The Dark Side

It seems that every YA book I pick up nowadays has one thing in common (two if you count the over predominance of love triangles) and that is they take place in dark dystopian universes with a clear delineation between good and evil, black and white. I don't have to ask what brought about this obsession. I'm as big a fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy as the next person and when I finished that book I was clamoring for more. The books since have been hit or miss, some with fully fleshed out worlds, conflict and characters others merely an illusion of what could have been. As someone who is working on a story that might be considered to fall into this category I found myself longing to step back and think about this trend and what is perpetuating our new YA mantra: the darker the better.

I stumbled upon a piece in the New York Times called "The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction" in which readers, writers and professors had an opportunity to share their own thoughts about the trend. The contributors, some of which have written dark dystopian YA novels themselves, provide insight and bring new perspectives to the topic that I found intriguing. And though the article is more than a year old, it is incredibly relevant to the types of work that is still being published. In fact the last three out of four books I read were YA Dystopian novels. The interesting thing, was that the non-dystopian novel was the best out of all three. Perhaps the sub genre is headed the way of the witches, weres, and vampires. Too much of a good thing and all that jazz.

Check out the article and let me know what you think. Do you like the new YA take on Dystopian Fiction? What are your must reads in the genre?

Reading Journal: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

So I just finished reading Wither, the first book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy ad I have no idea what to make of it. The book was advertised as the next great read for hunger games fans, but the only thing it has in common with Suzanne Collins HG trilogy is the post-apocalyptic setting. For every sappy vampire book Twilight brought to the forefront as a result of its success there is an dystopian tragedy waiting in the midst as a result of the success of the Hunger Games.  I admit, I fell victim to this craze, which is probably why I have about ten of them on my to-be-read list. The first of which was Wither. 

Plot Overview:
Wither takes place in a future world where genetic manipulation of the population has resulted in a deadly virus that kills off all of its victims in their early twenties. Women die at twenty-one, men at twenty-four.   There is no escape, there is no cure, despite the fact that members of the first generation (the only generation to live out full lives) are desperately searching for a way to reverse the curse. 

Rhine, the main character, is kidnapped and taken from her kid brother and sold to stranger to be one of his three brides. The story follows her struggles for escape and peace in a world full of death and disease. 

My Reaction:
Overall I enjoyed the book. It was a quick read, though it started out a bit slow, I found myself drawn into this mysterious and dark world and wanted to know more about what has and will happen to the characters. At first I found the main character, Rhine, pretty annoying. She is initially obsessed with escaping, unwilling to learn anything about her captures/husband or her other sister wives. She's set on finding her brother but (spoiler alert!) he never even gets an appearance in this book! It was hard for me to believe she is so desperate to return to such a grisly and dangerous life. It sometimes felt as though she were resisting just to resist. 

Later as she began to learn more about her new family the book becomes more interesting and you see new relationships born and difficult sacrifices made.  Still the whole book seems to be setting you up for heartache. After all, how likely is it that someone in this world is going to find a cure in the last three years of her life, if they've been searching for twenty years to no avail? Definitely a happily for now, kind of read. 

Market Spotlight: Entangled Publishing Flirt Line

So every time I run across an appealing market I feel the need to share with my other writerly friends and I couldn't resist getting a little hot and bothered about this one.  Thus far I am very impressed with Entangled Publishing and have been looking for something in my own drawer of goodies that is a good fit for what they are publishing.  This flirt line might just be the thing. I'll sleep on it.

They are looking for short novellas (10k-15K, which in my opinion makes them short stories, but novellas always sounds cooler) in all types of romance sub-genres to sell for 99 cents.

I have heard nothing but great things about EP thus far and my own interactions with them have been very positive. If your interested you should definitely check out the Flirt Official Guidelines on their submission page.

NANo Revisited (Part 2)

Happy First of November, a.k.a. official kickoff to NaNoWriMo 2012. To all those taking part in the challenge, good luck and godspeed. For those of you like me who plan on sitting on the sidelines and basking in the creative energy that exudes off of our writing comrades with hopes of meeting our own, much smaller goals this month...well good luck to you too.

