Monday, November 11, 2019

The Future

It's one of those rare moments where no one's home except for me, so of course I'm sitting here lavishing in some gourmet cheese and red wine. I love alone time to a degree that's probably unnatural, though I'm sure I'll feel differently someday when I'm an empty nester and these kinds of moments happen more often.

So I'm sitting here, enjoying my wine, and I decide I want a little music. I tell our Google Assistant thingy "Hey Google, play some music." "Okay, playing music from your Spotify," she responds, and awesome music starts piping from my living room speakers. I say, "lower the volume by twenty percent." "Okay," she says, and lowers the volume. I realize it's a bit too low, so I say "Increase the volume by ten percent." "Okay," she says, and increases the volume. Now it's perfect.

And while all this is accomplished casually without any fanfare, it hits me. I'm living in the future. I can barely comprehend it. The fact that I can turn my music on and adjust the volume without so much as lifting a remote has me feeling awed (isn't this the stuff we used to see on sci-fi shows as kids?), yet simultaneously underwhelmed. It's all happened so fast, yet I feel like the proverbial frog boiling, where technology has crept upon me with such rapid stealth that I've barely noticed. My sister wrote a great post on this concept years ago: The Last Time I Loved Technology.



Not only do I feel a combination of awe and ambivalence, I also feel a mixture of giddiness and trepidation. Giddiness because--how lucky am I to get to live in this amazing century where the world's information is more than doubling every twelve months? Trepidation because (and maybe this is the writer in me)--I see the dystopian nature of it all. Language devolving to the digital version of cavemen drawings, personal connections forsaken in lieu of relationships over screens, and so on. I won't get on that soapbox because it'd take me at least 50K words to step back down, but this oldie from 1969, in all its ridiculous insanity, sums it up nicely: In the Year 2525. Some of these lyrics might take visions of the future to preposterous levels, but you have to admit--this song has some sharp and interesting insights given that it came out well before the internet and cell phones.

So yeah, the curious and inspired human in me feels blessed to live in this era. But sometimes, something else in me waits for the other shoe to drop.


~~~

*Update: Since I drafted this post, Clint and Elijah came home about two hours earlier than I expected, and poor Clint is sicker than a dog and puked down the side of our Pathfinder. See why I bask in Me Time when I have it? :P

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Cringy Character Tropes

Do you have character tropes for heroines that get under your skin? I have a few (especially found within YA novels) that kinda make me want to throw my Kindle at the wall. Nothing I say about these is insightful--if you're an avid reader, you've come across these tropes a few times yourself, and have likewise come across people like me who are also irked by them. But I have to get these out of my system, so here goes.

Trope #1: The Drama Queen
This protagonist is moody and angsty. Other than her one best friend who she confides in, she has a tendency to treat people like crap, especially the boy she has a crush on. She also tends to fall into teenage-cliches, such as perpetually being annoyed at her siblings and despising her parents. That is--if her parents are alive. Often her angst is attributed to the fact that one or both of her parents were killed when she was a kid. Her childhood is often tragic, but (in my humble opinion) no excuse to be a jerk to everyone all the time.

Trope #2: The Wet Blanket
This protagonist has no personality. Generally she has original thoughts and clever ideas, but outwardly she is dull and has nothing interesting to say. Yet, for reasons unknown, men vie for her attention (think Bella from Twilight, here). She may be pretty, or plain in appearance...it doesn't matter. Despite her doldrum demeanor, she exudes some kind of pheromones that make every girl want to be her best friend and every guy want to be her boyfriend. Because of her mysterious desirability (which is in no way backed up by one iota of personality), these heroines are often involved in another annoying trope: love triangles.

