Blame KT, tagged in a meme

This post is entirely KT’s fault. She tagged me in this writing process meme that’s floating around.

What am I working on?

Several things, all still codenamed. TopHat is somewhat stymied, I reached the point where things need to start collapsing in, and realized I had no idea how to put it together. Meanwhile, I was distracted by another plot bunny, Starboard, which is a Thai/Japanese inspired YA fantasy, though I may end up making it MG instead. They’re very different cultures, and I want to do them right,  even though it’s more inspiration than direct derivation. Thinking something like City of Dolls meets a grand epic. We’ll see, I’m only a chapter into it so far. I also have a side, experimental project I’m working on bouncing around, we’ll see if anything comes of that.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

 I like to think my interning gives me a bit of expanded perspective on the stories I want to tell. It’s not enough to just have this, that, or the other hot element, all the elements have to work together with tight pacing and fleshed out characters. It’s a LOT to balance, but I think it’s really helping me get a grasp of it. I see what doesn’t work on other projects, and I can (hopefully) apply those lessons to my own writing. 

Why do I write what I write?

Simple. There are books I want to read that aren’t out there yet. I try to write things that, if I saw them in a submission queue, I’d want to request, because they’re complex and developed. The worst things are stories where the concept promises something the story can’t deliver.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a set process. Generally, my writing is fit in between all the other things in my life. Most of the time, I get an idea and maybe a glimpse of the first scene, or of a pivotal scene. Initially, I often don’t know where it falls. For example, on Top Hat, I was washing dishes when I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. That led me to the first scene, where the MC chases a demon who had been enslaved as a garbage disposal in her trailer. For Starboard, I was reading some Japanese mythology, and one of the stories made me think, how else could this magical artifact be used? What mythology could develop around it if this was their creation myth, instead of simply a side tale in a longer series? 

Once I HAVE the idea, if it comes with a scene, I write that bit until I can’t figure out what happens next. This sometimes results in me being up well past when I should go to bed, caught up in the flush of New Story. Otherwise, or once I hit that point, I let it simmer for a while. More often than not, weaker story ideas end here. I get ideas SO often, it’s a bit ridiculous, so any that sputter here I don’t worry about chasing. They’ll often add up into other, stronger ideas, or be forgotten. 

The ones that won’t let go I then go and try to outline. It’s taken me a LONG time to really be able to understand my stories enough to outline, but they save me a lot of work in the revisions. If SW had a strong outline, it wouldn’t be facing the kinds of edits it is. (Also, I think I missed the market window on that, actually. Teens with psycho issues and super powers has been done, repeatedly, since that was first written. Annoyingly.)

Once I have my outline, I work on it in fits and starts, as the time, energy, and enthusiasm allows. I generally have my outline divided by chapter, with rough “This because this, MC feels this, so does this.” kind of guides. Sometimes they fit, sometimes an earlier choice will alter it, and that’s ok. There’s a LOT of grumping to KT and bouncing of “Well, This that and the other happened, so maybe ??This??” at it, but she’s awesome and usually can see what I’m missing. 

I wouldn’t be still writing if it weren’t for KT. I would have given up many, many times over if not for her encouragement and belief in me. Even my current internship wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t encouraged me to go for it and apply, among MANY other things. Sometimes, when I see what KT says about me, I’m amazed by it, because she believes in me far more than I have ever managed to believe in myself. I have to try to live up to the amazing expectations she sets, and that ends up with me pushing myself to be the best I can and then some.

 

Publishing is a frustrating process. It’s full of rejections, waiting, hopes raised and dashed. It’s not for the faint hearted, at all, but I really, truly believe anyone can make it if they work hard enough. Just keep at it. When skill, talent, and timing all combine, awesome and magical things happen.

 

Not tagging anyone specific. If you want to do it, DO IT! ❤

March wrapup and April #Writemotivation goals

1. Read at least 5 published books. Ended up with 3. Because I was slammed with internthings.
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. -counting slushpiles- 441. Most of that was queries, fulls/partials= 15. I’ve also started working on a pet goal of mine with it, we’ll see what happens with that.
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.-Still working on the worldbuilding and plot. I think I have the handle on it though.

*1 crit.

So onward to April’s goals!
1. Write 10k or more for Camp Nano.
2. Get all Intern things done within 2 weeks of them landing on my to do list. Stretch goal: 1 week. (Not counting things where I’m waiting on her. Entirely JUST what I’m responsible for.)
3. SEDER- Owen’s family seder is coming up, eek! I need to not only cook his allergy friendly things, but help with the music too, since the usual musically talented family members won’t be attending this year.
4. Read at least 3 books-Stretch goal: 5 books.