Here's a little recap of some of my pointers on NaNo from years past. Enjoy.

NaNoWriMo 101 (Part 2)
Must Have Resources
Now that you’ve got the basics, here are a few must have resources to help you stick to the rules!

1. Visit the Official NaNoWriMo site
If you haven't already done so, visit the official website to learn the rules and sign up as a participant. Join the forums, build out your buddy list, and most importantly ask questions. You don't want to lose time searching the boards once November comes. You want to know how to update your word count and track words before hand. Remember, time is precious!

2. Do the plotting and character development exercises
There are tons of books out there that are designed to help writers plot and develop their novel. Some of them even tote the tag line, write your novel in thirty days. Here are a few that I recommend. Check them out at
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days  Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
3. Get the write (he, he) software
Most people use word by default, but it isn't always the best writing software, especially if you are trying to keep track of your daily word count. Personally I love to use Scrivener. In fact, part of the reason I went mac is because I needed a better writing program that worked with my personal writing and organizational style. The great thing about a program like Scrivener is that it allows you to create smaller separate documents within a larger project that are inter-related. So you can easily edit or move scenes, keep track of scene word count and my favorite, enter a full screen writing mode that blocks out everything else from your screen except for a basic document file.  There's no ads, no links, no Internet browser lurking about to tempt you away from your writing. Consider it a typewriter for the modern age. Scrivener also allows you store your research notes and prep work in one central place. Do you have pictures of your characters or settings? You no longer have to open up another program to view them. Did you create a separate PDF outline, link to a specific movie, or reference a certain web page. You can copy and paste it into the program without opening 100 word documents.

So, that's all fine and dandy, you say. But you don't own a Mac. Right. Well. That Sucks. I've been there. In a pinch, Word will suffice. Just familiarize yourself with the daily pacing vs the word count goal. i.e. on day 6 you should be at X words, so if you are writing everything in a single document, than you can easily see total word count with the click of a button. You could also do separate docs for each scene, but you won't have a running total and you will have to compile it all together at the end anyway. I do recommend using document maps and creating headers for each chapter to easily navigate through your 200 pages! it will help make highlighting chapters or scenes easier if you are trying to get a word count.

So that’s it! Happy writing and good luck. 

Halloween Writing Prompts

Tis the season to be bloody!! Muah, ha, ha! If you can't tell by my love of all things paranormal, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Probably because I have an opportunity to dress up in costume, cackle like a witch and scare little children.

Okay, I don't go around scaring little children, (probably because I don't have any to scare) but I enjoy halloween all the same. What better way to get into the halloween spirit than to write your own creepy crawly tales?

I was surfing twitter and I came across some different halloween writing prompts to help get you started and thought I would share them with you.

Halloween Revenge

For the last 10 years, kids have been toilet papering your house on Halloween night. Unfortunately for them, this is the year you finally decided to get even. Write about your night of retaliation. Read more

Pumpkin Carving Gone Wrong

You’re attending an annual pumpkin-carving party with your friends when one of them stands up and makes a shocking announcement. Start your story with the announcement and end with “And that’s how I got my head stuck in the pumpkin.” Read more

Note Behind the Picture

A picture on your mantle unexpectedly falls and crashes to the floor. As you go to pick it up, you notice a note hidden behind the picture. The message is from the future—and written by you. It instructs you to do something important. What does it say?
Read more

For More Prompts check out the following pages:

Two New Halloween Finds

Two of my author friends have some new releases out and just in time for Halloween! Check out some great quick reads to download on your iPad, kindle and nook!

 The Devil comes calling on Halloween…
A young woman learns that black cats see all… 
Not all brooms are created equal… 
Some relationships really do last a lifetime…

Nell DuVall brings us four deliciously creepy tales of good and evil, perfect for All Hallow’s Eve.

