Sunday, December 28, 2014

WIPMarathon Report: Here's to the New Year!

Wow I swear 2014 went by in a blink. But honestly you guys, this has been a pretty special year. I'm almost positive that meeting the WIPMarathoners is what gave me that final push to finish my book. Your posts every month highlighting all of your writing wonders and woes is what kept me from sinking sometimes, and kept me inspired. That being said, here is my final WIP Report for 2014. *sniffle*
Things I’m Glad I Did In 2014:
  1. Finishing my very first book. I'm still in awe. And publishing it! Wow. What a ride.
  2. Already stated above, but getting to network with other writers, such as Ms. Ifeoma, Ms. Krystal, and the rest of the WIPMarathon crew. Also, getting to know and love writers who are outside of my genre--like, WAY outside (some of my favorite souls this year turned out to be erotica and/or horror writers...who would've thought?). 
  3. Asking hubby for all rights to the office. It seems small, but I feel invigorated being able to start the new year with my own little writing space. 
  
In 2015, I’d love to:
  1. Write Book 2 in the CE Series. Aviva's story is up next, and I'm nearly giddy that I get to depart from Taz's crazy time loop madness and move on to Aviva's intriguing little ghost story.
  2. Figure out how to multitask in writing. I've never been one of those people who can work on more than one project at a time, but I have several ideas for other books/novellas that I would love to start outlining/drafting. I just don't know how to do this. Multitask, that is. HOW? (Krystal, do a blog post about this!)
  3. Return to some of my non-writing hobbies. I love oil-painting, shooting arrows in my backyard, renovating things in my house, etc., but I sort of gave those things up this year to finish my book. I miss having other things in my life to help me decompress, especially since writing can be so stressful. I'd also like to spend more silly-time with my kids.
  4. Continue to foster my online friendships, and support others the same way they've supported me.
  5. Meet some local writers in my town. It would be amazing to have at least one flesh and blood writer-person to interact with, one who I can actually see and touch and...(am I getting creepy?)

I'm going to skip this month's regular check-in since I spent this month in the publishing throes rather than working on a manuscript, but I feel pretty optimistic that I'll have something to report to break in the new year in January. Until then, I'll conclude with this (it says '2014' but is definitely applicable to the new year):

#8 is my favorite. Cheers to a wonderful year, and here's hoping 2015 will bring even more triumphs (even if you have to lose a little sanity to get there). 

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Very Own Writing Corner

Clint gave me my own writing cove for Christmas!

To put this in context, I've been desperately craving my own little writer's hideaway for years now. When we first moved into our house, I gave Clint the spare room to use as his miniature man cave. At the time it seemed fair, because I pretty much had free reign in decorating our whole house. He decided he wanted to turn the spare room into an office (with a small bed in case I kicked him out for snoring or thrashing around in his sleep), and he wanted an Asian theme. So we painted the room in reds and yellows, brought in a black cherry blossom bedspread and some other Asian decor, hung up black curtains, displayed all of his dojo belts/black belt certificate/swords, and so on. When we finished, it looked like this:

OLD OFFICE



Not exactly my style, but it looked kind of cool. It was colorful, clean, and fun, plus I was happy that Clint had his own little space in our house to play on the computer and watch his anime.

In the last few years, this room has changed functions countless times. At one point it was an exercise room, another time a painting studio, and once, it was even an archery room of sorts where Clint hand-fletched arrows and strung bows. The dude changes hobbies a lot, and this poor little room was forced to keep up. The room was always messy (unlike what you see in the above picture) and over time the walls looked kind of like ketchup and mustard to me, but it was functional and lived in, and that was fine with me.

But then Clint started to use the room for storage. Things that he didn't want to disappear into the garage slowly crept into the room, until the desk became so cluttered and heaped with stuff that it rendered the office unusable. He stopped using the desktop computer altogether in lieu of using his laptop in the living room. The pillows all disappeared, the bed was messy, the floors were littered with boxes and who knows what else, and the room turned into a dark, depressing space. I wish I had taken a picture of it in that state, but no one wants to take pictures of things that suck.

