mind to join our small team--to do creative projects around the store, help with design work, and work to bring in a younger crowd," I thought it sounded perfect.  When the owner went a step further and promised to teach me about owning a small business I took the job without even a tiny glance back.

Reality set in as soon as day one.  What I thought would be just introductory tasks... stocking shelves, reorganizing shelves, stocking more shelves, and carrying around cases of wine and beer became my every day life.  Signs were needed on occasion, and throughout the three months I was able to take on less than a handful of creative tasks, but for the most part I was a glorified errand girl.  Oh, the trash needs to be taken out?  Sure.  Oh, the floor needs to be swept?  No biggie.  Oh, more stocking?  Cool.  Oh, we're out of labels?  Sure, I'll run to Staples.  Oh, we need to rearrange the shelves again?  Mmkay.  Oh, we need paint?  I can go get that.  Oh, the dishes need to be done?  Leave it to me.  Oh, you need me to make one more of this boring identical sign?  Yep, be done in 20 seconds.  Any of those tasks scattered amongst everything I had been promised would have been tolerable, but to have such high expectations and wake up to the reality of THAT?  I was bored out of my mind.  That Friday, the owner asked me how I felt about working at the store.  I answered honestly.  I was learning, I enjoyed the people, but I needed more of a challenge.  He decided it wasn't going to work.

As much as it felt like a slap in the face, and as borderline panicked as I have felt the past two weeks scrambling to find a new job, it has also been incredibly refreshing to just breathe a little.  About a week ago I decided to open up my NaNoWriMo story--of which I had only written around 10,000 words--and play around with it.  I started writing, and in just a few days I doubled my word count, a pace that is not just unheard, but borderline miraculous for me.  I realized how much I had missed writing, and how much I had missed the excitement and energy at the start of a new story.  I contacted a writer friend for help on something in my story, and was pleasantly surprised when she asked if I wanted to be writing buddies.  We are both notoriously sporadic writers who tend to slip away into life and neglect our writing, so we decided that together maybe we can motivate each other to keep at it.  I started quick editing and sending her what I had written thus far, and her feedback has not only helped me fill in gaps, and pace my beginning, but our conversations have sparked ideas that add layers to the story that had never occurred to me before.

Throughout this crash landing back into my own writing, and seeing how incredibly helpful just a few email exchanges had been, I realized how much I missed the writing community I had tentatively introduced myself to the first time I attempted blogging.  What had started as a way to connect with other writers and bloggers, and learn, ended up as a place to vent, and I realized that that was not what I wanted my blog to be.  I shut it down, and hadn't really considered starting another one until this week.  And here I am.  I'm not yet sure exactly what this blog will be, but I hope that it is a way to keep myself writing more regularly and continuously learning more and more from all of the expert-like folks whose blogs I follow.

xo Kas