All Hope Lost By Faith Van Horne

Dana Cay is a skilled private investigator with more than a passing knowledge of insanity. After her brother’s bizarre suicide, she drove herself mad with grief, convinced a shadowy cult had something to do with his death. Now, she’s out of the institution and back in business in a new city, taking only low-stress cases. But when Warren Parker begs her to look into his sister’s suspicious suicide, the madness starts again. Is the cult real after all? And if so, can Dana stop them before they kill again?

I've already purchased both and will be reading them on my travels next week!

NaNo Revisited

It's that time of year again! November is just around the corner, which means writers all across the globe are frantically chirping about NaNoWriMo. I have yet to commit to actually jumping in the game this year, but I thought it would be fun to repos some of my popular NaNo blogs from past years to help everyone get in the mood. And for any newbies out there, hear this: IT CAN BE DONE!

NANOWRIMO 101 (Part 1)
Basic Rules
Let’s start with some basic ground rules. Because you can either set yourself up for success or failure. And we don’t want you go cripple yourself before the challenge even starts. You wouldn’t enter a marathon without training right? Well, consider this your boot camp.  Listen and learn.

Rule #1. Don't Wing It
I know many of you true artistic visionaries will cringe at the thought but now is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Can you complete fifty thousand words with out plotting or outlining ahead of time? Sure. I've even done it in the past. If your ultimate goal, is just to cross the finish line, than fine. Go for it. But if you are planning on actually doing something with this novel, and don't want to spend the next six months editing it to get it into some kind of readable shape, trust me, you're going to want a road map.  I've participated in this challenge twice. The first time I went wherever the muse took me. That book was a complete mess. Though I did indeed finish it, I spent two years going back to revise and edit it, trying to make a better (and thus saleable) novel. It didn't happen. But you know what they say about your first book. The goal is to complete a novel, not to sell it. You get better as you go and you may not want to be judged by your very first attempt.

The second novel I wrote is actually much stronger and I do believe that was because I had already done a significant amount of research and plotting. It still needed some edits, and though I hit my 50K goal I did not finish the novel in one month. For the most part, I knew the plot, the scenes that I wanted, who the major players were. There was plenty of room to adjust as the characters interacted on the scene, but I could reel them back in when I sensed we were going off course in a not so good way. This is actually the novel I've been pitching to agents and editors. And yes, I still continue to tweak it.

This year I will be doing even more plotting and character building. Not because I am completely anal, but because I cannot stand editing and want to minimize the amount of time and energy I need to devote to that portion of the writing process. I tend to get stuck there, dreading out of place commas, typos, and entire scenes that need to be rewritten or worse. It sucks and anyway I can make it easier on myself so that the novel goes out the door faster and I'm back in the more creative realm of writing, the better. 

I am also doing a significant amount of prep work because my goal is actually not to write 50k words. My goal is closer to 85,000 or about 2800 per day.  That's where most of my manuscripts wind up and I'd like to have a full first draft done at the end of the month. I truly believe, that if you know what you're doing, it isn't impossible to do.  But you can't get there with out a clear vision and actionable strategies that will get you across the finish line.

Your goals might not be as lofty as mine, or they might be double what I've outlined.  Either way, the prep work is important. Aside from helping you put together a logical story structure with relevant scenes and meaningful and dynamic characters is that the prep work allows you to make the most of what little time you have to write each day. Let's face it.  Ultimately what happens when you don't collect your thoughts before hand is that you sit down with the intention of writing 1666 words or more in a single session and end up staring at a blank screen for the first twenty minutes. Time is a valuable commodity, especially when we have so much going on in our busy lives.  Don't waste it brainstorming when you have a deadline looming. One of the great things about this challenge is that it forces you to stop making excuses and get something on the page. It teaches you the discipline of writing daily, and if you don't well the punishment can be severe. My first round I missed three days in a row. Next thing I knew my daily goal was no longer 1666 but 6664! It was a long and painful day, especially because I had no idea where the story was going or what was happening next. It was easy to push forward with 2000 words, but eventually you have to stop and figure out what comes next. And without realizing it you are back into the daydreaming, brainstorming stage instead of the producing stage.

