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Pace Yourself

I just finished reading a book that's gotten rave reviews from writer-friends of mine.  About a third of the way through, I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me.

I didn't like it.

I muscled through the rest, and while there were parts I enjoyed, overall, it just didn't do it for me.  (Nope, I'm not naming names.) Now, a good part of my musing over this book was just me letting myself admit that I didn't care for it, plenty of other people did, and that's ok.

Let's repeat that.

It's ok to not like The Book that everyone is raving about.

Then, being an overanalyzer, I started thinking about what it was that got the pass from me.  It wasn't the characters (loved them) or the plot (the basic concept was great) or the setting/world-building (I want to go to there).  It was the pace.

And isn't that just the worst?  The thing that I hate--HATE--trying to fix in my own manuscripts is pace.  It's hard.  Pacing is hard.  But a pair of little …

NaNoWarmUp Halfway Point

The month is close to half over (where did the time go!), so the big question is--how is this on-the-clock writing experiment working out for me?

Not bad, as it turns out!


The first week I shot out of the gate and surpassed my goals.  That. Was. Awesome.  Everyone talks about how keeping tabs on your word count goals and progress makes you accountable to yourself--in a sort of "Tsk, tsk, Self, you didn't hit your goal yesterday.  Back to the grindstone, now, Self.  Get crackin'."  But I feel like the awesomeness of seeing yourself meet and even surpass your goals isn't talked about enough.  It's a great feeling.  I think I may start keeping a spreadsheet just to see those tallies, because it's inspiration enough to come back tomorrow when you reflect on how well today went.

The second week--not as great.  I had my excuses.  One big one.  It was this little imp's first birthday party:


and that kind of took over my life for the better part of the week. …

Staying Focused (or, Avoiding Shiny Things When You're a Magpie)

Today's NaNoWarmUp community question is a really good one--how to stay on task with the WIP when shiny new ideas crop up at the rate of mushrooms after a spring rainstorm (or in my downstairs bathroom, but that's a different story entirely).

I've touched on this before, and I stand by it--writers are mapgies. Creativity magpies, at any rate, and we're drawn to the shiny things our own minds create.  And create they do!  Because I think most writers are creative, imaginative, layered, interesting people whose minds are constantly churning and probably look a lot more like that shack in A Beautiful Mind than the "after" pictures of an organizing makeover.  I tend to think that ignoring those creative impulses isn't beneficial--bury them too long and they start to atrophy.  But you can't go running after every sparkly new idea and expect to finish everything, either.

What to do?

I give in--but only a little.

When an idea strikes that I can't shake…

NaNoWarmUp--I Joined, How About You?

Confession: I've never NaNo'd.  I'm not a very quick writer.  Now, I'm not slow, really--I'm not the tortoise here.  I'm just not a hare, either.  I guess maybe I'm a camel.  Or some other animal that makes decent but not terribly sprint-y time.  (Hint: the WIP involves camels. Hence why "camel" comes to mind here.)

Which is why NaNoWarmUp sounded like a brilliant idea to me.  Instead of 50K words in a month, you aim for 25K.  That, to me, is a hefty but attainable goal.  (Especially with the baby underfoot.)  It works out to about 800 words a day--that's my usual steaming through at a good pace writing.

It also helps that I have a project that needs, nearly exactly, another 20-30K or so words.  If all goes well, I'll finish this puppy up, accomplish the NaNoWarmUp goal, and meet some new friends all in the same process.  Love it when you can multitask!

If this sounds like fun to you, pop on over to nanowarmup.blogspot.com and read up on …

Friday Reads: Prodigy

Genre: YA Dystopian

By: Marie Lu

What's it about?  Picking up where the first book in the series left off, Day and June are now working together toward fomenting rebellion...at least, at first they're on the same page.

Why did I pick it? I really enjoyed Lu's Legend, especially how it was told in alternating viewpoints.  I wanted to see what happened next--could this unlikely duo really make a difference in the bleak world Lu had created?  Also, I wanted to pick something at the library, and they had this in.

