Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MS #2

I recently restarted MS #2.  It's been a hard road, coming back after a few months of not doing anything on the story.  And what I reread, I didn't like.  The plot was there, but that was about the only thing good about it.  I know I'm going to have to rewrite it.  But for me, I have to complete the MS first, so that I can see everything more clearly before I started rewriting.

But just getting to the end is the hard part.  I'm 35k in of 50k.  (My first drafts tend to be short).  And every word is a fight.  It's hard to be motivated when I know I just have to rewrite the thing.  But I know it will be better if I just finish first so that the whole thing can make sense in my brain.  I have big plans for rewriting and revisions, but I just have to get to that point.

I think I need to go back and reread some stuff from SAVE THE CAT!  (Seriously, if you don't own this book, you totally should!)  And next time, spend more time outlining before diving in to writing.  I do simple outlines with major points and stuff, but now I see why detailed outlines are so helpful!  (Why hadn't I seen it before??)  But as long as the MS gets completed, I'm going to call it a winner.  For now.  (Until I get to revisions...)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Skyfall - James Bond

I'm a little late on this review as I went to see it some weeks ago.  But better late than never, right?  I've heard a lot of good things about this movie, so I was pretty hyped up.  I love James Bond, action movies, and stylistic settings, so I thought this was going to be awesome.  And while I liked it, I think maybe everyone else hyped it up too much for me.

The different settings were amazing.  Bond traveled to Turkey (we had shots of the Bazaar and the Haggia Sophia which are beautiful), to Shanghai with bright lights and the scene in the clear building, to Macau with the float lights on the sea.  So the settings and scenery were very picturesque  and those parts were probably some of my favorites.  And Javier Bardem was brilliant as a villain   Creepy, crazy, and sinister, but in such a way that it wasn't over the top but was over the top.  (Okay, I know that makes no sense).  The scene when we first meet him, and Bond is the chair (you'll know what I mean when you see it), loved it, lol.

For me, I absolutely loved the first half.  But as soon as they got to Skyfall (Bond's supposed childhood town -- as if that could ever be the real name of a town,) I felt a little let down.  The explosions and frozen lake were great, but it felt less climatic to me than the first part of the movie.  If they had done the Skyfall bit first, and ended with the subway scene (again, you'll know it when you see it), that would have been so much more climatic and awesome.  I just think it kind of stagnated a little at the end.

If you like action movies, obvi you have to see the latest James Bond.  There were some really cool scenes that made it worth seeing, but I guess I just didn't like as much as everyone else.  But I still did like it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quirks

Lately I've been thinking a lot about characterization.  To me, this is the most important part of the story, and the part that is the hardest for me.  If I don't like the main character, I'm not going to spend 300+ pages listening to her story.  Characters have to pop off the page, be likable, but also have some problem that they have to fix.  A lot goes in to making good, three dimensional characters.  And for me, something that gives that character an extra spark is quirk.

I've been thinking about secondary characters as well as main characters, and there are some really good quirks out there that make all the difference.  If that person didn't have the quirk, they would fall flat.  And some quirks push the character over the top to brilliance.

Some of my favorite quirks are:

-Glee's Sam Evans' impersonations.  Sam is kind of a throw-away character on Glee.  You probably don't even know who he is.  (He's also known as Trouty Mouth and played by Chord Overstreet).  But every time he does one of his impersonations on the show, I smile.  It makes me like him a little bit more.

-Paranormalcy's Evie's Pink Taser.  Evie has a quirky voice already, but what puts it over the top is her pink rhinestone taser that she uses to tase vampires.  It's the dichotomy of girlie girl and fierce soldier that gets me.

-Ocean Eleven's Rusty Ryan is always eating.  Brad Pitt's character is eating in almost every scene.  It's just kind of funny to see him always holding some new food, and gives his character just a little bit more depth.

-Looking For Alaska's Miles' love for reading biographies of famous writers, but not their famous words.  Really, John Green puts a lot of quirkyness into all his characters, which is why I think his characters work so well on so many levels.  But it was reading about Miles that made me first realize why I loved it.  The quirk is so detailed that it makes Miles so real as a person.  You can't help loving the fact that he loves it, because it's so specific that you truly feel that it couldn't have been made-up.  His character obviously pulls on my heart.

What makes a good quirk?  What are some of your favorite character quirks?

Monday, November 26, 2012

To rewrite or push on?

So I've been rereading a half finished manuscript (27k) that I put aside to work on revisions.  I've finally finished rereading it (it was tough...) and it needs a lot of work.  Things are out of order and don't make sense, things are way too easy, there is too little characterization, and almost no description of the world (it's scifi).

I'm wondering, should I rewrite/revise what I already have, or just push through and finish it to the end before I start the daunting task that is revisions.  I'm leaning towards finishing (though the word count will be very low) and then revising, but I don't want to finish it and then realize everything has to be rewritten.  There's just so much I have to change and add in the beginning parts for the end to make any sense or be any good.  But I know you're "supposed" to just push on and finish the first draft so that you have a whole thing to work on.  And I might be able to see the full picture better, though I feel like I already know where I'm going.

What do you do when you revisit a half-finished manuscript?  Finish the draft or revise before finishing?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

hitRECord and JGL

I went to see JGL (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on Monday night as he traveled with his hitRECord tour.  I knew about hitRECord before going to the show, but had never participated.  The website didn't have a whole lot of information on how to participate/upload/record, and I like to know details before I give out my email. :)  I figured I'd play around with it once I had more time (ie. didn't have to worry about grad school assignments).  But once I was at the show, I could actually see how cool it was.

Here's the basic gist:
HitRECord.org is an online collaborative community/production company created by JGL and his brother Dan.  Artists can upload various projects (all called records) which can then collaboratively be "re-mixed".  Artists can submit videos, music, short stories, literature, poems, photographs, spoken word, dance, animations, screen-writing etc, for anyone in the community to use.  The end result is some pretty cool videos all collaboratively made from many different people.  JGL says in the intro video, think of it less as an exhibition place (ie. Youtube), and more like a studio to make things together.  Collaborators will call for specific talents too; they might need a singer, or guitarist, or animator etc.  Anytime any one of the productions makes a profit, half goes back into the company, and half goes to every person who contributed to that production.


hitRECord logo.
At the show, JGL brought audience members up on stage many times to discuss their tweets of "The Road", which was one of the themes of the night.  (That, and having everyone record everything).  He also showed a bunch of the collaborative videos, and then some remixed videos.  Some collaborators on the site were asking for different clips, one of people dancing, so he brought up people to dance in front of a green screen, which then could be used for one of the records.  JGL also had some voice actors come on stage and record a short, one-sentenced monologue, while he filmed them being lifted into the air.  It was silly, and fun, and interesting, and engaging.  JGL also has a shinning personality; he seems so sincere and has such an enthusiasm   Many a curse word were used (which was perfection), and you could tell how much he loved this company and how much it meant to him and how much he wanted people to get involved.

