Zimmy Sunday #19: The Secret Life of Walter Zimmy

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Happy Sunday dear readers! Zimmy and I are officially in holiday mode, if you couldn’t tell by the picture (and yes, he really does love it when you rub his belly with your foot. He’s a rather derpy dog), and very much looking forward to spending quality time with our family eating all the things in all the land and watching whatever Christmas movies happen to be on cable. Writing will slow a bit until after Christmas, but that is fine, because I made a *lot* of progress on the novel last week! I cut about 70% of the work I’d written during NaNoWriMo and have replaced just about all of the cut content with new material, material that I’m actually happy with quality-wise (gasp!). I’m not completely done yet, but I’m hoping to find time to add some things here and there in between celebrating with friends and family, and then go back to full time work on Thursday. In the meantime, though, time to enjoy the holidays. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, dear readers, and happy holidays!

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Friday Funday: 1920s Slang

Happy Friday dear readers! I hope all of your Fridays are passing quickly as we head into the winter holidays and vacation time. My vacation is starting a bit early, with my whole family home today and dragging me out to see Catching Fire for a second time, so this post will be a bit brief because I need to go and get my Jennifer Lawrence on (yeeessss).

As you all know, I’m a big fan of bringing back awesome obsolete words and phrases, because more often than not that are infinitely cooler the things we say now. This is especially the case when it comes to slang, which’s why I was so happy when a good writing friend of mine sent me this post on Thought Catalog of 59 More Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again. Yolo and twerk have got nothing on some of these bad boys! Make sure you check out the entire list here, and in the meantime, here are some of the highlights to pique your interest along with some helpful memes and gifs to help you learn the new slang. Enjoy, and happy Friday!

Baby Vamp: a very popular young woman or an attractive girl.

“Banana Oil!”: “That’s doubtful.”

Beat Session: a gossip session between two males, consisting of idle chatter.

Burning with a Blue Flame: drunk

(Other slang for drunk: “boiled as an owl,” and “lit up like the commonwealth,” among others)

Cast a Kitten: to throw a temper tantrum.

“Ish Kabibble!”: “Who cares?” , “No worries!”

“Nerts!”: “That’s awesome!”

Togged to the Bricks: dressed to the nines.

Goodreads’ Choice Awards: Best Books of 2013

This is admittedly a few weeks late, but seeing as I’ve been giving you so many top 2013 book lists lately, it seems only right that I’d do up a post on this year’s winners and nominees for the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards! Touted as the only major book award where the recipients are determined entirely by reader votes, the award was given to twenty different titles, one for each of the twenty different categories. This was the 5th year that Goodreads has put on the awards. There are definitely some interesting winners and nominees this year, so be sure to check them out after the jump! Continue reading

NPR’s Guide to 2013’s Greatest Reads

2013 is almost at an end, dear readers, which means that all this month I’ve been featuring lists of the top books from this year. You’ve already seen the New York Times notable books of 2013 list, the Washington Post’s top 10 and notable 2013 fiction lists, and those were all great, but here’s the mother of top 2013 booklists: NPR’s Best Books of 2013. And when I saw the mother of top 2013 book lists, I mean it. There are over 200 titles (yes, really!) featured on this list in all sorts of genres, including (but *definitely* not limited to) fiction, nonfiction, YA, comics and graphic novels, children’s picture books, and cookbooks. There is something on this list for just about every type of book lover, which means that this is a treasure trove of ideas for any of you who’re still shopping around for holiday gifts. Take a gander, dear readers, and see if anything catches your eye!

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All I Need To Write

Today is yet another day spent slaving away over revisions, dear readers. Progress is being made, albeit slowly, but there are times when I find myself losing focus and inspiration, and when that happens I’ve definitely found myself trying a number of these different options. So far the best has been Some Animal Friends, i.e. Zim, A Room With a View has turned out to be the worst, and Internal Motivation is somewhere in the middle. I haven’t tried A Ticking Clock, though. Maybe that will end up solving all my writing problems!

Miscellaneous Monday Morning: Khalid Warsame’s “A Writer’s Guide To Keeping Sane”

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Happy Monday dear readers! For many of you, this is the last Monday at work before the winter holidays, which, if you’re like me, makes it even harder to feel motivated to be productive today. So close and yet so far, right? I feel you, dear readers, I really do!

This is going to be a very busy writing week for me, full of large chapter overhauls and heavy duty revisions. Reading and revising my first drafts is my least favorite part of the writing process, mostly because I find lines like “They buzzed around like jet fighters” and I’m left wondering why on earth my past self could have possibly thought that that was a good simile to include as a narrative description (Fun fact: the “they” in that sentence was a pair of hummingbirds. Yeah. Writing fail.). These are the times when I’m most likely to give up on projects, and so I’m even more in need of a reminder that I’m not the only one who thinks writing is hard than I usually am (which, admittedly, is all the time).

This is why I couldn’t have been happier when I stumbled across Khalid Warsame’s piece “A Writer’s Guide to Keeping Sane” over at Medium. The piece is a quirky, quick read that I at least could relate to and glean some advice from, and I think some of you, dear readers, might as well. I’ve copied it out here for your convenience, but be sure to check out the original piece over at Medium and their other great stories as well. Happy Monday, dear readers!

