Lights All Around

I am so, so grateful to be a writer, but I so wish that I were gifted at the visual arts.  I love looking at beautiful images; in fact, I kind of collect them.  For years, I subscribed to ARTNews magazine, and I’d go through each issue with a pair of scissors, cutting out all my favorites.  Quite a lot of them made it into the collages that now grace my apartment walls.  I spend a fair amount of time (more than I probably should) selecting the right image for each of my blog posts.

A few weeks ago, I went a little crazy searching for images of lights (well, mostly lights).  For your viewing pleasure (but mostly for mine), I present them to you here:








Beautiful, yes?  I wish I could take pictures or paint or draw or sculpt.  But I create images with words, and I love that even more!

The Indian Mosquito by TJ Martinson

One of my favorite posts on Crux so far!

Crux Literary Journal

My feet were raw, chafed from the acidic lye I had been tap-dancing on for the better part of an hour, sweat staining my bandana like a Rorschach handprint, half-mindedly stomping on a bed of soaked sheets and articles of clothing, strewn through the soapy water like remnants of a shipwreck, breaching the water’s surface. The soiled linens under my feet were promptly taken from the washing station, stepped on in order to loosen the water from its tenacious clinging to the fibers, and then taken to the roof to dry under the watch of the omniscient, Indian sun.

Someone was singing a song in Spanish on the rooftop, their face pointed East, their voice travelling omni-directional. From their pursed lips came some ancient tune that not even the Spanish speakers could identify as their language—just the melody being strung out in lazy fricatives and disallowed assonance, blending with the…

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How to Care for the Obsessive-Compulsive in Your Life

hugMy friend Amy recently requested that I write a blog post about how to care for an obsessive-compulsive friend or family member.  I thought it was a great idea!  Here’s my best advice:

1. Get them into treatment.

The best, most important thing that you can do for the obsessive-compulsive in your life is to do whatever it takes to get them into a treatment program.  OCD is treatable with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy.  Don’t balk at the cost or make them feel guilty about it.  A co-pay in exchange for their freedom and joy?  Throw yourself 100% into the task of getting your beloved OC psyched about therapy.  Read success stories online and share them.  Educate yourself.

2. Find out their compulsions and don’t aid them.

Ask your OC what his or her compulsions are.  Ask again after they’ve started ERP.  And then steer clear of enabling those compulsions.  This is difficult to do, especially if one of their compulsions is seeking reassurance.  With all your heart, you are desperately going to want to reassure them that X won’t happen, or that Y is okay, or that Z won’t end badly.  Don’t do it.  Doing so is siding with OCD against your loved one.  To side with them, you have to stand strong against OCD and not enable their compulsions.  It’s okay to say, “I don’t answer OCD’s questions” or “we can’t know that” or “I’m not going to aid your compulsions.”  Set up a standard answer with your OC ahead of time and then stay strong.

3. Find out their exposures and help them practice.

Ask your OC what their exposures look like and– if possible– help them practice.  Keep your eyes open for opportunities for your OC to practice their exposures, and encourage them to do so.  Stay in the room if they need you to.  Hold them afterward while they cry.  Continue to starve the enabling bug inside of you!

4. Be a cheerleader.

Encourage, encourage, encourage!  Think and speak positively.  Stay excited about ERP, even when your OC feels like a failure.  Don’t let them entertain the thought of giving up.  Remind them of all the ERP success stories.  Believe that hope and health are just around the corner.  Remind them that freedom is so close and so worth it.

5. If you’re the kind of person who prays, pray hard.

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

tbr5Reading contemporary YA books can be a struggle for me, since that’s my genre– it’s my favorite, but I compare it to my own writing so much that sometimes it’s actually hard to read.  (Hence why I cried for two reasons while reading The Fault in Our Stars.)  

Golden is the story of Parker Frost, a high school senior who never takes chances.  Everything she does is dictated by what her mother wants and what people expect of her.  But when a decade-old journal falls into her hands which sheds light on a town mystery (the mysterious car crash of Julianna and Shane, the town’s former golden couple), Parker might need to step out of her shell.

This book had so many great elements to it– a story within a story, plenty of poetry, a cute boy, a mystery.  And yet it fell a little flat for me.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I found myself frustrated with how pokey Parker was (and that is coming from me, who is definitely a goody-two-shoes), and I felt confused over Parker’s relationship with her best friend Kat.  I guess, ultimately, the problem for me was that I didn’t feel that I truly got to know the characters, and characters are probably the #1 most important part of a story (for me).

Should you read it?  If you’re into contemp, then yes, go for it.  It’s a quick read, and I’m glad I read it.  It’s given me lots of ideas for my WIP.  If it’s not your genre, skip it.  

I need more contemporary YA to read.  Any suggestions?

My First Draft Disclaimer/ Declaration/ Manifesto

I am going to write an absolutely terrible first draft, and I’m not going to apologize for it.

The characters will be inconsistent, the exposition will be bare-faced, the details will be absent, and the climax will be boring.

I won’t care.

I will neglect the setting.  I will force the dialogue.  I will let the characters do whatever the hell they want.

It doesn’t matter.

I will use cliches.  I will info-dump.  I will rely on stereotypes.

It’s all right.

Because it’s a first draft.

All that matters is that I put words onto pages.  Every day.  Bad ones.  Lots of adverbs.  And the word nice.  The phrase “nicely nice.”  All of it in passive tense.

I will be kind to myself and to my first draft.  I will let it get its way.  I will baby it and baby myself.

But you’d better believe that once I have this first draft done, I will wring it out and make it surrender.  

write your book

And, now, for your viewing pleasure, my Second Draft Manifesto.

Doubting Myself

Do I really want to start grad school in January?

Am I just scared, or is it not what I want?

If I start, I want to finish.  But what about all the LIFE that happens in the course of two years that might tempt me to stop?

Do I have the time?  (Maybe.)  Do I have the money?  (No.)  Do I have the creativity? (I’m not sure.)

Do I have the drive?  (I think.)

self doubt

Best of the Web: Jackie’s Picks, Part III

bestofthewebThe latest and greatest stuff I have seen and heard online lately:

25 Things You Should Know about Young Adult Fiction by Chuck Wendig Hilarious and acerbic and very, VERY insightful look at YA!

My Take: How Churches Can Respond to Mental Illness by Ed Stetzer | Loved this clear outline of ways that Christ’s body can care for its hurting members!

Epilogue by Brienna Rossiter | Lovely poem, lovely girl.

Seven Literary Quotations We Suggest You Memorize by Josh Sorokach | This was published on the Barnes & Noble blog, and I thought it was hilarious, wannabe pretentious, and potentially useful!

My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler | This is the BEST Pinterest board I’ve ever seen.  It’s absolutely hilarious!!  The best part is the writing.

The Danger of Doubt by Fletcher Wortmann | Just a very well-written article about OCD.

How Much Should You Pay for a Freelance Novel Editor? by Ellen Brock | A fascinating breakdown how much your money will get you.

The Science Delusion | This banned TED Talk was astonishing– and gave me comfort, in an odd, ironic way.  No one really knows anything. 🙂

Amplifying Motion in Videos … | This video blew my mind.  Technology AMAZES me.  We can now see the invisible.

Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate | Incredible bike trick video– and wildly original!

And just for fun …

Basic Needs: Extreme Happiness | So, basically this man was on Day 86 of an expedition to/from the South Pole, and he reaches one of his caches but doesn’t remember what food he left for himself there.  Check out the sheer joy when he sees what is there.  Watch all the way to the end for the Hallelujah chorus!