Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An award


So the very sweet Kate at Kate the Novelist gave me an award. I decided to post as fast as possible since I have a tendency to let these just sit around, I’ve decided to post my TMI today (within a week! That’s a record for me lately).

And if you haven’t seen the Kreativ award, here are the rules (oh yeah, I’m going to break them)

1. Link back to the person who awarded you
2. Answer the questions below
3. Share ten random facts about yourself
4. Nominate seven worthy blogs for the award

Questions:
What's your favorite song?
Okay, so I’m that annoying person who plays songs over and over again (sorry, but yeah, it’s totally me) and right now, the song that I cannot get out of my mind is On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons 



What is your favorite dessert?
Crème Brule 

When you're upset, what do you do?
Chocolate, wine, ruthlessly rub some snot out into the boards (if he’s nice) or the net (if he’s not). Okay, that’s a lie, I actually play very clean when I’m upset. All my hockey penalties are cold calculated retaliations (like the time one of the guys honked my breast repeatedly… yeah, that didn’t end well for him). 

Which is/was your favorite pet?
My pony Bridgette from when I was a kid. She was a mean ornery horse who broke into the house to steal apples out of the fruit bowl. I miss her. 

Which do you prefer to wear, white or black?
Black. Trench coat. Cape. You know, whatever I’ve got laying around.

What is your biggest fear?
Without a doubt: Nuclear warfare/terrorism. Absolutely terrifying.
Second place is bolide impactors, FYI, and if they don’t scare you, look up Apophis on Wikipedia and note that the chances of an impact is 1 in 250,000. If you buy lottery tickets, then that number should scare your pants off. 

What is your attitude, mostly?
Right, attitude, well I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I’m somewhat bombastic, but there’s something more to it than that. I see the world differently from most people. I blame my mother, but I have two stories that pretty much bracket my attitude.

Story 1: One day, I saw that I’d run over a screw and my tire was definitely about to be flat. I drove straight over to the car dealership because some silly tire care package had come with the car when we’d bought it. When I went inside to ask about whether tire repair was covered they tried to fleece me. They gave me the run around about how they didn’t know what my package covered, and that it would cost me $25 to repair the tire, but they handled flats for no charge. At this point I was a little pissed because they were just being lazy not checking my exact contract. The guy behind the counter said “Well, you could always drive it around until it goes flat and we’ll cover it then, or you could pay the $25 to have it fixed right now.”

I looked at the guy behind the counter. “You cover flats? Alright, I’ve got a pair of pliers in the trunk. I’ll have a flat in just a minute.”

Needless to say, they took care of my tire free of charge.

Story 2: One of my early jobs was working as an animator for educational films (not as glamorous as it sounds to be a computer animator btw). When a project that I’d been working on for weeks had to be redone from scratch because of a strange technical error (one pixel wide lines dance on the screen, FYI), my boss told me being very careful to do so in a calm environment.

I said “Okay,” and turned back to the computer to get to work.

She said, “You took that way too well. Aren’t you upset?”

“Seriously, you pay me by the hour. No big.” 


What is perfection?
Viognier paired with ripe Bartlett pears (preferably picked from the tree) and havarti. 

What is your guilty pleasure?
The entire Halo video game franchise.

10 Other Random Things
1. Han shot first.
2. I love and loathe sewing costumes.
3. Not only are there books in every room of the house, but there are currently books on every horizontal surface (foot of the bed, coffee table, couch, armrest, floors, kitchen table, counters, even on the piano).
4. I am a complete tom boy who also likes sweet girlie girl books (just read and LOVED The SELECTION, go get it, it is awesome).
5. I once won a steer daubing contest by not bolting out the front of the chute. When the cow saw he wasn’t being chased, he stopped. I rode up on my horse (who was deathly afraid of cows) and nailed the cow with my mop. #theglorydays
6. I was once in a Car vs Paraglider incident, but the other guy flew away.
7. I have an enormous collection of cartoon soundtracks.
8. We named the dog Indiana.
9. I used to drive a bright pink VW Bug. It had some class, but my friends called it pepto. My brother murdered it, or I’d still be driving it.
10. I joined twitter and I fear I will never get anything else done.

