Monday, August 30, 2010

So I bought him a PBR

I went to Andersonville last night, to a hole in the wall bar called Simon's Tavern, to see Jason Narducy play. After his set, Telekinesis played (Jason's touring, playing bass). How cool is that? Their tour opens tomorrow in St. Louis, so this was a super sneak preview. They played well. I like it when the band interacts with the audience, and they talked with us between every song. We watched the Emmys and the news together. How fun!

Not fun was the dude sitting next to me at the bar before the band came on. As soon as I sat down, I heard him asking the bartender, "When does the band go on? How long do we have to wait? I thought they said 9." It was 915. Not a big deal, yo. Calm down. But whatever. Then he noticed the TV. "What is this? Some kind of award show?" The bartender replied, yes, the Emmys. "What's that? An award show for TV? What's TV? TV fucking sucks. Who even watches that shit anyway?" (I'm not exaggerating on the swearing.)

Okay. I am not specifically a TV watcher, but it's not because I hate TV or feel above it. I'm just otherwise busy. Believe me, I make time for Avatar: The Last Airbender and Chuck. But I could see that this guy was going the snob route. I tuned in with a curled lip.

"Oh, just look at all the white people. An entire room of well-dressed white people." He was shouting now, so I turned to get a look at him. Oh. A white guy. With a button down and a pair of nice pants. And Toms.

What an affected tool.

Listening to: The Darkness "Permission To Land"


Thursday, August 26, 2010

It came upon a midnight run. Okay, not midnight, but it was dark.

My best ideas always come to me when I'm right about to fall asleep or when I'm exercising (more often when I elliptical or walk than when I run). Kind of inconvenient, since I love sleeping and I never have a pen on me when I workout, but what do you do? I never turn away a good idea.

So good idea tonight came while running. Yes, I run at night. I've tried to run during the day, but the sun seems to sap my energy and I can never go as far. So tonight, after dinner, after putting the kids to bed, I went for my run. The weather's perfect right now- cool, low humidity- the air has just a hint of autumn in it (but I can still smell the aroma of sweetgrass, which is my favorite scent of all time and the only thing I really like about summer), and the moon was near full, casting enough light for me to see in front of myself.

My workout's been wonky since my back freaked out, so I was ultra pleased to find myself running with ease, with minimal pain and a lot of energy. It gave me the opportunity to think. I try not to focus my mind on anything when I'm running, and I tend to float from idea to idea. Tonight my brain was all in my book. I'm reading it through for the first time, and I have no idea if it's going to flow well. Oh, and make sense. That's a big one. Because it's not a plot-driven book, it's character-driven (they all are) and I hope I've done right by Amanda in telling her story.

Then, because my brain floats, I started thinking about Twitter. @Crzywritergrl had a tweet today asking writers when they bench a book or start over? I replied, because JUST A LITTLE RAIN has always been the story closest to my heart, and also the one I feel will be the hardest to sell. The reasons are simple. It's 150K and spans the MC's life from 16-30. Sure there's a 10 break in the middle, but that 10 year break also separates it into two books. Still, I love Eliza's story. And these three books I've written are a collection. They go together, and I want to keep them that way. So I'm always faced with the dilemma: how do I tell the story in a way that is publishable?

My answer came to me while running, and it's so simple, I can't believe I didn't see it before.

I've already written Eliza's story. I've already told the story I needed to tell for me. The details are all there, written down like a memoir, saved in a file and on several memory sticks. I got it out. Now I just need to shape her life into something people want to read. I need to simplify and give direction.

That, I can do. And I'm so freaking excited I can hardly stand it.

Listening to: St. Vincent "Actor"


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Capitol citizens.

I just finished reading MOCKINGJAY. Don't worry. No spoilers here. But I will be talking about THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy in concept for a moment.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the books, they take place in a future North America, destroyed by war. What's left is the country of Panem, consisting of twelve (thirteen) Districts that support the Capitol. The Districts are left impoverished, their fruits almost entirely used to support the excesses of the Capitol and its inhabitants. There's much more to the stories, but this is what I've been thinking about.

It's not a stretch to realize that author Suzanne Collins is drawing a link to our society, the Capitol a symbol for the United States, and the world around us the various Districts doing our bidding, every small rebellion an opportunity to prove our strength and might.

I think what's the most troubling to me, is the realization that I am a citizen of the Capitol. I am that person who has no idea what it's like to live in one of the Districts. My version of hardship is that I can't afford nicer clothes for my kids, that I can't enroll them in the elite gymnastics program our community offers, that I have to color my own hair instead of going to the salon. Right, there have been times where I had to pay the mortgage late, or every meal depended on my creativity and pantry items, but I always knew those were lean times and it would get better. I don't know what it's like to not have hope, to not trust that my hope has a foundation in truth.

