You Cannot Make Sense Of This

The title is your fair warning.

Yes, I am here because I have nowhere else to go. You knew what this was. Do not be petty, just accept me when I randomly appear, and don’t make a big deal about how long I’ve been gone. That’s all I ask.

So, basically I am that dog in a room on fire. Like, outwardly, I am an object completely at rest, and then internally I am that spastic cat on the bed. (I’m apparently Gina Linetti and am unable to express myself without invoking comics, gifs or emojis.)

Serious question, for the writers among us. Why. Why do we do it. Not the writing – that’s life and necessary. I mean the part where we do a month-long marathon where we’re just like creatively bingeing. We know – WE. KNOW. – what comes after.

During binge:

DanceLiv

Moments after you write “The End”:

tumblr_inline_nj58cpuwep1rbhpj3

I don’t know, I couldn’t really find a picture of Kerry Washington looking ravaged, y’all. Basically she just did a color run, but whatevs. Anyway, my point is I am internally destroyed. And we know this happens. Like, seriously, the come down is the worst because my brain is still circling that story and even though I have another project I’m super obsessed with, I know I’m not there yet.

But no, this time’s different anyway; there’s a new, fun layer. It’s called waiting. LOL, waiting is not new, querying and revising and writing in general is totally all about waiting, but this is waiting for things that are going to be on shelves and sent out for public consumption and it’s oh so quiet, Bjork, but like maybe not in an hour or so? So my brain wants to stay on alert and therefore is ravaged, preparing, plotting other project, listening, stopping suddenly in the middle of conversations and then the other party’s like, ….are you okay? And then I lose my train of thought because what were we talking about?

AND I’m keeping secrets so I can’t even bother you incessantly about the one thing I can occasionally get my brain to run with.

So anyway.

This is fine

 

Talkin’ It Up

We are so overdue for a rap, friends. Get in here.

That might look more sinister than intended if it were anyone but beloved Morpheus. (Let’s take a minute and talk about what Laurence Fishburne means to me, shall we? The answer is everything.)

So, as we recall, I’m one of the Sweet 16s – an awesome part of which is getting to read ARCs (advance reader copies) of awesome debuts!! Three that I’ve adored, thus far?

Desktop2The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

The awesome thing (I like that word) is that these books could not be more different. Abyss appealed to my love of effortless worldbuilding in science fiction, and the originality of these massive beasts trained from birth to defend their ships? Yes, thank you. TLTSTW was basically written specifically for me, I can only assume, based on the magic realism, the wry humor, and the hypnagogic hallucinations (long story, short version of which is, hooray, I used to experience these a lot more often!). And Rahul’s Enter Title Here was legiterally the most refreshing thing I’ve read so far this year. Loved the concept and the construct, and as a norcal girl who went the accelerated program route, this amazing and also sometimes detestable MC felt so real to me – despite that I cannot think of a single person in my program who seemed like her in the least, lol. And it’s set in Norcal, I mean, come on. I am getting to be that person. Allegiances and all that.

In my own debut news, September approaches, and I am SO looking forward to my own cover reveal, designing/ordering/sending out LLoA swag, and getting to attend writerly events! For me, most things remain pretty quiet. Such is the life of a fall debut when it’s only March, I think.:) But my body is ready.

In the meantime, I am both writing the follow-up to LLoA – which, have we talked about why I don’t think the word “sequel” is necessarily accurate?! no? someday – and also, prepping to write other things!

Thing the 1st: an adult scifi novel based on one of my short stories. While I at one time assumed any related novel would be extrapolating on the story from said ss, I now think I need to sort of explode those parameters. Like, blow them up. It pins in the story, when the whole reason for developing it into a novel is because of how much potential I think there is in the concept.

But this took a backseat to Thing the 2nd: a YA urban fantasy about these present times of ours. This has eaten my brain. I’m co-writing it with my sister, which would be the first co-writing situation of my life, if one could possibly forget that we’ve done this before. Literal decades ago. When we, sisters who decided we are more accurately described as twins despite being two years apart, wrote the story of Megs and Pegs. Two twin sisters entering kindergarten. (I’m peeling my skin off as I tell you.) ::abruptly stops::

THINK FAST! Ever wondered if my contrarianism is a new development? Pretty sure it isn’t but want that certainty confirmed? Well, the lovely Ami Allen-Vath is debuting this month with a lovely novel called, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, and in prep, she invited me to take part in a blog post about prom! For which I even donated a picture from my Senior Ball. Wanna see? Click away!

