Monthly Archives: December 2009

when they find out

Not a huge number of people know that I’m a writer. I suppose the number is growing now, but it’s not something I tell the whole world. Although, haha, I suppose this blog could count as (potentially) the whole world. Anyway, in real life I sometimes have to be prodded by those who are “in the know” to tell those who aren’t.

But I’ve been (prodded into) telling other people about my book-news a LOT lately. Especially over the holidays.  The rainbow of reactions makes me laugh, and I thought I’d share some with you:

At a Christmas party with old family friends…

Friend: So what is the genre of this book?

Me: Young adult urban fantasy (side note: say that five times fast)

Friend: Urban fantasy? Not suburban fantasy? Or rural fantasy?

Hehe… I had never thought about that before, and I laughed pretty hard. The next scene takes place on the final day of my composition class. Our professor had prompted us to share what we had learned over the semester, and when it was my turn…

Me: I learned a lot blah blah blah and especially found this class helpful because I hope to make a career as a writer.

Professor: What do you want to write?

(And at this point in the conversation, there was no way out. My palms got a little sweaty)

Me: Well, actually, I have written a YA UF novel (say that five times — faster)

(I went on to explain the whole agent thing, and to my surprise…)


Apparently I am already a star. My favorite scene, though, needs a little back story. I sprained my ankle in November (I may be a star writer, but I’m not a star rock climber), so I couldn’t play in my badminton class for a few weeks. I would bring my computer and prop my leg up and work on all sorts of random things. One day…

Friend (who is in “the know”): (shouts across the whole gym) Kirsten, are you working on your book?

Badminton teacher: Your book?

Me: um… I wrote a book.

BT: You what?

Me: I wrote a book.

BT: A book?

Me: Yes, I wrote a book.

BT: You wrote a book?

So then, after he figured that whole thing out, we had to take a skills test. I was very rusty because of my ankle injury.

Me: (failing the skills test) I think I’m going to fail badminton.

BT: You’re not going to fail.

Me: But I FAILED this skills test!

BT: Okay. Calm down. You’re not going to fail. And you definitely won’t fail if you give me a copy of your book.

Me: Wait, what?

BT: You give me a copy of the book. I give you an A.

Well, he wasn’t quite serious. Oh well. It would have been a good exchange. More stories coming up sometime – in the mean time, share your own! How do people react upon hearing that you’re a writer?


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POLL: How do you read?

I’ve been afraid to post a poll in the past because what if nobody votes? I suppose I will survive. But I want to know: how do you read?

I gave my sister two books for Christmas (Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr). She scarfed down these books. She always does – she is a super fast reader by nature. But I was really shocked. By mid-morning on December 26th, she had finished both books. And she didn’t spend all of Christmas Day curled up with the books on my grandparents’ couch, either. She’s a crazily fast reader.

I’m fast, too. I started Shiver on Christmas Day evening and finished by the end of Boxing Day. I didn’t spend the whole day reading, either! (Still haven’t started Wicked Lovely, but now that TIB-revised is safely with my agent, I think I will dig in soon.)

Anyway, the point is this: my sister eats up books for plot and character and finish line. She doesn’t admire the writer’s writing. I am somewhere in between. I certainly notice writing style and lovely sentences, but I skim sometimes. I just do.

How do you read? (vote below!) Is skimming bad? As a writer, is it disappointing to spend thousands of hours on a book only to have it devoured in one?


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Status: revisions

This was my life yesterday:

Morning until 2:30: Coffee shop and Pike Place Market with the family. Gingersnap lattes, cold and sunny Seattle, chatty vendors, fishy smells, street musicians and fresh-fruit samples. Yum.

2:30-6:30: Parked on the couch with the Christmas tree lights on. Typing up revisions from the official print-out and reading through TIB from the beginning. Pumped up about the results!

6:30-7:00: Brain food for dinner — chicken tikki masala and salad with fresh avocados.

7:00-7:30: Revising. Back starting to ache. Pushing through. A little over halfway through the book. Still jazzed about EvErYtHiNg!

7:30-8:00: Drive to the local indie video store to get Julie and Julia for a movie break with mom and sis. Apparently the rest of Seattle had same plan — no copies left in this or other store.