April promises to be VERY busy. Between my internship, dayjob, family events, and somehow shoehorning sleep in there, I’ll probably be scarce on social media. Anything important/that you want feedback on, let me know.

#Writemotivation update 3/24

1. Read at least 5 published books. Ugh. 3. You’ll see why.
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. -counting slushpiles- 373. Most of that was queries, fulls/partials= 11. That slushpile= Why I’m not getting much of anywhere on my published reading. Granted, my main task is to take what they’ve decided and send the resulting email, either No or Send more. But I’m reading them over. Thus far there’s only been a few I’ve disagreed with and thought it should be send more that wasn’t. I have wiggle room for those to request them anyway, and see if maybe something is awesome enough to go “Oh, dude, you have to read this!”)
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.-LOL No. But I’ve been working on world building something new.

*1 crit.

So yeah. Other me was helping with a BIG project that took up most of the last 2 weeks. Great experience, and I think Other me made a few friends in the process. It’s so strange, though, to have people looking at me like I have all the answers. I mean, I do, but mostly because I’ve been doing all this for a while. I started reading blogs about publishing back when I was working on my first novel, which was over a decade ago. I don’t know why you wouldn’t. This industry’s hard enough without reinventing the wheel. Give yourself every advantage you can, and with the sheer volume of knowledge freely available to you, there’s simple mistakes you just shouldn’t screw yourself by doing.

So for once, I’ve actually been able to stand watching a couple movies: Frozen and Catching Fire. Ok, I wasn’t JUST watching the movies, because let’s face it, I’d get fidgety in two seconds flat if I didn’t have something to do with my hands. But mostly paying attention while doing minor tasks on the computer like grocery shopping works for me. I can see why Frozen’s so popular. The music is catchy, and for once, most characters have complex motivations. Catching Fire was ok, but I wasn’t enthralled by it the way I was the first one. Not looking forward to the way it splits Mockingjay into 2 movies, that’s just moneygrabby. But I’ll probably watch it anyway. Just.. on DVD, not in theatres. (Granted, I prefer it. By the time you get to the theatre, park, it’s a bother, and tickets+concessions= the price of the DVD anyway.)

Feb 17 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh, except our snowday Thursday. Crits- None currently Reading- More partials for my internship, so far this month 3 of those to 100%, 4 published books (The Murder Complex was great! Didn’t break any moulds, but was a quick read with great pacing!)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Finished that set!!  The other bunch of partials, requested about 10 of those 23. (At some point, I need to crunch some numbers to see what percentage of total projects actually get my thumbs up. So far it’s something like 3/34. Which is not bad, all considered. Interestingly, all 3 were thumbed up for different reasons.)
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Pending. I haven’t taken the time to fix this chapter. Heh. I should do that. We only have this week and next week left in the month!
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.- Edited (and posted) this month’s, still need to work on March’s. Maybe I’ll do some of that today. Since it’s presidents day and we had off, I have free time today.  (Yeah, I blame Philly. I’ve never gotten it off before anywhere else!)

Other than that, finally finished the post I was writing about ALA and other trends. It’s really hard sometimes to distill multiple days of observations (and books) into compact bits, so if anyone wants any elaboration/has specific areas they want to know if I saw anything about, let me know, I’m sure I didn’t cover everything I noticed.

Meanwhile, I’m taking advantage of the quiet of everyone else being out to get some work done. 😀

ALA thoughts, trends, and other observations

*Diversity- I can’t emphasize this enough. Every single book buzz session I went to had multiple books they said, “This will particularly appeal to (specialized groups)”. Some examples for you: Children with military parents, *insert race here*, children with divorced parents, low income households, GLBT, etc.

*Genre mixing- It’s not enough to be a paranormal YA. One book was described as a mystery-dystopian-historical-ghost story middle grade. Yeah. Dystopian is still going strong, but WITH other elements. Dystopian+history, dystopian+fantasy, “reverse dystopian”. There’s a mould. Twist it into something fresh, especially in MG/YA where figuring out where in the bookstore/library to shelve it isn’t then a problem.

