Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Squee! New Books!

Status of my Life: Have people Beta reading both SHADOWS and FREEBIES. They're ripping me apart! My life essence and blood is spilling out. I grasp at the broken letters and sentences, trying to reform them back into something meaningful. *sigh*

Okay, so the voices in my head have gone silent. I never thought this would happen. It's been months of people in there, screaming at me to write their stories. Now, not so much. I did a brainstorming session last night and came up with a couple of good ideas.

Today I sat at the computer, doing a little outline for one idea. Got a couple MC's on paper. No final setting, but it's urban fantasy, so it could be anywhere, right? Got some good plot points down. Mind you, this is more outlining than I've ever done. EVER. Like I said, the voices are just there, telling me what happens next, who they are, and what should happen. I've never really had to work for it.

And it's hard.

As I was sitting there, I started getting upset that I hadn't written anything in three days and I needed to write! Then it came to me. On the three novels I've finished, I have never started at the beginning. Never. So why should I this time?

So I started writing a scene that will probably be in the first thirty pages, but isn't the beginning of the novel. I felt so much better when I looked down and saw that I'd typed 804 words. Finally, a release. I wrote something new today.

And, as if that wasn't good news, I got a ton of books today! Yea! I'm so excited to read them all, maybe I'll take a break in writing just to read for a while. Maybe then the voices will come back.

Here's what I got. I started FROSTBITE by Richelle Mead since I've been waiting for that one the longest!

NIGHT LIFE by Caitlin Kittredge
PRIME TIME by Hank Phillippi Ryan
SUCCUBUS BLUES by Richelle Mead
GOLDEN by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
GRAFFITI GIRL by Kelly Parra
LEAVING PARADISE by Simone Elkeles
TRUANCY by Isamu Fukui (I'm gonna read this one next - I love a good sci fi and it's about education. Could life get any better? I think not.)
FINDERS KEEPERS by Linnea Sinclair

In Book-heaven,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Crit Buddies, Part Two

Status of my Life: I'm going insane trying to figure out what happens to Hunter in ELITE. Put him away for a while when he started screaming in my head...So today, I've just been working on critiques for others and my own editing/revising of SHADOWS.

I need to give a big shout out to one of my crit buddies, H. Kelley. She took 84 pages of my MS and read it for me. She gave me invaluable suggestions for structure and flow. She's great. Absolutely great, and everything she said was spot on. I'm feeling a lot better about myself now that I've made a little bit of headway in my rewriting.

Thanks Kelley!

BTW: I met Kelley at AQ Connect. If you're looking for a great online community for writers, check it out.

Reading: A manuscript from a friend of mine, SJ. Pretty good, too.

Exhausted from the school walk-a-thon,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crit Buddies

Status of my Life: I'm floating on cloud nine right now because a girl I met at QT read my novel and loved it. That's one person. Yea! Success! Currently working on ELITE, trying to pin down the ending, and I'm still pretty perturbed that Carly got voted off AI last night. Oh, and Survivor is on tonight. Now that Ozzie is gone, I guess I'm cheering for Cerie.

Okay, I love my critique group. I really do. We've been online together for a couple of months and I feel like I know them. We joke and help each other. We vent. We cry--well at least I do. Especially when my own work is posted, shredded, the life seeping out of every word I labored over. And they dissect it like nothing, like my heart and soul didn't go into every bit of it.

And I love them for it. And no, I haven't really cried--yet. But the past week or so, I've been feeling incredibly inferior. I feel like I should be making some progress, but I don't seem to be. So that's why my new best friend at QT made my day (even though she read an entirely different novel). Oh, and you should read Nathan Bransford's blog today. He has a really funny line in there about how he could reply to query letters. I'm still laughing!

Reading: Wish it was FROSTBITE by Richelle Mead, but it's not here yet. So it's RANGER'S APPRENTICE #4 by John Flanagan and SPECIALS by Scott Westerfeld.

Tomorrow's Friday!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Units of Time

Status of my Life: Just got back in from out of town. Made some good progress on the outlining of one of my stories, and thought of some other ideas for another story. This is a good thing. My mind had been stuck for a couple of days, so the mini-vaca was nice, and I feel semi-normal again. Currently working on ELITE.

So I was home alone last week while my husband attended a math convention. About A Boy was on TV. I forgot how much I love that movie! Maybe it's just Hugh Grant, but I think the movie is awesome.

My life in divided into units of time. 2 units eating. 4 units teaching. 3 units driving my kids around. 1 unit watching reality TV. All other units writing.

I do spend some of my units of time reading books. Quite a lot actually. Over the past couple of days, I realized how much. My SIL asked "When do you have time to read?" She never reads because she doesn't have the time. My answer is, "I make the time."

Just like I make the time to write and exercise (okay, that's way at the bottom of the list! :) ), I make the time to read. I love to read. I read two books while I was gone. One was really, really bad writing. I won't name it here. I almost put it away in disgust, but then my husband said something that struck me. He said you need to read the bad stuff too, so you know what you DON'T want to write like. So I read it. It was painful and I felt like I wasted my time.

Then I read another book that started slow for me, but in the end I loved it. It's written in present tense, which I kind of like, and is a perfect YA book. The protag doesn't speak so it's mostly narrative, and very well-done at that. It's listed below.

Reading: SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson

Making Time,

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Break!

Status of my Life: It's Spring Break! And all the snow is gone and it actually feels like spring. Revising SHADOWS, going to get back to work on ELITE. It's unavoidable now that FREEBIES is done...

Janet Reid has a very interesting post on her blog. She reviewed my query for me, so I just love her to pieces. This post gives me new hope. I haven't queried yet, but I make at least a thousand mistakes a day, so it's good to know that mistakes are accepted, even in the publishing world. Thanks Ms. Reid!