Rule #2. Set a Schedule
Be proactive and plan out a schedule for writing ahead of time. Know how long it takes you on average to write 1666 words. Can you do it in two hours, or do you need more time? My goal is to write two hours in the morning before I go to work and do another two in the evening after I get home from the gym. And if I know that it's taking longer, I can cut the gym or write during my lunch break. Whatever it takes to get the words on the page.

Rule #3. Eliminate Non-Essentials
Along with setting up a specific writing time, look at your schedule and figure out what the non-essentials are. What are the things that you can cut out if you have a crazy day and need more writing time? Can you skip the gym, bypass the PTA meeting? TiVo Glee?  Basically this is all about prioritization. If completing this challenge is important enough than spending time writing will come first. Note, I am not advocating you quit your job or starve your kids. But you don't have to cook a five course meal or make homemade pasta for dinner. Order a pizza, get carry out.If you don't like the idea of fast food all the time, plan out your meals for the week and  prep them the Sunday before. Casseroles and soups can be frozen and reheated in the oven or crock-pot with minimal effort involved. If you love fresh salads, chop up your veggies and store them in storage containers so that you can quickly toss your favorites together and have meal in five minutes or less with little dishes to clean. Remember, now is not the time to go caffeine free. Don't take up an additional college course, try to plan a wedding or take on a part time job. A couple of late nights won't kill you but it will make you cranky. We want this to be a happy positive experience, not a death march to the end of your writing career.

If you live alone, you can stock up on healthy frozen dinners, snacks and quick serve meals. If you have a spouse or partner, USE THEM! Explain what you're doing, why it is important. Ask them to take over meals, childcare, bath time, etc. (that's bath time for the kids not you! No distractions!) and you can buy yourself a few extra minutes with the computer. If they see how hard you're working (meaning you can't be staring at a blank computer screen) and know that it's only for one month, they will hopefully be happy to support you.

Rule #4. Reward Yourself
Sure, winning the challenge and crossing the 50K mark is huge and a great motivator in and of itself. But if you aren't use to writing everyday the task can seem daunting, even for talented writers. Celebrate the little milestones, did you write today (even if it was just a sentence, good job. Are you on track or ahead of the pacing for the month? Good job. Did you meet your daily word count? Good job. Reward yourself with a chapter from a good book, an hour of your favorite TV show, or some special time with your significant other. :)

For more tips continue reading NaNoWriMo 101 (Part 2).

Reading Journal: Characters & Viewpoint Part 2

The other day I posted my reading journal for Orson Scott Card's Characters & Viewpoint book and spent a lot of time focused on the character piece of the puzzle. Today I want to reflect on the third half of the book which is devoted to POV and Tense, (among other things).

Card identifies this last section of the book as "Performing Characters" and he starts off with very basic and often technical descriptions of what POV and tense are. Given the number of people who get confused on this subject, perhaps that is a good thing. Though I did not find those 8 pages very informative and let's face it, talking POV is not the most exciting thing one could be doing with their time.

Despite the fact that I think the subject a little dull, I was excited to dive into the book given the challenge I have undertaken with my newest WIP Salem's Triad.  In this novel I have three POV characters. I am writing in third person limited for a large majority of the book. However there are also excerpts throughout the book that offer a third person omniscient POV.  I call these interludes (taken from the music industry) because they offer quick snippets from minor/secondary characters that help to broaden the reader's perspective about what is taking place.

Originally these scenes were written in third person limited but I am starting to realize, after spending some time with Mr Card and all his wisdom, that it might make the transition easier if I adjust the POV from third limited to third omniscient.  This will allow me to signal to the reader that they are getting a glimpse of a scene taking place that does not involve one of our main characters (in case the chapter header INTERLUDE doesn't do the trick).