Trope #3: The Immune Bad Ass
This protagonist wears leather pants, wields weaponry with the ease of an added appendage, has ninja fighting skills, drinks her coffee black, and would never be caught dead in a dress. Basically she's toxic masculinity with a vagina. She almost never loses a battle and has zero flaws, other than being emotionally unavailable and refusing to let anyone get close to her. Males in her world often serve as sidekicks to her badassery, or comic relief. Some feminist authors fall for this trope believing that giving their heroine any emotions, softness, or traits typically associated with femininity is making her weak. Whereas I'm scratching my head thinking "Um, why can't a female be 'girly' and a badass? (Cue Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Don't get me wrong, I love a strong heroine and can't stand Mary Sues. But there needs to be a balance here, because (other than in comic books) very few readers can connect to heroines that are essentially emotionless fighting machines. Relatability is the key to connection, and this character is totally unrelatable. 

I wonder if these tropes bother others? I am pretty picky. To be fair, none of these are deal-breakers, but they will make me roll my eyes and care less about the MC, which in turn makes me feel less invested in the outcome of the story. On the other end of that, I have awesome character tropes that I simply love, but I'll save that for a future post.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Postpartum Book Blues


Black Lilies has officially been released. I should be ecstatic, but instead I'm feeling kind of blah about it. I'm sure part of the reason is due to some publishing glitches, which puts me in a weird sort of limbo as far as celebrating. But also, it's the fact that while doing the back-and-forth dance with Amazon and waiting for the book to be finalized, I've been stuck between writing projects. I have no multitasking skills and have never been able to move on with a new project when the current one still needs to be squared away. So as a person who loves writing, I should feel antsy that I'm not writing right now, shouldn't I? I should feel agitated and unhappy. But instead, not having a project to work on feels amazing. I love having free time. Work is stressful (there's no getting around that), but my time at home feels so much more relaxed right now without the 'burden' of trying to finish a book. I'm having a blast doing stuff with my family without any of the writer's guilt that usually comes along with it. So ironically, feeling happy has got me feeling...blah. Because why am I not aching to write? Isn't it kind of a big deal that I haven't clacked away at a keyboard for a good two months, yet I don't miss it?

Basically, writing is something I have to do (due to the obsession), but it doesn't always make me happy doing it. Take this summer. I spent most of the season working on Black Lilies, and I'm suffering with a case of missing-out-syndrome. Now I'm back to work, and I'm in a state of shock that summer is already over. My brain is fixated on all the things I could've/should've done over break, like hiking with the kids, riding quads, painting/drawing with Trin, shooting bows, etc. Instead, I worked on a book. I tuned out my family for the better part of most days so I could write, edit, revise, etc. Am I going to regret this someday? I mean, of course I will, because it's not even 'someday' yet and I already regret it. Trin's 19 now, so her days living with us are winding down, and Elijah is 15. I feel like in my quest for publishing a book or two, I'm letting life slip by.

If I wrote standalone books, I could take time off after finishing a novel and focus on my family. Six months, or even a whole year. I could go ice skating with them, and to the movies, and out for smoothies. But I don't write standalone books. Not yet. Chasing Echoes--the first book I ever wrote--is part of a series. I wish I could go back in time and tell past-me not to do a series. The flippin' thing is holding me hostage. As much as I love the Aevos sisters and their incredible world, I just want to be free of it. I want one completed project so I can take a break. I want to work on a brand new novel that I feel no pressure to write, one that finishes and ends in the same cover.

So instead of feeling accomplished right now for finishing book 2 of the Chasing Echoes series, I feel frustrated that I still have one more book to go before I can call this series done.

*Update: All of the above was from awhile ago. I talked to Clint and the kids that night about how I was feeling. I told them I was thinking about not working on the third/final book of Chasing Echoes until Elijah started college, that way I could make sure I don't lose these final precious years with the kids. They were appalled by this and insisted that I need to keep writing, and told me they would help me come up with a schedule next summer that allows me to divide my time between family stuff and writing. They also said that I didn't need to worry about neglecting them, that they were totally fine, and Trin pointed out all the fun things we did as a family this year (which was more than I remembered!). So now I'm feeling better about things, but...I still feel a little 'off'. I think I'll feel better once Spring of Crows is outlined and I have a schedule to ensure that it doesn't take over my life.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Cover Reveal: Black Lilies

Are you ready? Okay, take a deep breath. Or drumroll or...something. (Although I already posted this on Facebook last week. So yeah, it's probably totally anticlimactic. But pretend you haven't seen it yet.) Here it is...the full cover wrap for BLACK LILIES! 



