Monday, April 30, 2012

[Media Monday] Black Is the Color

I've been editing Plague of Darkness again, and this song is a perfectly brilliant piece to listen to while working on the manuscript. It reminds me a lot of Teague. It's kind of wistful and lonely, yet with a steady backbeat and strong rhythm.

Oh, and can I just say that pan flute music is gorgeous?


- Hannah

Friday, April 27, 2012

Adoption, pt 1 - Speak up!

I am adopted.

It's no secret. Anybody that knows me will find out sooner or later. It's part of who I am, part of my story, part of what makes me, me.

I'm proud of it. I love my family--legal family and blood family--they are some of the greatest people in the world. So whenever I hear of adopted children not knowing, or not finding out until they are older (like in the movie October Baby), it makes me sad, angry, and worried.


We have a right to know. Non-adopted children know their birth stories. It's part of our story, and no matter what that part of our story is like, it's still ours.

My parents told me about my adoption from Day 1. I was about two days old when they brought me home, and my mom was terrified of telling me I was adopted. But she did anyway. Every day. By the time I was old enough to actually understand it, she had already told me so many times that she wasn't afraid anymore. I was her little girl and nothing was going to change that.

All four of my brothers are adopted as well, and all of them have known from the beginning too.

And you know what? We haven't had to deal with the shock of finding out for the first time when we're sixteen or eighteen. Haven't felt the betrayal that we'd been lied to (by omission or otherwise) for so many years. For our family, adoption is natural.

I'm often asked, "What is it like to be adopted?"

My best answer is, "What is it like to be a biological child?"

See, this is my normal. If you are an adoptive parent, or have any influence over adoptive parents, please, please, please tell the child/ask the parents to tell the child right away. The younger the better.

Movies like October Baby have the potential to paint adoption in a slightly muddied light because of the hurt and betrayal that the MC, Hannah, felt over her parents hiding an important part of her life from her. Don't get me wrong--I love that movie, and I understood exactly why Hannah reacted that way. I would have too! The thing is, if you've always known you are adopted, it's not like that.

While I'm not saying that all adopted children will handle this fact of their life as smoothly as my brothers and I have, please...don't hide it. We have a right to know.


- Hannah

Monday, April 23, 2012

[Media Monday] Spontaneous Me

About two days ago, a friend sent me a link to a video...then another. And then I clicked on another, and yet another. All by Lindsey Stirling, a very talented violinist/dancer. She has style! This is one of her videos--enjoy!

- Hannah

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On crunches and fiction

Lately I've been trying to get into a routine of daily excersice. Sitting here in my comfy chair, my muscles complaining a little over the crunches I did this evening and from pulling a push-mower up and down a fairly steep slope this afternoon, and me staring at the screen trying to write something got me to thinking...

Writing is a lot like working out.

It takes time. Just like there is no way I could bike five fast miles without working up to it, there's no way I can write a 100k word book and have it be any good without working up to it.

It takes patience. After two days of stretching tight leg muscles, I can't expect to do the splits. After two years of writing, I still wasn't writing anything over 40k words long.

It takes pain. I've encountered some sore muscles while some of my lesser-used muscles are adjusting to being worked more. Last fall, I decided I would be scrapping a half-completed manuscript that currently totaled 50k because it wasn't working well.
Let me tell you...that hurt. A lot.

So just like my current push-ups quite frankly stink, please don't be discouraged when your early writing attempts are less than you'd hoped for.
The important thing is that you are getting practice. You're developing your authorly muscles. Strengthening them. And the more you work them, the stronger they will get. The stronger they grow, the better your writing will become.

- Hannah

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Ways of This Writer

I am participating in Teens Can Write Too's blog chain. This month's writing prompt is, “What are your writers’ habits and eccentricities?”

Well, okay, then!

When I write, I like to be able to concentrate. Sometimes I will write in our living room, but my favorite writing-spot is the comfy little chair in my bedroom.

A lot of times I will turn some music on for background noise, or music to set a mood for whatever I'm writing.