And the winners of the award are:

Here’s where I break the rules. I’m not handing any out right now. I’m holding them back for a special occasion… It might take a while, so patience will be rewarded, just you wait.

I’m swamped in so many silly things right now, and I know everyone is pretty much in the same boat, so I have a question: How’s it going with your work right now? In rejection hell? Getting requests? Polishing that novel? Fighting with first/765th drafts? A combination???

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another aspect of advice


I don’t know if anyone saw this post by the lovely Beth Revis yesterday (hence the link), but I’ve been thinking about that book a lot. She calls it the book of your heart. I call it the book I think about every time I do a work out. Every. Time.

Right, and I’ve already written it.

And queried it.

And nobody took more than a 10 page bite (and man, those rejections came back faster than a tweet).

So I had this crazy idea. I hadn’t written it very well. I’d started it in all the wrong places. I’d done everything wrong that a person could, right down to the waking up from a dream sequence. Yeah, that was me with the waking up scene on page one. ::shakes head in presumed shame::

Well, I’ve decided that what it needed was about a million tons of voice, a POV shift (third to first) and a title change. I’m excited—like jump up and down excited—until I remember what querying was like the last time for this project. I was told that the premise was tired (someone said they had read a book that was pretty much exactly the same), and the writing was weak. Okay, I’ll grant the writing for sure. I can see that it was awkward and labored. And I can even see how the premise tied to that writing was definitely the death of that submission set. No questions. Every last agent who turned me down should have (and Thank you to those of you who asked for pages just in case it got any better; I <3 you). But I can’t let this book go. I just can’t. Not yet.

And this is where my dilemma breaks into the writing advice issue. In her post Beth talked about moving on. Letting go. Clearly her book was much closer to prime time because it went all the way to acquisitions at a major six (yikes!), whereas I had a handful of requests for pages. My concern is this, did I give my book a good enough shot and should I just move on, or should I rewrite it from scratch and see if I’ve gotten better enough? Should I do what Beth did and move on, letting the Book of my Heart wind up as the practice novel that never made it? No, I’m not asking the internet for advice, I’m about to give it.

See, Beth’s book went to an acquisitions panel. Lots of people had read it. My book… well, my mother, my grandmother, a few betas here and there (all of it fantastic). Agents? Well, I’m serious when I say I’m certain no one read past page ten (and it was a prologue, urg!). Right there, I can say that from a business stand point, my book hasn’t run its course. No one has seen it. And if I make the changes I plan to make, it’ll be utterly different. Whole new book = whole new query life.

What I think I’m trying to say is that each situation is different. Clearly, I’m still too attached to the book of my heart. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go back and rework it. Sometimes people give advice to writers that’s hard for me to understand.

Case and Point: Shannon Messenger. She wrote her novel and rewrote her novel forever. I mean forever forever. She wrote more drafts of her novel than I wrote of my dissertation (and that is really saying something). But if she’d gone with a lot of the conventional wisdom—write and move on—she might not have gotten published. (Yes, I know it's more complicated than that, but you can read it for yourself or check out her Friday the Thirteeners post here about giving up). 

Which means there’s a fine line between hanging onto our dreams and moving on to the next book. I’m not saying I disagree with Beth. I’m just saying that there’s a time and place for each of our steps. The question is recognizing where you are. My poor little novel had such terrible writing that it didn’t stand a chance.

I wouldn’t be in this position if I’d had a hundred fulls that got rejected by agents.

If tons of agents had read my book, it would be dead (or near dead). Trunked. Shelved. Sent to the great paper pulp known as my blender (strange art projects at the Rockford house).

I think that’s part of the move on advice. If your novel has already gone out into the business side of things, then it might be a goner. If three agents have read ten pages, clearly there’s some latitude for improvement. My advice: move on after you’ve really and fully walked down all the paths with a novel you are willing to walk down (and I know that for some of you that includes self publishing, and that’s perfectly okay too). That means rewriting, editing, revising, rewriting again. Many of the book-of-my-hearts out there are dropped. That’s when people give up. I think part of it is because those books are so emotionally tied to us that it’s very hard to be objective about them. It’s harder to rewrite them than anything else you’ve ever rewritten because they are your soul on paper. How can you control-C control-V on your heart? Control X?????