*Conversely, I saw almost NO hard scifi. There was one at… Randomhouse, I think it was, where I saw a very geeky-looking gentleman supervising a table of quite a few different ARCs. As I tend to do, I asked if he had any hard scifi. (Side note: I really, really love true hard scifi. Give me the gadgets and let’s talk about what makes it tick!) He suggested this one, something about a guy stranded on Mars (I forget right now), and how he struggles to survive. Yeah, I pressed, but is it hard scifi or David Brin pulling vampires out of his ass in the middle of an alien invasion “scifi” (Yes, I’m still bitter about that. The book was going SO WELL until SUDDENLY, VAMPIRES! Pretty much turned me off his writing, because that was the most blatant Deus Ex Machina I’ve EVER seen outside of anime.) The guy stammers and fumbles and goes, “Well, no, not really, but it’s really funny!”

Yeah.

(OK, I grabbed it anyway, because I felt bad for Awkward Man. We’ll see if when I get around to reading it if the book can overcome a REALLY bad sales rep) 

*For MG particularly- Historicals that draw a connection to the modern in some way (celebrating the 50th anniversary of Some Event)/timeliness. Emphasis on how that can be incorporated into standards. (Tangent: I don’t understand the whole common core thing, I suspect many poor teaching methods aren’t helping the situation. But I also know that my schools in TX sucked in comparison to the ones Owen and a local friend went to, so attempting to improve the school system is always a great thing!)

*I am so slowly getting a dent put in at least some of the ARCs. Apologies, I haven’t forgotten those I’ve promised books to, working on it. 🙂 The post office isn’t along the route I’ve been taking to work with all the bad weather (subway tunnels!), and I keep forgetting to go on the weekends.

Twitter trends:

Lately, there’s been quite a few tempests in teapots I’ve watched swirl around in author/writing/publishing circles. Authors unhappy with their publisher, publishers treating authors poorly, authors treating fans poorly, fans bashing publishers for not making the choice they wanted…. Look, people. It’s a nasty world out there. It’s a bit of a joke that all agents and editors do is sit around drinking on the company dime, but it’s true that they do spend a lot of time building relationships. I made a point at ALA to introduce myself to a few of the editors at houses I’d absolutely die to work at someday, because it’s always possible something might open up there and if I apply for it, I’d rather my name sound at least a little familiar to them. Are there bad publishers/bad editors/bad agents out there who will screw their clients, either intentionally or from simple lack of skill? Sure. Just like you have bad dentists who claim a 4 year old needs 26 cavities filled and 5 root canals because they waved a wand over the teeth and it detected them. But there’s a fine line between educating and mud slinging. Don’t get wrapped up in any tempests. I think we all have a list of people we enjoy working with and people we would not like to work with, based on the experiences we’ve heard from others. It’s a community. Even being in the shallows of it all, I hear things I am sworn to secrecy about. There are times where I want to say a million things more than I do, but I bite my tongue. Stirring the teapot won’t turn it into a cauldron.

But.. Just be careful out there. When you’re considering working with someone, observe how they treat others, especially when the other person points out a flaw/weakness/concern. If an author can’t take feedback and replies with anger (It’s understandable! But send that email to your crit partner instead, that’s what they’re for!!), it just makes them look bad. Walk away. Don’t get involved. Remember, ultimately, it’s a business. Act professionally. If you wouldn’t say it to your boss at your dayjob, don’t say it to an agent/editor/author. Be constructive in your feedback, and write it after your emotions have time to cool. No one wants to work with that person who lashes out every time someone disagrees with them, or tries to bully people into doing what they want, or an author who’s a diva to work with.  Don’t be one of those people. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, get a third opinion, sleep on it, and see how you feel in the morning. There are dishonest people out there, and that’s why places like Writer Beware exist. But keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut,  and you’ll learn far more.  😉

January 8 #Writemotivation update

We will pretend I have any concept of time this week.
(and that I’d paid attention when posting this and actually given it the title. Fixed!)
1. Walk, keep up on crits, read at least 15 books- STRETCH GOAL: 20 books!- Walked, all month thus far, except last Friday when I called in due to ice. Crits: Done one, and already a bunch of things for the new internship. I’ve started… oh, about 7 books since the new year. Haven’t finished any of them. I blame my internship, except not really. I’m just being a picky reader, so hopefully I’ll have time to really settle into a book this weekend. Books finished this month so far: 0.

2. Finish up January’s OWM story and pick my next prompt. STRETCH GOAL: Work on that prompt too!: I need to polish. Prompt for the next round=Not yet picked, but I’m looking.

