Thursday, January 31, 2013

Learning My Revision Process with The Completion of Each New Book.

I've been a bit of a writing fiend the last couple of years, but like children or pets, each manuscript is different. I keep hoping to find the formula and, truth be, I'm getting closer. Not a formula for story, you don't really want one of those, but the formula for my revision process.

My WIP, working title THE PERFECTION OF A WATERMELON POPSICLE, was zapped off to two beta readers today. Eight months ago I started it. You might remember this VLOG from October where I was debating about whether or not to scrap 38,000 words and start over.

Well I did.
Then I hit 18,000 words the 2nd go round and freaked out that it was crap.
So before I started over a third time, I sent those 60 pages to two readers who promised me there was something worth working on.

I slogged through the muddy middles and worked my way to the end (I love endings). First draft complete. That was a great feeling. A friend (Hi Jen!) agreed to read the first draft purely for pacing and story issues. She told me some plot points that weren't working for her and areas where the pacing lagged or could be expanded.

But what now? Well for me, I drew back on my experience at Cheryl Klein's workshop on using a book map for revisions. First I reread the manuscript on paper, red-lining immediate fixes I saw during the reading. Then I went through my manuscript scene by scene noting what worked, what didn't work, where the pace and timing were off, and any little notes I needed for myself, keeping in mind Jen's comments. I made a spreadsheet and duly noted all this information.

Then, back to page one. And I plowed back through, using my red-lines and my book map notes. As I worked through chunks of chapters, I sent these off to my alpha reader. An alpha reader, is the first serious critiquer. A good alpha reader doesn't spare your feelings. So, if we were to count at this point, I've got:

  1. First Draft
  2. First Draft Reader's Pacing/Plot Notes
  3. Author Red Line
  4. Author Book Map Scene by Scene
  5. Author First Pass Revision
  6. Alpha Reader's Intensive Sentence by Scene Notes
And Finally, #7 - Revision Complete Based on Alpha's notes.

So some of you may think, you're done, right? Hell no I'm not done. I've got 2 readers, reading now. Depending on what they say, there will most likely be #8 - Revision Based on First Betas. Then I'll get yet another reader. If they give me the thumbs up, then I send it to my agent. 

But get this - my agent may want revisions!
And then when it goes to my editor to see if it might be Book 2 of my deal, she'll put me through at least two revision rounds and then copy edits!!

And you thought writing was easy ;0)
How's your process different? 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Creative Hive Mind - When Writers & Artists start trends.

When I worked as a visual artist, doing craft fairs and wholesale gallery markets, I would often note how ideas seem to go in waves. Things like using text in jewelry showed up and all of a sudden it was everywhere. It wasn’t that artists were copying other artists, because most craftspeople, like writers, work in isolation. So what was it?

I think there is often what can be called a collective consciousness in the creative mind. A sort of buzzing or frequency that spreads at the same time. Of course there may be something that spurs it, an excellent movie, an item in the news, one person’s visionary idea, but the way it spreads is faster than that. Call it the hive mind, if you will.

Trends in writing seem to be that way, too. Paranormal to dystopian to contemporary to thrillers to horror, the sub genres move through in waves. But the weird thing is, a writer in Canada might have an idea like a writer in New Mexico. The two have never met, never spoken on the phone, never shared their idea, but bingo, here are two manuscripts with similar premises.

It would be easy to get all bunched up about this. All, OMG, they stole my idea! But the thing is, like a room full of artists, give everyone the same brush, canvas, and paint and no two images will be the same. The same goes for writing.

So what spurred this blog topic, you might wonder. Well, I watched the movie, Winter’s Bone, for the first time last night and I was freaking out in tiny spasms. It’s not that SING TO THE WIND is like Winter’s Bone at all, except it is. I recognized settings and characters and rhythms of speech. And what’s more, I’ve had a shiny new idea for a few months now, that reminds me even more of this movie. Am I not going to write it? No, that would be ridiculous. It’s not the same, it will have my voice, my plot, and it's a kick ass premise. It just goes to show the hive mind is buzzing for me.

So what about you? Have you noticed this collective consciousness in your creative world?

Friday, January 25, 2013

ITunes Card Winner

Drumroll Please:

Stephanie Diaz

Sent you an e-mail Steph with the details!

Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Interviewed!

Pop on over to today for my introductory post! And don't forget to check out Friday's post here and enter to win a chance for an Itunes gift card.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let's Talk Playlists!

