Another Day, Another Update

Howdy, all!

So, I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front– been trying to really focus on working with my critique partners. Determined to get through all of our MSes by the summertime! One special CP of mine is blazing through my chapters, so that gives me hope that I’ll be able to query my revised MS this summer. Super exciting– I could talk about my feelings about that for hours.

But speaking of querying, I thought I’d go back to Like a Virgin 2014! The contest officially ended May 2nd. I mentioned previously that I’d made it to the finals, surprisingly enough (And I won 3rd Place! This deserves its own blog entry…). But then, once I posted my revised entry, I got a request! This was of course amazing, and I’m incredibly thankful, but it was also terrifying. My MS was (and still is not) in any way ready for submission! Haha

So, I spent all of last week through yesterday blazing through my MS and making changes. Revising is such an odd thing– sometimes, I just go into the word document and do a line by line directly. This time, though, I printed it out and handmarked my comments. It was more time-consuming but I think I looked at the MS differently and it definitely needed that. Finished processing all of my changes today. 

Reading the printed copy also showed me a few of my weaknesses. For one, I think I took cutting to be the solution to all of my problems: my issues with previous drafts were because I wasn’t being concise enough and was taking too long to say things. As a friend reminded me, yes, you cut– but then you still have to add interesting stuff back in! In my latest exchange, a universal complaint has been a lack of worldbuilding, setting, etc. And I completely get it. I’ve gone back to revise for that issue but I think it crops back up in later chapters, even after my last round of revisions. So I’ll have to address that more fully at some point.

Worldbuilding is such an interesting thing. I’d been so obsessed with stripping all unnecessary exposition and making the read as quick as possible that I think I uprooted important parts of the text. ARGH! Would love any and all thoughts, etc.

Anyway, thankfully I saw a response from the organizers on twitter that we can take our time to respond to requests. So, WHEW! I plan on taking my time– I probably won’t respond to them until the summer, when I start re-querying. I think my batteries need a recharge: I have no juice to write my other WIP, either. (Currently at 12.5K) I think I’m just going to focus on critiquing and reading now that I’m not in a rush to revise my MS– that’ll be a nice change of pace. 

I also have a gym pledge and going to the gym always gets me back in shape (pun intended), as hard as it is to stick with.

As far as what I’m reading: I’m rereading Divergent (which inspired my last major rewrite and conversion back to First Person POV) and still going through Darkest Minds. Both have been super-helpful so far– I think I just need to take some time to think about what they’re doing and how I can apply that to my own writing. I’m also looking for other good MG/YA to read, if anyone has any recs. One pledge I had was that for every book with a mainstream (read: white) MC, I’d read another with a diverse MC. I’m on amazon now to find some for purchase– thankfully, diversityinya has been super-awesome for finding things.

Alright, I’m hungry. Over and out!

NWBE and #LV14!

Hi, everyone!

So, I found out I made it to Round II of the Like a Virgin Contest! Tres excited for results!

Very thankful for the Pitchslam folks for opening up their critiquing to the #LV14 finalists. Just thought I’d post my info below; going to try to critique folks’ entries in a bit. (Been a hectic day)

Title: Nikita Whitfield and the Butterfly Eater

Genre: Upper Middle Grade Fantasy

Word Count: 84K

Feedback:
►Consider reevaluating your category. As Cherish mentioned, this really does read like an upper MG pitch/excerpt—which definitely isn’t a bad thing!
►The only thing that really confused me was the second paragraph in your 250. Nikita said graduation was exactly as she had imagined, but then she mentions mythical creatures before moving on to elaborate. That little tidbit might be better suited for later

Query:

Thirteen-year-old Nikita Whitfield thinks there are only two good things about going to Pemberton Academy. One: it’ll give her some space from her overbearing mother. Two: no one there will compare her to her superstar older sister.

When she gets there, she realizes Pemberton is more than just uniforms, trust fund kids, and English essays. It’s also a training ground for budding Technicians: kids who can cast illusions, smash concrete, and control other people’s minds.

She’s determined to become one of them. Even if that means enlisting the help of a dwarf with a temper as short as he is, holding court with a king grizzly bear that can stop time, and fighting against kingslayers and classmates alike.

But Nikita doesn’t realize becoming a Technician will mean so much more. It will mean standing against some of the strongest Technicians ever. It will mean confronting death for the first time. And it will mean choosing her new role in life: the avenger or the damsel.

First 250:

My sister’s graduation was exactly as I had imagined.

I didn’t know about gnomes, pixies, or talking bears back then. Needless to say, I didn’t think I would see any of them there.

