Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen: Start your engines!

So last week I said I wasn’t going to do the A to Z challenge, and I’m still not. Instead, I’m doing Camp NaNo. My reasoning for not participating was that I could literally write a novel in the same amount of time, so that’s what I’m doing.

I don’t usually announce the starts of books (hint: I start more of them than I finish), but since everyone else is laying themselves bare with the challenge, I thought I’d go for some transparency. Cheer if you like. Call me crazy. You can even say “Holy Krakatoa! I’d never let people see my writing process like that.”

Yeah, I’m feeling a little nervous and exposed. I mean, shoot, what if I abandon this? Oh well, take some risks and write, right?

So, without further ado, the novel.


Genre: Paranormal/Creature romance

Pitch: Kat is the captain of the cheer squad, with a long and sundry history with the smoking hot quarterback. They’re quite the pair, but when Kat wakes up to discover she is a telepathic, shapeshifting cheetah, she loses her confidence. Now that she can hear everyone’s thoughts, she knows the terrible price her beauty has had on the rest of the school. She professes illness and runs away to explore the Great Plains as a cat. When her ex-boyfriend goes hunting, he accidentally bags the big cat: Kat.

Instead of killing Kat, the quarterback decides to give the cheetah to his new girlfriend. Before Kat can shift back to her normal size, the quarterback’s new squeeze puts a chain collar around her neck, one that would kill her if she shifted back. But that was no accident. The quarterback’s rebound hotty is none other than the Grimm Reaper, and she’s pissed. Kat was supposed to go unstable from the telepathy (also a Grimm Gift) and stage a massive school shooting. Now the Grimm Reaper will do anything to get the deaths she needs, even if it means dating the quarterback. Can Kat beat back the Grimm Reaper, rescue her boyfriend, and do it all before Prom? No wonder they call it Senioritis.

April fools!

I can’t write paranormal romance to save my keyboard. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s just that I do such a bland job at it. So yes, this is a joke. For those of you tortured with my bihourly tweet pitching on Friday, this was the FakePitMad pitch.

Anyhow, I really am starting a novel today. As in, I’m going to post this entry and open a scary blank document and type. Just like that. Okay, it’s way harder than that, but you all know what I’m talking about. If I’m not back in two days, someone send a bottle of wine (Pinot Noir, please).

(okay, a hint about the book: I’m toasting the start with a special brand of rum: Kraken) 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I guess it was a great thought...

So here I am in the uncomfortable position of having realized something really big.

Last year for A to Z, I did not participate, and yet, I wrote over 50,000 words of comments.

Yeah, you heard me right. I wrote a novel of comments during the A to Z challenge.

That's sort of a lot.

So I decided to pull out of A to Z this year. I'm sad about it, and I know that it would be fun. And a great way to connect with other writers. But my priority sort of needs to be, you know, writing books. I'm not going to go full hermit, but I'm going to cut back. I'll definitely check stuff out, but I'm going to focus on that new book. You know the one; the one that's supposed to make me fall in love and forget I ever wrote another story.... Well, we'll see about that.

So yeah, I'm disappointed, but at least I realized how bad of a move it would be BEFORE I started posting for A to Z. Have fun, challengers, and Good luck!

Now, it's back to the trenches for me (I'm writing synopses and outlines today!). Anyone have any great ideas for writing a synopsis? I'm going to try the really long query letter technique today.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Origami Riot, or I suck at titles

Last night I had a dream about origami. I know, it’s not the normal sort of dream, but in my dream, all the folded cranes and coy and samurai hats were full sized and battling each other. It was an origami riot.

And I was struck by how great of a title that would be. Yeah, I know, I’m really tired and sitting in the tire shop, just go with it.

The real question that got me going is why?

I mean, I suck at titles. I’m really good at the straight forward titles, but the really good titles… yeah, nothing. Origami Riot is a great title for what was happening because those two words paint the whole picture. You can see what that story is about.

But how do you describe an 80,000 word book in a title?

I guess the best advice is to capture a sense of the book in the title. Is it funny? Then the title should have humor. Is it filled with horror? Then the title should be dark. Outrageous book? Outrageous Title.

Ah, but a word of caution: Titles shouldn’t sound like a gimmick. Just imagine what that says about your story. If the title is a gimmick, then is the whole book a gimmick? So yeah gimmicks should be avoided.

This is something I’m terrible at, so let me know: are titles easy peasy for you, or do you sweat over them? What’s your trick?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Falling behind

I’ve missed some things recently.

I missed the first day of spring.

I forgot to announce my A to Z theme.

I may have forgotten a bill or two along the way.

I even forgot to give the dogs their medicine.


This is sort of what happens to us writers on occasion. There are some writers who can keep all their schist together, but I’m not one of them. If I have an idea, or a burning need to finish a manuscript, dishes don’t get done. I have to reassign my chores to other people with a big fat I OWE YOU, because I get daffy when I’m on the hunt.

Okay, I’m not as bad as I’m making it sound, but sometimes I fell like the part of my brain that keeps stuff straight in the real world takes a vacation when I’m working on a manuscript.

