Monday, December 15, 2014

I've Been Hit!

Oh, wait, maybe I’ve just been tagged…

That’s right, the lovely Sarah Ahiers tagged me as part of the Liebster Blog Award Blog. Go say Hi and or thank her for tagging me (or you know, if this bores you, you can shake your fist in her general direction for giving me an opportunity to yammer on about my WIP). I have a ton of WIPs (hint, they’re “In Progress” until they’re published), but I’m going to go with ACTION FOUR

What is your WIP About?
ACTION FOUR, NEWS YOU CAN COUNT ON, is about an action reporter, an on the scene reporter known for bringing the news live from location. She is reporting from a near future Earth where super powers have started manifesting, but linked to the psychopath gene – so there are supers, but only of the villain variety. When my MC gets scooped, she loses her job, and she starts faking super villain activity to get her job back.

How long have you been working your WIP?
Well, this is embarrassing. I started writing this novel last year for NaNo. I picked it up again for NaNo again this year, but… well, I had other writing obligations. So I’ve been working on this book forever.

Who is your MC?
Alicia Rodriguez is my action reporter. She’s the brains behind the master plan. She also suffers from cultural whip lash as her mother is from a strictly Italian family, and her father is from a traditional Mexican family. She introduces herself to people as a mexitalian.

What are some of the themes you’re exploring?
Do explosions count as themes?
Nah, I’m kidding. One of the things I always come back to is the idea of heroism. Some people have it, some people are cowards. And some people, despite being cowardly are willing to stand up even when their legs shake. There are people willing to sacrifice themselves for things greater than themselves, and I’m always exploring who these people are. I’m curious about them because people always talk about so and so is a hero, but when interviewed the rescuer says stuff like “just in a day’s work” or “anyone would have done it.” I find that fascinating. Are people all heroes underneath, or is there some magic juju? Or more fascinating, is the possibility to be a hero within all of us, and only some people choose to be heroes.

What song would represent your story or MC?
Umm, I don’t know. This story has so little music in it. Maybe the theme from Mask of Zorro (the one with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas).

If you were casting your story as a movie, who would play your main character?
Man, I just don’t know, I haven’t been following actresses lately, someone good who really looks the ethnicity. I shouldn’t be hung up on stuff like that, but I see the whitewashing of visual media. Whitewashing really damages people and the way they view themselves. I grew up with a poor body image partly because girls are always petite in movies, and I’m tall, broad and strong. They don’t make movies with women like me, but they have the same hair color and eye color as me. I remember how distant movie stars felt when I was growing up, and I don’t think it’s fair that people feel even more distant because there aren’t nearly as many people of the same color in those roles (also, did I mention I'm still a little cheesed that of all the people of Earth, the only people with courage enough to be GLs are male? Lame).

What is your favorite line in your WIP so far?
Biggest joke of the centuryGod gave us supers, just none of them of the hero variety.

If your MC were to have a pet, what would it be?
A chinchilla named Chupacabra.

When do you think your WIP will be done?
A cold mountain shy of never seems to be my standard opinion. It isn’t that I don’t get done with projects, but this one just seems to be going at me, one slow chapter at a time. I’ll dive back in, but so far, it’s been interrupted by three other projects, and that’s pretty unlike me. So we’ll see.

Who is your favorite side character in your WIP and why?
Jerhome because that man knows how to make a drenched rat look fabulous. He could turn any liability into a commodity in a heartbeat. When life is full of lemons he’s like “Oh hell no, it is time for tequila. You give me those lemons, and I’ll use them in cookies or something. It is time for a Margarita.”

What’s your MC’s favorite food?
Alicia loves tamales, but she loves meat balls and marinara. And to be fair, she sometimes mixes the masa from the tamales into the marinara sauce. She would, of course, never fess up to it, but she dreams of making meatball tamales, but she knows she’ll have to wait for her Nana to pass before she could get away with profaning the holy trinity (celery, carrots, and onions sautéed in virgin olive oil before being added to tomatoes) with masa.

I’m tagging:

I’ve gone lazy with the holidays, so I’m going to steal Sarah’s questions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Insecure writer is decidedly insecure... and trying not to listen to THAT voice

Another month has come and gone, and it's time to release our fears out into the world by jumping on Ninja Captain Alex's blog hop of awesome and make some friends. It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time. This month's Co-hosts are Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!

I have a whole host of fears and insecurities tied up with how things have gone previously in my writing. Let me take you on a brief tour of the dark places of my writing mind.

The first time I wrote something I was really proud of, a little voice inside my head said that it was really greatrevolutionary even. It succeeded in cutting through all the old paradigms and it would bring my work to people in a way that was FINALLY understandable to the science types.

That little voice bolstered me through the dark times of waiting to hear. Would they like it? Would they hate it?

