Monday, December 23, 2013

Holidays, Nostalgia, and a Distinct Lack of Snow

It is the day before Christmas Eve. Where has 2013 gone? Why am I so utterly unprepared for this holiday? Why is my family still in another state? (These questions could go on a while so I will stop here.)

Today, in his annual tradition, an old school friend of my uncle's hand delivered a poinsettia from his greenhouses to our front door. He has dropped off a poinsettia for my grandmother every year since the beginning of time (aka at least as long as I have been alive). It is very sweet of him and my grandmother loves it. This old school friend of my uncle's also happens to be the father of the guy I made a fool of myself over in high school. (That is a super long and complicated story that you will NEVER hear.)

So when he pulled up today, my mom happened to be outside (seeing as it is unnaturally warm in the snow belt) and they apparently chatted (I can't verify this as I am currently in a different state). One of the updates he shared was that the boy I mentioned is no longer planning to take over the family farm and has decided he has no desire to return to our hometown. I cannot express to you the illogical heart break this causes me. I haven't spoken to this boy since graduation but everyone knew he was going to take over the farm and that our town would forever be his home. It feels cosmically wrong. My brain refuses to accept it. It makes me so sad.

It is thoroughly none of my business what this boy does and for all I know he is incredibly happy. However, there is something deep down in me that can't believe that. I hope that part of me is wrong. I hope that the last 6.5 years have changed him and he's happy. Actually, I hope he hasn't changed at all and just gets a clue before his dad sells the business.

Anyway, that is a really long way of saying that today I am filled with all the high school feels. I miss my best friend. I miss the yearbook room. I miss math homework (yes, I just said that) and advisement with my global history teacher. It doesn't matter that I will be back at that same high school in January as a substitute teacher and musical choreographer. Right now, I want MY high school back with all the people, drama, and ridiculousness that goes with it.

Someone build me a time machine or I'm libel to write myself one.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How is December almost half over?!

I have a sinus infection that makes me feel like there is a horse standing on my face. I also have 2+ feet of snow and cannot get out of my driveway. I've spent most of the past two days on the couch taking Sudafed and vitamin C and trying not to expire. My mom has been awesome and I am so thankful that I got sick while at home with her instead of having to be alone and sick in Ohio. She is the best.

Musical practice for The Wedding Singer has begun. I've had three rehearsals which have all proved incredibly productive. I set a whole number on the first day and the following two rehearsals have allowed me to set 3/4 of another number. I'm so pleasantly surprised.

Life has been a kind of adjustment the past few weeks but I'm handling it. Except that I just realized its less than two weeks until Christmas. So I better get started on gifts.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful Update

It is the day after Thanksgiving. I am still full of food after spending a really enjoyable day with my family at my sister's boyfriend's house. It was the first really formal Thanksgiving my family has done in a while. Normally it is just the four of us so we don't use the fine china or the fancy table cloth. My sister's boyfriend, however, was all about the pomp and circumstance. Like, we had water and wine glasses and there was a single fresh cut rose in the center of each plate. Then we watched It's a Wonderful Life (I LOVE YOU JIMMY STEWART!). It was the kind of Thanksgiving I remember from my childhood when my family was still a little bigger. I loved it.

Also, musical auditions are over for both shows I'm working on this season. I'm running point on The Wedding Singer with my sister's assistance while my sister is heading up Pippin with my backup. Auditions were cool, casting had some setbacks. I am trying to remain excited instead of apprehensive but I'm struggling.

Finally, I haven't touched G4 in over a week. I am stuck in the middle and it is a barren wasteland with no lifelines or avenues of escape. I chatted with the lovely Jenny Adams Perinovic about it and have decided on a change of plan. I was writing this story linearly, from point A to point B because I had events I wanted to happen but was pantsing everything in between. With two musicals and being back in my family home instead of holed up in a big house alone, I am going to be a lot busier soon and being stuck with G4 will mean no progress if I'm already busy. I know myself well enough to know that I won't make time for it. So I am switching paths. I am going to write the scenes I know I want and piece it all together later. Hell, I might even write the end first. But I have a new plan and I'm gonna stick to it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Five Favorites This Fall

Fall is my favorite time to read. I love reading all the time but when it starts to get cold, there is just something about grabbing a cup of tea and a good book and snuggling under the covers with warm fluffy kitties. Since finishing college - which put a serious damper on my leisure reading - I always read a ton in the fall. Like, I've read 30 books since September 1st. I wanted to share a few of my favorites from the last few months.

