Sunday, December 30, 2012

Writing Update 12-29-12

So I haven't written one of these in a few weeks. I was thinking I'd do these every Sunday, but then I realized they'd get pretty repetitive and boring to read, so I decided to be a bit more sporadic with them.

I currently have five query letter pending. I also got three rejections from this most recent round of querying. One of the rejections was actually a really nice, encouraging rejection (weird but true). She told me that she'd definitely be interested in my manuscript if she hadn't just signed on someone with a very similar novel. So that gives me some hope. The current five, though, who knows. I might not hear anything for months (or they might be no response means no - I'd have to check my spreadsheet to be sure). Either way, I'm probably in for the long haul with them.

I've started to wonder if this MG Fantasy just isn't going to be The One, but that's no reason to give up just yet. If you quit too soon, you'll never know what could have been.

I've also started a new YA Fantasy. You know, I think it's pretty good, but that might just be my "Ooooohh, shiny new project" phase.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snowman!

Merry Day After Christmas To Those Who Don't Mind Being Wished A Merry Christmas!


It snowed here on the 24th! So my husband and I went out to play. Here is a picture of our snowman from the waist up (note: I took this picture on Christmas day, and everything was starting to get a little bit drippy, so he was crisper the night of the 24th. Also he had a stick mouth on the 24th.):


You're seeing him from the waist up b/c my husband decided to make him "anatomically correct". I tried to explain that one single body part does not, in fact, make a snowman anatomically correctly, but he didn't seem to care about all that.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For the Austen Fans Out There

You may not be able to tell, but I'm actually wearing two pairs of sunglasses here.
My future's so bright - I gotta wear two pairs of shades. ;) (For those 80's music fans out there.)

Today's Media Innovations (a.k.a. Vlogging Pride and Prejucide!)

It is so cool to see what people can do with the media resources available today. I just found a vlog based on Pride and Prejudice called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (It's on YouTube, here). It's fairly popular, so maybe a lot of you are already familiar with it. It's a really fun, modern re-imagining of, arguably, Austen's favorite work, and I am really enjoying it. It's sort of starting out as Lizzie's "complain about her mother" vlog, but they're going to cover all of the book, and it's done in a really funny and smart way.

It's amazing. There are all these resources out there if we're willing to reach out and master them (of course it always helps to have a little spare cash). It's also wonderful to see what sort of fresh and imaginative thing people can do with a classic that already has so many other spin-offs (movies, mini-series, books written as sequels, books or movies based upon the same basic plot (ahem, Bridget Jones), etc.)

Because I become overly obsessive with the things that I'm interested in, I, of course, wikipedia'ed the show (see here, if you're curious), and the only name that had a link of it's own was Hank Green's. He's John Green's brother, who most people seem to know about these days. Hank and John have a very strong online presence (which has helped make John's books even more popular, and I've seen some clips of him - he has some really wonderful things to say, and they're both pretty funny). But I just think it's fascinating that some people are able to turn their media-savvy (which seems to usually just start out as playing around) into a  whole profession. And, you know what? I think that's amazing. These are a few people who actually get paid to do what they love.

Edit:  I discovered that there's also a really cool, interactive site (here) that puts together all the vlog videos with the extras (for example, some info from the main writer, Bernie Su, and twitter conversations between Darcy, Bing Lee, and Caroline). Each character has his/her own twitter where they speak in character. This whole project was an amazing amount of work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Whimsical Dragon For You

So, I have been revising my summary and getting out a few queries, but my primary project this weekend was artwork (because why not?). As not bad as my current blog format is, "I'm just not in love with it" (as agents may tell you). I wanted something more fun and personal - I want to use some of my art in a header. Of course, that probably won't happen any time soon b/c I'll have to hunt down one of my friends with Photoshop to get it right, but, in the meantime, here's the creature/dragon I made:

She's part seahorse, part dragonfly, and part lizard. I am very happy with the results.

