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Friday, October 22, 2021

Nooooooooo! (by Patty Blount)

 Remember that old song from Kenny Rogers? You got to know when to fold 'em, when to walk away?

Yeah.

That's my writing career in a nutshell. I'm terrified my writing career is over. 

I haven't had a book release since 2018. I'm still writing, but the industry is just stalled and no one seems to know why. It just...is. 

Meanwhile, Netflix and Amazon are putting any damn thing on TV and I'm over here, waving my arms like a windmill screaming, "I HAVE STORIES FOR YOU!" 

I am still writing. I wrote a romantic suspense with series potential. I wrote a YA Christmas rom/com. I'm currently adapting SEND (my debut novel) into a school play. And I'm writing a YA horror I hope to self-publish. In fact, I'd hoped to have it available by Halloween this year, but life got in the way. 

That brings me to fear #2. My health. I have psoriatic arthritis, a painful and degenerative autoimmune disease. Since July, I've been in a state of flare, with random inflammation attacking all over my body. It's not just the skin rash. I've had pinched nerves, vestibular migraines and vertigo so profound, I could not lift up my head without vomiting. I've been on prednisone, a steroid, since July, which makes me gain weight. I'd been prediabetic for years and keep trying to lose weight, but the prednisone makes that impossible. A few weeks ago, I learned I'm now diabetic, too. And I'm still on prednisone. All of these health problems really cut into my writing. 

I am so scared I will never feel better. 

I have a birthday next month. My mom died back in 2012 and ever since she passed, I keep this ridiculous count down in my head. "Just fifteen more years until you're the same age Mom was when she died." 

Next month, it will be fourteen years. 

It sounds like such a long time. 

It's not. 

I have stories to write. I want to see my sons marry and meet my grandchildren. I want to see my stories adapted to screen or stage. I want to see my stories hit bestseller lists. I want, desperately, to be healthy.

I may never see any of these things actually happen and the temptation is there, so strong, it practically has its own pulse. Just put the pen down. 

Relax.

Watch some game shows. Eat the damn sugar. Close your eyes! 

But if I succumb, I may not have even those fourteen years. 

And that's the scariest thought of all. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Ultimate Fear (Holly Schindler)

The absolute worst fear of all is that I would stop, at some point, hating older work.

Okay, so maybe hate is a strong term. But I would hate, hate, hate to get to a point where I read something I'd written several years ago and didn't see a million things I would do differently if I were to write it again.

It would mean I hadn't grown. I hadn't changed my mind a hundred different times about what a story was supposed to do. 

A while back, I got the rights to the very first book I ever published: A Blue So Dark. Blue gave me my first starred review. It won awards (silver medal in Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year and gold medal in the IPPYs). 

And yet...

Sure, there are things I'd do differently. But should I? 

In a way, this book captures a moment in time--and in my life. It was a real struggle to figure out what would stay and what would go.

In the end, I didn't change the plotline or characters, none of the major points. But I did change it up quite a bit as far as the line edits went: I changed the language Aura, the main character, swears. I mean, she swears a lot.

People swear. they do. Especially when things get difficult. But in Blue, I think it's used to the point that it takes readers out of the story. 

I'm in the midst of typing the epilogue now--which means the next step will be formatting the ebook and print versions (I'm going to do both hardback and paperback editions). 

Be sure to sign up at my YA newsletter to find out when the book is available (I'm planning a super affordable ebook upon re-release): Holly Schindler's YA News.

Aaaand--drumroll, please--my official cover reveal:



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Lone Ranger, Ed Sullivan and Stories That Slide Away

 

John Clark posting from Cody, Wyoming during a long delayed tour of the National Parks in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Utah.

When the topic of what we fear was chosen, my first thought was of a couple events from more than 60 years ago that scared the hell out of me then and that I still remember quite vividly. The first was a radio episode of The Lone Ranger where he and Tonto were fighting ghosts. I was supposed to be in bed asleep, but my parents were listening in the next room and the program was so realistic, I had nightmares afterward. The other was at about the same time. It was a short animated feature shown on the Ed Sullivan Show. Talk about setting up an audience—He cautioned viewers that they might want to have their children leave the room. Now what kid, hearing that is going to want to miss what’s coming next? It was A Short Vision, a British animated film by Joan and Peter Foldes released in 1956. The film, inspired by one of Peter's poems, depicts the destruction of the world, including mankind. The film's music was composed by Matyas Seiber, who composed music for Animal Farm two years earlier.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ae/The_mushroom_cloud_produced_by_It_%3B_from_A_Short_Vision.png That too, gave me nightmares.

Fortunately, one benefit of age is the ability to remember all the times you worried and fretted about bad stuff happening. Well 98% never does and you deal with the other 2%. However, there are a couple things that really scare me. The first is losing my sense of humor and quick wit. I’m the unofficial humorist and punster for the folks I swim with five mornings a week. If I’m not cracking a new joke, or creating a new pun within five minutes of getting in the water, someone will call me out.


