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Happy Halloween!

I’m having some troubles with uploading the pictures from New Zealand onto WordPress, but if we’re Facebook friends you’ve probably seen them anyway :-)

Here’s a teaser though, one of my favorite pics from the trip. Yes, the water really was teal!

nz teal

I just adore Halloween. The costumes, the decorations, the scary movies, and especially passing out candy to the neighborhood kids. One of the best parts of being an adult is getting to be on the other side of that door.

I’ve often found myself drawn to positions and services ‘on the other side of the door.’ I want to be in the know, I want to be behind the scenes, involved in all the reality that takes place before the fantasy is presented.

I guess that desire comes from my profound ignorance of the adult world as a child. I viewed adulthood with fear and anxiety, petrified because I didn’t have the knowledge I knew I would need, and the learning process was confounding. Driving, cooking, laundry, paying taxes, opening a bank account, working for 8 hours a day with no recess… When you haven’t taken even the smallest step towards self-dependence it all seems overwhelming.

Of course each skill came in its own time, and each piece of information acquired slowly added up to a wealth of knowledge, the greatest of which is that I learned I have the ability to figure out any problem life throws at me. There’s no reason to be anxious because I trust myself that I’ll figure it out. Haven’t I, every time before?

And so, these days I find myself wanting to be working behind the scenes. I’ve parted the curtain and found the man behind the Great Oz, but now I want to know what it’s like to operate those levers.

Wanting to be a writer is probably the greatest example of wanting to be behind the scenes. As it is for so many of us, reading was my life as a child, and books were my closest companions but also a mystery: how were they developed? What was it like to write them? Where did the ideas come from?

When I started out as a writer I was obsessed with learning the minute, intimate details of a writer’s process. If you could have shown me how the neurons in the brain fired to create ideas I would have wanted to see. Now that I’m ten years into being a writer I know way more about the process than I ever thought I would, and though the strength of my curiosity has waned I’m still fascinated.

In my day job, working in human resources, I feed my curiosity about the big intimidating world of corporate life. I get to learn the reasoning why decisions are made and policies developed. That’s part of why I love my job, but here’s a pretty great example of another reason:

sav witch

Every year I’ve been here I’ve promoted dressing up at work for Halloween (as long as costumes are dresscode-compliant, of course), but this year we went all out, sponsoring an open house for the families of our employees. You can see some of the spiderwebs decorating the cubicles behind me!

This year I’m the classic standby of Witch, because my true costume is work-inappropriate, yet appropriate enough for the costumed charity ball I’m attending tomorrow. It’s going to be crazy and fabulous, and I can’t wait to show you pictures! You’ll  never guess what I’m going as ;-)

I’d like to leave you with this excellent song that’s my theme for the day, She’s My Witch by Kip Tyler.

Have a safe Halloween, and good luck with NaNoWriMo if you’re participating!

<3, Savannah

 

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A Summary of NaNoWarmUp, and news about Nameless

As announced in late September, this month I’ve been co-running NaNoWarmUp with Kat Zhang. The experience has been invigorating, and I’m pleased to say I’ve added more than 25k to Nameless!

Because I still get emails, comments, and sometimes FB messages from folks asking about Nameless, I added a comprehensive timeline to the Nameless page, so you can check that out if you’re curious.

Below are my personal charts for NaNoWarmUp!

I learned something really valuable through the experience, which is causing me to skip NaNoWriMo this year: writing to a time limit, such as a sprint, makes me write crap instead of valuable stuff. The past few years I’ve used NaNoWriMo to work on Nameless, and it was always crap. This October the pressure was lighter, and now I have 25k more words, every one of which I can keep.

Kat asked me to join her in aiming for 35k in November instead of the full 50k of NaNoWriMo, but I want to take part of this month to edit through what I have, do some brainstorming, and continue to move forward. My goal is to be done with the first draft by the end of December.

In other news, I went as Joan Holloway for Halloween. My hairdresser wouldn’t let me dye my hair red, so there’s that, and my hair is so thick and glossy it just wouldn’t stay put in a french twist, but other than that I have this outfit down. You guys may not know this about me, but… I’m kind of Christina Hendricks shaped.

Earlier in the month I went to the Southern Festival of Books and got to see Kat Zhang again, albeit briefly. We attended a session about MG Fantasy, and I recognized one of the writers as the person who was the handler for Sharon Creech last year. You remember last year, when I accidentally waited for Sharon Creech to emerge from the bathroom, then awkwardly hovered for a good long while without actually getting the chance to introduce myself?