So yeah, move on. Don’t move on. Rewrite. Enjoy only for your friends and family relishing in the fact that you finished a novel, whatever. Do what’s best for you. Just remember that if your goal is publishing, that is a big part of your overall decision, and you have to look at the business side of things when trying to make the move one/stick with it decision.

Now, I’m going to go turn a query failure into PURE AWESOME.

Oh, and just to tease, I’ll even tell you the title and a touch of the hook (You know, the part where I sound like a used car sales man “Come on by and read my manuscripts, you won’t believe the stuff I write! Hurry, hurry, hurry!” But don’t actually hurry because I have to rewrite it from scratch).

PRINCESS SINGULARITY

1 princess + 1 prince = happily ever after
3 princesses + 1 prince = nightmare for the faerie godmother who has to sort it all out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Writers Voice, the other side


Right, so I haven’t been sleeping. It’s not the stress, or the dissertation, or the revisions, or the new WIP, or anything like that. There just aren’t enough hours in a given week to do all the things that I want and visit with my mom. So I stopped sleeping there for a while.

Yeah, this is not the recipe for success, in case you were wondering.

I spent yesterday bumping around the house like some post apocalyptic zombie. “EEEEhh, work? OHHHH, *shiny*! Wait, what was I doing?” (this may or may not be an actual conversation I had with the wall).

I had a fantastic time at The Writers Voice, and I even got a vote (SQUEEEEEE!). Whenever I enter contests, I always remind myself that there is a very real possibility that I not only won’t win/get picked/whatever—and not in the privacy of my own inbox, but in the bright lights of prime time twitter.

See when I first started in on the query and contest phase of it all, I had this little voice. Maybe you’ve heard it. When I first started, that little voice would say “OMG, my stuff is so incredible that when I enter this contest, it’s going to knock the socks off every agent on the planet. I’ll have to beat them off with a stick!” ::Checks to make sure stick is readily available::

We’ve all been there, I assure you.

But when the use of the stick isn’t necessary, well, that hurts. And let me just say, my stick has been sitting in the corner collecting dust. I’ve never been the beauty queen of a query contest. And that stupid voice turns on me as soon as the contest is over. “Well, your stuff wasn’t any good anyway, why’d you think it was? Because your mom liked it? Oh yeah, that’ll look good, a blurb from your mother in the query, good job. What made you think you could even write? Maybe they know my committee? Oh god, does everyone know how much I suck at this? Great Copernicus, does everyone know how much of an idiot I am?”

Yeah, I think I’ve talked about the stupid voice before.

So my project hasn’t seen prime time yet, but I’ve gotten some good feedback on it. That means for the first time ever, I entered a contest with my eyes open. I knew it wasn’t likely that I’d get picked. And I got picked as an alternate, squeaking into the contest in the very last seconds (Yeah, more on the squeaking in thing for IWSG). I’d already resigned myself to not getting picked, so already, the contest was way more than I’d expected. Also, to be near the top 20 % was just awesome. It gave me some validation (why am I always looking for that on the outside? Someday I’ll purge the dumb from my head). Since I didn’t think I’d get picked, I’d already picked the agents I would start querying. Still, having been picked, I knew something about the market, so I didn’t have my hopes set that high. There are plenty of people who don’t get me, and plenty of people who’ve told me that having a troll for a best friend is a HUGE turnoff. So I already knew my chances were slim. Slim like the width of an obsidian surgical tool.

Which is to say, getting a vote rocked my socks off. I did the happy dance and I didn’t fall asleep for hours because I seriously didn’t think I’d get a vote.

The other side of this is that I’m sure someone from the contest got only one vote and today feels embarrassed by it. If you’re that person, I just want you to know that your feelings are completely valid. It’s all about perspective. I once got an A- in a class that made me rage at the prof. I once got a C+ and sang my professors praises for weeks (I seriously grinned every time I thought about how I passed that class, cause seriously, it was really freakin hard). The difference is all perspective.

