Okay, not all my furniture. But after two years of it driving me crazy to have my back to the room when I sat at my desk, I literally stood there with my cup of coffee yesterday morning and was like, I could move the couch over, get rid of that massive hutch thing, and turn the desk perpendicular to the wall. Done and done.
I may have been procrastinating work. But I do like this about a hundred times better.
Once I got it out in the middle of the room (something that has to be done if you’re going to turn a honking big piece of furniture around, I laid down on it, and Mom looked down from upstairs (I keep her in the attic, like Mrs. Rochester) and said, that thing is exactly as long as you are. Which is not really that impressive. Also, what she may actually have said was more like, “What God’s name are you doing down there?” Then she said the desk thing.
This is literally one third of the desk I used to have in the old house, and though it took up a good bit of my old study, there were also three bookcases and a small sofa (and large ottoman) in there. And it was one of the smaller rooms in the house. (For those of you who tuned in during the last two years, I downsized my life drastically in 2013, from a big house with two attics and a giant garage to a small townhouse with no attics and no garage. It did come with a mom, in case you were wondering what that Mrs. Rochester business was about.)
On one hand, it seems impossible I’ve lived in this place for two years. (For one thing, there’s still some boxes I haven’t unpacked. Or as I like to call them, “my nightstand.”) On the other, my memories of the old house are fuzzy and oddly foreign, like it’s a place I visited once. The brain is weird.
Now, it’s back to work. Or possibly I’ll keep looking on Pinterest for my perfect office.
I really like lists.
Leonardo da Vinci’s To Do List circa 1490 (direct translation, amendments in brackets by Robert Krulwich). Illustration by Wendy Macnaughton for NPR. Original Article here.
Lists, timelines, graphs, charts…not because I’m the most methodical of people, but precisely because I’m not. There’s always a lot going on in noggin, and it’s not terribly orderly in there. The big ideas are kind of wibbly wobbly all over time and space, and the little idea are sort of this gnat like cloud around my head.
I’ve always kept a sort of catchall journal. My packing list for World Con will be right next to my character notes for Splendor Falls and a (terrible) sketch of the layout of Bluestone Hill. A reminder to get dog food is on the back of the page that has the Goodnight family tree which is next to my notes about who I’m going to vote for in the next election. It’s a little willy nilly, but it’s the way I’ve done it for ten years, and the notebooks are lined up on my shelf.
Recently, as part of an ongoing quest not to forget so many things, I’ve been on a quest to find The Perfect System that works with my system. The smartphone is great, because there’s nothing like something that will ding at you. But there’s also nothing like paper for permanence. In college, I used to study by rewriting my class notes into a neat outline. By the time I was done, I knew the material. I am much more likely to remember something I write by hand than enter in my phone. (Which is not to say I’ll remember it, just that I’m more likely.)
There’s the idea of physical permanence, too. When I look through a previous year’s notebook, it’s interested to see where my head was at a particular moment, or what I was dealing with while I wrote X book, or what I thought was important to remember from Y conference. I’ve found ideas jotted down on paper napkins, and business cards from people I’ve met (sometimes I’ll even remember who they were). Sometimes I’m impressed with my brilliance. Sometimes I wonder why on earth I though I needed to pack three sweaters to go to Alabama in October.
I remember finding a stack of letters that a great-great-aunt wrote in the early 19th century. Genealogy is great, but reading Audrey describe her train trip to Palacios and ask if Rosemary (!!) has recovered yet from her cold, made her a real person.
Da Vinci’s packing list. “Get hold of a skull.” (Image from an article in The Daily Mail)
The illustration at the top is a direct translation of a recently discovered (well, recent in 2011) “to do list” jotted down by Leonardo da Vinci. I mean, that guy wrote everything down. But It makes me happy to know sometimes he wrote it down just for himself.
