Whatims – March 5, 2018

I am SO into a book right now (you’ll see which one at the end of this post) that it took everything in me to turn away from it to write this entry!

What I’m Writing: I’m deep into the second draft of my MG fantasy-adventure and I’m loving it! I’m feeling that excitement that comes from knowing what direction your story needs to take, and I’ve been able to up my daily goal to a new chapter a day, whereas in the first draft I was writing 500 words a day. I’m hoping to have this draft done by the end of the month, and have it submission ready by the summer so I can relax and look like this:

What I’m Thankful For: This week I have so much love for author Carrie Jones. She is an amazing writer, and a SO-FANTASTIC-THERE-SHOULD-BE-A-PARADE-IN-HER-HONOR writing mentor. Carrie is leading the Write. Submit. Support online program for novelists through the Writing Barn this spring (and you can sign up for the summer session with her here) that I’m currently taking. Every note she has given me has been outrageously helpful. Carrie, thank you for your enthusiasm, encouragement and thoughtful feedback.

What I’m Reading: Dhonielle Clayton’s THE BELLES. You guuuuuuys. I’M ROBSESSED! This young adult book is set in a world where six young women control the power of beauty and can alter anyone’s appearance. In THE BELLES, we follow Camellia “Camille” Beauregard’s journey as she becomes an official Belle and navigates the political maze of a world obsessed with beauty. AND THINGS ARE NOT AS GORGEOUS AS THEY SEEM. I’m so freaking into this that I have to get back to reading it right n—

 

 

Gym Buddies Premiere!!

At the end of 2016, I was feeling a little creatively frustrated. I was writing away, but I can only write for so long each day before I need to let things simmer in my mind so that I can come back to the page the next morning ready to rock.

But I would still be creatively anxious (what an obnoxious term—I’m rolling my eyes at myself) in the afternoon, wanting to let out some more steam. I decided I would take acting classes, and I was instantly hooked. I got immediate feedback from an expert, and found that my ability to get deeper into characters in my writing was getting better and better thanks to acting exercises all about getting into the minds of other people.

Then I thought I would try my hand at auditioning for local projects, and the first thing I was cast in was a web series called Gym Buddies. It’s written and created by the brilliant Shruti Saran, following the story of Aparna and Quinn when Aparna hoodwinks her BFF into joining a gym with her after a nasty breakup.

I got to play the part of the extremely awkward and sweaty gym manager, Rob, who really has no business running a studio dedicated to physical fitness. It was so fun getting to ham it up and play this guy who really feels so out of place next to body builders, but whose can-do attitude, despite his overactive nerves, won’t let him back down from the challenge.

The first episode (of five) premiered today! Here it is:

Hopefully this gets me closer to one day getting to work with Anjelica Huston. Fingers crossed!

 

Whatims – February 26, 2018

This week is giving me LIFE! I’ve got a fire under me on this MG fantasy project I’m working on, plus I’ve made a deep dive into the TV show “Don’t Be Tardy,” and it may go down as one of the Top Ten Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made.

What I’m Writing: I finished the first draft of my MG fantasy-adventure this past week! I’ve been taking this first draft way slower than I usually do (more on that later this week), which allowed me to have all kinds of ideas for the revision. I’m going to jump back in TODAY!

What I’m Reading: Jacob Sager Weinstein’s HYACINTH AND THE SECRETS BENEATH! HYACINTH follows the titular character as she discovers that the rivers that flow under London are actually magic, and just what happens when the mischief in that magic is accidentally unleashed. I am flying through this, and I’m robsessed with the dry sass of Lady Roslyn, Hyacinth’s elderly companion on this adventure who I’m picturing a lot like Mrs. Doubtfire.

What I’m Thankful For: This week I have got to give a ginormous thank you to Debbi Michiko Florence. Not only is she an amazing writer (if you haven’t started her JASMINE TOGUCHI series, you have got to stop what you’re doing and get the first two books in the series RIGHT NOW), but she is an amazing friend. This past year Debbi and I started emailing each other on a regular basis, cheering each other on in our writing and filling each other in on our current adventures. I look forward to our emails, and it feels so great to have somebody who gets the author life by my side—even virtually—on this crazy writing rollercoaster.