I like the idea of being creative in multiple different ways.  I've always had multiple interests (bass guitar, piano, singing, writing, photography) and this was a cool way to tap in to a bunch of different facets of creativity.  Plus, being able to collaborate with people all over the world is really cool.  I know for myself, a lot of my music playing friends moved away and don't like around me any more.  This would be a good outlet for that.  Plus, I don't have to lug my bass anywhere, and if I want, don't have to play more than one song.  (Sometimes I get distracted...)

So if you're into collaborative things like that, check it out.  It's actually pretty cool.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review of Wreck-It Ralph

Cuatro (the bf) and I went to see Wreck-It Ralph last Thursday.  (For those in West Philly, The Rave theater has $5 tickets all day, or $8 for 3D).  We both that it was sooo good.

Here's the summary from IMDB.
A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

Basically he wants to become a "good guy" by winning a medal.  Shenanigans ensue and he ends up going to various games to bring back his medal.

I really did love everything about this movie.  Ralph was such a good character, and the other minor and major characters were also complex.  The plot had some twists and surprises but was still very easy to follow (I mean it is a kid's movie).  The video game worlds were either based off of familiar ones, or were actual games.  The one racing world, was kind of like Mario Kart, but it was based on candy (called "Sugar Rush"), and seeing everything made of sweets was really cool.  At one point they even built a racing car made of candy at the factory.  It was all pretty inventive.

We also saw it in 3D which was AWESOME.  I usually don't like 3D, but I think it's much better for animated movies.  We were commenting on how we could see the texture on Ralph's overalls, which was a little bit mind-blowing for us.  We didn't expect the animation to be that good or that real.

I absolutely recommend this movie!!  Def go see it if you have time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Epilogues

So I'm getting to the end of revisions (finally! hopefully! we'll see soon!) and one of the things my CPs have said, were that it ends really abruptly.

Well.

I know I tend to do this, whether its scenes, chapters, and I guess now endings.  I like to allow the reader to speculate on their own what will happen next, and not have to give them all the boring details of everything.  But I understand that it wasn't seeming like that; it was seeming unresolved; and the readers needed closure.

So that's not good.

I liked my ending because it wasn't a cliffhanger, but it did allow for sequels if I ever felt inclined to write them.  (The whole standalone with potential for a sequel thing.  But that's what exactly I wanted: potential.  Not too obvious, because it seemed like agents rather have series "potential" than an actual series).

So I have to do something about my ending.  I was thinking epilogue.  Now I know agents don't like prologues, but what are everyone's feelings on epilogues?  And what constitutes an actual epilogue rather than just another chapter?  I remember reading a few books that had epilogues that just seemed like another chapter, and I didn't really understand the difference.

My epilogue jumps to a few days later, and kind of resolves the outstanding logistical and emotional questions, but the big problem has already been resolved.  The denouement I guess?  Maybe a little after the denouement?  I don't really know.

So what are everyone's opinions of epilogues?


Monday, October 15, 2012

Looper

I went to see Looper about a week ago.  I was really excited because I love action movies, JGL (or as some say Joe Go Lev, I prefer JGL) and Rian Johnson the writer/director (he did Brick and The Brothers Bloom).  Things I wasn't excited about: time-travel (it always hurts my brain), Bruce Willis and JGL looking like Bruce Willis.

The basic plot summary is (from IMDB):
"In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits."  (Now I'm paraphrasing) When the mob wants to get rid of the hired gun, they'll send him back to be executed by himself, aka "closing the loop."

I liked the movie.  The audience really got to know the characters which isn't always something that happens in an action movie, and I really appreciated it.  JGL was spot on with his Bruce Willis impersonation (he said he watched a lot of old Bruce Willis movies to get ready for the part, learning his voice and mannerisms).  There was actually some really cool world-building.  The time-travel was done super well so that everything made sense (yay!) and that it didn't hurt my brain; I actually liked that aspect of the story.  The only thing I had a problem with was that I was expecting many more twists.  It seemed very straight-forward to me, and I'm usually pretty bad about guessing endings.  (I don't even usually try; I don't want it to be ruined).  But the big twist ending was just meh to me; I was expecting a whole lot more.

But either way, I thought it was more than just a fun movie.  And I think Rian Johnson will be popping up a whole lot more as a writer/director.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Doubting in writing

Max thinks I'm crazy too
(but what does he know?)
Ever get to that point where you think you are seriously crazy for trying to do this writing thing?  That all your words are dumb and you start doubting yourself?  Yeah me neither... ahem.

I'm getting to the point where everything I re-read just seems to... suck.  I mean I know it doesn't.  (Maybe?)  But it feels like it does.  I'm doubting everything I write.  I can't seem to get into the flow of revisions.  Everything I seem to think of seems trite or messy and I'll never be able to fix it.  It's just doubt, doubt, doubt.

The good news is I hear this is normal!  (Hooray, I'm normal for once!)  My old writing professor said he still doubts every manuscript and he's published like a gajillion books.  (I may be exaggerating).  So despite him knowing what he's doing when it comes to writing, he would still get down on himself.  But he said there were a few ways he would get back into the swing of things, and one of that was giving it over to CPs; it would help him re-energize and give him that extra umph that he needed to finish the story that didn't actually suck.

So doubting is normal, it just means we have to continue to push through.  We can't give up.  Some times it seems endless (like to me right now), but we will get there.  Having CPs is vital to this solitary hobby, giving us a little more reassurance.  But one can also take some time off and working on another MS, go on long walks, vacation, even do a different hobby for a while.  Either way, we still get back and do this, because it's what we love to do.

So while doubting is natural, we can't let it win; we are too strong for that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

query letters

So I've been going back and forth with my query letter.  I'm not procrastinating on my MS or anything...  I've stream-lined the query so that it only focuses on one-major plot, introduces the main character and a little bit of the fantasy world. There's not too many facts thrown in there at once going off in a million directions which is what I was going for.  The only thing is, in order to do that, I got rid of any mention of the love interest.

My MS is a YA contemporary fantasy, so the main plot isn't the love story, but it's a big part of it.  But the love interest doesn't really flow in the query; it would just be introducing a new character who's only purpose in the query would be to be the love interest.  So my question is, do I keep him out or trying to finagle him into the query?  I'm worried it will seem too scattered because I'm adding another sub-plot.  Is it okay to assume that the MS would have a love interest in it?  In the end paragraph, I do reference the romantic relationship being like another book as a reference.  So I don't know if that's out of the blue either...


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Last Bit

So I am 30 pages from finishing this round of revisions.  And I've been stuck there for a week.  Endings are supposed to be easy in the sense that everything you've built up finally culminates in the payoff.  But, um?  *Not* as easy as it sounds.  I had a lot of changes in the middle, which trickle down into the end, so I'm finding myself second-guessing my changes.  They're DEF for the better, but some are such big changes that I get nervous.  It's not like I can't change it back if I decide it doesn't work, but my mind has been blocking me from getting any changes done.

I think endings are hard because they have to wrap up so many loose ends. That's not saying they have to wrap up all of them, but the ending has to be satisfying, with the characters at the very least hopeful at the end.  Sometimes it's even better to have some loose ends.  But with lots of subplots, finding that balance can be a tricky thing.

