Monthly Archives: June 2015

Grad School: Week 1

The library. The giant, tall, windows are the reading room and my favorite place on campus so far.

The library. The giant, tall, windows are the reading room and my favorite place on campus so far.

If I had been wondering if this was the right place for me, these two sitting in the Children's Section (which is massive!), reminded me I was welcome. We had two just like them growing up.

If I had been wondering if this was the right place for me, these two sitting in the Children’s Section (which is massive!), reminded me I belong. We had two just like them growing up.

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I’m about to start a new week of classes in a few hours, and thought I should make a post about the first week.

Not completely unsurprisingly, it started out a little rough. My only creative class for the semester met on Monday-Tuesday and while interesting, was not what I’d hoped it would be. The class was so large that we were writing very little, and had very, very little time to give feedback to one another.

On Wednesday morning I was at breakfast talking about my disappointment to a new friend and 3rd year student and she asked me which other classes I was interested in. None of the other creatives, which were either also large or focused on picture books or nonfiction (two genres I have little interest in, currently). But I was interested in a second critical class. She told me to sit in on it. It was meeting in 15 minutes.

I said okay.

She took me to meet the professor and the professor took me to class and we talked about feminism and literature for 3 hours and I fell head-over-heels in love with the class. It was exactly what I wanted.

So I switched.

I was sad to leave behind my creative class, as it was something I was really looking forward to and the professor is someone I really, really wanted to work with, but she’ll teach other (hopefully smaller) classes and I have other summers.

In the meantime, I’m in Gender and Girls Fiction and even though it may drown my with the amount of work required, I absolutely love it.

My books (minus one) for Gender and Girls Fiction. My the end of 6 weeks, I'll have read all of these.

My books (minus one) for Gender and Girls Fiction. By the end of 6 weeks, I’ll have read all of these.

Other things I did this week:

* Read 2 novels (and a million articles/book chapters)

* Wrote (and submitted!) a poem

* Sat in on conference meetings, for which I’m the co-chair of the silent auction

* Ate and talked and ate and talked

* Made a billion new friends while eating and talking

* Wrote a teeny 2-page paper

* Babysat two beautiful professor’s daughters

* Talked about adoption and faith and speculative fiction with said professor

* Sat in 2 guest lectures and 6 classes (4 is normal!)

* Slept very little

So many bunnies on campus! I see them munching away on the clover almost every morning.

So many bunnies on campus! I see them munching away on the clover almost every morning.

Grad School: Days 0-1

Kyle and I made it down to Hollins very late on Friday night, after spending time with friends in DC and a bit further north in Virginia. It was a long trip, made worthwhile by company and amazing food.

Saturday I checked in. We found my dorm and moved in very heavy suitcases.  Then, we found the Goodwill. Because priorities. IMG_2617

Sunday I put Kyle on the train back to Jersey. More errands. More bitten nails. Some of the first years got together to eat pizza and walk around exploring the campus.

Dropping Kyle off in Lynchburg. I'm way off to the right of the picture, leaning against the pole.

Dropping Kyle off in Lynchburg. I’m way off to the right of the picture, leaning against the pole.

Yesterday, the fun finally began. We had orientation, then library orientation, then computer-lab orientation. A big break in the afternoon gave me time to run to Target. Then dinner with the rest of the students on campus (screenwriters, playwrights and dancers are all sharing this place with us this summer), followed by my first class of graduate school ever.

I won’t say it was magical, but it was about as close as you could get. The teacher is lovely. We talked about and experimented with poetry (what your mother always warned you about). I wrote a limerick. And failed to write a couple other styles. Tonight we meet again to share poems we love and poems we’ve attempted ourselves.

I’ll be sharing “Pronouns” by Kristin Elizabeth Clark. It’s excerpted from her novel Freakboy, which I’ve never read but plan to track down when the summer’s over and my reading is my own again.

The view from my dorm room. The brick building in the foreground is the theatre. The irony of my room overlooking the theatre is not lost on me, particularly since I think it's one of three rooms on the entire campus that face the theatre building.