Little by little his man cave was making less sense to me. It wasn't just the perpetual mess. It was the fact that the room had become stagnant. No one was using it anymore--it was just a place to "stick things" when you had no where else to put them. And I couldn't help but note the irony, given that as both a teacher and a writer, I would treasure a quiet space to do my grading and writing. Every Sunday I sit at the dining room table to grade. If I need a pen, or paper clips to organize students' work, or a post-it to label something, etc., I'm forced to dig through batteries and bolts and whatever-else in the office to find what I need (which these past few months had become impossible). And writing is even worse. I can't even describe how hard it is to write a book at a dining room table in the middle of your house with kids and pets running around.

At least, this WAS the case.

When Clint asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I wanted the office. I honestly expected him to argue, and I was prepared with all my reasons. You know, things like "My job requires me to grade," and "You're not using it anymore," and "I'll treasure this room and take care of it like no one else has." But I think he must have been thinking about giving it to me for awhile, because he didn't protest at all. Instead, he had me show him a picture of what kind of work space would be ideal to me.

Blue is my favorite color (as in, the deepest brightest part of our desert sky), so that part was easy. But I also wanted a space that was lively and fresh--to keep me alert when I'm trying to write. So I showed him a picture of a room that was cornflower blue with pops of white and red. I was prepared to do this project with him, but he decided he wanted this to be my "big" gift--that he would do all the work and I would get to be surprised with the results. That part was a little nerve-wracking for me, because I'm used to being in control of home decor type projects. He had the office door locked for weeks, and I was going crazy wanting to see it. But it was worth the madness. The grand reveal was Christmas morning, and here's what I walked into:

NEW OFFICE


That tree decal gets me the most. For at least a full minute I couldn't even take in the rest of the room because I couldn't rip my eyes away from it.




The gum ball machine I got for my birthday last year--I had wanted one ever since I wrote my gum ball stories. It makes sense to have it in this room now.



My typewriter!




There's still some work to do, like hanging up some of my smaller oil paintings and replacing the ugly brown door (not shown in these pictures) with a new white one. I'm also thinking of painting that desk an antique white over spring break. But I love this room! Like, I can't get myself to leave (okay, don't tell anyone but I slept in here last night. I had to, just once). And the room is just girly enough that Clint doesn't want anything to do with it. He walks in from time to time and says "It's just so...pretty," and shakes his head sadly and walks out. So it's mine now. All MINE. (That's reading a little more villainous than I was going for).

Outside of the whole office thing, Christmas overall was pretty wonderful. I'll try to write about it later, and maybe post some pics (I think I say this every year and never end up doing it). The only downfall is I have a nasty, nasty cold. I don't even know how that's possible since I was just sick during Thanksgiving break. Clint says it's because I don't let myself get sick when I'm working, so the second I'm on break, my body's all, 'Good, I can finally fall apart!' I've heard this same theory from some of my coworkers too. It seems a whole slew of us teachers get sick right when break starts. But I have to say, as far as nasty colds go, this is a really pleasant one. Pleasant, as in I don't feel sick AT ALL. I actually feel really good. But it's nasty, because I'm one big ball of flem, and it has totally wiped out my voice. AGAIN. This is the second time in a thirty day period I've had no voice. At least the first time I was down to a raspy whisper-type thing. This time my voice sounds wheezy. It's horrible, really...my kids were telling me earlier, "Stop talking Mom. Seriously."

So yes, wheezing ball of flem. Let me tell you. I'm sexy.

This is SO enough writing for now.

P.S. I owe @MelDouleur and @bloodglorygrace a dancing clip in the future since I said I would participate in the Christmas Carol hop and I didn't. But here are their awesome contributions of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Silent Night.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pet Names

I want to do a blog post. Really, I do. But I am so, so busy.