1. Paper Towns by John Green 
I read Looking for Alaska and it was good but after this one, I understand why everyone loves John Green. This is accurate yet adventurous coming of age. 

2. The Misfits by James Howe
Middle school is rough but having friends makes it better. I really liked everything about this book. 

3. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
The characters is this are great. Having been the girl with the crush on the inappropriate older guy, Buzo gets it SO right.

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This book is eerily easy to relate to. I'm not going to try and explain it. Just read it. 

5. Winter Town by Stephen Emond
If you have friends you only see during certain seasons, you will understand how just a short period of time together can still feel incredibly important. This book might break your heart but it will kind of put it back together again. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

YA for Everyone

I've put 100,000 miles on my car in the last four years. Suffice it to say that I drive a ton. I love driving and have been doing it daily since I got my first car just before I started college. However, every once in a while I get this fleeting moment of memory as I'm driving. It is like for a split second I'm 17 again driving alone in the car for the first time with freedom coursing through my fingers as they grip the wheel. That is the best way I can explain it. That half a moment, that ephemeral instant, is what I want my book to feel like for adults. When non-teenagers read my YA work-in-progress G4, I want it to be a tiny window into the firsts of your adolescence. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaNoWriMo and Words

I am not doing NaNo.
I have never won NaNo. 
I will probably never win NaNo. 
But I am writing. 
I'm earning stickers instead and it is going ok. It isn't perfectly awesome but it is good words on the page. 

This has been an update.

Also, it is such a perfect autumn day. I want to bottle it and paint my room in it. I want to live in eternal autumn. It makes me wonder how death can be so beautiful. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sad day

Today is the day when I have to stop listening to Thoroughly Modern Millie music under the pretense of researching for the book because I have to listen to The Wedding Singer music for the day job. Auditions are in three weeks which means the season is starting and my REAL life is about to get as musical and high school drama filled as those of my FICTIONAL characters.

But really, Millie is such a better show. LE SIGH.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Adventures

My first adventure is that I posted a piece of flash fiction today on The Great Noveling Adventure. Its horrorish and very difficult for me but you can check it out if you'd like. L.S. Mooney tries to be spooky

My second adventure to speak of is that I am currently in Washington DC with my boyfriend for the weekend. Yesterday I had the great pleasure of hanging out with the always amazing Jenny Adams Perinovic and her lovely husband (who happened to be having a birthday as well). We visited the Library of Congress and talked about Everything. We talked writing and books, and drama, and life. She is great and we need to live close together again. LE SIGH. 

At present, I am sitting in a Starbucks in the heart of DC drinking tea and attempting to write. Life is good. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Word vomit

I went to sleep last night with my G4 notebook open on my bedside table. I woke up this morning with cat puke all over it. #catladyproblems, I know. But for real, I was pretty much freaking out at 5:30 this morning without any real time to deal with it. I wiped up what I could and set it up to dry before I left for work, but honestly I don't know how salvageable it will be.
I grabbed another notebook from my drawer (yes I do indeed have a whole drawer of blank notebooks, it is a sickness) in case I'm in a writing mood but all day I've been stressing about the few pages I have written in the vomit notebook that I haven't yet typed. I spent quite a while today feeling incapable of writing because i might lose those pages (if the ink ran, the pages stick etc). Now, however, I feel kind of liberated. I was a bit stuck in those pages anyway. I didn't really like them and felt like I was taking the story in a weird direction.
Therefore, I've chosen to view the cat puke incident as an act of the cosmos, some higher writing god telling me to get it together. I'm pitching those pages and starting fresh in the new notebook.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Library Love

