Friday, April 27, 2012

The Most Interesting Thing: Filling the Well

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." - Ray Bradbury
I have spent most of the month of April filling up my creative well. So far I've read over a dozen novels, watched about the same number of movies, caught up with old friends, gone for some hikes, listened to new music, and gazed for hours at the many wonders of spring. My bucket feels full, but as Ray Bradbury said, the trick is knowing how to tip myself over and let the beautiful stuff out. I know it's time and I hope I'm ready to open the floodgates again. But first, I must announce the winner of Jennifer Hubbard's TRY NOT TO BREATHE. And the winner is:

Cynthia Chapman Willis
(please email me: yascribe.angelina(at)gmail(dot)com )

Thanks all of you who entered. I hope you'll get your hands  on a copy, one way or another. ^_^ If you want another chance at winning a fabulous YA novel, I'll be posting another interview of an awesome YA Contemporary author on May 1st and giving away a copy of her latest release.  Stay tuned!!!

In May I'll be hosting the #WIPMADNESS  check-ins on Mondays. Which means it's time to start thinking about goals for the new month. Having a regular writing routine and a specific goal helps me empty the creative bucket. So tell me, how do you tip yourself over and let the beautiful stuff out?

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Most Interesting Thing: Neophilia

"Change in all things is sweet."-- Aristotle

I have a confession to make: My name is Angelina C. Hansen and I am a neophiliac. I am addicted to change.

Don't be alarmed. I don't think it's contagious. At least I hope not. I've suffered from this personality characteristic all my life but never knew there was a name for it. This week I happened upon this interesting article from Psychology Today:

From Wikipedia:
Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:
*The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change
*A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine
*A tendency to become bored quickly with old things
*A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty
*A corresponding and related desire to create novelty by creating or achieving something and/or by stirring social or other forms of unrest.

This explains a lot. One of my biggest challenges is that I can't stand to live in one place for more than 3 years (I've been in my current location for 7, thus my extreme angst, see April 6th post.) I get bored with eating the same food, can't stand to watch a movie or read the same book twice, don't like to vacation in the same place. . . and the list goes on and on and on.

One of the most important needs that I MUST satisfy is the need to create. Writing novels fills that need.

What about you? Am I alone here or do some of you bear this characteristic to some degree? If so, how do you cope?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jennifer Hubbard's TRY NOT TO BREATHE--Giveaway & Interview

Learn about this novel
TRY NOT TO BREATHE was my most eagerly anticipated release of 2012. And I was not disappointed.

"Defying both sensationalism and cliche ..... the story is also about moving forward." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

When I finally got the book in my hands, I didn't put it down until I reached the end. I am grateful to Jenn for writing this heart-wrenching novel and am eager to spread the word. Seriously, you must read this! And I'm going to make it easier for one of you.

To win a copy please read this interview and leave a comment below letting Jenn know something from the interview that encouraged you. I'll announce the winner here on Friday, April 27th.

You don't have to become a follower of this blog to be entered, but you can follow if you want to ^_^. I also encourage you to check out Jenn's Blog. It's one of my favorites.
What were some of the most important lessons you learned between the publication of THE SECRET YEAR and TRY NOT TO BREATHE?
Publishing one book gives you a sense of whch author events you like to do, which ones you’re good at, and which are the best fit for your book. You also learn the balance of writing / writing business / networking that works best for you.
I like to do a lot of online networking. I certainly do live events too—I especially love events with Q&A—but I do far more blogging and tweeting than I do school visits.
Briefly describe your writing journey from story spark to published novel:
I frequently start projects that I don’t finish. I may write a paragraph or a few pages and then realize there isn’t enough story there, or the narrator doesn’t engage me. But when I have a voice and a plot, I keep going until I have a draft of about 40-45K words. Then I do at least one major revision (usually several): moving chapters around, adding and deleting whole scenes and even whole characters and plotlines. Then I start the line editing process, where I’m happy with the structure but need to focus on the word choice and sentence-level construction. Only when I’ve fixed every problem I can find myself do I show it to beta readers. I do one or two more passes after receiving critique, and then submit it to my agent or editor. Of course, there are more editorial passes with my editor!
What are some of your favorite revision tips?
Only tell the interesting parts.
If you don’t know what happens next, ask the character.
Do a search-and-destroy mission for crutch words (“really,” “just,” etc.).
Watch for writerly tics that you assign to characters: are your characters constantly shrugging, or waggling their eyebrows, for example? (I had one draft in which the characters shivered and shuddered so much, you would’ve thought they were stationed at the South Pole. I cut 80% of it—a little shuddering is good.)
Writing a book with sensitive issues, like mental health, presents unique challenges. What has been your approach to research? 
I tend to rely on what I call “incidental research:” I write about things I’m interested in, which I studied because I was interested even though I didn’t know I would end up writing about them. Or I write about things that I, or people I know, have lived through (changing and blending events beyond recognition). I don’t usually pick a subject I don’t know about at all and then research it in order to write about it—that seems too much like schoolwork. If I’m interested in something, I will have started reading about it for its own sake.
But sometimes during drafts, I will look up the answers to very specific questions, things I need to know to fill in holes in a draft. (For example, for Try Not to Breathe: How expensive is it to go sky diving? How old do you have to be?) And in the case of Try Not to Breathe, I also had a psychologist who had experience working with adolescents and working in institutional settings read a late draft, just to see if there were any glaring errors.
You’ve published two books from a teenage boy’s POV, and in my opinion, done it very well. What do you believe has helped you to make those voices authentic?
I grew up reading male authors, talking to male relatives, and having male friends. It seems normal to me that I have the voices of both male and female characters in my head. My third book (upcoming) has a female narrator.
One of the things that made TRY NOT TO BREATHE come to life for me was the setting. I felt like I was there. What helps you make your settings so real? Do you base them on places you’ve been? How about the glass house?
I like to use composites of places I know. The waterfall in Try Not to Breathe is a composite of many waterfalls I’ve seen, tweaked by my imagination just enough to fit the needs of the story. The quarry is based on a few old quarries I’ve seen; I live in Pennsylvania, where they’re not uncommon. I think the glass house is largely based on a nature center I know. It has a wall made mostly of large windows looking right out on a forest. And I seem to remember a living room like the one I picture for the glass house, with its wall of windows, in a magazine like Architectural Digest, which I would’ve picked up in a doctor’s waiting room.
The entire time I was reading this novel, R.E.M’s Everybody Hurts rolled through my brain. Then I got to the acknowledgements page and saw that the title was inspired by—R.E.M. Interesting. So what role does music play in your writing process?
I always listen to music while writing, and I had REM in heavy rotation during this book’s preparation. In fact, my agent at the time suggested a line from “Everybody Hurts” for the title of this book (which I, with my typical difficulty in finding titles, had simply called Waterfall). I liked the idea of an REM line, but “Try Not to Breathe” was what came to me. I’d listened to the song a lot while writing this book. I should acknowledge that it’s mostly just the title of that song that resonates; REM’s lyrics can be interpreted very differently, and I didn’t base my book on them. But while the lyrics of “Everybody Hurts” probably align more closely with the book’s theme, the two REM songs I most associate with writing it are “Try Not to Breathe” and “Drive.” Heck, Automatic for the People is just a great album.