I was talking to an author during lunch today who subs at our school from time to time. At one point, we had the following conversation: 

Her: "So let me get this straight. You're a full time teacher here?"
Me: "Yes."
Her: "And you have two kids?"
Me: "Yes."
Her: (Long pause) "When the heck do you have time to write?"
Me: Well I'm not really a 'good' mom, per say...

At this point my fellow coworker Brad shouts across the lunch room, "Oh, come on! Every time I see your kids out on the street holding up their 'Will work for food' signs, I'm impressed by their work ethic."

Thanks for that, Brad. 

In other kid-related news, I realized that I call everyone in my household "baby." Trin will hand me my thermos of iced-coffee and I'll say "Thanks baby." Clint will come home from work and I'm all "Hey baby." And so on. The problem is when you call everyone baby, they all respond. No one is sure which "baby" is your target audience. So I told the kids tonight, "I need new pet names for you guys. What do you want me to call you?"

"Sexy Taco," Trinity blurts out. Without even batting an eye.

And this is why you don't let your kids choose their own nicknames.

The publishing mayhem is just about over, and I almost have what sort of resembles a life again! YES. I'm sighing with relief so hard that I'm getting lightheaded.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wish Granted

Last night I started reading this book.

 Yep, while my peers are reading Gone Girl and Game of Thrones, I'm reading 1876 by Gore Vidal (who shows a propensity for writing his name so big that it looks like part of the title). 

Why am I reading this lovely, um, flesh-colored book?

Well, it started a few days ago, when I confessed to my husband that I was stalling with writing the next book in the Chasing Echoes Series because I'm completely, utterly daunted by the research it requires. Book 2 is Aviva's story, and half of it takes place in 1876. I know NOTHING about 1876. I mean, really you guys, I do mean nothing. I am really bad with time periods and history. I told some coworkers in the staff room a few weeks ago that if it weren't for the fact that they were labeled "I" and "II," I'd have no idea which World War came first. So while I'm pretty sure they didn't have microwaves in 1876, did they have electricity? What about cars...or was it horse drawn buggies? Had the phone been invented? What about the radio? Oh, and what did they wear? I'm kind of picturing Amish clothing. And what was going on in America during that time? I do know that 1876 is a Centennial year, but WHAT ON EARTH DOES THAT MEAN? 

Of course I can google these questions, but it still doesn't paint a big picture for me. I might find out that they--the 1876ians--churned their own butter, but it would take hundreds of questions answered before I had an idea of what day-to-day life was like.

In lamenting to my hubby, I told him "I wish there was a book I could read that takes place in 1876...just so I could bury myself in that world and come out feeling confident to write about it." A few keystrokes later, he said "Your book is on the way." He turned the screen toward me, and there it was. A BOOK CALLED 1876. I couldn't believe it. 

So thank you, Gore Vidal, for helping me with my research. Your beautiful book with its giant cobalt blue font on its slightly sickly-colored tan background is a wish granted. 

Okay, back to reading.

P.S. This book is big. Pretty sure it's going to take me a year to read about a year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

COVER REVEAL: CHASING ECHOES

I’ve already said this too many times this morning, but I have to, here, one more time.

If you click on that above-link, it will lead you to Krystal Jane’s lovely cover reveal on my book. I had Krystal do the honors because a) I knew she would do a better job than me, and b) her blog rocks. But, just for posterity’s sake, I’ll go ahead and post my cover HERE, too. After all, Ocean in a Cup was the blog that had to endure all of my ranting and whining for the last five years or whatever; it probably deserves to have some good news smattered on it too.

So here it is, the full cover wrap for CHASING ECHOES:



And here is the eBook cover:



I have Najla Qamber to thank for such a job well done--love her!

In other news, I now have an official author’s website: www.jodiperkins.com. It has all of the information about my book, Goodreads link, etc. There is also a blog section of the site, and I’m going to use that as a place to record anything related to Chasing Echoes, future books in the series, etc. Unfortunately this means TWO BLOGS again. History has shown that I don’t keep up well with two blogs. But I did take out the comment section of Blog #2 in an effort to help keep up, so hopefully that will work.


