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A bit of my novel

Happy Leap Day! How nice to get an extra day in the year. I’m using mine to be utterly corny and take a leap — here are a few paragraphs from my novel.

I was too dumbstruck by the skaters to notice who they were right away. But, squinting more closely at the bigger, broader skater, I saw Viv was right. “It is Jim Dietz!” I whispered back, surprised. Jim Dietz had been the equivalent of a heavy metal power ballad at our school, semi-famous for his maroon Camaro and a lethal combination of bad temper and good looks. Viv had a crush on him when we were freshmen. But he got suspended pulling a knife on a kid in the cafeteria two years ago, and then was sent to his dad’s house in Wisconsin. No one had heard of or from him since. And now he’d come back, and become a skater. He had gotten much bigger and grown his hair out, but it was him.

“He’s amazing,” Viv noted, admiration in her voice as we watched him. She was right: he had incredible strength and power. Jim attacked every movement with a forward intensity, as if he wanted to smash himself into something and take glee in the rubble, like a human hurricane on concrete. He had a heft that belied the fearsome speed he got on the board, able to explode into astonishing flips and spins in mid-air.

Then there was the other skater, the one no one knew at all. He was less flamboyant in style, but once you started watching him, you couldn’t help but stare. Next to Jim’s massive bulk, he was taller and lankier, with dark hair and pale skin. A network of tattoos covered him, snaking all over his sinewy arms and shoulders. He had a different skating style from Jim, imbuing everything with a kind of offhand grace and intricacy. The way he moved wasn’t exactly feline, but it had an animal-like, instinctive quality. He could do half-cabs like they were nothing, one after the other. He could do all kinds of flips and grinds, dashed off like an afterthought. He could soar up into the air with ease, getting incredible air off the simplest of railings. He nailed the hardest skate tricks ever, the most complex combinations, and he did it like it was the easiest thing in the world.

I watched them for a bit, admiring the show like everyone else. But feeling my own board clutched against my chest, I remembered what I had set out to do tonight — and realized that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. Nothing anyone did tonight would compare. It was this bittersweet feeling: seeing the most beautiful skating of my life, and realizing how janky my own efforts would seem in comparison to it.

I tugged at Viv’s arm, motioning for us to go. “Aren’t you going to go up?” she whispered, looking confused. I could tell she didn’t want to go.

I only shook my head. “Let’s go.” I took one last look at the two skaters, soaring high in the air in a way I could never hope to touch, and then turned and made my way back to the edge of the park where I belonged.

It is called, at the moment, LOVE AND CONCRETE, and it tells the story of Lily, a skateboarder who falls in love with a mysterious, gifted skater she meets on the scene. But he’s a werewolf, and of course, hijinks ensue. Okay, not hijinks! I jest — it’s a paranormal romance, for God’s sake! But there is illicit swimming in ponds, moshing with skinheads, animal sacrifices, skinned elbows and a secret lurking in the woods. If you’ve ever been giddy with a crush-turned-true-love, you know what my book feels like. If you’ve ever cowered in fear in the middle of the woods at night as you overhear the crunch of breaking bone and flesh against metal — well, you also know what my book feels like, too.

I also started a Tumblr for my book, collecting all the images I’ve been squirreling away since I started the novel. And I must say, it is super, super-hot, with loads of gorgeous wolf pics, skater pics, and the occasional snapshot of alt-rock heroines. Visit it: xoloveandconcrete.tumbr.com. I also started two Pinterest boards, one of just skaters, one of everything else. You can also check out my dream home Pinterest board while you’re there. Or the one of my wardrobe. Those are kind of dorky, but well, there you go!


Breathing room & new endeavors

I am, I realized, insane.

But I had to admit, the siren call of Nanowrimo was too irresistible. I had told myself last month that if I wrapped up the last revision of my novel, I’d give myself November off from it and start on my next book, using Nanowrimo as a semi-sanctioned cultural excuse to write a large amount of (mostly crappy) words in a short period of time.

Of course, I didn’t think this would happen, because I thought I wouldn’t be done. I had been struggling for some time, you see, chipping away at this current revision, again and again fitzing and cutting and re-writing and chopping and adding. I had gotten used to struggling and feeling discouraged, I guess. I honestly had the thought that I would be one of those supremely frustrated writers who just never are able to get past that one spot in their books, and that I would go to hell faced with these chapters and never be able to get them right, my evil laptop ridiculing me for how utterly ridiculous my attempts were and broadcasting all of them out into the Internet for my ex-boyfriends to laugh at. (That is my version of writer’s hell.)

And then, something magical happened. Some beautiful, gorgeous goddess of words and writing bestowed upon me a remarkable solution that somehow sliced through my difficulties*, and somehow I got to the end of my book. I was just sitting there in Barnes & Noble, looking at this really cute guy in the cafe and tooling away at my document. Maybe I was so distracted by Foxy Coffee Dude that I wasn’t paying attention, because suddenly I realized, Wow, there’s nothing left for me to do. Every item on my To-Do to Fix My Book list had been done.