One of my seemingly numerous day jobs is a substitute teacher at my former high school. There have been a bunch of changes in the district this year. With major budget cuts last spring, several teachers lost their jobs. A few also retired, including the grumpy old librarian who was essentially a male version of Madame Pince with a handlebar mustache.
The library of my memories as a student, student teacher, and substitute was a brittle and stuffy one. And not in an endearing nostalgic kind of way. More of a I'm going to get thrown out of here breathing too loud, don't you dare bring that water bottle in here, you heathen, you don't deserve to touch books kind of way. Really inviting. Not.
When I was subbing last week (the first time this year because I was in the other state) I passed the library and it was a completely different place. There was a Newberry Honor bulletin board on one side of the door and a collage of the best 100 YA titles to date on the other. Just inside the door, I saw a display table of Halloween themed books for October reading.
Later, I asked a student who the new librarian was and suddenly the world made sense again. The new librarian is the former elementary school librarian. The zany, quirky woman who made library period in grade school awesome.
As a rule I'm not a big fan of change but I am definitely a fan of this.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Great Noveling Adventure!

I forgot to tell you! I am officially joining The Great Noveling Adventure. I will be posting on Saturdays starting next week, 19 October! I'm so incredibly excited.

Also, I bought a Disney Princesses calender and a HUGE package of stickers today because I'm trying the sticker technique. (learn about it here: http://youtu.be/kvDtCIA-_dk)

In other news, I am listening to my G4 playlist for the first time in a while and OMG it is so spot on. Sometimes I really know myself/my brain/my writing. :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A great book and mini rant

A few days ago I read Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan and LOVED it. Well, loved it right up until the end.
The book full of sass and friendship and boys and magic and secrets. It was well written, imaginative, quirky, and painful. I forced myself to read it more slowly than I normally would because I was enjoying it so much and didn't want it to end. It was so good.
Then it ended.
The end is absolutely heartbreaking, but that wasn't why I didn't like it. I didn't like it because a few pages before the end it suddenly became really clear that this was the first book in a series and things were just taking off, not wrapping up. And nothing against series. I know they're trendy, plus more of a good thing. But sometimes I just want a book to be self-contained. I want it to end on the last page.
That being said, I still love Unspoken, and I plan to continue the series. I just feel have a preference to single books.
ok, end rant.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Musical Family.

You all know musical theatre plays a big role in G4, right? Well, musical theatre played a pretty big role in my own high school existence and I now do choreography for my old high school (this is a blessing and a curse). 
When I was a senior, I adopted a musical little sister. Not everyone does it, at least not formally, but I did. She was the cousin of the lead, far too pretty for her own good, and completely innocent in the ways of musical drama. I already knew her vaguely from working with the elementary school musical. (As I write this, I realize just how big a part of my life musicals were and are. Suddenly I am no longer surprised I am writing a story like G4.) I also had her father as my global history teacher. K, as we'll call her, was just what I needed my senior year when I was full of nostalgia for all my past shows and worried that I would never perform musical theatre again (which I sadly haven't). 
K is in college herself now, a volleyball star at a big ten school where she doesn't really have time for musicals anymore. I haven't talked to her in a while though I keep tabs on her through her cousin (the lead from senior year and also a good friend). Despite writing about a high school musical, I actually hadn't thought about K in a while. 
Then, today, she posted on my Facebook wall. Bam. Social media strikes again. She called me Big Sis, and I was flooded with nostalgia and I missed her. I missed sharing stories and helping her deal with first year issues. I missed coming back to see her in her prime years later. I missed everything about my little sister and our wonderful musical memories. I miss you, K. 
I'm taking the day off from writing because I'm liable to make stupid choices because I'm thinking about my musical life instead of Mirella's. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

cemetery finds

I made a stop on the way to the corn maze to write in the cemetery (don't judge) and look what I found!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Voice (and my TGNA audition piece)

My boyfriend and I recently drove from Columbus, Ohio to Princeton, NJ and back. In the gaps between Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, The Clash, Twisted Sister, and various others, we listened to A LOT of NPR talk radio. Deprived of the visual accompaniments afforded by TV news, the way in which the news was delivered mattered. It wasn’t just some airbrushed, pantsuit-clad woman sitting behind a news desk as images of bloody car accidents and struggling schools flashed across the screen. I listened to a report of the Navy Yard shooting and a music review within half an hour of each other, and I could tell the difference in subject matter from the get go.