8:00-9:00: Back to revising. New spot in the kitchen with a mug of Lady Gray tea. Guitar music.

9:00-10:00: Speed Scrabble tournament with family. (Speed Scrabble is Scrabble without the board — everyone makes their own little word-puzzles; it’s much harder and much more fun). I win almost every game; I am a champ.

10:00-10:30: Facebook, AW, brushing teeth.

10:30: Curl up in bed with Christmas lights around my window. Computer on the bed, print-out in my lap. Goal: finish reading through the rest of TIB to get a feeling for the entire book. Question: does the new-ish ending work?

12:00: Stretch break.

12:02-1:44: Glued to the book. Creeped out by the ending. Too dark outside! House is too quiet! Teary for the first time ever — because the ending is sad or because I am past exhausted?

1:45: Bed.

So now this round of revisions will be basically done after a few more touch-ups. Hurray! Time to breathe, sleep, and read books… and blog again!


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Teaser Tuesday

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s Wednesday. But Teaser Wednesday just doesn’t have the same ring as Teaser Tuesday. Last week’s snippet ended with Reed half-quoting TS Eliot’s The Hollow Men: “Whatever. We’ll just go out with a whimper.”

[Teaser snipped; thanks for the comments!]

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The Analogy Machine

Since I’m in Christmas break mode, I kind of forgot that yesterday was Monday… and that I usually blog on Mondays… So we’ll pretend that today is Monday, not Tuesday, and that tomorrow is Tuesday (think Thrill Seekers) not Wednesday.

over the Alps at sunrise

The analogy (which is more a musing)

Did you know that, at any given moment, more than 61,000 people are airborne over the U.S.? We’re so used to defying gravity in our jumbo jets. Yet last week as my plane took off from San Fransisco International, I found myself encouraging the still land-bound plane: come on, you can do it, you can leap off the ground and soar into the air —

Sometimes, at least to me, it feels like the airplane I’m in is never going to get enough oomph to get off the ground. The runway seems to stretch forever as the engines groan and the wheels screech and the pilots get ready for lift off. What makes this (excuse the un-romantic description) pile of metal, nails, wheels, carpet, seats, engines, wings, and windows defy gravity?

The connection (which is more a musing, too)

I’m not a pre-engineering/physics major, so if you want a technical explanation, Google it.

But as I was prying the plane off the runway in my mind, listening to the engines roar and watching SFO disappear behind me, I thought: what makes a book get off the ground?

If you think about it, books are just words. Verbs and participles, names and places and things, sentences and paragraphs, strings of action and story lines and character arcs. But somewhere, somehow, all this things tangle together and come alive.

Your turn to muse.

When does a book stop being a pile of words — and become a story that readers love? What’s the magic oomph that makes the story soar?


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Seven Reasons Why…

…it’s time for Christmas break!

meet our suite's paper snowman...

7. It’s cute that Southern California is trying to be wintry and cold in its SoCal kind of way, but I’m ready for some real winter: clouds, rain, temperatures below 55 degrees, maybe snow?

6. I’m out of socks. Also, I might be out of clothes… I’m also over cafeteria food.

5. I have spent my life savings and my life at the Coffee Bean this week (should I admit that I studied there at least five times in the last six days?) so it’s definitely time to switch to Seattle and Starbucks…

4. My brain’s on holiday halfway across the world and I can’t think of number four… I did have one in my head… but I forgot…

3. Weird things happen during finals week. We can’t be blamed; we are exhausted and stressed and crazy. It’s not our fault we got kicked out of the library for laughing too loudly… But enough weird things have happened. UNCLE!

Most excitingly,

2. FINALS ARE OVER! I just got out of a beastly rhetoric final that zapped every ounce of brain power from my poor, tired mind. Luckily…

1. I’m heading home in four hours!


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Teaser Tuesday

TwO dAyS uNtIl ChRiStMaS bReAk! Zero finals down, three to go…

Search the tags for links to previous Thrill Seekers chapters. In this chapter, (called “Consensus: Forking the Lawn is Lame”) Patricia goes back to explain a couple things. Ready, go.

[Teaser snipped; thanks for the comments!]


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