And for those of you who got no votes, I have no words that will ease your pain. All I can say is I’ve been there. It hurts. I’ve been passed by. The only thing I can think to tell you is that what we seek isn’t what we think we seek. You’re not looking to have your manuscript loved by every agent who comes by. You’re looking to connect on a profound level with one agent who will shepherd your manuscript from where it is now to the greatness it could be; someone who not only loves this book, but loves your writing so much that they want to see more of it, even the stuff they don’t usually look at. You are looking for that one agent. That one person who gets your work, who will be able to spot things you’d never dreamed of (and no, I’m not talking about a crit partner, those are different). You are looking for the person who is a perfect match for you. That person wasn’t at the contest. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t The One, or that your perfect agent isn’t out there, it just means that those agents aren’t one of them. And that’s hard. Chin up and carry on. Have a song. It’s currently one of my favorites. (not to mention, what an awesome band name!)




Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar eclipse...



… but first a name.

Thank you to everyone who voted. My mother was very concerned because her favorite pick was in danger. All you lovely people voted my pen name to be Rena Rockford, and thus I am. (hmm, that almost sound biblical, completely unintentional).

And the winner of my pick-your-prize prize was the fifteenth commenter, Carrie Bastyr! Congratulations Carrie, I’ll be sending you an email soon (if I haven’t already).

So, you can now reach me at DrFaerieGodmother (at) gmail.com if you have burning need to contact me. And again, thank you to everyone who took the time to vote and comment.

But now onto the main event!

I live in Albuquerque, so Sunday night I was treated to a fantastic solar show. It was an annular eclipse (not to be confused with a total eclipse) where 95% of the sun was blocked out by the moon. There will be a total eclipse on the 21st of August in 2017 (more on that later). I thought I’d share a bit of the experience for those of you who didn’t get to see it for yourself.

First off, it was like everyone decided to throw a tailgate party across the whole city. It was awesome. We chose to go up to the hockey rink because it has a commanding view, and a lovely observation deck. Also, we know the people who play hockey there on Sundays, and it was a great excuse to say “hi.”

If you’ve never been to an eclipse event, pretty much everyone looks like this:
3-y-o in dr. horrible training

And most of the pictures… well, unless you’re good, you aren’t going to get really good pictures. We all tried. And at first we got some fantastic pictures of the sun drowning out the cameras (nope, I’m not showing those), but then I noticed something else in the image.

See, in the image here, that’s a solar flare that happens to be the mirror image of the actual eclipse. It’s an artifact of the lenses in a camera, but it is a shadow of the actual sun, and the stage of the eclipse. I wish I’d realized a little sooner.

So then I took another


And another


(It’s worth noting that the sun is still so bright that it drowns out the camera’s light sensors, and only 5% of it is showing. 5%!!!! That’s crazy bright!).
 
Since the sun was setting for the whole time, we eventually got to see the sun set while still blocked by part of the moon.

And if that wasn’t enough, during totality, the hockey game being played on the ice took a break so all the players could come up and have a look at the eclipse.

Liquid Awesome.

All in all, not a bad afternoon. 

Happy Nerd watched eclipse.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ack! Where'd my time go?


My Mom is visiting, and I always forget how the time just slips away when she visits. We’ve been watching movies (seriously, just go see Avengers, it is awesomtastic!) going to the bookstore, buying tools and shopping for shoes. Yup, that’s how we roll in my family.

Since this is the weekend, I’m going to keep things quick.

The Writer’s Voice entries are up. Go check them out. If you remember them from their first postings, I’m sure you’ll see how much more amazing they’ve been made over the last week and a bit. Check them out:


Aren’t they awesome?

There are almost 12 more hours to vote for my pen name and comment here to enter yourself for one of my fab prizes. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

And maybe the most important of all: THERE’S A SOLAR ECLIPSE TOMORROW!!!!! I told y’all I’m nerdy. So we are going to scope out a place to take a picture. I’m in Albuquerque, so it should be a good opportunity to get a nice picture. We’ll see. There are lots of other places in the US that will see the “Ring of fire.” Which is to say, it’s not  a full solar eclipse where the land goes into twilight and the corona is revealed, and that’s because the moon is at apogee (which means it’s at its farthest point in its orbit around the earth). Since it’s so far away, it won’t fully cover the sun (a mere 95%, in fact), but it should be one heck of a show.

