Museletter #1: Dylan Marron

It’s been a rough week trying to process what happened in Orlando on Sunday. Even though I wasn’t directly affected, I’ve found myself mourning each loss at every unoccupied moment this week. I feel helpless, and angry, and sad. I woke up this morning thinking I should do something simple to spread more positivity after this long, awful week. I decided to boost my muses, to find a place to share little bits of inspiration from people who inspire me.
Today, it’s Dylan Marron.
I first discovered Dylan a couple years ago when he joined the cast of one of my favorite podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale. On WTNV, Dylan plays Carlos, an adorably cheerful scientist who falls for the main character, Cecil. I loved seeing (well, hearing, technically) their queer relationship portrayed so openly and unapologetically on this weird little sci-fi show.

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Cecil Baldwin and Dylan Marron in Welcome to Night Vale Live, May 5, 2015

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Dylan here and there. Each time I see him, he’s bringing something so smart, amazing, and capital-A-Awesome into the world. You may have seen his Every Single Word videos that highlight the need for more stories portrayed by people of color:

 

This week, in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, Dylan seems to be doing nothing but spreading the love around. On Monday, he moderated and interfaith conversation about religion, sexuality, and love:

On Tuesday, he tweeted “I am a soft-spoken brown queer man who wears his mother’s pearl earrings. And I love my queerness. Let’s start a #queerseflove hashtag.” and encouraged thousands of people to tweet about identity and pride.
Most recently, Dylan made this video of men kissing, with the promise that for each homophobic comment, a dollar will be given to support the OneOrlando Fund.


Watching that video this morning made me realize how simple it is to choose positivity, to put a brave foot forward instead of being weighed down by tragedy and hate. I hope Dylan inspires you to do the same.

Pattern Play

It’s day two of my art journaling adventure. The other night I decided to sign up for a new online class to help me get back in the swing of things. Ashley Goldberg’s Paint Plan Play was within my price range. I’ve always admired her work and it looks nothing like mine, so I was interested to see what I’d do with her prompts.  I’m just getting started digging into the class. Here are a couple of warm-up projects I did:

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That’s just paint pen on a messy acrylic background. I was so excited to try the class’s mark-making techniques that I brought my journal to work and did this in the breakroom. It’s nothing beautiful, but that’s the best part about art journaling. It’s about enjoying the process, not the end result.

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This was another attempt at messy pattern-making. I was in the mood to make a pretty design then mess it up with oozy bleeding hearts. I inked up a rubber stamp with some of those ink daubbers old ladies use for bingo (I love unconventional art supplies) and stamped it on a plain gessoed background. Then I used homemade spray inks to make a few of the hearts a little messy. Simple and sweet!

November Spawned a Monster

Every November, without fail, I go insane. Maybe it’s the short days. Or it’s the icky, rainy weather that shows up and doesn’t dissapate until May. Whatever it is, I start to crave color and images. My hands won’t stay still–I have to make something. One year it was xeroxed zines, black and white bits all over my bedroom floor. Knitting another year. I made a lot of ugly scarves, funky purses, and cute hats. Writing, of course, November is NaNoWriMo, after all. I started my first novel four years ago (almost to the day). But the creative activity I started six years ago has paved the way for all the other creative-craziness I’ve experimented with over the years: art journaling. It’s my favorite craft. I’m obsessed! Painting and sketching and scribbling into a little book I can snap shut and take anywhere, yes! I still journal here and there, but I stopped making it a daily habit when I started writing. Right now I’m on a temporary writing break. I’m waiting for my edit letter from my agent, then I’ll have to get back to work on Miles Away From You. And I don’t want to start a new writing project in the meantime because once a story grabs me, I can’t focus on anything else. So, the November madness is upon me and I’ve decided to start art journaling daily again. A couple nights ago, I dug out a Moleskine I started in 2012, but still haven’t filled, and wen to work. That first night I wasn’t feeling up to digging out the messy supplies yet, so I spent some time adding photographs to my journal. I usually use an app called PostalPix to have my iphone photos printed, then I stick them in my journals with double-sided scotch tape. Here are a few spreads I finished up with photos this weekend:

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I used acrylic paints and watercolor pencils to make an abstract grid-like background, then pasted in a quote I’d printed from Pinterest. Since I used an inkjet printer, the words smeared and slid around when I glued it down–which worked well for the quote actually. The portrait on the left page is a selfie where I made myself to look like one of my idols, Merril Garbus of tUne-YaRdS.

