Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Keep Moving Forward: After The First Draft's Done

The Book Breather

Having finished up the first(ish) draft of the book that I've been pouring my heart, soul, and every spare moment into, I'm at a bit of a loss. Right now, my weekends are not guilty moments of, "Man, I should be writing." I'm giving my manuscript a breather.

I need a little distance from it so that I can gain the perspective to go back and tear it to pieces, if need be.

Honestly, something inside me really thinks, "This is the one" (and I'll share a story on that at the end of this post), but I've fooled myself before, and I've seen my writing improve so much that I can't even regret not getting published earlier (well, not much anyway).

Keep Going

For me, the key to keeping going after every horribly disappointed query letter rejection is pretty simple: have a new project in the wings.

Before I even let myself finish up my draft of my WIP (work in progress), I took a break to do some serious brainstorming. Now, of course, this may have been a little bit about procrastinating (hey, endings are hard), but it was also about having a cool new project to look forward to. It's about having something to keep my mind off my paranoia when others are reading my First Draft and writing down everything that's wrong with it.

And, later, it'll be about having a new project I'm excited about when the rejections start coming in. Even though I think this book might be "it," I'm not going to give up if it isn't (and even books that get published frequently gain a few rejections along the way). I've got to believe that if this isn't "it," maybe the book I just started is.

So, that's my secret recipe: a fully developed sense of delusion with a newer and shiner project always in the wings.

The Encouraging Story

I do have one indicator that my current WIP is, at the very least, better than my other, retired manuscripts. You see, my husband is a very helpful critic for my work. I think he's pretty perceptive. For example, when we watch movies together, I come out of the theater saying, "That was fun," and he comes out saying, "Yeah, I enjoyed it, but . . ." And then I realize that he has a point, even if he's being a bit picky sometimes.

I only managed to get him to read one of my other manuscripts the whole way through, and even that one took him a while. Then, at the end, he pointed out the slow parts and plot holes and all sorts of things.

I gave him this book, expecting him to get back to me in a few months (possibly with a few nagging reminders thrown in). Instead, I got home and he'd read through the whole thing! He'd started and got so caught up in my story that he'd just kept on reading.

I was so excited!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Social Media and Me

The Low-Down

My god but there's a lot of this social media nonsense going about. I swear, every time I turn around there's something new and awesome to try. And try I have. I've sampled and obsessed and created accounts and utterly neglected accounts and in general had a good time online.

And here's what I think:

Blogging (me)


So first and foremost, there is my utterly delightful (and wonderfully fascinating) blog. I went with blogger b/c I've been sucked into the Google vortex. There's obviously also wordpress. And, I'm sure, about a million others.

I keep a regular schedule and stick to the subject of my writing because having a focused topic has really helped me keep going.

Building a following is hard. Writing into the great wide nothing is hard. Coming up with posts is hard. But yet I feel like my blog is one of the most rewarding things I do online. Sometimes its a chore, but I put a lot of me into some of these posts, and I think writing regularly to you delightful people has improved my writing.

And then, of course, there's following others' blogs and writing comments on them and meeting wonderful people and sharing thoughts that way. So that's blogging.

Tumblr (me)


Tumblr was an early experiment for me. I really like Tumblr because you're anonymous, and I can actually see the way real live teens think (wonderful for a YA author). But Tumblr, for me, does photos best, and I don't take photos, so anything I put up on there is really just me putting up the work of others (from the Creative Commons, of course).

Tumblr can be things other than photos - quotes, articles, links, etc, but I just feel like Tumblr's does the visual stuff best, so my Tumblr posting pretty much died away. I did meet some cool people, though.

Twitter (me)


My twitter's new, so it's still got a shiny glow to it. Although, today, I was sitting there reading partial conversations other people were having with people I didn't know, and I asked myself, "Why am I wasting one of my few days off work with this nonsense?"

But other days, it's awesome. And some people can fit a lot of fun and funny into 140 characters or less. Cool links. Info about contests. Cool people you'll never actually meet in real life that you start to feel like you actually know.

It's a fun way to connect with a lot of awesome people.

Reddit (link)

The Front Page of The Internet, or so they self-proclaim.

Reddit has sucked me in. I don't attempt to gain lots of karma or front page posts, but it's fun reading through such a random amalgamation of cool news stories, politics, adorable animal photos, gorgeous photos of places around the world, and random science/history facts. Oh, and the memes. I don't know how I forgot the memes.

When I'm on Reddit, I feel very internetty, and I gain a ton of completely random info that is utterly fascinating (to me), and I use that info to bore others (sorry, real life friends).

Reddit is pretty much my be-all of time wasting. Got a few minutes to waste? Don't know what else to do? Reddit!

Reddit can also be filled with a bunch of self-righteous prigs. Many of whom are sexist and racist (or at least some of them). So that's not particularly fun. But I'm addicted.

Goodreads (me)


This site is awesome, but I have utterly abandoned my account. I do still love to use Goodreads to read reviews on books I'm thinking of buying, though.

