Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fangirling - the LBD

Hello, All!

I've had an unproductive week for writing. That's perfectly fine because I crammed so much writing stuff into last week that I think I deserved a break. It was also a disappointing week last week (writing-wise), so I deserve a break all the more.

So instead of talking about writing this week, I'm going to fangirl just a smidge. I've been following The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I am completely obsessed. This whole thing is just ridiculous. They have Lizzie's video diaries, Lydia's (currently rather heart-breaking) video diaries, Twitter for each of the main characters and some side characters, Tumblr blogs for the main characters and a few side characters, and all of that in addition to the main website where they collect so much of this stuff together. It's SO MUCH WORK! I just cannot imagine. I'm so impressed by the scale of this and the fact that the audience gets to interact with the "people" in the stories.

And then there's the story. I know I've mentioned the LBD in one of my other posts. But I am just amazed by it all. Plus, of course, I've fallen completely in love with the story. Even hipster Darcy has won me over. And overly judgemental Lizzie (sorry - I'm not making these people sound appealing, but they are flawed and wonderful characters). And, as we all know, Lizzie will learn her lesson in the end. She's in the process of learning it now, and I am so invested in their romance that I just cannot wait for each new episode to come out.

Actually, one of the things that's impressed me is how they turned Lydia into a major character, and really made her more three-dimensional than the silly, boy-obsessed character she was in the book. You understand so much more about her, and she's truly sympathetic. So huge props to the producers of this show, to Rachel Kiley, and Mary Kate Wiles.

P.S. In entirely unrelated news, sometimes I like to sing little songs about myself. Today's song went a little like this (but with a rousing tune that pulled it all together): "I smell so bad, I smell so bad. I do not. Smell. Good." Needless to say, I am not at work today. (And I rhyme too!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Finding Inspiration Everywhere

So! I've had a lot going on this past week or two, and I did not post at my usual time. For Shame! Oh La! (And any other odd or unusual saying you've heard seen in a book - sorry I personally can't think of any more, but I'm sure there are some great ones out there).

Okay, so I'm weird. Being weird is fun.

So, it's been a busy, busy week for me in the writing realm. I've entered all sorts of things on Cupid's website - she has a ton of wonderful opportunities out there for aspiring writers. Unlike my friend Saybe (Congrats to her!), I did not progress to the next round of Blind Dating (where your query and first 250 words of your manuscript are judged) and I'm gonna take it as a Sign of something I've been suspecting for a little while - my current manuscript is not quite Different enough - either that or it needs to be edited and have its differences played up (MORE editing - Maruaghughbuh!) So I think it's time to lay the book to rest for a little while. Fortunately I've got two other projects I'm working on!

BUT that's not what I really wanted to talk about because I just read this wonderful post about a woman who has traveled all over the place which made me think "What have I been doing with my life?" And articles like that are some of the best writing fodder out there. (And maybe some of the best living fodder too.)

I've been making myself read things that I wouldn't normally pick up because I think that, as a writer, it is really helpful to have a different perspectives on others' lives and opinions, and I have read some really interesting things that way!

Lately I've been haunting AskReddit (Reddit is a very interesting social media site that collects all sorts of odd things all stuck together in one place. Women, be aware that sometimes there are sexist assholes on this site, but if you stick to the front page, it's usually quite entertaining.). The AskReddit thread contains random peoples' experiences and opinions (some are liars, of course - it is social media, after all, but some are very interesting).

Today, for example, there is a post about teachers' experiences with helicopter parents, and maybe some day I'll want to write a character with a helicopter parent. And maybe I would never even have thought of it if I hadn't remembered a weird story from this AskReddit thread. Oh, and this one had some very sweet stories in it that actually made me tear up a tiny bit.

So, happy Friday, everyone! I'm going to go read about helicopter parents.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Next Big Thing (Week 33)

So, my friend Saybe Scott tagged me for a blog hop of writers talking about their current work in progress. I feel so interactive and internetty.

Saybe rearranged her numbers b/c she thought they made more sense in a different order (and she's probably right), but seeing those numbers in the wrong order just made my skin crawl, so I'm back to the original order (what can I say, I've got problems.)

1- What is the working title of your book?