I know, right? RIGHT? It's gorgeous. I'm allowed to brag on it since I didn't create it. Once again, this cover was courtesy of the amazing Naj Qamber.

I'll update all of my social networking once the book is released, but right now we're looking at sometime next week. For reasons unknown to me my proof copy has been delayed until September 5th, so I'm stuck twiddling my thumbs right now. It is really nice being between projects right now though, so can't say I'm hating it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Artisan Street Fair - Book Products!

As promised on my last post, here are some pics of the items we're selling during this year's Jamboree Days. I'm reusing a few old pics for repeat products 'cause I'm lazy efficient.


Sands of Time Necklaces

Always a hit!
Each with attached Legend of the Sands of Time mini-story.
Pictured here without the chains.





Chasing Echoes Soaps & Stationery

These were made by my amazing mother in-law for past events. As much as I love them (especially the soaps--the "Topaz Apple" one smells AMAZING), I won't be resupplying these.
Once out, they're out!

Scents: Topaz Apple, Phoenix Energy, Aviva Gardenia, & Krystal Ice


Jacob Jax and the Watermelon Tree

Pink Peppermint Potion & Grow Your Own Watermelon Tree
Made from Orbeez. The Watermelon Tree bottle includes 
a watermelon seed on the top of the cork. 




Watermelon Fans
Watermelon Beach Balls



Watermelon Lollies

Glow Sticks
(These having nothing to do with the books, but are great for the fireworks later)



Price Sheet for Jacob Jax Merch:


I'm not sure how slime got on here? 

I have some pretty Chasing Echoes bracelets too--different colors and seasons to represent each season--but I forgot to take a pic of them and they're already packed away. I also forgot to take a pic of my price sheet for Chasing Echoes merch. So...that pretty much covers it! Here's the collage I posted on Facebook:


I'll be sure to take pics of our booth this Saturday!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Almost There!


Black Lilies is now in the hands of my editor and beta readers, and I get to relax! I anticipate a few more revisions, but nothing compared to the mass overhaul I've been dealing with this week.

It's such a weird feeling to finish a book. I love this free time looming in front of me. Like, should I launch myself straight into the next book? Or maybe take a few days off and bask in the knowledge that I'm done with a project that took me over four years? Paint something? There's a steampunk cat I've been wanting to draw...maybe I'll work on that. Or just drink a beer and work on nothing.

Next weekend is Jamboree Days, and Teri, Elijah and I have been working hard to make some cute stuff to sell at our booth. I'll try to post pics of all our fun trinkets and book swag in my next post. It's a shame Black Lilies won't be ready in time for the event, but we'll still have Chasing Echoes, Jacob Jax and the Watermelon Tree, and Trin's new comic book: The Branch. We've got some super cute stuff to go with Jacob Jax and the Watermelon Tree. Kids' books are super easy to accessorize. 

That's all I've got for now. I just had to come on here and proclaim how good it feels to have the toughest part of the publication process behind me! *knocks on wood*

Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer in the Hills

I doubt I'll be discussing summer, or hills. I just wanted a pretty post title.

Writing update. Here it is: Editing sucks and I quit.

Except for I'm not really quitting. But...arghhh. Black Lilies was finished at 102K. I've been going through and making cuts, and now I'm at 109K. See the problem? Any more cuts and I'm going to end up with something the size of Roots.

Change of subject. Hey, it just occurred to me that I live in the mountains (hills) and it's summer, so maybe I can make that post title work after all.

Summer. Summmeeeeeer.

Okay, I've been on summer break for a little over a week. It's been amazing with two little specks of not-amazing. The not-amazing specks include: 1) Said-editing issues above, and 2) Being hammered with a cold since the first day of break. Nothing that a little Ibuprofen can't help with, but it's still a bummer launching into summer as a stuffy ball of flem.