And to think I'm sooo close to finishing!  I just want to be done and have a finished product.  This story has changed so much from the first (ugly) draft two-ish years ago.  And I know I have more revisions in the future, but that doesn't mean I can't put off these final pages.  And now back to staring at my Word doc...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

goals time

So I think it's time to restate some goals.  I've been chugging along on this MS, but without concrete goals, there's always something else I could be doing.  ooo what's the sparkly thing over there?  It totally needs my attention...  I just want to be DONE.  It's been a long time since I started this, way back in 2009 when I had no idea what I was doing.  (Not that I know what I'm doing now, but at least I have an idea of what I'm supposed to be doing...)  So I'm stating it here.  I will be done with this round of revisions by October 1st.  Then comes perhaps a final revision and the scary querying.  eep!

In other news, my Ultimate (frisbee) team won Sectionals (think Glee), beating the one seed.  This means we're the number two seed going into Regionals, with two bids to Nationals!  So we just have to hold seed, which won't be easy but definitely do-able, to get to Nationals.  So a little happy news for the beginning of the week is always good :)

How was everyone else's weekend?  Any good news?  Or anything you're looking forward to?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Where has all the time gone?

Astronomical clock in Prague
So classes started last week.  I think I'm a little crazy taking four night classes, each with some amount of required fieldwork (meaning class observation, about 10 hrs for each of my 4 classes), plus a part-time job, plus writing, (plus ultimate frisbee which will be done in October).  It leaves me wondering the same thing.

Where has all my time gone?

Well.  (That's a deep subject, as my dad would've said).  It's still there, but it's looking like a need to make a new schedule and adhere to that  schedule more closely.  Getting up earlier than usual (because I'm not a night person) so that I can fit in those few hours of writing.  I still have revisions to do!  I think I actually do better when I have zero time, because it makes me more productive.  I only have that one or so hours a day, so I MUST write during that time in order to get everything done.

But it's going to take some time to get into that routine.  I think I have to be okay with failing at doing everything at first.  It's okay.  But I can't do that forever.  I don't like not writing.  I want to complete this MS.  I also have to get all my reading and assignments done for class.  These are all things I HAVE to do.  So I have to fit it in.

It's about making time.  I no longer will just have free time.  This means other things will suffer.  I probably won't blog as much.  I probably won't read as much outside of class (though I really can't give that up entirely because I'm addicted to reading).  Those extra minutes will be for writing and revising.  I also had this crazy idea of doing NaNo this year, something I've never done before.  Will I be able to do everything?  We'll see.  One of the things about my goals, is that I like to challenge myself; set the goals really high so that I have to strive and not always make them.  So I know failing happens, and while I'm not okay with it, I know that I can come back from it and continue on.

Friday, August 17, 2012

queries argh!

So WriteOnCon has been awesome! I've learned a ton and have gotten great suggestions for making both my query and first 5 pages better. I've been rewriting my query a lot and it seems that it needs even more tweaking, even since I posted my final query on the WriteOnCon forum board.

I've gone back over Elana Johnson's posts on query letters (if you haven't read them, it is a MUST) making sure I have all of the important info conveyed: hook, setup, conflict, consequence. I've taken out  the subplots so that the query is more stream-lined (hopefully!)

And you know what, guys, the forums are still open! I've posted my re-revised query (very different from the first ones), so if you'd like to check it out, it's here. Any other suggestions would be great! I don't know if I've changed it for the better.

But seriously guys, queries are so hard! There's so much to a story, that breaking it down into its most basic elements is just crazy talk. I've taken a look at a lot of other queries from published and agented authors, but they were mostly from novels I haven't read. The one I found most helpful, was Marissa Meyer's query for Cinder, since I had read that. Going back to the query, I could see all the subplots she left out, even though they were so important to the book! That's what really propelled me to keep cutting my query.

I still have revisions to do on the first 5 pages and the rest of the MS. Grad school starts August 27th (eek!) and I really want to get it done by then, but that would be pretty ridiculous. I'm going away on vacation for the week, (so I won't be blogging), but maybe I can sneak some revisions in there :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Be Inspired Meme


I've been tagged in the Be Inspired Bloghop Meme! Thanks Amanda Olivieri! I've just finished a round of revisions, going on another round, so it's nice to take a little break, step back and look at the bigger picture :)

1. What is the name of your book?

Code of the Firefly 

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

I've always loved fantastical worlds, but even more so, faeries. I knew I wanted to write about them, but take it far away from the usual Seelie/Unseelie courts. I studied linguistics in college, so I've always loved the idea of codes and secret messages. So that plus the song Fireflies by Owl City (and other music), meld them together and voila, the idea for Code of the Firefly.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

I think it's YA Contemporary Fantasy.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

Elle, my MC, could be a young Zooey Deschanel. Caleb could be Graham Phillips. (I saw him on an episode of White Collar, and feel in love with his green eyes). Jonah could be a Jonas brother (with longer hair).  And I haven't seen anyone for Reza yet, so I'll keep my eyes open.

 5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis if your book.

I've been procrastinating on this for so long because there's so many plot lines that I never know which one to choose. Here it goes: 

When seventeen-year old Elle Evangelista's firefly pendant, a source of legendary power in the Fae world, is stolen, she must translate an ancient message before the solar eclipse, for if she fails, the Fae world, the human realm, and the reason that Elle was drawn to the Fae world to begin with, will be destroyed forever.

6. Is your book already published?

Nope.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

Um, I'm still writing? Or at least revising. It's a year and a half and counting.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series is the first to pop in my head. Or the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

There are so many. Obviously Cassandra Clare for both the romantic relationship and her urban fantasy world, which is so complete and wonderful. Reading Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone taught me what beautiful writing is and is only something I can continually try to strive for. Becca Fitzpatrick and Hush, hush with both her mythology and romance. And Marissa Meyer with Cinder for her world building, multiple plot lines and amazing writing.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

It's kind of National Treasure meets Lord of the Rings for YA. Plus lots of music influences. 


Also the first scene, where the church bells ring off-key was inspired by my mom, who, while we were waiting to go see a musical, heard church bells ringing and remarked that they were flat. (I have no idea how she could tell!)

11. Tag five people!


Feel free to participate or not, if you don't want to. But I want to hear about your books!  Here are the five:

Sarah Allen

Jenny Kaczorowski

J.A. Bennett

Christina dos Santos

Christine Danek

Monday, August 13, 2012

Harsh Critiques

I haven't been writing seriously for very long, probably about two years.  But in those two years I have experienced some harsh critiques.

At first, they hurt, as anything that says your baby isn't good enough would.  Okay, let me be honest.  For a while they hurt.  I would yell in my head at the people who critiqued them, saying they didn't understand my book, or that they were just being mean.

And sometimes that was true.  But I also learned a lot from some of those critiques.  Since then, I've been able to separate myself more from the critiques and to look at the critiques with a better eye, not letting my emotion get in the way as much.  But it still hurts.