I looked up in a kind of daze, staring at those weird author portraits they hang up there, godlike, in the store’s cafes. I remember I was directly opposite Langston Hughes, which is a strange author god to have looking down on you as you finish a book about teenage skater werewolves. (“What Would Langston Think?”) I remember I just shut my computer off and didn’t know what to do with myself for a moment. So I read a discarded Us Weekly the next table over, because isn’t that what real people do with their time instead of spending so much of it in their heads with imaginary people?

The next day was Halloween, and I ate lots of candy and wore angel wings with great abandon.

And then the next day, it was November 1. I still didn’t know if I would do Nanowrimo. I thought initially I’d give myself all of November off. You know, sleep, relax, gad about Europe a bit, not put a lot of pressure on myself to keep accomplishing stuff. I have been working on this current book for a long time, revising for nearly a year. Wasn’t I just depleted? What more did I really have to give? I had a few loose ideas for the next book kicking around, ones that had been marinating there in the old brain for some time. But nothing really fully thought-out, considered. Nah, I said to myself. No need to do it.

I did my job that day, I went to the gym. I think I talked to one of my beloveds on the phone for awhile. Then I went to check my email, and opened up my Google Docs, where I had a backup of my current revision going. I thought I was just going to upload the latest version to my account. But suddenly I thought, what the heck. I opened up a new doc and started writing. I kept writing day after day, some days harder than others, but when those came I was too excited by things to be much discouraged, chalking it up to the usual ebb and flow of emotions you have when you write a lot. And now it is the 11th and I’m happily halfway through.

Of course, tomorrow I get to fly over an ocean to another continent, and I’m not bringing my computer because I am so sick of being on my laptop all the time. So no doubt I will likely “fail” at Nanowrimo. But you know, failure is educational and failure can keep you honest. And I’m excited for my next story and am excited to see what I discover about my character, about writing, about myself.

xo k.

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* This technique is called “delete.” As in, if it’s not working, just delete! It only really works if you are an over-writer, like me.

On simplicity and technology

20111029-140936.jpg I write on technology for my day job now, and I am surrounded by it in my daily life. Many of my “tools” are technology: computer, iPod, cameras, microphones. And yet, on mornings when I am trying to update my iPod touch and shuffle files to and fro, clean out my inbox, reply to Twitter, keep up on Facebook and Tumblr, draft out blog posts for all the different avenues, I am thinking: this is too much.

I want to write, and I want to write a lot. And deeply. And imaginatively. I want writing to be poetic and engaged and magical and funny and sometimes strange and off-putting: just full and rich and witchy as I can make it. When I am dealing with all these technological clean-ups and “maintenance,” I think to myself: how is this really helping anything, really? When I look at my Delicious queue of all the things I’ve clipped to read, do I really think this will make my soul sing, my mind expand, my heart get more tender and beautifully open?

I recently updated by iPod to iOS 5 and it took 7.5 hours and essentially threw off my schedule for the day. I thought, this process is having too much power over my life right now. Worse, I let it.

Technology is supposed to make life easier and more beautiful, not to be yet another thing “to keep up with,” the 21st century version of keeping up with the Jones, getting ahead, yet another rat race to engage in. With that in mind, I am going to be thinking about realigning all these elements soon. Stripping down, cleaning up, making what’s left as lovely as I can possibly make it. And how as well, so I can make my little contributions of (hopefully) loveliness and magic with as much ease and little friction as possible. That is what I’ve been thinking lately. I offloaded my old website design business and am no longer making websites for others, but it is time I applied those skills and talents for myself.

In the meantime, I think I will be done with the latest revision of my novel this weekend, just in time for Samhain. I’m on pagan time in my world. And you know, I think the first chapters are ready to leave the cave. I think. I think. My heroine and her sweetheart are ready to meet the world, even if for a brief moment. The thought makes me scaredy-cat and suddenly perfectionist, anxious and squicky-feeling inside, but that is me being a small person, and I will get over it.

xo k.

Tiny missives

1.

I’m in the midst of another revision, a fairly major one: second half, yet again, although I feel like I’m on the right track and it’s just getting the pieces into better places to make it happen better. Better, better, better. Sigh. Just when I think I’m rounding a bend…another bend comes up in the road. Hence, writing the novel sometimes feel more akin like making my way through a maze, a maze that goes into a mountain and comes up into the sky. But I’m getting there. And I’m especially grateful for friends who cheer you on when you’re overwhelmed or pessimistic about ever finishing. “You’re so close, don’t give up in the last lap!” It’s true. Just when I feel like chucking the whole damn thing is often when I’m that much closer to being done. I need the writer’s equivalent of Gatorade.

2.

I read this old interview by Ann Demeulemeester and it reminds me of why I like making stories. And also, why I love her clothes so much.

3.

I made this mix you may like. Go to the link if the embed below doesn’t work. Why is this isht so freaking hard sometimes in WordPress is beyond me.

4.

The lovely Stephanie at one sleepless night interviewed me, and I talk about work, life, productivity, writing and other sundry, fun things! Also: my philosophy of attack regarding To-Do lists. I read over this and I think, wow, I really am insane in some way. I swear, I truly do have fun! Writing is fun, after all, even when it feels like it’s going to shit.

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