It's so embarrassing, I have trouble feeling grateful.

I believe in sin. Not sin like lying, or adultery, or taking the Lord's name in vain, although I accept those to be bad. No, I believe that sin is those moments where you have clarity- when you see who you are in this world, the difference you could and should be making- but do nothing. Sin is the fear to be someone who makes a difference. Sin is the person who lives for the weekend, who plays the game of ignorance.

And I do. I know I do.

But I hope that I will, one day, have the courage to be something more.

Listening to: Nirvana "Unplugged"


Monday, August 23, 2010

"The End" is a bummer.

If it were up to me, every time I finish writing a book would look exactly like Romancing The Stone. Kathleen Turner's character drunkenly types up "THE END," finishes her bottle sobbing, celebrates by throwing her glass into the fire, then goes off on a crazy adventure in South America. I would gratefully accept sliding down a muddy hill, a nice romance, and a yacht in front of my house. I'd probably skip Michael Douglas. Swap in James Franco and I'm all in.

Okay. The point. The point is, it's a little anticlimactic to finish a book. You've written the big climax, you've resolved most of the character's struggles or problems, but it's still fresh in your mind like you're there. And of course, you've spent a great deal of time writing. Pouring your soul out onto the pages. Swept away with the story. And then what? When I finished JUST A LITTLE RAIN I printed it right away, then drove it to a friend in Algonquin to read. That was kind of fun, I guess, except that I handed it to her, then drove home. WHERE CURRENTS PULL ended and I made dinner. When I completed ABOVE THE WAVES on Friday, I made lunch for the kids then got ready for work.

Oooh! Exciting!

I know that finishing the first draft isn't the end. There are weeks of work, of reading and revising, ahead of me. And actually, I'm glad for that because I'm not ready to step away from the story. Not from any of them really (the three books are a collection) and I plan to edit the group (again) before querying. Still there is such a let down. Like coming home from summer camp. Like a hangover.

Funny. I've heard the best way to get rid of a hangover is to have another drink. I guess it's a little like that for authors as well. The best way to get over writing a book is to write another one.

...Now what to write about...

Listening to: my Conor Oberst Playlist. I love you Conor.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Story time.

This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Several years ago, I was invited to my friend EJ's bridal shower. It was held at one of her friend's house, in a neighborhood I'd been to before. My old church neighborhood. Down the street one way was my ex-boyfriend's house, the other way, the house we all used to hang out at. All the houses on this street are older, lived in houses. Not cookie-cutter, and not all big, but well-kept and lovely with flowering yards and adult trees.

I pulled up to the house, admired it, and went in. The party was already under way, and I'd missed the tour, but right on time for food. We ate on a porch out front, then did gifts. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom before dessert was laid out. I went inside and went straight to the bathroom, not needing directions. It wasn't until I walked out that I realized how strange it was that I knew where the bathroom was without asking. I stood there in the living room, sunken with an entire wall of books, and got that "been here before" feeling. I couldn't place it. Until I helped bring our dirty dishes to the kitchen and saw something strange. Right in the middle of the counter, there was a trivet-sized overlay of stainless steel.

"This is odd," I remarked to the host.

"Isn't it?" she responded. "I've always wondered why they put this here."

"It's covering a burn on the counter," I explained, suddenly realizing where I was.

Years before, this had been my friend Dig's house. One summer, I think we were all about twenty, his parents went on vacation and left him home. So obviously, we partied there that week. One night we were particularly loud. The cops came. They sat us all in the living room and talked while writing us tickets for underage consumption. They didn't confiscate the booze, however, just told us to keep it down, and then left. Best experience with the police ever, btw. Anyhoo, we proceeded to finish our drinks and were obnoxiously drunk. At one point, my friend Floyd decided he needed to make ramen. He opened the pack, poured it into a pan, added water, put it on the stove, turned on the burner, then went upstairs and passed out.

Floyd woke hours later, the house filled with smoke and everyone else sleeping, and remembered his soup. He ran down the stairs, turned off the burner and took the pot off the stove. The sink was full of dishes (like Dig was going to dishes while his parents were out of town...) so he set it down on the counter, not even thinking that it might burn.

I think Dig's parents were pretty inventive, covering the burn without replacing the entire counter top.

Oh. There was no point to that story. Just thought of it, is all.

And I finished my first draft a half hour ago.