Every time I get a harsh critique, it reminds me to be a nice critiquer.  It doesn't mean that I shouldn't be truthful.  But there is always a way to make suggestions in a positive constructive way.  And let me tell you positive and constructive critiques are soooo much more helpful than harsh ones.

I just got a critique back from the awesome Amanda Olivieri and her critique was amazing.  She gave me the best advice without being harsh at all.  And even though I have a lot more to change and fix, her critique actually made me feel invigorated to start revisions again!  This is how all critiques should be.

Plus, you don't know what's going on in other peoples lives, if they've had a bad day, whatever.  Wouldn't you rather build someone up than bring someone down?  It's about making the MS the best that it can be, and I think that the best way to do this is to be positive in the critique.


Friday, August 10, 2012

WriteOnCon

So let me just say, WriteOnCon is a brilliant idea.  This is the first year I'm participating (because, sadly, it's the first year I've heard of it).

It's happening August 14-15, but the forums are already open for critiques of queries, first 250 words and first 5 pages.  It's mostly for kidlit (picture books through YA), but there will be panels and articles on general writing/agent/pub stuff too.

Go check out their schedule and see if there's anything that entices your interest.  I'm sure there's a lot!  I'll be perusing the forums, so come say hi!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review of (the new) Total Recall

So I saw the new Total Recall.  As I've said before, I love action movies; the more things that blow up, the better.  I was really looking forward to this one, because I thought the original was a really interesting concept, and knew that the new one would have great special effects that the original lacked.  Plus Colin Farrell trumps Arnold Schwarzenegger.  For those of you who haven't seen the original, there will be a few spoilers, so I would stop here.

I enjoyed the new Total Recall, but it definitely had some short-comings, though they did improve upon the old one also.  First, there was none of this aliens/mutants/Mars nonsense.  (I thought that part of the original was so dumb).  Here, it's two countries, Britain and "the Colony", where the only way to get between the two is by a huge machine/mechanism called "the Fall" which goes through the center of the Earth.  That was awesome.  The special effects were great.  (The lights!  So sparkly!)  And one could really tell how disfunctional this dystopian government was.

The short-comings of this film were what made the original great.  The MC, Quaid, never gets injected with the serum in Recall.  In the original there's a fight scene after he's injected and he wakes up in a cab going home.  But in this one he never actually "goes" to Recall.  So there's no wondering if the entire story is real or Recall.  This is the main point of the story!!  Making us question what is real or not real and whether our memories make reality.  The point where his friend comes in and tells him that the reality is fake, and he's still at Recall, just didn't do it.  It wasn't convincing at all and at no time did I suspect him to still be at Recall.  The car chase scene was a little over done (not enough explosions, too much racing).  When Lori finally tells him they aren't married and she's just doing her job, it's pretty heavy-handed and too direct in the explanation.  They again went too far and didn't leave the audience wondering what was real and what was Recall.

So I enjoyed it because I enjoy most action flicks, but they didn't get the backbone of the original at all, though they did at least try.

Monday, August 6, 2012

finished revisions (for now)

Guys, I did it.  I finally finished the latest round of revisions for COTF.  I am so excited!  It's been hurting my brain, looking at that MS for so long.  It's now in good hands awaiting more feedback and more revisions.

I'm starting up again my second MS, The Disloyalty of Colors, but I'm kinda nervous about it.  I put it aside while I was doing revisions for COTF and haven't looked at it in a few months.  I'm not sure if I remember the story.  I will definitely have to look for my notes.  How does everyone get back into a MS that they put aside for awhile but haven't completed?  Any tips out there?  I feel like I'll have to read through everything I have so that I am up to speed with where I am, but that might take a while.  I wonder if that's the best way to go about things.

Either way, I'm excited to get back into drafting, since my brain can definitely use a break from revisions.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Esther Day

Today is Esther Day.  I just found this out yesterday and was so taken with the idea I had to blog about it.  When John Green met Esther, who subsequently inspired some of TFiOS, he pronounced her birthday as Esther Day.  She passed away a few weeks after Esther Day, but on her birthday she wanted to remind us to let everyone know how much we love them.  (Yes, I am two years late, but better late than never).

Ordinarily, I probably wouldn't do this, for I am not one for proclaiming love, but this hit me hard.  In fact, TFiOS hit me hard.  Everyone knows someone who has died from cancer, so the story resonates with a lot of people.  For me, it was my dad, who passed away a year and a half ago.  And as it turns out, today would also be his birthday.  Coincidences are sometimes magnificent.  Even under poor circumstances.

So in honor of Esther and my dad, I'm going to tweak today a little bit, and instead of proclaiming love, proclaim thanks, which are almost the same thing.  There are so many things I am thankful for, but the writing community is one of them.  A lot of us know how it feels to be an introvert, a nerd, an outsider, but here we're all accepted.  We're just trying to tell stories, to get lost in a different world, to find hope in the characters of a book.  I am so lucky to have found this community of people who understand the agonies and joys of writing, who are able to relate, who love these characters so much that they talk to me about them like they are real people.  Who get obsessed about literature like I do.  Who want everyone to succeed.  The community is not just a sense of belonging, but truly a sense of adoration.

So don't forget today to remind someone that you are thankful for them or that you love them.  Cherish the friendships that you have and let them know.  You never know what simple words can brighten someone's day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

To be finished revisions

So today is the day I'm going to finish revisions.  I have 20 pages left but a lot to do in those 20 pages.  After that, it gets one more read-through and then it's off to (hopefully the final round) of CPs.  I've been working on this book in earnest since March 2011 (with dribbles before that).  While I love COTF, I'm ready to be done.  I don't want to get stuck on this book and never be able to move on.  But I also don't want to finish it without it being the best book it can be.  I want it to be complete.  So depending on the feedback I get, I may have another round of revisions on my hands, but at some point I have to say enough is enough.

I started drafting a second MS a while ago, and I'd like to be able to get back to it.  (I'm the type of person who can only focus on one project at a time).  It's different from COTF, but still me, and I love it.  It has its own problems but I'm excited to be focusing on something different.

So that's why today I must finish this draft.  I go on vacation tonight, so I'm hoping to finish before then.  Otherwise I'll be lounging by the pool with my laptop in hand :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Promise Ring and emotions

he's so left-handed!!
So I just got back from one of my favorite band's shows and I'm still high on music.  The Promise Ring broke up pretty much right as I started to discover them so I have never been able to see them live. UNTIL NOW.

And guys?  ohemgee.

I forgot how much I like live shows.  It's the feeling of community.  The emotions shared from singer to audience.  It's a shared story that everyone can relate to.

And that's what I'm trying to do in my writing too.

I've been revising COTF for who knows how long (I've stopped counting...), but overall I'm just trying to get readers to relate to the story and the emotions that go into it.  First love.  Being different.  Feeling like an outsider.  Wishing someone would understand you.  Becoming a stronger person.  The emotions of all of it.  These are all common things in my story that I think everyone can relate to.

Thinking back to The Promise Ring, one of the reason I feel in love with their music was because the lyrics spoke to me.  I could relate to what they were saying; it was like he was singing what was in my brain.  Plus some of their songs were really catchy.

