Sunday, October 14, 2012

Writing Classes and Holding Myself Accountable

I mentioned before that I took a writing class with Jackson Pearce this summer. August to be exact. I'll start with that writing class. 
It was an epic 14 hour road trip. Yep, you read that right. I willingly drove 7 hours each way to attend four writing classes (well, two actually, unfortunately I didn't make the last two because of interviews). 

How it all started:
I'm on twitter. Enough said.
No seriously, I follow my favorite YA authors on Twitter to keep up with their books, funny comments, and writer-life experiences they share. One lovely day Jackson Pearce tweeted. It went as so:
Something. Something witty (I'm sure). I'll be teaching a writing workshop at Georgia Center for the book. Link to class info. Something else she squeezed into the 140 word limit.
I was curious. I clicked the link and the rest is history.

I immediately went crazy for supplies.
Then it was off to GA!

The four classes were broken into weekly Wednesday night sessions to allow for outlining, writing, writing, more writing, revision, and query drafting. The classes started at 6:30 PM. I took the kids to school and left at 10:30 AM to allow for any wrong turns, etc. I mean, that one time right after senior year I was sure I'd found a short cut on the map, but-

MUCH of this was needed!
Some driving drama ensued. For example, has anyone heard of, or been on, Spaghetti Junction in the middle of Atlanta. In 6PM traffic. OhMyCraziness! I was not prepared, y'all. Not prepared at all. And a bus tried to kill me. Just saying...


I LOVED everything I learned from the two classes I attended (I missed the Revision class and Publishing Class, which I was mighty upset about. Especially since the interviews I missed them for didn't work out). I'd share all the amazing class information with you, but per Jackson's wishes we are keeping the class special to those of us that attended. 

Although, I will say this: she may teach another in the future, and if it's taught through Georgia Center for the Book again their programs are free to the public. And most importantly: You will learn SO MUCH from a working, published author. 

That's why I drove 14 hours to sit in a 2 hour class - having a published, working author give me insight while willingly sharing personal tips was totally worth the drive. Mathematically put: I easily spent 10 times the amount of gas it took to get to GA and back for every screenwriting class I attended in grad school. It's that simple (and I'm not usually that excited about math). 

Now, if you're still reading this (sorry for the length), you may be wondering when the other part of the blog title will be relevant. Well, here it is: I attended Jackson's class in August and learned a great deal of valuable lessons. I worked on the idea I had while job applications, interviews, and more stress continued to pile on. 
Then I was blocked (not like ICan'tThinkOfAnything writer's block. This was all FEAR). I wasn't writing on my idea anymore. I obsessed and over-analyzed EveryLittleThing I wrote, or idea I put on paper. I was letting my past creative writing classes, rules, and formulas get the best of me even though I knew (KNOW) better.  

So, as the story goes:
I was on twitter. Enough said. 

I've found a writing workshop that demands I Fast Draft. If y'all aren't familiar with this, here's a quick summary: multi-published novelist Candace Havens hosts workshops and a Yahoo Group for writers that need to hold themselves accountable and get pages out quickly. She created Fast Draft as a method of drafting a crappy first draft in 2 weeks - to just get it out and have something to work with. 

This is everything I need at this stage in my writing journey. I need to let go and get that crappy first draft out before I have time to hate it, or revise the words before they're on the page, or go crazy analyzing every single plot point/character motivation. Because we all know we can't edit a blank page. 

I need to try something new. I'm looking forward to having a deadline. I'm thrilled to push myself past the inner-editor and break into subconscious writing. And I know holding myself accountable by showing up every day to write, and checking in with the workshop group, will give me the results I've been scared of lately.

Best part, this one is online. And it was inexpensive. So excited, y'all!

Okay, I promise to stop now. If anyone is still reading, thank you for your time. Go get something lovely or sweet as a reward for reading all of my words on writing classes and such.

And feel free to discuss any classes you've taken in the comments!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Q&A with Jennifer Echols at Southern Spines!

Jennifer Echols' most recent YA novel Such a Rush has been hailed as her best YA romantic drama yet. It also made me miss the beach like crazy; and y'all know how I swoon for the ocean.

The story:
When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.
Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.
But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.
By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they're determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.

It was terrific, y'all! Full of heartbreak, secret struggles, steamy romance, and so much adrenaline. And who doesn't love a great YA romance with backbone?

Jennifer was a delight to chat with, and had much to say about being a Southern author and writing stories set in the South. So hurry over to Southern Spines and check out my interview with Jennifer Echols! 

Learn more about Jennifer Echols on her website. Or find her on twitter.