Da Vinci’s notebooks are a record of his genius and all, but this packing list sketches a more personal picture. No pun intended. (Okay, yeah, pun totally intended.) “Spectacles with Case. Human skull. Nutmeg.” I’m sorry, but how awesome is it that “nutmeg” seems like the oddest thing on this list.
Michelangelo’s Shopping List (image credit: Casa Buonarroti)
Then there’s Michelangelo’s grocery list, which he had to illustrate because his servant couldn’t read. Let’s just think about that for a sec. This is a grocery list illustrated by the painter of the Sistine Chapel. And we know he liked herring and anchovies. Yum.
Not that I’m comparing myself to Leonardo or Michelangelo (even in a Mutant Ninja Turtle sense). I’m not jotting things down for posterity… just to remember them after I’ve slept and cleared the data banks.
I mean, I have to do something so I can get on with the business of being a genius!
Edited to add: I came across this in my quest for the Perfect System. (Pinterest, incidentally, was so helpful that it was not helpful.) Twelve types of journals you can keep.
Are you a lister? Is yours one of those planners covered in colored pen and washi tape? What kinds of things do you like to write down? (Typing counts, too!)
IF I STAY has been on my list to watch ever since it came out on video (it’s on Netflix right now) but I knew that was going to need the right mood and moment. Though I have not (to my shame) read the extremely well reviewed book by Gayle Foreman, I knew what I was getting into. (This is not a spoiler—Mia’s family was in a car crash, and she is in a coma deciding whether to stay or go. She relives the past that got her where she is, and watches the present as those she love gather around her.)
“Heartstrings” courtesy of Sean Molin on Flickr under Creative Commons license (source)
I knew I couldn’t watch this in a movie theater. I knew I couldn’t watch it when my Mom was around, or right before bed, or in the middle of the day when I’d have to go be productive after. But last night, I had the house to myself, the evening off, and a blog I needed to revive.
I expected to need Kleenex (see description above). I did not expect to completely lose my shit. I’m not just talking sobbing. I’m talking gasping, shaking, and the occasional un-stifle-able keening cry. If I hadn’t been alone, it would have been mortifying.
Before you say, “God, that sounds awful,” I should explain that it was emotional, and beautiful, and ultimately hopeful and up-lifting. But for me, it cracked open that shell I keep around the loss of my brother and father, and that that grief, love, and loss came pouring out as if I were there again in the hospital. It’s not just the loss, it was everything–the vigil at the hospital, the disbelief, the anger, and finally that moment when you have to say to the person you love, “It’s okay to go.”
Which is what this story is really about–staying or going. Keeping to the course you’re on, or taking a new direction. It’s a theme that happens over and over, by characters in the past and the present, in little decisions and big ones. It’s beautiful, and it’s elementally Young Adult in nature. It’s about change.
The thing I loved most (and what spoke to me most, as someone who has so much anxiety about change) was the idea that there are no right or wrong choices. There’s only option A or option B; both can be happy, and both will have a measure of pain. I read and write mostly genre fiction, where there’s a strong element of fate, and destiny, and pulling the sword from the stone, and what not. So this idea that both options can be satisfying in a different way is what made this such a realistic story.
I like moves that give me lots of thinky thoughts, and IF I STAY. I really do recommend it. Not everyone will find it so painful, I just have certain triggers. I thought several times about stopping the movie, but I had to watch to the end. My objective brain wanted to see how the creators ended the story. My subjective brain knew that Mia’s decision didn’t matter–she wins either way, and she loses something either way.
I feel like a sloth for breaking my blog silence with a reblog. But it’s from DFW Writer’s Workshop, and it has something really key to say about writing, even if it was written by my arch-nemesis A. Lee Martinez.
Emotional intent is what turns a plot into a story. It’s simple, but sometimes hard to explain, and ALM does a great job. Even if you’re not a writer, you might find it interesting to know why some scenes connect with your gut, and some never get past your head.