So every time I doubt myself with questions of structure or plot or what-have-you, I just need to go back and make sure these characters are connecting with the reader.  That the audience can relate to them.  And that there's emotion.  Because I think that's what reading books is really all about.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman

So I finally saw the new reboot of Spiderman. Let me preface this with I love superhero movies. From The Avengers to the X-men, to even Transformers. There's something about these larger than life characters that I just cannot get enough of. Plus I love action movies. I also haven't read the comics.

Andrew Garfield worried me in the first scene with his Peter Parker voice, because he sounded like a Brit trying to speak in an American accent. Which he is. But after that, I was impressed with his accent. I know if I ever tried to act in a British accent, I would be fumbling over every single word. (Or if I tried to act in general, but I've never tried and probs never will. ahem. tangent.) I also like him better than Tobey Maguire, but I don't know if he made a better Spiderman. For me, Tobey was a super nerd, so he had a greater transformation into Spiderman. Andrew was never weak like Tobey was, though Andrew did get beat-up in the first scene protecting someone from being bullied (save the cat scene!), but he didn't seem as weak to me as Peter Parker should be.

I also had some problems with Gwen Stacey. I know from my comic-expert (aka The Boy) she's supposed to be very confident and sure-of-herself. They set her up to be this way when she confronts the bully after Peter and the other guy get beat, but then at times she seems fumbling. She gets timid around Peter after they've already had some conversations. It didn't make sense to me and seemed out of character. All of Peter and Gwen's interactions were mega awkward and uncomfortable. But I do love Emma Stone. (And The Boy said he liked this Gwen better than the comic-book Gwen).

I did like the back story of Peter's father being a scientist, but that could just be the science nerd in me. But I thought it added to the story, since it made Peter want to find out what had happened to him and made him keep going back to Oscorp. I liked the villain of this story, though I don't know if anyone can be better than Alferd Molina as Doc Ock. Also Stan Lee's cameo was awesome.

Overall, I liked it but it wasn't great. Andrew Garfield is charming, maybe too much for Peter. I'll be interested to see how everything plays out in the sequel, though I might have to find someone else to go with because I might not be able to convince The Boy to go...

Monday, July 16, 2012

titles and save the cat

So I started reading Save the Cat! the screen writing book by Blake Snyder.  I read the first chapter and he's already gotten me thinking about my MS in a different way.

He talks about loglines and titles being the one-two punch for pitching a story.  And not just pitching, but making sure the story sharper, less convoluted and actually knowing what the story is about.  It makes a lot of sense.  The title and logline have to be what the focus of the story is about and not peripheral subplots.  But it also has to be specific to the novel, and not a vague title that could be any story.  Snyder also talks about a hint of irony, which I don't think is quite necessary for books as it is for movies.  He says the irony is the hook, but I just think a hook is necessary so that the reader is intrigued.

I've been thinking for a while that I need to change the title of Code of the Fireflies.  The title itself doesn't quite make sense until it's read, so it's not really hooky, (because if you have to read it to understand the title, it's not really doing it's job) though it is quite specific to the book.

So I've come up with some alternate titles.  Any feedback (good or bad) about the new titles or current titles would be much appreciated!

Pendant of the Firefly
Onvala's Pendant
Pendant of Onvala
The Lost Pendent
The Lost Firefly
World of Fae and Fireflies
The Magic of the Firefly
The Magic of the Pendent
Song of the Firefly

And while we're at it, here's my logline, but you can find a better summery here on my "what I'm working on" page.

When Elle finds out her grandmother's firefly pendent is more than mere jewelry, she is thrown into the world of Fae to stop the Dark Fae leader from destroying the world and to find out where her place is in the midst of these worlds.

Friday, July 13, 2012

emotions in books

So I finished a book a while ago that sort of us left me feeling nothing.  I was very disappointed because the book was about musicians, which I am, and obviously about music, which I love.  All my MSs have music themes and my next book is going to be straight up about musicians, so I was reading this for research.

But despite all these things that I thought I would love, it left me feeling stale.  There was no emotion in the writing.  I felt little for the protagonist and I wanted to like the love interest but I just didn't.  To me, they felt like paper characters.  And all the musical allusions seemed cheesy and not heartfelt.  Then at the end the love interest died!  I should have felt heartbroken but I didn't really feel anything.  Well except anger because I didn't really understand the point of why he died.

I think one of the reasons we read is to relate to characters, especially when it comes to emotions and what they are feeling.  Are they love-sick?  Teenagers and adults can relate to that.  But if they go through the whole book being a shell of a character, I'm not going to feel anything for them and I won't care about them. That's why I think emotions and characters are the most important aspect of a book and something that I'm working on in my MS to make sure it rings trues.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

writing quirky characters

John Green creates some amazing characters.  In all his books, each character has a quirk that makes that character feel real.  In Looking For Alaska, his MC, Miles, reads biographies of authors but not the work that they became famous for.  He's also obsessed with last words.  In An Abundance of Katherines, the MC, Colin, loves anagramming.

I think these character quirks help create interesting characters that feel real and different.  His characters aren't run-of-the-mill and they're likable.  That is key: to have likable characters.

While I think my MC for COTF is likable, I'm not sure if she stands out enough.  I've been having problems trying to make her the main character.  The love interest is interesting, but he's not the main character.  Elle is obsessed with music but I don't know if that's enough to push her over the edge of interesting.  I mean, the story is about her, so she has to be the most interesting person!  Or at least likable enough that you care what she has to do and will keep reading.

That's one of the revisions I'm doing right now for COTF.  I've still got a lot to do, but at least I'm headed in the right direction.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Thoughts on Pixar's Brave

So I am late to the Brave party but I just saw it a  few days ago.  I've been hearing very mixed reviews so going into it I didn't really know what to expect.

While I liked it, there was something missing for me.  Thinking back to other Pixar movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, it just wasn't in the same category.  It's hard to put my finger on why though.

I loved the strong female heroine, her mischief brothers were adorbs, her hair, oh her hair! was super awesome, and the Irish setting/culture was cool too.  But for me the essence of the movie wasn't the same as the other Pixar films.  The other films you can pretty much sum up in a sentence and it's very tangible.  Toy Story is about toys coming to life.  Finding Nemo is about fish looking for his father.  The Incredibles is about a superhero family.  Brave is about... a mother-daughter relationship?  That's really what it's about at its core and for me, I'm not as interested about that.