3. Get another chapter written or revised in one of my active projects. STRETCH GOAL: 2 chapters.
*laughs* No.

So far, this month doesn’t look good goal wise, but it’s been nice in some respects. I’ve started the new internship and I’m really enjoying it. Basically, I’m wading through her slush. She started with a few from a quick “Pitch me” session, and I’m reading the requests right now looking for awesome writing. That’s REALLY the key thing. She likes diverse enough genres and styles that it’s ultimately about the quality of the writing. There’s one I’m currently on the fence about… On one hand, there are glaring flaws, on the other, there’s something that makes me want to read more. So I’m giving it a full read, even though I’ve been given permission to stop wherever I feel like in these. It’s a gut level instinct, but I think 10+ years of writing, and another year involved in publishing, plus ~27 years of reading like a maniac has honed that feeling. I hate sending the rejections, but I’m trying to include some kind of feedback with every single one, so that way at least they gain some insight. Honestly, I’d probably be willing to give much more in detail crits if I had the time right now, but juggling so many things means I focus on the biggest aspects (plot, pacing, style, characters) and don’t really go into any details. I’m half tempted to note on my alternate twitter profile (seriously, if you want to figure out who I am, it’s not really hard. At all), to mention that, but I don’t want to open the door for everyone in their brother to ask for it. But… Let me put it this way. If I HAVE TIME, I will always elaborate if asked kindly. I apologize in advance if ever anyone asks for help and I can’t accommodate it. It’s not you. It’s the sheer volume of work.

Which makes me want to grump about people and timeliness and the crucialness of setting realistic expectations and goals. It’s a joke in publishing, that “4-6 weeks” means about triple that, but it’s a problem. I am making this a commitment, both to anyone out there and to myself. When, someday, I get a real job in publishing, I will do my best to set realistic turnaround times, as far as it’s ever in my control. Realistically, shit happens. But it shouldn’t be a recurring pattern, and I will follow Scotty’s law. Add 30% of the time you expect it will take, and then double it, tell them that.

Anyway, I have submissions to read and an alarm set too early in my morning. Goodnight all. ❤

2013 Wrapup

So another year almost done, and I thought it’d be fun to round up some stats for you guys!

1. I read or critted 19 unpublished novels, some more than once (But they only counted once).
2. I read 156 published novels. That’s an average of 1 book every ~2.34 days.
3. Of those, 141 were traditionally published, 10 were 5 stars, 56 were 4 stars, 66 were 3 stars, and 14 were 2 or less. I also read 16 self-published (Not counting ones that were traditionally published but used kickstarter). 4 of those were 5 stars. The rest were mostly 3 stars, only 1 was a 2 or less. Total for all these books: 49864 pages. Not my highest page count since I’ve started tracking, but not my lowest either.
4. I walked about 720 miles (roughly) to and from the dayjob. That’s far enough to walk to the northernmost tip of Maine from Philly, or down to the Georgia-South Carolina border, or over to the Indiana-Illinois border! To put it in more international terms, that’s longer than the length from north to south of the entire UK! (Ok, not counting those little islands off the north east tip that I couldn’t tell if were ACTUALLY part of it or not) That’s far enough to go from Lisbon, Portugal to Bordeaux, France! Or the majority of the length of New Zealand!
5. I totally just started sticking pins in google maps and making it give me directions from a random place to another place to see how far it was.
6. I then got distracted by researching just how big Mongolia is. The answer? 604,200 square miles. It’s also the least densely populated country in the world.
7. I left one internship for another, and started a new dayjob.
8. I wrote 8 stories for Our Write Mind. I think my favorite was this one, it popped in my head and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it. Well, I REALLY wrote 9, because I already have January’s mostly done, but close enough. 😉
9. I was trying to get to 13 for 2013, but then decided that nothing that interesting happened this year to warrant stretching it that far.
10. But then I decided it’d be fun to try anyway.
11. Except that I’m tired and I need to be up at a decent time Wednesday morning (as I’m writing this Tuesday).
12.And so this is as close as you’re getting.
13. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

November 25 #Writemotivation and #Nanowrimo update

Ugh. This last week did NOT go according to plan. It was a combination of things, but basically from last Monday to now, I managed about 2100 words total for the week. NOT what I had planned at all, and frustrating. I was banging my head on a plot wall. I hit the point where things started coming together and tensions should be rising, revelations had, etc, and it just wasn’t working. I tried to push through, figuring I just hit the week 2 wall late (it’s happened before). I finally realized Thursday the plot was snarled. Not broken, mind you, but there were elements twisted up and not working. KT and I bashed it out, mostly, so I fiddled more and sat my character down for tea in a drabble. And it was still missing something, until yesterday Owen was able to figure out the other aspect that wasn’t quite working just from me describing it.. I love them both, seriously. So hopefully this week will go better.