Finally, did you miss my Valentine’s Day interview as part of my #WO2016 crew’s blog hop? Check it out!

Aaaand I think that’s everything.

Speed-Dating With Bethany

As an aside, I considered reusing the blog title “Rando Calrissian” because I just really feel like it didn’t get enough affection and is one of the most underrated of my clever blog titles. Shoulda timed it to coincide with episode VII. The following are equally random tidbits*, in an attempt to reconnect with you, dear reader. The things I do for England.

(1) Yesterday, during our Montreal Sunday Funday – which is what I call our weekly return to the city for church and fellowship…because I’m not great with titles *all the time* – I took a bite of chicken salad and immediately had a full sensory memory of the last time I’d eaten chicken salad. Which was like twenty years ago. I am 33 and feel it is far too early for this sort of phenomenon.

(2) Relatedly, I awoke with the theme to L.A. Law in my head.

So. That’s…

Yeah.

(3) I will be getting cover samples/images any day now for THE LAST LIFE OF AVRILIS, which you should know by now is linked to the Goodreads page where you can add it to your TBR and eventually your eyeballs, and I. Am. Excite.

Beyond excite.

I had a phone conversation with Georgia McBride, you guise. And lemme just sum it up thusly:

(4) This season’s marathon of the original Planet of the Apes franchise has left me with three truths thus far – because full disclosure, Ezra and I haven’t watched #5 yet, but will today! I do not apologize for how much space will now be devoted to talking PotA.

I will never apologize.

(4.1) The 2nd movie – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the one in which a strange subterranean enclave of telekinetic radioactive humans worships a bomb and which includes an unnecessarily long “church” scene complete with organ and hymnal – which I would have *EASILY* said was my lowest ranking in previous seasons, actually went up in rating, if not ranking. I AM AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

(4.2) The 3rd movie – Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which Zira and Cornelius come from the future to 1971 and are first the toast of the town and then, well, not – remains the absolute highlight of the franchise. Period. I realize this doesn’t sound like new news, but it was confirmed. Favorite.

(4.3) The 4th movie – Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, in which Caesar begins the revolution in 1991 – tanked in my rating. Just tanked. I think due to the overall comparative strength of the story, I’d given them too great a pass on the complete and utter lunacy. No more.

But, you, beloved…

Yes, you, MacDonald. You were just grand.

(5) They opened a huge Dollarama on Queen Mary as soon as I left Montreal. Thanks a bunch, friends.

(6) There is no Popeye’s in Northcountry New York. The implications of which worked me into a nearly destructive lather at one a.m. Still adjusting to being back in the States, but nowhere near to what I’m accustomed. We’ll get through this together.

*If perchance you followed the link to Rando… you would know that my Planet of the Apes ….fixation, shall we say, is inescapable.

Rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong

So, yes, we are talking about live musicals now! Because of course we are! Now that I’ve watched the three most recent, I feel supremely qualified to tell you exactly what to think about the format, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

First things first, let’s g’head and disqualify Peter Pan immediatement. I didn’t watch very much of it, I believe I ended right after Captain Hook and his merry band of pirates did their big number, and while some may say that means I shouldn’t judge it…they would be wrong. For you see, DNF (did not finish) means you already failed me. And I say that as an author whose book will debut in September of this year. If it fails you, you can still review it. That’s how that works.

I recall the set being much as I remember from previous such events, stagey – which isn’t a bad thing. (Until you see Grease. But wait! We’re not there yet.) The big problem with Peter Pan? It was charmless. Allison Williams’ Peter was charmless. There’s…. really no coming back from that. So. Done. Simple.

Right! On to the good stuff.

Yes, I was hyped for this. So were we all. Packed with stars, debuting a new talent, and new music? YES, THANK YOU. So how did it rate?

A solid 4.5/5 stars. Better than solid. I’ve watched it half a dozen times already with my son. It can easily be bumped up to 5 stars when you consider how necessary it was and still is. BUT. Where it faltered:

(1) Technical Difficulties.

Of course live performances have their share of missteps, particularly with random occurrences of dead space or unintended pauses. It happened enough times to be obvious. Moments that come to mind: Addapearle’s entrance and exit – which really bummed me out because she was LIT. Like, ON. FIYAH. GLORY! The Poppy/Lion dance – which felt like perhaps the music took too long to come up so it was like, should someone be speaking right now? Do we all know our blocking? The Wiz’s grand gestures – which were meant to be synced with special effects.