Ocean in a Cup is my personal space, so I decided I would like to keep it as marketing-free as possible. I'll go ahead and post a few links on my side margin for my book (once the book is available), but I won’t be pushing sales through these blog posts. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Please oh please I'm BEGGING YOU

Remember how I mentioned in my Soggy post that my poor little book is going to have to jump off the Amazon shelf and sell itself, because I'll never have the time to promote it? Well, admittedly, it's more than that. It's also the fact that I HATE marketing. 

I realize 'hate' is a strong word, but I'm sticking with it.

I hate it.

This is a sad little irony. Because, as an author, once you've published a book, you're supposed to promote the book. But I got into writing because I have a passion for WRITING--not sales. Begging people to support me makes me feel like, well, a beggar. I don't care for the idea of putting others into a position where they feel pressured to "check out my book" or "retweet me" or "tell your friends about me." It seems rude, like, "Hey, we just met on twitter ten seconds ago, but check out how awesome I am and tell others, too!"

And, while I understand the reasons, I wish other writers wouldn't do it to me.



So I'm determined I'm not going to become this person (ha! Whatever. Let me have my little dream). I mean, don't get me wrong, I'll definitely be putting my book out there. I'll do a facebook page and I'll post it on twitter and the whole shebang. And the day it's released, I'll joyously herald it from the rooftops. But I'm not going to beg my followers to "like this" or "retweet that." I'm not going to be dressing up in monkey suits to sell my work.

At least I don't think I will. I shouldn't have to be someone I'm not, just because I decided to write a book, right?

I just wonder how long my anti-marketing attitude will last. Maybe it's inevitable that writers must eventually become salespeople. Because let's face it, even though I may talk a big talk, at the heart of it all, I still want my book to be READ. In his article "Every Hit Counts," writer Drew Chai states this beautifully: "We dared to follow our dreams and this is where they led us. We’re beggars with biographies, hermits with head-shots, streetwalkers with stat counters."

Is that what I'm destined to be? A streetwalker with a stat counter, hawking my writerly wares? 
Oh baby, please click my 'like' button. Mmmm. Just like that...

I guess time will tell. But if I do become marketing-crazed, feel free to slap some sense into me.

Or at least spank my 'like' button since I've been a bad author...

(Sorry, couldn't resist)

One Sheep, Two Sheep, Cow, Turtle...

I need to post something. Anything.

What to say, what to say...

So my new iPhone has a ton of emojis. I call them emoticons, but my students tell me that this term is so last year, and that they are now called emojis. I looked it up, and it turns out that emoticons are a representation of facial expressions using characters from your keyboard, such as this: ;-). Whereas emojis are a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion--in other words, a tiny graphic. So the two aren't actually synonyms after all. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who didn't know this? Anyway, I have a ton of these on my phone, and it turns out that me and emojis are NOT a good mix. Like, I have this compulsion to use them ALL. From the simple happy face to the Easter Island Head (because, you know, the Easter Island Head has a ton of practical uses within a texting conversation). It's just that there are so many, and they are right there, one keystroke away, begging for me to use them. 

Take these threads, for example (gray boxes = my sis; green/blue boxes = me):






This last one doesn't have anything to do with emojis. I just wanted to point out that my twin sister with a doctorate makes up words like "Humpton."

I haven't slept in the last two days. Well, I've slept, just not a lot. The first night was simply because a demon possessed Beans--our pomeranian--and he decided to sit in the middle of the living room at 2 a.m and bark at nothing for an hour straight. It was odd because the dog almost never barks. He doesn't know how to jump, either, which makes him this broken, ground-dwelling beast, rather than the lap dog he's supposed to be.  Anyway, by the time Beans settled down, I was wired, and it took me until 5:00 a.m. before I could go back to sleep.

Last night was quiet, but I just couldn't find the off-switch on my brain, which is always a fun ride.