Instead, I imagined that the day would be hot, that my older sister would look amazing, and that spending the day with my parents would give me a planet-sized migraine.

And I was completely right.

#

It was a long drive to my sister’s campus. My mother and father buzzed back and forth between themselves and the time evaporated into the warm air. My father held himself together as best he could. Operating a vehicle and answering all eight thousand of my mother’s questions was no small feat.

“Yes, I made the reservation, Lynn,” I heard him say. As good as he was at hiding his annoyance, I knew better. He only used my mother’s name when he was angry with her. Usually it was just “baby” or “Lynnie”.

My mother wasn’t as attuned to his moods. Or, more likely, she just didn’t care. Two minutes later, she had a question about the camera batteries.

The questions didn’t end. After two hours, I’d had enough. I pulled my laptop from my backpack on the floor and my hands swam around a pouch for my headphones.

No luck.

I checked my dress pocket and pulled out the black cords. For the rest of the ride, I tried to drown out my parents in bass, drums and gruff Japanese growls.

On Frustration.

This entry will be a little more personal, I guess.

Last night, I reached a breaking point with my first MS. I wanted to forget about it, delete it, rip my hair out, etc. Some might even call it…a temper tantrum, haha.

There were a number of triggers. One, I’ve gotten (great) critiques to it and a big part of me wants to be done with it. I’m impatient and, in my opinion, I’ve been at this long enough to be done with it (whether or not that’s true isn’t exactly the point). I’m disappointed that it’s taking me this long to get to a good place with the MS.

I think I’m also seeing folks doing things I want to do– they’re making good films, writing good stories, being good dancers. And I’m just like, “Why isn’t this me!?” And so, my insecurities set in, and I’m just unsure of what I’m doing and if I’m happy with where I’m going.

But, Lord, is it tough. Last night, I decided I was driving myself nuts, and so I went to sleep. Of course, I had nightmares about every insecurity under the sun (from my body, to my projects, to my career– it was like a tour of all of my weaknesses over eight hours). 

Needless to say, I didn’t wake up in good shape, but my nightmares were a wake-up call that I was in a bad funk about all of this, and I needed to get to a better place. And so, I had a good, long talk with myself and I’m taking a small break from revising. Not critiquing and being critiqued, but revising. And I’m trying to renegotiate my expectations for myself.

And now, I’m feeling a lot more energized. Just thought I’d share this since I tend to take so much of what I do seriously- especially writing, but everything else in my life, too. Not sure how common the feeling is, but…here we are.

Anyway, feeling good about the way things are going. Mental health, man– it’s real. 

Cheers, 😉

Link

On Law School Tuition.

On Law School Tuition.

I’m getting increasingly frustrated with WordPress. Apparently it ate my last post.

Anyway, excerpt from the article:

“A lot of schools are being, frankly, unimaginative,” Farish said. “It’s abundantly clear that the rising costs of the past 20 years have collided with the economic realities. At the risk of indicting an entire industry, I think we’ve been kind of lazy in our thinking. We always just pass on the costs to students and their families.”

Ding, ding, ding.

Even after the reading I’ve done about American higher ed., I still do not understand the American education system. I understand it even less after having lived abroad (which is not to say that other countries get it right, either…). How we apportion costs is completely out of whack– American universities are bloated and ridiculous. $50K tuition (or whatever it is now at private universities) is unsustainable. Essentially, the system they’ve laid out is to set a high base price for those who can afford it (or those who can’t and have to take out loans to when they don’t qualify for grants) and cut that price for those who qualify on their FAFSAs. The price is not real and it’s not sensitive to supply and demand. The market for college education is too distorted by loan money and inelastic demand– universities are not sensitive enough to market forces because there’s a steady supply of cash (ie. federal loan money) to let them charge whatever costs they like.

I’m conflicted because I understand universities are trying to cut costs, and cutting costs generally affects staff/professors. I’m especially sensitive to it now that I have a partner trying to get into the academic job market.

But even now, I don’t think I want my kids going to an American university if the situation remains as it is. I will find a way to send them abroad (or to a cheaper school here, maybe). It just makes no sense to me: if I have the choice of paying $200K for a university education or giving them the $200K (to hopefully invest wisely or be entrepreneurial with or something)…I’ll choose the latter.

Anyway, I have a lot of feelings about American higher ed. schools (rape culture, classism, whatever), so I’ll just stop here. Plus, I don’t remember enough about economics, but I *feel* like I’m on the right track here, haha.

Interesting article. 🙂

Strange feels and juggling projects.

Firstly, Happy Easter!

I decided to marathon X/1999 (an anime from CLAMP; it’s from over a decade ago) instead of being social. It was a pretty good decision.