(2) Length.

It went by so quickly!! Not to mention that there was no ending/Kansas resolution, which was surprising! We seriously could’ve used an additional half hour AT. LEAST. And the real desire for back-on-the-farm resolution is tied to something I will note in the “Where it WON” part of this discussion.

Which starts now.

(1) SANG.

I mean. Can we just. Did they not. Like, f’real. Starting with Aunt Em’s beautiful rendition of “The Feeling We Once Had.” Then Addapearle? Then Scarecrow? Then Tinman’s “What Would I Do?”

I can’t express it to you fully in words, but I feel like she gets it.

Nothing. Will touch. The music. I loved the new song, and I was so pleasantly surprised that having been raised on Michael Jackson’s “You Can’t Win,” Elijah Kelley rocked.my.socks.

*I will confess that I wasn’t a fan of Dorothy’s sharpness whenever they sang “Ease On Down The Road.”

(2) Casting!

Seriously, just amazing choices, including Queen Latifah as the Wiz. YES. Elijah Kelley’s Scarecrow was just. I was in love. Until Ne’yo’s Tinman. Which brings me to the whole WE ALL HAVE ALWAYS WANTED DOROTHY AND TINMAN TOGETHER, RIGHT?! That’s a thing, yes?! Because the fact that we don’t go back to the farm and have Dorothy realize they’re all there – which yes, is more Wizard of Oz than the Wiz but wasn’t the Wiz on stage more blended, story-wise?! – that is what really hurt the length and ending for me. Give me closure on my shipping please!

dorothyandtinmanforever ::ahem::

(3) Costuming!

You already be knowing. So yes. Cannot choose favorites, but I *will* say…. this is another reason we needed a longer production. Can you imagine something more akin to the Emerald City scene in The Wiz, the film?! I would have died.

*Special mention: Cirque du Soleil! The whimsy. Seriously, this was such a beautiful addition, and really bridged the film and stage versions beautifully.

Which brings us to the most recent production: Grease.

Here’s the thing. Production-wise? It was dang near perfect. For real. It was the reason you wanna be the last person to present. Because you maybe didn’t even think to do it until you saw someone else do it, and then you were like, pretty sure I can do that better, plus I’ve seen all the ways you misfired, so. Yeah. It was baller, production-wise. And strangely, I can’t give it above a 4. Here’s why:

(1) Casting

Super torn here. Loved the ladies, I think Sandra Dee was perfectly cast, was surprised and in love with Rizzo – her performance wasn’t amazing in light of her father’s passing, it was amazing – and truth be told, I really like Kenickie. Buuuut…

It seemed like everyone was performing the film. As in, they were mimicking the people who played the part before them, instead of playing the part? It worked for Rizzo and Kenickie…everyone else felt like a caricature, to be honest, even my beloved Keke.

And EXCUSE ME but Danny is 47 years old. Stop.

Stop it.

(2) I don’t like Grease!

Yeah, I’m having to just admit it, after having my entire senior year seem to revolve around my class’s love of Grease and all things Grease and wait, also Footloose – it’s just not me. I was always the least in love, though I liked it well enough but. THIS IS A HORRIBLE STORY. Like, for real. The guys are completely unacceptable, period, Danny is just gross full-stop. I can’t.

Rizzo’s song saves the day. Well, that and Beauty School Drop-out.

The transformation at the end is just.

Which, yes, isn’t a function of the live performance, it’s a problem with the story itself.

(3) Singing

This was a little hit or miss for me. Even Boys II Men was a little warbly, which was just sad and made me feel like the world I grewed up in is dead. BUT the opening number? By someone the kids know? That was great. As I said, Rizzo’s number was great, the ensemble stuff – though sometimes you couldn’t hear the lead – and Marty’s song was nice. I’d say Danny and Sandy’s singing were my least favorite, though it wasn’t painful or anything.

So…..amazing production. Wish it’d been a different show?

*Special mentions: Doody’s “Those Magic Changes”, Frenchy, and Blanche.

Is there anyway we could get a longer, Grease! style do-again (not do-over!) of The Wiz?!

Spotting Sweet 16s!