 

It’s worth noting that the heated pool is also my ‘Place of Power,’ a location where ideas and plot twists come to me in a seemingly effortless way. That brings me to my second fear—losing the ability to come up with new story ideas. Even if I couldn’t write them, the thought of not being able to have a story appear in my head and start writing itself is terrifying.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Crissa-Jean Chappell - Authors and Animals

It's such a delight to catch up with Crissa-Jean Chappell. In addition to being a YA author, she's also an artist. (I love and am fascinated by her process of sketching her characters as she writes.) I also confess her videos of her sweet cats are often one of my guilty pleasures. Here, she weighs in on the relationship between artists and animals:

 

 

cats and writers from crissachappell on Vimeo.

  

Be sure to check in with Crissa yourself: crissajeanchappell.com

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Fear by Sydney Salter

I'm afraid of not getting another chance at publishing success--

I have spent the weekend at the Women Writing The West conference virtually from Portland, Oregon. No Powell's book buying spree 😢 I love this congenial group of ladies (and a few men) who tell stories about women who live west of the Mississippi. 

After so many great craft sessions, I am feeling so inspired about my stories. I have notes for a BIG revision on one project, thanks to a roundtable critique and a comment made by a speaker that made me realize that I was forcing a plot point that simply needs to go. I took notes about the NaNoWriMo story that I am planning for next month. I thought about the messy novel that is currently resting--and made some notes for the character swap I'm planning in that story. 

I am ready to write!!!! I am super excited about my stories. 

But I also heard that it's tough out there right now to get published--for all kinds of reasons. And I suck at social media. Really, I suck at enjoying social media. I feel really conflicted about what all that time scrolling through feeds does to people, especially my audience (who isn't all that interested in people my age, anyway). I worry that not having a huge following affects my submissions.  

I am a writer who needs to write, and would have stopped long ago if that were possible. I have so many stories that I'm excited to tell. And it's the only thing I want to do. Right now I work as a Small Claims Court Mediator--because all the people feed my storytelling. Everything I do seems to end with "so I can write about it."

Is that enough? Loving the writing. 

That's my super honest fear: that the novels I've already had published will be the only novels published in spite of writing many many more. 

In the meantime, I am going to shove my fears aside and keep working on my craft. Writing and writing and writing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Eeeeeeeek! (Mary Strand)

This month at YA Outside the Lines, in honor of Halloween, we’re talking about what scares us.

If we’re supposed to talk about what scares us in the context of writing, I’m going to fail this assignment. My bad!

People tend to think of me as fearless. Being considerate and all, I tend to let people think whatever they want to think of me, even (or especially) when they’re wildly wrong and I’m secretly laughing at them.



On a macro level, I guess I am pretty fearless, because I’m never afraid to do what I want to do, and I’m never afraid to stand up for myself and what I want. Too many women in particular say they’re afraid to make waves or stand up for themselves, especially with their spouses/partners/cabana boys/kids, but that’s a really foreign concept to me. I can probably thank my mom for never letting fears like that even enter my mind.

But on a micro level? A random list of some things that scare me:

Bats

Needles

Skydiving


Snakes

Sleeping in a tent (unless the tent is inside a room with deadbolts)

Spiders and really all bugs, especially speedy ones

Reenacting the shower scene in Psycho in real life

The Birds: ditto

Being alone in my house in the middle of the night

Dogs

You think I'm kidding, but no.

Pretty much all other animals, too

Forgetting lyrics and/or chords while performing onstage

People who put raisins where chocolate chips should go (kidding) (somewhat)

Really, really, really tight spaces

Horror books or movies (so they’re a hard pass)

Sharks

 

When I was a kid, I was afraid of tall buildings falling on me. No idea why.

I’ve also had two bouts with agoraphobia (not recently, thank God), in which I struggled to leave the house, which is particularly weird for an extrovert like me, but I came up with clever ways to resolve that, my favorite of which involved Punch Pizza.

I’m not afraid of Punch Pizza. I’m also cool with clowns.

So ... what scares you? (Besides my monthly blog posts, of course.)

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at marystrand.com.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Holly Schindler Interviews Carrie Jones, (Incredible) Writer Person


Confession: Carrie Jones's books were some of the first YAs I feel completely in love with when I first started trying my own hand at the genre. And I am beyond thrilled that she's joining us here today:

 

HS: You write for all ages, but you started out writing YA. Tell us about some of your YAs.

 

CJ: Actually, I started writing middle grade, but the first books I published were YA. I know! I know! So wild. 

I am terrible at picking favorite YA novels. It always feels like I’m saying I prefer one friend over another or one dog over another. Not that books are dogs! Although, how cuddly would a book/dog hybrid be? 

 

HS: What drew you to YA? 

 

CJ: My natural speaking and writing voice is a YA voice. I love the immediacy of it. I love how brilliant and passionate and exacting teens are. I think it’s the hardest genre to write because you can’t get away with things. 