Granted, this week has it’s own challenges. Thanksgiving is one, since we’re going to Owen’s brother’s fiancee’s parent’s place. Luckily, we talked his mom into driving, so I don’t have to stress so much about getting there on time. I do have to make a pie and a turkey breast, but that’s easy enough. Tonight is a bloody wash, I got off work late thanks to a combination of a screaming child on the client’s end and a really bad interpreter. I really need to just learn Spanish more fluently, then I wouldn’t NEED to get the interpreters. Most are great, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes, I think I understand more Spanish than they do, and it’s really frustrating. I told my boss, when he told me I was getting a lot of good karma for this call, “Yeah, well, I must have a few murders from a past life to make up for the way this is going!”.

Ah well, this is why they invented chocolate and rum. Possibly together. 😛 And we’ll just pretend this went up yesterday, oops! 😉

October midmonth check-in

This month has been rather nuts. Between the dayjob and critiques and such, it feels like no sooner do I get up than it’s time for bed again, and no sooner do I go to bed than it’s time to get up. 

 

October’s going mostly okay, aside from the lack of time.

1. The usual. Walk,- check. Crit-Caught up, including one more pass on Kt’s. I love this story. I can not WAIT until you all get to read it. The voice on it is AMAZING.  Read-aside from that, 3 books read. I’m not in a hurry, as I’m still ahead, so I read a really long one in there. 
2. Socialize- With what limited time I’ve had, it’s not been a priority. Oops. 
3. Figure out game plans and alternate options for November, including ways to preprep food and streamline household tasks.-Grocery shopping mostly set up for the month, with a set list for the items we get every time. I’m going to go through and make menu-specific lists for a few of the things we frequently make. Also, I’ve discovered quite a few preprepared foods they have that are pretty delicious, so there’s also those options. 

 

Other than that, not much to tell. Just waiting for November. 

June 17 #Writemotivation

1. The standard ones- Total books for this month so far- 2 unpublished+7 published=9. Oh, right, we’re only just over half through the month. Guess I’m on pace. Walked, still, despite one nasty weather day where I was debating putting up with mass transit (Luckily it stopped raining before I had to leave!). Sorta finished one crit, just need to scribble out a few notes and read the last ~2 chapters still.
2. Work on the heavy lifting on SW- Had plans to attack this over the weekend, but since Owen was out of the house Saturday I took advantage of it to do things I normally can’t, like listen to obnoxious songs and lounge around in the recliner. 😛 Sunday was eaten up with Father’s day things, but fun anyway.
3. Get back to working on Top Hat- Still working on that chapter.
4. Keep up on OWM.-Mine for the month went up last week (yay!). Haven’t started mine for next month yet, I’ll probably get to it this next weekend. Becca’s goes up this week, I can’t WAIT to see it! (not that I ever sneak in and read them ahead of time, nopenopenope!)

Last week was a week of the grumps. Seemed like I could do no right at the dayjob, but all such stupid little things that they don’t matter in the long run. I suspect it was going around, though, because my whole group was being snappy to each other. It doesn’t help that the 7 of us (plus bossdude) spend SO much time interacting, since we’re the only ones there after 5. For the last 3 hours of our days, we’re the only ones we have to chat with. It gets old after a while.

I really, really want to get into agenting or editing. The only holdup right now is that I need something I can do on the side while maintaining a paying job. If they’re going to pay me the same as I get right now, even slightly more or less, I’d take it in a heart beat. But all the ones I see posted either are unpaid gigs like the internship I’m doing now, or barely break to minimum wage when it’s all said and done. And while I know I’ll probably need to take that paycut eventually, to get more experience, I want to have a STRONG financial buffer when I do. There’s a series of trips I want to take and some dental work I’ll need done, and between then all, I’d just as soon keep working at a decent paying gig and doing writing/agenting/editing work on the side. Now, if I can find a way to juggle it so it won’t take over the day job slot, and, for example, I could do it on mornings/nights/weekends, that’d be perfect.

OK, time to get something else productive done. Have a good week all!

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