See you on the flip side, peeps. –Rosemary
Originally posted on DFW Writers Workshop:
The first thing you should ask yourself is why?
Writing isn’t as simple as putting down words on paper. If it was, everyone would be doing it, and at times, it feels like everyone thinks they can. If we’re talking about sitting in front of a keyboard and typing until you have a few pages, then, yes, everyone can do it. There’s a difference between doing it and doing it well.
Asking why is that difference.
Let’s stick with fiction for the moment. Much of this applies to non-fiction as well, but it’s easier to focus on one right now. Fiction is, generally, a series of scenes that string together to form an overarching story. All basic stuff, you might think, but you would be wrong.
The Why (capital W from this point on) is Why this scene must exist in the first place. Your initial answer…
View original 380 more words
So, San Diego Comic Con happened. I took some video but I haven’t had a chance to approve it. I tend to get a lot of up the nostril shots when I try to get cute with the video feature on my phone. You’ll have to content yourself with still photos.
Friends Kate and Jenny and I wait for the shuttle to pick up our badges. The first of many shuttle waits.
Anyway. I guess my main impression was the lines and and the crowds. There was tons of cool stuff. Saw the Twelfth Doctor Who looking for a restaurant. Discovered that I have some kind of recognition malfunction where I don’t recognize people from TV, even if they’re standing right next to me. I’m pretty sure someone was at some point.
Mostly it was this crazy weekend ping ponging between “that is so cool” and “I am in hell.”
Captain Carter (Kate) poses with the Team.
The Mashable #MashBash (which was amazing, and also, Elijah Wood was the DJ)
So. Many. People.
You basically have to buckle down and decide to enjoy yourself, no matter what. If you’re in the right place at the right time for something cool, enjoy it. Make the most of it. But if you go in with an “I must see/get all the things” attitude… well, you’ll either be unsuccessful and surly, or successful and annoying. (In other words, do not get between a fan and his Comic Con Exclusive Collectible.)
Was it fun? Yes, because I was there with my friends, and there’s this in the trenches camaraderie that happens. Also, they tell me it’s like childbirth–after you recover, you only remember that it was worth it. I don’t have a kid, so I’ll have to take their word on that.
So, I have a question. If you could go to one panel to listen to the cast, crew, writer, or director of some book/show/movie… what would it be? What would YOU camp out overnight to see?
I… have no idea what happened to June. Like, the entire month.
Let me recap the month for you: work.work.work.work.work.work.HOLY.CRAP.COMIC.CON.IS.IN.TWO.WEEKS.totaldenial.
work.work.panic.DEPART FOR CALIFORNIA.
Technically that last part happened in July.
So, yeah. I’m going to be at San Diego Comic Con this week. I was supposed to go last year, but had to not go at pretty much the last minute. I’ve not mentioned this because 1) I’ve been working really really hard both to afford the trip and to get some Very Important Stuff done before I go, had have barely come up for air, let alone Internet; 2) I’ve been in denial. Seriously. I have no plan, I don’t know who is going to be there (unless I know them personally), and I have my calming mantra Sharpied on my arm.
Just in case you live under a rock, San Diego Comic Con is such a huge thing that it makes even normal non-nerd news cycles, because it’s not just deep nerd stuff, but movies and TV shows and all that. Why do people go? Because random stuff like this happens:
Loki surprise appearance at Comic ConC
Cool, right? I’m going to a place where there is a real possibility someone famous (more famous than me) could photo bomb my selfie.
Why am I panicking? To get to the panel where the above surprise happened you had to stand in this:
The line to get into the infamous “Hall H”
Obviously, I’m not going to do that. But here’s what the inside looks like (according to my research, by which I mean my Googling, because if it’s on the Internet, it must be true):
Right now, you are all going “Rosemary, you WIMP.”
Am I? Maybe I am a walking Panic Attack waiting to happen.
Or maybe I’m posting those pictures from past comic cons so you won’t envy me too much.
