Life like a Rocket

An update on my life:

I’m reading again. I read two books this week and started a third. Loved Ruta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea (review) and Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers (review). I was lucky enough to get an ARC of my friend Addie Zierman’s new book, Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the DarkI’ve read the first couple chapters, which are brilliant. No surprise there. Addie’s writing knocks me off my feet every time.

My writing group is amazing. It was so good to get together with them this week and really hash out my POV concerns for Salt Novel. I feel really, really good about where we landed. Plus, they are so encouraging. To be honest, in the early stages of writing a novel, I think that’s probably my biggest need: to have people say, We’re interested. We like these characters. Keep going. 

I’m making some changes to my OCD meds. This is maybe a little surprising, since I’ve said before that I don’t like to rock the boat. Problem is, I had some blood work done and the little half-milligram of Risperdal I take each night is probably affecting me in such a way that I need to get off of it long-term. That part is fine to me. I feel like these days I’m using Risperdal more as a sleep aid than as an anti-psychotic. So I suggested to my psychiatrist that maybe I could trade Risperdal in for an actual sleep aid like Trazodone. He agreed. I really can’t sleep without Risperdal (see story below for case in point), but I also know from past experience that I’m suuuuuuuuuper sensitive to Trazodone. We’re working out the kinks. My primary care doctor also recommended that I start taking NAC, an amino acid that has been helpful for people with OCD. The next day, our OCD Twin Cities group was talking about NAC. Then I asked my psychiatrist, and he gave me the thumbs up too. I’ll keep you posted. The nice thing about NAC is that you can pick it up at any old vitamin store, no need for a prescription.

Sleep evades me. I’ve had some problems (read: lots) with sleep lately. I cannot sleep without Risperdal. But I also take 10 mg of melatonin, which is all-natural. Even then, I wake up throughout the night, and in the morning, I don’t feel well-rested. Last night, I gathered up my evening meds, and I thought I felt one pill fall on the floor. I got on my hands and knees looking for it, but couldn’t find anything so I went to bed. But I couldn’t fall asleep. I was restless. I was wakeful. I was up for long periods of time around 1, 2, and 3 am (at which point I started praying for my friends– sometimes when I can’t sleep I wonder if that’s why I’m up. Interestingly, one of my friends told me today that she was up at 3 am, fitful over some things going on. I was praying for her at the same time!). Finally, at 6 am, wide awake but soooo tired, I realized the pill that probably fell was my Risperdal. So I took Risperdal at 6 am and finally got some rest. YUCKO. Thank goodness it’s the weekend!

Except I have to work this weekend. This is historically the hardest couple of days of the year for me– President’s Day and the day before– because we have a wild and crazy large-group overnight event for prospective students on these days. As my personality has shifted into full-on introversion, it’s gotten harder and harder. Think of me.

It’s pretty darn cold in MN. We’ve had it easy so far this year for the most part, but in the last couple days, it’s been downright frigid.

I’m excited about my novel. I really am. I have so many ideas and so much hope. Sometimes all the ideas and all the hope kind of flood me and I get overwhelmed, so I remind myself to put my head down and to SHOW UP and put in the work. I have a really detailed word count spreadsheet, and I’m loving it. Theoretically, if I follow the spreadsheet, I will have a draft finished soon! It’s so good to be back on the island with these characters. They are lovely and cruel and have lots of sharp edges.

One last thing: Girl Scout cookies are destroying me.

How are you, friends? Please comment. I absolutely love hearing from you. Makes me feel less alone!

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A Fun Writing Update for My Blog Readers

My last update on the writing front was on June 5th, when I wrote:

I am in the middle of writing a short story.  It’s about four teenaged wards of the state living in hospice care.  Morbid much?  But I feel very invested in these thirteen pages, very passionate about these four friends who have no one but each other as their time is running out.  My writing group is helping me with the next draft, and I’m hoping to enter it into a contest before the month is over.

Then, on June 19th, I let you in on my writing process, specifically regarding the hospice care story, leaving a tiny P.S. at the end of the post:

P.S. I really did write Mack’s story about living and dying in hospice with other teenagers.  I’m submitting it to a contest this month, where I assume nothing will happen.  Once nothing happens, I’ll probably share it on my blog or over on Crux.

Well, guess what?

That short story– “Covered Up Our Names”– won the contest!  I’m so honored to be the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, a contest hosted by Hunger Mountain.

If you click here, you can even see their little write-up about me!  They called it a “powerful” story, and that fills my heart with deep gratitude.  The contest judge was Rebecca Stead, 2010 winner of the Newbery Medal.  I read her book “When You Reach Me” nearly one year ago and reviewed it on my blog, saying:

Brilliant!  I actually shouted aloud the moment that everything finally clicked into place for me– I was that excited.  Absolutely loved it.

writingI am thrilled that my story will be published in Hunger Mountain, and I’m so terribly grateful for the cash prize, but what makes the entire enterprise so special to me is that Rebecca Stead loved my story.

I’m honored and elated.

I want you all to read the story!  I imagine the rights will revert back to me after publication, so I’ll anticipate sharing it with you then.  Or you can purchase a copy of Hunger Mountain 18 for just $12.