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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whataya Want From Me

"Whataya want from me?" Not only is this the title of a (very good) Adam Lambert song, but it is also a question that us writers ask ourselves all of the time. Whether due to rejections from agents, in response to crazy suggestions by critique partners and editors, or just at the fatigue from writing a manuscript, sometimes it feels like being a writer is making a life out of being shot down by other people. Sometimes, it's just downright stressful.

So. Relax.

This month has been a wee bit crazy for me, as y'all may have figured from my absence. With renovating my Pocono house in time for its new tenants, visiting my dying great-grandmother who has been in and out of the hospital and changing status over the past few weeks, editing my manuscript  in time for my betas, traveling back and forth to the Italian consulate in NYC in preparation for studying abroad in Italy, actually preparing to leave for Italy for 3 months, losing a couple of close friends, and the rest of the other general craziness that life brings, August has been one hell of a month.

But instead of crying out to the universe in anguish, "WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT. FROM. ME?" I say it with a shrug and the knowledge that I am only human. I'm only one person.

So are you.
(Unless you have a clone you'd like to let us know about.)

Life can be complicated. Writing can be even more complicated. Sometimes you need to take a break. Sometimes you need to work your ass off and disappear from the world, hauling ass while those around you assume you're being lazy, because you're not around. But don't feel too badly about it. After all, things will have to come back around to the bright side eventually.

(And because I've missed a few music Tuesdays, and since I uploaded a ridiculous amount of original songs and some covers to my youtube channel, GinaBlechmanMusic, here's a cover of Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me")

<3 Gina Blechman

P.S. By the time some of you read this, I just might be on my way to Italy. I leave at 9pm EST on 9/1.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tips for College Shopping!

At a campfire the other day, a few upcoming freshman friends of mine started asking me questions about what to bring to college, since I went through the whole ordeal last year.  Because I know I missed some things, and because I know there's probably many freshman out there wondering what to buy and where to buy it, here's some last minute tips:

You MUST bring:
1) Mattress pad: They make even the hardest of dorm beds super comfy. Stick with the memory foam ones, they're the best. Mine's 1.5" and I got it at Walmart last year for $40.

2) Double sided tape: Scotch tape does not like to stick to dorm walls and duct tape will leave residue that you will have to pay for (literally...I've done it...) at the end of the year.

3) Tupperware: Two small ones will suffice. These are great for a) if you go out and have left overs b) if you get those recipe in a box microwaveable snacks. c) stuffing in your bag and then using to take extra cookies/brownies/etc from the dining hall

4) Extra clothes hangers for when you need to air dry clothes that can't go in the dryer

5) Posters/pictures: Nothing is more depressing than having your entire room set up and looking nice (before your parents leave and you get lazy, anyhow) and having drab, bare, white walls. Print out pictures of celebs, bring photos of your friends, or bring posters with you, but you're going to want to but something up.

6) Glasses/bowls/plates: I got a $2 pack of plastic tumbler cups and a matching 3-bowls (for $3 maybe) and then just used paper plates.

7) Food: Bring munchies for when you get there and stuff for later. Keep in mind that everyone's gonna be getting to know each other and hanging out and probably sharing food with their friends quite a bit the first few days.

8) Shower shoes: 'nuff said

9) Fans: If your room isn't air conditioned, as most freshman dorms aren't, you'll definitely need a fan. I found that the oscillating tower fan I brought and my roommates box fan worked very well together and kept the room nice and cool.

10) Movies: Bring any of your movies that you can imagine yourself wanting to watch with you to college. You may only watch a couple of them, but movie nights in the lounge became popular with my friends and I, and the more options you have the better.

11) Duct tape: Because it's always good to have

12) An umbrella: The ones that compress to be smaller so that you can shove it in a drawer

13) A few fancy outfits: You'll want to look sharp for any dances or events that might arise. At my school, there was a dance at least once a month. Great thing about going to college with all new folks is that you can recycle outfits from high school homecoming etc.

14) A school ID Holder: The first day we arrived we were given a lanyard with our school ID on it. Within a month, the small hole at the top of my ID snapped. Without the ID holder I attached to my lanyard, I would have gone crazy trying to keep track of my ID. (And buying a fun lanyard for your ID isn't a bad idea either.)

15) Shower caddy: I got one for a few bucks at k-mart and was able to put all my shower stuff as well as my toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush etc in it and just leave it in the bathroom in my dorm hall.

