Friday, July 29, 2011

Following the News

The past few days while I've been sitting on that email problem, I have been finding more blogs to read, more news on publishing to examine. One of my favorite blogs is Nathan Bransford's, because every Friday he does a "This Week in Books" that has links to interesting blog posts, publishing news etc etc. But one thing that caught my eye this week was a comment on his forum about losing your muse.

For those writer's out there (you are out there, I know you are, probably typing frantically in a dark room while in the back of your mind you know you should be out enjoying the sun which has blessed the great NW) you know what I'm talking about. That point in your writing where you sit down to type and....nothing happens.

Ahhh writer's block. We must keep at it though, because otherwise we will never finish our lovely little projects.

In other news, I am quite depressed by the fate of Borders, which is talking liquidation. I have spent many happy hours in their stores poring over books, sometimes finding a gem and others wondering how the heck the author thought this would be a good synopsis for the back cover.

So, for those of you who are bookly inclined, these are some of the sites I read:

Nathan Bransford's Blog
Young Adult Books Central (my genre)
Writer's Beware
Publisher's Weekly

Of course there are more, but I haven't bookmarked them yet :) Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Technical Difficulty

You know, I always thought the hardest part of getting published would be finding an agent, then finding a publisher, and surviving all the rejections and wait time in between. But at the moment, it feels like the computer will be the death of me.

Well, no that's not right. Not the computer itself, which has very kindly taken abuse from my frantically typing fingers when I get an idea. But email. I am on a laptop, and as of yet do not have Outlook Express on it. Instead I have something called Windows Live Mail, which should be simple, right? Wrong. I can not for the life of me figure out how to embed text in the body of an email.

Considering how long it took me to figure out how to do this on Outlook, this is not very surprising, but graaaah it makes me want to pull my hair out. I am finally prepared so send off chapter one to another agency, and I can't even understand my flipping email.

Back to the internet to peruse for answers. Talk to you soon, if I haven't beaten up my computer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"This isn't so bad"

This post will not be about writing per say. Maybe once I'm through I will connect it back to one of my many stories. But right now I want to talk about life. I work in a small town, and am farther away from my family than I have been in my life. I have also been gone from home longer than I've ever been. Every day has a routine in my life down here, and I do honestly enjoy it. I miss my friends, but that's to be expected.

My best friend keeps making excuses not to come visit me, even though she's only a few hours away by car. And yesterday my other friend came down to visit me by herself. And it was fantastic. We walked on the beach, got to use the carjack for the first time, and had Mexican food for dinner. Then we went back to the house and talked.

And as all girls do, our talk turned to boys. I am what you might call a serial monogamist. Not in the creepy, I-jump-into-serious-relationships-with-every-average-Joe kind of of way, but I've been in three long term relationships (well, long for my age group). And the most recent one ended with me in tears and hurting more than I ever have in my life  (excepting the time I broke my ankle in gymnastics, but that is a different sort of pain).

And it got me thinking about how I feel now, five months later. Do I still miss the guy who left me? I don't know. Do I wish things had ended differently or at all? Again I don't know. And I hate not knowing. What I do know is that my life is a happy one. I may not see my parents all that much, and my friends might already be drifting away from me. But I can say with certainty that I am content. And despite being a serial monogamist, I am okay with being alone.

Now to tie it back in to writing as I said I'd try to. I have started and stopped writing several books. One romance novel I had written 80 pages of was lost in a computer crash. And I had really liked the story. There is an element of romance in most of the things I write. And I wonder why that is. Is it because I myself have had so many romance-esque parts of my life that it leaks through accidentally? Or is it because all of my relationships have ended that I want to write a happy ending for people I can not, and never will, meet?

I don't have answers. But I hope that my pain, as it has with so many writers, will fuel my novels and add clarity and promote sympathy within readers. And at the same time my contentment with being alone will make my characters seem strong, as I so often wish I could be, and able to stand by themselves, look around and say:

"This isn't so bad."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Revelation of Small Proportions

I'm taking a small break from querying and researching agents. Partially this is because I have little time to query, am working on cutting my word count, as well as getting rid of the "that"s. However, I now have another reason.

Another plot point, that should hopefully reduce my word count rather than increase it. You see, in Deceptor, the main character's father has been offered a new job. Now, on a short tangent that should make sense in a moment, how many other people have revelations while in the shower? I know I do. It was under the warm spray that I realized that my family was conspiring to have my favorite cousin surprise me at school. And lo and behold, she was waiting outside my last period that day. So, how does this connect with Sarah's father? Well, it came in a flash to me that it would have been rather rare in the late 17th century, early 18th century, for a person to be offered a job on another continent. News didn't travel very quickly back then.

So instead, I am changing that part of the plot. I don't want to give away too much, but it involves a man named Rupert, who owns the Hapsburg manor that the Whitmans live in, and who visits when Sarah is ten.

Showers can be wonderful things.

