Monday, September 28, 2009

Awesome Conference

So the conference was very awesome. I met some new writing critique people. I went and socialized with people (I wasn't totally successful at this being a true and utter introvert). I came home early on Saturday--only socializing was going on--because my head hurt and I just couldn't make myself do it anymore. Whew!

But at lunch I sat at a table with an actual real live editor and then chatted with her in the lobby for a few minutes. I managed to just ask her about how she ended up in editing and she was so nice and friendly and happy. I must say I was so impressed with the editors at this conference. They were very friendly and accommodating. They made themselves available to have people talk to them. It was refreshing and made me less scared of editors.

They had a First Pages. And my First Page was picked. That was a moment. My heart just started pounding. They pointed out somethings I could do better. No one laughed at my page--which actually did happen, and they didn't rip it apart either. It was a really good experience, but very surreal and scary at the same time. Still I'm totally glad that it happened.

I will update with my notes throughout the week, maybe next two weeks, but I want to focus on writing the rest of the night. I must say that Carrie Ryan spoke. (She wrote The Forest of Hands and Teeth.) Frankly I would take a writing seminar from her if she ever offered one. I've never, ever been so impressed with a class I had on writing. So I'm just saying man. Five pages chock full of notes, and she only spoke forty minutes. Plus she was so nice in person.

Happy Writing!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Five

1. Today I'm off to the local SCBWI Conference. I'm having a critique done in about an hour and I'n excited and nervous. I'm super excited to go the entire conference. It's nice because I still get to come home every night and sleep in my own bed, which really does make a difference to me.

2. I had Rob look over my query which I've reworked again, and again, and again. And i think he managed to make some very good changes. But I did have to edit it down some. Rob is an excellent writer. He has always been praised for his work whether fiction or otherwise and has been offered jobs for his writing. I'd love to see him write one of the books he keeps talking about.

3. So today I did my hair, painted my toe nails and put on my make up. Generally I disdain from doing such things. Too much time spent on it, but today and this weekend, I'm putting my best face forward. I'm dressing professionally and figure that my hair and face should match. Plus I'm wearing high heeled open toed shoes, got to have nice toe nails.

4. I've completely plotted out my rewrites to the plot, which were helped along by the new query letter and I think I can have them done next week. Then I'll start querying in earnest. For real, I'm not putting it off anymore, because I'll have done everything I possibly can to improve my novel.

5. Next week, I'm going to get into a great routine (which is being started with this conference and how early I have to get up to get there). This means I'll exercise every day and get a lot of writing done. This is really the catalyst I need to get a solid routine going.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Words of Advice from a Published Writer

I just got back from a book signing. Sarah Dessen spoke at Barnes and Noble along with two other fabulous writers. I was excited to go simply because I'd been wanting to go to a Sarah Dessen event since she is local to the general area, but none of her previous signings this summer worked out with my schedule. It made me even happier to realize this week that the focus was to talk about the writing process. Sweet, best topic I love to listen to.

I'm actually a big fan of Sarah Dessen. They have this quality that is hard to define. They are so enjoyable to read. They are definitely not fluff. They address harder issues, but they also have a literary quality to them. I knew that it would mostly be teens there and it was. I'm starting to feel old, but I didn't care. It was so worth going.

Sage words of wisdom gathered.

Write every day at the same time.

Everyone writes a novel differently. (Sarah doesn't use an outline, just has a general direction in mind.)

Keep at it.

Realize that your first draft isn't the last draft.

Don't keep reediting every sentence into perfection in your first draft.

They also talked about how none of the writer's thinking workshopping a novel is effective until it is completely finished.

So this week is an excellent week. It was a great session and then I'm headed off to the writer's conference this weekend. Everything is local so I feel very spoiled although I'm sure Rob feels slightly abandoned. Hey, he had DragonCon and he's going hiking in October.