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The photo on the left is a print of an art journal page I did digitally on my ipad (great for lazy nights when you don’t want to drag out supplies and get your hands messy). On the right is a wicked little pixie I saw in the watercolored backgrounds. Finished the details with watercolor pencil and metallic markers.

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That’s a pic of me in my “natural habitat”–the record store. The background is acrylic paint, scrapbooking paper, and metallic markers.

It was so nice to be able to add just one element to pull these pages together and complete them after all these years. That definitely lit the creative spark in me. I’m going to try to post every day as I rediscover my love or art journaling again.

NaNo Novel Prep Guide

Wow, the last part of this month has really been flying by! I meant for this to be a series, but life stuff happened and so now my NaNo prep series is going to have to be a single post. So, consider this your quick and dirty guide to novel preparation, the Lucy way.

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So, at the end of last year, I was struggling to edit this novel I’d been working on for three years. It was my first novel and it was an extremely difficult piece to write–dual POVs, different timelines, lots of twists. The thing about that novel is that it taught me how to write. By the time I wrestled my way through that complicated mess, I fully understood how to put a story together. I can’t really teach you that; it’s just something you have to learn along the way. But when it came time to start my next story, I had learned a few short cuts, which I will now share with you.

Start With Your Query
Normally this step is one of the last things a writer does. But I recommend starting here because brainstorming a query letter will solidify your novel idea. If you’ve never written a query letter before, I recommend browsing the Query Shark website for some great tips and examples. Of course, your query doesn’t need to be one hundred percent perfect. You’re not sending it off yet (please, please, please don’t start shopping around for agents until your novel is complete and has been through a few rounds of edits and critique).

Expand Your Query Into A One Page Synopsis
This will serve as the road map to your story. As you’re NaNo-ing away, your story may have a tendency to go into unexpected territory. This is great, but don’t wander so far off track that you lose sight of your main plot threads. Check back with your synopsis often, so that you can steer yourself back on track if things get a little too crazy next month.

Consider Your Voice
Another great preparatory exercise would be to write a few paragraphs here and there in your narrator’s voice so that you can get a feel for how your story will be told. Choose your point of view and narrative tense ahead of time and make sure you understand how to keep from unnecessary head-hopping and tense switches. Writing in a steady character voice will keep you from having to do a boatload of edits once December rolls around.

It Gets Worse
All you really need to get started on your NaNo Novel is a character and a conflict. Keep brainstorming from there, but keep in mind that story conflict needs to build. Your plot will roll right along if you just keep making your main character’s situation worse and worse. Of course, he or she will need a few small triumphs here and there (and a big one at the end) but for the most part, stories need the conflict to just keep piling on.

Okay, so that’s a basic rundown of the things I do before starting my first draft. I wanted to go ahead and put this post up in time for NaNo, but hopefully soon I’ll find the time to expand on these tips with individual blog posts. I also want to show you a few unconventional writing tools I use to help brainstorm, so check back soon. Happy writing!

Triple Seven Challenge

I’ve been nominated to take part in the Triple Seven challenge by fellow author E.G. Moore. The object of the challenge is to share seven lines from page seven of my manuscript, then tag seven writers to do the same. The following excerpt is from my contemporary NA, Miles Away From You:

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And it’s not like I was angry when I moved out. Or that there was some huge fight. I just wanted some independence. Some space for you and me. I was in love. And now all that space, that love, is like the tip of a freshly extinguished match pressed against my skin. Sulphur, heat, and pain without any flames.

The writers I’m tagging are:

Melanie Terrill

Alana Saltz

Laura Castle

Noel Ashland

Maggie Giles

Victoria Smith

Laura Creedle

Great challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone posts.

Hey! I read that: 2015 So Far…

Since I’m a writer and lover of all things YA, I thought I’d share a little bit about the books I’ve read so far this year. Unfortunately, I don’t read much. At the beginning of the year, Goodreads sent me a summary of everything I’d read last year and I hung my head in shame. Six books. I only read six books in 2014! I set my 2015 goal for double that, at least. The year’s a little more than half over and I’ve just finished my sixth book, so hopefully I’m on track.