Yeahhh… So I wanted to go up and explain to this woman what had happened, except… I just sort of… ended up awkwardly hanging around YET AGAIN because she was setting up for her session and I didn’t want to go on the stage to talk to her, and so eventually I just sat back down, clouded in a shame of my own social failure.

Can’t wait to try again next year!

<3, Savannah

PS: I’m putting together a list of gifts for writers so you can flesh out your Christmas lists, so check back soon!

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Moonlight & Magnolias and Southern Festival of Books

Last weekend I went to my first writer’s conference, where not only did I hang out with three new writer friends, but I test-drove my Halloween costume and did all sorts of other fun things.

The conference attended was Moonlight & Magnolias, which is put on by the Georgia chapter of Romance Writers of America. RWA, you ask? But you’re not a romance writer!

Correct, reader, I am not. But my agency sister Madeline Martin is, along with her two friends which became my friends, Hillary Raymer and Ava Milone. Since leaving Pub Crawl I’ve been sadly lacking in writer friends or companionship, and Madeline and I quickly bonded over… well… actually I’m not sure what we bonded over in the beginning. The mutual knowledge that we would definitely be friends? Plus Madeline writes an AWESOME blog about historical tidbits, including ancient dental hygine, what condoms used to be made of (you know you’re curious), and the history of merkins. Yes, her blog is as awesome and funny as it sounds.

Here’s Madeline, me, and Hillary at Fancy Dinner. Ava was gracious enough to take the picture:

Quick brag: that outfit I’m wearing? It’s one of my ‘writer’ outfits, and with my healthy eating and exercising I’m so proud of how I look in it. Okay, moving on.

The conference itself was focused on the Romance genre, but the classes were generalized so that I did get a lot out of them. There was one class about layering and subplots, and halfway through — even though I knew it was rude — I had to pull open my notebook and start scribbling furiously because I had so many awesome ideas. It’s okay, Madeline told me later half of the class was doing it, too. That 2-hour class should have been an hour of lecture and an hour of freewrite, seriously.

There were social events at night, but mostly we visited each other’s hotel rooms and did Plotting, where everyone would focus on one person’s story and help them work through their plot points, for the whole thing! Some of the girls brought ideas and left with entire plotlines. It was so amazing to see and participate in the creativity, and so fun!

Explaining the sleeping beauty story to 3 virgin readers was an interesting experience, though. I was hoping for plot help with my outline of Book 2, but it turns out there’s not really such a thing as a ‘quick recap’ of Book 1. I thought I did pretty good with my MC, the journey, and the resolution, but as we waded into Book 2 I had to go back and explain all the subplots and secondary characters.

It made me realize how detailed this project has gotten. When I first started writing it, I didn’t know the rules or the world. The first draft was as intense as I could make it, but it didn’t have the depth of this draft. I have a full world here. A history, universal laws, an economy, people, social evolution, etc. I’m proud of myself, yet also humbled in the face of all the work it took, and the process that led me here. I have wondered before how I will possibly replicate detail like this, but then I participated in the Plotting sessions and realized I didn’t have to go it alone.

Now the girls are planning a writer’s retreat devoted exclusively to Plotting, and though it won’t happen until next year I am. so. excited. 4 creative minds working together, figuring out Black Moments and Subplots and Relationship Black Moments and Fatal Flaws… guys, I’m so impressed with my friends and how willing/able they are to help each other out.

Anyway, speaking of sleeping beauty… I only have 3.5 scenes left. The half will be super fun to rewrite, one will be super difficult, and the other two are just filling in details.

I’m excited, yet intimidated (again). I used to receive reviews all the time, but now it’s been about a year since I’ve gotten criticism. Passing off this baby to someone is kind of scaring me a bit. I’m so proud and excited, yet at the same time what if all this work has been for nought? I try to console myself by remembering that this is a /rewrite/, not a first draft. I’m just building on what existed, so it can’t have gone terribly wrong :-)

And yes, on Saturday we dressed and attended the Costume Ball. We went in Greek theme, and I specifically was Persephone, Bride of the Underworld:

I think Hillary (in pink!) took some better pics of me but I don’t have them yet. Remember how I said I photograph oddly? Well I was rocking this beast, veil included.

Of course later dancing got too hot so I changed:

This weekend I’m going to be at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, to once again hang out with Kat Zhang and eat at the best sushi restaurant ever, whose owner is best described as The Sushi Nazi.

BUT!