Who will like it?  The alternating viewpoints are unique, and the storyline crisp though in many ways typical of a dystopian (typical in a "fits the type" way, not "boring" way).   Dysttopia and soft sci-fi fans will probably enjoy this, and the rich relationships in the book make it appealing to less diehard genre fans.

Judging a book by its cover: Can you for this book?  It certainly carries the flavor of the first book, but I admit--it's a little…

Our Bodies, Ourselves...On Paper

Note: I included images of famous nude artwork later in this post.  Nothing to be embarrassed by, but if you prefer avoiding nude images, skip this post :)

When you have a daughter, you find yourself suddenly plunged into the world of Discussing How to Raise Daughters.  This is complicated business fraught with nuanced emotional complexities derived from history, social norms, and, probably, fairy dust and unicorn farts.  Also, the fact that your daughter isn't even a year old yet makes a lot of this more theoretical than practical in nature.

Anyway.  
Body image is a big thing that gets tossed around, and though the issues surrounding body image can be just as difficult for men as women, we really emphasize then when talking about raising daughters.  Which is how I end up paying attention to stories and articles like this one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-koppelkam/body-image_b_3678534.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009
The gist?  Don't talk about bodies with daughters exc…

Friday Reads: Insurgent

Genre: YA Dystopian

By: Veronica Roth

What's it about?  Picking up where the first book in the series left off, the breakdown of a faction-based society, urban warfare, scientific experiments gone torturous, and what makes people tick.

Why did I pick it? I read Divergent last year, enjoyed it, and wanted to see what happened next.  Also, I downloaded it onto my Nook as a beachy-fun-vacation read for our trip a couple weeks ago, but we were so busy taking long walks in the sand, playing with the baby, and staying up late laughing with my extended family that I didn't even open it! 

Who will like it?  Yeah, it's in some ways your typical YA that's going to appeal to typical YA readership--young girl is the only one who can save the world, adventure ensues, dash of romance.  Feels like a lost cause with a glimmer of hope.  But here's the thing--Roth does characters well, zeroes in on questions of identity, and seems like the kind of person you could geek with about your M…

Worst Blogger Ever Award

They don't have one of those floating around the webbernets, do they?  If they do, someone give it to me, stat.

No?

Ok, I made one.


I have been a very bad blogger.

But I have been a very good writer.  Since I last posted, I've been very busy and pretty productive.  This isn't the most productive I've ever been as a writer--having a nine-month old does kinda wreak havoc on your time management.

As proof that I'm writing, learning, and generally being a productive human being, both as a reminder to myself and an update to you fine people, a modest list:

 I revised the MS that my agent and I are currently working on.  This was huge--for some reason this revision was mentally very difficult for me.  So I count it as a huge victory that it got done.Related: I worked with my agent on this revision, which meant a level of collaboration I really haven't attempted before.  Obviously, it's still my work--but I've never had someone this close to my work.  It was a…

Kicking the Bucket List

Recently a "getting to know you" question was posed at a (non-writing) online group I frequent: Three items from your bucket list. I was surprised how many women posted, as one of their top three bucket list items, some variant of getting published.  (I am assuming most meant traditional publication, not self-publishing.)

"Publish a book."

"Be a published writer."

"Publish something, maybe an article if not a book."

I shouldn't have been surprised that there are so many hopeful writers out there--after all, NaNoWriMo was conceived to help the millions of people who have said "Gosh, I would love to write a book" give that goal wings.  But I was, for a couple reasons, surprised how prominent writing and being published was on bucket lists.

One, I admit, was prideful.  I have worked darn hard to get where I am as a writer--and I'm not even published yet.  To put "publish a book" alongside "swim with the dolphins&qu…

Getting Stuck

So my child has learned a new trick.  She can roll over from her back to her tummy.  For non-parental types, this is to the parenting world a giant leap forward, a huge accomplishment which moms at play groups toss back and forth--"Oh, is Timmy rolling over yet?"  Your pediatrician will ask after rolling at your child's appointment (right before your child gets jabbed with three hypodermic needles).

