Wednesday, November 30, 2011


"Destiny is for people who are too lazy to create alternate timelines." - R. Stevens

This is the mirror image of the legit manuscript I'm to blurb, because I'm too lazy to hunt down my sister's camera and take a proper picture that's the right way around with good lighting. 

I picked it up from the bookstore they sent it to-reserved under my name behind the front desk, which was cool-this evening. And it really is just a bunch of papers bound together. As long as I say something positive and cool-sounding, the letter shoved in between the pages says it could be published in the ARC or even the final version.

And how awesome would that be? I'm half willing to say whatever they want me to, now (kidding, Penguin! I'm kidding!). 

Because it's not as if I didn't have enough books to read already. What was I doing all Thanksgiving break, anyway? Oh, right. Playing Skyrim and working my way through the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

An Open Letter to Lisa Simpson

"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." - Henry J. Kaiser

Dear Lisa,

I just finished watching the latest episode in the television show based off of your family, in which you decide to write a novel. First of all, I'm terribly jealous because you got to meet Neil Gaiman. And second, I have some advice for you.

When you sat down at your laptop and said "I'll just pound out two thousand words," I knew this was not going to end well. One does not just pound out two thousand words, as you soon learned. By the beginning of the first commercial break, after you fell head over heels for the wondrous thing that is Procrastination, my mother was saying, "They should just rename her Olivia." Because I have gone through practically the same thing. Every day for 30 days for the past three years. 

When you're playing Boggle? I'm playing Free Cell. When you're watching videos of cats on YouTube? I'm watching Glee. And when you're getting a coffee because you want to feel like a real writer, I'm making myself a mug of hot chocolate and grabbing a few Oreos from the pantry. Libba Bray wrote an amazing blog post about her "writing process," which is very, very similar. In fact, she mentions you.

The only difference between you and her is that she writes the book anyway. And this is the thing about writing that I have the most trouble with: the book sucks. I am a perfectionist. I don't let even my closest friends read a draft until I've gone over it at least three times. The book is terrible and I know it and every year during NaNoWriMo around the 10,000 word mark I nearly give up entirely, because I know myself to be a failure.

And then I write another 1,000 words. And another. And another. And then I start my list of Edits To Be Made. And I face the same dilemma at 30,000, and then again at 60,000. Both times that I've gotten to 60,000, I've stopped right where I am and gone back over everything I have so far because I hate it so, so much.

But then-- and I've only gotten to this point once so far-- it gets to a point where you realize that finally, you do really like this book. It has flaws, but you can make them better. And you will. But ultimately, you love it anyway.

And you can get to that point too, Lisa. Do NaNoWriMo to give you a deadline. Do it with friends to give you motivation. Turn off the internet to make sure you really do pound those two thousand words out, or at least 1,667.  Check your friends' word counts multiple times an hour. And then read that blog post by Libba Bray, because it's the best writing pep talk I've ever seen.

With love,

Olivia Wood

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


"People change and forget to tell each other." - Lillian Hellman

So about ten minutes ago the lady in charge of the Teen section at my local independent bookstore called my house (which sounds cooler than it was- she had already asked me via Facebook to call her at the store and happened to be busy at the time). 

Someone at the Penguin Group had contacted her about teen girls to read an early draft of a book coming out next fall to do blurbs for the back of the ARC.  (She's also getting in contact with the leader of my book club, but I'm conveniently forgetting about that until tomorrow when we have our meeting.)

Apparently I came up in conversation. In the sense that I am mentioned by name in a bona fide email from a person in a major publishing house. o_0 Although it's also a little weird that the bookstore lady knew my name and actually suggested me to her. I thought she just knew my face.

And then, as I just now realized, I sent my reply to the wrong address- the one for the bookstore instead of the Penguin Lady. Yeah, I'm smooth. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"I'd Like To Fold"

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." - Oscar Wilde

I'm not going to post my cases again, but our second debate tournament of the season was yesterday, and the resolution for my event was "Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need."

First, the judge and I waited 20 minutes for my opponent to even show up for the first round. The judge went out into the hallway to ask some people what was going on and kind of wandered off, because then my opponent showed up and we waited for the judge to return.

I gave my first speech. He cross-examined me and gave his first speech. I cross-examined him and gave my second speech.

My opponent organizes his papers, looks at the judge, and says "I'd like to fold." The judge and I look at each other, and then we look at him, and the judge says "Um, are you sure? You don't want to continue?" And he says "Yes. She completely destroyed both of my points so I'd really rather not."

I didn't even know that was allowed.

Round 2 went less well, but at this tournament all of the varsity and novice kids were lumped in together, and I was up against a girl who had gone to nationals last year. So that was fine. But the judge said later that I had the more compelling argument, so I have no idea why I lost. My round 3 opponent was from her same school, and we talked for nearly an hour before we were supposed to start, and he said she'd thought I was varsity, which was exciting. I won that round as well.

For round 4 I was up against one of the people who had originally taught my entire team how to debate at the beginning of last year, and she's consistently in the top 6 (although I don't think she was this time). So I don't mind having lost to her, either.

I managed to write a whopping 50 words for NaNoWriMo between rounds (whooo), and the next tournament is in four weeks from now on the same topic. It might be one of my last for the year, though, since I'll be busy with the school musical in February and March. So it'll just be December and then the State Championship in April.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"I Like Your Creativity"

"There is no better high than discovery." - E. O. Wilson

The second meeting this year of the writing club I mentor at my old elementary school was today. A kid came up to me, looking absolutely terrified, and said, "We don't have to write 50,000 words this month, do we?"

The poor kid. I explained the Young Writer's Program to him and said we'd be working out reasonable word count goals after they were finished sharing their stories with each other. I read Plot Chickens aloud just like I did last year, and then we split up into groups.

My group's favorite thing to say as feedback, other than complimenting each other on their descriptions, was "I like your creativity." And they meant it completely sincerely. Apparently the other group was critiquing each other's use of commas.

Out of all the members of my group, the highest word count goal is 11,000 (he made 12,000 last year), and the lowest is 300, with most of them being between 500 and 1500.

As for me, I'm a little over 16,000 and mine is going completely off the rails. 
The first two chapters of my 2009 NaNoNovel are now on Figment, though, if anyone wants to read them. I'm planning on updating it about once a week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An Abundance of Quotes Part Next

“Books are humanity in print.” - Barbara W. Tuchman

"Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top." - Edward Abbey

"The idea is to die young as late as possible." - Ashley Montagu

"This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say." - Brenda Ueland

"Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things." - Denis Diderot

My NaNoWriMo fever has gotten to the point where I'm working on my Huckleberry Finn project for English and get excited when its word count hits 1667.

Novel Count: ~9400
Huck Finn Count: ~2300


After four additional hours, the Huck Finn project as been completed (at nearly 4,000 words). There shall be much rejoicing and eating of lunch. Oh hey look, homework for the rest of my classes...