Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesday: Writer Dreams

I've told my story a few times here on Eyes 2 Page. But to summarize, I didn't grow up envisioning myself as a writer. I played around with poems in middle school, but moved past it. It was the story itself that caused me to begin filling a once white Word doc with over 80,000 words. But in that story, I found how much I love to create. It was as if the world had just been opened to me. As if God had slapped me on the forehead and said, "Um, I've been trying to tell you. Pay attention." Now, all other dreams of what I want to be when I grow up, pale in comparison. Which is scary considering how hard it is to survive as an author? I'm a hedge my bets kind of girl, so I'll keep my day job and give up sleep in order to write and dream of one day earning the title - Author.

Which brings us to today's Watcha Say Wednesday. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Have you been writing as soon as you could hold a pencil, or was there a moment in your life that shifted your view? Did you make up stories as a kid, or was it a story that had to be told convert you? Did you focus your life around one day becoming an author, or was it a decision made later in life? Or, is writing just something that you "play around" with?

Answer what speaks to you, and ignore the rest. But do tell, I'm quite curious.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is It Time?

I started writing Iron Thirst back on 12/31/08. It took me about four months to get the skeleton of the story on paper. Most scenes were complete, but other parts still bare bones.  The remainder of the time has been spent revising and rewriting.  I’ve gone through two different prologues, stripped scenes that don’t either add to the plot or characterization (no matter how fun they were *wah*), added new characters, added a few chapters in a different character’s POV – for a total of seven full drafts (each draft went through at least three sets of revisions). (Dirty math – I reworked the story about 21 times.)
Writers are instilled with enough self-doubt to prevent them from ever believing their story is good enough. Pick up a great book and after reading it, you feel like a hack. Walk into a Borders, see the shelves lined with hundreds of thousands of books – and check your confidence level. We second guess ourselves like politicians should.
I don’t think I will ever believe my story is 100% perfect. How could it be? Every day I learn something that could make it stronger. Another way to say what has already been said – but better.
I have finally learned to accept this. My manuscript is a living, breathing document. I have the right to tinker with it and continue to make it better. But what is happening is my attempt towards perfection is preventing me from moving forward. There is a back log of new stories waiting their turn for me to give them life. There comes a point where enough is enough.
Let’s say I was to get Iron Thirst where I believe that it is perfection. A point where every word is concrete. A point where I believe it could not be enhanced, should not be changed, and will never be better. (Hold on, bwahahaha, ok, let me continue.) How do you think I would respond to an agent, editor, or publisher handing me a red painted manuscript and telling me to get to work. Hmmmm,, hissy fit, maybe?
No, I know that I cannot marry these words. I know that if it was to be printed as is – my story, my voice would be something I was proud of, something I could live with. But I know that professionals will need to touch it in order to turn my art into their product. And I’m ok with that. Hell, look forward to it.
David Fulmer, an author who I have studied under, has said (paraphrasing) that when he is doing readings from books of his that have been published (some even receiving awards), he is still tempted to take a red pen to it. That stuck with me.
So, I have decided that I am going to finish my line edits, I am going to write the (not curse word strong enough) synopsis, and I am going to query Iron Thirst.
I will say this – to anyone who is sitting on the fence on whether or not it is time – this was not a decision that I made lightly. I had to do some soul searching and ask myself some tough questions.
-          Am I confident that the story (not the words) is strong and ready for the world?
-          Is the manuscript free of errors, typos, and plot holes?
-          If an editor did not make a single change, am I at a point where I take pride in my words?
-          Am I ready for a whole bunch of no’s and a possible yes?
This decision is personal, but I hope sharing how I got here can be of some service to you.
So, are you querying? How did you know it was time? Are you still deciding if it is time? What is holding you back?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesday: Are You a Juggler?

I have been a busy little bee since we last spoke. I've got the new YA up to about 15,000 words. I've nicknamed it The Hunting Moon (working title). I've retrieved Iron Thirst from exile and started revising. I've become addicted to Twitter thanks to all the funny, clever people that hang out there. Think the last one is not helpful? Well, when you receive horrible critiques, surprise emails, or are just having a bad day and great friends pull you off the ceiling, calm you, and put you back on your feet - you'll see. (Love you guys!) Like the blogosphere, it's a great support system - but more instantaneous.

Now, what was I talking about? Point. I had a point. *scratches temple* Oh, yeah.