All I could think about was Voice. 

Voice :
  1. Voice is the author's style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author's attitude, personality, and character; or
  2. Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of a first-person narrator; a persona. Because voice has so much to do with the reader's experience of a work of literature, it is one of the most important elements of a piece of writing.
As a writer, I've spent a large amount of time constructing my characters and getting to know them. Recently, I've come to realize that even a wonderfully developed character can fall flat with the wrong voice.  Also, just as a poor voice can be detrimental, a quality voice can be redeeming. I remember reading a book a few months ago that was terribly predictable with a formulaic story line and stock characters. However, the voice of the narrator was so spot on, so acutely accurate, that I really enjoyed it.

My current project, G4, is narrated in the first person by Mirella, a drama nerd in her senior year of high school. She’s a bit off beat, loves old movies, and is dying to live a little. Getting the voice right is crucial not only to her character, but to the story as a whole.

For example, Mirella is snarky and smart but she doesn't sound like she is doing a voice over for National Geographic when she describes her peers and the world around her. That doesn't mean she can’t use “big words” or has to narrate in slang. (although she could). What it does mean is that the words fit and flow consistently with her character and mood. Mirella absolutely uses words like scampered, compares her classmates to lost kids in the grocery store, and occasionally uses extreme punctuation for emphasis.


To be honest, finding Mirella’s voice was both easy and hard. I know her, so I know what I am trying for, but actually getting it on the paper isn't always easy. Keeping the voice consistent is even harder. Sometimes I have to read what I've written out loud to really get a feel for what it sounds like (or doesn't). Other times, I know as my pen slides across the page that the words are perfect. Still other times, my CP’s have to point out things that slipped through. 

Take away from all that rambling? Experiment and find the voice that works for your character and your story. Then, keep it up. Use your skills and your (beta) readers to help. 

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Checkpoint

Guys,

I have officially filled an entire one subject notebook with nothing but words for G4. I am so excited to be making real progress on this story. I love getting into the plot and character interactions. I love seeing where this story is going since I'm pantsing it.

I am going out of town for the next week so I don't think I will get much written but I will be having a great time anyway. When I get back it will be pen to paper all the time :)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Motivation

I've talked a little before about my summer day job teaching reading enrichment programs. Thursday was my last day for this summer, and something really cool happened.

One of my junior high students, S, had previously told me how much she wants to be an author. On Thursday, she noticed my writing notebook on my desk and asked what it was. I told her that it was my story notebook for my WIP.

"But you didn't tell me you write!" she exclaimed, and with the grabbiest of metaphorical grabby hands she wanted to know all about it. I gave her the very short version (high school, friendship, boys, musical theatre), and she was full of smiles and genuine interest. "How cool! Someday I'll see your book and be able to say you were my teacher!" she said before leaving.

It doesn't matter that she has never read a word I've written or that I don't write under my real name so she won't actually be able to do that. What matters is that her blind faith and excitement has motivated me to keep writing this story. My goal is to finish a complete draft by the end of the calendar year, and I am determined to reach it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Take Away

I am the kind of reader who takes away big things from books. Big ideas. Maybe its because I took a lot of English Lit classes in college or maybe its because I read a lot. But the point is, good books leave me with good big things.

