Monday, May 20, 2013

The Big Impact of the Smaller Things

I think this post has been brewing for a while, but it was actually a non-writing related meltdown that made me realize it.

I took the day off on Friday to get a few things done, namely my glucose tolerance test and a tune-up for my car to make sure it's safe to drive to Georgia.

Things have been stressful in recent months, but I've really been trying to take everything in stride. Sure there have been tears along the way, but on Friday I was honestly convinced I might never stop crying.

And it was basically over the stupidest thing ever.

In my defense, in addition to the things in the links above, I'd consumed enough sugar for 3 people, I'd worked late the past two weeks, gotten all kinds of aggravation from unaccommodating doctors offices in GA, and on top of it all, I had a wicked, can't-get-more-than-two-feet-from-a-box-of-tissues-or-you're-in-trouble cold.

All relatively small things, in and of themselves.

And then, to make a long story short, my doctor's office screwed up a prescription refill and I got stuck paying for a medication I'll never take, all because they didn't follow instructions.

We're only talking about a $25 copay here. But guys, between stress and not feeling well, I melted down like they'd just stripped me of my entire life's savings. The tears just kept on coming.

When I talked to my husband he said, "Babe, it's only a prescription, it's not a big deal." I knew he was right, but that didn't stop it from feeling like a very big deal. It felt like confirmation that nothing would ever go right in my life ever again, because it had been so long since anything had.

It sounds dramatic, because most of us (myself included) know better than to sweat the little things. But when the little things keep piling up, they get heavier and heavier. And eventually, something is going to buckle under the weight.

But the moral of all this? Is that these are the exact moments I try to capture in my YA stories.

When the average person thinks back on his or her high school years, it's usually not one specific event or memory that evokes the misery and perfection of being a teenager - it's a culmination of many moments. Looking back on my own high school years, there really weren't any major events.
     Does it mean that nothing I went through didn't FEEL like a major event?
     That nothing I experienced didn't shape my way of thinking and acting for years to come?  
     That I can't still recall those moments of joy or anger or hurt as if they just happened yesterday?
Absolutely Not.

And this, THIS, is the exact reason I wrote the contemporary romance that got me my agent. I wanted a book that captured those first-relationship moments you never forget, because of how they made you FEEL.

The smiles and laughs that start to take on a different meaning until your insides squirm when you realize your feelings for someone extend beyond friendship.

The way it feels like you've been punched right in the gut the first time you see that person look at someone else the way you wish they'd look at you.

The magnitude of a kiss you've waited eons for.

The letdown of knowing it can't be anything more.

The devastation of believing you're inferior and worthless.

The invincible feeling of knowing you most certainly are NOT inferior or worthless, and no one ever has the right to make you feel that way, thank you very much.

Having no real certainty of where do I go from here?

Those, to me, are the moments that stand out from my teenage years, and the things that have never left my mind, even though they're not momentous by anyone else's definition. Unfortunately, novels that flesh out these kinds of moments are often branded "quiet," almost like it's a bad word.

I don't call them quiet. I call them "real."

It's a huge challenge to drum up major emotion from minor things, to create drama that's gripping and relatable without theatrics. To write something people will love just for the way it makes them feel. To create a story that's a collection of small things leaving a big impact.

Wasting 25 bucks on a botched prescription refill is not a big deal. Neither is developing a crush on someone. But they've FELT like big deals to all of us at one time or another, and when you can put that moment in context to make someone feel its significance all over again, that is no small feat as an author.

So no, I don't say "quiet" like it's a bad word when it comes to novels. I say it like it's something I'd love to see more of. I say it with respect.
I say it like it's an accomplishment. Because it is.

Your turn - what small moments in life have made the biggest impact on you and your writing? Which  novels have made a mark on you just for the way they made you feel (So I can go check them out RTFN)?

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm Super, Thanks For Asking

Those of you who are still reading have probably noticed my blog posts becoming shorter and less frequent, except for the days I’m over at the YA Misfits blog – which I am today, BTW. Head on over if you’d like to talk about what makes you root for a literary couple!

Anyhow, I’m not blogging less because I love it any less, and I certainly haven’t abandoned my writerly ambitions – I’m actually fielding more ideas than I’ve ever had at once, as well as getting ready to revise a couple of finished WiP’s. The problem is that I’m also juggling more in my personal life than I ever have at once time, including the pending arrival of a baby and an out-of-state move.