Now it's Pixar so it was still good, and I would say you have to go see it for at least that reason alone, (it had great animations and some really great parts) but for me, it just wasn't my favorite of the Pixar films.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Coming back from a writing hiatus

So I'm officially back!  And in honor of that I made a vlog!  I'm a little bit repetitive but I discuss coming back from a writing hiatus, which is my current status, so I thought it was a good topic.  Hopefully I'll be back to a normal blogging schedule soon, but for now I'm catching up on all the blog posts I missed :)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

mini-vacation

not quite what is expected
 in Boston, but that's okay!
So I know I haven't been blogging frequently lately because of my exams and everything being crazy.  BUT I took my last (hopefully) test this week!  I am taking a (much-needed) mini-vacation to Boston until the middle of next week to visit some college friends, so starting when I come back I should be able to continue regular blog posts.  Yay!  Thanks to everyone for being patient, and see ya'll next week!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Invented words

I've done a few posts on my love of slang and invented words, so when I cam across this article on some everyday words that were invented by famous authors, I knew I had to share.  Check it out :)
 http://www.flavorwire.com/291507/everyday-words-that-were-invented-by-famous-authors

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

revisions and deadlines

Nice quote, right?
So after reading Amanda's post about her writing deadline, I've decided that's exactly what I need.  Even though I'm still in the middle of studying for an exam I take next Tuesday, I need to really buckle down and make a deadline.  So, you heard it here first.  My deadline to finish COTF revisions is July 26th.  That gives me about four weeks (I can't actually start in earnest until July 4th b/c of traveling and exams).  

I've been messing around with revisions, but haven't created a schedule.  I made a list of the things I have to change and have done 1 out of 15 of them; it's a start, but I need to MAKE time.  Make a study schedule and add revisions in there too.  Whatever it may be to get it done, because right now I'm letting myself get in the way.

Monday, June 18, 2012

more thoughts on Stephen King's On Writing

So I've been thinking about Stephen King's On Writing, more specifically his thoughts on how plots can be "labored and artificial".  I was thinking that's why agents like high concept books, because it focuses on characters, which is also what readers like the most and can relate to.  And while I think Stephen King is right about that, I still find myself liking plotted books.  I fall in love with characters, but if there isn't something pushing them forward, I kind of stall.  Maybe those specific books I read weren't character-driven enough, but either way I still find myself liking books with plots.  I do like what he stated about putting characters in a situation and seeing how they get themselves out of it, though he says that's not a "plot".

I have to remember that there are no hard-and-fast rules (except for maybe spelling and grammar, but even those can be stretched) and it's something that I forget a lot.  These are King's suggestions, which are really good suggestions, but they won't work for every story.  I think maybe for my next book I will throw characters into a predicament and see them work themselves out of it.  But for now, I need to focus on making my books the best they can be and not take his word as Rule.

Friday, June 15, 2012

overhaul

So I've been reading Stephen King's On Writing.  It's as awesome as everyone says it is, so if you haven't read it, totes go check it out.

That combined with some feedback from CPs have made me think that COTF might need some major overhauling.  I've been procrastinating because I know it's going to be a lot.  I have one character's personality I have to completely change, fix the ending, and sort through some scenes for modifications.

Stephen King talks about books that "put a group of characters in a predicament and then watch them work free".  He talks about how plots can feel "artificial and labored".  These two things really stuck with me, because I was kind of feeling the same thing.  COTF has a plot, as does Novel 2, one that is very specific.  I think both need some overhauling to change the feel of the story.  It's still going to have a plot, but hopefully it won't feel contrived or "labored".  I know I also have to change some scenes so that my MC is progressing, and doing things for herself instead of letting things happen to her.  Even though she's timid and shy, she needs to change over the course of the story and MAKE things happen.

I love COTF.  I think it has potential.  But that's just it; it's only potential and not there yet.  I know I'm going to have to work hard to make it what I want it to be.  But in the end it will be worth it, right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pixar offers some great thoughts on fiction writing

Got this from Marie Lamba's facebook page and thought it was a cool read.  A Pixar story artist shares some writing basics for making a good story!  Check it out here: http://www.pixartouchbook.com/blog/2011/5/15/pixar-story-rules-one-version.html

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

books I've read recently

So despite having to study for the biology Praxis exam and the general Praxis exam, I've still been able to read a few books lately.

The first was Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.  NOT to be confused with 50 Shades of Gray.  nothankyou.  This is set in a world where status is based on the color a person can see.  Everyone can see black and white and grey-scale, and then (maybe) one other color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, with violet being the highest status, the lowest being just grey-scale (with red coming up next).  So all the "violets" are the most upperclass.   It's a very cool and unique world, which I was specifically interested because of Novel 2's theme of synesthesia and colors playing a big role.  And I love Jasper Fforde as an author.  He's hilarious and witty and British, so there are some things that get confusing because of the Britishisms or just the different words they use.  If you've read his Thursday Next series or his Nurser Crime series, I would def recommend Shades of Grey.

I also read City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  Ohemgee I love this series and Clare always lives up to the hype for me.  It's the 5th of 6 books (last one hasn't come out yet) and I can't wait!  Jace is always lovely to read about (*swoon*) and I really do care about most of the secondary characters and their backstories.  But there are a lot of them, so sometimes they do kind of get mushed together.  This was a really good continuation of the 4th book (1st in the second trilogy), while also being able to kind of stand alone in the story line; I might have even liked it better then City of Fallen Angels.  There were even some references to her Steam-punk series set in the same Shadowhunter world, The Infernal Devices, and characters in that series.  So I'm interested to see if there will be any more overlap between the two as we get to the last two books in each series.

I've been on a John Green kick since I read TFiOS, so I read both Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines.  (Okay, I actually read them awhile ago).  LfA was better, though both were good because John Green is awesome at writing characters.  He gives his characters such unique and quirky character traits that you can't help but fall in love with all of them (in an entirely different way than you fall in love with Jace).  In LfA, the main character Miles loves reading biographies about authors, but not the actual work they are known for.  I just though it was a super cool detail and tidbit for a character to have and definitely makes him feel more real.  I still have to read Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but I'm totes looking forward to it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

100 page wall

Well, I'm about at the 100 page wall on Novel 2.  I know where I need to go, but I'm struggling getting there.  I'm getting distracted by shiny things.

And I'm worried the first draft will be waaay too short.  I'm beginning to think I don't understand middles.  I'm 25k through and I feel like I'm already getting towards the end.  50k is about the lowest one can go for a YA, and I try to hit that mark for the first draft.  I know as soon as I start the second draft, the magic will happen and it will boost my word count (adding in all those many things that got left out on the first draft), but it's still making me nervous.

Plus, I just got some feedback on COTF (shiny things!) and it makes me just want to dive in to revisions, instead of working out the problems in Novel 2.  There's so much to work on in COTF, that I feel like if I don't do it right this second, I'll forget.  But that's not true, because I can always go back and re-read the notes.

So I'm trying very hard to finish Novel 2 before diving in to COTF, putting thoughts of crappy drafts and word count behind me, though they do keep creeping into my consciousness.

What do you do when you get stuck?  Do you ever get distracted and want to start something else?  What do you do when that happens?  (Do you give in or just keep plugging?)

Friday, May 25, 2012

top 10 misunderstood lines in literary history

http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-misunderstood-lines-in-literary-history.php

This was an awesome read.  (I think I found the link from one of YA Highway's field trip Fridays).  A friend just recently quoted The Road Not Taken to me saying I should take "the road less traveled" and I was really tempted to link him to this article.  But I didn't cause I thought that would be rude.  Or am I being rude by not telling him?  I don't really know...

