Friday, January 31, 2014

The time before

coming May 27th
It's always a strange time, the time before.
The time before what, you ask?
The time before a new book (or new books, as the case may be) enters the world.

I'm not sure how to describe it, exactly.

Like the calm before the storm?
The hibernation before the spring?
The rest before the race?

coming July 29th
It's like you're trying to enjoy the quiet, taking advantage of the time and writing a lot (hopefully) and enjoying the (mostly) stress-free time. But every once in a while your brain kind of wakes up and says - hey, remember those books coming out soon? The ones you worked hard on last year? The ones some of your readers are saying they're excited to read? The ones that will be reviewed by professional reviewers soon? Remember those? What do you think is going to happen? Huh? What do you think is going to HAPPEN? Will things go well or will things go...not so well?

Only time will tell, of course. There's nothing that can be done now. The books are finished. You've done all you can do. And you just kind of want to forget about them for as long as you can, except that silly brain loves to send reminders every once in a while.

Silly brain. So annoying sometimes!

photo credit:

I have a busy spring. Lots of Skype visits, a few appearances, and one trip (to Texas in April, for the Texas Library Association conference). So I'm going to do my best to enjoy this time. I'll write. I'll talk to kids. I'll talk to librarians. I'll try to be excited, even though I am often more terrified of failing than anything else.

See, every author wants his/her books to do well. To sell well. To find readers and to make those readers happy, which in turn makes the publisher happy. But the truth is, it doesn't always happen. I try to keep my expectations low. I try to tell myself that I've done my job, the rest is out of my hands, and what will be, will be. It simply doesn't do any good to worry about it. Easier said than done, of course.

I've done this book thing many times now. It seems like it should get easier, but that doesn't seem to be the case. At least in my experiences.

Yes, right now is the time before. No one knows what's going to happen. I like the time before (as long as my brain doesn't annoy me too often). You know why? Maybe because anything is still possible. Or maybe because, I haven't failed yet.

And therein lies what is SO hard for most authors - to believe that a book which is published and will be read by some (whether a few or a million) is a success no matter what. Because what an amazing thing - a book now exists where there wasn't one before. Something was created from nothing. My silly, annoying brain managed to write a novel. That is no small thing.

Let's try to remember that, brain, in the weeks and months ahead. What do you say??

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Diary of a writer 1/22/14

Sometimes when you're in the middle of the draft, the hardest part is just opening the document and diving in. There is so much fear when you're drafting. I've learned over the years it's part of the process, and you just have to push through it or past it or whatever.

Click photo to enlarge

In case you can't read my handwriting:

There is always

Fear that it's not good enough.
Fear that you're not good enough.
Fear that it will all be for nothing.
Fear that no one will like it.
Fear that it's all wrong.

You have to push the fear away
    with all your might.

Open the document
and tell yourself
    I can do this.

Because you CAN!
Because you are BRAVE!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Scheduling Skype visits for World Read Aloud Day

World Read Aloud day is March 5, 2014 and Kate Messner has put together a list of authors who are willing to Skype for free that day, in twenty-minute increments, and I am one of those authors!!

You can check out the complete list HERE.

I have two visits scheduled so far, and have room for probably four or five more, so if you are a teacher or librarian and are interested in having me Skype with your school that day to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, please get in touch via e-mail at lisaschroederbooks(at)gmail(dot)com.

What do you need to Skype, you ask? A computer, the Skype software, which you can download for free, and usually a projector, so everyone in the room can see the author on the big screen!

It's easy and it's fun, I promise. I've literally Skyped with probably a hundred schools by now, and have participated in at least two WRADs, maybe three. I had to skip last year because of my writing schedule, so I'm happy to be participating again this year.

Here's basically how the visit will go - I talk for a few minutes and introduce myself, making sure to encourage kids to read for fun because as a writer, I believe there is nothing that will help your writing more than READING. I choose one of my books that is age-appropriate for the group I'm speaking with and read aloud for a few minutes, and then I open it up to questions.

If World Read Aloud Day doesn't work for your schedule, but you are interested in learning more about Skyping with me, please see my page over at the Skype an Author Network.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Diary of a writer - 1/17/14

Click on photo to enlarge

In case my handwriting is too hard to read:

The thing is
it all comes down
to this:

Do the best you can.
Every day.

And it will be good enough.
Not perfect.
Never perfect.

But it will be your best.
Expecting more than that?
Wanting more than that?
It will only lead to disappointment
   and frustration.