Saying it that way makes it sound so simple. And guys, nothing has been simple about this process.


Oh, and did I mention I’m still working full time, and am absolutely swamped? And that I’m almost NEVER swamped at this time of year, yet paperwork continues to breed on my desk?

Or that I’m currently homeless? Ok, so not really, because I am staying with family and they have gone out of their way to make me comfortable, but I have no place to call my own since closing on my house last month, and this has been way harder on me than I anticipated. I miss my cute little house. A lot. And I’m hormonal. ‘Nuff said.

Long story short, I’m looking for ways to save time wherever and however I can. And I’ve noticed one of the things taking up a lot of my time and energy is answering the same questions from family and friends over and over.

Apparently, when you’re on the brink of making a long distance move, people want to see you all the time, and they find the details of you life fascinating. Which is awesome, because I love my friends and family. Except at this particular point…

So I thought it might make sense, in order to avoid sounding and feeling like a broken record, to make a list of the questions I’m asked most frequently, answer them here, and then update accordingly every so often. So here goes:

When Are You Due?

August 8th. But do I think I’ll make it to that day? Hell to the no. Not with my family’s track record of going into labor early.

Do You Know What You’re Having?

Yes. A little boy.

Your Husband Must Be Thrilled!

Yes. As am I. And as we both would’ve been had Baby Boy been a Baby Girl instead. I am EXTREMELY touchy about this sexist and rather douchey comment, so let’s press on.

Do You Have A Name Picked?

Nope, we don’t. But even when we do, I will not be sharing until the day he’s born. With the fluctuations in my hormones, I can’t guarantee that the first person to make a comment or a face won’t get slapped.

How Are You Feeling?

I’m super, thanks for asking. Yes, this is a stock answer. I’m tired and stressed and, at times, totally overwhelmed. But I was fortunate enough to escape morning sickness, lucky enough to have a supportive family behind me, and so grateful to finally be on my way to mommyhood. So all things considered, I’m pretty darn good.

When Are You Moving Down To Georgia?

We don’t have a definitive date yet. Sometime in June.

What Areas Are You Looking In?

Roswell, Milton, Alpharetta, John’s Creek, etc. We’re looking in these areas to try and keep my husband’s commute under an hour. His office will be located in Buckhead.

HOW Are You Looking For Houses?

With the help of a great realtor in GA and some strategically timed trips. Plus lots and LOTS of time on the internet. Hold me.

What Will You Do If You Don’t Have a House by June?

Cry. A lot.

No, really, we’re looking into temporary housing in corporate apartments that seem nice and won’t break our bank. I promise I won’t be raising my son in airport terminal for the first month of his life.

Do You Have A Doctor? A Hospital?

Hospital, yes. Doctor, no. Apparently when you're more than 20 weeks pregnant, they need to see your records before they'll even let you make an appointment. This is not a fun policy for someone who is a big fan of instant gratification and only has another 6 weeks or so in the hands of doctors who've been seeing her for years now.

Are You Sure You Wouldn’t Rather Have the Baby In CT?

Since that option would involve an inevitable 14-hour road trip with a newborn, I’m gonna go with no on that one.

It’s Your Parents’ First Grandchild And You’re Leaving? They Must Be Devastated!

Yes. Thank you for reminding me. I didn’t feel complete without the horrific guilt that comes with thinking about that.

Are You Still Writing?

Abso-freaking-lutely. Books and words are my outlet. I may not always be able to get them from my head to the page quickly enough for my liking, but I won’t turn away from them.

Writing is a very loved, very welcome constant in my life right now. And just like everything else that’s currently up in the air, the best is yet to come.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Happy Cover Reveal Day to Sharon M. Johnston!

About the Book:

Title: Sleeper (Book I in the Toy Soldiers series)

Author: S. M. Johnston

Release Date: December 2, 2013

Publisher: Entranced Publishing

Genre: NA speculative fiction

After a life saving heart transplant, eighteen-year-old Mishca Richardson is plagued by nightmares and an urgent desire to find her birth parents, which she puts down to post-operation depression. But her new heart seems to bring more than a second chance at life in the form of speed, strength and love at first sight.

And now....

TA DA!!!!! Happy Cover Reveal Day, Sharon! It looks amazing!

About the Author:

Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review's Young Adult short story contest with KARMA. By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.

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