Tips for shopping for textbooks
1) Depending on what school you go to and how strict the professors are you can usually get away until waiting until the first day of class and double checking that the books you need are ones you'll actually be using. It isn't uncommon to get to your first day of class and have your teacher tell you that you'll only be using  a few of the books on the list or that x books are needed and y books are optional.

2) Buying books: I like to buy books, because you can keep them or resell them after the semester is over. I NEVER EVER buy them from the bookstore. You can get textbooks new or used from half.com, bookbyte.com, or betterworldbooks.com. (Note: "Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide" Why not buy textbooks and save the world all at the same time?)

3) Renting books: Renting textbooks is another thing all the cool kids are doing these days. You can get the books for much cheaper, and you don't have to worry about lugging them around with you or trying to sell them back at the end of the semester. The best site I've found for this thus far is campusbookrentals.com. The site is awesome for a few reasons.
1) You get free shipping for both the purchase and return of the book.
2) You can return the book and get your money back within thirty days if it turns out you won't need the book for school.
3)You can choose how long you want to rent the book for.
4) This is kind of the reason I chose this site in the first place, they donate money to Operation Smile, so far to cover over 1,000 surgeries. Operation smile, for those who don't know, is a non-government funded organization that  has "a mobilized force of medical professionals and caring hearts who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate." For those of you who know of my community service background, you know this is a big thing for me. As I said before, why not buy rent textbooks and help save the world all at once?

So that's it. Of course, there's lots of other obvious stuff you need. Clothes. Shoes. Glasses and/or contacts if you wear them. But hopefully this covered most of the stuff that you might overlook. Let me know if you have any other ideas and/or questions.

<3 Gina Blechman




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3: One Way to Get Rid of Writing Anxiety

Alrighty folks, I'm BACK. Finally, I'm fully hooked up to internet, in my own home, and don't have to worry about driving to the library or to B&N to borrow their wireless. Woohoo!

While I've been away, I've spent a lot of time working on the beginning of my manuscript. Now, if you're thinking to yourself "I thought she finished her latest manuscript and was about to send it to betas," you're right. But the first three pages of my story have changed about two dozen times already, and every time I'd start brainstorming, I'd find myself tensing up. I'd get nervous. Anxious. Thoughts of I want it to be good and will this just be one more option in another dozen or so of new ideas raced around my head.

Then I came across my perfect solution: dictating to the voice recorder on my phone. There was no pressure. I just put myself in my MC's POV and started dictating, able to go as fast or slow as I wanted without worrying about thinking faster than I could type. (Plus, oftentimes I try to imagine a scene before I spend the time writing it up, so this allowed me to vocalize and record those thoughts to avoid those instances of "What was that really great thought I had 35 seconds ago but can't remember for the life of me now.") I did this a few times, spent about 15 minutes and then pressed play and typed it up. Painless.

So, next time you find that you just can't get down to writing because there's too much pressure, you're in the middle of writer's block, or you have too many or too few thoughts racing around your head, you might want to give it a try. As long as you have a phone, you could do it pretty much anywhere. If you have a hands free phone device, you could even try it on the road. (This is preferable on long, open roads. As someone who prefers that you not die, I wouldn't suggest this in, say, heavy New York City traffic.)

Good luck!

<3 Gina Blechman

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm Alive!

Hey y'all!

I just wanted to let you know that, hey, I'm alive! I know, I know, I've been absent a bit lately. Trust me, it hasn't been fun for me either.

FIRST, my router broke and I was without internet for a week and a half. (Not very much fun. AT ALL.)

Then, I my mother's tenants in her Pocono house moved out, so I was invited (a.k.a. obligatorily dragged by the fact that she carried me in her womb for seven months) to help out with the renovations.

Therefore, I've been cleaning and moving furniture and hanging pictures and setting up bookshelves and making beds, and painting, and generally not resting very much in order to help out with that. There's also no internet access and no cable in this house. (Woohoo!)

So yes, I've been absent. And yes, I would much rather be in blogland, chillin out with all of you. And yes, to the umpteenth degree, I cannot wait to get home in three days and have a break from my mother, who speaks in "I need" statements when she speaks (instead of just grabbing things and doing) at all.

But, in case there was any doubt, I have not died in a tragic farming/motor vehicle/literary accident. Despite my tired manner, I am very much alive.

See ya Sunday!

<3 Gina Blechman