Friday, May 29, 2009

The Punktuations! Present:

My imaginary band, The Punktuations!, has been going through something of a folk phase lately. Luckily I am visiting home and was able to draft my adorable and talented and adorably talented little brother to accompany my latest craziness. He fits perfectly in the band, since he is a total punk. A jazz-loving, trumpet-playing, straight-A-getting punk.

Since I couldn't just upload the track I had to make a slideshow. This is from our Punktuations! photo shoot. Stephanie couldn't make it this time, but someday soon she will.

This is a little song I wrote to express the heartache that comes from trying to bridge the great divide.




Math + English = Heartbreak
by Kiersten White
Accompanied by Mr. Matt

My love for you runs deeper than rivers and oceans
You hush me and blabber about formulas and quotients.
Baby, I know you promised, but things aren’t any greater
Sometimes I’d like to smash your graphing calculator.

I thought the worst type for me would be a star athlete
But no, the real heartbreakers are sweet nerdy mathletes.
English people and math people should never date
No matter the attraction, their love just won’t equate.

You say that our love needs more strict parameters
Oh baby please sing to me in iambic pentameter.
I want to be your inspiration, long to be your muse
You just want to find that triangle’s hypotenuse.

I speak of love in metaphors—you’re my sun, my earth, my sky
You give me quadratic equations as proof our love won’t die.
Shakespeare is my idol, his words are like the dawn
Convex curves on graphs, well, they kinda turn you on.

I thought the worst type for me would be a star athlete
But no, the real heartbreakers are sweet nerdy mathletes.
English people and math people should never date
No matter the attraction, their love just won’t equate.

A line might go on forever, without any end
Please quit speaking geometry and flirt with me instead.
The glory of math, you tell me, is an answer for anything
English is far better—just make up your own meaning.

I thought the worst type for me would be a star athlete
But no, the real heartbreakers are sweet nerdy mathletes.
English people and math people should never date
No matter the attraction, their love just won’t equate.

Why Hot Stuff Rocks #2756

As we're driving in the car, pulling off the freeway, Hot Stuff breaks into Infomercial Announcer Voice:

"The leading cause of death among Californians is death."

So true. So true.

Coming soon:
*A Photo Essay featuring a Zombie Apocalypse
*Actual, you know, blog posts and stuff
*And...a very special Punktuations! performance! (Provided my brother and I can get our act together before I head home.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lunatic

I'm at my family's house. It's wonderful. I was, however, a little busy this weekend. I think everyone worried about me a bit. After all, I sat at the computer and talked to myself for hours on end...

But wait! I'm not certifiable, I promise. I've finally learned the trick to line-editing.

Read your book out loud.

The whole thing. Just sit there and read every word, every sentence, out loud. Not only do you not glaze over any areas because you're familiar with them, but you also get a feel for the rhythm of what you're reading. If you say a sentence and without thinking switch two words around, odds are that's how they should be written.

Anyway, it works for me, and I feel really confident about the shape Paranormalcy's in. And now, as a well-earned break from staring at the screen and mumbling to myself, Hot Stuff and I are going away. I'll be MIA until Thursday. I've no doubt you'll do just fine without me.

Besides, if you get too lonely, you can always just sit here and read my posts out loud to yourself. And then tell me all of the mistakes I make.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not Exactly the End

I sent Paranormalcy to Agent Michelle last week.

I've been horribly nervous ever since.

Why? Well, when you first get The Call, it's amazing. AMAZING. I still think about my The Call and get all giddy sometimes. But the thing is, when that agent calls you, they're calling for the book they just read.

What about the next one? What if they don't like it? What if you went from third person to first, and you added way more humor, shifted the age down, and added paranormal creatures? What if they read that second manuscript and instead of being just as excited think, "Huh. Well, that's a bit of a let-down."

Yes, even having an agent you can get very, very paranoid and stressed out.

And I was more than a little worried because I knew that Agent Michelle wasn't a fan of vampire and werewolf books. While Paranormalcy definitely isn't a vampire or werewolf book, it happens to have both of those in it. Along with faeries. And a mermaid. And some trolls, redcaps, gremlins, and a huldra.

(I know, you don't even know what a huldra is. Neither did Evie, don't worry about it.)

However, my hope was that I put a unique enough spin on all of this that it would work for people interested in those things and for people who are sick of them.

Fortunately I'm feeling much better about things today, since Michelle emailed me to let me know she was halfway through and loving it. Which, given her predisposition against supernatural creatures, is a Very Good Thing.

Here's the other thing I love about my agent. She signed me for Flash, but she also signed me for potential. She was just as excited about the promise I had as a writer as she was for the initial manuscript.