Another thing that I picked up from reading this book was the idea of effectively setting up the audience for a POV change. Card mentions that you can reduce confusion for your reader by introducing the second POV character in a scene with the current POV character.  This is common in romance novels, where you alternate between the hero and the heroine's POV and are often introduced to the hero through an encounter that the heroine has.  

In reading this I discovered my earlier draft does not connect the three characters until well into the first act, and certainly not in the first 30 pages.  Given this is now a YA and I have some new creative liberties to play with I decided to rewrite the prologue to include a critical scene (one that some may argue is the inciting incident for our protagonist)  where all three girls are together but not friends.  The fun thing about this is that the reader is not dependent upon one narrator's attitude or opinion of another character. Writing in limited third person allows me to express how my girl Gracie feels about herself and what her soon to be friends think of her. I'll give you a hint, they always have differing opinions!

One thing that caught me completely off guard was Card's thoughts on third person limited as a choice for narrating your story. I could chalk it up to the time period in which this novel was written (copyright 1988) but I don't actually think the industry has changed that much in the last twenty some years. I'll share a quote and let you make your own judgement.
"If you are uncertain of your ability as a writer, while you're quite confident of the strength of your story, the limited third-person narration invites a clean, unobtrusive writing style--a plain tail plainly told. You can still write beautifully using the limited third person, but your writing is more likely to be ignored--thus covering a multitude of sins." (Card)
I had to read this quote a few times and let it really sink in before I could even acknowledge my thoughts on it. I was surprised for a number of reasons. First, since I began actively pursuing writing around 2004 I have always been told by editors that you have to write in third person, that first person is for novice amateur writers and you will stick out like a sore thumb. That of course implies that writing first person is the easier choice. It certainly comes more naturally for a lot of new writers. I know that I use it a lot when I am having trouble getting into the character's head.  But that seems to contradict with Card's statement that third person limited is the easiest of the POVs to use. He also implies that it covers up most faults because your reader won't notice the writing as they are too absorbed by the character.

I am slighlty less concerned with what this says about me as a writer, and more concerned about what it says for me as a reader. If a majority of readers prefer third person limited does that imply that we are not mature enough as a readership to appreciate the other POVs? Is the ultimate goal to tell a great story or to tell a story that people will read and are they mutually exclusive? And what does this mean for genre fiction vs literary, for I most often see first and third limited as the preferred POV of choice?

In reading this quote I felt that Card was implying that writers who choose this POV are either too lazy to take on the challenge of writing in another POV or not talented enough to do so.  But should/would you purposefully write in another POV even if it means the work is less received by your target audience?

I'm not sure I know the answer to this and perhaps I am reading more into the line than was intended, but it does make me wonder.  As I continue to write more and more stories and novels I find myself grappling with the question of POV in a more deliberate manner and ultimately choosing the POV that is the best fit for the story and what I hope to accomplish. Maybe I'll score a few bonus points for using multiple POVs despite the fact that I am writing in third person limited.

Works Cited: Card, Orson Scott. Characters & Viewpoint. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest, 1988. Print.

Reading Journal: Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

One of the things we are strongly encouraged to do at Seton Hill is keep a reading journal to reflect on the fiction and non-fiction books that we read throughout each term.  While I could certainly do this in a word document and send it directly to my mentor for review, I thought it would be more fun to do my journal entries on posts to my blog. I promise to try and be consistent and regular, without the additional prodding on your part!

Book: Characters & Viewpoint
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing/Craft

Why did I choose this book??
It has been recently brought to my attention that though I may love some of my characters to death not everyone who picks up a copy of my manuscript or current WIP feels the same way. I'm not sure why this should come as a surprise to me. Everyone's tastes are different, so of course they are going to have different reactions to my characters, but my goal is not to alienate or piss of my reader because they do not like or understand my characters.  That said, I've been on a mission to learn as much as possible about character development and creating sympathetic characters so that I can figure out what I have done wrong, or at least polish up the prose so that readers can come to know and love the characters they way that I do.