I actually jumped out of bed around 3 in the morning (sometime after the Macarena) and scratched down a short scene with Grayden and Audrina:

     "You don't get it. I want to hurt you. I want to drag you down my road of twisted perversity and I want you to hate it. And relish it."
     Cold sweat trickled down her neck. She already knew this. But hearing him say it aloud forced her to imagine flesh on those phantoms--to see them as real.
     "Is that what you want? You want me in pain?"
     "Yes," he said, and then paused. "But then I feel these waves rippling from you, and they're awful. They seep into my skin. And I want to change my answer to 'no'"
     "Grayden." In two steps she had his face cupped in her hands. She saw the conflict in his eyes, like clouds crashing over an uncertain sea. "I'm sorry."
     She tucked her head against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her, too tight at first, but loosening at her gasp. She could feel his heart--his perfectly normal heart--beat against her cheek, and she relinquished herself to the realization that it was here, listening to his body's rhythm, that she felt safe.
     But something logical pulsed inside her brain. This is a faux safety, it said. This is controlled chaos. This was the way a smooth sea shone like glass right before being broken by brutal winds and rain.
     A storm is lurking, this logical thing said.
     She told it to shut up. 

So that's just GREAT. Another scene for a story that doesn't exist. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comfy Prison Cells

I was telling one of my wonderful (albeit newer) blogging friends, Mel, that I've been in a bit of a slump lately, avoiding my blog (and just about any social networking). She more or less told me to write something on my blog--ANY LITTLE THING. I don't know what purpose this serves, other than giving my writing slump the middle finger, but I've decided to follow her advice. So here's my feeble attempt to write...any little thing.

Last night I watched God's Not Dead for the first time. Clint recently installed a large roll-up projector screen into our backyard patio, so now we can watch movies outside at night. It's pretty amazing. We've used it twice now, and both times we sat in the spa for the entire two hours, turning into prunes as we enjoyed the show. The first movie was a few weeks ago--The Truman Show. I can't even describe how beautiful I find this movie. The fact that Truman's entire world...his very existence...is nothing but a faux-reality...it's like a heart-warming version of The Matrix. I loved watching the truth--the bigger Truth--slowly dawn on him, and I loved following him as he clumsily plowed his way through all of the giant boulders of grief--disbelief, sadness, anger, defeat, and, at last, freedom.

God's Not Dead was wonderful, too. I haven't looked into any reviews of the movie, and I'm sure the secular world has found many ways of tearing it apart, but I, not being a movie critic who looks for poetry and great acting and cinematic brilliance, found it to be poignant and heart-rending and just damn feel-good from start to finish. This particular scene, featuring a well-to-do business man (with questionable morality) visiting his dementia-inflicted mother, struck me the hardest:



This isn't the first time I've heard an analogy involving a prison cell so comfortable and pleasant that the one imprisoned within never considers leaving. The Truman Show illustrates this point, too, with Truman feeling at peace inside the world fabricated just for him--a most lovely cage--until he is given an urgent reason to search for more. 

Contentment is probably the biggest weapon in the devil's arsenal. Welcome to America--Land of the Free and Home of the Bound.

Today I have spent the entire day outside in the sun. I guess it's autumn in other parts of the country, but here in the desert, we're experiencing summer at its finest. Trinity had a friend over, and Carey (Clint's dad) stopped by for awhile, where we lounged at the patio table, chatting about family and life. I just love Carey, and not only because he scratches my itch for deeper conversation (though that helps). But that's a whole other post. Now everyone has left and I'm still outside, squinting to see the images on my smudged laptop screen, but the sun is sort of glaring at me as it creeps toward the western horizon like it has some sort of score to settle.

Yeah...I think I've lost this battle (my nose is practically touching my screen now, and going inside IS NOT AN OPTION 'cause I"m way too happy out here), so I'll end this post. But hey, I wrote any little thing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Book Cover Shining Like a Strobe Light on the Down Low


I was told, "Keep your book cover to yourself until it's time for the big reveal." So I intently followed those directions. And then I *might have* enthusiastically showed my cover to fellow teachers from my cell phone every time they walked into my classroom.