In between glancing up at X/1999 and typing in MS Word, though, I reached my goal for my new manuscript. I outlined it…10 days ago? I wanted to hit 10K words before this weekend was over; I hit 10,451 words about twenty minutes ago.

I have a lot of things to say. One, I’m loving the authors on twitter. It’s actually really cool– writing has always been really solitary for me. Of course, you can interact with readers, but the process of writing has really just been me on my own. So, if I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to write, then that was the end of the game for the day.

I just discovered all of these fun hashtags like #1k1hr, which is for people trying to write one thousand words in an hour. Really awesome to have people to struggle with, haha.

But, as I write my second MS, I’m actually trying to deal with how I feel about it in relation to my first. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m tired of revising my first, but my second feels so much stronger. I feel like it suffers from none of the problems my first has/had– pacing and tension, primarily. And maybe that’s natural: I’ve gone through a lot of critiques from folks and I’ve learned a lot over the past few months. I feel myself increasingly wanting to shelve the first in favor of my second. 

I remembered reading on the QueryTracker forums that someone had recommended only pitching one MS at a time. And I can see why they’d say that– Lord forbid you get multiple R&Rs on the MSes! It’s sad, because the first MS is quite special to me, but I don’t feel as confident about it as I once did. To be fair, I’m still going through critiques with writing partners and, after I did another round of edits on the first MS this morning, I remembered what I love about it.

This is a long way to say I’m still trying to figure out how to love both MSes. I think I need to remember that they’re really different– different pacing, different characters. That doesn’t mean the second is better per se (though it might be). They’re just…different.

Anyway, realizing I have a lot of respect for folks working on multiple projects. I have some short stories I’m planning to finish (eventually…), so I thought it’d be easy to juggle MSes. Definitely not.

Would love any thoughts! And please bear with me as I try to get this blog together.

Salut.

Like A Virgin Blog Hop: Questions and Answers

So, I’m a part of the Like  A Virgin Contest– it’s for new writers working on manuscripts. Below are some questions and answers– looking forward to the rest of the contest. Xo.

 

  1. How do you remember your first kiss?

My first kiss was at my girlfriend’s birthday party in early elemental school. (The details are fuzzy. Second grade? First?) Anyway, she had a bunch of us over at her house and she pulled me up to her room under some flimsy pretext. Next thing you know, we were making out and stuff.

It was a fun party.

 

  1. What was your first favorite love song?

 

My first favorite love song was probably “Lovin’ You.” It was a ritual: my mother would play Minnie Riperton every Saturday when we cleaned the house, so it was programmed into my head very early. I still play it when I clean my apartment.

 

  1. What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

 

I usually lock myself into an enclosed space: my bedroom, my office at work, or some other study/work room. I generally like to lock myself into a room before I start writing anything.

  1. Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Tough questions. If you mean novel-writing, that would be James Baldwin. Before that, I found most writing (other than blogging and poetry) frustrating—I was more of a Math/Science guy. It was James Baldwin that made me realize I wanted to write a novel. Blogging came organically—a friend of mine used to run an amazing blog on growing up Black and queer. I decided I had a lot to say on the topic (and on others) and started blogging in my early teen years.

  1. Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

 

It does. It’s much different from how I’d originally written it (pacing, voice, tone, exposition), but the scenes themselves are the same.

 

  1. For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

Major characters, definitely. I usually start my process with an image—I see a character doing something. So, I get a character first. Then I get the setting from their surroundings in the image. Finally, I think about a plotline and create other characters and a storyline connecting them.

 

  1. What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

 

Engaging!

Check out the other blogs as well to check out the other participants.

On writing.

So, first substantive blog post…let’s see!

I actually have a few things I’ve been meaning to write about, so it’s great that the #lv14 bloghop is happening tomorrow.

The first thing is that I’m a new cousin/uncle! My cousin just delivered a healthy, huge baby girl! I spoke with my cousin on the phone yesterday and I’m still amazed by the entire thing. Crazy to think the girl I played with now has a little girl of her own.

Second thing is that my mother went to the gym for the first time in 30 years. This makes me so proud of her– I actually didn’t think she’d ever go. It also makes me to think about my own nonexistent gym habits these days. Going to try to fix that tonight.

Lastly: writing. I am currently neck-deep in edits and I am reaching a strange place. I am revising my completed manuscript– I will probably blog (read: complain) about that a lot. Now that I’ve begun another MS (which I will also blog about), I fully appreciate how much worse editing is than writing.

I’m finding it difficult to stay motivated. But I’ve found a good group of writing partners whom I exchange with and that has been excellent.

So, stay along for the ride.

Cheers.