The year of debut is finally here, not just for me, but also for all my Sweet 16 siblings! One thing I didn’t realize was how exciting it would be to go into Barnes and Noble and spot their books in the wild! So fun!

I met up with Margot Harrison, author of the forthcoming THE KILLER IN ME, in Burlington, VT, and scoped out the debuters already on the shelves!

Sweet 16s January

I know onlookers must’ve thought we were holding our own books, haha! But it was so exciting! So cool to have something to send them, like checking in on your friend’s kid away at uni or something.😀 They’re doing fine and thriving and they love you, Laurie and Marieke!

Just in case you haven’t heard of Laurie’s FIRSTS and Marieke’s THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS – somehow, some way – you’ll find their titles linked to Goodreads, so go have a look!

Holy goodness. Someday this will be my book, spotted places I didn’t put her, exciting fellow Sweet 16ers. ::head explodes:: Cannot imagine!

 

A Relative To Truth

When I was writing Keepsake and imagining its title, I was reading a lot of quotes about memory, a key theme of the story. Well. Everything about the story, really. But the point is, I have a fixation with memories. I’m just realizing that now as I catalog the themes of my novels…

Huh.

I guess anyone who journals rabidly and blogs and writes and documents could probably have guessed this. I never said I was sharp.

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.  ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels:  it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.  ~Salvador Dali

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. ~William Faulkner

Yeah, most of them are about how our memories are worthless, for being changeable. I’m paraphrasing. I haven’t decided how I feel about that, so I’ll probably keep writing about it, even though I think Keepsake helped me parse some of it.

ANYWAY. The point is, my brain is a wonderland. I was sitting, minding my own business, melting into a puddle of “I’ve just finished writing”/“The rabid squirrels have been released!” when by some unknown wizardry, BAM:

::ahem::

So.

Smelled this. Nostrils. Invaded. I mean, obviously not because I haven’t fed this to my son in ten full and thorough years, aside from which I haven’t lived in the UK in said stretch of time so that it is impossible that I should have smelled this baby food. But my brain decided to pretend. The thing is, and I don’t even know how this is possible – I smelled it in the freezing cold that was our kitchen in Bangor. You’re not getting it. YES, cold has a smell (it does) but I was smelling the feeling.

Whatever.

I know what I smelled.

Okay, but that wasn’t even the last weird time-leap-memory-smell thing. Before I went to bed, BAM:

Childhood. California. Walking with my mom and siblings. Eating off of trees. I don’t even know if these are the plums we had because I am pretty sure God discontinued them and it has been one of the great treasure hunts of my life, about which I will someday pen an epically tragic memoir in the vein of Lisa Simpsons’ “My Own Mother Gave My Last Cupcake Away.”

I will never have that texture and taste and smell back, except randomly, when I’m awake at 3am and delirious from writing.

Thanks for comin’ out.

Postscript: Upon reviewing this post, I suspect I should schedule an MRI, just to be safe.

You Are Hearing Me Talk

There are things over which an author has no control. This is never more easily understood then when you are the author. Lately, there’s been at least one dust-up over something the author of a very popular series could not really be expected to change. Because, the “not in control” thing. But I guess some people think we’re just kidding.

Expectation:

Reality:

(But she looks comfy, tho.)

And so anyway, the point of all this is who knows what will be, but IF I were to see an audio rendition of The Last Life of Avrilis (guess where that links to… guess!), I have but one request. That the narrator be one of the following:

Pictures

To be fair, I think everything should be narrated by one or both of them. No. Not both. We would not survive it.

While, on deeper meditation, it seems strange to have a grown man narrate a novel with a young female protagonist written by a woman… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Have you heard them speak?! Was your soul not awakened?! (Apparently I have no convictions and stand for nothing. Because I think this could still work.)

But on the off chance that either selection would be off-putting, I will also benevolently accept another superstar narrator, in the form of Meagan Good.

 

And Start Again At Your Beginnings

New book, new process. That is the apparent fact of my life as a writer. So despite that I’m writing a “sequel” – and you’re all, Bethany, why would you put that in quotations, and I’m all, Friend, I can’t really go into that – writing Avrilis 2.0 is another exercise in learning to write the book. And that’s not a bad or hard thing.

It’s exciting to me to figure out what I need and what I need to know to really start a project. Once I had my grid process for Avrilis 1.0 (whose Goodreads page I SHAN’T neglect to foist upon you from here on in, get used to it!), I thought that would be the key to all future projects.

