Monday, October 29, 2012

Calm before the storm?

Is it poor form to make storm-related double entendres yet? Maybe. Possibly.
Whatever. I'm sticking with it.

(All jokes aside though, to all my east coast people--PLEASE, be safe. I'm totally land-locked and find myself continually refreshing CNN, fascinated by how powerful Mother Nature can be.)

On to my post...

It's that time of the year, my friends. That time when everyone's Twitter feed is besieged with random numbers and people are talking about "nano" and you may or may not know what the hell they're talking about.

Who am I kidding? I know you guys who read my blog. You all know NaNo. Heck, you're probably doing it too this year.

National Novel Writing Month starts on Thursday.
My new big pimpin' job* starts on Wednesday.

What's that? A new job, you ask? Exciting, right? I got a new job as an analyst (cue gigglesnorts at such a technical sounding job) and start on Wednesday. So much for all that free time during my work day that got me through the past three NaNo years...

So, this 30-day insanity is right around the corner. I've decided to do a full re-write of my 2010 NaNo. I made this decision about a week ago. I'm really good at last minute stuff.

Since deciding on my story, I created a much more manageable outline and have cut some plot lines that were simply too confusing. I feel like I'm possibly copping out by doing that, but sometimes, you just have to make your story the easiest to understand. The K.I.S.S. motif and all that jazz.

But right now, I'm feeling a touch nervous. It's probably 90% due to starting a new job and all the craziness that comes with a big change. I have to admit that I'm nervous about writing this story though.  Have I done enough planning? Is my outline solid? Are my characters legit? I'm second guessing everything, but I think I do this every year.

So, I'm going on faith. I know how to hit 50K. Heck, I know how to hit 50K before Thanksgiving. I'll be okay. I know this story SO well. I can do this.

Tonight I will read over my outline and make any last minute additions/changes. And then I'm going to start my new job on Halloween. And the day after that?

That day, I shall write.

(*With my first fancy paycheck, I'm buying Jay-Z's greatest hits. You heard it here first, folks.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Decisions, decisions

Hi, world. A wild and crazy idea is going through my head right now and I'd love to hear your thoughts (if you have time).

I enjoy writing, but I never really knew which genre to call "home". My 2009 NaNo was fantasy YA (though one reader thought it was MG), 2010 was MG, and 2011 was futuristic YA.

Now, plotting for 2012, I'm looking at a thriller YA. I even have 30+ pages of hand written notes, outlines, setting research, and an overall plan in place.

So, it sounds like I'm more of a YA writer, no?

But there's this Middle Grade story from 2010 (I talked about it here last week) that won't let go. I look at it and feel 66% "Man, I love this story so much!" and 33% "Holy literary nightmare, this needs SO much work. Impossible!"

I think I'm experiencing a writerly personality conflict. I don't know where I belong. I enjoy the innocence of MG but still like the ability to make my MC a touch older, bringing with them slightly older experiences. I don't mean sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, but more like the believability of my MC running around a city on their own. It's more plausible in YA than in MG.

I read an agent blog the other day who was essentially BEGGING for MG books. It lit a fire to return to my MG story and give it an honest shot.

I have approximately two weeks to decide which book to write for this year's NaNo: the YA thriller I've been outlining, or dramatically shifting gears and re-writing my 2010 MG, fixing the holes/issues. On the other hand, I don't want to re-write the story just because some "dream agent" said they wanted MG.

I guess I need to do some soul-searching. I don't know how to fix all that needs fixing in my MG and that fear is holding me back.

Anyone? Bueller? How have you handled a re-write, especially if you weren't 100% sure of what needed to be fixed and/or re-written?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Week 16

My lovely friend Adrianne Russell tagged me in The Next Big Thing blog series. I regretted the decision the moment I agreed to participate. I thought first of all, I'm not the "next big thing", and sharing my story info with "real" writers would somehow cheapen their "real" status.

