Wednesday, August 24, 2011

River of Dreams is Salty

Yesterday I took two of my kids to the doc for their yearly checkups. My youngest, Jojo, is four and it was time to get his vaccines up to date. Which means 5 shots.

"Jojo, you're going to get some shots today, okay?" Which is not really a question. It's an offer he can't refuse.

Jojo stares at me, his eyes wide with his own peculiar expression of stoic fear.

"I'm not sure how many shots, maybe 3 or 4." The doctor had said they might be able to combine some of the shots, so I was banking on that. "They give you shots because kids used to get a lot of diseases that would make them really sick. But now we get shots and people don't get sick and die."

Jojo is sinking back in the chair as I talk, his shoulders scrunching up higher and higher. I don't stop because this child does better with information. He needs to prepare.

"It will hurt for a minute, like a pinch, and then it won't hurt so much."

Then we wait. After another few minutes, about the time that I'm thinking that I told Jojo too soon, and he's just getting more and more anxious, two nurses come in. They explain that he can only get two shots.

"Isn't that great?" I say. "Only two shots! Lucky boy!"

Jojo's shoulders scrunch higher. I can't see his neck anymore.

I put him up on the table, and the nurses stand on each side of him, preparing to do both at once. I hold his little hands in mine and he lays back on the pillow when the nurse asks him to.

"One, two, three." The syringes go into his arms, his eyes are quick and wide with fear. Not a sound escapes him. His little fingers are warm and limp in mine.

The nurses put on his bandaids and leave, and I pick him up. He's been so brave. He didn't even cry.

I sit in the chair and hold him, and pressing his head against my shoulder. I tell him I'm sorry it hurt. I'm sorry we had to do that.

And he cries. Not loud, not a lot, but the tears come.

When I stand up and set him on his feet a minute later, the wounded look is gone. We go to the desk on the way out, and he doesn't want the nurses to talk to him, but by the time I've checked out, he's willing to give a high five to one and let them see his Matchbox car. He's okay.

Can I work in a writing lesson? Why yes, I think I will.

Querying stinks. Most of us get rejection after rejection. I stopped crying about rejections a while ago. Rejection was expected. Rejection was not a surprise.

I send out letters hoping for the best, but wheneever I open an email from an agent now, I am telling myself not to expect too much. It's a rejection, it's a rejection...and then when it is, I'm not as disappointed. And if it's a request, then I'm happily surprised, right?

Kind of.

Last week it hit me how hard this is, how tired I am of being good but not good enough. I cried for all the rejections I'd been so brave about. And the thoughts started churning.

Why am I even putting myself through this? What's the point? Why not just write for myself and forget being published?

I'm trying to find that magical mental state where I'm motivated to work hard, but not stressed about how the end result will be received. Having some beta readers in the wings helps a little, but I'm feeling kind of paralyzed right now. Still working, but it's hard. There's a lot of resistance and fear going on.

But I've realized that if I don't allow myself to hope, then a lot of the joy of writing gets shut down as well. I can't feel deeply about my writing without being open to the pain of rejection also.

It's a price I'm willing to pay.

How do you deal? Any tips? Head games to recommend? ;)
Have a great day and happy writing!

Glutton for Punishment?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Goliath is book three in the Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld, and it's one of the most engaging, widely appealing books I've read, ever. In many ways it rivals Harry Potter, including the wonderful characters and the delightful world creation. I have never wanted to sail on a stinky, bilious whale as dearly as I did at the end of Goliath.

Alek is the heir to the Austrian throne, on the run since the night his parents were murdered and WWI began. Deryn is a girl masquerading as Dylan Sharp, midshipman on the Leviathan, the finest hydrogen-breathing, floating-whale airship in the sky. When Alek helped the ailing airship in book 1, it started a collaboration between two young people determined to do their parts to stop the terrible war, whether by using Clanker technology or Darwinist fabrications. They've fought battle together over land and sea, ice and blasted forest, and by book three, they're something more than best friends.

But Alek still doesn't know that Dylan is Deryn, or that through all of their adventures, Deryn has fallen in love. All Alek sees is the kind of friend he's always wanted- a capable, friendly chap that everyone trusts with their secrets. Together they must try to stop the war and secure Alek's position as heir, but Deryn's secret threatens to destroy their friendship and the future of their world.

At his workshop, David Farland suggested that authors include a broad range of ages and both sexes to appeal to a wider audience, and Westerfeld does this brilliantly. It's hard for me to think of anyone I know who reads fiction that wouldn't enjoy these books and be able to identify with the characters. (His Uglies Series, on the other hand, was targeted almost entirely at teens. Which is okay, but if you're looking for a good book with wide appeal, or want to see how to do it, read these books.) 

The romance element is conveyed through tender feelings of respect and hope, nothing out of place. There is a kissing scene, nicely done, and I wouldn't have any problem letting my 8 yo read it. Some discussions on powerful, city-destroying weapons and the pros and cons of using them as well, making this recommended reading for future world leaders. And there's a war on, so expect some fighting and some death. My 10 yo has read the whole series, and he loved it, but he loves everything, so take that for what it's worth!

Goliath comes out September 20th, so look for it soon. Thanks to Around the World ARC tours for the opportunity to review this book.

Any other Leviathan fans out there? Thoughts? Happy Reading!
Glutton for Punishment?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Favorite Summer Reads, Pt I

#1- The Boneshaker by Kate Milford

Natalie, an exceptionally curious and bright young woman, loves her mother's stories, especially if they feature Old Tom Guyot at the Crossroads getting the better of the devil on his guitar. But the stories turn out to have more than a little truth to them.

When Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show comes to Natalie's small town in Missouri, Natalie is drawn to find out how Dr. Limberleg's mechanical uncanny automatons work. After all, her dad, a famed (at least to Natalie) bicycle mechanic and tinkerer, has taught her that perpetual motion machines are inconsistent with the laws of nature.

But as Natalie learns more about Dr. Limberleg and his assistants, the Paragons of Science, the more unntural he seems, and the whole town seems not to notice. Worse, her mother has fallen ill, and no one can say exactly what's wrong. Dr. Limberleg promises to effect a cure, but at what cost?

Okay, first thing that drew me in was the cover. Amazing, isn't it? I dream of having a cover this fascinating- the flaming hair and spectacles and Natalie racing away on her bike at the top.

Strangely, the writing didn't disappoint! My husband and 10 yo son read it and loved it also. Which means the library is after us! Gotta go! I'll definitely be watching for Milford's next book! And she has some great literature/sci-fi&fantasy book pairings in her most recent blog post here. Happy reading!
Glutton for Punishment?