M.T. Anderson said in his 2009 Printz Honor speech that “teen are conspicuously the opposite of bland and blank: They are incredibly eccentric, deeply impassioned about their interests, fantastically—even exhaustingly—knowledgeable. Their commitment to complexity of thought is, if anything, fiercer than an adult’s—because they have to fight so fiercely to defend it.” 

How can you not be compelled and honored to write for teens? 

 

HS: As you get farther from your own teen self, do you find it harder to tap into the YA voice? How do you keep it fresh?

 

CJ: Oh. That’s hard. I don’t contemplate it too much. When the characters come out, they come out as character with attitudes and tweaks and flaws. I almost feel like it’s less about the ‘voice’ and more about the teen mindset, what they care about, that impassioned need to become, to evolve, to be, and to understand that runs through the current of so many young adult novels. It’s more about that than worrying that my narrator ’sounds’ seventeen. 

 

HS: How do you see the genre having changed since your first YA?

 

CJ: The text right now feels a bit more densely rich—I’m talking sentence structure. Hopefully becoming more diverse in authors and subject matter and narrative structures. YA was very heavily white, written by middle class (and up) able-bodied women and men who went to college and often graduate school. Any increase in a more heterogeneous assortment of story and writers is such a win because it means that teens get to read difference, find empathy and discover worlds that aren’t homogenous. 

 

HS: What’s your favorite YA to read? (When I started publishing, vampires were all the rage. I’ve always had a soft spot for contemporary realism.)

 

CJ: This is a really hard question for me. I like thrillers. A lot. And I also like those quieter, lyrical novels. I’m really all about extremes, apparently. In my editing work, I read a lot of YA fantasy (of all sub-genres), so I think I’m steering a bit away from them in my pleasure reading. 

 

HS: How has your own YA work changed? Has it changed because of the genre itself? Because of our political climate, etc?

 

CJ: I’ve always been a bit all over the place when it comes to genre and YA. I’m slowly working on some stories that are a bit more complicated structurally, which are probably going to terrify my poor agent. They are really more call-backs to my first three YA novels (contemporary realism) rather than the YA that allowed me to not live in a car, which was YA fantasy and the NEED series.

I think a lot about Audre Lorde’s quote when I think about writing YA and writing for teens. She has a million quotes of brilliance, but the one that I’m referencing is, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and be eaten alive.” 

That’s what’s going on with me and my YA and hopefully the world right now. It’s time for to embrace defining ourselves and leaning into that power of creation both on the page and outside of it.  As writers for young adults and kids, we have a responsibility for our stories to resonate with possibility and authenticity. 

 

HS: I’m in the midst of revising and republishing my first YA—have you looked at your own first YA recently? What do you think of it? 

 

CJ: That is so great for you, Holly! I’m so excited that you’re doing that! 

For me? Um, no. I have a panic attack if I look at my old books. I’m a bit like Adam Driver. He can’t watch himself on the screen. I can’t hear my words on the page. 

 

HS: I’ve been following you for some time on Patreon, where you’ve published new work across genres. Can you talk a bit about your experience there? What it’s been like writing YA in real time?

 

CJ: Thank you so much for supporting me there. It means so much to me. Every week not the audio part of the Patreon, I start to choke up because it’s so kind for people to be there on that journey with me. 

And the journey itself? IT IS SO TERRIFYING! Yes! That’s in caps. Writing a chapter a week in real time and putting it out there makes me think of my newspaper past and a bit of improv. It’s really vulnerable because you’re showing people how your story develops, warts and all, but it’s also so freeing because you can allow your brain to just produce and produce and produce. If you want to be responsible and get that chapter out, then you have to silence your imposter syndrome or your internal critic or inner editor. 

 

HS: Where do you feel YA is headed? (I mean, you’ve got a crystal ball, right? 😁)

 

CJ: Oh my gosh. Hopefully to even bigger and better worlds and stories, where we recognize, celebrate and accept stories that we never imagined before. Stories that challenge. Stories that resonate. Stories that are different. Stories that are unafraid. 

People always seem to think of big change as a one-time event, but industries and art evolves. Revolutions and evolutions simmer and bubble and don’t just happen on one day for five hours. Progress is like that. I think YA is progressing and it’s becoming more and more a genuine journey towards truths. 

 

HS: Working on any YA stuff now?

 

CJ: Oh my gosh. Always. I have some paranormals that are pretty straight-forward and a mystery series going on. 

I’m working on a couple novels with slightly more complicated structures. One has some fantastical elements woven throughout and is narrated by Love and the other is a bit more of a treatise about entitlement and violence. 

That was a horrible pitch, wasn’t it? All my currently published YA and the ones that are coming out super soon are on my website, carriejonesbooks.blog.

 

Thank you so much for having me here, Holly! I hope you’re own writing (and revising) is going well!