2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

So, as cliched as this now is, I'd say it started with a dream. This dream was of a girl using some sort of super-technology to jump out of a tall building to get away from her attackers. Then I started thinking about that, and somehow I wound up with a whole book's worth of plot.


3- What genre does your book fall under?

YA Sci-fi

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

No one in particular came to mind, so I did a quick search through the creative commons, and this image works pretty well for Milla:
Photo by Patrick Doheny

And, just b/c she's really cute, I thought I'd share a photo that could work for Milla's little sister, Abbie:

I had a lot more trouble with Connel. He's supposed to be a red head, but as I was hunting, I got Cory Monteith stuck in my head. (And, hey, at least he's appropriately pasty. As a fellow pasty person, I like a guy who's not afraid of sunscreen.)

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a technology-based future ruled by the Ten Families, Milla Aydin was not supposed to take over her Family for years and years, but when her mother is assassinated, Milla has to prove herself and protect her people.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well, here's to hoping it'll be an agency. I haven't started querying with this manuscript yet, and I don't already have an agent, so we'll see.

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Well, I took a break in the middle, so this is a complete guestimate. I'd say around 6 to 8 months. (And now the revisions begin.)

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

YA science fiction doesn't seem to be all that popular these days (unless you count the Dystopian trend as sci-fi), especially not in comparison to Urban Fantasy or Paranormal. I am always so bad at this question. It's a bit like The Hunger Games, only less dark.

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I've always loved sci-fi and fantasy, and I don't think there's enough real sci-fi for girls. I love a kick-ass heroine, and I wish people weren't quite so afraid of science (as a school subject especially). So maybe that's why I wrote it.

But the real answer: b/c I just thought it'd be fun.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Well, as the photos gave away, there is a future love interest, although since I intend for this book to be part of a series, he really just annoys the crap out of Milla in this book.

Another interesting factoid: this isn't a Dystopian book b/c the world got back on its feet, but this book definitely takes place in the future after a huge war tore the world apart, and it got put back together in a way that might seem odd to us now. After the war, there were ten leaders who marked out their territory (the origins of the Ten Families). The leaders decided that one of the main causes of the war was over-population, so they decided to separate males and females, so each Family is either entirely male or female (reproduction is done with technology). That's the backdrop for Milla's fight to save her Family.



Not sure whether they're going to be interested in participating, but here are my choices:

Amanda Boyle

Kristie Britt


Answer these ten questions about your current WIP on your blog.
Tag (up to) five other writers/bloggers with their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Writerly Terms: WIP

So I thought I set this to post on Wednesday, but, as it turns out, I just saved it to my Drafts. Oh well, here you are, two days late:

This is a drawing of an adorable kitty cat I did for a letter to my grandma.
The title of this masterpiece is "Cat Drawing For Grandma" - I go all out with my titles.

Work In Progress

Isn't it kind of interesting that "work in progress" can mean very different things to different people.

Just for example, "Work in Progress" while you're driving home from work = "Noooooo!" because you will now have to wait for who knows how long before your road is cleared up enough that you can actually drive to your destination.

"Work in Progress", I have to imagine, on the door of a photography studio means "Don't come in here or you might ruin things." Not sure how many people actually use dark rooms any more, but I'm sure there's a few.

And then there's writers. "Work in Progress" or WIP to some. It can mean your fun hobby or the book you have your whole self vested in. Fortunately, we writers can be very polygamous on this count. Or maybe it's more like serial monogamists. When things start to not quite work, we become a bit disillusioned and grouchy. We can fall back in love, though - especially when some fresh new idea makes everything seem great again. Or we can just move along to a fresh, new relationship (manuscript). My friend Saybe Scott wrote a whole post on how writing a book can be like a relationship.

I was going to talk about my work in progress this week, but instead I got sidetracked, and now I'm going to go work on it. Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

When You're Finished Writing . . . There's Still So Much To Do

Just another odd photo to keep you entertained. I think I look a little like an alien.

This is also posted over at Kristie Britt's writing blog. The last post I'd written for her blog was on revisions, so this one is about what happens after the revisions are finished. I tried to include a lot of helpful links, so even if you're not all that interested in what I personally have to say, take a look at a few of these great resources.