Lately I've been obsessing over Grooveshark. I made a playlist for SING TO THE WIND (over on the side bar) and then I made a playlist for my WIP, tentatively titled THE PERFECTION OF A WATERMELON POPSICLE. (below)

I used to be a music-a-holic. I've seen great music, everywhere! I saw Dire Straits in London, The Church there, too. I went to a Paul McCartney concert in Paris. Saw David Grisman and Jerry Garcia at the Filmore in San Francisco. I've stood in the most beautiful canyon on earth - Telluride, Colorado - for two Bluegrass festivals in a row listening to the likes of Ani DiFranco, Peter Rowan, James Taylor, and many more. I've spent countless years at the New Orleans Jazz Festival where one year I made the smart decision to skip a plane flight to catch Stevie Ray Vaughn. In high school I saw ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, The Doobie Brothers, Journey, Styx, and more. I had a beer thrown on me at a Dwight Yoakum concert and discovered I'd gotten old at an Edie Brickell show. In between, I've seen countless indie bands at small festivals and clubs all over the southeast.

But then, I quit. We adopted kids and their musical taste took over the car radios and CD players. That music sounded like so much noise that I just stopped listening. It was expensive to buy music and the radio stations never play the stuff you really want to hear. And who has time to spend hours flicking through Itunes when you have crappy Internet and no money and a day job that never ceases.
But now, I'm back. And loving listening to really great tunes. So in honor of my playlist obsession, I'm giving away a $10 Itunes card. But only if you share your favorite bands with me! Give me tunes, people!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Absurd and the Ironic: Three of my all-time favorite movies.

In a recent author bio post, I wrote about loving the absurd and the ironic. Today while walking the dogs, I got to thinking about this statement and what it meant. I think I can sum it up best with three of my favorite offbeat movies and a clip from each.

Harold And Maude

Basic premise: Depressive teenage boy falls in love with much older woman who teaches him the joys of the small things in life. The Cat Stevens' soundtrack is an awesome bonus. Here's one of my favorite scenes:


Basic premise: Carefree Baltimore teen loves taking and developing photos of the odd cast of characters in his blue collar neighborhood. He gets 'discovered' by the art world scene and they try to pull him in but he turns the tables. Not as bawdy as some John Waters' films, but a bit raunchy in places. The grandmother and her talking Virgin Mary statue, along with Pecker's sugar obsessed sister, Little Chrissy make this movie a classic.

Baghdad Cafe

Basic premise: German tourist and her husband get in a fight. He drops her beside the highway in desert New Mexico and leaves. She limps to the Baghdad Cafe, where she ends up transforming herself and the motley crew that live in the trailer court next door.

What quirky or cult classic movies do you love? Share so I can put them on my queue!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Books Read in 2012

Sorry for the weird code on my post but I just copied my read list. 98 books and a number of friend's manuscripts. Wow. I doubt I'll read that much this coming year. I'm going to bold some of my very favorites below. These are books that sucked me in with voice, story, and atmosphere. There are many excellent books not marked in bold - but sometimes you've just got to make a decision ;0) What's more, I did manage to hit my goal of 50% of what I read being from 2011/2012 - as a library girl, I often don't end up with new releases and as a result bought more books this year than in previous ones. Which was fun :0)

For 2013, I want to read at least one biography or memoir each month. No number goals or release date goals.

Do you have reading goals for 2013?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012)
Bad Apple by Laura Ruby
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Me, The Missing, & The Dead by Jenny Valentine
Paranormalcy by Keirsten White #93
A Long Way From You by Gwendolynn Heasey
Borderline by Allan Stratton
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala
Sexy by Joyce Carol Oates
The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna Van Liere
The Last Child by John Hart
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (2012)
The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier (2012)
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Wither by Lauren De Stefano (2011)
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (2011)
Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell (2011)
White Cat by Holly Black (2011)
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (2012)
How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr (2011) #72
The Burning of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel (2012)
Fracture by Megan Miranda (2012)
Crossed by Ally Condie (2011)
The Timeless Anthology (2012)
Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin (2012)
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (2012)
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (2012)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer Smith (2012)
The Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman (2011)
The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santos (2012)
Sing You Home by Jodi Piccoult #59
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion
Nerve by Jeanne Ryan (2012)
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012)
The Winter Pony by Iain Lawrence (2012)
Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri (2011)
Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff
The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers (2012)
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
In Trouble by Ellen Levine (2011)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater (2012)
The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker (2012)
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein (2012) #42
The Disenchantments by Nina LaCouer (2012)
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
The Angels Are the Reapers by Alden Bell
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (2011)
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Ashfall by Mike Mullin (2011)
Colors Like Memories by Meradeth Houston (2012)
No-Name Baby by Nancy Bo Flood (2011)
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (2011)
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Shadows by Ilsa J. Blick (2012)
Ashes by Ilsa J. Blick (2011)
The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill (2011)
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (2011)
Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones (2011)
City of Ashes by Cassandra Claire (#27)
Jump by Elisa Carbone
Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (2011)
What Can('t) Wait by Ashley Hope Perez (2011)
This Lullaby by Sarah Desssen
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Everything I Was by Corinne Demas (2011)
Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfor
Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (2011)
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeiffer
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011)
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)
The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (2012)
Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (2011)
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
A Million Suns by Beth Revis (2012)
By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters
Article Five by Kristen Simmons (2012)
City of Bones by Cassandra Claire
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2011)
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (2011)