It's funny, because the giant broohaha over rolling over usually fails to mention the fact that your kid learns to roll...but not to roll back right away.

So E rolls over, situates herself, and remembers--she hates being on her tummy.  So she squiggles around like a turtle flipped on its back, ticked at the injustice of the world until I come to rescue her and help her back onto her back.

Then she promptly does it again.

And gets stuck.

Again.

The weird thing is, I think we all do this.  We learn how to get halfway where we want to go before we learn how to push the rest…

Love Stories

I like Valentine's Day.  I know it can veer towards cheesy and Hallmark-y, but the thing is, I kind of like cheesy.  Plus I'll take any excuse to bake something.  And buy a goofy card.  And tell people I lurve them.

That said, I'm not a huge hearts and flowers romance person.  Maybe it's because of that that I don't really get into the romance genre.  Nothing knocking it--I just don't enjoy reading romance.  But I do love reading love stories.  I tend to find that just about every book I read is a love story.  In fact, I'm hard pressed to find a book that isn't a love story in one way or another.

And I think I know the reason why. This is where I know I go a bit off the grid, but here it is: Every life is a love story. I decided this, strangely enough, at my grandfather's funeral. Before the mass, there was a family-only visitation, to give us a reprieve from the hundreds of people at the open visitation the night before. And there had been hundreds. …

The Worst Part

I've always thought that the worst part of the writing process is the waiting.  Sure, rejection is awful.  And writer's block stinks.  And my least favorite task is probably formatting queries.  But the worst?  Waiting.

I'm learning that the bad news is, waiting isn't a part of the process that goes away.  When I was unagented, I associated waiting with the waiting for replies to queries--waiting to fill in my spreadsheet of emails sent with dates of replies and, inevitably, mainly rejections.  I thought of sending requested partials and--joy of joys!--fulls as the zenith of waiting.  Longer waits, but with higher stakes.

Then I signed with an agent and realized...waiting isn't over.

There's still the same waits you had before--the waits for crit partners or beta readers to get back to you.  Now there's the wait for your agent to let you know what she thinks, too--and even when you have the world's most encouraging, patient agent, there's a nagging …

Friday Reads: Fire in the Blood

Genre: Literary Fiction

By: Irene Nemirovsky

What's it about?  Rediscovering forgotten youth.  And scandals.

Why did I pick it? I love Irene Nemirovsky with a love that knows no bounds.  If there was any writer, dead or alive, with whom I could have coffee, I'd pick her.  Beyond that, I'm a bit of a Francophile and I love pre-war anything. 

Who will like it?  Nemirovsky writes about rural France in this book, but she's really writing about people and the way they tick in general.  Not in an obvious, preachy way, but in a pretty, blooming, "Oh I get it!" sparks of understanding kind of way.  It's like people-watching.  Quiet. Not much action.  You can guess what's going to happen next.  But if you like people-watching, you'll enjoy watching Nemirovsky's characters.

Judging a book by its cover: Can you for this book?  Aside: I love the lady's hair.  End aside.  It's indicative of the period during which the book takes place.  Beyond that, not…

Thoughts on Revising with an Infant

I'm working on revisions.  This is kind of like delving into a detail-rich logic puzzle in which there are no answers except the ones you make up.

I also have an infant.  This is like having a time bomb that screams at random intervals.

These two things aren't great together.  But we're making it work.  A few thoughts on the process:

1) Work when the baby naps.  Duh.  But this involves the baby napping.  This baby has decided that naps are for wimps.  So, hold your baby and read your book to her.  She will fall asleep from boredom and you will have the bonus of hearing aloud the crappy portions of your writing so you can fix them.

2) If you can't do it all at once, do it a sentence at a time.

3) You can still have coffee while nursing.  Praise the Lord.

4) Same with wine.

5) Cats make crappy babysitters, and they make worse critique partners.  Because they truly do not care about anyone who is not, at this moment, offering a lap for them to sit in.

6) When you can'…