Another Year In the Books

It’s that time again already . . . reflecting on the past year. In preparation, I read my blog posts from last December. 2014 was rather crappy, and I looked forward to 2015 being a lot better. And the truth is . . .

IT WAS AMAZING!!!

It's been a magical year!

It’s been a magical year!

But not for the reasons I anticipated. This time last year I was still really focused on writing. The last installment of my YA trilogy, 18 Thoughts, was getting ready for release, and I anticipated an increase in sales and a fulfillment in my professional life I’d never experienced before.

Except even though I had more book sales this past year than in my previous two years combined, that fulfillment never came. Instead I felt empty and unmotivated in the area of writing. So after my media blitz, I took a break. In the past, if I didn’t have my daily writing time, it’d send me into a FULL DOWNWARD SPIRAL, eating cookies in a corner, nearly ODing on sugar, and making horrible Chewbacca howling noises. Probably not a healthy place to be. But I didn’t write again until mid-July, and then I finished a stand alone novel in a month. In August, school was back in session, leaving no time to edit as I taught eighth grade English for the first time. Maybe I’ll find editing time before 2015 ends (I do have 2 weeks off starting December 18th, but there’s also Star Wars, and NOTHING will take that away from me).

Sooo maybe I won’t.

And that’s okay. I’ve been so focused on writing, writing, writing since 2009 . . . from trying to get a book deal to getting a book deal to honoring that book deal and all it entails. This year, I finally felt like I had my life back. I’ve spent way more time with my wonderful family. I even made my 15yo daughter smile sometimes instead of scowl at me. So yes, this year has been a miracle.

How about you? Any surprises in your life this year? (Good, I hope, not like an unexpected incoming FaceTime or discovering your Starbucks app is empty. There’s nothing more terrifying than that.)

IWSGHEADER

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

 

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Star Wars, Publishing, and a Guest Post

So I made it through my first quarter of teaching middle school Language Arts–WooHoo! I’m still loving it and to celebrate, I decided to do a Power Point Presentation with my classes on Wednesday and Thursday (Friday was a teacher work day for report cards) about the Top 10 Things Star Wars Taught Me About Writing, embedded with video clips from the movie to illustrate each point. We also enjoyed Yoda Soda and Wookiee Cookies and had a lot of great discussion. It got me wondering . . . are there any movies that have inspired your writing?

I’m also presenting a workshop titled 18 Things You Should Know About Publishing at the Lee County Reading Council Conference this coming Saturday, so if you have any top tips, please share them with me:-)

And now I have Mara Valderran, author of Heirs of War, to share about what inspires her: Music!

heirsofwar

Soundtrack Series Part 4: Worlds Turned Upside Down

I could really spend more than four posts discussing the music that inspires me to write, but I’m going to contain myself and wrap it up here. So far, I’ve talked about songs that inspire battle cries, broken souls, and broken hearts. But one of the most immediate conflicts in Heirs of War is the fact that the main characters’ worlds have been turned upside down. And fortunately, I have just the songs to help us understand their plights.

Skillet “Awake and Alive”

“I’m at war with the world and they try to pull me into the dark. I struggle to find my faith as I’m slipping from your arms. It’s getting harder to stay awake, and my strength is fading fast. You breathe into me at last. I’m awake, I’m alive. Now I know what I believe inside. I’ll do what I want, cause this is my life. Here, right now, I’ll stand my ground and never back down. I know what I believe inside. I’m awake and I’m alive.”

Isauria has been dreaming about Estridia and all its troubles for years, but I think, in some ways, that world was always more real to her than the one she lived in. If someone had given her the choice to either stay in the world she knew, where she has little to no social connections and felt constantly out of place, or be sent to Estridia with all its war and strife, she would have still chosen Estridia. Estridia felt more real to her. And once she gets there, she finds out she has this power to see other people in her dreams, and feels she has a responsibility to use it. Even though she has to be unconscious to use it, she feels more awake and alive than she ever has before. She has a purpose, and she is holding tight to it and never letting go.

Katy Perry “Wide Awake”

“I’m wide awake. Yeah, I was in the dark, I was falling hard with an open heart. How did I read the stars so wrong? And now it’s clear to me that everything you see ain’t always what it seems. Yeah, I was dreaming for so long.”

Sometimes, worlds getting turned upside down can be really hard and hurtful. That’s exactly how it is for Rhaya. One of my best friends, who knows this series almost as well as I do, actually introduced me to this song and informed me that it was Rhaya’s. After listening to it, I couldn’t agree more. True, Katy Perry might have been talking about a relationship with a person when writing this song, but to me this is about Rhaya’s relationship with the world of Estridia. When she’s first dropped into Anscombe, she loves it. A world full of magic? It’s every fantasy lovers’ dream! But the more she gets to know the world and the society around her, the more problems she sees. She’s forced to realize that she’s been viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, and the fall to reality is very hard for her. It’s something I can’t wait to explore in the next book with her.

That wraps up my musings on musical inspirations for Heirs of War! Thank you, Jamie, for letting me spend some time on your blog! And thank you, readers, for spending that time with me. I’d love to hear what inspires you. Is it music? Or television? Other books?

~Mara Valderran

Strong Am I With The Force

Seriously considering this pic for our Christmas card

There are times I’d like to throw hubby out with the trash;-)

Jar Jar in the house! Let’s get this party started:-) I don’t care what people say–I like him!

Emperor Palpatine–No! No! Noooo! Wait, how’d that get on my Blu-ray?

Hmmm, Birthday Party Games idea?

A.K.A. Luke, and look at those light sabers! There’s a scene in my book like this at their h.s. graduation. Oh wait, I don’t want to give away too much . . .

R2 Iron Man . . . making her own R2 will be my 12-yr-old daughter’s next science project. Please buy my book b/c it costs around $3,000, hahaha

Found out a little late she’s not appropriate for kids, oops!

Thank God she hasn’t asked for a metal bikini yet!

Steampunk love!

So that’s some highlights of Star Wars Celebration VI. We were lucky enough to only live three hours from Orlando to make the drive up. I’ll share some insights about it next Wednesday as part of Master Ninja Alex Cavanaugh’s IWSG. What about you? Did you do anything COOL this past weekend? Please share! And if you’re a Star Wars fan, you must check out this trailer for Seth Green’s new show, Star Wars Detours