ANYWHO.  Give it a read and let me know what you think :) 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

cursing in YA books

This is always an interesting debate.  There has been some posts about this on Gayle Foreman's blog, Kiersten White's blog and even usnews.com.

For me this is an interesting question.  I didn't curse when I was a teenager.  I don't think I would have cared either way reading it in a book; I mean, all my friends cursed so it's not like I wasn't aware of it.  I was the oddball (as always, lol).

For one reason or another, I started cursing.  I don't really know what happened, I think maybe I wanted to be cooler, or express myself better when I'm angry.  (Saying "darn it" just doesn't have the same emphasis.)  I don't think of myself as the biggest curser ever, but I definitely don't shy away from it.  At.  All.

But I don't curse in my novels.  Maybe I'm trying to hold on to my childhood, I don't really know.  But I just don't really think it's the right place for it, in my novels.  It just doesn't go with the tone of my my stories.  But I'm not at all against it for other young adult novels, because the fact of the matter is they hear it all the time anyways.  They're going to make their own decisions about whether or not they want to curse.

But the thing with profanity is that it's kind of lost it's meaning.  People drop the F-bomb all the time over things that don't really matter.  [Myself included.]  And that's kind of a problem because these words do have power behind them.  Teenagers might say "eff off" and not really mean it as anything, and that's a problem.  Someone could react to that like it's no big deal, while others may be very hurt by it.  And we have to respect everyone's reactions and understand that they may differ from your reactions.  I think that's what we should really teach teenagers.  We shouldn't just ban books because there is cursing in it.  Again, they have heard it all before, so it's not like we would be introducing anything new.  We need to teach teenagers that their words can hurt, and that everyone reacts differently to cursing, whether it's being offended or not.  And while to me, it's fine for teenagers to curse, they also need to learn how to be respectful, and I don't think banning books because they have profanity is the way to do it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

differing reactions


My MC for Novel 2 is very different from my MC in Novel 1 (and even very different from me).  She's out-spoken, confident, not afraid of saying what's on her mind.  Her reactions to situations are completely different than what I would do.  And that's where I'm having trouble.  It's getting harder for me to write her reactions because they are so different from mine and I'm finding myself having to edit her reactions before they even get on the page.

I was thinking about this.  There are so many different personalities out there.  For a given situation, there are many different reactions specific to each different person.  For example, I'm an only child.  I think this is part of why I am not very talkative.  It could be because I had no siblings to talk to.  On the flip side, I have a very good friend who is an only child and he is one of the most talkative people I've met.  He's super friendly and loves talking to anyone who will listen.  This could be because he had no one to talk to, so when he does get around other people, he talks as much as he can in order to get the talking in that he wouldn't get at home.  So we both grew up in the same situation, but different reactions stem from it.

So this is the problem I'm having in my WiP.  A situation occurs and can give multiple reactions.  The first reaction that comes to mind is ultimately mine and not my MC's.  So it's taking me longer to figure out what her reaction is.  I know her motivations inside and out, I just have to continually remember them.  My first reaction is not hers.  She is her own person.

Tesla is confident; it's something I love about her.  It's one of the main staples of her personality.  A boy says something rude?  She'll give a witty retort back.  (Unlike Elle, my first MC, who would probably go hide in a corner).  But even confident people get nervous.  But how do I show that, while also keeping the integrity of her character?  It's another one of these "walking the fine line" type situations.  Making sure the nervousness shows, while also keeping her confident.  Maybe she's confident in being nervous, lol.  Either way, I think this type of nervousness is drastically different than the nervousness Elle feels in COTF, so it has to be shown differently.  It's just finding the actions and reactions that would show it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

poetry in novels

I am no poet, but I am frequently finding myself writing poetry in my manuscripts.  Well, song lyrics, which are slightly different.  It may be because music heavily influences my writing, and all my MCs' love interests turn out to be musicians and recite lyrics.  So they're popping up in various forms.
BUT, I am no poet, nor lyricist, really.  (I've dabbled, but that's it).  I was in a band in HS (I played bass) and we had two lead singers for a while.  Both wrote their own lyrics, so I didn't really write much.  That was their job so I never really concerned myself with it.  This makes things difficult.

But now I'm finding myself having to write poetry and lyrics.  And that is an entirely different skill set than writing.  As I mentioned a few times, I love words (being a linguist), and slang, and especially plays-on-words.  Some of my favorite musicians are my favorites because of their creative lyrics.  But trying to make up my own takes a different sort of brain for me.  And a lot more focus.

Especially writing romantic poems.  I find a lot of the commercial ones sappy, so it's hard for me, because I don't like sap.  The trick is to find something genuine, harness that emotion or detail or description, and use that.

I don't think I have quite found that yet, but hopefully, with more practice, I'll at least get better.

Friday, May 11, 2012

contemporary fantasy?


So I've been seeing this genre quite a few times in contests for agents.  But I'm not sure if the writers just made it up or if it's a real thing.  I mean, what is it?
I'm intrigued by this because this is how I want to describe COTF, which starts off in the present world and time and then goes to a fantastical world.  That world isn't a traditional fantasy world.  I wouldn't call it "Epic Fantasy" at all.  That's why I like contemporary fantasy, because I think it fits well.  But I'm still hesitant to use it.


I don't want to mislabel my work, because [unfortunately] labels are so important.  It should be about the story but a lot of times it's about the genre as well.  Is it marketable?  Is there a place for it on the shelf?  Plus that whole thing about New Adult not being a genre... yet.

But is COTF actually fantasy?  And is TDOC actually SF?  I'm not really sure.  It's kind of like a watered down version [that sounds awful, but it's true] of both.  I want to be able to straddle both worlds, the familiar and the fantastic.  When someone reads it, I think they'll get it, but what do I categorize it as in a query letter?  And that part is VERY important.  

Agents only rep some genres.  A lot of YA agents do rep fantasy and SF, but there are a lot who don't.  And I feel like SF and f are the first things to go from an agent's list, so I want to make sure if I label it that, that it's labeled correctly and I'm not doing myself a disservice.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

new horizons

Well guys, I finally quit my job.  No, not for writing, though I won't say that isn't part of the reason.  I'm going back to grad school in the fall [for science education], and I need to take two Praxis exams before I can even register for classes.  Not every state does uses the Praxis as teacher certification, but PA does, and the grad school I'm going to is unusual [read: annoying] in which it requires me to pass the biology Praxis before I even start classes.

Anywho, this means I am going to be very busy for the next two months.  I leave my job June 7th, take the biology Praxis June 9th.  The Philly Writers Conference is June 8-10 (yeah, I know, annoying that I'm missing the morning part of the conference on June 9th, but the Praxis for areas of study is only given about four times a year.  (I should get there by 10 am though)).  I have to take the Praxis 1 on June 28th, all the while studying for both tests.

So two months of crazy before 2 months of nothing to do at all.  I think the biggest challenge for me is going to be making sure I get writing done while I'm studying.  For me, studying is an all-encompassing monster.  I feel guilty if I'm doing something that's not studying.  (At least I did in undergrad.  I literally read zero books for fun, or watched any TV shows and rarely movies.  All I did was study and play Ultimate frisbee (you need to exercise at least a little bit...))  For all intents and purposes, I only get one shot at these exams, and I'll be studying for the hard one while also working 9-5, and gearing up for Ultimate season/doing PT on my knee.

