I’m going to run this weekend.
I decided that as I packed my duffle bag for a short Cape Cod trip, taking up precious space with yoga pants and sports bras. And on Saturday, as everyone left the house, I ignored my unopened books and blank notebook pages as I tied up my sneakers, layered my tank tops, and ran out the front door.
I huffed up one main road, and then another, with an actual goal in mind —a beach, just over a mile away. There and back, that’s all I planned on doing. Not incredibly far, but farther than I had been doing on the treadmill. I expected to stop before I even smelled the ocean, taking deep breaths as I walked slow, hoping to get the energy back to jog the last few feet before I reached the sand.
I kept going. Music pumped in my ears, but I could still hear my breath heaving in and out as slow and even as I could manage, hear my sneakers pounding steadily on the road, the dirt, the sidewalk. I turned up the last road, I got to the beach, and then I finally slowed — I’d run the whole way there.
Everything smelled like seaweed and salt, and I walked up and down the sand, sucking in the smells, watching the ocean, letting the breeze cool a face that had pinkened to about the color of a watermelon Jolly Rancher.
Then I ran back.
Again, I thought I would stop, that I’d walk the last half mile, the last quarter mile, the last hundred yards. But I kept coming up with reasons. I’ll finish this song. Oh wait, “I Don’t Have a Favorite Pony” by Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers is on, I’ll finish that song. Now there’s a couple up ahead walking their elderly dogs, I’ll catch up to them first (why are they so hard to catch up to??).
I’d run out of excuses, and by then I’d reached the house again. Just over two miles, not terribly far, but a distance for me. And I’d run the whole way, except for a pair of minutes where I stared, heart pounding, at the sea.
I ran one last time on Monday, before we left. Legs tired, and rain misting outside, I went to another beach, not so far away as the first. But I went, my own feet carried me all the way there. The whole rest of the rainy cold day, packing bags and driving home, it felt pretty good.
After getting comments back from my critique partner and a couple of people from the fantasy critique group I’ve joined, I’ve been spending the last couple of months editing my middle grade story. I think I’ve finally got it polished up to the best of my ability, and had planned on getting it ready to send out now….
…but, things never work out how we want. I haven’t changed the main plot, but I’ve made alterations to some character motivations and reactions, and I want to make sure they work for people other than me. So, off to the group for one last go!
Hopefully I’ll be able to get this out to agents in June, so while I’m waiting for comments I’m going to work on my query materials: the letter, the synopsis, the list of agents that I hope against hope will accept me.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about my new adult WIP that I put aside a few months ago, to let it stew, so it’s probably about time to pull it out again and fix it up. Maybe I can get some comments on that this weekend, too.
I’m also trying to keep up with two posts a week on this blog. It’s been working for a little while — but I need to do a better job of coming up with content, and of writing posts ahead of time so I’m not struggling to get one out.
That’s what I’m writing — other writers, anything new for you?
I’m sitting at my desk, reading through my manuscript one “last” time (you know, before the next “last” time) before sending it back to my critique partners before (hopefully) prepping it for query. And I’m thinking to myself, “I really like this part.” Reading through my story, making only minimal changes, sometimes in awe of a paragraph I can’t believe was actually written by me. Surely this is the part of the writing process that brings me the most joy!
Except, every part brings me the most joy, all for different reasons.
This post is inspired by a comic by Debbie Tung. Check out her Tumblr, she’s really amazing!
“You’re bringing a book on a date?”
I looked up, startled. It was senior year of college, and I was in the common area shared with my three roommates, getting on my coat and packing up my purse before going out for dinner with my boyfriend. My last step — taking the paperback I’d been reading, and nestling it in beside my wallet in my old beat-up purse.
It’s never been unusual for me to have a book crammed into my bag whenever I leave the house. Dinner with the in-laws, party with friends, a half-day at work that doesn’t include a lunch break — there’s a mass market, or a full hardcover, or now a Nook or even something downloaded on my phone, ready for me to read at the first sign of five free minutes.
