Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Brave New World


So Halloween's pretty long gone by now, but we finally took photos of my husband's costume & this is too good not to share. He made the stilts. I papermached the head and made the tie. We're quite proud of the results.

A Guilty Conscience

So, when I go to lengthy family gatherings, I sometimes bring my netbook with me to write. I only sneak it out after I've visited for a good while, so I feel like it's an okay thing to do. Actually, I'm probably writing this b/c I don't really think it's an okay thing to do, but it helps keep me sane so I do it anyway.

Plus, a netbook is so much smaller than a normal laptop, and that makes it much less obtrusive, right?

This is actually very similar to what I did in college when I had tons and tons of homework and would bring my schoolbooks with me everywhere (and I mean pretty much everywhere) just "in case" I had time to work on it.

So, yep. I'm a crazy person.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holidays!

Tis the holiday season. Happy holidays, everyone.

I've got all sorts of family events, so I may take a short vacation from my blog. Hopefully I'll be posting next week, and I'll definitely be working on my editing, but for this week all I have to say is: Happy Holidays! (And, for you Americans: Happy Thanksgiving!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Changing Jobs Is Like Growing Up

Here I am in full-on wizard gear. This is meant to be Gandolf.

 

My New Job

This past week I changed jobs. It's a minor move down the hall, but I will be working with different people, and I had to clear out my old desk and re-locate everything. Just the process of moving can be a bit sad because it makes the change much more real. While I was moving everything, I also found a few note cards I'd written when I first started working there that helped me keep everyone straight. Now, I know these people so well that the very idea of those note cards is completely ridiculous, but finding them made me remember there was actually a time when I didn't know these people at all.

The sort of sad and teary way I felt to leave behind my old desk and the people I worked with made me think about just how common big (and even bigger) changes like that are as you grow up. I write middle grade and young adult fiction, and I was thinking that those Big Moments that really affect you are much more frequent in childhood and young adulthood, and maybe that's part of what attracts me to those ages.

The Traumas of Growing Up

As you grow up, you start school. Talk about a jarring experience. You start spending your days somewhere completely different from what you were used to, and now you're thrown in with a bunch of people you don't know but still have to get along with. Then, from year to year, that group of people might completely change. The friends you make might move or just not be in your class any longer. The teachers will definitely change. Some will be amazing. Some will not. Then there are summers. Summer camps with whole new groups of people you meet, make friends with, then potentially never see again.

Ugh. Middle school. Talk about a big change. A whole new group of people you don't know, and you're all thrown together along with changing class schedules and changing homework/extracurricular expectations. Then high school is another big, scary step. All during this changing scenery you're expected to start figuring out who you are, who you care about, how to interact with the opposite sex, and what you want to do with your life.

And then comes one of the scariest things you'll ever do. Graduate. Suddenly you're expected to make some pretty big decisions and chances are you won't have a single friend along for the ride. You're even stripped of the stability of home (most people have a stable life at home, and I hope you do too), AND you're expected to make some huge decisions about what you want to do with the rest of your life.

So there is all that fear and sadness about the things you're leaving behind and the decisions you have to make. But there is also huge potential there. Growing up is one of the scariest things you'll ever do, but it's also one of the most exciting. I think that may be why I am so drawn to young adult and middle grade fiction (plus the books are usually more fun). Those big moments of discovery and change are ones that really impact you on an emotional level.

The Fairly Positive Conclusion

In the end, I think this change of jobs will be better for my career (if becoming a novelist doesn't work out), and I think I will enjoy the new job more. So it was sad and I'll miss stuff about the old job, but I think the change is for the best.

It's incredibly like growing up.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Writing Update 11-11-12

This update is pretty much non-existent. Editing was done.
Also, I've been busy, so I've only been able to spend a few hours on the editing, but I feel good about what I've done. My husband actually likes my first few pages now! That's pretty huge for me b/c he's a really critical guy (and he thought they were boring before).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How I Write a Book

I've started doing guest posts once a month on Kristie Britt's blog. I met Kristie through the Bransford Forums. Anyway, today's post is also posted on her blog. And this is how I write a book!

 

The Idea Starts It All

So first I need an idea for my book. Sometimes that starts in my head with a relationship or a villain or a snapshot of a scene within the book. It’s started in different places for all the manuscripts I’ve written, but before I start writing an entire novel, I have to fall so much in love with some aspect of this novel that I want to spend the next few months of my life hammering out a first draft.

The World Forms

I write fantasy and science fiction, so before I can really start writing, I need to understand my world. I brainstorm my world and basically spew out my thoughts into a Word document. By writing down all the things I’ve been thinking about, I develop a much clearer idea of what my world looks like. Some aspects of this world will probably change, but now I have a fixed place in my head.

The Main Character Becomes Real

Then I need to understand my main character (MC) and what on earth I’m doing with this book.  Mostly I take a few walks and think about my MC until I start thinking of my MC as a real person, and I start throwing notes onto the messy Word document from above. By the point I think of my MC as a real person, I know I can write that MC, but I still need to have some basic idea of the conflict I want in my book. The adversary has to be tied into the main character because that adversary is, in some way, working against the main character, so I’m counting the villain or Big Problem in this step. More Word document brain spewage and I’m off.

The First Draft Somehow Gets Written

So now I’ve got a very basic idea of where I’m going, a person who’s in the starring role, and a world where it all takes place, and some sort of adversary or conflict. I’ve just got to sit down and write. And write. And write. Sometimes the writing is easy. Sometimes I have to sit down whenever I can and make myself put out whatever I can, whether that’s a few thousand words or a few hundred. And then, after months of pouring over my first draft, I find myself at the end, and I’m soooo happy I could just do a little dance.

Analysis and the Re-Writes

I set aside my first draft for a while because I need a vacation from it before I can look at it with truly critical eyes. But then I come back ready to inflict damage on the poor thing. At this stage I’ve done things like cut out whole chapters, write chapter by chapter synopses to figure out what each chapter contributes, and add new chapters to amp up the tension. Since I don’t really plan out my first draft, here is where the planning needs to happen. I need to figure out where my draft moves like molasses, where it picks up, what it has, and what it needs. This stage can easily take place over several different drafts, but, hopefully, at the end, I have a book with a solid beginning, middle, and end. By the way, additional eyes at some point during this process are key because by the time you’ve read your own book over and over, you just cannot be objective. Those readers are the key to a molasses-free book.

Unfortunately, you could keep writing and re-writing the same book for the rest of your life. At some point you’ve just got to say “Enough!” and start querying. Unfortunately, sometimes you’re wrong, and then you have to do a few more re-writes before it truly is enough, but if this book doesn’t make it, there’s always the chance that the next one will. And you will have gained so much just from having written this book that surely it’s got to be worth it. Right?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Writing Update 11-3-12

I don't have much of an update this week. I've been editing. I added one chapter, cut stuff, and did things that are generally boring to talk about.

I've been kinda busy since we had a Halloween party yesterday, and I paper mached a Jack Skellington head for my husband's costume and finished off my costume, so I haven't gotten as much done as I'd like. But editing can be a slow business anyway.