For example:
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton left me with three big things/ideas. 1. death sucks but we keep those we love close to in other ways 2. magic is awesome but it comes with a price 3. bad people can become good, good people can go bad. its all in your choices and actions

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater left me with four more big things/ideas. 1. risk everything for love 2. life finds a way 3. trust your friends. 4. parents should pay enough attention to know if a girl is keeping a boy in her room

The House of Tradd Street by Karen White left with with three big things/ideas. 1. don't sleep with suave men because you're annoyed at the nosy sweet one at home 2. old houses have stories to tell and secrets to keep 3. even broken families have hope of mending themselves.

As I work on G4 I keep thinking of what big things people might take away from it someday if they ever read it. I know what I want them to take away but will they?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Grammar & foreign languages

So, I might not have told you, but I'm a language nut.

I took French and Spanish in high school, hold a BA in French from The Ohio State University, am a certified secondary French teacher in NYS, studied classical and medieval Latin in college as well as Old Occitan, and taught my self some VERY basic Portuguese for a trip I took to Brazil in 2010.

Anyway, I love languages and particularly grammar. Oddly enough, however, I know far more about foreign grammar than I do about English grammar. I fully understand the rule behind qui and que usage in French which is the only way I can remember the that and which rules in English. I also use the Latin case system to understand when to use who vs. whom (its all about the accusative case, man).

I still make really simple grammatical mistakes that are colloquially common, etc. BUT I use my foreign language skills to minimize them. And I will always think its funny that I learned English grammar when I learned other languages.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who are my characters?

A few days ago, Sarah posted a great bit of character building advice over at TGNA ( http://www.thegreatnovelingadventure.com/2013/08/just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg-character-building/) and it really got me thinking about my main girls and boys of G4.
Sarah used an extremely relevant quote by J.K. Rowling that expresses an author's connection to their characters. I hadn't quite realized but each of my the main ladies has a bit of me in them. And the boys? I think I've crushed on all of them in my time.
Predictable? Maybe. But it means I know my characters. And I love them.
And when I say I know them, I mean it. S.E. Hinton, author of the Outsiders once did an interview talking about just how well she knew her characters but the internet has failed me so I can't share it with you. Her interview was the first thing I thought of when I read Sarah's post.
I'm happy to say that I know exactly what my characters eat for breakfast and which sock they put on first BUT I struggle to know which of those details are of interest to you. Sometimes I want to give you the whole back story because its totally interesting to me but I know I have to find my middle ground.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Writing with the wrong hand

In high school chemistry, my teacher told me that doing things with your non-dominant hand that you normally do with your dominant one creates new neuro-pathways. I have no idea if its true but I took it to heart and taught myself to write with my left hand. It came in really handy when my right hand cramped up in college classes.

I also use it when my brain can't put a sentence together. I've told you already that I write a huge proportion of my stuff in longhand first, right? Well, when I'm stuck, it helps sometimes to pass my pen, turn my notebook a little, and get something on the page. Its a little messier than my usual handwriting but it almost always gets me out of my head. Its how I fixed something today!

Its also fun. So the next time you're bored, or blocked, try writing with the other hand. And don't forget to tell me how it goes!  :-)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Chapter Swap

I recently did a chapter swap with Alex Yuschik (alexyuschik.blogspot.com) and it was awesome.

Her work in progress, Slings and Arrows, is great. I am all about her main characters. And I cannot wait until I get to read more of it!

And her comments on my first two chapters of Goodbye Good-Goody Girl were great.

Until recently I had been relying heavily on my dear friend Jenny Adams Perinovic for feedback and comments. In the last month I won a chapter critic from The Great Noveling Adventure from Sarah at injustyourword.com and have done this chapter swap. It has been a liberating and humbling experience. Having a feeling of community as I write feels so great!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Longhand

I have been writing a lot lately and its all longhand because that is part of my process. 

But I've written about that already as a guest on The Great Noveling Adventure. You can find it here: Why I Love Longhand

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Musical Inspirations

So I made a playlist for G4 and it is equal parts relevant to my WIP and nostalgia-inducing for me. I AM IN LOVE WITH IT.

You'll probably judge me but I love it.