I also submitted my first chapter of SHADOWS to Ray Rhamey on Flogging the Quill. He said to be patient, but I can't wait to be flogged!

I'm very tired today because I stayed up until midnight going through my revised and edited chapters of SHADOWS to get ready to submit the next chapter this week. As soon as I laid down, my mind thought about Jag and Vi, my Free-Thinkers in FREEBIES. I attempted a query letter earlier in the day, but suddenly a hook sentence occurred to me. I tried to ignore it. It was already Monday, and although it is Spring Break, I wanted to sleep. I knew the words wouldn't be there in the morning, so I dragged my sorry self out of bed and typed up the query. It reeks, but it's a start, and it didn't look too bad this morning. That's saying something as I usually delete everything that's written after 10 PM. I don't know why I bother staying up...crazy, maybe?

Reading: GREGOR AND THE CODE OF THE CLAW by Suzanne Collins

I'm out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Not Really Finished

Status of my Life: I finished FREEBIES--a dystopian sci fi novel--today. Yea for me. It's my fourth finished novel, but probably only the second one I'll let anyone read. My first novel, SHADOWS is going through the wringer with two critique groups and a couple of online friends. Thanks guys!

So I finished a MS today. Does that really mean it's done? Of course not. It's just the first draft. Still, it felt great to have the story out of my head and on the computer. I'll leave it for at least a week. (I will, I will, I will!)

Then I'll come back to it and make an outline. Since I never write from an outline, the story just goes wherever it wants, whatever I think of in the shower, or the car, or the line at the post office. So then I go back and outline my major story lines, making sure everything fits together the way it should. I learned to do this from this great post at the QueryTracker blog.

Then I'll go back and examine the scenes, the dialog, the word choice, the sentence fluency. Then I'll probably torture my critique groups with reading it where they'll chop and slice my scenes, dialog, word choice and sentence fluency. They'll make me question why I write at all. They'll make me wonder if this story isn't just pure garbage. I've felt all of these things as SHADOWS has gone through the group, and I'm only on chapter 8!

At some point, I'll try to write a query letter, which will, ultimately, suck. Then I'll post that at AgentQuery and QueryTracker and let others help me get it just right. Then it will change at least ten times as I attempt to write it again and again using just the right words in just the right order.

Then I'll start compulsively researching agents who represent YA sci fi, making a list and checking it twice. But I won't query until the MS has been beta-read, polished, sat for another week, and then read again.

Because one novel can take 6-8 months for a crit group to read, I should be ready to query for this novel by next spring. I'm planning on querying for SHADOWS just after Labor day, and it's been done for two months. Well, done is such a relative term. Is it ever really done?

By then, I'll have another novel done, SHADOWS may not be through the crits yet, and again I'll wonder: Why am I doing this?

Oh yeah, I love to write.

Reading: AIRMAN by Eoin Colfer

PS. A big shout-out to one of my critique buddies. His first hundred words got an honorable mention on the Bookends blog. His story was Hannah's Voice. Way to go, Robb!


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Going Nuts

Status of my Life: Sticking with SHADOWS and writing the third part of FREEBIES. My husband is out of town, so I can write like crazy and stay up late and he won't know... But PRETTIES came today and I might have to spend the night reading that. We'll see.

So I decided that I need to write how I want to write. If I want one of my protag's to "break the fourth wall" and talk to the audience, darn it, he's going to do it. It makes his voice so much better and I like it. My crit group is split. I'm starting an actual in-person crit group next week and I'll run it by them too. I'm not sure if this is personal preference or against the biz, but we'll find out!

Reading: PRETTIES by Scott Westerfeld

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Found a New Site

Status of my Life: Working on whatever comes into my mind. Right now I'm bouncing between SHADOWS and a new WIP I've decided to call FREEBIES. Watching American Idol on DVR. Sweet!

I was browsing the forums on Query Tracker and came across a thread with this site: Flogging the Quill. I think I may submit and see how he rips me apart...

I've also been thinking a lot about my writing. I've had my critique group ripping apart my ms and it's actually good, but I'm wondering if I'm starting to lose my own vision and my own voice. I'm thinking I need to make sure that I write how I want to write.

Reading: CHARACTERS AND VIEWPOINT by Orson Scott Card. PRETTIES came in at the library! That's by Scott Westerfeld, of course.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

First Sentence Honorable Mention

Status of my Life: Writing my climax today in SHADOWS. After several weeks, I think I've finally brainstormed it out. We'll see.

I read a lot of blogs. My husband doesn't get it. One I like is Redlines and Deadlines. They have a contest for writers on a pretty regular basis. I entered the "Start the Story" contest last week. You could enter the first line for a novel. I entered the first line of my novel, ELITE, and it got an honorable mention.

Again, my husband didn't get my excitement. I mean, editors at a publishing house thought my first line was good enough to mention on their blog? Okay, so it didn't win, but it was mentioned! It made my whole week, maybe my month!

My line is: When I was a child, I didn't dream of growing up to be an international bank thief, but sometimes dreams don't come true.

Reading: PEEPS by Scott Westerfeld

Floating, RedDuck

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Agent Rips Apart My Query

Status of my Life: Started a new work over the weekend since I'm sick of my SHADOWS. It's untitled. I need mental help. I have about five WIP's now.

I read a lot of blogs. I read Janet Reid's blog on Monday and she called for queries for something she's doing at a conference. I submitted mine and she accepted it, and gave a critique of it. So valuable! I revised it and re-sent it, and she labeled it "great revision example"! Her advice was to let it sit for a week and then go over it again. I'm obeying. Haven't touched it since.

Thanks Ms. Reid!

Reading: The Waterstone by Rebecca Rupp


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