I also might have texted it to a small smattering of family members and close friends.

And I sorta, kinda might have hung up a giant book poster, complete with release date, in my classroom to be seen by approximately 104 students a day.

Yeah, I might be a wee bit HORRIBLE at keeping my cover to myself. My cover reveal is going to be the lamest, most anticlimactic event EVER.

But I did try.

Sort of.

Okay, I'm off to go design book markers now. You know, displaying my book cover. Before my grand reveal. Because that's how I do.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Soggy and Me

As you [maybe, probably, most likely] know, it's my life-long dream to be an author. But...I sort of have a day job that is a bit time-consuming. And by "a bit," I mean very, VERY, VERRRRRRY time-consuming. I'm a 7th grade Language Arts teacher (which is probably not boding well for my "very" with six Rs). I love my job, but by the time I come home, I am drained. Teaching isn't physically taxing, but mentally it takes its toll. Even if you take all of the classroom management out of the equation, the sheer number of questions I am asked every day would be enough to turn anyone's brain into mush. The bell for first period rings, and it goes something like this:

Mrs. Perkins, do you have a pencil I can borrow? Can I sharpen my pencil? I forgot my homework--can I turn my homework in tomorrow? What does that word say? Can I go to the bathroom? How old are you? What page are we on? Can I have some tissue? Are we on regular schedule or upside-down schedule? Can I change seats? Can I throw this away? Why are the announcements so hard to hear today? Can I hold Muggle (the class pet)?

That brings us about five minutes into the school day. It's not the students' fault. They don't realize that their one little harmless question, combined with the bazillion other harmless questions from their classmates, would bring any sane person to their knees. Lucky for me, I'm not a sane person. I TEACH MIDDLE SCHOOL. So I handle all of these questions like a champ, rapid-firing answers back so fast that I'm not even sure what I'm saying. But by the time I come home from work, I look something like this.


I've decided to name her "Soggy." It just seems to fit.

Does Soggy LOOK like a writer to you? Does she look like she's ready to start tapping away on her keyboard in some stream of inspiration? I mean, seriously, I can't even answer the most basic questions from my family, let alone work on a book. My daughter will ask me if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean, and I'll look at her with this empty gaze, until two minutes later, I'm like, "Huh? Something about spoons?"

Sadly, my students get the best of me. My family and my writing get Soggy.

What does this mean for my future as a writer? I admit, I suffer from a massive case of Green with Envy Syndrome when I see all of my writerly friends on twitter who have chosen writing as their career. They put their hearts and souls into their dream. And once they finish writing a book, they have the time to promote it. They can do blog tours and giveaways and explore all sorts of social networking avenues to give their book a presence.

Does Soggy LOOK like she's excited to jump on Facebook and do a blog giveaway? My poor little book--Chasing Echoes--is somehow going to have to miraculously leap from the Amazon page and sell itself, because frankly I'm lucky if I have enough willpower to compose a coherent sentence at the end of the workday, let alone sell a damn book.

I guess all of this begs the question...why don't I quit teaching and pursue my dream of being a full-time writer?

Easy. I teach for the money.

Heheheheheheheheheehee...Oh, come on, that was FUNNY.

Okay, seriously. I won't quit because not only do I love my students, they inspire me. It was my students last year who encouraged me to write my book. It was my students who asked me every single day "How's your book coming along, Miss P?" and who squealed every time I read an excerpt, with cries of "Hurry up--I can't wait to read the whole thing!"

And today, it is still my students who keep me pumped up...who refuse to let me off the hook.

(And who throw pencils at my head if I start to nod off from pulling an all-nighter).

So even though Soggy doesn't always feel like writing, she still pushes through...because she has 100-and-some hopeful faces cheering her on.

Maybe someday, I will have to choose:  Be a teacher, or be a writer. But for now, I choose both. Because somehow, being a teacher motivates me to be a writer--even if it's a writer who's a wee bit soggy around the edges.