I’d love to see a full eclipse. I may start booking a vacation for the next one. Summer in Oregon... in 2017. Patience, never was one of my virtues.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Did I mention, I'm on Monica's Team (just the alternate, but I do mascot work too)

Right, so I'm an alternate for Monica's team (#TEAMMONICAFTW) but I have to say that this is hilarious. See, it turns out that when Sarah Blair wasn't chosen (did I mention she was high on my personal list, check her out here) she decided to go mascot (I was offered a similar position, but I've been filling my occasional twitter duties as mascot/alternate @Renathewriter where I still use my marginally creepy pic of awesome... yes I have used those goggles for welding, why do you ask?). Anywho, Sarah Blair held a contest to see which of the four teams would win her affection, and #teamCupidLC managed to come up with the winning bid, a rap about her. And here it is, because this sort of thing must be seen by many.

So even though I'm not a member of #TeamCupidLCbegsTEAMMonicaForMercy, I feel obligated to pass it on... (FYI, this pick was selected by me to represent @CupidLC s chance for beating my team, #TeamMonicaFTW thanks demotivation!) 


Here it is again, in all it's glory (don't you love her rapper bling? If only I had a butterfly necklace as fly as hers...)




Right, on to your regularly scheduled lives.

p.s. this is as close to pom poms as I get. If only cheer leading involved hockey sticks, then I'd have something.

Pp.s. Did I mention that Monica's suggestions are like that little voice inside my head that I'd been ignoring all along, but knew I shouldn't have been? Thanks Monica, you rule.

P.P.p.s. Yeah, this is as good as I get at trash talking. It turns out that we nerds really struggle in this area, so if you were expecting some serious pain... I'm afraid I don't have it. My idea of trash talking is "Yeah, well all of my data points lie within 1 sigma of your MOM!" Right. So moral of that story, don't ask nerds to run trash talk campaigns... this is also why we don't do well in political campaigns.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Revisions


Funny thing about good feedback, it’s always naggingly similar to what you were already worried about. Okay, well, good feedback is, but not so good feedback lights up the OMG CRAZY alert. So I have this manuscript… Oh, you’ve heard this one before?

And you’ve heard how the intrepid writer says “Krakatoa! How could I have not seen that flaw in my manuscript before????!!!”

Right, well, I’m not here to talk about that, because it’s pretty simple: Either you’ve felt that way, or you haven’t been letting other people read your manuscripts long enough to have had it. I’m not dissing the young writers out there, I’m just letting y’all know about an experience that’s coming your way, whether you’ve just finished your first or your tenth novel, whether you’re unpublished or a NYT bestseller, you are going to have this experience. If you haven't had this feeling, make a note in your calender: it's coming.

Today I’m going to talk about courage.

I don’t have much. In fact, I’ve called myself a coward before (you can read about it here) and I have to say, I haven’t had a single experience to convince me that I qualify for any courage medals. So imagine my surprise when I realized that what I needed to make a particular change in my manuscript was courage.

Yeah, heavy. I had something that was a crutch. It was something that would come out in the first ten pages or so, but I’d stated it—bold as moonlight—in the very first paragraph. The concern: cut it and I’d have readers who didn’t have a clue about what was going on. Keep it, and I’d have every lit. agent rolling their eyes at the demi prologue.

It was when I realized I was using it as a crutch to kick my readers in the gut that I knew it was time to cut it. Sigh, so I took the plunge, held my nose and cut.

So, have you needed to be courageous lately?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stats on the writer’s voice



Right, so for some fun, I decided to play agent for a day. I went through most of the entries in The Writer’s Voice contest and I ranked them Yes, Maybe, and No, and boy I learned a lot.

If you’re having a hard time making your query and first page work, go read a hundred random queries, and you’ll know EXACTLY what does and doesn’t work in a query, there’s just one caveat: you still won’t be certain about your own query. That’s the problem with things like this, we are terrible at judging our own work, and the query is just that: our work. So even though I read more than 150 (and ranked them) I’m still not sure where mine is on the scale. C’est la vie.

Before I dive in, I feel the need to state some things. First, I’m not going to tell people what went wrong with their query and 250. I have no intention of linking to anybody to say “I thought this one was fantastic” or “This one was really bad.” I’m not doing that. If you are absolutely dying to know where you are on the yes no maybe scale, I recommend reading them all for yourself and then trying to make a judgment call, and I’ll tell you why.