Aside from that, summer is wonderful so far! The weather has been gorgeous so we pretty much live outside, and every day is full of quaint little activities that make me feel like I'm living in a different era. Like, Trinity and I were invited to this sweet old lady's house yesterday for tea. Tea! Her name is Evelyn, and we met her at church. Her house is adorable; it looks like a little mountain cottage surrounded by a half acre of woods and lush vegetation. Tea time at Evelyn's is a legit event, complete with porcelain teapot, fancy cups/saucers, sugar and creamer dishes, and little cookies/pastries. When we finally left (after two hours), there was a white tailed deer chilling out in Evelyn's front yard. I mean, come on. It was too perfect. Pretty sure she planted that deer there just to make me swoon.

On Saturday (the day before tea) Teri and I, along with Elijah and Caleb (Trinity's boyfriend), walked to Alpine Camp to relax with some blended iced coffee and to play games. Afterwards, we rejoined the rest of our gang to decorate paper lanterns.

Trinity, Caleb, and Elijah coloring their lanterns

Later that night we all went to the Water Lantern Festival. This is our second year attending, and the releasing of the lanterns is breathtaking in person. They play beautiful music during the release, and it echoes across the lake. It's truly one of those "Damn I'm happy to be here on planet Earth" kind of moments.

 Trinity and Me

 Release of the Lanterns (ours are the colorful ones)


We also attended our town's annual Strawberry Festival earlier this week, where we enjoyed strawberry shortcake and freshly squeezed strawberry lemonade while taking in all of the different games and booths. I know, right? I can't even tell you if this is more or less quaint/cheesy than teatime at Evelyn's.

Besides all that, I've spent my days sprucing up the yard, reading the Little House on the Prairie series (I'm on a pioneer book kick right now--probably because my town has things like Strawberry Festivals and Evelyns inviting you over for tea), taking walks to the creek, playing Beat Saber with Elijah, and yelling at my manuscript.

I hope your summer is off to a good start. And maybe more 21st century than mine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I Blew It

My New Year's resolution was to write one blog post a week. Not only did I miss that mark, but I didn't manage a single post for the entire month of February.

So now the question is: Do I get back on track with my resolution and try to write that one post a week? Or do I succumb to the fact that I'm just not going to do it?

Black Lilies is currently at 118%. It's turned into one bad dream where I'm running and running but not getting any closer to my destination. I stopped updating my word meter because, what's the point? I'm doing an author's booth for Jamboree Days in July, and months ago I assumed I'd have Black Lilies at the event too, instead of Chasing Echoes alone--my one hit wonder. But now I'm having to face the fact that Black Lilies might not be ready in time. Even if I finished the book tomorrow (which I won't), the process of editing, revisions, beta reading, publishing...that's all going to take months. 

I'm being house-blocked at every turn. The time I should be spending on writing has been devoted to home improvements. Right now I'm painting all the ugly brown wainscoting in my house white, and it's turned out to be the most grueling project ever. Why can't I be one of those writers who's perfectly content in a whatever-house? Why do I have to want everything pretty? Like, I'm sure Hemingway was surrounded by total disarray and filth, yet continued to happily tap away at his typewriter.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Not a Real Post

I was in Death Valley for a geology course this weekend and have been going nonstop for eight days now, so as soon as I have a chance to breathe I will write a real post. Consider this one a placeholder. ;)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Two Blog Syndrome


I'm down to one blog! Okay, this means nothing to you.

Quick background: When I have one blog, I do pretty well with keeping up with it. But for reasons unbeknownst to me, I always try to add in a second one. Examples include "It Makes a Sound" (my blog geared specifically for poems and short stories), Middle School Dribbles (my teaching blog), "Glazey" (my art blog)...you get the point. The problem is when I add in that second blog, I fail miserably at both.

In 2014 I made this mistake for the...fourth time? Fifth? If insanity truly is repeating the same mistake over and over and expecting different results, then yeah, I'm insane. So toward the end of 2014, I published Chasing Echoes, and I thought it would be professional for my website (jodiperkins.com) to feature a blog...a forum to post writing and/or marketing updates. I decided Ocean in a Cup would be my personal blog, and jodiperkins.com would focus on my writing. At the time I wanted to keep my personal life separate from my writing life.

