Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year in Review and 2011 Resolutions.

I had a really great 2010 horoscope, which led me to believe that it would be an AMAZING year. I really need to lay off the astrology.

But seriously, while I wouldn't call 2010 amazing, I would call it eventful. Here's what's happened, some good, some bad:

Completed second novel: WHERE CURRENTS PULL
Completed first draft of third novel: ABOVE THE WAVES
Completed first (very rough) draft of fourth novel: LET IT POUR
Read a crap ton of books (I made a list on another post)
Started a new job
Went down one size
Lost my grandma
Saw the following bands live: Sleeping At Last, The Appleseed Cast, David Bazan, the Joe Di Zillo Band, Rogue Wave, AM Taxi, Richard Edwards (Margot & the Nuclear So and So's), Rise Against!, Silversun Pickups, Local Natives, Neon Indian, Best Coast, St. Vincent, Pavement, Hot Hot Heat, Menomena, Suckers, Tu Fawning, Damien Jurado, Shearwater
Created an office/play space in the spiderzone, I mean basement

Along the way, I ignored some laundry, made more guacamole than most people will in a lifetime, continued a love-affair with Cheetos, loved-up silly three kids, and danced in front of open windows.

My resolutions for 2011 are simple:
Begin and complete my fifth novel (what will be the last Skipping Seven story)
Complete edits/revisions on the three unpolished WIPs
Go to as many shows as I reasonably can

Listening to: The Jealous Sound "Got Friends" EP


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

End of the year, end of the decade.

My friends are all compiling our top ten favorite albums of the last decade. Here's my list in no particular order:

Florence + The Machine "Lungs"
The Fire Theft "The Fire Theft"
The Jealous Sound "Kill Them With Kindness"
Silversun Pickups "Swoon"
Bright Eyes "Cassadaga"
Death Cab For Cutie "Transatlanticism"
Local Natives "Gorilla Manor"
Margot & the Nuclear So and So's "Not Animal"
Mates of State "Re-Arrange Us"
Elliot Smith "Figure 8"

Every album on this list has been chosen because it so captured my attention, I listened to it on repeat for a month or more.

Have you made a top ten? I'd love to hear what made your list.

xo. kb.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Magical moments.

I was reading GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray yesterday, and one of her lines jumped out at me and caused me to gasp. "I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing, so I stopped talking." I'm not sure if Ms. Bray had one of those moments while writing that line that caused her to stop and sigh and appreciate that she'd just written a gem, but jeez it resonated with me.

This happens to me all the time while reading, and this is why I prefer to buy books rather than check them out of the library. Because I need to highlight. Like the time I freaked out while reading NUMB by Sean Ferrell and nearly highlighted twice before catching myself. (I noted the pages 137 and 164, but didn't write down the quotes and I'll continue to be angry with myself until I buy the damned book.)

This happens to me with music as well. Sometimes I'll be listening to a song, liking it, when a part makes me shiver and my stomach drops and my eyes go wide. Because I'm me, I made a list. (Those of you who ever read my blog on myspace have seen this list before- sorry for the repeat.)

Jane's Addiction- I could probably note a bunch. Here are the two that come to mind immediately. Ocean Size. That moment right after Perry yells, "3, 4" and the music starts like an explosion. It's so good (and when I said good my shoulders kind of scrunched in and I shiver). Also Then She Did. The last verse. "Will you say hello to my mom?" and the rest. Oh, I want to cry.

Indigo Girls- Virginia Woolf. The line, "And so it was for you, when the river eclipsed your life." When Emily sings that part her voice gets really intense. Lord, she writes beautiful songs. The next line, the melody isn't as moving, but the lyric is. "And sent your soul like a message in a bottle to me, and it was my rebirth."

The Fire Theft- Chain. The song is great, but the part I freak out about is where Jeremy sings, "I'm amazed..." the rest of the line is "I see the world in revolution" just so you know which "I'm amazed" I'm talking about.

The Jealous Sound- Hope For Us. The line "Kiss me on the mouth." Okay. Confession: I thought for the longest time that Blair said, "Kiss me open mouth" and that was about the sexiest thing I'd ever heard a man sing. Even still, if he ever came over and said that to me I would totally kiss him on the mouth. Open mouth. For sure. Just for singing that line. Damn.

Faith No More- Midlife Crisis. The end when it becomes chaotic and there are the three vocal lines all on top of each other. Oh my God.

Jeff Buckley- Grace. Why are almost all of these moments at the end of songs? Anyway, at the end where he goes up for that high note. He's just singing, "Oh." Who needs words when a man can reach that note and then hold it for, like, a million years?

Schubert- Mass in G Major. I sang this in high school twice, best my freshman year. The mass itself is lovely, but my favorite part is the Credo and, in particular, the crucifixion. You don't need to understand Latin to feel the sadness and anger in this moment and it's totally moving.