I also get to meet SHARON CREECH AND RL STINE!!!! Sharon is the author of a ton of great books, including Bloomability, which created the foundation of one of my two life goals, which is to live in Italy. The other goal is to be a published author, so, you know, halfway to life fulfillment!

I’m incredibly excited. If you’re going to be in the area let me know and maybe I’ll tell you where this awesome sushi restaurant is. Maybe ;-)

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Things I’m Up To and Into

First, I want you to know I’m working on subsequent articles about social issues related to beauty, makeup, weight, etc., but I’m trying to move slow with them so I’m certain of my position and how I want to talk about this stuff. Glad to know you guys are as interested in it as I am :-)

Here are some things I’m doing now:

Writing. It’s been a bad few weeks, writing-wise. I’ve been stuck and unsatisfied, but it worked out, like it always does. I took a few steps back and just let my characters play around, and broke through my obstacles. Just asking myself, ‘how are they feeling in this scene? What do they want right now?’ really, really helps. I’m considering making posters of writer’s-block-breaking questions like this.

So ACORAS is moving forward, and I’m tinkering in my mind with a few side projects.

Running. Chris and I ran THREE MILES on Saturday! Whaaaat! Full disclosure: I only made it 2.25 before I had to stop and walk, but I finished strong!

Planning for Halloween. I’m attending a conference in early October in Atlanta, GA, and there’s going to be a costume ball! This year I’m going as Persephone when she’s Queen of the Underworld. My vision was big, black, and gauzy. Here are some of the inspiration photos:

   

I’ve also ordered a black wedding veil, and my sewing-talented mother is getting involved, so I can’t wait to show you all the final product. What are you going as for Halloween?

Last year I felt pretty lackluster about Halloween and autumn in general, so this year I avoided thinking about it so I’d feel ready to do it big!

I’m really loving this Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook. Picked it up at the magazine rack at the grocery store.

You can see my other Halloween plans here on my Pinterest board.

Preparing for Christmas. Every year Chris and I throw a party at our house for our two families. This year we went with a Godfather theme. Here’s the party invitation:

The menu includes  Chris’s Nana’s meatball recipe, home-made baguettes for custom crustinis, and home-made cannolis. Chris tested out the cannoli recipe at my parent’s house this weekend and they were so good. We made them with Kahlua filling ;-)

My color theme for Christmas this year is light green and silver. You can see my decorating ideas here on my Pinterest Christmas board.

…Have I mentioned that I love holidays?

Take special note of this pin. I’m currently making it in white and green.

DIY. Speaking of Pinterest, it led me to discover tons of DIY projects that rip off Anthropologie decorations. If you’re like me, you love Anthro but don’t want to pay the high price. Now you don’t have to. Special thanks to this blog, my new favorite.

Music. I’m adding music all the time to the ACORAS playlist, if you were interested. The latest piece is this absolutely beautiful instrumental piece from one of my favorite calming music artists, Liquid Mind. It literally made me cry. Do you know how rare that is?

I’m also loving Little Talks from Of Monsters and Men. I designed an animated music video for it in my head that is about ACORAS. What? You do it, too.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Chris and my dog Bella wrestling on the floor:

What are you doing for Halloween? What are you into lately? Got any Christmas plans yet?

<3, Savannah

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Spooky Autumn

I wrote this poem three years ago, when we first moved to Alabama. I love to re-visit it every year around this time because it embodies the Halloween/autumn spirit for me.

Halloween

Wicker baskets hunker down on your steps like pilgrims napping
in morning so early the last flutters of owls are just leaving the air.
Even the breath of the wide field shows;
moths limp off your porch into the fog, wet and mute.
Green and orange pumpkins pile around your peeling fence posts.
Autumn eggs like tiny, white pearls are lining the veins of the earth.

We shut the screen door drowsily –don’t go back to sleep.
Lullabied by a yellow moon, the creaky porch swing sways us, silent.
Wrapped in damp quilts and old sweatshirts, we wait
for the magical moment between morning and night,
for the break in time when people are going back and forth
across the window where the two worlds touch.

Run barefoot in the frosted fields,
(the doors are wide and open)
out to the edge, hands like five-pointed stars.
(don’t go back to sleep)
Out where your cold toes dance in the weeds,
(people are going back and forth
across the window where the two worlds touch)
race the sun to see if you can go, too.

Hurry boy, before dawn lights the dew.
Hurry boy, it’s there waiting for you.

Did you have a happy Halloween? I passed out candy and watched 28 Days Later with Chris while dressed as a witch from Hogwarts.