Posts Tagged ‘novel’

On Life Vs. Blogging

I’ve been thinking lately about tempo, about the rhythm and pace of things and how some things don’t sync up. Bodies vs. minds, heart vs. head, that kind of thing. And lately, as a runner, I’ve been working on getting my speed up, and it’s going really well — I seriously feel great about running the fastest I’ve ever run in my life, especially as I slide down the dark side of my thirties. So the idea of speed and pace is a literal concern of mine a few times a week as a running nerd.

But I’m thinking of pace and rhythm in relation to more abstract things, like the rhythm of blogging and the pace of life. Like how in blogging you feel compelled to do it regularly and consistently if you want to have some modicum of “success” at it — and yet, as a personal blogger, tiny revelations and insights about life don’t happen regularly and consistently at all, or at least at a scale to warrant being documented in writing.

It was easy to write a lot and all the time when I was writing NOGOODFORME — for one thing, that blog covered areas that change all the time. There will never be a shortage of music, style, food, and all that to write about. It’s easier to be regular and consistent as a blogger when you have a thing and a schtick — even if you’re writing about deeply personal issues like grief, there is a compass there, a focus that guides you when you sit down at the screen to write.

Here, though, it’s a bit more diary-like, a bit more personal and yet diffuse. I decided to write here more often because I wanted the challenge of writing more intimately, from a more heartful place — something that feels more honest, kind and, yes, sincere. The problem is that I don’t have personal revelations every day, or even every week — I wish I were that wise, but I’m not. I don’t have a fabulously decorated apartment; I’m not much of a consumer anymore, either in clothes or music or anything that people love to read about. I sort of just live my life and keep my game tight and love like crazy. I re-read and re-listen to things again and again; I try to engage things at a slower, deeper and (what feels like to me) richer pace. I like that a lot; it feels good.

But it doesn’t make for great copy, I have to admit. I worry about being mundane. I worry about being boring. So I don’t know. I want to tell you that I started writing a new novel this month and it’s going really lovely; I sit at my kitchen table early in the mornings as the sun streams through the window and I visit a world set in Old Chicago, and I get to rhapsodize about perfume, about glamour, about dresses by the Callot Soeurs. It’s fun to write a historical novel, using a part of my brain I often don’t get to share. (Fans of 19th century/Gilded Age history, please raise your hand!) I’m very, very into writing as if I am trying to be Edith Wharton or Henry James, though, since they’re masters, I will settle for ending up like Theodore Dreiser. There’s a pretty yellow finch that sits in the tree outside my window. I perfected my egg strata recipe. My summer fashion concept is making me super happy these days. I like how summer in general slows everything down beautifully, and finally thoughts and impulses have time to catch up with me, ready to be shaped and sculpted into more concrete things.

It all exists at once, these pieces of life. When I write here, I sometimes feel like I’m placing them in an order and harmony that I think I know, but the full song has yet to reveal itself fully.

I’m Not a Next Big Thing, But I Play One on This Blog: Q&A On My Skater Werewolf Romance

I love an old-school Livejournal style meme, so I was pretty psyched when lovely mystery writer Kristi Belcamino tagged me to do this Next Big Thing Blog Hop one, where I get to answer a series of questions about the current novel/work-in-progress/book/creative thingie in my life. So it is, and here I am, and here is the story behind my skater werewolf romance.

What is the working title of your book?

While I was writing it, I called it THE WOODS in my head because everything exciting in the book took place in the strange, spooky forest in the small Midwestern town in my novel, and I liked the oblique reference to the occult and the mystical. But now I call it LOVE AND CONCRETE, because, duh, it’s a love story, and double-duh, it’s about skaters…who do have a bit of the occult and mystical about them, though that bit is missing from the title now. So I’m not entirely sold on the title. If you come across a word that implies “mystical concrete,” please let me know and I’ll change my title again so that it captures everything!

What is your book about?

It’s about a steely, lovely girl named Lily, who first falls in love with skateboarding, and then with a skater named Kieran. But Kieran, she discovers, is a werewolf. (Of course he is! All skater boys are wolves!) He’s a wonderful boy despite this, and he and Lily are soulmates in the truest sense of the word — refuges for one another in their gritty, grey hometown, a place where everyone goes to church and rails against heavy metal, demons and Satanism. But as it turns out, there are actually demons of a sort in this world, with shapeshifters like Kieran right in the middle of an ancient war — and Lily caught up in the crossfire.

If you want to read more, you can read a teeny excerpt I posted on this blog. Subscribing to my newsletter will give you access to a bigger portion, too.

What genre does your book fall under?

It is fiction: it is a love story for young adults and those youthful in spirit, and it has supernatural/fantasy elements. It is slightly “urban fantasy” that way, probably because my characters spend a good amount of time in Chicago.

Where did the idea come from?

I was eating a McDonald’s ice cream cone in Union Square in New York on a hot summer night, enjoying the dusk behind the skyline and watching the skaters do their thing in the busy public square. I was watching this one group in particular — they seemed like a tight-knit crew and kept to themselves, like they were in some kind of conspiracy together. I was instantly struck by how they moved — they had the same kind of hunched-over loping, loose-kneed walk. One of them — a really beautiful boy, I remember — turned to say something to his friends, and then all of them looked off in the same direction at the same time. Like a pack of wolves, I thought to myself. That’s where the idea of skater werewolves was born. It proved too irresistible to write about, and so it began.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

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: . I also started two Pinterest boards, one of , one of . 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!

On simplicity and technology

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.