Bright Eyes- Bowl of Oranges. The entire song. Really. Listen to it.

So how about you guys? Are there any magical moments you've read or listened to that punched you in the gut in a really wonderful way?

xo. kb.

When the ending feels wrong but is right.

It has been one hideous week, but I have finished the first draft of LET IT POUR. I will tell you this- I didn't think I would be able to do it. It's one of those, you know where the book should go, but you don't want it to go there. So I fought and fought with myself and tried to think of a way out of it. I agonized on the elliptical. Fretted on my run. Folded clothes with a face of pure concentration, and my head anywhere but at work. Actually felt movement in my skull, the turning of heavy gears. But when your lyric inspiration is, "Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone" then, really, there's only one place to go. So I wrote the end that belonged with this book and I love and hate it.

Here's the thing, though. That's life. For real. It's not happy endings or even sad endings or even endings at all. It goes on. And I know that's not always the point of fiction (I've said this before), but it's the point of my writing. We have ups and downs and they can crush us or we can handle them and move forward. Even when we hate our path. I like to see that my MCs can stand tall. It proves to me that I can too.

I'm not sure if that makes me less marketable, but I'm pretty sure it means I'll never be welcomed into RWA. Well boo. I really wanted to go to that conference in NYC.

Listening to: Foals- Daytrotter Sessions
BTW- If you aren't familiar with Daytrotter, do yourself a favor and check it out. Amazing artists, amazing music, amazing concept. Also, the app is free for the iPhone.

All the best,
David Bowie

(Just kidding. It's really an xo. kb. But I saw that on the horrible, can't-even-call-it-a-film, BANDSLAM and thought it hilarious.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Lessons learned.

Oh NaNoWriMo! You are over now. It was a busy and exhausting month, and here I am- left with an unfinished and highly unpolished manuscript, and a filthy house. Negatives aside, I am grateful for the experience. Here is why:

I wrote an entire first draft in one month.
My first drafts usually take me six months. They are large (between 90-120K)and generally require extensive editing. By that I mean cutting and shaping. My outtakes file for my other three stories is as large as an average manuscript. LET IT POUR stands at 60K right now and could use some filling and detail, but the story is all there. The hard part is done and it took me 25 days.

Planning is my friend.
I go into a new work with an idea and let it flow. This is how I've always written. This one was different. I dove into writing with an idea for each chapter. While it wasn't extremely detailed, it did give me focus. I knew as I wrote what I needed to resolve, what I needed to explore, or foreshadow. This kept me in line and kept me from straying from topic. The result is a very specific story.

I have proven to myself that I can complete a challenge.
I never thought for a moment that I wouldn't 'win' NaNo. I don't ever enter anything that I don't believe I will win. This is why I don't do College Basketball brackets (anymore) and have no desire to go to Vegas. This is why I fold if I know I don't have a chance in poker, conversely why you should fold if I say "I'm in." I knew I would accomplish the 50K goal. But I was concerned that I would hit my 2K daily stretch goal. I set the goal to see if I could achieve more than what was expected of me. And I did. This is an amazing confidence-builder for me. I have learned that a challenge isn't an obstacle for me, and that dedication and hard work will bring results. (Remind me that I said this when I start querying again, btw.)

I have added to my Skipping Seven stories (or what Tim Lotesto called the Aqua Trilogy).
I didn't think I would. I thought this novel would be a rebound for me- a chance to work on a project outside that realm and break away from it. Instead I found that there were more characters for me explore. I'm happy about this. I love that there's a community and relationships that I've created, and I can continue them. I've always hated finishing a book and walking away from characters I love. Now I don't have to. (Side note: I wrote a scene two nights ago with all four MCs at a party together. While it split my brain to have to get into all their heads to write their conversation, it was an amazing experience.)

I have a new musical love.
Jessica (@coffeelvnmom), if I stop listening to Florence & The Machine any time soon, it will be a miracle. But I'm sure my family and friends will appreciate the break from my Jeremy Enigk obsession.

I know that a Mom Strike will never work for my benefit.
I told everyone that I was taking November off to write. Okay, not really off, because I still cooked and worked and did laundry, but I wasn't going out of my way to ensure that the house was beautiful or making any fantastic dinners/desserts. I kind of thought that the folks at home would pick up the slack a little. Didn't happen. Never before have so many chicken nuggets and bowls of cereal been eaten in my house. Dust an inch thick laced all counters. The pile of laundry grew to epic heights. Seriously. My kids had to pack a water bottle and a snack just to get in there and find a pair of clean pants for school. And I won't even discuss the state of the bathroom. You just don't want to know. The positive take-away from this is that I know my kids don't mind filth, and I learned this when I couldn't care less myself. I have saved myself the stress of having to learn this when trying to teach them a lesson about over-working and under-appreciating their mother.

Listening to: Guess.

xo. kb.