So what's your favorite piece of writing advice?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Plot, Old Movies and Super Powers

Tonight my kids watched The Sword and the Stone. I remember watching the movie as a child and really liking it. My kids were very interested in it. But today as I listened to it while I did various chores around the house I started wondering about the plot. Did every scene included drive the plot forward? Was every scene necessary? And additionally was every part of the scene necessary?

Thinking about my Isis novel and the changes I want to make to it and then thinking about my current novel and the plot line I've roughly sketched out. I've asked myself that same question does each scene move the plot forward?

There are a few scenes in Isis that are really just info dumps. I did a lot of world building through conversation, but Dane and Isis are building their relationship as well, so I thought it would work. Now I'm thinking not so much. So I've reinvented the plot slightly. I'm adding a few totally new scenes, making a few changes so that my scenes work, reordering a few things and then each scene will matter. And it makes Isis' motivations much stronger.

With my next story Selena is my main character and right now my story wants to go another direction from the plot. My gut is telling me that the scenes I want to write don't move the plot forward. I want to show some inner conflict and world contrasting, but it feels like it is just going the wrong way. I didn't add to the plot this weekend because I wanted to make sure I was taking the story the right direction. And the more I think it about the more I think my gut reaction is right. If I were reading I'd want to keep reading the direction that I'm trying to write.

Finally superpowers. My son is going to sleep tonight and made these observations.

Caleb: If I can see what just happened at Grandma's house, is that my mind?

Me: No that's your imagination

Caleb: No it's real. It really happened, so is it my mind?

Me: Sure it's your mind (I figure it's happening in his mind right?)

Caleb: Oh and I can see through walls

Then he went to sleep. I'd love some super powers. Not that long ago I was on a ladies night out and all of us had to answer the question for what super power they'd want and why. Me I'd love the ability to get the cooking and cleaning done in ten minutes. That's my kind of super power. A lot of people said flying, but that's not me. I wouldn't mind being able to move very fast, speed of light fast. Yeah, that'd be mine.

So what's your superpower and why?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Five

1. So I have been happily (I might really emphasize the word happily) t.v. free all summer. I'm talking about the weeknight T.V. I happily ignored all reruns, new shows or whatever, though I did watch the occasional Ghost Hunters with Rob. He is way too interested in that show and even has the autographs of all the people on it, thanks to DragonCon. Steve and Tango are starting a shoot off show, which I'll be tempted to add to my line up. They are my favorite two people on the show. I love the way they interact with each other. It makes me laugh, all the bugs, and animals and the jumping away, but I digress. My real point was that I didn't have to worry about the new episodes of this or that and I write in the evenings, so TV puts a real crimp in my goals. But The Office premiered last night. Glad to have everyone back, but it would have been fun for the Interns to stick around a bit longer. And sadly I really, really like Glee, although I'm going to use Hulu to watch that one and sort the laundry while I do. Rob won't put up with it. And then there is Big Bang Theory, which premieres on Monday. Yeah, that is one of my most favorite shows ever.

2. My query needs work. My plot line needs work. I want to write the query to my new book before I write any more in my new WIP. I had my plot thought out and suddenly I don't want to take it that way. I feel like I'm slowing down the story, but not going that way and not seeing that internal struggle, completely changes my entire premise. Yikes! What's a girl to do?

3. I have yet to get into a good routine since school has started. I thrive on routine or I don't get the important stuff done, like writing or exercising or waking up in the morning. I'm also someone who does better with specific, tangible goals. I like to display them where I will see them on a regular basis. In fact my college roommates use to make fun of me. But I need to get some of those up right now.

4. I'm super excited for the writer's conference next weekend! I'm having a critique done. I love getting feedback from complete strangers. It's a lot more honest than the other kind. So that is a happy thing.

5. I'm hungry so I'm going to go eat leftovers as an early lunch! And also this much more exciting we are taking the kiddos to the They Might Be Giants concert tomorrow. If we don't get rained out. Please sun come out and shine down on us!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

High School Memories

Today I am in cleaning mode. The goal to completely get the toy room to an acceptable state of cleanliness. It has not been in that state all summer.

