Posted in News

Blog Hopping for Nobody’s Goddess

Thanks to the awesomeness of other authors, bloggers and book websites, I’m going to be stopping by a number of sites to promote NOBODY’S GODDESS over the next few months. Most of these will take place near my book’s release, but it started back in March. I was asked a lot of fun and challenging questions for interviews, so if you’re interested in NOBODY’S GODDESS and writing in general, check them out.

Author Crush Friday (Glitter Magazine)

Anime Meets YA (The Dragon Sisters)

Fresh Take (Fresh Fiction)

WOW Wednesday (Adventures in YA Publishing)

Wednesday Debut Interview (Operation Awesome)

Diversity in YA

Dear Teen Me

Write All Year Pep Talk (Patchwork Press)

Author Suzanne van Rooyen Interviews Me (Month9Books Blog)

Submission Hell, It’s True (Mindy McGinnis’ Blog)

 

 

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Posted in Writing

NaNoWriMo!

So November is National Novel Writing Month and I imagine that a lot of you who read this blog are lost in worlds of your own creation, aiming to have at least 50,000 words on the page (or the screen) by the end of month. I’d love to hear about any stories you’re working on! Share a link to your NaNoWriMo profile if you like.

I’m also curious to hear about NaNoWriMo success stories. Who’s reached the word count goal in the past? Did you go on to finish the novel? Did you query, publish or self-publish or move on to a new work? (Or both?)

I’m asking a lot of questions and would like to share my own NaNoWriMo experience, but I don’t have a proper tale to tell! I’ve never officially participated in NaNoWriMo. This year I’m too busy with work writing and I’m juggling three WIPs (one YA, one MG and one “classified” short project) and don’t want to start yet another new work.

In the past, though, I sort of participated twice–I’m thinking 2007 and 2009 (but don’t quote me on that). I didn’t think I could officially participate because you’re supposed to write something brand new, if I understand correctly, and I was in the midst of my never-ending first draft for a YA book (120,000 words in the end and still not half way finished, ha) that took me nine years to finally abandon once and for all, after I mined the very best 5000 words or so and melded it into my first completed novel. So both of my unofficial NaNoWriMo experiences I worked on that manuscript, only I didn’t follow the rules in another way: I wasn’t aiming for 50,000 words. I was just determined to write half an hour a day at minimum in honor of the occasion, and that’s what I did. I even kept that up for some time into December.

I did also have similar experiences earlier this year. For one, I wrote 58,000 words in nine days early in the year when I had the inspiration for what would become my first completed draft of a book. In August of this year, I eked out almost another 50,000 words on a WIP because I had less work than usual. This time, it took me the whole month, and not every day of writing went smoothly.

And of course, I write tens or even hundreds of thousands of words each month for work, but that’s not quite the same!

Posted in Writing, Writing: Help

Ending at the Beginning

It’s no secret that the beginning of a manuscript has to entice people to keep reading or the rest of your manuscript may never see the light of day, no matter how wonderful and exciting it becomes later on. Actually crafting that compelling opening is easier said than done, though–at least for me.

When I sat down to write the manuscript that got me an agent, I wrote the scenes that my brain told me came first. Meanwhile, I was also incorporating a little bit of an old manuscript I’d been working on for years. (See this entry.) The result was an odd mishmash of chronology for the first four chapters or so. One of my beta readers thought the jumps odd and wanted more clarification, particularly when it came to worldbuilding. (The manuscript is fantasy.) I thought about it and added a few more passages I thought clarified things and I was ready to go.

Of course, most (but not all) agents ask for a sample of the manuscript along with the query. I only had 5 or 10 (sometimes a bit more) pages to grab their attention. Partial and full requests came in… And the vast majority were only from agents who had requested queries only (no sample pages) for the first e-mail. I started wondering if that meant my concept was enticing enough but not my first few pages…

And then I got an R&R on a full request. The problem? The beginning, of course! The agent agreed with my beta reader (maybe they’re really in tune–that agent was my beta reader’s agent by then!): I needed to fix up the beginning and work on clearly worldbuilding. So that was two people who thought my beginning needed work–and maybe more, and the others who rejected it didn’t have time to tell me.

I took a time out from sending queries and spent a slow three weeks reshaping the beginning. I cut long scenes, rearranged ones I wanted to keep and cut, cut, cut passages. Then I drafted a new first chapter–twice. I didn’t much like my first attempt at a new beginning. Then I was struck with a different idea, and I wound up writing two completely new chapters. This version started with action, and I used that action to worldbuild. At first I was wary about re-doing the beginning, but I loved the final result!

I sent out the revision and continued to query other agents with my brand new beginning. Material requests rolled in, and this time they were from agents who saw sample pages at the start! I got a few passes, but of those who took the time to detail their reasons, all were complimentary–particularly about my worldbuilding! And, of course, it was this beginning (10 pages with the query) that netted the full request and then my first offer of representation.

I’m learning. Both of the beginnings of my two WIPs start with action. I like them–but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to go back and tweak the beginning at the very end!

How do you write beginnings? Do you fix the beginning later or think of a compelling image to start the book before you start?

Posted in News, Writing

Busy Week: Got an Agent, Outlined a Trilogy… Got a Cat to Shed Lbs

I’m excited to announce that I’m now an agented YA author! Last week, Jason Yarn of Paradigm Talent Agency offered me representation after a record-setting read. (Well, record-setting certainly according to my record of material requests and finished reads!) I was impressed by his enthusiasm (and probably more than a little in shock), but I had four other agents who had yet to reply regarding manuscript requests, so I took a week off to make the decision. (And to nudge the other agents.)

I didn’t sit idly by during that week off, though! Client work slowed to a crawl, so I devoted much of the work day to getting ready for a possibly viable future as a creative writer. (I’m not “quitting my day job,” but my “day job” is simply writing from home anyway, so…). I:

  • Made this website (Hello! Thanks for reading so soon after I created this thing!)
  • Wrote three chapters of the sequel to my book in case it goes somewhere and because I’d been dying to do so for months but didn’t really have an excuse to (my strategy was to concentrate on other WIPs in case this manuscript never got picked up)
  • Somehow inexplicably (well, I can kind of explain it–I’ll do an entry on brainstorming soon) came up with the entire outline of the rest of book two and all of book three in this intended series (and even started thinking of ideas for a fourth book, but I didn’t write them down–I’m getting way ahead of myself!)

And now, aside from editing, I promised myself I’d put this series aside. I’m trying to be an optimist, but I’m also a realist, so I don’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket. Back to the other WIPs…

I accepted Jason’s offer late Tuesday night, and we’re working on edits to the manuscript, getting the retainer signed and all of that good stuff. It’s probably going on submission soon, and I’ll be sure to update with official announcements when I can.

And amongst all of this writing development, I took my cat to the vet. With a little portion adjustment and exercise, she lost almost two and a half pounds over the past year, as per the vet’s instructions! I guess the diet paid off. Too bad the poor thing has developed a habit of spending most of the waking day begging for more food. Anytime I walk past her food bowl, she gets into position nearby and gives me her best attempt at puppy dog eyes. I feel like a cold-hearted bastard every time. Which is probably precisely what she’s hoping… But she’s not getting too many treats from me!