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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Power of Focus

Becky say: What should I freak out about first?

Right now I am focused solely on writing this blog post. Steady, that's it now Becky. Just this post. Not the edits waiting for you, not the laundry that just signaled your attention by beeping "I'm dry now!" not your worries about the 83 things going on at work that you can't do anything about till tomorrow, not Matthew's spelling list, not wondering why you volunteered to help your child's class make pumpkin pudding, not refinancing your mortgage, not your brand spanking new copy of Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races...just, this, post.

And this post is about the swirling abyss of THINGS that always need to be either thought about, planned for, accomplished, or just plain grunt work DONE--all those things vying for your attention. Right now, there are hundreds of must do items that fall under the various categories my life is divided into: Mother, Aspiring Author, School Psychologist, House Keeper, Avid Reader, Cook, Money Manager, Exerciser, etc, etc, and at times, the sheer breadth and depth of all those things is enough to make me want to crawl back into bed on any given day and have a good cry.

Except, I have a little trick.

I noticed a few years ago, as life events began to grow and compound, that I would at times become paralyzed by To Dos. My mind would just spin from one thing to another and another. I would begin one task only to have my mind jump in 1/4 the way through and say, "wait! this thing over here! look at this stressful thing that you haven't done yet. drop that grocery list and do this NOW!" And, of course, half way through that I would again get side tracked by something else equally Need To. At the end of everyday, nothing was complete and everything felt just as stressful as it had the day before.

Since then, I have discovered the power available to me when I focus on one thing at a time. For example--this blog post. It has my complete attention right now and everything else (but never the kids, they're sledding out back) is being ignored. I mean, those things aren't going anywhere. They will still be waiting for me to either do or worry about doing as soon as I'm done with this--so why not just pretend they don't exist for a few minutes while I concentrate long enough on one of them to make a difference (and reduce my stress by the way.)

For me, when my brain starts to spin from one thing to the next, I find it extremely helpful to just write it all down. Every little thing that my brain is worried I will forget to worry about. Because if I write it down, I can tell my brain, "see, there. Now it won't be forgotten. Every little thing is written in plain sight. so now let's stop worrying about how LONG that list is and let's pick one. No now, I said just ONE thing brain."

And today we picked this post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sit

So here is my totally not asked for writerly advice for the day.
Sit, writer. Sit. 

If you sit within your space and at your time (this just happens to be 4 am for me) the words will come--eventually.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Laini Taylor's Book Signing

What I'm reading now: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (of course)

So last night I got to attend Laini Taylor's signing for her new book Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the Tattered Cover in Highlands  Ranch. She was fantastic and so gracious. Besides sharing some of her personal journey through publishing over the years (including some of the bumpy parts) she spoke about how wonderful she felt the whole YA writing/reading blogging and tweeting community was and compared it to finding your tribe (even if you don't live anywhere near each other.)  Here are some pics!


Here Laini and I are posing with her beautiful new book!

My personal copy along with the very cool Mardi Gras masks that were passed out to all the book bloggers in attendance (who says there aren't any perks to this endeavour?)

  

Laini reading an excerpt from chapter 3



Me in my awesome mask (sadly, that's my pj flannel detracting from the overall glamor.) I am so totally figuring out what else can be worn with it for Halloween this year.


Also spied in attendance Colorado agent Kate Schafer Testerman from KT Literary with her beautiful baby boy. I swear, I only gushed over him a little bit while saying a quick hello.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hey Colorado YA Bloggers

Any Colorado YA writers/readers want to meet up at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch tonight??
Laini Taylor will be there at 7:00pm reading and signing copies of her new YA Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I'm gonna be there (with my camera) so if you feel like meeting up and saying, "Hi Becky!" send me an email and we'll figure out how to hook up!  Rebecca@rrtaylor.com

  MY BOOKS


I can't wait!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Those green eyes mean something...


I'm not, by nature, a jealous person. I can't really recall being ravaged by the green eyed monster when someone I knew got a new car, bigger house, lost 20 pounds, or a smoking new pair of kicks. No, usually I'm genuinely happy for my friends and family when wonderful things that they really wanted come into their lives--I'll be the first one to say, "That's so great!" and really, really mean it.

Except for when I don't.

There are two times that I clearly remember being mad with jealously. And I don't mean that, "oh, wouldn't that be nice...it's so unfair...blah, blah." I mean the bleeding canker of desire that sits somewhere near your esophagus. That obsessive fire of want that keeps you up at night. The slow moving rickety Ferris wheel that...okay, you get the idea. 

Obsession. I'm talking about blind obsession.

The first time it happened I was 26 and it felt like everyone, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD was pregnant. And I just happened to be married to the one man who didn't seem particularly interested in having a kid any time within the next decade. Aagghhh.