I’d be a pretty lousy agent. I love some genres, and I don’t love other genres. I read outside my favorites, but I generally stick to Science Fiction and Fantasy (hence the title of this here blog). That means that right out of the gates, I’m already biased (I'm a scientist, this a big admission, here). There are stories I’d much rather read than others. That means a Yes from me might be a no from someone else. Dragons in space? From me, that’s a yes. From just about any self respecting agent? That depends (on concept and writing), but probably no. It’s as much about personal taste as it is about the craft. There were perfectly fine queries that were just for things I don’t like to read, so they got “no.”

Alright, and now for the scale:

Yeses ranged from “hunh, that looks neat. It’s cleanly written, so let’s see if the rest of it’s as good,” to “OMG HOW CAN IT BE LEGAL FOR HER TO JUST POST THE ONE PAGE!!!!!I WANT THIS BOOK!!!” So, um yeah, you can tell that there was everything from ambivalent optimism to salivating.

The No: it was really easy for me to put queries into the No category, and they fell into the bin of No-ness for only a few reasons. 

Not my thing: these could be pages and queries that are completely competent, and yet I’m not that into the idea of it, and it’s outside of the reading areas where I’ve had fun in the past (this should sound like “not in a genre I represent”). 

Writing not yet strong enough: if I look at a first page and find five cases of the dreaded double verbing (was running, were singing, am walking… try ran, sang, walk etc.), I’m guessing the rest of the manuscript is like that too. I’m not saying the occasional double verbing is the end of everything, but there’s a difference between a double verb every twenty pages and twenty on one page. Oh, and this includes you first person present tense writers. Double verbs are bad. Read Hunger Games and tell me how many double verbs she has…I think first person present was the biggest addition to my No category for double verbing alone (okay, I think you all get the picture, two verbs are much weaker than one, go forth and disseminate to all your friends). Weak writing was the number one trigger for making me pounce on the no.

Ho hum concept: the kiss of death was a ho hum concept combined with lack luster writing. Sure it was competent. It didn’t have the dreaded double verbing, but there was nothing to grab. The concept didn’t rock my socks and the writing didn’t have what I’m interested in for voice. This is really hard because if you wrote one of these, then there’s pretty much nothing your crit partners can tell you. On the bright side, I think that people have very different opinions about what makes a book good (I liked Interview with a Vampire way more than I liked Twilight—sorry Twihards—so I think you can see what I mean).

Then the Maybes. The maybes are agonizing. They have phenomenal concepts, but ho hum writing, or ho hum concepts, but their words tease the sunset off the pages and into my mind. Every maybe is accompanied with an “I just wish I could talk to that writer and let her(him) know where she’s(he’s) tripping up”. Most of my maybes came from awesome concept with not quite ready for prime time writing. It mostly boiled down to voice. Agents always talk about not being swept away, and wow, having read some that did? I know exactly what agents mean now.

So, I’ve tormented you all long enough.

Here they are, my stats.

Of the entries 10% were yeses (several accompanied by exclamation points).

25 % were maybes (sometimes with a maybe-yes or a maybe-no).

65% were no.

Here’s a pie chart. (hmmm pie…).
Packman eats Yes and Maybe.

I know my yes/no ratio is a little low compared to someone like the gatekeeper. I’m pretty picky, so I probably wouldn’t be a very good agent. Having said that, the majority of the Maybe pages would have gotten me to page two. The problem with the maybes compared to the yeses is bias. The Yes query/pages made me want to overlook flaws because of the shear awesome of concept and writing on the first page. With the maybes, I was already skeptical, picking apart word choices and in general not enjoying the story. I was already trying to evaluate it on a level other than “OMG I love this!” I was looking for flaws (did you see that, a double verb in the wild). So maybes would have gotten me to page two, but page two would have needed to be stronger than page one to keep me going.

Oh, and I didn’t even talk about story structure because I really don’t think 250 words gives us a very good indication of whether the story started in the right place or not (though it sure let us know when someone started with too much description).