I don't like writing on desktop computers. Laptops are much better.

When I'm brainstorming, I prefer a notebook and a pen. Like I once told my critique group (this is now a running joke between us...), "My brain works better on paper."

For some reason the feel of the pen in my hand and physically creating each letter helps my brainstorming juices flow, as well as the fact that I can't hit the Backspace key and forget whatever I wrote and disliked.

I like having something to drink when I'm writing. Coffee or tea is the best.

I love writing scenes that are highly emotional or that create an adreneline high, even though they can be incredibly difficult to actually write.

Scenes that can involve a lot of logistics and technological aspects, like Krav Maga fights or car chases, can be hard for me to portray clearly, and I often ask one of my many writer-friends who is knowledgeable in the area I'm struggling with to read the scene and let me know if I did my research well enough.

Depending on the topic, research can be one of my favorite things. Even though it has grossed me out before.
I wouldn't reccomend looking up Necrotizing Fasciitis images, however, and researching Medieval torture methods isn't for the faint of heart. Seriously, no, you really don't want to Google the first one. I was warned against it and that's why I did it, and I paid for it.

Word-wars are wonderful for my motivation. Whenever I hit a slump and the words just aren't flowing, setting up a word-war with one of my friends really helps to get me moving again.

And there you have writerly habits that aren't all that eccentric.

- Hannah

Brainstorm Image Credit
Soldier Image Credit

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of lists and questions

During a lull at work today, one of the ladies I work under asked about my new job, having overheard snippets of a previous conversation. She also asked how old I was, and what my plans were. And if I'd ever thought of starting my own business.

In the ensuing conversation while still on the topic of my new job (housecleaning) and in conjunction with talk of starting up my own business, she asked if it bothered me if my boss or the owner of one of the homes I was cleaning were to give me a list.

Lists? Offensive? No way!

I like lists. Unless I hate them--which isn't often unless I have a list that is way too long. I make lists for myself, for school, chores, packing when going on vaccation, writing goals, the books I have read, and the like.

Like I told the lady I was talking to, I would much rather be given a list than have to keep asking, "Okay, I finished this job; what should I do next?"

She said, "But that's a good thing. Asking what you can do next shows your employer that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing and working hard, instead of finishing one task and then standing around doing nothing."

So in life questions and lists are good.

They are in writing too.

But what is the balance between using lists--i.e., charts and outlines, etc.--and asking questions and just seeing where the story leads?

I really don't know. For me it seems to vary with each story I write, but I think I fall somewhere in the middle between die-hard outlining and die-hard "panstering".

What kinds of questions are the right kinds to ask?
Have you found it to be entirely subjective depending on the individual storyline, or are there a few classic questions that transcend genres?

I'm finding some of these answers for myself, but I'm curious to see what other people do in that area.

- Hannah

Photo Credit

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

[Review] The Giver

The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything is marked by Sameness, everyone is given an Assignment when they become a Twelve.
For Jonas, the looming Ceremony is nerve-wracking. What will his Assignment be?

Finally the day comes and the Assignment he is given is one he never dreamed of.

He is to be The Receiver. Now the rules have changed. He can't tell anybody what goes on during his training. He can ask any questions and expect an answer. He can even lie. But he can never, ever, request Release.

The Giver was a great book, my main fault with it being that it is much too short. The ending is bittersweet, leaving me wanting more.
Several times in the hour/hour and a half it took me to read the novella, I found myself tearing up, and I think I've gained a deeper appriciation for memories and colors, for emotions, for everything that separates the intricate, messy lives of people from the monotonous, humdrum life of an animal or, in the case of this book, people who paid the price of Sameness.

This book is also a warning, warning us what the cost of psudo-peace and safety can bring when we are willing to go so far as to let everything be regulated, everything the Same, when we give up the right to make Choices.

View all my reviews

- Hannah

Monday, April 2, 2012

[Media Monday] You Are More

Tenth Avenue North's beautiful song, You Are More. Such a great reminder that we have been REMADE!
(note: there may be an ad at the beginning of the video.)

- Hannah