The second time, well the second time is much more recent--within the last few years, really. I had become inexplicably jealous of another writer, who doesn't know me from Eve I might mention, but who's success is something I covet.

COVET!!

Now before you start worrying that I've gone all stalker crazy, realize that I have too many real world cares and responsibilities to put in the time, energy and effort to truly go off the rails. Furthermore, in both of the above mentioned character flaws, I've learned something exceedingly valuable about myself.

My jealously taught me what I wanted in this world.

I wanted to be a mom.
I wanted to be a writer.

Now that might sound like a simple epiphany, but these statements have become brightly lit signposts in my life. There are many things I could be, there are many things I already am--But these were the things I really, really Wanted. I wanted them so much for myself that it felt nearly impossible to be happy for others when they strode forward and achieved them while I still idled in neutral.

Over the years, I have found that there is only one cure for jealously of this kind--it's getting up off your ass and going after what you want. Because that un pursued WANT will claw at your brain like a monkey on crack. The jealous crazy that spins you inside out comes only from not trying.

Believe me.

So I say, jealously is not always a bad thing. Pay attention to your jealously, it can teach you loads about what you want in this life. I became a mother. I became a writer. I don't (yet) have the exterior trappings of success that the object of my writer jealously has, but because I'm too busy stretching for that brass ring myself, I almost never even notice the burn anymore.

Well, almost never. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Beautiful Colorado

I had wanted to post these pics from when the fam and I headed up Trail Ridge Road and hiked around above the tree line--but I forgot.

Needless to say, it was absolutely gorgeous.

Mama Llama

Baby Llamas

Me and The Husband
I always tell people that, growing up in a military family, I'm from a little bit of everywhere. But now I'm all grown up I think it's pretty obvious why I call Colorado home.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Your Website is Hurting My Brain

Seriously, I recently visited a writer's site that had a background similar to this. My brain is STILL trying to recover.

I love to visit other writers' websites and blogs. I may not always comment but I do a lot of lurking and reading to be sure.

So here's my two cents about web design (coming straight from a non professional, strictly consumer view point.)

I don't care how great your content is, if it gives me a migraine trying to decipher it--I won't come back. First impressions matter--make yours accessible, and pleasant.

What turns me off:

Font too small
Bad color contrast on eyes, black background white font
Too busy (background that's sending me into the Twilight Zone)
A million blog awards, tons of clutter, can't find anything

I want to read what you have to say and I don't think I'm alone in this.

Keep it simple?
Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Wasn't a Teenage Cougar


It seems like in the last year I've read a few YA books where I've gotten just the tiniest bit annoyed with the very adult like actions/attitudes of the MC. Whether it's an almost cougar like "come and get me" approach to a first sexual encounter or a voice and wisdom that I can only envision unfolding from the heart and mind of a life-lessons-learned 40 year old--Basically, I'm having a hard time hanging on to the idea that these characters are only 16. Consequently I spend too much time thinking, "she wouldn't do that." or "she wouldn't know that." or "she wouldn't say that." Tiny annoying thoughts that act like interruptions in the story.

AND I HATE FOR A STORY TO BE INTERRUPTED. Especially by my own stupid interjections folks. I mean, come on, I read to escape the never-ending commentary constantly cartwheeling through my brain. Let's not encourage it.


Maybe it was just me, but a ton of things scared the crap out of me as a teen, no matter how much I may have acted otherwise. I don't care how many demons you've faced or how many werewolves you've loved, when you're sixteen, you're sixteen. And isn't that part of the beauty of reading the genre in the first place? Remember when the thought of holding a guys hand, sitting next to him in the dark, even catching his eye at lunch was enough to basically launch you into orbit?

I realize that many of us are long married now to that guy (or gal) with whom we feel so comfortable with we can practically read their minds before they've even considered the thought you know they're about to have. But when you were a teen, the very idea of co mingling private body parts was not something to be considered, decided and acted upon in the space of a single chapter. 

Wasn't sex terrifying, exhilarating, momentous and even a little (or a lot) sad for you?

At least the first time?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Users


I'm always caught off guard when I find a version of my childhood self tucked away in the schools I work in. She's quiet, a good student (well, she's still a good student in elementary school anyway) and she reads a lot. A LOT. She reads so much that if reading weren't so pushed by adults upon kids who don't read even a fraction as much as she does, if books were not so socially acceptable, someone might worry over the way she uses books. Uses books to hide and run. She uses books to escape.
 
(Deleted a ton of words here about my own childhood)

Once I learned to read with the fluency and comprehension skills necessary to float away and get truly good and lost in a book, I was gone. Books have always been my getaway car. Throughout my life there has been no other activity I have found that allows me to exit completely from this world, this life, this bad relationship, this crappy job, this overwhelming financial pit. Books have always been my eject button.

They are, quite simply, my drug of choice. 

Do you read? Too much?