Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hi, my name is Julie...

... and I'm a Pinterest addict. 

It didn't used to be this way. Once upon a time... a long time ago... I was just your average, everyday Facebook addict, perusing the comings and goings of my ump-teen-million friends on my Home page. There were no pins ruling my life. No midnight scrolls through the popular page. No inspirational quotes to make me wanna lose weight. No pictures of delicious foods that made me want to say "SCREW IT!" to the scale. 

And the words "Did you see what I pinned?" Definitely did not exist in my vocab. 

I blame Chan. 

Yes. You know who you are, Chan. 

You and your "I fall asleep pinning" and "I'm a virtual hoarder" and "Check out what I have on X, Y, Z boards" has officially rubbed off on me, making Pinterest a permanent fixture in my once "virtual hoarding free" life. It might even replace Facebook for the number one Time Waster spot. I just don't know yet. 

The worst part is, I can't even decide whether to stab you in your sleep for it, or put you on a pedestal and worship your goddess-like wisdom. 

The jury is still out. 


On the bright side, dear writers, due to said newly found Pinterest addiction, I discovered this gem:

And let me just say that Princes have been a HIGHLY underrated aspect of Disney stories. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, what gives?! We hear all about these damsels in distress princesses... everything down to the rules broken, woodland animals sung to, and shoes lost... but when it comes to their hunky counterparts? The men folk totes get the shaft!

Completely unfair, if I do say so myself. 

I count myself lucky to specialize in the Young Adult. Which, as you know, prides itself on equal opportunity. Spreading the love and word count equally (and, perhaps, sometimes skewed unintentionally in favor of) our mocho, good-lookin', totally delicious pieces of man-candy.

Three cheers for that! 

And pats on the back all around for fellow YA writers, who are with me in our appreciation for our rough n' tough, sometimes-damaged, misunderstood, at times awkward, but always irresistibly attractive male characters. 

You. Go. 

Friday, January 18, 2013


So I've been thinking a lot about perspective recently. 

This is probably because earlier this week, one of my younger friends was devastated by a boy. You've been there, right? That moment when your dreamy, whimsical high school heart throb ends up--literally--crushing your soul? 

Oh yeah... I SOOOOO have.

I'm afraid that maybe I didn't react as sensitive to said soul crushing as I ought to have. And I got to thinking that it was probably because my perspective has matured like ninety nine point nine hundred thousand (yes, I'm aware I'm making up numbers) times since I was her age. 

I'd had multiple boyfriends when I was young. 

Settled down with a high school sweet heart. 

Had my heart CRUSHED by said high school sweet heart. 

Become a man eater in college. 

And was finally snagged by the Prince Charming of prince charmmings. A guy so perfect for me that I would never have been able to pick him out, if I'd been given a whole catalogue of prince charming characteristics to choose from!

I've been to the soul crushing place. Survived. And come out realizing that in retrospect? That heart wrenching moment when the man at the center of your high school world decides he doesn't want you... just doesn't even matter. 

But that's perspective for you. 

Its like writing. 

A couple months ago, an agent showed interest in reading part of my manuscript, then flattened my ego with a meat pounder me when she said she didn't like certain aspects of it that needed to be changed. Things I did NOT want to change. I had a discussion with her about these things, and when we were through, decided to just say "Pooooo on you, agent!" and move onto the next query.

But her comments stuck with me.

They were painful. And I didn't like hearing them. And I even rejected their potential worth. But eventually? I made the changes.


I just finished revising and rereading the whole book with said agent's suggestions, and the work has improved. Its more intense. It grabs the reader. It grounds them more thoroughly in the story. And those little elements that I thought were such a big deal when she first suggested the ax?

Not even important.

I'm sure when we all get to the other side of success, we'll realize that concept on an even grander scale. That all those late nights of revising, moments of utter and complete writer's block, not to mention the soul-sucking, heart-wrenching agent rejections and criticisms that seemed like SUCH A BIG DEAL AT THE TIME.... were not only "not that big of a deal," but that they ended up DEFINING who we are as writers. 
Perspective... brought to you by your daily
dose of bumper sticker wisdom.

Those moments world-altering hurt, embarrassment, and pain? They define you. Shape your future. Teach lessons. And make you--and your writing--into the final finished, beautiful product.

So persevere, fellow writers! And keep it all in perspective.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Never too old....

... for a little dress up! 

Friends, I may be a twenty six year old, oh-so-mature law school graduate... but lemme tell you, dressing up STILL hasn't gotten old! And lest be honest... I rock the petticoat. Luckily, I have friends who are still young souls too...

We caused mayhem and general tomfoolery by going to a STEAMPUNK SYMPOSIUM on Saturday!! The symposium of nerd-ham was housed on the Queen Mary, which is docked in Long Beach, CA. Supposedly the Queen Mary is quite haunted... (Oooooo!).... but aside from a few very creepily done costumes, we saw no ghosts. I am, however, quite determined to--at some point--rent a room there for the night. Bring on the haunting! 

We were FAR from the strangest people at said symposium, and had a blast channeling our inner nerds. We were also the talk of the kitchen when we ransacked the Cheesecake Factory afterwards. 


Who needs Halloween to dress up, anyway?

In other news, I found THIS blog post by Rachelle Gardner, to be a gem. You can read the article below, or follow the link to her post. She's got many a gem on her site! Happy reading, my wonderful writer-ites!

Back when I was in my 20′s, I went through a phase in which I was extremely unhappy with my looks. My hair, my face, my weight, my clothes — nothing was right. I was buying more expensive makeup, going on fad diets, and spending too much money on clothes in the attempt to feel better about myself.