As I was going through everything, dragging a garbage bag behind me I happened upon an old wallet insert of pictures from high school. I don't know why my kids have it out and about. I thought, hmm. It's been more than ten years. I don't talk to these people anymore (sad huh?) and I haven't thought about them in a long time. So I'll just throw it away. Of course I had to flip through it.

Some of the people I don't know the names of (really these were boys that dated my not-so-close friends). But since they were pictures of dances. The nights stand out in my memory.

I found a picture of my first boyfriend, and one of my first love (not the same person) and one that reminds me of the time I was the meanest to another person. And another that reminds me of the butterfly feeling of the beginning of a relationship.

I found pictures of friends that I was close to in middle school, but not so much in high school, but who still make me smile when I think about them. I looked at the picture of my best friend in high school, and I'm just so sad that we aren't friends anymore. A lot of miscommunication the summer before I left for college and then the fact that I was really the only one who left and I didn't come back.

After a few minutes, and being tumbled around in the memories and the emotions that came rushing back. I decided to keep it. If anything I can look back at it when I need inspiration for emotions in a story. But ultimately high school had its good times and its bad times. Friends were there the entire time.

Since I write for the Young Adult audience, I think it is important that I'm able to remember the ups and downs and the feelings of being a teenager. The world has changed a lot since I was in high school. It's amazing to think about how much, but I don't think the situations, the relationships and the friendships have. That's what is at the core of a great story. That is what should be at the core of my writing.

How do you use your past to influence your writing?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Five

1. I had my writer's group meeting this week. I must say that I enjoyed it. It is great to spend the evening talking about writing, and learning about writing. I love writing and I love being around people who love writing too. The SCBWI Carolinas conference is just a few weeks away and I'm so excited to get to meet more writers that are fairly local. It should be awesome.

2. Today is 9-11 and I can't write a blog without mentioning it. At random times today I'd remember and think back on where I was that day. While many of us have recovered those who have lost loved ones must still fill the loss. Today I think of them and their sadness.

3. I've realized that a lot goes into writing a novel, but for me it is a lot more work to revise. That doesn't mean that I don't want to revise or that I think I'm above revising. I just think it is harder to revise than to write. But I know other writers feel differently. The wonderful thing about it is that at any point of the process you are still working towards the same thing, the same goal the same end. I know in revision you are making things lots stronger.

4. I wanted to mention a new ebook that's available about the querying process. It's called From the Query to the Call and it's by Elana Johnson. I really enjoy her blog and the book promises to be chockfull of information. Beth Revis from Writing It Out gave it this great review. The thing that stood out to me is that she has a query response rate of 1 out of three letters. That's really, really good.

5. It's been a glorious fall day. I love fall it makes me happy. today I've had that fluttry something exciting feeling all day. I'm sure it's just the crisp fall weather, but it reminds me of those exciting first few moments in your relationship. Maybe I'm just getting it all mixed up because my husband and I started dating in the fall years, and years ago. Sigh. Anyway if this feeling comes to fruition I'll be sure to share the joy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Feeling Renewed

Last week I wrote about my reader's funk. Well I've come out of it. A combination of paranormal books and some wonderful fluff books. I've been thinking about the books that I call fluff. It sounds so bad, like I'm looking down on the books. But I don't feel that way. I love the fluff. So I need to come up with a new name for them. For me I put the happy romances that don't address any deep meaningful themes into fluff. You know the escapist books. Complete escapist fiction. Maybe I'll just change it to escapist novels. That sounds much better.

Mental note: Fluff is now escapist fiction.

My point is I read three novels today. Yes three of these happy escapist novels. And I feel much happier. Plus I read with the boys, ran errands and was a good person. My house even got marginally cleaner. But I feel very renewed.

