Odds and Ends, and a Boatload of Links

Hello Again!

I know, I know, it’s been more than a little while since I’ve posted, not for a lack of topics but rather a lack of time.  Since I posted last here, I cleared the 70k word mark on the first draft of my latest work-in-progress and am now deep in the revision stage of the manuscript.  I attended one retreat – the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop – and three (yes, three!) SCBWI conferences.  I’m hoping to write a post or three on my takeaways from the conferences, and on the amazingness that is the Big Sur workshop, so check back for those in the next few months.

Yes, it may really be a few months, because next month I’m going to be researching my current WIP in a whirlwind trip around Europe.  I’ll be starting in Prague and gradually making my way to Dubrovnik, then catching a plane to London for a few days before heading home.  I can’t say much about the manuscript yet, but I can tell you I’ll be visiting a lot of churches, especially those with catacombs, and checking out former Cold War spy hangouts in Vienna.  I’m hoping to be able to keep up on twitter and post a bit to instagram while overseas, but I’ll likely be fairly quiet otherwise, as I’ll be writing, ideating, and photographing everything I can.

In the meantime, I started a project this summer that will hopefully benefit not just me but a lot of writers.  Last winter I realized how many tweets I’d favorited – over 5,000(!) – and most of them were links to articles on writing craft.  Twitter doesn’t provide an easy way to go through that many favorites, so I set up an export to the bookmarking site, Diigo.  I finally got around to looking through the links last month, and started to re-tag them with meaningful categories.  I’ve kept the unreviewed links private, but as I’m reviewing them I’m making them public.  I’ve got a little over 200 available right now, so if you’re looking for revision techniques, great tools to get to know your characters, or just about anything else writing-related, you can find links from around the web to help you do just that.

You can find the link database at https://www.diigo.com/user/Katebranden.

How have you spent your summer?  Do you have any big plans for the fall?

Goodbye 2012, Hello Twinkly 2013

Storm Kitten

A new year is a chance at a fresh start.  It’s a new beginning, if that’s what you need it to be, and that’s exactly what I need.  As far as years go, 2012 was not my favorite.  I struggled with my writing, my day job, and my health, and I lost my best friend and kitty of thirteen years, Storm.  So, goodbye, 2012, don’t let the calendar hit you on the behind on your way out!

These last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions, commitments, and what I want for this year of my life.  I decided that 2013 is the year for revision, the year that I take one of my unfinished or rough-around-the-edges manuscripts and rework it, polish it until it shines.  And this is the year that I’ll submit that manuscript to agents.  I decided that my word for the year would be AGENCY, as in, I’m determined to land an agent, but I’m also determined to take more control of my writing, my health, and my time.  I need to have agency in my own life.

So that was my plan, and I thought it was a darn good one.  And it was, until the morning of Wednesday, January 2nd, when I got to work and opened up my brand new moleskine.  New year, new notebook.  Blank pages galore.  What would I fill them with?  I could write anything.  I was the one with the pen in my hand.  I was the one in control.  Except, I didn’t want to be in control; I didn’t want to be the girl with the plan.  I wanted to put the pen to the paper and be surprised about what came out.

A new year is full of unwritten days.  Days that I could plan down to the hours and minutes and fill with structure and commitment.  And I know, without question, that I need to do more of that.  But I also need to be careful not to over-plan, to over-structure, or I’ll miss all the great surprises, the things that happen when you’re not expecting them, the twists and turns and spontaneous moments of squee.  Those are the best parts, after all.

Life is full of unlimited possibilities, like stars in the night sky.  There are so many we can’t even see them all, and they’re so much bigger than they look from here.  So my word for 2013 is STARS, to remind myself not to limit, not to hold back.  To shine brighter than I ever have before.  So come on, 2013, I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll bring.

Stars, and the glow over the Halemaumau crater of the Kilauea volcano on Big Island, Hawaii by LoveBigIsland, on Flickr