Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: A Year In Blog

Let's see. What did I do in 2015, writing wise?

Well, let's start with the biggest news of the year: I published a novella! I wrote Pearl, I had the manuscript beta-read, I found a wonderful copyeditor, bought a pre-made cover, and figured out how to code an e-book and put it up on Amazon and other places for sale. I learned about a whole new realm of writing life by self-publishing.

And people have bought it. People I definitely don't know have bought it. Whut?!

I also put up a Facebook Author page so I could stop clogging up my friends' feeds with writing things. I joined two historical fiction-related groups on Facebook as well. I posted on and read a few author threads on Goodreads. I continued on with the Insecure Writer's Support Group. On AbsoluteWrite, there is now a hangout thread in the Historical Writing sub forum which is super fun as well. So, still trying to make connections with fellow hist fic types.

Writing wise, other than Pearl, my writing friend Randi Lee asked me to be part of an anthology, which will come next year (I'll keep you posted) and I started and threw out one short story and then more quickly wrote another one for it.

I also wrote, in a haze of happy thoughts and quick typing, a very long fan fiction that I shared with my best friends. They agreed that I've finally learned a bit more about plotting.

What else? I completed my reading challenge of 42 books.

I delved back into research for my Victorian novel, which I haven't worked on in a while, but is definitely in focus for 2016. It's going to be full-on historical because the modern half I'd been playing with simply doesn't work. Or as my friend Katie said, "I can't see you writing romance novels, but I can definitely see you writing a really messed up love story."

I decided to make guest posts a thing---because I'm running out of ideas :-) In 2015, there were 9 guests on the blog. I hope to have a lot more in the coming year!

I went to Elsie Fest and I saw Hamilton. Both were inspiring and fun. I also went to my friend Edie's wedding this August.

I lost my grandfather in May, but my cousin's baby daughter was born in November, so the circle of life goes on.

Have a happy and healthy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge: The Stats

I was going to write up a quick little summarization of what I read this year, but Goodreads actually sent me an email about that today, too!

According to Goodreads:

So, out of the 42 books I read this year:
 35 of them were fiction. 
Of them, 
20 had some kind of historical setting
5 were contemporary
2 were dystopian
2 were sci-fi/action/fantasy
4 were short story or novella collections

5 were non-fiction.
1 biography
1 family history
1 writing craft book
1 how-to on family history
1 history book

There were also:
1 book was a companion book to a fiction series.
1 was a collection of essays, including notes on fictional stories
1 was extremely journalistic fiction, so while the characters are fictional, the situation wasn't.
1 was poetry
1 was a book of plays

37 of my 42 books were written by female authors
9 were by authors of color

Friday, December 11, 2015

Jessica's #Ham4Ham Adventure

Hey y'all! Today, I have a very special blog guest---one of my real-life friends, Jessica, who is here to tell us about a short but awesome adventure she had the other day. I've been trying to get Jess to start her own blog practically since I started this one. At least I got her to come along and guest post.

Hello Blogosphere! This is Jess. I'm one of Michelle's friends who proudly takes the blame for dragging her out of her house for some fun excursions. So she asked me to write a guest post related to one of our adventures.

About a month ago we went to see the Broadway show Hamilton. And just like she has, I have also become obsessed with the show. Through following the show and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, I've become aware of a sweet treat they provide fans called #Ham4Ham. On certain 2 show days, some of the Hamilton performers (and friends) come outside the theater and put on a mini show in the time between the 2 performances. 

The concerts could vary between amusing lip-synching skits or songs from other shows. On Wednesday this week I happened to check Twitter and saw they planned a #Ham4Ham and since I had time to kill after work, I thought to check it out. This time around, Lin-Manuel brought his Tony-winning friend Billy Porter to sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." 

It was lovely. And given the large crowd outside, I don't think I've ever heard a Broadway street so quiet. 

Another reason for the extra large crowd is that the #Ham4Ham show coincides with Hamilton's ticket lottery. Broadway lottery is a way for shows to sell a very limited amount of discounted tickets for same-day performances, but the catch is that you have to be at the theater at a certain time to throw your name in a bucket with (potentially) hundreds of others. When I was there for #Ham4Ham, I was mixed in with the largest lottery crowd of my life. I guess that's a testament to the hype Hamilton has gotten. I overheard a conversation where a couple tried 48 times before they finally won Tuesday night. 

This phenomenon started with Rent which sold $20 tickets for seats in the first 2 rows through the lottery. Most shows currently on Broadway have adopted and adapted this program for themselves. Playbill lists in detail the different show lottery and rush policies: 

So if you ever want to catch a show at a super discount, this is one way to go about it. I've seen a few shows this way (including Rent, Hairspray, Wicked, and others) and it's good if you have the time and patience to try your luck. 

Jess and I saw Rent through lottery once, when two of the original cast members were back on Broadway as Roger and Mark. We were front row center. It was really special. Plus, I think we saw Spring Awakening with student rush. Thanks Jess for coming and writing this for us, not to mention taking the pictures and the video!

#Ham4Ham is a real show of the Broadway community, I think--you can check out a lot of Ham4Ham videos on YouTube. Hamilton's lottery tickets are, appropriately, $10.

Has anybody out there ever rushed/gotten in a lottery for a show? Which one and when?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: Your Creative Well

A few weeks ago, I saw the Broadway show Hamilton and for whatever reason, as it happens every once in a while, I felt so incredibly creatively inspired.

And then I came home, read over the short story I've been working on since frickin' September, read my critique buddies' notes, and wondered if I really wanted to salvage what I'd been trying to do. The answer? No. My critique partners had great ideas and great pointers, but I couldn't see a way to get it together in that story.

So I decided to try another story idea and although I'm only a little over a thousand words into the first draft, it already feels much better. I'm not sure how much of that is due to getting my creative well filled up via Hamilton and how much of that is due to the idea being a little more in my wheelhouse.

A lot of authors will say that writing everyday is the most important thing and it is, whether you feel inspired or not. But there's a huge difference, for me, in writing something that I feel like I'm only grasping with my fingernails and writing something that I feel almost immersed in.

So, don't forget to fill up your creative well, people. Go read a book you didn't write, watch a movie, geek out over a Broadway cast album, go see a ballet, try to learn the Lindy Hop, or learn how to bake a pumpkin pie.