*****Update******
With all the judges first picks out, I can now say how mine compare.

Of those picked for the contest:
 21% were Yes on my list
 47% were No on my list
 31% were Maybe on my list

Which basically goes to show that this really is about personal taste


 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dust it Off


Oh man, I can't believe it's already the last day of the blog hop! I feel like it just got started, and I don't want it to end (mostly because when it ends, it's time to get back to the real work: rewriting it!). 

I'd like to thank our gracious hosts, this has been fantastic, from concept, to hosts, to meeting all the other bloggers with dusty old manuscripts. Thank you Courtney and Theresa, you've had a great blogfest here. 


Day 3: Post what you learned from this WIP. You become a stronger, more rounded writer with each manuscript and we want to know what this particular work taught you.



Wow, I’m not sure I could get everything I learned into one post. I learned a lot. It’s not like THE ACCIDENTAL GODMOTHER was my first novel, but it was the first novel I wrote to be a novel for other people. In all of my previous attempts, I knew for certain that I could never sell those books, and when I started writing TAG, I knew I wanted to share it with people.

And that’s lesson number 1: I always knew that I wanted to write novels, but it was always something in the nebulous, distant future. Maybe I’d write after I was successful as a scientist/mother/dragoncatcher. It was a whispy dream for an uncommitted mind. It wasn’t real. TAG made it real. I HAD to write that story. It downloaded into my brain while I was doing a workout, and I literally stopped at minute 17 to start writing my story. It poured out of me. So Lesson #1: I want to be a writer now. I have stories to share right now. I’m done waiting.

Lesson #2: When I started writing it, I really wanted to write it in First Person Past. I wrote it in Third Person Close, because that’s how most fantasy novels from my youth were written. I should have gone with my gut: I should have written it in FP past. I went with third person because I needed a few chapters from other people’s points of view to paint the whole picture. It was a bad choice. So lesson #2: Go with what I want in the first try, it can always be edited.

Lesson #3: The story is not set in stone. When I wrote this, I had a specific story in mind, and I told it. Then I wanted to revise it, but I was scared too. In the end, I sent it to agents with a very unfortunate beginning. It got a number of requests for pages, but never a request for an upgrade to an actual partial. That’s because I started in a boring place. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I polished the crap out of those first pages, and it just didn’t help because it was missing lesson #4.

Lesson #4: Voice. I wrote TAG to be as voiceless as possible on purpose (I know, if Vader were every chasing me in a TIE fighter he’d say “The Dumb runs deep in this one”). I took out the voice because I’ve read tons of fantasy novels where the writing is designed to sort of come from a distant third person perspective. Not all fantasy, but certainly the fantasy I was reading at the time was very much “Just the facts, Ma’am.” I was trying to be professional. I succeeded in being a fool. After I’d spun my tale of dragons and magic and wizard and dresses, I knew something was missing. That thing was the way I had wanted to write it. If I’d followed my heart, I’d have had a very different novel, but my desire to share it with the world over road what little good sense I have. So I stripped it of the voice so it could be professional. And I should never ever EVER try to sound like someone else. EVER. It doesn’t work. If I’d just stepped out on my best foot instead of trying to dance on someone else’s toes, this novel could have been much better.

Would it have had the IT factor to snag that elusive agent? No. I believe that no set of circumstances could have taught me as much about writing as writing the next two books did, but that was just a matter of practice. I think I could have been closer to my dreams if I’d had the courage to just write, write it the way I wanted it, and said to hell with publishing and being professional. There’s a time and a place for everything, and let me just say this: the first draft is the only draft that is exclusively for the writer. I should have taken that draft and cherished it, not turned it into a stiff business letter.

Lessons I’d like to be able to tell my younger self, but my younger self would completely ignore:

1. If you want to write, write! Preferably now (okay, my younger self would have jumped all over this one).

2. Go with what you want. You can always change it later. 

3. The story is not set in stone and rearranging the chapters might actually be the best idea. Don’t worry that you got it perfect on the first try, change it up. 

4. Voice: I can only ever be me, and there’s just no point in trying to deny that. Use your own voice, it's the one you've got.

Thanks for hanging out with me as I take a stroll down Nostalgia lane. 

Tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll be posting my thoughts on a statistically sound population from the Voice entries (you won't want to miss my take on this, I have stats).