A few months ago, I realized I wanted to add my own artwork to the blog header and had this cool/cute idea for a mother and baby penguin (ended up choosing Emperor Penguins). But then I realized it wasn't quite right b/c I want to write for YA/MG audiences, not for picture book type audiences. But I'm proud of it and still want to show you:
Can you tell that the baby penguin is about to splash right into the puddle? Momma (or poppa) penguin isn't going to be happy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Writing Update 12-9-12

Hmm, I always wonder how quickly I ought to be getting back to writing, but I do feel like I deserve a vacation of sorts after finishing something big (like my (hopefully final) recent draft of my MG fantasy).

So, I haven't really been writing. I have been brushing up on the manuscript I started back in March and seeing what all I'd decided I wanted to do with it, so I'm prepping to write. I always feel guilty about this but I also feel like I deserve a vacation. I am a very conflicted individual.

Also, I got out three queries over the week. I intend to get out two more - my plan is to have five active queries out at a time, but instead I've been drawing this weekend.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Revisions – Ugh


So this is another post I also have posted over at Kristie Britt's blog.

The Necessity of It All

So, no doubt about it, revisions are necessary. There is no way you’re ever going to write the perfect first draft. If you ever think so, well, sorry, but you’re wrong. In my own opinion, one of the mistakes we make early in the writing game is thinking that our draft only really needs a grammar check and a very minor facelift. Maybe I’m just a very flawed writer, but I usually find some big things I end up wanting to change. Of course, I don’t plan out my drafts so that’s probably part of the reason I personally need to do so much revising/editing, but no matter what, I think a writer can always find areas to improve.

A Little Help in the Revision Process

Of course, like I said, I’m not a planner. Planning out your book could really help cut down on the number of revisions necessary. Actually, I’m currently reading a book that came highly recommended by a ton of different people called Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.
This post by Jami Gold discusses this book and breaks down the recommendations made by the book into a nice and easy to use spreadsheet format.
Larry Brooks is all about planning, and he’s a bit down on people like me who don’t plan, but, as he very realistically points out, that’s just fine so long as you’re willing to do the extra revisions.

I have tried so many different things to try to get my novels where I need them, including, for some of my last books, abandoning them when I started to realize that the plot just wasn’t original or interesting enough. But one of the most helpful things you can do is get an outside set of eyes on the book. A good critique partner can really help you know where your book starts to get bogged down. They’ll also have input on what they want more and less of, which is incredibly helpful for revisions.

Why am I Doing This Again? Oh Yeah. To Get Published.

There are so many reasons your book might have gotten bogged down. Maybe you absolutely fell in love with an idea and got a little too involved in explaining it. Maybe you just have too much back-story in too many large chunks. Maybe there’s a whole expendable section of your book that just isn’t worth keeping. Who knows? The point is, you’ve got to be willing to get rid of big chunks of your writing, listen to criticism you respect, and learn to identify some of the slower sections of your own writing.

Pacing is very important in keeping your audience captivated, and revisions are one of the best ways to keep the pace moving. (My fellow blogger/writer Saybe Scott recently did a helpful post on pacing that included some good links)

Revisions are rough. Good luck, everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Writing Update 12-2-12

Wow, December already. Good thing I finished my book before the Big Apocalypse.

Yes, I finished!!!!

Well, at least this draft. Who knows what I'll be saying in the future, but for now, I fully intend for this draft to be my last. You can only spend so much time attempting to make a book better/more marketable before you should be moving on to the next one. Which doesn't mean I really know when that time is, but sometimes you just gotta put yourself out there, see what happens, and move on when it turns out no one likes it. Otherwise you'll just get stuck in a rut.

In this draft, I tried to add much more info about the antagonist. And as I was adding it (to add more tension and help the reader better understand what was happening), I realized I was making him more sympathetic, which I think I like.

All told, this is my sixth draft (6th! Yeah-obviously I didn't quite know where I was going with this at first, but, man, is it SOO much better than my first draft). Between 5 and 6, I did a lot of eliminating - got rid of at least 5k-6k words (honestly, probably more) but my word count only decreased by 1k, so I added back in around 10k (if not more).

Yeah, I've definitely spent more time editing this book than initially writing it. Way more time. Ugh. On the plus side, I've had a ton of great ideas while I was editing, and I'm pretty excited about that.

So now it is time for the next round of queries. I have a whole new query letter too (which my critique partner helped me with a great deal). So thanks to Saybe Scott!