Initial Reactions to the Book??
Despite the title and premise of the book I found it to be unhelpful for me as a writer given where I am in the writing process. The book is divided into three parts: inventing characters, constructing characters, and performing characters and a large majority of the time is spent on how to develop strong characters at the start of your writing. Several questions and thoughts are presented, about where characters come from, how to get great ideas for stories, how to discover traits and idiosyncrasies. The information overall is useful, but given what I was looking for, which was guidance on ways to better show your character on the page, this did not meet my needs.  That said there were several interesting notes that did stand out to me and made me question my own process for developing characters and thinking more deliberately about the time on the page those characters get. I'm going to highlight some of those thoughts below, and focus on initial character development today and POV in the next post.

Core Thoughts on Character.
Card starts the book at the very beginning asking the reader to reflect on what a character is and does a good illustrating that "character is what he does". We make assumptions about all characters based on what they do and what we see them do. It is a very surface level observation and most often wrong as a result, but it is the starting point for a reader.  What is interesting about this point is that if you don't go deeper and offer other ways of showing the reader who the character is, they will have no resort but to rely upon these baseline judgments. 

Why are these judgments often wrong? Because they do not offer motive or take into consideration their past experiences or their reputation. Audiences have a different reaction to a character who kills for pleasure vs. greed vs. revenge vs. self-defense.  If they only see the act of murder by itself they will have a different opinion of that character than if they have the additional context around the situation, the circumstances and the motives/intentions.  Their past experiences also play a huge role in how we view someone, do we see them as a victim, or the underdog, or are they a manipulator? What is it that made them turn to a life of crime or greed? 

For my Love Sex Magick novel, this  was a big issue that I had with my main character Chai. She can come off as superficial and insensitive to those around her. She is afraid of the magickal authority in the book but the reader doesn't know exactly what it is that is motivating that fear. The current justification on its own is too weak to feel realistic and credible, where as once I explained her family history, her connection to a known felon, and her sting with an underworld magickal gang, suddenly her actions and paranoia begin to feel more real. I used the same technique of revealing more of her backstory up front so that the reader understands the connection between her and the secondary character Yasmine and why she treats her differently from everyone else in the book.

For my current WIP Salem's Triad, I have three main characters and am switching POV between each of them. Which mean each character has to clearly establish themselves on the page and they have to be different from each other. The pacing of the book is much faster, and I have realized that I am going to have to work hard to ensure that in the first act the reader is invested in each character and has enough context to understand and by sympathetic towards them. 

Changing Behaviors with Changing Networks
Another thing Card mentions is that people change when they are in the company of different individuals. We may present ourselves one way at work, another way with our friends and yet another way with our families. A great way to show a different side of a character is to put them in a scene where they have to interact with a different type of person. For my Mystery Classics class I just finished reading "Cop Hater" by Ed McBain

Questions I needed to Ask Myself:
After reading this book there were a couple of questions that I want to continue to reflect on as I make edits to my WIP. 

  1. Do I have the right scenes to allow my character to show who they are?
  2. Did I give readers enough backstory to understand where my character has been and why she may behave a certain way?
  3. Are there different types of people in their network that allow you to see all sides of this character? In some cases, since this is a trilogy, those relationships are developed and played out over a longer character/plot arc.
  4. Consider the characters we hate. What do they do that makes us dislike them? Typically they deliberately cause someone else to suffer (physically or emotionally) that is usually not deserving of that suffering, they lie or betray people close to them.  Are my bad characters bad enough? Are my good characters doing things that on the surface look bad?
I'm going to use this as I think about my edits to my current WIP and I will include another brief post on the last third of the book that is devoted to POVs.