So it's all about choices.  During this month, focus on studying, with some writing on the side while maintaining some form of exercise.  Should I be watching TV right now?  No.  Get back to studying.  Need a study break?  Get some writing in instead of watching a TV show.  Those TV shows will be online forever; they can wait.  It's about mind set and focus.  And making schedules (they're like lists!  I love them!) and sticking to them.  The trick to schedules, is also scheduling in some down time.  (I did this all the time in undergrad).  Taking frequent breaks is actually conducive to studying, if you schedule them in and keep to the schedule.  If your break goes hours longer than planned, they're not really helping anything...

So for the next month I might be sporadic with my blog posts.  Writing is a big part of my life, but I need to make sure I pass these exams.  And I mean after June 28th, I'll have two whole months of nothing before grad school!  That sounds like a lot of time to be writing.  (Which makes me nervous, because of what I posted about on Monday about my writing habits).  And also being a teacher gives me three whole summer months to explore more book ideas :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

writing habits

So I'm pretty self-motivated, which is pretty good for an unagented writer - we have to be.  Otherwise we would never finish a book.

It's good to set daily goals, but sometimes it takes me awhile to just get started.  I found I am most productive when my brain creates a deadline.  It's 8:30 pm and I want to get ready for bed in 2 hours?  I haven't written tonight?  Oh crap.  GO GO GO.  And I just write for two hours.

On the other hand, when I have the whole day to write, take the day The Boy got surgery and I took the day off from work, I procrastinate LIKE WOAH.  There's something in my brain that just tells myself that I can wander the interwebz or watch a TV show because I have the whole day to write.

So what is it that makes us procrastinate?  Maybe I need to up my goals A LOT on those days where I have the whole day to write.  I need to focus and just go.  I think I need focusing exercises, oh what's that sparkly thing? 

A lot of bloggers talk about Word Wars.  Maybe that's what I need.  I am VERY competitive, so I could see myself probably doing pretty well with that.

I think many times I get in moods where I'm stuck in a place and just don't want to write.  Getting myself to sit down, open the laptop, and actually focus is the hardest part.  After that BAM I crank out a thousand words in a brief sitting.  It's just the initial focusing that makes me get hung up.

What are your writing habits?  How do you make yourself sit down and just write?

Friday, May 4, 2012

the jumbles

So I think I have a case of the jumbles. Okay, maybe not that kind...

Yes, I totally made an outline, but I'm beginning to think that it wasn't quite what I needed.  I'm a pantser.  I like that part of discovery writing because something new is always lurking around the corner.  As I write, new things just happen, and it makes sense.  

I can't do that when I outline.

When I started outlining Novel 2, it was a very vague/broad outline.  I knew the premise of the story and figured I'd figured out along the way what would happen in between the plot points.  

Welp.  I already blogged about beginnings being hard.  They are!  Getting the story to pick up pace, while doing what you have to do to introduce EVERYTHING (character, setting, plot) is hard. And sticking it all in the beginning?  I found my path being very windy and jumbled.  So I ended up making another outline just of the beginning.  So my new favorite thing is outlines (but outlining AFTER I've already written the scenes).  It really helps to organize my thoughts.

Now my question is go back and fix the beginning order of events?  Or keep chugging?  Maybe I should take my own advice about keep chugging, but my brain feels like I need to order the scenes correctly, so that I can really get a sense of my characters.  Trying to turn off the perfectionist is hard, and I'd really rather just finish the draft because I know there will be a million revisions afterwards anyway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

sci-fi genre

This is not what I want my world to look like.
So I've been researching SF genres lately because Novel 2 is looking to be in that realm.  When I think of SF I think of white walls, sterile rooms, space, technology.  I didn't want it to be too futuristic, but I don't really know a lot about the genre.

So I read a bunch of books: Across The Universe, Feed, XVI, Uglies, Ender's Game.  Some I read before, some I have recently picked up.

One common theme I saw was instant communication.  No need for phones, no need to carry anything. In every book, pretty much everyone has a device implanted into them to allow for communication.  In Across The Universe, it was the wi-com.  In Feed, it was the feed.  In Uglies, it was the skintenna and pings.  And I thought having a iPhone that lets me use apps, phone and music was good...

And there's always new technology and gadgets.  Across The Universe has the floppies, which I think of as iPads that are thin and membrane-like.  Uglies had a bunch, like the skimmer board and crash bracelets.  Feed has the hover cars.  Things that make it apparent that it isn't the same time period as now.

There's also new bio-technology, like DNA scanners in Across The Universe, or Pretty surgery in Uglies, or viruses or bacteria.

Also the lingo.  This is my favorite part, making up new words.  In Across The Universe, she uses "brilly" and "chutz". (The first one is great, but I never really understood what the latter meant).  In Uglies, there are "littlies" to mean "when they were younger".  I could do another whole post on this like I did before on what makes good slang, but I'll keep my linguistic fetishes to myself this time.

The hard part is thinking up stuff that will exist in the future.  How do I know what's going to happen in the future??  The options are endless!  Wait, so maybe that's a good thing.

I'm trying to find a balance, of future stuff and stuff that is familiar.  I think Scott Westerfeld did a great job with this.  That's the type of feel I'm going for.  Or In Time (if you ever saw that movie with JT).  I don't want my future setting to go all technology on me like FEED; I want there to be regular buildings and plants and animals, but also seem like technology has progressed.  I want to tip-toe that line.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Feeling like a fraud


Great post from Leigh Ann on Wednesday.  Also great article which was posted on her blog.  It really got me thinking, because I do feel like a fraud or that I shouldn't be using the term "writer" for myself.

In college, I didn't take a single English class or real writing class.  I was required to take two freshmen writing seminars, but they weren't on creative writing, and I didn't even like them.  Most of my time was filled with biology and other science classes, where the most writing I did was lab reports (yuck).

I think it's hard to identify myself as a writer, because it's something that's so new, and if you look at it at the surface, out of character.  But, I was always, always a reader.  And I love to create, whether it's music, photos, whatever.  So it's not really out of my character.  Writing is something I can do by myself, which is also another reason I like writing.  I'm shy and don't want to have to wait for other people for the creative process.  I like creating characters and story-telling.  There are so many interesting people in my brain with interesting stories.  (I do not have multiple-personality disorder -- don't worry.)  But if you asked me what I am?  First thing I would say is an Ultimate frisbee player, followed by musician, linguist, soon-to-be teacher of high school science, and then probably a writer.

But I think about writing all the time.  I write (almost) every day.  So what's to say I'm not a writer?  I thought maybe when I started Novel 2 I would feel more like a writer, because the first one wouldn't just be a fluke.  And I guess maybe that is true.  But I still think, sometimes, that maybe finishing these novels is luck.  BUT WHO AM I KIDDING?  Writing is hard work and they won't write themselves, so we owe it to ourselves to call us WRITERS.