Monday, June 19, 2017

Life After The Contract: Which Manuscript Was That?

I’ve mentioned that some things change when you sign a contract. Today is life after contract, the endless edits keep me from writing my next book edition.

I tweeted earlier today that within 14 hours of finishing a round of edits on one book, I received another round of edits for a different book, and this is now my life. My plan had been to draft between when I'd finished one set and received the next set. To be clear, I didn't write a novel in those 14 hours...

As of this exact second, I am juggling what can only be referred to as a ton of novels. A list:

MS 1: in pre-publishing edits
MS 2: on submission with publisher
MS 3: in the query trenches
MS 4: being drafted on lunch breaks with a wireless keyboard hooked up to my phone (this is the only time I can’t work on edits as I can’t take my computer to work without being willing to submit it to time consuming inspection by IT peeps—yes, my work is sensitive, but not at all how you think)
MS 5: in development
MS 6: waiting to go into the editing grinder

Yes, I have six novels running at the same time. Six. So at any moment, I could have good or bad news from an agent, an editor, or a crit partner, and I’m trying to stick words to the page. It’s a lot to manage. (and my email is officially a ticking time bomb).

Now, I don’t say this to brag, but I think sometimes we don’t consider what consequences our actions have. Action: I’ve written a lot of books. Consequence: finding a home for those books takes time. I wrote MS 2 in 2016. I wrote MS 1 in 2009 (yeah, it’s been a long haul with that book).

At one point, I looked up from my writing work and realized I knew exactly what I needed to be writing for the next three years, and that hit me in the creative noodle. I’d never been under contract. I’d just been frolicking about in the land of dreaming up the next great big book to lure an unsuspecting agent into my snare. Then suddenly, I know what I’m trying to put together creatively for the next few years. That’s a heck of a commitment.

I don’t regret any of it. I love the work I’m doing, but it sort of shocked me to realize that I started my publishing journey in 2009, I’m two books in, and my writing docket is all tied up until the end of the decade.

So I did something big name authors do all the time: I stole time from somewhere else to develop another project. MS 4 in that list has nothing to do with any of the other novels. Literally nothing alike. It’s not even an explosion filled action piece (but it does have dragons!). I found a piece of time I had, lunches and breaks at work, and figured out how to convert them into words. So far, so good. I’m averaging about 2K a week on drafting while I’m working on the endless edits for projects under contract.

Because here’s another hard truth: once you’re published, you still have to do EVERYTHING ELSE you had to do before you were published, plus revise, edit, and polish a manuscript. Market, prep, write a sequel, and do it again. And if you’re lucky, do it again. All the while, cooking dinners, cleaning house and fulfilling the whole full time job gig too. I’m lucky in that my SO picks up the slack when I’m ready to throw poptarts at the family, but I have to admit, my ability to create new work in the crunched time was one of the hardest adjustments.

So there it is, folks, find a way to steal time and write the next book. If that advice sounds familiar, it should. Writing the next book is almost always the answer. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


So a few weeks back (many more than a few at this point), I signed with Curiosity Quills for another book!

This book is near and dear to my heart. I have quite writing to focus on my serious (non-writing) career many times, but this was the book that brought me back to writing. This was the first book I thought was good enough to query.

It became the first book I decided wasn’t ready to query.

So I rewrote it. I wrote other books (MANY other books) and they each had their own journey (some of them not finished yet!). I rewrote this book because I loved the story and the characters, and now I get to share them with the world!

I’m so excited about PROM, MAGIC, AND OTHER MAN-MADE DISASTERS! And it’s coming out November 21st!

You can add it on GoodReads!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Annoyed that it isn't easy

I have been struggling with personal issues lately, and, as always, that impacts my writing. And because I’m upset, I turn to the only real form of therapy that’s ever worked for me: Art. There’s art that I want to make—art that I need to make—but I find myself avoiding it. It’s not because I can’t make the art. It’s not that I don’t want to make the art. But it is hard.

And I find that sort of annoying.

I realize this is a personal problem, but there’s this feeling in our society that effortless is an expression of greatness. “Oh, I just wrote that novel in 6 days,” is somehow a greater novel than one that took 6 months because clearly writing a novel in 6 days is going to have way less belly aching than the novel that takes 6 months.

So I avoid the projects because they are not effortless.