Are You SURE You’re Done?

The first thing I want to suggest is that even though you think your novel is finished, maybe it’s not. I definitely had this happen with several of my novels. I still really struggle with knowing when the manuscript is done (and it is all subjective), but I had tried to query books that I later realized just weren’t good enough to query. And with my most recent manuscript, I started querying around the third draft, and since then I’ve really improved the pacing and the plot. So now I’ve queried several agents who I would have loved to work with, and I blew my chances with them by querying a sub-par novel.

So,  before you do anything, I would sit on the manuscript for a little while and then try to come back and re-read it with fresh eyes and see whether your novel really holds up to the novels you see on bookshelves. Beta readers/critique partners are especially valuable here because they obviously don’t have the same level of attachment to your manuscript as you do. And if you are consistently getting feedback that things are wrong (especially if it’s major things), then I say hold off on doing anything until you’ve fixed this.

But I definitely do not recommend finishing up your novel, and in, that burst of “Man, I finished, and this is GREAT” euphoria, sending out query letters to everyone and their mother.

So You’re Really Sure

Okay, so at some point you really do have to be done with editing/revising. Sitting on a manuscript for years and years and tweaking this and that is almost as bad as sending out an un-revised first draft of a novel because, typically, neither will move your writing career forward (unless you are the rare totally-awesome-first-draft-writer, in which case, shut up. I hate you).

Now you have to decide: Do you want to go the traditional publishing route OR do you wish to self-publish?

The Self-Publishing Option

There are completely awesome writing articles out there for both methods, and there are some very valid arguments made for both sides. I personally have decided that I would really like to go the traditional route, so that is what I’ve researched, and that’s what I’m going to talk about in more depth. However, if you prefer the self-publishing route, good for you, and I wish you all the luck in the world. (Some people have obviously made very successful careers for themselves out of it, but I doubt I’d be one of them).

If money is your concern, check out this post from Nathan Bransford on whether self-publishing or traditional publishing will make you more. In another post, Nathan discusses some of the other considerations in making this decision.

From a quick search, this looked like a very realistic article with a lot of useful links discussing the self-publication process (this is actually to self-publish a physical book but includes a link to an article discussing e-books).

So that’s some basic info. The thing to remember is that if you are trying to do a good job and really want to sell your book, this option can cost you a decent chunk of change and a huge chunk of time.

The Traditional Publishing Option

Okay, so this can take a LOT of time as well but really shouldn’t cost you anything (unless you decide to market on your own later, but, at this point, that’s eons away. Or, I suppose, if you aren’t getting anywhere and decide to hire an editor).

So you’re certain that your book is in such good shape that agents will be falling all over it (or, alright, let’s be realistic – that they might very well be interested). Now comes the query letter, the agent research, and the summary writing. All of these are huge time sucks, and chances are that you will not get the query letter quite right the first time around. That’s alright. It’s a learning process.

There are a million great posts out there on how to write a good query letter, and I recommend reading a lot of them. Each agent will have their own tastes, and a query letter that might hook one agent will leave another completely uninterested. One good site for query letter advice is agent Janet Reid’s Query Shark. And here’s Nathan’s post on the subject. Similarly, you can research writing summaries. Not all queries require these (thank goodness), but it is very helpful to have one ready to go, just in case.

There are also great sites for agent research, including Writer’s Market (also available through your local library) and sites like AgentQuery and Query Tracker (It's free to join, and I really like this site). And of course, Preditors and Editors is very useful for determining the reputation of your chosen agent.  If you happen to write children’s or YA books, a personal favorite of mine is Literary Rambles – she’s put together very comprehensive information on a large number of great agents.

There are also various strategies for querying, but the one I see most regularly involves sending out small batches of queries (I personally go with 5 at a time) so that if they’re all rejections, you can try something different with your next batch and keep refining until you have something that works.

Good Luck!

Alright, so that’s the general idea. There is so much more to it, as I’m sure many of you already know. I’ve tried to touch on all the basics, but I guess there is one thing you can really take away from this post, and that is: If you don’t know the answer, it’s on the internet somewhere. Which is a really great thing (just be sure you’re using a trusted source).