If you'd like to learn about her debut novel, THE SECRET YEAR and read a more personal interview with Jenn, you can find it here. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Most Interesting Thing: Hunting Inspiration

"Words are often seen hunting for an idea, but ideas are never seen hunting for words."
--Josh Billings
Does that quote make sense to you? Lately I haven't been feeling very inspired, so this month I'm on the hunt for inspiration. Books, music, poetry, and movies are my usual hunting grounds. I also find inspiration while tromping through the forest or working in the garden. Last week I discovered an interesting movie, Pandaemonium which sparked my curiosity about the 18th century poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I've been  gorging on his poems ever since. But I'm always on the lookout for new hunting ground.

What has inspired you lately? Where do you go when you need to fill your creative well?

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Most Interesting Thing: Cultivating Patience

  "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever struggled with patience? Honestly, I should have been named after that flower. What's my biggest source of impatience? As you may know, we've been waiting for our house to sell for over a year and at times the thought of staying here one more day drives me nuts!!!  Yes. I know I need to be patient. What choice do I have? There are so many reasons for cultivating this beautiful quality:

               *Patience strengthens character and protects us from committing rash, foolish acts.
               *Patience protects us from all sorts of grief, bringing us peace, stability, and contentment.
               *Patience helps us have a calm, trusting heart.
               *Patience leads to better physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

With all those perks, you'd think we'd all become masters of patience. Maybe you are. I am not. So I'm always on the lookout for helpful tips on cultivating patience. 

When it comes to my writing and publishing life, the greatest tool I've found for exercising patience is to keep busy with multiple projects. 

What about you? What helps you to be patient?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mindy Hardwick--Author of STAINED GLASS SUMMER

Twelve-year-old Jasmine adores her photographer father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on Island boy, Cole. But, it’s not until Jasmine finds herself mentoring another young artist that she can truly let go of her father and call herself an artist by her own terms.

Available at:
Musa Publishing
Barnes and Noble
A free discussion guide of Stained Glass Summer is available at

Here are some thoughts from Mindy on Writing and Life:
On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
Discovering character 
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Imagination and creativity
Favorite word?
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and:
An artist
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
Abuse in all forms 
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
Why do pets live such a short life compared to ours?
Best thing about being a child:
Worst thing about being a child:
Confinement to other's schedules and plans
Best thing about being a teenager:
Worst thing about being a teenager:
Not having your own place
Most memorable teen moment:
Working at Six Flags in the Games Department on hot St Louis evenings
One thing I'd like to say to my teen self:
Don't compare yourself to others
A quote I live by:
We make a living by what we make, we make a life by what we give.--Winston Churchill
My  dream vacation:
Hawaii for at least two weeks

In My Perfect World

Everyone would get a massage and a well-cooked meal at least once a week.
There would be an abundance of nature and freedom to explore.
No one would be deprived of creative support.
Every child would have a family who loved them.
No one would ever hurt.
Health care would be free for everyone.

Readers can find Mindy at
Twitter: @mindyhardwick