Sanity is a cozy lie. ~Susan Sontag

  1. I’m staring at a blank page right now. I have a title but little else. My cat is looking at me funny; I can’t handle this. I think I’ll clean my room.
  2. A good way to avoid the terror of the blank page is to never start a new document. Simply pick up where you left off, and if it’s a different story, separate it with a new page or line. I had one word document that was three hundred pages long, full of dead novels, fragmented bits of prose, and aborted articles. Going through it was like going through an ancient battlefield.
  3. Nobody follows their own advice.
  4. I once heard that writing is mostly an exercise in self flagellation. There’s a lot of aphorisms like this about writing. I think I’ve spent more time thinking about writing and reading about writing than actually writing. 
  5. Thomas Mann was my age when he started Buddenbrooks. How old was Bret Easton Ellis, the bastard? I hear some eighteen year old got a book deal. They gave that kid a million dollars. What am I doing? I hate them all.
  6. Think about it this way: if you weren’t worrying about writing, you’d probably be worrying about serious things that actually matter. So maybe writing is keeping you sane by distracting you from worse things.
  7. Because, let’s face it, you sure as hell ain’t gonna feed yourself with words.
  8. I buy pens compulsively. I hoard them. Some are on my desk, some are in my bag, but most end up in the nooks and crannies of my apartment; behind the sofa, under the bed, inside picture frames. I don’t know why I keep on buying/stealing them. I barely ever write by hand anymore, and when I do, it comes out baffling and asemic. I think having a pen nearby gives me a sense of control over my life.
  9. Don’t delete anything, even the three pages of the letter “D” you wrote when you were drunk alone at home that one time. Nobody runs out of hard drive space anymore, you have no excuse.
  10. Love and hate occupy the same space in my head when it comes to other writers. I love Nabokov with my entire soul, but hate him for writing so perfectly.
  11. Doubt is everything. Doubt is always there. If my fingernails aren’t horribly mangled with worried nibbling then I’m probably not writing that much.
  12. Writing is mostly not letting your doubts overwhelm you; that’s why you should leave editing till last.
  13. Jonathan Franzen says that no interesting fiction was ever written on a computer with internet access. I’m inclined to dismiss this, in principle if nothing else, as more of his usual bouts of mouth turbulence, but I think he has a point. The internet is a Great Enemy of the writer. It’s as implacable as Napoleon at his height and as demanding of your attention as a baby in peril. There’s this program you can buy that blocks your computer’s internet for a predetermined set of time, but in my experience, you’ll just end up rebooting the computer so that you can read a Wikipedia article about LGBT rights in The Gambia. Try it though, it’s called Freedom, and see if it helps. Zadie Smith swears by it, and Zadie Smith is a perfect human being and everything she says is true.
  14. I thought I had found a solution to this problem when I bought a note book. But I spilled coffee all over it and now I have a three hundred pens and one stained and deformed note book.
  15. Don’t ever tell people about the novel you’re working on. They won’t care enough to pay attention, but remember enough to always bring it up. “So… how’s the novel going?” is the worst combination of words in the English language.
  16. Whenever I try write something funny, I set the font to Comic Sans. That way, I figure, if anything can overcome it’s inherent Comic Sans-iness to make me laugh, I know that it’s pretty damn funny. It’s not a foolproof method. In fact, it’s not an effective method at all. I just like doing it. 
  17. I subscribed, once, to Neil Gaiman’s tumblr blog. It seemed like a good idea at first; but after doing so I quickly unsubscribed. It was too real, hearing bout his day and his lovely interactions with his lovely fans. I prefer the relationship between a writer and his audience to be distant, preferably separated by a buttressed wall and miles of inhospitable terrain. Even the prospect of seeing him seems almost obscene.
  18. Death, for a writer, is just another way to ignore critics. Interestingly, it is also the only way that actually works.

Zimmy Sunday #18: The Zim of Wall Street

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Happy Sunday dear readers! It has been a long week for Zim and me, with being stuck at home due to a cold and a sprained foot causing me to get more than a little stir crazy. As it turns out, I can only handle sitting around on a couch for so long before I get twitchy and start bugging people to entertain me (sorry, friends who’ve had to deal with that all this week!).

It wasn’t all bad, though, because some of that stir craziness led to me actually buckling down and making real progress on my novel! Woo! I spent most of this week re-structuring and re-outlining all of my male psychopath’s chapters, and two thirds of my female’s. But in much more exciting news (for me, anyway), I’ve decided to revise my female psychopath’s initial motivation with the intention of having it morph over the course of the story, which (hopefully) will amplify the conflict in the plot. If this works out the way I think it will it’ll solve a *lot* of problems I’ve been having with the plot the last few weeks, so I’m really crossing my fingers on this one.

The only bad part is that changing her initial motivation means I have to gut about 60% of the chapters I’ve drafted for her and completely re-write them, which is something that I’m not looking forward to doing. Cutting large chunks of work is a painful experience for me, even when I know doing it will make the story better, so I’m not looking forward to doing it. But them’s the breaks, and at least if I get down I know I’ll have Zim ready and waiting to cheer me up and get me ready to get back to work.