Debbi, you complete me!

Whatims – February 19, 2018

Every Monday I’m going to give a rundown of what I’m writing, what I’m reading and what I’m thankful for. In short, the Whatims. Hopefully this will help out with three things: 1) Keep this fella on track to write everyday, 2) Spread the word about good books, and 3) Kick off the week with a little gratitude to avoid a Cathy case of the Mondays.

So here we go!

What I’m Writing: I’m nearing the end of a first draft of a middle grade fantasy-adventure. It’s about a love-adverse boy who finds himself stuck in a fairytale, and the only way out is to help Prince Charming find true love. I’m writing the ending this week, and I’m (Lisa Vander)pumped to get started on the revision! There will be a lot of fairytale research involved, which knowing me will include watching Disney movies and taking BuzzFeed quizzes on which Disney Princess would be my BFF.

I’m also working on a narrative nonfiction picture book about jellyfish! I’m shocked that I’m trying my hand at nonfiction. It’s always scared me, but it’s been a fun adventure. I’m nervous but excited!

What I’m Reading: Kim Tomsic’s THE 11:11 WISH! I have been on the edge of my seat waiting for this book. It’s about a girl named Megan who starts off a new year at a new school by making a wish at 11:11, resulting in all sorts of magical hijinks, both delightful and disastrous. I was lucky enough to see an early draft of this from Kim, and this book is everything I want and more! Kim, it’s catastrophically good!

I’m also reading a lot of picture book nonfiction right now to get inspiration for the jellyfish project I mentioned above. This week it’s IF SHARKS DISAPPEARED by Lily Williams, and ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD written by Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Erin McGuire.

SHARKS is so well done, explaining the devastating effects the Earth could experience if sharks vanished from our world. Even though the subject seems like it could be rather doom and gloom, there is a strong feeling of hope throughout the whole book that details how an animal that might at first appear scary is actually an integral part of our environment that humans can help.

Bethany Hegedus is like my writing fairy godmother, so anytime she has a book come out, I’mma get that right away. Due to Harper Lee’s history of being reclusive, I didn’t know much about her, so I learned a ton about Lee’s life in ALABAMA SPITFIRE. I had NO IDEA she was besties with Truman Capote! Erin McGuire’s illustrations go so well with the story. I especially loved her depiction of setting. I could feel the slower pace of Alabama compared to the hustle and bustle of New York City.

I also left ALABAMA SPITFIRE feeling an even deeper drive to keep at striving to sell a novel one day, and also to buy a typewriter—preferably this fabulous pink Hermes one right here (not to say that Lee loved pink because as I learned from AS, she didn’t, but she did clack away at her typewriter!).

What I’m Thankful For: BookPeople! My local independent bookstore here in Austin, Texas. I always feel so welcome when I walk through their doors, and they are outrageously supportive of their local authors. In fact, I walked in this weekend and was pulled aside almost instantly to sign more copies of WHOBERT. It made me feel like a rockstar, which despite the long hair I’m decidedly not. Plus, Shannon the School Visit Coordinator has been a dream in getting presentations set up at local elementary schools.

To the Book People at BookPeople, I LOVE YOU! Thank you for all that you do!

 

Drafting Jason

It’s time for a new and improved look to my website! I realized in the off-times (not to be confused with ofttimes) when I need to step away from my current WIP that I still wanted to write. So I’m taking that plunge to say I’m going to blog more. Yes, seriously, I’m going to do it!

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That’s more of a pep talk for myself. How many times have I started a blog, convinced I was going to keep at it, but then ending up forgetting I even started one about five posts in?

Approximately 174 times.

But this is going to be *the one*! Stars and fireworks and jumping puppies *the one* that signals everything is going to click. I’ll write about things I’m working on, things I’m loving, things I’m thankful for, merpeople, Anjelica Huston, the occasional existential crisis I’m going through from a recent episode of Real Housewives.

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Essentially this will be the place to ruminate about the many drafts I find developing of myself. Because as time goes on, I realize that life is just one big revision process, tweaking here and there in the hopes to make a better me. So, that’s what this blog will be all about:

Drafting Jason