I do sort of have an excuse for not reading so much. For starters, I’d rather be writing. That’s pretty much my motto for everything, but I definitely get distracted from books by my own work in progress. And the other thing that I do a lot of is critiquing. I’d say I critiqued about fifteen books from start to finish last year, which is a lot more work than just idly reading along.  But, anyway, enough with the excuses. On with the books!

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The first book I read this year was The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir. Definitely a break from my normal YA, but I absolutely loved this novel. It’s about a young man who travels from his home in Iceland to an unnamed European country to restore the rose garden at an ancient monastary. The novel is so slow-moving and thoughtful in a really lovely, dreamy way. I adored the main character, Lobbi, who’s struggling to find out who he is after losing his mother and becoming a father all in the course of a year. It might seem a little slow for some readers, but I really enjoyed the stream-of-conciousness style and the beautiful scenery.

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The next thing I read was How It Ends by Laura Wiess. A friend recommended this novel a couple years ago and I’ve had it for a while, but I could never get very far. It’s about a teenager named Hanna and her neighbor Helen, who serves as a grandmotherly figure to her. The thing that irked me about this book was that the blurb on the back only matches the last third or so of the story, so it felt like it took forever to get to the good stuff. And maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I’m way too into this whole Strong Female Character Thing, but I was having trouble relating to Hanna’s starry-eyed crush on the bad boy who keeps ignoring her. I finally finished the book, but I only gave it two stars on Goodreads.

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Every Day by David Levithan. I loved this book. It’s about a person who wakes up in a different body every day of his or her life. The writing is beautiful and flawless. I really appreicated the genderless main character who makes the tragic mistake of falling in love. Though A can’t stay in the same body, they go to great lengths to see their soulmate again and again. So great. I can’t recommend this enough. Five stars!

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Next up, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria. This is a good book, but it has the fatal flaw of being nearly identical to another book, The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I enjoyed this novel, but felt a little cheated by the storyline (even though Chbosky approves). Of the two, Perks is definitely superior. I think Love Letters was missing some of the passion and humor that Perks served up so well. Anyway, I didn’t hate this book, but was a little disappointed, so I gave it three stars.

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Ah, yes, Megan Erickson’s Trust the Focus. Since I’m currently writing an LGBT New Adult novel, I figured this was worth a read. But I was horribly, horribly wrong.  See, I don’t like Romance novels. Not my thing. I was so frustrated by the push and pull of Justin and Landry’s relationship. It seemed so predictable to me. I never once worried whether or not they’d make up after a fight. Actually, I thought Justin was borderline abusive to Landry, so it was difficult for me to root for them. Anyway, I’d probably only give this one or two stars on Goodreads, but I decided not to rate it. It didn’t seem fair to the author for me to bring down her ratings when I just wasn’t the target audience. Lesson learned. I’ll just steer away from Romance novels from now on.

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I just finished this last night, so I think I’m still processing. It usually takes me a week or two to decide if I really enjoyed a book. But, my initial thoughts are “yes yes yes.” The  two main characters Violent and Finch meet in the school bell tower when they are both contemplating suicide. Finch is definitely a manic pixie dream boy annd Violet is one of those former-cheerleaders-with-a-deep-deep-soul characters. I’m still debating whether or not soulful pep squad captains actually exist, but I liked her nonetheless. Another novel with perfect prose. I gave it four stars.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and meet my 12 novel goal by the end of the year. I am currently trying to decide what to read next!

The Obligatory Intro Post

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Whelp, that’s me. Let’s start with the boring stuff. I’m 31. I live in Missouri. I recently got a job as an optician, so I just bought a bunch of new clothes and started dressing like a librarian.

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This is completely true. I’ll probably be a quiet little church mouse at first, but if you win my heart, then you’ll find out that I actually have a horrible, Cards Against Humanity-style sense of humor. You’ve been warned.

Hmm, what else? I don’t have kids. I don’t want kids. I want to travel. Last year on my birthday I went to Iceland for setting research. I wanted to touch the black sand I’d been writing about for so long.

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Mmm, sandy. I brought some of it home with me and it sits on my writing desk between my typewriter and my gargoyle.

I like to make arty things. Here is the most recent arty thing I made that I like quite a bit.

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My favorite books are Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block, The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly, and The Perks of Being a Wall-flower by Stephen Chbosky. I pretty much only read YA and dark fairy tales, little else holds my interest.

That is all for now. I’ll leave you with the song that would be my themesong if I were a Disney princess.