Listening to: The Appleseed Cast "Lost Songs [EP]"

xo. kb.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things you can do while lying on your back.

My back went out on Friday. Impeccable timing, I think, that it would do such a thing when I'm inches away from finishing my first draft, and facing a drive to retrieve my kids from my aunt's house. And of course, the new job that I can't call in sick for.....

Maybe I should have seen it coming. I was sitting in an awful chair all last week, writing most hours in the day... then there was that telltale pain in my right hip... and of course I still had to run, because not running just because you're in pain is a horrible excuse... and the bed that looks something like a contact lens, but I sleep in anyway. I guess it was just a matter of time, but it doesn't make me any less irritated. It is very inconvenient.

So I've been spending most of this weekend lying on the floor in the living room. While this isn't the most productive position, and I'd prefer mobility, there are a number of things you can do while lying on your back.

1) Nap
2) Watch TV
3) Read a book (but not a newspaper, because the pages fall on your face)
4) Play guitar (I've learned almost all the songs on "It's A Shame About Ray")
5) Daydream about making out with your secret boyfriend (who's so secret he doesn't actually exist- no, it's not Peeta)
6) No, not that. The kids are home, remember?
7) Drink wine from a sippy cup
8) Brainstorm the colors you will redecorate the living room with once you can move again
9) Realize your poor housekeeping skills while looking under the couch (GROSS!)
10) Feel a lot of guilt for being so lame

Okay. Pain's coming back. Time for some more daydreaming...

Listening to: "I'll Be Lightning" by Liam Finn (surprised?)

xo. kb.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My favorites.

Since I'm always going on about music and the artists/songs that inspire me, I thought it might be fun to share my most favs with you. Check them out.

The Jealous Sound

Jeremy Enigk

Bright Eyes

Local Natives

Sometimes you just need to change your perspective.

The kids are away for the week, visiting my aunt. I've been looking forward to this since, well, since they came home from her house earlier this summer. It's not that I don't love my kids, but if you have them, you know it's difficult to get anything accomplished when they're around. And I'm an accomplisher girl. Play's fun and all, but I have all sorts of guilt that I'm not writing/cleaning/baking/reorganizing the garage. Yeah, I'm a Virgo. You guessed, right?

So I'm very excited to have a whole week, almost entirely uninterrupted (started new job Sunday, but still training), to write. As you all know, it's August already, and for those of you #write2theend-ers that means our deadline is quickly approaching. This means a lot of work for me, because my book, no matter how much I seem to write, seems to be stuck in the rut of being 2/3s complete.


It's a difficult book to write. My MC Amanda has a serious problem with depression, and, as I use the technique of "Method Writing," I have to get into her psyche when I write. The spot I'm in right now is that kind of depression where you feel exhausted, but can't sleep. Where you're hungry, but nothing sounds good. Where you have a lot to do, but can't seem to bring yourself to get any of it done. And I'm trying to write this. I'm dying.

I'm a huge fan of, if you can't see the solution, then look at the problem from a different direction. So I decided to try for a new approach. I decided to write the end. Okay, not the end end, but the scene before the last scene. I've actually had to do this with the two books before ATW, and it's always brought me clarity and helped propel me to the finish. Because it tells me exactly where I'm going, and I want to see how it unfolds.

Of course, deciding to write the end and actually writing it are two different things. I sat down a gazillion times with nothing, tried taking the dog for a walk, then a run, then a bath to clear my mind, all to no avail. I started to feel the disappointment. The irritation that I have a whole week at my disposal and will end with nothing to show for it. Then Monday night happened.

I read THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins last week. It's one of those books that sucks you in, and you find yourself at 2am and finished, then up again in the morning with it still in your mind. I guess I loved it a little. I was super excited to read CATCHING FIRE, the sequel, but told myself I'd wait until I finished my first draft. Well, with first draft stunted, I decided to go out and buy the book. I started reading as soon as I got home, curious to see how she would follow THG, and immediately thrilled to see that she followed it with absolute awesomeness. I took a brief break to watch the band MENOMENA on Jimmy Fallon (they killed btw), then went back to the book. I was finished by one and went right to my computer.

I suppose if/when my book is published, I should thank Suzanne Collins in the acknowledgments for helping me out. All this stuck in a rut of un-feeling was bogging me down. The emotional intensity between Peeta and Katniss, Katniss and Gale really inspired me to write the scene ATW needed. I put on my Jeremy Enigk playlist (my equivalent of duct tape music- good for anything I need), sat and wrote, barely noticing the clock (except at 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, and 4:44 so I could make wishes) until the scene was complete. Five pages later, at five o'clock in the morning it was done.

