Sunday, January 29, 2012

To trilogy, or not to trilogy--that is the question.

A question I often hear from aspiring writers is whether to lay a project to the side and move on to that Shiny New Idea they can't stop thinking about. My advice is always the same: do whatever the heck you want. Especially if you're unagented/unpublished. Without deadlines to bog you down, why not do what you are most passionate about at the moment? Writing is fun. It doesn't mean that other manuscript is dead. Alas, you are a fiction writer--revive that zombie when you're good and ready.

This month, I've decided to take my own advice. I have two books in much need of revisions that I'm shelving...for now. I am the anal, outlining, detail-oriented, obsessive perfectionist type of writer. So this is hard for me. And I feel like I'm being a total rebel. Sad, I know, but let's just embrace the dotted i's and crossed t's persons of the world for a moment. The most important part is--I'm super excited to start on my Shiny New Idea. It's a science fiction story that has been floating around in my head for about a year. I've been researching/outlining for a few weeks now. And here's the problem, it's gonna take more than one book to tell this story.

A multiple book project (in my case, a trilogy) is extremely common. Especially for science fiction or fantasy. But for an unpublished writer? Ugh. Cue my annoying sensible self. How do I query a book that is the first of a series? Do I just write all three even if the first one doesn't snag an agent? I know a lot of you have written a series or at least the first book in a series. How does one cope with these doubtful thoughts of a confessed stickler? Advice, people, advice!

Also, this trilogy is NOT going to sit well with a lot of people. The kind of thing that if published, will probably bring in hate mail and death threats. Okay, maybe not really. But some will get mad at me for writing it, I have no doubt.

I'm writing this thing whether it's sensible or not. And whether it ruffles feathers or not. Am I crazy? Or just your typical barmy writer?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Querying Woes

I'm querying right now. And I think I might explode.

Back up the query train for a moment.

I started writing in 2010. Finished (and polished-or so I thought) it within 6 months and was feeling pretty darn good. Started querying...oh maybe 25 agents. Generic rejections across the board. What??!! How could they not love my perfect manuscript, you know the one that all my friends and family said was fantastic. The one that would turn the publishing world on it's head because of its fresh concept, amazing characters, and nail-biting plot.

Yeah. Whatever agent people. So I started writing another book.

Then I went to a writer's conference. Then to another writer's conference. I learned hey, maybe starting out with dialogue in a prologue with a character whose name I didn't want to give away in an otherwise boring childhood scene was not the way to start my story. Maybe I could go with a few less adverbs, adjectives, passive voice, being coy with the readers. And wait, where is that hook? Yada yada book sucked. So I started studying (books and blogs on writing), paying attention to feedback, got myself a critique group and revised that baby to death.

Which brings me to today. Again, I'm feeling pretty darn good about that first book. This time around, I hope I'm not deluding myself. I started querying a couple of weeks ago. Generic rejections across the board.

Except, wait, what was that? Oh yeah, I got a full manuscript request. What the ??!! Yipeee!!
(, make that 2 full requests. Just got another this afternoon...who-hoo!)

Regardless of what happens on this querying roller-coaster I'm on, at least someone in the writing world thought my book was worth a look, right? I know the reality of the business. I'm probably in for at least a few more years and a few more books before I break into the world of publishing, but I'm in it for the long haul. Not giving up. Despite these querying woes.

Any advice to get through querying? (And online agent contest rejections too...yuck) I could use some motivation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I heart YA

A few days ago, I read this. I thought yes, yes, heck yes. I heart YA. Always have. Always will. YA literature is made of awesome sauce!

Then today, I read this.


It left me in tears. I want to rub my eyes out with bleach and forget I ever read it. I'm cringing, knowing there are teachers out there, squeezing all the awesomeness out of that awesome sauce.

What is wrong with YA? Why do some people think the only books worth reading are written for adults, preferably by a long dead author?

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the classics. And my kids do too. So much that they turned our basement into a Shakespearean theater in order to act out his plays. Make stop-motion videos of Charles Dickens' stories. Beg to learn more about the adventures of Odysseus.

But they also hide in the bathroom to get in just one more chapter of Harry Potter. Write their own cartoon-rendition of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jump up and down in giddiness when they get to meet a favorite living author in person. Snuggle in bed with me at night, red-faced, to tell of their crush on a fictional character from a favorite book.

How could these experiences be considered inferior just because they do not come from a "classic"?

Mumble and grumble and grrrr and outright blast it all.

A much more intelligent response (compared to my frustrated ramblings that may or may not make sense) can be read here.


I'm off to write more awesome sauce.

And to leave you on a happier note, have you seen this yet?:

Monday, January 9, 2012


Here are some of my favorite things when it comes to writing--

Favorite quote (read as advice to writers):
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.
-Lewis Caroll

Favorite book cover:

Favorite novel:
SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, by Orson Scott Card

Favorite author:
Shannon Hale

Favorite critique partner:

Favorite writing snack:
Diet mean carrots and celery

Favorite thing to write about:
Cute boys

Favorite thing to read about:
Cute boys

Favorite writing music:
Dustin O'Halloran

Favorite time to write:
All the time, which isn't a good thing--mostly

What are some of your writing favorites?

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Goals

Last month (December 2011) I had a profound experience (in part due to one of my amazing crit partners) that I will not go into. BUT the result is that I KNOW I am supposed to be writing, and so now feel doubly motivated and excited for what 2012 will bring.

In the spirit of that time of year, here are my writing goals for 2012:

1) Read 50 books this year.

I've never kept track of how many books I've read before. I couldn't stick with the Goodreads thing, and I've been known to read 4-5 books in a week, and then 1 book over 6 weeks. So...we'll see how this goes. I decided reading one book a week should be challenging yet reasonable for my busy schedule. And then I gave myself 2 weeks off for emergency life purposes. :)

2) Query 2 books.

This is an example of something I can control. I'd love to type "sign with an agent", but we all know how that could go no matter how amazing our writing is. I would be very happy with "get a few partial requests" on the first query, then "get a few full requests" on the second, but again, we shall see. Why 2 books? Because I'm querying my first this month and have two other books in revisions right now, so really this is a goal to whip one of those into show-the-world shape.

3) Draft 1 book.

I've got one idea knocking on my brain (among the bazillion others floating around in there) begging to be written. Hopefully I'll get to it this year. At the very least, it can end up being my nano.

4) Study/read writing craft book 1 hr. a week.

I'm humble enough to know I have a lot to learn about writing (and always will), but besides writers conferences and blog reading, I've yet to actually delve into serious learning. I plan on treating this like a course, where I'll read/study for an hour, and then apply what I've learned in the next week's writing.

And there you have it. Reasonable goals, yet solid and proud-worthy, I think.

A few of my non-writing goals this year include running every day, drinking less soda, being more positive, cherishing the time I have with my kids, sticking to a budget, and bulk cooking (cook extra food for dinner and freeze some for a quick meal another night).

What are your goals this year?