So the moment of truth would come, and I’d open the email. The letter would be two paragraphs long, inevitably something about the bones of the project being there, just needing fleshing out. And then I would open the attachment. 

Imagine, if you will, 300+ comments on a 35 page paper. No line untouched by track changes. Each and every one boiled down to rewrite the whole thing, and for the Love of All Things Pasteur, learn the difference between farther and further. The little voice, the one praising my pioneering waysmy bravery at challenging the way Things Are Doneyeah, that jerk turned on me faster than lunch on a tilt-a-whirl.

In the early comments (of the 300), the direction was, mostly, useful, but as the numbers ticked higher, the comments would circle around to the “I already commented on how your usage of the farther is, strictly speaking, an abomination to the English language!” The gradient had started with professional, but slid quickly into stabby-stabby meany pants territory.

Still, it was a dream I had, so I waded through the vitriol and venom. I rewrote the whole papers, repolished, read every comment three times to be sure I understood what was being said, and then sent it back. Six months to a year (yes, these were ridiculous turnaround times, but that’s what I was dealing with) later, I’d get something back that said “Did you do anything at all? Now isn’t the time to be lazy!”

This was a decade of my life.

And now that I’m in a better place, and working on another dream, I’m insecure about history repeating itself. I’ve already mentioned that my edits are easily a bazillion times better than what I experienced under the thumb of academia, but there’s still this lingering fear that the mean, vengeful side of editing is just around the corner.

What if my editor comes back with “did you even work on this at all?” Or “Now isn’t the time to be lazy!” Or (one of my personal favorites) “How can you be so bad at a language when it is the only one you know?”

And I’m insecure because, on some level, I am lazy. Sometimes I would rather play videogames, or walk through the park, or knit, or all of those things that aren’t writing. And I know that if things come back rougher than I’d like, I’ll blame myselfremember that night you had a glass of wine after work and shot grunts with a sniper rifle instead of working on your novel? It was THAT NIGHT that made this a FAILURE.

In short, the voice lies. And it’s been whispering to me. But even worse than the whispering, is that the voice likes to tell truths mixed in. I’m not that good at English. Quite frankly, my comma placement leaves something to be desired (or at least everyone I’ve ever worked with has complained about my commas). My word usage could be betterpuchier, zestier, less unorthodox, and while we’re on about it, I could use some a refresher on the differences between peel and peal and peek, peak, and pique.

So in short, my little voice of doubt (which isn’t very little at all) is telling me 80% of the truth.

(that means it speaks 100% lieswhen will I learn not to listen to it?)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. I've got nothing today, so have a tiger playing with a ball, and enjoy your Thanksgiving if you celebrate it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Edits, unexpectedly not as painful as previous encounters

I've noticed that people don't talk much about the editing process. When I was in academics, editing was absolutely the worst part of the process. People were mean and rude. Every comment was designed to question everything from your writing, to your methods, to your understanding of science in general. It wasn't pleasant.

Someone once called my work an "Unholy Conjugation." 

Yeah. That was constructive feedback. There were worse comments, more hurtful comments, and they went to live somewhere in my mind. So when I waited for my edit letter to arrive, it was more me waiting for the explosion to go off in my heart.

As much as I cared about my science, I care about my novel so much more. I didn't know if I could handle being ripped apart like that again. I expected editing to crack me open and pour out the broken little bits that were left of me. But when the letter came, I was pleasantly surprised. The suggestions: professional. The demeanor: helpful.

I was more than prepared to cry my eyeballs out (I'm a cryer, what can I say), but so far, it has only been things to make my manuscript stronger. I guess things have plenty of time to go straight to hell in a hand basket, but it's already so much better than all my other editing experiences.

In every profession there are parts that aren't the best part. The parts that everyone sort of scowls at, like how shoveling manure is part of owning horses. I was expecting to hate taking the feedback and turning it into something bigger, and that just isn't the case. It's great. I wish I had some more time, but hey, deadlines are something I do too. Also, I'm a writer. The more time a writer has, the more fiddling they're gonna do.

Right, and now it's back to work. And like I said, people don't talk about the editing process, so if you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. I'll respond by email if you have your account linked, and if not, response in the thread.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG - The Waiting and Worring Never Goes Away

Oh my, another IWSG has snuck up on me and I'm late! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, this is my
birthday week. Cruise on by the Ninja Pirate Cave and thank our host Alex and this month's co-hosts LG Keltner, Donna Hole, Lisa Buie-Collard and SL Hennessy!
So what am I feeling insecure about this month? Waiting. Specifically, that the waiting and worrying NEVER GOES AWAY. At every step of the publishing process there's waiting. You could grow old waiting in publishing.