The truth this, I’ll be hanging out where the book stuff is happening, which won’t be nearly the madhouse that the movie stuff is. My friends Rachel Caine, Jenny Martin, and A. Lee Martinez (and many other acquaintances) will be on panels. If you ARE going to SDCC and you want a break from the MAJOR madness and deal with only MINOR madness, look them up and come see us.
(I’ll be the one rocking myself in the corner. Ha. Ha. Just Kidding.)
Or you can follow me on Twitter and see if anyone famous photobombs my selfies.
Professor X Photobombs Wolverine and fans. Hashtag Epic
Due to Internet Shenanigans, I have a new email address. Any and all comments will get to me regardless, but if you want to email me directly don’t use the readrosemary.com address, because it will go into the black void of space.
You can reach me at email@example.com
No hyphen, and the period doesn’t really matter except to make it easier to read.
And yeah. If you’re waiting on an email answer from me, this may be why. You might want to resend. *chagrin*
My colleague A. Lee Martinez has edited STRANGE AFTERLIVES, an anthology of stories about undead things. Not on purpose, but the authors are all part of the DFW Writer’s Workshop. Despite the fact that A. Lee Martinez is my arch-nemesis, I agreed to contribute a story to the anthology, and you can get the ebook here on Amazon for 99 cents. Just a note, the stories range from gruesome to hilarious to poignant, and there’s adult content in some (but not all) of the stories. But 99 cents! That’s less than a cup of coffee.
Do you like to read? Do you like to write? Have you ever missed your ride/bus/subway stop because you’ve been reading or writing? Then this is for you.
Here is MY Read or Write Anywhere Picture, along with my clues for where I am.
Where was Rosemary when the lights went out?
1) The answer is not “The dark.”
2) This is the largest equine sculpture in the world. (This is just part of it.) (Are you disappointed those aren’t real horses?
3) Did you go to the North Texas Teen Book Festival? This is in the same city, right across the highway from that.
4) Those are horses. Wild horses. And they have a name. It’s also the name of a car.
5) You will might may or may not have to use Google. Input the answer to number three and number two.
I’m reading TRACKED by Jenny Martin. Taken in the dark in honor of all the times at camp when I got in trouble for reading under the covers with a flashlight. (Just because you CAN read anywhere doesn’t mean people won’t call you out if you’re supposed to be doing something else.)
Reading TRACKED by Jenny Martin may have been my favorite part of 2015 so far.��
Really? Yes, really. ��Here are the reasons why:
1) I’ve had a pretty tame year so far.
2) It was an incredible relief to read Jenny’s book and, you know, like it. Not only like it, but think it’s amazing. Jenny and I are friends, and it would have been extremely awkward for me if her book sucked. Wednesday nights at IHOP would be excruciating. So thank you, Jenny, for writing such a fantastic book that I can recommend without reservation. I know you did it just to make my life easier.
3) TRACKED is simply a great read. It hits all the marks as far as Things I Like In Books: feisty heroine (Phee) who gets to do badass things (race cars really really fast); solidly crafted fictional world (the corporately controlled planet Castra); swoon-worthy cohorts with personalities beyond��the Designated Love Interest��(loyal Bear and roguish Cash); rollicking, rebellious plot worthy of the very best space opera.
Imagine Fast and the Furious��but more like��Star Wars…if Princess Leia was a scrappy��orphan street racer. There’s something for everyone in this book.
4) The pace is great, it’s action packed,��and Phee’s voice is infinitely readable and relatable. It hits the sweet spot between tough and vulnerable and wry. It’s neither ponderous nor flippant. (Voice is one of the hardest things to explain, because it’s how the story is told. Have you ever read a book and gone, “Oh my God, lighten up,” or “I would love to read about this supernatural team of stenographers, but it’s like a completely shallow airhead is telling this story…”? That’s voice.)