Has anyone else had a revelation like this that changed their story? What was it?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting my Write On

Well it's been a hectic week to say the least. I'm putting in shifts at work 5 days a week, and feeling like a regular working Joe, minus the suit. Today is my day off, and aside from hammering out some details of college stuff (FERPA you will be the end of me) I have actually gotten the chance to write!! After work I'm normally so tired all I want to do is eat dinner then fall into bed with my stuffed manatee, Queequeg. But today I started working again on my sci-fi novel, with the help of some useful advice from my fellow writer and correspondent.

And it's going rather well. I have yet to write a new scene (probably will once I've finished writing this), but some much needed detail and clarification has been added. On the front of my other story, which sports the "that" monster as well as an excessive word count, progress is slow. While on my lunch break I pull out my computer and get through a page or two, but then my time is up.

On a happier note, I met Megan Bostic! You may have seen her blog, and her new book, Never Eighteen is debuting this winter. She gave me her card, and told me to email her if I have questions about querying or writing. Which I do aplenty. I had jelly-legs for a quarter of an hour, and was practically bouncing off the walls to tell my friends.

Overall, not a bad week.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How Long Was That??

Since I wrote my book for my senior project, I was required to get a certain amount of work done. 60 hours minimum to be precise. By the time my project was done, I had close to 300 hours, and 3 drafts of my book. Now, I added a second point of view (Jonathan's) which understandably increased the word count.

So now my book is at 118,000 words. In a word - YIKES! Not only am I a teenage writer, but I'm also a first time writer. What agent is going to want to take on a writer with a book that long? And what buyer is going to want to read a book by a first time writer that is that long?

So I've begun editing once again. First I plan on going through and cutting excess verbiage in the form of metaphors and all the literary phrases that sounded so good when I wrote them that are not actually that great. And then, depending on how many words I can cut, I shall go in and start cutting scenes.

So.painful.yet.so.necessary.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Human Spectacle

I work in a small town, even smaller than the one I live in. There is a fantastic view of the ocean, which I appreciate, and often use as fuel for my own novel. But there is very little in the way of stuff to do, if you have spent enough time there to have already gone to the small museum and gotten ice cream.

While I work I like to watch the people, make stories about why they have visited my little town, and what prompted them to come to this store. Unfortunately, this can lead to some rather awkward spacing out moments. Take today for example - I was contemplating this family of 6 or 7, with 3 children all girls. Just as I was internally debating whether or not they were in town for a reunion, or for the 4th of July, or just on a family jaunt, I noticed someone staring at me.

Because apparently I'd been staring at him. Oppsies. Sometimes being a writer and thinking about these sorts of things can lead to not only looking at the human spectacle, but being part of it myself.

Must remind self not to space out at work.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Monster In the Manuscript

Oh yes, you know what I'm talking about. The word which makes writers cringe, and which many claim should be eradicated from the English language. The word which is at once the epitome of monotony and as bland as beige. You know it - you dread it while reading, and seeing it too many times causes the same reaction in you as scraping fingers down a chalk board - or in my case, crinkling Styrofoam.

That.

Did you see it coming? I hope so. Now, as I am in the process of researching and timidly querying agents, as well as ensconced at my Uncle's house for work over the summer, I have begun (once again) to tinker with my manuscript.

After reading a short post on Miss Snark's dead blog about the horrors of the word "that", I decided it was time to see how many of those ugly green monsters resided in my own novel. Horrifically I had forgotten about the tabboo and blandness of "that". There were 1,451 uses of the evil word. I'm hoping some of them are part of other words like... thatch or thataway or photosynthate.

As you can guess, the chances of my using the term photosynthate in a pirate novel are pretty darn slim.

Time to cull the evil from my novel. I shall be back after the battle!

Friday, July 1, 2011

After A Respite

My last post seemed rather desolate, didn't it? Well I'm happy to announce that I am in a much peppier spirit. Since graduation, and the resultant time spent at friends' houses signing yearbooks, I have come to a truce with my silly emotions. And have embarked on a much more exciting journey - finding a literary agent.

Those two words still send chills down my body. I started with the obvious - researching different agencies that handle young adult fiction. And, quite quickly, I found sites that I absolutely love. It may be a little late to jump on the band-wagon, but for those of you who aren't aware of them, you need to check them out!

1) Preditors and Editors: This site is great for avoiding scams, agencies that have closed down, and those that require you to use their editing service.

2) Association of Authors' Representatives: This site is another fantastic place to look up agents. Some of them list the genres they are looking for, which is wonderful so you don't have to spend twenty minutes perusing an agency's site to find out they aren't accepting queries from certain genres

3) Absolute Write Water Cooler: I know, I know, it's a forum. But it's a useful resource for seeing what other peoples' experiences have been with agencies. Quite heartening to know we aren't the only ones out there struggling to find that one person to help transform us from struggling writer to a happy one.

4) Miss Snark's Blog: Perhaps you've already heard of her. You've read through her advice and seen the singed feathers and meticulous tearing down of our puffed up ideals, all surrounded by anecdotes about George Clooney and her adorable dog, Killer Yapp. In a nutshell, every author's dream when it comes to writing a query letter.

I hope these links help you other writers out there, if you haven't already found them!