Shuttup.

Anyway.

So I still have the chapter grid, altho the column functions are different now because I graduated from needing all of them (YAY improvement!) and also identified which ones I don’t really rely on (like “dialogue” became “highlights”), but I have disabused myself of “pantser” or even “plotter” in the sense that I often see it used.

Hello-My-Name-Is-Label-LB-1992

I have accepted how very much happens on the page. I imagine the writer who can completely plot out a novel and know down which rabbit holes her mind will go, and I think, how nice for her. Or something less committal and equally uninvested. The thing is, go, her. Do you, everybody. But I am very aware that anything I plot will end up sounding super boring or will be so far-fetched that I’d never get there organically once pen goes to paper. Or I’ll summarize a conflict in one sentence and be like, this is gonna bloom once I’m actually writing it! And either, nope, that was it, wasn’t as deep as you thought, or yep, there’s no logic to that. Too intentional.

SO! What worked/is working with this one: I wrote down the major things I knew would happen and estimated where in the book they would occur. (That’s something I’ve never done, btw, tho it feels closely related to word-count segmenting, which I did for This Is Not Heaven.) And then I worked my way back from the first such thing (I mean, the first chapter inciting incident notwithstanding), and voila. First five chapter outline, give or take.

But to be honest, this time the thing that made everything pop-pop! (isn’t it cuuuute how Magnitude went on to be Sid in Galavant, d’awwwwwwwwww)

– wait, where were we?

YES! So the thing that ended up being the MEAT? Totes not the list of big things or whatever the devil I was talking about here. It’s what happened off-camera (Bethany, you’re talking about a book. I know, shuttup.) and how people feel about it. Seems so DUH once it’s decided. But something was missing and trying to just plot out a book and think about the things that would happen and even KNOWING the things that would happen didn’t make it WORK.

All of which is to say, that column I didn’t need on a grid anymore… is basically what I just circuitously defined as being the thing I needed to know.

Look Alive! Have A Lively Look About You!

I AM HERE.

What is life, guise. What is it.

What’s this life for.

It’s like…. life.

It’s bigger.

It’s bigger than you, and you are not me.

I’m….sorry, those are various song lyrics and assorted foolishments. I can’t rightly remember how to do this, but I feel like I’m nailing it.

So anyway, I am no longer an expatriate, for one thing, as my family has moved five minutes inside the US border. There’s that. So many changes, all at once, this summer was a whirlwind. And now it’s quiet. Like, country quiet. Like, city folk sitting in corners holding lanterns and holy water quiet. Which brings me to we got a new dog! (Read: a bigger, younger, much more vocal dog.)

Walker

Meet Walker. He is convinced he’s a cat, a human child, and whatever fights apple trees. I will love him more when he’s not teething anymore. (Spoiler: that bed – that bed that geriatric Phineas loved? – is no more.)

Other news: I am a Goodreads author with a book page for Avrilis and that just hasn’t lost its luster yet! LLoA is in copy edits, I’m anxiously and excitedly waiting to see what her cover will look like (insert SPDJFPOSKAGPKSDFG or some reasonable facsimile), and I’m writing the second book (more on that later)!

I’ve made friends with the local library (well, one town over), mostly because they are housed in this ridiculously awesome brick colonial and YAS. Oh and they gave me books so… I mean, friends for life.

So yes, we love the house, Ezzie loves his new school (1st time in an American school, he feels like he’s arrived!), we’re happily still in our church family, and life is moving right along!

Hopefully I’ll have more news to share soon!😉

OHANDIT’SALMOSTCHRIS–

How I Be

I managed to solve a little problem today. And to celebrate? I’m going to tilt my chair.

Yep. I’m just speaking in Homer Simpsons quotes now. It is the perfectest herald of joy, so they say. (They don’t say that.)

During this whole move back to the United States but not a state we’ve ever lived in situation, there is UH LOT to do. Trust. And I’ve gotten some good-great revising done and am somewhat staying productive? Somewhat.

BUT!

I’ve been musing on Avrilis Book 2 – hold for glitter cannon festivities – and today the elements and recent story bit additions feel like they slipped into place so that it feels like this is a book! The world wraps around that, the characters themselves fuse it all together – with their whys and needs and motivations – and I know you’re thinking, why would you be this pleased over something that’s admittedly early stage? Because that’s how you get to the next one.

Sing wid me now…