Well that was stupid. It turns out my personal self and my writerly self are the same person. Separating those two is like trying to separate conjoined twins. Sometimes it works, but it ain't pretty. It resulted in me giving up on both blogs. 

So tonight, I finally buckled down and transferred my posts from jodiperkins.com to here (which technically isn't possible through my website host, so I did some ninja tricks to make this happen). After accounting for similar or duplicate posts, there were only nine entries left, which are now located at this label. They are also in chronological order with Ocean's original posts, as if they've always been here. Now when readers go to my author's website and click on "Blog", it diverts them here. It's a little weird since this blog features posts from nine years ago, way before I was even a writer...like, do I really want Chasing Echoes fans to know that my hubby and I had a shaving cream war in the bath tub or that one time I dreamed about a giant copper toilet? But I've decided it's worth the weirdness, because I feel a million times lighter already! 

The next time I try to take on another blog, someone please knock some sense into me.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Rough Draft Blob

I was cleaning up my Google Drive and came across my old Chasing Echoes folder. Within it I found 57 drafts of Chasing Echoes. 57! Included with these drafts were several rewrites of the very last chapter, each with titles such as Ch. 37-Drastic Rewrite, Ch. 37-Not so Drastic RewriteCh. 37-Take Bazillion....

I also discovered the novel has gone by six titles. Here are the titles in order from original to final:

Daughters of Time
Face of Brahman
Spiraling
Diminished
There is No Dawn
Chasing Echoes

I remember I was never satisfied with any title (and frankly, I'm still not), which is strange because I've had no issue settling on a title for Black Lilies.

But back to the heaps of notes, drafts, etc. Thank goodness we're living in the digital age. An entire room could easily be gobbled up by the makings of one novel. My heart goes out to people married to writers twenty+ years ago. My husband already puts up with a lot being married to my insanity, but back then, writers' spouses would have had to deal with the Blob taking over their house. Except for in this case, the Blob is one big, fat, gelatinous mass of drafts and notes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Back to the Grind

I started back to work this week. Two weeks of sleeping in until 9:00 every morning has spoiled me rotten. Now I'm back to eleven hour work days that begin at 5:30 a.m. I'll get used to it soon, but right now it's brutal.

On the plus side, look how close I am to finishing Black Lilies!


It looks like one mere day of writing left, doesn't it? But, nope. Now that I'm back to work, it'll likely take me the whole month of January to finish this last sprint. I just have nothing left in me. Teaching middle-school wipes a girl out.

I'm only on here to meet my once a week quota, so that's it for now. My blogging friends who have new posts: I promise I'll read your latest updates soon! But right now I have to go crash.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

It's 2019! I want that year to sound like something special, but it really sounds so ordinary, no different than 2018, or 2017....one of those years that just blends. I think 2020 will feel more monumental. 

But still, we had a great new year. Just like we did last year, we went to a party at our local bowling alley. I guess that doesn't sound too exciting, but it's such a blast. There's unlimited food, drinks, chocolate fountain, bowling, and a DJ playing awesome music. Between friends and neighbors, Shannon ended up booking four lanes for all of us--21 people total. Our first game or two of bowling was taken more seriously, but toward 1:00 a.m., our bowling devolved to singing and dancing and gutter balls and total ridiculousness. Pretty sure the human body wasn't designed to bowl for more than two hours.

My pictures came out dark and blurry, so here are a few of Shan's:


 Shan & Jeremy (he's such a goofball!)

Me and Cass (my awesome niece), with Elijah & Dylan sort of in there too.

Trinity face-painting her boyfriend, Caleb

 Me, like, "Will you put the damn camera away?"

 Trinity & Caleb (they are so darn cute)

I have more but I don't want to violate friends'/neighbors' privacy by posting them. 

Happy New Year to you and yours!