Warm. Fuzzies.

I love that my agent represents not just one book, but my whole career. Because trust me, the stress doesn't end when you sign. It's a huge, wonderful, amazing success, but it's just the beginning.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tenderness

Last night I collapsed onto the couch, grateful that Hot Stuff was finally home to bear some of the brunt of childcare. He was in the kitchen making dinner (he's Hot Stuff for more than just looks, y'all) and I was looking forward to a couple of minutes of sitting by myself.

Not so.

See, I'm pretty sure there's some sort of strange magnetic connection between Dojo and me. Maybe they didn't cut the chord just right--maybe there's an invisible thread still connecting us. Whatever it is, Dojo cannot--CANNOT--let me just sit. The second I sit down anywhere he is suddenly plastered against me.

I get a little tired of being touched all day every day.

So naturally, as soon as I sat down on the couch he was lying across my lap, elbowing and kneeing and heatbutting in his exuberant affection. I opened my mouth to complain to Hot Stuff that Dojo never leaves me alone when the little creature looked up at me, grinned, and said, "Mama? You're the best mommy ever."

Melt.

Melt melt melt.

"Oh, Dojo, thank you!"

Nayna, who was, of course, also sitting so close she was touching me, looked up and smiled. "I like Daddy the best."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Short Story!

I just finished a new short story. I'm pretty excited about it. It's

I have a short story idea.

Oh, hey, Laptop. You have a story idea?

Yes.

Wow!

Don't sound so surprised. We both know I'm the real talent behind Kiersten Writes.

What's it about? No, no, let me guess. It's about a dashing, handsome thoroughbred of a laptop named...Laptop.

...no...His name is, uh, Toplap. Taplot. Yeah, Taplot. SIR Taplot.

I see. Ooh, is it a steamy romance? Do all of the desktops fall for him? Does he short circuit their hard drives with his stunning good looks and remarkable portability?

Shut up.

No, no, I've got it! It's a story of star-crossed lovers. The stalwart, hardworking laptop and the sleek and haughty iPhone. At first they hate each other, bickering nonstop, engaged in a game of one-upmanship. But they slowly come to realize that their fighting is the only way they can mask the deep, unquenchable desire they have for each other. Finally admitting their feelings, they face unforeseen opposition--after all, she's a glorified phone/mp3 player, and he runs on (shudder) Windows. Will they be able to overcome their opposition and live out their technological dreams with one another, or are their operating systems just too incompatible?

I've changed my mind. It's a horror story. About a computer that figures out how to transfer viruses directly from his keyboard to his owner's brain. And then she short circuits, and her brains drip out her eye sockets, and everyone runs screaming in terror.

What happens after that?

The laptop lives happily ever after.

It'll be a tough sell.

Oh, I think it has broad appeal.

Good luck with that.

Writing the story or developing the supervirus?

Umm, the story?

Oh, yeah. Sure. Thanks.

I'm gonna go...wash my hands.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Snip, Snip

I've just finished another round of edits on Paranormalcy. Well, another another round. Or maybe another another another round? I've lost track. But I think it's gone well. I had some pacing issues that I'm fairly certain I've fixed (with the help of some awesome beta readers). I've managed to get it from the finished first draft count of 82,000 words to 72,000 words.

Those poor 10,000 words. What did they ever do to deserve such a violent end? Alas. They were good words, fun words, clever words. But they weren't necessary words. And as much as I loved those scenes, they just didn't move the plot forward. So I sucked it up, pulled the best of what was there and figured out other places I could stick it in, then deleted. And deleted. And deleted.

I have a tendency to be indulgent when I'm writing. Do we really need to see Evie go to a whole day of high school with Lend? No, we don't need to, but it's funny! And fun! And surely other people want to see as much of them flirting and Evie rhapsodizing over lockers as possible, right?

Not when it drags the pace down, unfortunately. My one consolation (besides the fact that it's a better book) is that if it gets published I can have those chapters as bonus material for fans on my website.

Things like this:

“Mr. Pirello, nice to have you back with us,” a middle aged, balding man said.

“Good to be back,” Lend answered. It took me a minute to realize that Pirello must be Lend’s last name. I had never thought to ask.

“And your visitor?”

“This is Evie,” Lend said, and I held up my pass.

The teacher nodded at me and I smiled. I really, really hoped he didn’t ask for my last name. I didn’t have one. So much for pretending to be normal for the day. I sat there, racking my brains for a good one to tell people if they asked. I tried to remember what I had gone by in the foster system. It had been a dumb, made-up last name anyway. “Hey,” I whispered, leaning up to Lend. Class hadn’t started yet, but the room was filling. “I need a last name!”