In the past, I've had a problem balancing multiple projects. I will be flying by, typing away on a new WIP. Then I'll decide to go back and revise Iron Thirst. I become so involved with my first love that ideas stop flowing for the new WIP, and it gets dropped by the wayside.

This go round, I am more focused (or so I'm telling myself), but I fear it will happen.

Which brings me to this week's Watcha Say Wednesday.

How many balls do you keep in the air? Do you only work on one WIP at a time, or are you a polynovelist (I think I just made that up. I wrote this in religion class.)

Do you wait until your MS is near perfection before you start a new WIP, or do you have a process such as revising one while writing another?

Answer what speaks to you; ignore the rest. But do tell - I'm quite curious.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Draft & Blogfest

Thanks so much to Anne Riley for hosting today's Murder Scene Blogfest. Before I get to my excerpt, I wanted to say thank you to everyone that stopped by for the WSW: First Draft edition. Wednesday's are becoming one of my favorite days of the week. It is so fascinating to see how different we all are in our approach to a first draft.

My first draft is all about getting the story down. It's part pants and part plotting. I just follow the ideas, and I don't try to keep to a single format. I don't edit until after the story is on paper. When I'm done, my first draft looks like a series of scenes that still need to be sewn together. That's kind of how my brain works. I see my book as a movie, and normally an out of order movie. Sometimes a passage will read like, "Jane went there. They fought. She left." and other times it is a complete crafted version. First Draft often times has a ton of question marks to hold the spot of things I need to look up, characters names, names of bars, etc. I don't stop writing to look it up. I keep going. I just say bunny and hop over it. First Draft is never seen. In draft two, I connect the dots and work on the details. 

For anyone that has an idea burning in your soul, but you are just unsure how to begin, that's my style, but I highly recommend that you READ THE COMMENTS from WSW. Lots of great ideas and techniques in there.

 Moving right along to death and mayhem. My blogfest excerpt is from my book that's in a constant state of revisions completed WIP titled IRON THIRST. This scene is in Adam Bristow's (forensic biologist/vampire slayer) point of view. He is sitting in his car watching Felicity's house, currently on the phone. He has been assigned the task of keeping her safe. And well, here... 

A movement in the corner of my vision yanks my attention to the south. “Hey, Trixie, hold a sec.” 

I set the phone on my leg. Sure enough, the bushes are moving, but the trees are lifeless. “Gonna have to call you back, love.” 

I reach to my side and grab the two blades tucked between my seat and the console. I unsnap the holster, making the gun an easier grab, then slide from the car. I don’t shut the door, but only push it to. I don’t want the slightest noise to be heard from where I stand. 

I walk, keeping my head lower than the highest part of the car. The figure moves towards the edge of her apartment building, pressing itself flat. It lingers as if listening or sniffing. I decide to go around from the other side.

Holding the gurkha in my right hand and the stiletto in my left, I inch closer. Sneaking up on a vampire is damn near impossible, but concentrating on the direction of the wind and knowing to move only when they do or when their focus is absorbed helps in the process.

His hand reaches for the screen door. This is my only chance. I don’t know him and he’s not supposed to be here; that’s all I need for my next decision. I leap. Cradling the curved edge of the gurkha around his throat, I drive the stiletto straight down into the crevice between his shoulder and neck at an angle, penetrating his heart.

Before he can scream out, I grip the hilt of the buried blade. Here is your handle… With all my force, I drag the other blade across his throat, lacerating carotid arteries, the jugular, and the larynx. And now you will spout. The blade is so sharp and the leverage that I used with the handle causes his head to nearly come clean off. The spine holds it into place.

I prefer to keep them attached. Less pieces to keep up with. I pull the dripping monster into the bushes. Grass is much easier to clean than concrete.

The vampire doesn’t move. Either injury alone would have left him incapacitated, but combining them; we got us one dead vamp. I couldn’t take a chance on him turning on me and waking the girl. She’s just clueless enough to investigate.

I place my boot on his shoulder blade and retrieve my knife. I wipe both blades across the grass, and head back to my car. Away from her house, I grab my phone and call Matt. “Hey, it’s Bristow. I’m going to need a body bag and lots of rags.”