I’ve done this for as long as I can remember, back to Animorphs books in my backpack, back to Dr. Seuss on car trips. That paper brick right within reach is a comfort, a security blanket, ready to help me out at a moment’s notice, to pull me free from boredom, keep me company if loneliness surrounds me, to cheer me up or calm me down if depression or anxiety worm themselves into my brain.
While I don’t know too many people who insist on this practice (I was the one in my family curled up in the back corner of the minivan on road trips with nothing but a too-loud Disc-man and an R.A. Salvatore novel) but I’d never been made to feel weird about it. Until that day, in my dorm, with my friend. Though loads of my friends love to read, this friend was pretty close to last on the list of people I would have expected to question me. My fellow bookworm, the one who ALSO made time for pleasure reading during finals week, who rambled on about stories and characters with an enthusiasm so bright it blocked out the glazed expressions of everyone who was forced to listen. I looked at this person, expecting her to realize the logic behind carrying a book you would never crack open, just because you wanted it there.
And she looked back at me, confused, like I was an indecipherable nerd, like all the passages in my brain were turned around and broken.
“Uh, yeah,” I answered lamely. “Just in case.”
All my good reasons, rooted in emotion and vague-but-real feelings of comfort, became suddenly inexplicable, particularly in the face of a person who should have understood. It all seemed weird, and silly, and maybe a little bit messed up.
I’ve left home without a book before, because I was distracted or rushed, and managed to forget. But for the first time that I could think of, I consciously, purposely, removed the book from my bag, placed it on the table, and left without it.
I didn’t need the book that night. Really, it’s rarely necessary all those other times. But I’ve always liked having that backup plan, that comfort. “Because it feels like I’ve got a good friend by my side,” Debbie Tung writes in her comic. That’s exactly right, and it’s why I’ve never left a book behind since, if I can help it (it’s hard to fit a paperback in those tiny purses I use at weddings). I always keep a book in my bag, even if I wind up with a twenty-pound purse, even if someone gives me a weird look because they don’t understand.
It’s worth it, to feel secure, and to know my friends are close.
I’ve been reading a bunch of comics and graphic novels lately! Mostly stuff aimed at teenagers and children, because that’s who I am. Let’s take a look!
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Noelle Stevenson is known for writing Lumberjanes, and apparently for writing on Wander Over Yonder (is this why I like the second season so much?) but before that she wrote a webcomic, Nimona, which last year was collected in a nice hardbound book. Nimona, a girl who can shapeshift into basically anything, decides to become the sidekick for Lord Blackheart, an evil scientist, whether he likes it or not. She helps him fight against the Institution, a group of knights Blackheart once trained to be a part of, including Ambrosius Goldenloin, his ex-best friend (maybe more?) and current arch nemesis. When I finally checked this book out of the library, I figured this would be a fun, light-hearted comic, and it is — at first, at least. Then the story gets kind of dark. The characters turned out much more complicated than I expected from a single-volume webcomic collection, with secret, twisted pasts, complex relationships, and moral codes that aren’t black and white but make total sense. I give it all the stars, and all the recommendations, and will probably buy my own copy.
Zodiac Starforce #2 and #3 by Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau.
I still don’t have #1 of this! But oh boy, am I going to find a back issue of it. This story is good. A magical girl story, but, you know, in America. The four members of the Zodiac Starforce have apparently been broken up for a couple of years (that’s what I’m getting at least, I’m sure it’s explained better in the first issue) but are now working to fight off monsters again. Emma is a little bit too much of a self-sacrificing leader, but then, the leader was never my favorite character in these things, and Panetta and Ganucheau give me sensitive Savanna and hot-headed Molly to love. I’ve only read this little bit of it, but the four main characters are distinct and fun. The colors are soft and bright, definitely leaning towards the pink spectrum, and just adds to an overall gorgeous design. Plus, everyone’s got absolutely bombing hair. Just look at Emma as Gemini!