Back from Context 24

One of my favorite activities throughout the year is hitting up the local conventions, be it scifi like Context or Marcon, or Romance ones like the COFW conf and writing retreat, they are great ways to connect with other authors and readers alike.  Yesterday I was at Context, a small science fiction convention in Columbus and had a blast. Unlike the larger conferences, Context comes off as small, and intimate. You get a lot of one on one time with authors, agents or editors, including the Guest of Honor. That doesn't happen in larger conventions. Since I've been attending for years I've started to recognize a lot of name and made some great friends, many of whom I only get to see at conferences like this. Even if I don't sit on panels, I always leave feeling a little more recharged and excited about my writing.

Back to Reality: Insights from a WPF Newbie

It's Thursday morning and I am still having trouble believing that I have been back from Seton Hill for 4 days. How is that possible? Or perhaps the more interesting question is why do I miss it so much? It's been hard to get back into my regular routine. I work from home and suddenly the house feels to quiet, to confining. I want to be creative and yet my projects feel stilted, the tasks not as interesting as they used to be.  And yet there is so much to do. This never ending list of projects, tasks, chores, and now school work. It doesn't seem like there are enough hours in the day.  Still I know that right now, this is my reality. I should embrace it, or at least try to. When I figure out the secret, I will let you know!

For the time being here is what I have already learned.

  1. Do all the SHU Critiques prior to the residency. It sucks to have to find time during them to review people's work.
  2. Take the day before off for travel. By that I mean, the day orientation starts, at 7 PM, take it off because travel always takes more time than you think. 
  3. Take the day after off for recovery. Although to be honest, I wasn't so much exhausted as I was desperate to test out all the new things that I learned. I wanted to dive right into my writing, instead I got to dive right into conference calls and problems that occurred at work during my vacation.  I think part of my frustration stems from not being able to drown in my fictional world for a while.
  4. Explain to people what a residency is. They don't know.  Most of my co-workers think I was at a conference, lounging around poolside, and that I was back home by Friday. Even the ones I took the time to explain it to never seem to remember.  Oh well. 

So those are my immediate reflections thus far. Most important for me, I think is taking time off to ease back into to work, to settle into my new routine, and to find that balance. Right now I have no balance and little motivation as a result to do anything, including write or edit. But I have a long weekend coming up and I am hoping that will do the trick.

SHU Day One (or is i zero?)

I made it! I am finally here in Greensburg at Seton Hill University for my very first official residency. Aside from getting completely turned around and finding myself lost before I even set foot on campus, I am having a blast. The rain that seems to have plagued Ohio seems to have skipped past western PA. The sun was shinning, it was hot and humid and just walking from my car to the admin building made me break out into a sweat. Why is it that the college campus is known for having crappy parking.  I love that you can walk everywhere, but at this same time, I just wonder, why don't people just make more parking lots? Maybe it isn't aesthetically pleasing. I mean lets face it. It's a lot cuter to have 4 parking spaces in front of the admin building than say 40.

Okay, whining aside, today was a good day. I've already meant tons of people, from newbies like me, first years, that the actually refer to as the ones, to the 5s who are in their fifth term and I think ready to graduate at the end of the residency. Thus far the faculty is a hoot. The writers are passionate, welcoming and committed to learning and improving their craft. The dorm room is clean, the AC actually works (though it doesn't feel like it until you've been in the building for 30 minutes), and the beds are not too uncomfortable. The only bad thing thus far, there seem to be no trashcans in the suite area, not even in the bathroom. Yet there is a stack of towels placed by the double sinks, I presume so that we can wash our hands, but alas we must carry the dirty, soiled waste around with us until it can be properly discarded.

Note to self: there is actually life in Greensburg. Having family from small Ohio towns and gone to O.U. in Athens I've seen all different types of college towns. The main street and business district is actually a little bigger than I expected. A few miles down the street are all the comforts of home: Walmart, Panera and Starbucks.  I'm going to have to venture back out at some point because I really need to find an alternative pair of shoes, and might want to pick up some milk for the fridge. Can't have my protein shake without milk, though I could but it doesn't taste as good made with water!

I need to go to bed now, maybe read another story and prepare for tomorrow's classes!