Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Month, New Goals

The past few weeks have been crazy, guys. I managed to get a hideous fever-and-wet-hacking-cough illness the same week I had to host Thanksgiving dinner and teach/manage an intensive week-long test-prep course for international boarding students. On Monday-- the first day the course was over-- I slept for 16 hours.

While I'm still not 100%, I am feeling much better, and excited about the new month, the Christmas season, and getting back to writing. I'm going to go for 60 hours again this month. And what will I be doing with those hours? Some combo of the following:

1) Tension-building exercise for Mender. This one comes from Donald Maass-- I think he pushes it in all three books. The exercise is simple: flip to a random page in your MS, let your finger drop down onto the page, and increase the tension in the sentence you picked. If that sentence is already bursting with tension, do the next one. Rinse and Repeat 350 times. Literally. That's what the directions say. I've printed out the latest version of the MS and put it in a 3-ring binder, and I'm going to try to do 10 of these a day for the month of December.

2) Submit TOB to 20 more agents. I was feeling very discouraged about my 30ish rejections, and then got a "Girl, that's nothin'!" pep talk from one of my beta readers (she got something like 80 rejections before finding her agent). I've been meaning to do this for months but am also dreading it. I'm making it a firm goal for December, and also counting the hours it will take toward my hours writing this month.

3) Process beta feedback as it comes in. For each set of feedback I need to read it, absorb it for a few days, make notes about it, make any easy changes to the printout of the MS, and start formulating a plan for addressing trickier issues. I'm assuming my betas will probably get back to me some time this month, so my plan is to do the third draft of Mender in January.

4) Start story building work on the next book. I won't write book two of The Sacred Talents unless I sell Mender, so for now I'm going to start something totally new. I've been pondering what to work on, and I think I've settled on book 1 of YA Sci-Fi series. Series name is Terra Astra so far, and the heart of the story is a character I've been thinking about for a long time. I feel like I finally understand what his story is supposed to be-- he belongs in an ensemble piece. I've changed his name because this is YA Sci-Fi and I think Ezra is now too strongly associated with The Illuminae Files. So (for now) he is Jay, and he has a cohort of other teen characters named Emmy, Liev, Koa, and Isabeau. I still don't know what the Big Thing of the plot is, but that's fine-- I never do until fairly deep into the story building process. I also don't know how many books this will be or what the structure is, and that's a bigger deal to me. Right now I'm thinking trilogy, but for me there has to be a reason WHY it's three books and not two or four.

So that's the state of the writing as we enter this last month of 2016. I'll do a one-third check-in if I don't have anything to say before that!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Ten Years Ago Today...

...I had a baby.

That baby is now ten years old. I have been a mother for a decade.

I don't post much about The Son here, other than to point out the bemusing aspects of life as a mom novelist (such as the amount of writing I do in the school parking lot), but I wanted to mark this momentous day by sharing a bit of The Son with you.

The Son is a quadruple Scorpio chaos Muppet, tall and leggy with shoulder-length blond hair, blue-green eyes, and an enormous head. He has some formidable qualities I am trying to channel towards good rather than evil: he's strong-willed, charismatic, creative, not easily intimidated, a class clown, and immune to peer pressure. He's also a budding geek who takes Renaissance sword-fighting lessons and is into video games, books, graphic novels, programming, robotics, Legos, Pokémon, Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, model rockets, and English humor. And he's also a Cub Scout who whittles, collects canned food for the local food bank, and has won the Pinewood Derby.

He is one of the funniest and most loving people I know, and has passionate opinions about just about everything. His favorite color since he was young enough to indicate one has been yellow, but his favorite color to wear is black. He's a cat person. He has a crazy sweet tooth but hates both soda and doughnuts.

Professions he has considered in the last few years: Emperor of the World, film/TV show director, virtual reality video game designer, talk show host, and YouTuber.

He is a Gryffindor and his patronus is a crow.

Happy Birthday, Boy of mine! And happy tenth mothering anniversary to me.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Revision: Step Ten

Step ten is beta readers! I'm sending the MS out today to those who are ready for it.

(To my betas: Apologies in advance for any missing words or other errors I introduced when I did the revisions. I just looked over the first few chapters (where I did the most revising, and ugh.)

Last time around this was terrifying, but now I'm more excited. I have lots of vague thoughts about what maybe needs to be stronger in the book, and I feel like getting beta perspectives is going to bring those thoughts into focus.

It'll be quiet here for a while, as my next two weeks are going to be insanely busy and I'm not planning on doing any writing. See you at the end of the month!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Done Again

I finished the revision today! I've decided to not to the reading-aloud part yet. I want to wait until I get feedback from betas and go through another round of revisions before I do that kind of nitpicky line edit.

I do want to spellcheck one last time, though, and then I need to thoroughly read the instructions for compiling a draft in the Scrivener tutorial, because I just kind of skimmed it for this last printout and wound up losing some formatting.

I'm guessing I'll have it ready to send to betas on Monday, or thereabouts.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


Things are looking good for me to finish by Nov. 18. Heads up, beta peeps!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Month, New Goals

Happy November! And happy NaNoWriMo to all of you who are participating. May your words come easy and your plot paths run true.

I am sitting just shy of the halfway mark of the revision, and I've come to the place where I need to add a new scene/chapter. It's not a long scene-- probably not much more than 2,000 words-- but it needs to serve as the fulcrum of the main plot thread. It's also the one place my main character (who is honestly a bit of a goody-two-shoes, particularly compared to Willa from TOB) does something she knows is manipulative and selfish.

I have the scene mostly outlined. It's mostly dialogue, so today I hope to get all that written and then tomorrow fill it in.

As usual, Thanksgiving week is crazy for me since I'm both hosting the meal for our family and enduring the busiest week of my work year. My goal now is to finish the revision and have it ready to send to beta readers by Nov. 18. It's not the end of the world if I don't make it (one of my betas is doing NaNo and won't be able to read it until December anyway), but I am not going to be able to write at all between Nov. 19-27, and I don't want to take 8 days off and then try to re-gain momentum the last few days of the month.