Jenny has an amazing grasp of tone, which goes along with voice.��She’s just so good at choosing exactly��the right word for the scene or the sentence. It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly difficult to get the nuances right.
5) I’ve known Jenny for awhile, and like most writers, her first finished manuscript was not her first published book. (I don’t think she’ll mind me telling you that. If she does… well, I guess Wednesday nights at IHOP will be awkward anyway.) Jenny’s��baseline is “smart and talented,” but she’s upgraded by writing and writing and reading��and studying her craft and trying different things.��She’s also really worked hard and been persistent through situations that would make a lot of people throw their hands up and say forget it.
Talent doesn’t always guarantee publication (or the other way around), so it’s thrilling when you see someone you respect and admire (and love)��finally hold her published book in her hands.
Go buy this book, everyone else.��
On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee���s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn���t stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra���s future than she could ever have imagined. It���s up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?
Corpus Christi Marina on a beautiful clear day
Every time I go to a book event, I take (too few) pictures and plan to post them on the blog.��But if��I don’t do it right when I get home, and then I try to think of something clever to say about it, and a week goes by and I think, this isn’t really current. Now I have to think of a new subject to blog about.
This pretty much applies to all current events���the Rosemary Centered ones and, you know, actual current events, like snow in March and stuff. Oh, hey, I can take pictures of the snow! ��Oh, hey, it’s now 80 degrees. I guess that ship has sailed.
But what the heck.
The Teen Bookfest by the Bay in Corpus Christi was loads of fun. Get this–it was even held��in the high school where I had my first job. I was filled with nostalgia, especially when I had the pleasure of introducing Jackson Pearce to Whataburger.
There are a few Whataburgers scattered through the south, but really it’s a Texas thing.��Whataburger achieves a sort of mythical level of nostalgia once you cross the Red River. As a South Texan, I would even say that it’s just not the same outside a certain radius from their home base in Corpus Christi.
First, there’s the possibility that this could happen:
But that could theoretically happen at any drive though. (Maybe not Starbucks. Though��if this happened at the shop I frequent, I would buy the rider all the White Chocolate Mochas. All of them.)
At Whataburger, you can get things like a patty melt��or a chophouse burger��or a chicken strip monterey melt. Plus there’s the��roulette wheel suspense in the fact that these may leave the menu at any time, without warning.
You can buy Whatafries and Spicy Ketchup at HEB supermarkets (also based in Corpus). There’s also the mystique of something you can pretty much only get��in Texas. (Like California’s��In-and-Out burger. When they first came to Fort Worth, they had to have police officers to direct traffic. When I finally tried one, I was like, this is good, but it’s no Green Chili Double.)
But the real reason that anyone who grew up in Texas has a special place in their heart for Whataburger is because that’s where you went to get food in the middle of the night when you were done partying.
ANYway. That’s my report on the Teen Bookfest by the Bay. Thank you to the librarians and teachers in the many, many school districts that participated for putting on a fantastic event! ��Here’s to many more.
Other recent events: The North Texas Teen Book Fest, which was freaking amazing. There were about 3000 readers there. THREE THOUSAND. And 50 authors, so many that I didn’t even get to talk to them all. I just had to wave from across the room. The hard working organizers have made it very easy to share the event with you, because the NTTBF Facebook Page is full of FANTASTIC photos of the event.*
(Yes, I know this is cheating as far as event recapping goes, but otherwise I’ll never catch up and never go on to talking about whatever is new. Besides… photos!)
This past Sunday I spoke at the North Texas chapter of Sisters in Crime, which was terrific fun. I taught the “cram as much information in as possible” version of my “How to make your book sound exciting,” aka “Pitching” class. I’m going to teach a new online version of this soon���a week long, email based, work at your own pace���and if you’re interested, drop me a line at rosemary (at) readrosemary (dot) com.
(And when you hit “update” instead of “preview” you look like an idiot with a placeholder title and un-fact-checked spellings of author’s names.)
Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.