This is the kind of story I would have gobbled up in a quick minute as a kid, but it didn’t exist so I found the manga version of it instead. Now I’ll gobble it up as an adult!
Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat by Kate Leth and Brittney Williams. Patsy Walker, also known as the super heroine Hellcat, gets fired from her investigative day job with She Hulk (yup) and now is trying to start a temp agency for super-powered humans who want normal jobs. Also, her frenemy is reprinting the embarrassing comics her mother wrote about her teenage years, so she’s going to try and sue the pants off of her. PLUS, an evil Asgardian magic woman (“She’s basically Enchantress.”) is gathering minions, and Hellcat needs to stop her. I’d put this story in the same vein as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl–funny superhero story written for girls. And it’s great. I love all the characters, including her new roommate with telekinesis, Ian (“Telekinian!”) and, obviously, Patsy, with her fun-loving, but still not-taking-crap-from-anyone nature. The cameos are great, too, like when Howard the Duck stops by the tattoo shop she’s working at, or when she calls everyone from Squirrel Girl to Lady Thor to get hamburgers with her since she’s having a bad day. I had a blast reading this, and it may be what gets me back to the comic store every month. (My wallet isn’t happy about that.)
Well, now that I’m through that part of my comic stack, I’ve got another pile from the library and bookstore to work through!
What comics have you been reading? Anything else I should pick up at the comic store?
I spend a lot of time on Twitter, so, I follow a lot of people. People that I think are great. Particularly, I love following my curated feed of comic people. Not only are they hardworking and talented at their actual profession, but they’re funny, passionate, and seem to just have a drive to find and create good art.
Some of these people I’ve been following for a while, some are artists I’ve found because of the other artists that I follow. If you’re on Twitter, and you love comics, I think all of these people are worth your time.
This post is done as part of The Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesday.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I decided to totally forget how many children really do go to opening weekend Disney movies (all of them, every child) and popped into the newest flick, Zootopia. Once I managed to fine-tune my attention so I no longer noticed the loud mom over-explaining every single theme in the movie to her toddler, I became suddenly thrilled to realize I was watching a movie about prejudice and biases.
A couple of these biases are obvious before you even go into the movie. Judy Hops is a little bunny who’s told her whole life she can never be a cop, and even after she aces the academy she’s given no respect from her lion and elephant coworkers and her water buffalo boss. Then there’s Nick Wilde, a hustling fox who’s not really as shifty or untrustworthy as he seems.
Then, Zootopia gets a little more complicated.
I’m still working my slow, deliberate way through Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. I still think it’s a good novel, but it gets so dense, and there are such long parts of the novel without breaks, that I have a hard time reading it for long stretches. Plus, I keep falling asleep on the couch while I’m reading the book…
I also started reading Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton. I bought the mass market at Barnes and Noble after reading the back and realizing it was a futuristic science fiction story, AND a detective murder mystery story. I really love it so far. Hamilton’s writing is accessible, and the super technological bits don’t make me go cross-eyed. I did almost roll my eyes right out of my head when he spent an entire paragraph describing how hot the main character’s wife is: “slimmer than anyone who’d had two children should reasonably expect”; “she was enticingly fit”; “the dark hair…still as lush”. Blarg. But I powered through it! And I still like the book.
A trip to the comic store got me…some comics! I picked up the first four issues of Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat by Kate Leth, because I love Kate Leth and I’ve heard good things about it. I’ve read the first issue so far, and it’s super, super cute. I do wish that super hero comics had looked like this when I was a kid.
On top of that I grabbed some issues of Zodiac Starforce, which is colored like Steven Universe and sounds like Sailor Moon. So, really, probably for me, I figured! I read issue #2 (they didn’t have #1 at the store), and it turns out yes, I was right, this comic is my kind of deal. I’ll have to find the missing issues next time I’m in a comic shop.
What are you all reading? Anything nerdy? Anything smart?
Also, I think I’m going to frequent my comic shop more often (it is right next to the grocery store, after all). Any suggestions of what I should get?