One day I had an “aha” moment when I realized I was feeding myself a steady diet of fashion magazines like Glamour, and entertainment magazines like People, that featured an endless array of “beautiful people” who would always be prettier, skinnier, and more fashionable than I (and who, in fact, didn’t really exist except as a product of endless Photoshopping). Deciding to give up my magazine addiction, I noticed a substantial improvement in my self-image over the next several months. The difference was striking and left a powerful impression on me, and I’ve been hyper-aware of insidious, unrealistic influences in my life ever since, avoiding them when possible.

I learned an important lesson: We can identify the things that are causing us to be less than contented, and eliminate them. I’ve used this lesson to make other changes, such as:

→ After joining Costco, I realized we were buying more and more junk we didn’t need. Simply shopping in that store gave us the discontent of not having the junk that was such a good price! I stopped going to Costco ten years ago, have never missed it, and have probably saved thousands of dollars.
→ I used to be highly involved in the parent-teacher organization at my kids’ school. But it was always a combative environment, and while the goal was ostensibly to improve the educational experience of the children, nothing was ever accomplished and everyone was always unhappy. I quit my involvement (finding ways to help the school without attending those meetings) and as a result, my satisfaction with the school increased.

There’s a reason I’m giving you these examples. I think we all can stand to ask ourselves if there are ways we can increase our day-to-day satisfaction by paying attention to things that feed our discontent, and eliminating them.

For writers, my observation and completely unscientific conclusion is this:

The #1 cause of writer discontent is talking to other writers.

Ironic! Talking to other writers is also the most helpful way to get support, encouragement, and knowledge about the industry. Nevertheless, a large percentage of the problems writers have are from either,

(1) comparing themselves with other writers, or
(2) getting inaccurate information from other writers, or
(3) hanging out in writer loops or chatrooms where discontented writers are venting their woes.

If you’re unhappy with something in your writing life, ask yourself: Am I comparing my sales to those of other writers? Am I comparing my experience with another writer’s experience? (Remember, everyone’s path is unique.) Am I upset about something another writer told me, without having any objective verification of its truth? Am I paying too much attention to the complaints of unhappy authors?
It’s crucial to avoid comparison, and set your own yardstick for success. Your path is not going to look like anyone else’s.

Are you wasting valuable time and energy ranting about the unfairness of the industry, or the difficulties of getting published, when you could focus elsewhere—on writing for instance—and be happier? Are you worrying about things you can’t control instead of focusing on things within your sphere of influence?

While author loops can be terrific forums for high-minded discussion, too often they devolve into complaints and “piling on,” where everyone feeds everyone else’s dissatisfaction.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Les Miserables


Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. 


I feel like almost anything I say about this film will sound half you-know-what and washed up. But I have to try. Its a moral imperative. I can't simply watch such an incredible production and NOT gush about it. So you shall just have to listen as I stumble my way through an attempt to give this show justice!


Helen Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohnen

Can the woman do no wrong? She's creepy. But amazing. I wanted to hate her, but by the end, I kinda felt a tinsey bit sorry for them. Plus they were both hilarious. Three cheers for you, Helen and Sacha! 


Daniel Huttlestone... 

And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickin's but we got some bite
So never kick a dog . . . because he's just a pup . . .
You better . . . run for cover . . . when the pup . . . grows u--

I cried.


"A little drop of rain . . . can hardly hurt me now . . . and rain . . .  will make the flowers grow."
Such a beautiful, sad moment. And, in general, I think Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks killed it as Marius and Eponine. 



Another Eponine moment . . . 

"In the rain, the pavement shines like silver. . ."
I read online that before she was cast, Smantha Barks was competing against Lea Michelle, Scarlett Johansen and Taylor Swift for the role. Thank HEAVENS she got it instead of them. I can't imagine any of those three even coming close to doing as good a job as Samantha. 


Anne Hathaway's performance as Fontaine . . . Especially during the whole "Lovely Ladies" and "I Dreamed a Dream" sequence. Wow. 


Of course, Hugh Jackman . . . though, I feel stupid, because before last night, I had no idea he could sing. He did amazing. I'm positive there will be an Oscar nomination. 


"Do you hear the people sing?"
I got some honest to goodness, spine tingling goosebumps during this song. So, SO well done!


But I have to admit, out of all the Oscar-worthy moments in this amazing production, I give it to Eddie Redmayne for stealing the show. For me, at least . . .  

. . . his rendition of Empty Chairs was awe-inspiring. It was possibly my favorite moment of the show. I keep trying to write a description of how tragically beautiful this piece was . . . how emotional and raw he portrayed Marius's grief . . . but every time I try, my words come out sounding empty and hollow. I suppose you just have to see it yourself . . . It is hands down the best rendition I've ever heard or seen of Empty Chairs. Supporting actor nomination? Pretty please? Methinks we'll be seeing a LOT more of Mr. Redmayne in the near future . . . 

"Empty chairs at empty tables . . ."

 I went to Les Mis, feeling I already knew the show. I left knowing I never had.

I don't know if it was the big production budget . . . seeing on a big screen (where the emotions are more detailed and precise), or a combination of both, but seeing this production of Les Miserables was different. Like seeing it the first time. The way it was meant to be experienced. 

This was emotion. It was real. It was dirty and sad and inspiring. And it was nothing like the times I had seen it before. I loved every sad, tragic, happy minute of it, and want to see it again!

Your thoughts? Comments?