Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pursuing Your Bad Ideas

We all have bad ideas. Most often we're completely ignorant when our ideas suck, but occasionally we're perfectly aware of it.

You already know I'm going to say to pursue your bad ideas anyway. It's easier said than done, though -- a fact I've recently had to learn when I came up with a bad idea.

The most obvious reason to pursue a bad idea is it might end up being a great idea. For instance, I'm a big fan of The Night Circus. In an interview with the author, Erin Morgenstern said she started writing it without knowing a lot of the "rules," such as not to write in second person, ever. Her use of second person is superb! The book would not be the same without it and I'm grateful no one was there to tell her it was a bad idea.

We could swap stories about bad ideas turned amazing all day long. What I want to say is that sometimes when an idea feels bad, we don't realize our minds are in the process of building something great that makes perfect sense. We just can't see it yet.

The best example I can think of is with my current novel VOODOO QUEEN. I originally had a mass of narrators (and finally narrowed it down to one, but that's a different story). When I tried to tell the story of Marie's grandmother, I kept wanting to tell it from her owner's point of view and not from her own.

That doesn't make sense. Why would we want to hear from a slave owner instead of the slave? He was a horrible person.

The story wouldn't come into my head any other way, so I wrote it how it wanted to be written. Months later when I decided to only have one narrator, a brilliant idea occurred to me that I must have known all along; the best way to tell the grandmother's story was through visions from people who had passed on. The slave owner -- who has always been madly in love with her -- tells Marie his story through dreams that reveal all of the grandmother's secrets. I didn't have to make any changes to the story because it was already written from the owner's point of view.

I've seen too many people come up with ideas that seem bad, so they try to "fix" them... which only makes the ideas worse. It's much better to let an idea unfold the way it wants to. Perhaps when you catch the vision of what your mind is trying to create, you'll step back and say, "Wow. That wasn't such a bad idea after all."

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Own Reproduction of the Temple of Vesta

My husband made me the best birthday present ever. Seriously. It's like the coolest thing ever owned in the history of owning things.

Using my research, we worked together on making a model of the temple of Vesta. Then he used his 3D printer to create it. We both painted it together, and voila! My very own absolutely perfect model of Vesta's temple. After spending so much time visualizing and writing about this building in my novel SACRED FIRE, it was amazing to hold in my hands exactly what I had imagined.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Favorite Baby Shower Gift: A Nursing Basket

A friend of mine gave me a brilliant idea for a baby shower gift. I made one for a shower yesterday and I liked doing it so much that I think I'm going to give these away at every shower I go to.

Basically, I got a basket and filled it with everything the new mother will need to start nursing. When I brought home my newborn, nursing was pretty much all I did or thought about. It's hard to figure out how often to nurse, how long, which side, is the baby getting what it needs. If that isn't enough, you also have to deal with the discomfort! Swollen breasts and chapped nipples. It gets better, but that first week is the worst!

The basket a good thing for the mother to have during the first few days when she's still recovering and can't go anywhere. She's also not likely to get the things in the basket from anyone else, or for herself. I'm a big breastfeeding advocate, too, so I like giving the mother some encouragement.

The biggest reason I like this gift, though, is it's for the mother and not the baby. I want the baby to have cute boots and pink tutus as much as anyone, but when I really care about the mother, it's nice to know I'm helping take care of her.

Here's a list of all the things you could put in the basket. My basket only included the first seven things (if you included everything, it would be a pretty big basket!).

  • Nipple cream. This is a must! I had no idea latching on would hurt so badly. Luckily it becomes more comfortable later, but for that first week, lanolin was a life saver.
  • Nursing cover. I could never nurse in public with just a blanket as cover. My baby likes to kick and squirm so much that I know she'd throw a blanket right off. A nursing cover straps around the neck or the arms. I don't go anywhere without mine.
  • Breast pads. These soak up any milk that leaks. I don't need them anymore, but when my milk first came in, I would often wake up at night in a puddle of milk. Every mother has had that awkward moment when they leak in public and have to hide a conspicuous wet spot on their shirt, and breast pads prevent that.
  • Milk bands. I used to latch hair clips on my bra to keep track of which side I nursed on last, but milk bands work better (and they look better in a basket). It's a rubber bracelet with numbers on it so you can keep track of not only what side you used last, but also what time you nursed and for how long.
  • Nipple shields. These are used when the baby has problems latching on, so hopefully the mother won't have to use them, but they supposedly help with sore nipples too.
  • Oatmeal. I don't know the science behind it, but mothers everywhere swear that oatmeal helps them produce more milk. I swear by it too... it really works!
  • Charts. Before my baby and I got a good rhythm going, I spent all my mental energy trying to keep track of all the times I nursed, how many diapers my baby had gone through, whether I needed it increase my supply, and so forth. The basket can include several print outs to make the mom's like easier: click herehere, and here to view the ones I used.
  • A water bottle. The best way to keep up a milk supply is to drink a lot of water.
  • A nursing book. La Leche League recommends The Womanly Art of Nursing, but there are many other books on nursing the mother might appreciate. 
  • Mother's Milk. It's a tea that's also supposed to boost milk supply.
  • A night-time nursing bra. I loved mine.
  • Nursing clothes. There are lots of clothes besides bras that make nursing easier, like night gowns, tanks, and shirts with stretchy collars.
  • Lactation cookies. A lot of people on Pinterest are pinning recipes for cookies that are supposed to increase supply. I've never tried them, but they'd be fun to give to someone.
  • Burp cloth. When my baby was still spitting up, I was constantly searching the room for a nearby burp cloth. You can never have enough of them!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Which Picture Should I Use for Kickstarter?

I've decided to start a Kickstarter campaign for VOODOO QUEEN. Research is expensive! I'm pretty excited about it. The campaign needs a killer cover photo to draw people in, plus I'm going to put the image on swag like t-shirts and mugs as prizes for people who donate, so I did a photo shoot with a friend of mine and a snake named Cali.

Now I need help from my readers! I narrowed down my favorites to six, and I need your help deciding which one to use. Let me know in the comments which is your favorite. I'm eager to see which you all like.

NOTE: We're going to edit out the green screen and add a picture of New Orleans, so please ignore the ugly background.


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