The view from my dorm room. The brick building in the foreground is the theatre. The irony of my room overlooking the theatre is not lost on me, particularly since I think it’s one of three rooms on the entire campus that face the theatre building.

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    Writing Assistant Monday: Off and Away!

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Cat bellies increase productivity. It is known.

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It’s hot.

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If only writing assistants could also be tidying assistants. Between packing and trying to finish up this novel, the house is a bit of a mess.

This will be the last Writing Assistant Monday featuring either of my darling cats for at least six weeks. I leave for my first summer residency at Hollins on Friday morning. We’re stopping DC on the way to visit with some friends and have lunch, then we should be Roanoke sometime in the evening.

I’m nervous. Really, really nervous. And I’ve been focusing a lot of energy on worrying, which I want to try to stop. So in an effort to shift my focus: a list of things I’m super, duper excited about for the summer.

** Meeting amazing authors and industry professionals. Um, hello. I’m going to be taking classes for Alexandria LaFaye and Hillary Homzie. Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman and Terri Windling are amazing and will be all be there for the summer. Visiting are greats like Cece Bell and Andrea Brown and Charles Vess and freaking Maggie Stiefvater. I can’t wait to absorb the energy and knowledge of so many talented, dedicated people.

** Being just beside the BEAUTIFUL Blue Ridge Mountains. Kyle and I already have plans to hike next weekend.

** Bluegrass.

** Books.

** Reading and writing and talking and breathing children’s lit with people who are just as passionate about it as I am.

** Not having to cook (much). Hello cafeteria and meal plan!

** Books.

I’ll miss Kyle and the cats and my friends in NJ, but with each new move (however temporary) there is the chance to expand. A new place to explore. New foods to eat. New favorite people to add to my already long list of favorite people.

And of course, new books.

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Old Camera Surprise!

 

 

 

My nephew came out this past week to visit. He’d never been to NJ to see us, and we wanted him to know where we lived and what our lives were like here. He was pretty excited. Not really about visiting us, though. More because it meant he got to go on an airplane, then take a subtrain (his word) in NYC and see the Statue of Liberty.

To make his visit special, we gave him an old digital camera to use. Before doing so, we wanted to make sure it was empty. Lo and behold! It was not. Included in some random shots of our old place and a vacation to Florida, was this pretty little bonnet I remade for Christmas Carol 2 years ago.

Not the best photographs, but I’m still quite pleased with the hat itself. And it’s held up! 3 Christmas Carols later, it’s still going strong.

And this one seems to be focused more on the headblock than the bonnet.

Side view! With tools in the background. Photography fail.

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Writing Stats, Part 1

We’re halfway through 2015 and it’s been a pretty amazing year so far–full of family, and friends, and writing. A LOT of writing. Because I’m really proud of myself (and Christie Yant’s amazing google workbook Tools for Writers makes it easy to keep track), I’m going to share my stats with you. This is going to look like bragging, and maybe it is. I’ve worked hard for these achievements. Will you celebrate them with me?

102,633 – new words written.

14,253 – most words written in 1 week.

0 – fewest words written in 1 week (I have a few of those actually).

1 – novel drafted and revised once.

4 – new short stories drafted and revised and on submission.

40 – days spent revising not adding any new words.

About 90,000 words of that are the first and second drafts of the novel I’m working on, the rest were all done for the short stories. I’m probably most proud of those 40 days spent revising and nothing else. Those were hard days, and I have a lot more of them ahead of me.

For the rest of the year, I don’t have any wordcount goals. It’d be nice to get another 100,000 written, but I doubt that will happen. I leave for my first summer at Hollins in 2 weeks, and then when I get back I’m going to be focused on readjusting to everyday life, work starting back up, and completing this novel. So for the 2nd half of 2015 my writing goals are pretty simple:

* Survive School

* Finish Novel

* Query

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, today is national donut day and I’m headed out to celebrate.

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