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This Week's Topic:
What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

1. The Problem Child

2. Weird Names That I Would Totally Give My Children Even Though The Other Parents Would Raise An Eyebrow

3. The Scary Manipulative Dude Who Seduces You Despite Your Better Judgment

4. Abandoned Places That May or May Not Be Haunted

5. Motorcycles / Dirtbikes / Other Dangerous Forms of Transportation

6. Animals That Wouldn't Be Scary in Normal Situations But Are Made Scary By Mutations or Curses or Creepy Campfire Stories

7. Alternating POVs

8. Relationships with Illegal Boys, with Dead Boys, with Cursed Boys, with Emotionally Damaged Boys... basically I just like Really Messy Relationships and Really Messy Dudes.

9. Lots of Blinking, Staring, Peering, Gazing, Raising of Eyebrows, and Widening of Eyes. (I'm working on this one.)



Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
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So, in the absence of any inspiration whatsoever, I took a trip to Dead Horse.

Well. Sort of.


 

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Step 1: Daydream all day at work, plotting backstory and conversations between characters and intense scenes of intensity.

Step 2: Skip all the way home with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that the words will come.

Step 3: Power up the computer.

Step 4: Open document.

Step 5: Fight rising panic and the painful screams of the inner editor.

Step 6: Slap the inner editor and repeat mantra: "It'll be okay. We can do this. It'll be okay."

Step 7: Make tea.

Step 8: Decide tea is not strong enough. Grab a beer.

Step 9: Put on some mood music to get in the mood.

Step 10: Call up writer friends just to make sure that intense scene of intensity will fit with the rest of the story.

Step 11: Nervously eyeball document again. Type a few sentences.

Step 12: Erase a few sentences.

Step 13: Save document. Finish beer. Decide to try again tomorrow.
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Share some images that inspire your WIP(s). We've done this topic before, but it's been quite a while, and pictures are always fun.


True that.

A random sampling of my Inspirational Pictures folder (yes, I actually have one of those):





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This is a tough one for me, because I've been gobbling up so many wonderful books since classes ended for the summer. And even though it might not be the *best* book I've read so far, there is one novel in particular that I can't seem to get out of my head.


Tangerine is one of those boy books that everybody swears doesn't exist. It's got a strong voice and strong characters and several  subplots that tie together beautifully in the end. This book is beyond believable, but the setting holds just a touch of magic, a little bit of gothic horror that gives the book a surreal flavor despite its contemporary plot. Definitely a great debut from this author.



Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

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In honor of the release of Kirsten Hubbard's debut LIKE MANDARIN, YA Highway is putting themselves into Grace's shoes for a while. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin...but what about the rest of us?

To answer this topic, I'm going to have to take you back in time with a series of embarrassing melodramatic flashbacks. Ready, set...

FLASH.

It's 2004, and I step into a public high school for the first time. After five years of private schooling and three years of home schooling, even our town's tiny high school seems overwhelming. I'm wearing something that I feel is stylish, even though I have no concept of style as the world defines it. My heart is pounding so loud that I'm sure everyone can hear it, just as I'm sure everyone can see my sweaty pits and shaking hands. But as it turns out, no one sees me at all. I spend most of the day sitting alone, staying quiet, and feeling invisible.

FLASH.

The next four years are spent wrestling with the desire to be noticed and the desire to remain in the background. Sure, I make friends. Sure, every now and then I go with my gut and give that speech/presentation/monologue that is risky and controversial and puts me in the spotlight for a few minutes. But even after I graduate, I still struggle with these two people living inside me. Do I want to be seen, or do I want to be invisible?

So...who did I idolize in high school? Who was the person for whom I would have sold my soul in exchange for friendship?

I'm not sure if there was one individual, but I do remember being in awe of those girls who were effortlessly graceful; who knew who they were but didn't have to flaunt it; who could wear baggy boys' jeans one day and a feathery lace dress the next. They didn't fit a label or a mold - they created their own. They just WERE, and somehow it was enough.

When I got into college, I started experimenting with this new, label-less way of living. I tried to stop thinking of myself as someone who had to either disappear or revel in the spotlight. I let myself be occasionally loud and goofy and outrageous; I let myself take two days to write and read and be alone.