I went to bed, got three hours of sleep, then was up yesterday looking it over. I won't say it's perfect, but the meat is there. The best news, though, is that I'm now back into the book. Emotionally invested. I went back to my original file, and was able to write over a thousand words and move the story along. And I'm looking forward to what I'll accomplish today.

It's a good place.

Listening to: Local Natives "Gorilla Manor"

xo. kb.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I have synesthesia. While it sounds a bit like a disorder, it actually means that I see letters and numbers in color. Like A is red, B is a heathered purple, and C is yellow. 1 is white, 2 is gray, and 3 is green. Synesthesia is often genetic- my mom had it, my sister does as well, but we all vary on the colors we attach to each letter/number.

Each individual letter or number has its own distinct color, but words work differently for me. Generally speaking, a word is colored by its first letter. For instance, K is pink, A is red, T is green, and E is white. But Kate is a pink word. The only exception to this rule is the word "the." It should be green, but it's gray to me. A neutral color. Think of it as the jeans of colored words- yes, they're blue, but they go with everything. "The" is the same way.

I'm not sure if it's because I have synesthesia, but color is a huge deal to me, and I attach great significance to it. It comes majorly into play when I write. All my characters' first and last names have been carefully chosen so they match. Eliza Kane (white/pink), Sawyer Whelan (blue/deep purple), Natalie Addison (green/red), Chris MacGregor (yellow/blue), Amanda Scott (red/blue), Jeff Russell (yellow/red).

Blue is my favorite color of all time, my comfort color, and I tend to gravitate to all things blue. Like the letter S. Or water. One day I made a playlist of all the songs I had in my library that featured water. My aptly titled "Water Music" playlist. I have taken all my book titles from songs on this playlist, and even though the individual titles are not specifically blue (JUST A LITTLE RAIN is yellow, WHERE CURRENTS PULL is purple/blue, ABOVE THE WAVES is red) they all relate back to that color.

Weird, right?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In the thick and figuring it out.

I joined a group on Twitter. #write2theend. A bunch of us are committed to finishing our WIP by August 31. This was my original goal, but it's nice to have a common goal and a cheering section. It's also good to have that kind of accountability. While I don't have trouble with self-imposed deadlines, this SOLID GOAL has forced me to evaluate where exactly I am in the book and how much more I should be writing. Because, if allowed, I would write one story forever and ever (as you know if you've read the first few versions of JALR).

So I checked word count (something I never do) and ABOVE THE WAVES is about 2/3 complete. I need to keep the rest under 30K words. For me this is tough, wordy girl that I am. But okay. I sat down and committed to diving into the heart of the story. No more messing around. No more setting the tone. As Flight Of The Concords would say, "It's business time." And it's worked.

I'm into the book. Immersed. I am writing and writing, spilling guts and emotionally exhausting myself, crying along with my character, and generally absorbed in the story. It's the most fun.

It's also the most challenging.

It's challenging because this is the point where the book becomes itself, it takes on life. It's not always the life I had anticipated.

I am not an outline writer. I am not a synopsis first, query first writer. I know everyone says you should be. That it keeps you focused and on the path. Yeah, that's just not for me. I begin each book with a premise and a main character. Generally I have a good idea of the ending, just not the specifics. I write and allow it to unfold on its own.

It works for me. But it can be tough at times. Like now, for instance. I'm in the thick of the story and, surprise! One of my minor characters has blown up and become a huge deal in the life of my MC, Amanda. I didn't see it coming at all, but now that it's here, it's so right. The only thing is, now I have to figure out how to resolve his story in a way that makes sense for my ending. Because I know where that is, and he's not there.

I'm not worried. I have a couple options floating through my head and I'm taking a crap ton of notes. I'll figure this out. (Gah, and in less than 30K~ insert grimace here.) In the meantime, I have a steady diet of running, coffee, wine, music and naps. My poor kids have a steady diet of TV, mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets. The house is an unholy mess and something smells. I don't think it's me, but I won't bet against it.

Listening to: Knapsack "This Conversation Is Ending Starting Right Now"
~BTW, you are not allowed to tease me because I listen to the same things over and over~

xo. kb.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Followers! Holla!

Boy, am I excited to announce the winner of my First Follower Contest!!!!

Sara Best!!!

~I'm also excited to see that I actually have followers now. A little ego boost never hurt a girl.~

Sara, I'm making your CD this week, I just need a little info first. I'll email with the details.

Thanks to my three readers. You make me feel like a real girl.

xo. kb.