So, to sum up: It’s Spring! A to Z is almost here (yikes! I haven’t scheduled a single post yet!!!), and I’m furiously working away.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The “Right” path

I’m still in revision land. I thought I was almost ready for prime time, and then it’s back to rewriting chapter one. The most amazing thing about this book is that every time I get a new idea for it, I get more excited. I remember my other books as being more of a “Oh no, now I have to rework the whole thing, and then proof the whole thing all over again,” feeling. With this book it’s more of a “OMG! Why didn’t I think about that? Curse you driving which doesn’t let me also write at the same time! Why can’t I be typing RIGHT NOW!!!!”

This is an unusual response to my brain monkeys and their ideas (no, they aren’t quite up to flinging poo yet, but they are monkeys, we know where it’s going).

And then right on cue, that little voice spoke.

“What if you already had it right? What if you’re destroying your novel by tinkering too much? What if you had it right the first time, and all of this is just messing it up, destroying your baby?”

Umm yeah. That voice.

First: Shut up stupid voice. I don’t need you and your downtrodden ways.

Second: There is no one right path.

I know, blasphemy, right? Nope, I’m gonna say it again: There is no right path in a novel. There are some stories that are stronger than others, but just imagine if Doc Brown had used a VW Thing instead of a DeLorean for his time machine? I know things wouldn’t have been the same, but I bet the story still would have been good (not to mention the resurgence of the Thing, my personal dream car, in case you’re wondering). Go here if you want tosee a bunch of Things.

(I know they don’t look like much, but they even have a spot to mount an outboard motor on the back… sigh.)

What I’m saying is there is no right path to drive to the grocery store, so why should there be a right path to get to the climax of your novel? Sure the scenery might be better on one road, and another path might be more efficient, but only you know which is most important for your story. Of course, ideally, you want a path with both efficiency an scenery, but that's not always going to happen. So yeah, I’m rewriting the first chapter, then it’s back through for the ripple effects throughout the rest of the story (why is this so much fun? Shouldn’t I be annoyed that I’ve made more work for myself? And seriously, I’m rapidly approaching having rewritten every word in my novel. Silly inefficient process.)

Oh, and little voice in my head? Consider yourself gestured at in a rude fashion by yours truly.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Write like no one is reading?

I have a confession: I’m neurotic.
yup, neurotic like I've been staring at the eclipse...

What do you mean you already knew? Oh, right, because I’m a writer. Okay. Well, it’s true. Sometimes writing has me seesawing between the pits of despair and egomania. I’m always looking for ways to shore up the crazies as I write, and lately I’ve been struggling with audience. Not who they are, mind you, but that there could conceivably be many. I know, that’s sort of crazy because I’m a writer and having tons of people read my stuff is sort of the whole reason for writing in the first place. But when I think about those hungry masses waiting for my (not yet written, signed, or contracted book) it’s sort of intimidating.

I know, talk about first world problems, but this is what gets me up early to start pounding away at the keyboard. This is completely neurotic because no one can know what path they will take. For instance, even if my query bait gets the attention of an agent, there's no guarantee it'll go any further than an agent's in box. That's publishing, the harsh cruel truth of publishing. So my imaginary reader problem could be a many many years into the future problem.

But that problem is hurting me now. My guess is because writing has to come from somewhere deep. You can’t just write fluff. There’s plenty of fluff out there, but I’m not interested in writing those books. I want to write books that give people something (wow, I really sound conceited there). So how do I keep in mind the whole reason I write, and yet keep the intimidating possible future readers at bay?

There’s an old saying:

Work like you don’t need the money
Dance like no one is watching
Love like you’ve never been hurt

It’s good advice, but it’s hard to apply to writing. I mean would that be "Write like no one is reading"? Let me tell you, I would write very differently if I were the only person ever to read. I would probably write nothing but Mary-Sue fan fic where the MC was an only slightly veiled version of myself. And our plucky heroes would always win by some crafty bit of almost magic that wasn’t revealed until the second to last chapter.

Okay, that would be too boring even for me, but the point is, we tell stories for other people. It’s to communicate something (sometimes just a fun story full of escapism, mind), so how to keep readers in mind without letting them drive us into a darkened, nonthreatening space?

Liz over at Myself without the shell told me about the one person. Pick one person in the world who you’re writing for. Just one. Then the hoards of readers don’t seem so intimidating. You’re not writing for them, you’re writing for that One Reader.

I couldn’t think of anyone good, so I picked an author I’ve enjoyed. That’s not really going to work out in the long run. Just imagine how crushing it would be if your One Reader was a real person who then read your books and didn’t like them. Yikes! So I immediately took this author and I extrapolated them into an imaginary person.

Now my imaginary reader, let’s call this person the Alpha Reader provides a certain amount of comfort. When I’m in a bind I just ask myself “What would Alpha Reader enjoy?”

Usually the answer is to blow something up.

I like explosions too, so I think this new method might really work for me.

What about you? Do you have an Alpha Reader? Do you keep your Alpha Reader a secret? I’m embarrassed to admit that mine may be inappropriate because I’ve never even met said author. (and again, how embarrassing if said author ever did read it and didn’t like it. Talk about awkward!)