I was using my reviews as a sort of query-practice. I'd try to figure out how to cut a book down to one or two riveting paragraphs for books that I hadn't written, hoping that would lend me some insight when it came to books I had written. I think it helped, but I've just stopped making the time for it. Sadly, with so many social media options (and real life to-do's), some of them fall by the wayside. Even great sites like this.

There are also forums for people who want to discuss books and, one of my favorite features, book recommendations based on books you liked. I also love the Goodreads lists.

In short, Goodreads is super cool, and I don't use it because I'm a slacker.

Writing Forums

I was participating in the forum on Nathan Bransford's blog, and that was really cool (query critiques, cool people, cool links and discussions and the like), but I don't make time for it any more.

And, of course, there's Absolute Write and a cool query critique site like Agent Query Connect. Of course, you always have to be careful. Anyone can write a response or a critique. That doesn't mean they know what they're doing. Take everything said with a grain of salt.

That said, these can be a great way to get info, find CPs, and connect with others in a similar situation.

That Other Stuff

And then there's those other social media that I don't use all that much. There's the ever-present Facebook, which can be really cool for connecting with others (especially those people you went to high school with and haven't seen in ages.) And Linked-In for those professional connections. And, I'm sure, a ton of others that I'm just completely forgetting.

Everybody uses social media differently. There's just so much internet out there that I'll never get through it all, so I'm working on honing down what works best for me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Draft: Complete!

This isn't what the dragons in my book look like (they look more like winged dinosaurs), but I love this little dragon drawing I did, so here it is again.


I am so excited right now. I'm riding that writing high. That "I'm amazing and I can do anything" high.

That's right. My first draft is DONE!

I feel so good about this one. I plotted it out, I already combined a few characters AND made certain my characters were relevant throughout the book. (I don't have many that pop in and then pop out of existence unless it's for a good reason!)

Each chapter is headed toward some event or conveys an idea that's important to the plot.

One guy who I had brought in at the end now shows up in the beginning and pops in toward the late middle and then comes back at the end. Continuity, baby!

And the ending! Oh, the drama and the horror and then the bittersweet note of hope!

And the idea itself isn't quite like anything I've heard before. PLUS, there are dragons! Dragons are just freaking cool.

As I'm sure you can tell (and read in the very first sentence), I am so excited!

I even have a query worked out (that will require some revising, I'm sure, but I've got to revise the whole stinking book, so I've got time.)

The Query:

In an alternate 1950s where everyday appliances are powered by dragon magic, DRAGON BAIT follows Moura Pearce after her father is named a Red-sympathizing traitor by the powerful Senator Darius McCarthy.

Moura's sent to live with her rich old aunt while her parents go into hiding. Sure, she gets some pretty cool clothes out of the deal, but for the first time in her life, she doesn't have her best friend at her side. Or her Mom to make her happy face pancakes. And just when Moura finally starts to fit in, McCarthy ruins it all by declaring that her new best friend is a Communist traitor! Moura sucks it up and helps her friend get away, but now she's an outcast all over again. With nothing left to lose, Moura's determined to make McCarthy pay. She's just not sure how. Yet.

DRAGON BAIT is a YA fantasy, complete at 72,000 words.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Twitter Distraction and My Sister's Birthday

So, I've been neglecting this blog a bit. I mean, I've been posting, but I've been thinking things like, "Oh, man, Wednesday's rolling back around. I've got to write another one of those stupid blog posts."

Which is pretty ridiculous because I actually really like my blog. I've got cool stuff here, and I'm kind of proud of it. I'd love to have a few more people commenting, and I'd love to write some real ground breaking posts (although since I'm not sure what they'd be about, I'm afraid I'm going to have to hold off on those for a little while). But I like it.

Here's one of my problems: I've just gotten into Twitter, and talk about instant gratification. 140 characters or less (so quick, so easy!) and a bunch of cool people to stalk. So, sorry, blog, I do still love you. I just love you a little less right now. It's not you. It's my own fickle nature. I'm sure you'll come back into favor some day.

In the meantime, I'm going to share a set of photos of the birthday present I gave my sister. I thought it was funny. (I do entertain myself).

The outside box says, "My dear Margaretta, For your birthday I am giving you something completely archaic." I wrote it out in cursive (talk about archaic) and at the very bottom, in tiny writing, it says, "(I googled cursive to be sure to get the F & I right.)"

Man, cursive is a dying skill. I hear a lot of schools aren't even teaching it any more. Can't say that I blame them. (As a side note, before my sister learned cursive, my friends and I would write notes in cursive so she couldn't read them. She would have been about 6 years old, and it drove her insane! I loved it.)

Then comes the next box:
This one says, "And rawther crass. I do hope you are not offended."

Then comes the pay off (literally):
It says, "COLD HARD CASH."
You may not be able to tell, but there are tiny dollar signs all over that last note. And, of course, there's some money in there. (I may enjoy tormenting my sister, but I try not to be too mean about it.)

You may have noticed my skills in creating beautiful borders for the above messages. Obviously I missed my true calling in life as a stationery artist.

Oh, and I also gave her Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which is a very fun read for those who might have missed it. A sci-fi re-telling of Cinderella in which Cinder is a cyborg. Action, adventure, and even a ball. Very cool.