Feel free to check it out here

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Naked This

I was rereading a bit of G4 today and came across a Naked This. I knew my high school English teacher would be ashamed of me. It was his ultimate pet peeve, and though I found it ridiculous at the time I have come to really appreciate this simple bit of advice.

Take these two versions of my sentence from G4

Naked This: This was evidenced by the fact that I had somehow managed to smudge a long dark line down my cheek like a morbid mime tear.
 
Clothed This: This ineptitude was evidenced by the fact that I had somehow managed to smudge a long dark line down my cheek like a morbid mime tear.
 

I find the second sentence so much more successful. The first begs the question "this what?" and even with a preceding context sentence, what "this" is can be a lot more ambiguous to the reader that the writer thinks it is. 

This advice is still my go to rule for clearing up ambiguity. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Doodles

Because sometimes I'm productive at my job. And by productive I mean completely distracted.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Is sleep really the enemy?

On sloth: I have long wondered if sleep was my best friend or my worst enemy. If I believed in that sort of thing, I would be ferociously guilty of the sin of sloth. I love to lay in bed, drifting in and out sleep, for whole days at time. This is problematic. Every day off or free evening I should be glued to my desk with my notebook or laptop writing at the speed of light in an attempt to get words down, good or not. However, I often just crawl into bed and sleep whenever the opportunity arises. This makes writing hard, obviously.

On a different but related note: Due to some terrible scheduling problems between my two jobs I have been awake for more than 24 hours during which I have traversed New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Right now I NEED sleep. It is taking all my faculties to type this, but I felt that it was an important realization to share. In my sleep-deprived delirium today, so many ideas came to me. So many perfect bits that needed working out. I wonder if some moderate level of perpetual sleep deprivation might actually increase my creative productivity.

I have reached the point where I can't actually think anymore so I'll just leave this here and see what happens.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day Jobs

My day job is currently teaching reading enrichment to K-12 students. It means I spend all day talking about how much I love reading and trying to get kids to feel the same way. It also means that I spend all day reading books.

For me, reading leads to writing. Which is great. EXCEPT that teaching is the least conducive day job to sneaky writing. You have to be completely attentive to your students, especially the younger ones. And obviously, that is when I have all the ideas. 

I carry a notebook at all times but even just jotting down notes is really difficult when teaching. I feel like I have no down time and the ideas just bounce around demanding attention that I don't have for them! It's incredibly frustrating. 

Stupid day jobs....  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My WIP

is a YA novel currently titled Goodbye, Good-Goody Girl, or G4 for short. "Goodbye, Good-Goody Girl! I'm changing, and how!" is the title character's refrain line in the opening number of the show Thoroughly Modern Millie. My main character, Mirella, is playing that role of Millie in her last high school musical.
As I try now to explain what G4 is about, I struggle. When I first came up with this idea, the lovely Jenny (of TNGA fame) asked me to tell her in one sentence what my story was about. It is still the most accurate description of it I can give.
I said:
Mirella wanted to make her senior year count but now her life is spiraling out of control, and she has to decide if she's ready to really be Millie and say goodbye to the good girl.
I have about 4200 words written and a skeletal outline. I am super super excited about this project and the journey it is going to take me on.

Won't you come, too?

 (This is concept art for Chapter One)

Let me introduce myself!


I'm L.S. Mooney. I have lived a few places and visited a few more but i'm a Midwest girl at heart and an enthusiastic alumna of The Ohio State University.  As a recent college grad with more interests than time, my life is a little all over the place right now. I spend my time teaching reading, taking ballet, falling in love, and applying to jobs like it is my job.

I plan to use this space to chronicle my writing life and my WIP (which I will talk about later because its deserves its own post). I am not a member of The Great Noveling Adventure (tgna.tumblr.com / thegreatnovelingadventure.com) but I will using the tag to chronicle my own adventure. If you don't know what that is, go check it out! 

I'm on tumblr (lsmooney.tumblr.com) and twitter (@LSMooney).

bitty words #14

"Well, that answers that question," I murmured against his shoulder. Our bodies were still tangled together. the sheets knotted ...