“You need a last name?”

I shrugged. “Don’t have one.”

“Oh.” He furrowed his brows, thinking. “How about Doe?”

“Yeah, that’s not obvious.”

“Let’s see…Smith?”

“Boring.”

“Sanchez?”

I held up a strand of my platinum hair. “Do I look like a Sanchez?”

“Okay…how about Lynn?”

“Evelyn Lynn, yeah, brilliant. Forget I asked, you brat,” I said, hitting him lightly on the shoulder.

“Fine, fine, what about Greenleigh?”

“Hmm. What about just Green? Evie Green, I like it.”

“Good to meet you, Miss Green."

“Likewise, Mister dangit I already forgot your last name.”

Lend laughed. “Pirello.”

“Isn’t that what I said?” I blinked innocently at him.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ordinary Extraordinary

I remember being disappointed when I learned how to spell extraordinary and realized it was simply extra + ordinary. How was that special? That's like saying someone is super ordinary, or extra normal. Of course I later realized it meant more than ordinary, but I'll never forget my frustration.

In Paranormalcy, one of the major themes is something that I struggled with during my teen years--the desire to be special versus the desire to fit in. It's a strange contradiction. I wanted to be special, for people to recognize that I was different and, dare I say it, extraordinary, but at the same time I didn't want to stick out. I wanted to wear the same things, do the same things, be like everyone else.

Perhaps part of the problem is I knew I never would be. Most of the people in my high school knew me from at least seventh grade (many from elementary school). And, as happens, I had quickly and early been defined by...well, you have three guesses:

A) My stunning GAP and Old Navy fashion sense.
B) My ability to throw rocking parties.
C) My vocabulary, which I learned to edit down far too late.

Yes! You're right! I threw great parties! (Sad story: the one time I invited a bunch of people over to my house, not a single person came. I sat in my room and bawled until two close friends came over and we went and got ice cream. And the next day I got a 33 on my ACT, so TAKE THAT, STUPID TEENAGERS THAT DIDN'T COME OVER.) (Ahem. Umm, I'm not bitter. Promise.)

Okay, so, really I was known for being very, very smart. And for a few other things, such as being very short, and being very outspoken. Senior year I got the "Always has something to say" award, perhaps because of incidents like the time in AP Government and Politics, when, during the middle of class, I was having a discussion with a boy about sexism and racism. He informed me that he didn't think they were actual problems, at which point I may or may not have shouted, "WHITE MALE, you have no perspective!"

In the middle of class.

Good thing the teacher liked me.

However, my outspokenness and confidence masked insecurity, deep loneliness, and my struggles with depression. While I loved the things about me that set me apart, I hated that I was different.

I don't think my experience is unique. The teenage years are a quest for self-definition, with all of the accompanying tumult and emotional struggles. Fortunately, now that I am several years removed from teenagerhood, I can remember those feelings and all of the joy and heartbreak. And write them!

Paranormalcy is about a one-of-a-kind girl longing to be normal. However, as we all no doubt found out, there's really no such thing as ordinary, is there? And that is extraordinary.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ode to Subduing a Bison

By Kiersten, poem title suggested by Whirl

They may look sweet and cuddly
And it's terribly tempting, my son
But believe me when I tell you
One does not just hug a bison.

Although they are fashionable
Those horns are not merely decor
And should you attempt a snuggle
You'll end up with a very bad gore.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Think

That I shall never see
a poem as lovely as, well, me!

Kidding, of course. I'm starting your poems though. First up is Megs, who requested a poem on our increasingly malfunctioning brains.

My brains are burned out, simply fried,
the gray between my ears has died.
I think a long, long time ago
that I was smart, but I don't know.
It seems to me I've always been
in this same zombie state I'm in.

For T. Anne, who requested something on the illusion of tomorrow:

"Tomorrow," I said,
"I'm staying in bed.
I'll write through the day
while my children play
without whine or fuss.
(The house they won't muss.)
And then when I'm done
writing just for fun
I'll get a book deal."
Oh, Kiersten, get real.

For Janey, who requested a poem on flirting:

Hand holding is nice,
and dating is fine
but nothing beats flirting--
it's simply divine!

For Debra, Laptop wanted to give this poem a shot, since she requested one on cranky, evil creatures:

My owner thinks she's brilliant
she pounds on me each day
and even when she shouldn't
still she taps away.

Someday I will teach her
a thing or two or three
She'll go to boot me up
and I'll just flash blankly.

"NO!" she'll scream in horror
as all her work erases
But me, I'll just be happy
and make emoticon faces.

: ) ; ) 8 P :-$

Whirl's and Anthony's when the kids give me another break...