And now, when I look back on my scared skinny fourteen-year-old self, I'm startled to realize that the person that girl probably would have idolized in high school...is me.

Not that I'm perfect. Not that I see myself as a role model for fourteen-year-old girls everywhere. But as far as learning to be comfortable in my own skin, I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.

Took me long enough.
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1. I don't hate you. Really. There may come a time when I will disagree with your opinions, politics, lifestyle, or choices...but that doesn't mean I hate you. I promise.

2. I don't judge you, either. I'm not a deity, so the job of passing judgment is outside of my jurisdiction.

3. I believe in God, and Jesus, and salvation and grace and hope and Heaven and all that stuff. That doesn't mean I want to kill you or imprison you or beat you because you don't believe the same way.

4. I will probably teach my children these things I believe - although, of course, I want they develop opinions of their own. But just because I raise my kids in way that encourages them to vote for/against things that you might believe, that doesn't mean I'm teaching them to hate you. In fact, I will feel like a failure as a parent and a person if they grow up to hate you.

5. There are a lot of things I don't get - about life, and love, and health care, and the social unrest in the Middle East, and what makes a good person, and how far is too far, and what is not far enough. I'm only human. I believe what I believe for good reason, but some of it is simply outside the realm of my limited understanding.

6. There are people out there who claim to know God, and they do horrible things in His name. I am not those people. Please don't judge me for their actions. And please don't judge Him, either, because from what I understand about Jesus, I'm pretty sure He's not happy about the cruelty and hypocrisy that exists among those who call themselves His followers.

7. Above all else, please know this: I love you. I love you because you are a human being, and, according to what I believe, you are the flesh-and-blood reflection of God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are my brother, sister, friend, cousin, teacher, lover. You were molded from the same dirt that I was, and no matter your beliefs or your opinions or your lifestyle or your political ideologies, I love you

I love you

I LOVE YOU.

(i love you.)
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So I've run into this problem with my manuscript. Usually when I write, I become blocked when I don't have enough information or I don't fully understand the themes or the characters. But right now, the opposite is true - I have too much of everything.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of research: reading books about the setting of my novel, collecting articles, surfing the Web, and last weekend I even visited the mountains where the book takes place. I talked to the people who lived there. I wandered the cemeteries and read the gravestones. I visited memorials, the sites of reported hauntings, hangings, and massacres.

And do you know what I learned?

Too much.

I met people whose lives were far more fascinating than anything I could write. I saw places far more beautiful than words could ever describe. I felt the vastness of a country that could never be captured in fiction. And it was all just so overwhelming and beautiful and surreal that I felt writer's block hurtling toward me in a new, scary way. I have themes. I have plots. I have history and legends and personal accounts of growing up in the southwest.

But I'm afraid I can never do it justice.

Do you ever have this problem? Do you ever feel that your characters/setting/plot might just be too much for you to handle?
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This week's topic: If you could live within the universe of one book, which would you choose?

This one is almost too easy. The answer has been the same since I was ten years old.










i can haz adventures in pretty narnia ship pleez?








*Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
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When it comes down to it, we're all narcissists to an extent. If you're reading this blog, you probably have a blog of your own. Which means you created a website so that you could talk about yourself. Which means that at least some part of you is an arrogant SOB.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's okay to talk about yourself, to share your interests and hobbies. But the problem with the internet is that it gives us an excuse to never. Shut. Up. Twitter and Facebook and blogging and tumblr - all of these mediums offer new and exciting ways to brag about your new WIP and your dog and your word count for the day and your house and your kids.

That's...not really okay. Not when you're trying to use these mediums as networking opportunities, anyway.

The problem with being a narcissist on the internet is that, at a certain point, no one cares anymore. Not everyone can relate to your stories about your dog, your kids, or your job. Not everyone wants to hear about your epic YA fantasy ALL THE TIME. When you only talk about yourself, you're not networking; you're isolating.

Blogging follows the same rule as real life conversation - ask questions. Find out what interests other people. If you're discussing something on your blog, try to make it relatable to everyone. If you're sharing a story about your own life, open yourself to your readers. Ask them what crazy antics their kids are up to, whether or not their dog has ever chewed up the blinds. Ultimately, networking is about connecting with others in your field; it's not your own personal stage.

How do you guys keep your blogs relevant instead of narcissistic?
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