My four year old made my day. He got out his remote control car set. (A very nice remote control car set that he no longer has the car too, or the remote. The car was broken within three weeks, and I've slowly been throwing away the pieces as they have presented themselves to me when I'm in a purging mood. Unfortunately Caleb usually follows around behind me and fishes his toys out of the purging bag. So it has taken a long time to get rid of.) Back to the story. He gets out the kit which currently consists of some types of shocks and the wire that attaches to the car.

Then he threads the shocks on the antenna, bends the antenna, and hooks it into a circle, which he hands to me.

"Here's a bracelet for you mom." He slips it onto my wrist. This really made my day. It's got it's own sense of style. I'd take a picture, but it'd only be blurry.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Five

1. I started really writing my other novel this month. My goal is to be done by the end of October, because I have a novel I want to write for NaNovMo. So I figure 75,000 words divided by 48 writing days means roughly 1500-1600 words a day. I can actually do that. I'm going to do that. But I'm so much happier writing again versus rewriting. I know roughly where I am going, and how I'm getting there, but it is so much fun discovering it as I go. For instance I just met my romantic interest. I knew he was coming soon. I knew that he'd be involved in the resistance. I didn't know how they'd meet or what he'd look like. Ahh, swoon. He's hot, and tough, and funny. (not the type of guy I'd normally fall for--I like the bookish geeky types of things)

2. So my novel that I thought is ready, isn't quite ready, but it is nearly there. So I'm hoping end of September, not August. Sigh. It's time to get it out there, but I want it to sell. So it's not going until I'm ready.

3. So DragonCon is this weekend. I've been hearing a lot about it from some people who are going. I wish that I were going too. But maybe next year. I've never been to one. See I've hidden my inner geek from the world. (My mom gets offended when I call myself a geek, but I own up to it.) There is a young adult literature and writer's track there, and that's where I'd be. (I don't dress up in characters and stuff, but I think it's cool if you want to. But there is a game that sounds fun that people play at those conferences, that I may have liked playing when I was in high school if I hadn't been so self conscious.)

4. My goal for this weekend is to some deep cleaning. Throwing stuff away, giving stuff away. Just basically getting rid of a lot of stuff. I'm tired of how much stuff three kids collect. And it needs to go! I'm considering going down to toyless. (It won't happen, I'm not cruel. But new rules are being instituted that allows me to throw away stuff they won't put away. A few weeks and they will start picking up the two toys that they have left. Right?)

5. It's Fall. The temperatures have been cool. Oh, it's wonderful. My daughter has been complaining that she needs to wear a jacket at the bus stop in the mornings. It's in the 60s and all I can do is smile. I grew up in a different state, and it would always feel like this there. In North Carolina, it's usually not this cool until October. I'm sure the temperatures will go back up, but I've loved this week. I can't wait until the leaves change colors. But then I'm traffic hazard. Seriously several near misses because I'm staring at all of the trees.

Plot, Tension and Mapping

So I'm working on my tension in my book. It starts out high, drops down (slows down) and then builds back up at the end. But I want a more sustained and building tension in my novel. A critiquer gave me a few tips, and I thought about reordering some of my plot. Well I decided that I needed to see each scene and the purpose of the scene. I can do this on Scrivener, which is completely awesome by the way. But I wanted it to be bigger. I wanted to physically be able to move things around and decide if that change would work or not.

So I got out my trusty post it notes and turned my wall into a big board. It has helped. A lot. My darling husband glanced at the notes and said, "Gee it looks like your action drops off in the middle" Well yes, yes it does, hence the post it notes. Seriously this I will be doing again for my other novels. Yup. I like it.

My darling son loves to pose for photos and stuck his head in the picture. He's trained. The camera comes out, he freezes for a minute, smiling and then waits until someone says we're done. Trust me that's not my fault. I can't take a picture period. I posted stuff on Craigslist today and the pictures were blurry. Yikes.

So I'm going to be shifting a few things here and there and changing the way they learn the information in different places. Hopefully my tension will build earlier on and keep going up the to end.