At the query stage, you wait for a reply. If it's early in the query stage, you wait and wait, and then the rejection comes. Later in the query stage* you wait for a reply, get a partial request, send it back out then wait for a response. Then, if things are going well, it gets bumped up to a full. Then guess what happens? If you answered "I take a drink," you're my kind of writer.

The thing that's hard to see from the query trenches is that the waiting doesn't magically end after you're done querying agents. And worse, the worrying doesn't go away either. After you have the book deal or the agent, the worrying cranks in to crazyland. I don't know about everyone else, but when I query, there's a hope that it'll work out. I dream about it going well, but it's pretty abstract. Once there's a contract in hand, the Sagittarius gets real.

As in, before, in the querying stage, that was just warm up, because holy Scorpio, the Sagittarius is on fire and I don't know what the Capricorn I was thinking when I was worried about those queries.

Yeah, I had that moment.

It wasn't pretty.

Worse, it was a really big wake up call that everything every writer with a contract in hand had said was true. It's crazy when you're playing for keeps. Did I vary my sentence structure enough? Do I use the right peel when talking about bananas? Did I boil my characters down too much and make all my prose lifeless, tasteless drivel that sounds like something Ben Stein would read in an out take for the Ferris Bueller's Day Off extended, special edition DVD?

Right, deep breaths.

So, while I didn't like the idea that the people who came before were totally on to something, and that maybe the waiting would magically resolve itself, NOPE. I am not the exception. The process is going for me exactly how it went for all those before me (great, I can't even be unique in my meltdowns???!!!).


Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Brief Retrospective

My birthday is right around here somewhere, and I have to admit, this last year has been pretty interesting. I've had successes and failures. I've written books, moved my family, and things are...

Well, this is publishing, so things are about where they were last year. Some prospects faded, some bloomed. I guess that's the way life goes. So on to the recap.

My [age redacted for public safety reasons]th year in a nut shell:

The big thing was selling my first book. That was definitely a highlight. I also had my first full request (prior to that), and I'm not gonna lie, I spent a somewhat embarrassingly long time in the query trenches before I got a full request. 

Close calls left and right. I've never had so many close calls in and out of publishing. It was the year I was *this* close.

And then there was my first full request ever. I'm not gonna lie, it was sort of embarrassing how I'd never had a full request prior to the one I got this last year. I really felt like I should have managed to get someone's interest up earlier, but up until that point I'd had a handful of partials. It was quickly followed by more requests, a very gratifying response.

I've had a new IRL job, and while that's been a big bonus to things like steady pay, it's been rough pounding out the words (I'm a whopping 500 words into NaNo, but I already knew I wouldn't be able to write the whole pinata in one sitting, but more on that later).

I've had some success from an unlikely protagonist: a gnome hunting dog.

I grew my first giant pumpkin.

All in all, not a bad [age redacted for public safety]th year.

Okay, so it's not very giant. Still, I grew it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Misleading Nature of Numbers

Last year, about this time, I crossed the one million word mark for words. It’s a number I’m pretty proud of because it’s concrete. But let’s face it, numbers can be misleading.

There’s this 10,000 hour rule. Specifically, there was a study that said you need 10,000 hours of experience in something before you’re an expert at something.

I’m not gonna lie, but when I heard the 10,000 hour rule, I sort of assumed I already had that down. Just the amount of time it takes to type a million words seemed, off the top of my head, to be enough to qualify. Which of course led me to the land of numbers.

I type at approximately 60 words per minute. I have written over a million words. This is easy math. If all of those words flowed out just as fast as I could write them, then I spent ~17,000 minutes typing.

I admit, that’s not nearly as long as I thought it would be. It seems like it should have been MUCH longer. But, these are numbers, so I followed them down the rabbit hole.

17,000 minutes is just under 300 hours.

Not even a thousand hours of typing went into my books.

So yeah, with NaNo approaching, and me feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the working and what not, I think that’s a bit of an eye opener. In fact, if we knew exactly how the story went and were just taking dictation, a book could be written in just fourteen hours of typing.


I mean no novel to NOVEL in one really long day of typing?? CRAZY.

So yeah, as you’re sitting around thinking about the monumental task of going all NaNo, just remember, it’s really only something like two regular work days worth of typing to log a Novel. No big.*

And for the record, I’m not saying it’s easy, but you know, those numbers should make the task seem doable. Also, if you’re one of those people who actually write at your top typing speed, you could make the NaNo deadline by typing just thirty minutes a day for a month. How awesome is that?

If you weren’t able to put it together, I’m thinking about NaNoing this year… I haven’t decided yet. There are some other factors to look into, but I’m trying to psych myself up for it (can you tell?).

*And by No Big, I mean bigBIGdeal. Writing a novel is really hard, these numbers are really for word vomit, but I sometimes think it’s good to look at numbers to see what they can tell us. Novels are like marathons. Still, I was totally shocked at how little time is invested into the actual typing of words.