Then I removed my self doubt hat and took a second look at the questions. Okay, it doesn't look too bad. I could give it a shot... Warning: one-sentence synopses are EVIL.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Oh crap. Really? We're starting with a title question? Let me preface this by saying I LOATHE titles, so this has been referred to as "My 2010 NaNo" since, well, 2010. I'd like to think the title somehow reflects the idea of David Fitzgerald (my MC), the Guardian, Fragments, and Year 1. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I knew I wanted to write a book set in Ireland. For MG boys. Without magic. That incorporated multiple continents. And a puzzle or riddle. I also wanted to try and break the Curse of the Missing Parents you see so often in MG stories. That has been the hardest part so far, creating a story with an independent MC, but who also has a good relationship with his parents. Much easier said than done.

What genre does your book fall under?
Middle grade. Boom. Easiest question I've answered all day.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
My MC is 12 and I'm not familiar with any 12yo actors, so I really can't answer this. But I would LOVE to see Tim Curry as the gardener.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
12 year old David Fitzgerald is trying to survive boarding school in another country, but when he learns he is the next Guardian, responsible for collecting Fragments scattered across the globe, he realizes there is more at stake than school--like navigating overgrown mazes, fighting Mudruks, and saving his dad.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This is hypothetically speaking, right? Repped by an agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took about 4-5 months to really round out the first draft, but the ending was garbage. I was okay with it at the time because I knew I had to redo plot lines earlier in the story that would change the ending.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I really enjoyed Rick Riordan's PERCY JACKSON books. Not only were they set in "real time", but he also crafted a real relationship between Percy and his mom. THE 39 CLUES books did a great job of introducing a large cast of characters and weaving in riddles and puzzles.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Two things. One, my nephews. I wanted to write a fun adventure story for them. Whenever I get stuck or question if the reactions are real, I think about what they'd do. They are two total opposite personalities, so if one would cry in danger, the other would probably run toward it. I try to balance both of those.

Second, if you ever saw the 2nd Pirates of the Caribbean movie, at the end, you see Jack Sparrow looking at a circular map with opposite moving panels. I saw that and knew I needed to work something similar into my story. I'm not sure if it's going to stay (Kill your darlings and all that nonsense), but it lit the creative spark.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I've heard feedback from readers/friends that the idea of having to solve riddles and puzzles is great. I stumped my writing group, and they're a pretty savvy bunch of readers! Also, while the book stands alone, I have the outline for 2 other books. Since the plot deals with different continents and there are 7 to choose from, I have an abundance of source material to create stories with amazing, rich settings!

Paying it forward:
This is the part where my hard work pays off. I chose to tag two writers who have some serious writing chops AND who have super interesting stories. I'm nosey like that. I want to know their answers!

Sarah Ahiers at Falen Formulates Fiction
Sommer Leigh at Tell Great Stories

How about you? Have you been tagged in The Next Big Thing? Do you hate one-sentence synopses as much as me?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG: As The World Turns

Happy first Wednesday of the month, world! That means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a fabu resource that I've been remiss in joining, lately. Sorry. :(

News alert, guys: The world goes on.

Shocking, I know.

But I spend far too much time worrying about what everyone else is doing, and not focusing on myself. [And I just had a Holy Crap Moment because that is EXACTLY what my teachers used to put on my report cards when I was in elementary school. Apparently, I haven't grown up...]

This started earlier in the week when a friend who has never expressed an interest in writing informed me that she had an idea for a 3-book children's self-help series. When we got off the phone on Monday, her plan was to finish writing the first book, outline the other two, and get her query letter done... all by the weekend. If an agent isn't interested, that's okay. She'll print her own copies and distribute to major opinion leaders she thinks will be interested. Have I mentioned that she's never written anything before in her life?

I wasted SO MUCH MENTAL ENERGY thinking about the audacity of the entire situation. Who is this person to think they can just bang out a story and a query letter in 7 days?

Then it hit me: instead of stewing, I should be writing. Instead of being mad at her for feeling like she isn't respecting the process, I should acknowledge it for what it is--her dream and not mine. My path is different, and is paved with years of experience, research, reading, and the loveliest part of it all, the writing. I've put in my own work to reach my own dream and I'm grateful it's taken more than a week.

So I am trying to accept things that are out of my control. I am focusing on my own dreams. I am accepting that the world goes on. Authors sign with agents every day. Books are sold to publishers every day. Sitting around, fretting, stewing, and feeling the ugly fingers of bitterness and jealousy tugging at my soul is NOT the solution.

The world goes on.
Sorry if I don't notice it, though. I'm busy writing.
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