Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some Things I Did Last Weekend While Not Writing

I had an entire hermity weekend planned out. I was going to sit on the sofa and edit my happy little brains out (literally, I think it's dying a slow death). Then my husband announced that we'd been invited to go boating at a nearby river. At first I resisted... but then I realized that sometimes us writers just need to get out and relax, be with people, not bore the hubs and kids to death, etc. So, here are some pics:

Mr. Dragonfly applauds little dude for exercising proper boating safety.

To me, this is the real Florida - no flamingos, just a nice jungly swamp-like location.

A random tree, which may have been used in the filming of either Tarzan, or Creature from the Black Lagoon. 

Some pretty flowers.

What have you been doing lately while not writing?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Daring and Dangerous E.A.A. Mission

Mission Briefing

Location: The wilds of your words.

Enemy: Extraneous adverbs and adjectives.

Enemy Classification: Extremely dangerous. Enemy has ability to infiltrate deeply and prolifically into manuscripts, causing a novel to tell and not show.

Mission: Locate and destroy the enemy. Adverbs can be replaced if needed with appropriate, original descriptions that show rather than tell. Extraneous adjectives usually must be killed on sight.

Weapons In Your Arsenal: A keen eye, ruthless killer instincts, an ability to withstand severe torture, the knowledge that you'll never give up.

You've been briefed, soldier. Good luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Trip to EditLand, Anyone?

Hello, writer friends! As I mentioned last week, I am currently in the midst of a bunch of edits I had been procrastinating on. Further, I decided to give myself a deadline of this weekend to get it all done. I work better under pressure. So, I've been a busy little writer bee this week.

I got to thinking about how everyone's process is different for first drafts and editing. I love writing the first draft and mostly detest the many edit phases. I know it's a completely necessary process, and indeed there's that famous quote about real writing actually being rewriting. And sometimes I have an awesome breakthrough and it feels really great for a couple seconds. But mostly, it's fairly torturous for me.

Here's my process:

1) Idea (Aha! What if....)
2) Brainstorming (aka Lala Land)
3) First draft (This is awesome, I'm so inspired, I rock)
4) Six week cool off (This is actually something I got from Jennifer Hillier)
5) Print out book (I used last time and got it bound and everything like a real book)
6) First read-through and edit (Focus on major issues - plot, character development, flow, etc. Also where I think of how much I suck)
7) Finish/flesh out any research that needs to be done (I often skip this in the first draft)
8) Second read-through and edit (Focus on smaller issues - weak verbs, passive voice, word choice, awkward sentences, words I use too much, etc.)
9) Polish
10) Repeat as necessary

What's your process? Do share!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This Is What's Up With Me

With everyone but me doing the A-Z challenge, or so it seems, it's like a ghost town around here. But I figured I'd shout out into the blogosphere and see who's listening :~) I'll probably just do one post a week until May for this reason.

Sooooo, I've been going through some nice, sticky procrastination. After receiving feedback on my novel from two different blog critiques and an agent critique, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Excited about all the awesome and very useful feedback, but feeling like I was standing at the bottom of a very large mountain. I've also been sick for over a week so that didn't help any.

So, on Sunday I kicked myself in the butt and started working on some research for my book. You may recall that the agent at the conference had said I needed to enhance my setting and subculture in New York City, where most of my novel takes place. So I settled down on the sofa with my laptop and spent a few hours poring over maps and learning about the different neighborhoods and looking at apartments for rent (for my MC, not me, alas).

Also over the weekend I did a lot of brainstorming on the third book in the series. I had been told that I needed to explain a little bit more about why my villain wants to kill my MC, and so I did a brief outline of the third and final book and wrote out all the details of the big secret that gets revealed at the end. Monday I wrote a page in first person from my villain's point of view, to get deeper into the scene that my books opens with. The next step is to weave in all the NYC juiciness, flesh out my first chapter a bit with villainous motives, and then go through my book and search on weak verbs and strengthen up my sentences. I'm hoping to get this all done by the end of the month, and then it's back to QueryLand.

What have you guys been working on? What is the coolest or most fun thing you've researched for a book?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Writing for an MG/YA Audience

Happy Weekend! Before I get to my next installment of useful stuff I learned at the writing conference, I have some awards to share. Two I got quite some time ago and so am remiss in acknowledging. Two I just got in the last couple days. I love you guys!

Thanks, Heather and Abby!

Thanks, Colene and Abby!

Thanks, Abby!                 

Thanks, Margo!                

These four ladies have lovely blogs, which I encourage you to visit:

Heather Hellmann at Pen, Paper, Lots of Coffee
Colene Murphy at The Journey
Abby Minard at Above Water
Margo Kelly

I think I'm probably supposed to share 7 things about myself for at least one of these awards. So, here are the last 7 books I've read: Dead Witch Walking, Matched, The Hunger Games, Need, Alice in Wonderland, Glimmer Glass and I'm currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also, if you click 'awards' over in the post label cloud, you'll get a lot more about me.

I so love to receive awards, and I love to pass them on, too. Sharing the love is fun, so I'd like to pass this on to all of my followers. Thanks for stopping by and validating my bloggy existence!

Now, on to fiction tips! I got the pleasure of meeting and listening to author Adrian Fogelin, a local Floridian who has won a lot of awards for her numerous books. She was really fun to listen to. Unfortunately I had to leave halfway through her presentation to go to my agent appointments, but I learned a lot in those 30 minutes I did have.

- Kids/teens live in the moment, there is no nostalgia for them
- Every little thing is critical to them (a zit might really seem like the end of the world)
- They have a constant conflict between wanting to individuate and wanting to belong to a group
- Fairness is very important to them
- Even if they are popular, there's always an underlying uncertainty
- They come up with unrealistic plans (that whole live in the moment, not looking ahead thing)
- First person is the main choice of MG/YA writers, with limited third person being the second most prevalent
- Lots of rich dialogue is an important ingredient
- Writing in the present tense is popular, going back to point one

I am planning on tackling my first book aimed for a younger audience later this year. I decided I wanted to write something my son and stepdaughter can read. I've always wanted to write something fun and whimsical like Harry Potter. It will be a light dystopian, and I haven't quite settled on MG or YA yet. It'll probably cross over, because I'll have characters ranging between 11 and 16. I'm excited!

How many of you have written or are planning to write MG or YA? Why did you choose that age? Any tips you'd like to share?

Have a great weekend, writer friends!