Some would argue—and rightly so—that the effortless creations are only born of two places. One of these places is practice. Practicing day and night to achieve a level of greatness and skill with something is clearly a thing. After all, my first drawings of Stitch took hours and they were on cards that were 5 inches high. The one I slapped onto the concrete took exactly 3 hours and it was three feet by three feet. Obviously, practice makes the expression of art seem effortless.

The only other place where art is effortless is when it is made out of laziness. And this is where I’m worried my work is. I’ve been practicing a technique that is, at its heart, lazy. It’s easy and effortless, the only real drawback keeping it from being an absolute joy is that the art created through it is… predictable. It doesn’t show my vision or my ability, it shows my ability to follow a You Tube tutorial. It might look nice, but I worry that it’s lazy and repetitive to the point of not being worthwhile.

And, because I’ve studied the craft of story for so long, I worry that my novels are like this as well, that I don’t challenge myself and they are born out of my laziness. Cliche, repetitive. 

Does anyone else thread this needle of anxiousness between being lazy and thinking effortless art is somehow better (but worrying that because it didn’t receive it’s blood sacrifice it’s somehow not as good)?

As always, this is a blog hop, head over to the Ninja Captain, Alex and be sure to thank this month's co-hosts, JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman: A review without spoilers

First up, this will have no spoilers aside from Wonder Woman is an Amazon, though I do talk about all of it in terms of story beats from a plot structure stand point. 

To start off, I loved this movie so much that it’s hard to be objective about it. I feel like I should get something else out of the way because there are plenty of people who will tell me that “oh, you only liked it because you were a big fan of Wonder Woman before you saw it, so of course you liked it.”

I haven’t read a single Wonder Woman comic ever. Not one (unless you count Crisis on Infinite Earths, which NO ONE DOES). So I didn’t go into this movie as a great big fan of Wonder Woman, and I always thought her character was a little ridiculous (though, I definitely enjoyed the Lynda Carter series as a kid).

I came out of the movie ready to go buy all the things.

The characters were done really well in this movie. A ragtag team is brought together to take on a mission of great importance. Through the movie, I kept looking for the weakness in characterization that’s very common in thrown together movies. It wasn’t there. They stuck to their characters, no asides, no “why would they have done that?” moments.

The only weakness in the characterization is that Captain Trevor only has one line that hints at his past, specifically the past that he clearly feels the need to atone for. With the addition of this one piece, his character would have potentially stolen the show, so it was a delicate balance. I feel like the choices in the movie were made perfectly to keep the light shining on Diana and not get overburdened with any inter character subplot (i.e. romance).
I do find myself wanting to write fan fic about the aftermath though.

WWI is a great setting. The stakes are prenuclear, and weapon featured is very believable for the time (though not from a chemical stand point, alas). The backdrop for much of the action is damaged and destroyed villages in Germany, and the German forest.

A story in Three Acts:

Act I: The early part of the film has some excitement and lots of women doing super amazing badass things, but the stakes are very low which causes for a disconnect between the action we’ve been promised and women talking about things. The conflict here is very low. This section has some great humor gags to ease that feeling of could we get on with it, but it still does a great job of introducing our characters and calling the hero to action. This is a pretty typical Act I complete with the secret, the question of whether our hero can really go to war, etc. This part feels a little slow, but only because we know there’s some amazing action coming.

Act II is both super funny and awesome. There are no pacing problems here, and I love how it very matter-of-factly addresses the inequality between men and women. In Act II we get the midpoint of the movie commonly known as “the bad guys move in” beat, and it is both brilliant and spectacular. Highly enjoyable and visually stunning.

To be clear, I loved this Act as well, but I have spoken with people who did not. Act III features all the same beats we expect in any Act III, “team falls apart,” “the whiff of death,” “the dark night of souls.”
For those of you who don’t study story structure, the dark night of souls is when the main character is made to feel alone and as though the fight is, perhaps pointless. In Harry Potter, the dark night of souls is when Harry realizes that he carries a piece of Voldemort in himself and he has to die for Voldemort to die. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the dark night of souls is when Henry senior has been shot and Indiana has to go along with the bad guys to get the one thing that will save his father. In Wonder Woman, the dark night of the soul beat comes right where you expect it, leading into the final battle, and some people don’t like Wonder Woman’s dark night moment because it seemed out of character to them. I didn’t see it that way at all. It made sense from a character stand point, because she was an amazon and she gave up so much to go on this quest. It makes perfect sense that she would Doubt in that moment. Then there’s the final confrontation which maybe lasted a little too long as our main character has her epiphany.

I loved this movie. I’m super excited about getting to buy the DVD when it comes out.