Your best is enough.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Thinking vs. Feeling and the movie "Her"

I dragged my husband along to see the movie "Her" this weekend. I don't know why, but Joaquin Phoenix fascinates me. I think he is incredibly talented. Like, I loved him in "I Walk the Line." I don't crush on him the same way I do Robert Downey, Jr. But I enjoy watching what he does with a role, if that makes sense. Anyway, a couple of smart people I admire were raving about it on twitter and facebook, and I was curious. So we went.

As you probably know, it's basically a love story between a man and his advanced operating system. But if you only think of the movie that way, it sounds too absurd, and you won't go and see it. So don't think of it that way. I mean, okay, yes, there were times when my husband and I looked at each other, kind of shaking our heads, because it did get weird at times.

But man, they do a good job with Samantha (the woman in the computer). I mean, come on she writes him songs! They talk in the middle of the night, and she's so kind and caring, and she's just what he needs and you can't help but fall in love with her for that.

On one level, there's this very scary thought about what our future might look like. But on another level, it does a tremendous job taking a look at what it's like to be in love -- the good things, but also the difficulties that come along with it too.

It's just... kind of brilliant. (a note here, to my younger readers - the movie is rated R for a reason. I would not want to see this movie sitting next to my parent. Or even a new love interest, because - awkward! Just FYI).

As I've been thinking about it, I've been thinking about how some authors are so good at writing books that make you think. YA authors like A.S. King, Maggie Stiefvater, Corey Whaley, David Levithan, and others. They kind of amaze me, to be honest, how they're able to do so much with a story.

My YA novels are much more about emotion. I don't really set out to make them that way, they just... are. And I think that's okay. I mean, there are times you're happy to have a book that makes you think and ask lots of questions and look at life in a different light for a moment. And then there are times when you just want to connect with a character and see what happens.

Of course, there are those rare stories that make you think AND make you emotional. I didn't cry while watching "Her" but I heard others did. I think John Green's books are good at doing this, and that may be why he's so very successful. It's a rare thing, I think.

Anyway, whenever I watch a smart movie that makes me think, or read a book that's like that, there is always a little twinge of envy inside me. I mean, wow, to be *that* smart. But, that's not me. And it's okay. The fun thing is that I can really enjoy the smart movies and books in a way I can't some of the others because I know it's not me and never will be. I can just sit back and be in awe and fangirl about it.

I'd bet you have never seen anything quite like "Her." And what a rare treat that is when it happens, yes?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Diary of a writer - 1/9/14

Winter break was wonderful for me because I didn't do all of the running around I usually do when the boys are in school. This week, it's back to the routine of running my teen boys back and forth between home and high school and the Max station to get down town for college classes and other various things. Neither of them drive yet, and while there are many advantages to this, it breaks up my day in the worst way. I rarely have a big chunk of time to just... write.

I sometimes get frustrated by this, but the truth of the matter is, a big chunk of time is NOT a necessity. I wrote five or six novels (a couple of which were never published) in little increments of time while I worked a full-time job.

And so, today's entry:

click photo to enlarge

Typed out, in case that's your preference.

One Hour

That's all it takes
if you stay focused
and write, write, write.

One Hour

Maybe it will be all work
and no magic, but
maybe it will be all magic
and no work!!

One Hour

It is enough.
So open the document
and see what happens.
You'll never know until you do it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Diary of a writer - 1/6/14

I had the date wrong on the last one. Oh well, that's what happens when you are on winter break, haha!

Click on image to enlarge
In case you prefer reading type to handwriting, here is today's entry:

"What will people think"

When drafting,
these words are like the enemy army
trying to break down
the castle doors.
Your army that guards
and protects you
must be stronger.
They must fight to keep them out.
"It doesn't matter."
"It doesn't matter."
"It doesn't matter."
The first draft is for no one
but you.
Don't let the enemy in.
Guard your draft, your words
as if your life depends on it.
Don't let the enemy win.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Diary of a writer

I am going to do a new thing this year called "Diary of a writer" where I write down thoughts in a journal before I start my daily writing. I won't post entries every day, just when I have something interesting to share.

Sometimes the entries will be pep talks to myself.
Sometimes the entries will be glimpses into my brain.
Sometimes the entries will be peeks into my soul.
They might be ugly, they might be beautiful, but they will always be honest.

I might sound discouraged.
I might sound sad.
I might sound hopeless.

And it's okay - writers feel those things quite frequently. It's what we do with those feelings that's important, and writing them out is actually helpful, I've found.

Here's my first one:

click on the photo to enlarge

I will also be posting them on my tumblr blog, just FYI.