“Jesus, man. I was watching a movie with the kiddo,” he says, letting out a heavy sigh. “I’ll round up the guys, and we’ll be there in a flash.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Watcha Say Wednesday: First Draft

I am in the happy newlywed stage with my first draft. We hold hands when we go out in public. I want to spend every free minute together. I think about it all the time. Aww! We’re in love.
So, it got me thinking about you guys. Why? Well, cause I love you too. But I’m not holding your hand in public. If first draft gets wind of it, she’ll stop speaking to me for sure.
This week on Watcha Say Wednesday I want to know how you tackle a first draft.
Does your first draft read like an actual book, or does it resemble more of a splotchy outline? Do you start writing at “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”, or do you bounce all over the place?
Is there a certain philosophy or style of writing you follow? Or do you make it up as you go along?
Do you plan out the book before you ever begin -- complete with bios on all main characters? Or do you sit down and channel your muse, and fly by the seat of your pants?
Answer what speaks to you, and ignore the rest. But do tell – I’m quite curious.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Contest Winners and Other Awards

This has been a wonderful weekend. Kelly @ Kelly's Compositions held a blogfest, and I met so many new writers. My own entry helped me reach a new level of comments. I’ve never had more than twenty. It was awesome! So many great first pages out there. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read mine.

I started a new WIP on April 1st thanks to Tina Lynn’s 500 words challenge. Her whip sewn with awesome has been keeping many of us in line. And thanks to the challenge, I have hit a total of 6000 words so far in my new YA-paranormal. The trick with these challenges is not trying to get to 500 words – it’s not allowing yourself to stop trying until you hit 500. If it’s not coming and the characters aren’t talking - you have 500 words. But if you hit your stride, there’s no telling how many words you can pump out.

For me, in the beginning, I have to allow myself to write crap. The entire point of the first draft is getting the story down. It’s not about beautiful words and kickass turns of phrases. That comes later. First tell the story – then revise, beautify, and perfect. More on my style for first draft later. That’s another post.
Last night the Keep It Going Contest came to a close, and we have three winners. But before I reveal those, I have a few awards to hand out.

Nicole @ One Significant Moment in Time gifted me with the Prolific Blogger Award. Thank you! I’m not sure how many people I am supposed to give this to, but I have selected three.
  • Donna Hole – She has a wonderful blog, and is full of passion. If you are not following her, get over there nowish. I’ll wait. *taps toes*
  • VR Barkowski – She does a fabulous job of keeping blog readers informed of upcoming events and contests as well as keeping an upbeat motivational spirit.

Donna Hole has blessed me with the Soulmate Award, and I think she is a soul mate of mine. This award requires that I gift it to 5 people, make up something about them (not mean), and link back to the ORIGINAL POST.
  • Sierra Godfrey – She is an avid hunter of a rare breed of solar powered hopping garden gnomes. Fierce critters that must be stopped.
  • Tina Lynn – She has five authors held captive in her basement. They said the phrase “can’t do it,” and now they are chained to desks. They should be done with their first drafts by the end of next week.
  • Hannah at Musings of a Palindrome – She has been involved in a secret love affair with Nathan Fillan. He proposed, but she turned it down – wanting to maintain the friends with benefits relationship. Why ruin a good thing?
  • JM Diaz – He has a very honed in sixth sense which he uses in his writing. He sees an event, writes it, and then it comes true. Scary stuff.
  • Ronnie Griffin – She has a mad skill of being able to catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks. Reaches right up and plucks it from the sky. Awesomeness.

Now moving on to the winners of the Keep It Going Contest.
The first was a special award especially for one of the contributors to the story. You can read the entries HERE. The winner of her choice of either a 15-page critique or a $15 gift certificate to Amazon is…. DONNA HOLE!!

The next two winners were randomly selected. I tallied all the entries and used the random number generator in excel. The following individuals have won their choice of either a 10-page critique or a $10 gift certificate to Amazon:

VR Barkowski
Tara @ A Feel of Something New

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for playing!! Send me an email (click on the envelope on the right hand of the screen – your right.)

Wednesday we will be back on schedule for another Watcha Say Wednesday, tune in then.

So, how was your Easter? Are you in the writing or revision phase? Any exciting news for anyone?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Randomly Delicious & Blogfest: First Pages

Tomorrow is the last day for the The Keep It Going Contest. Post a comment tallying your entries. Add to the story if you have time. There are multiple ways to win. Don't miss out. Act now. Supplies are limited. Wait,what were we talking about? Oh, yea - sorry, I was momentarily possessed by an infomercial. I'm better now.

BLOGFEST!! Yay!!  Kelly over at Kelly's Compositions has come up with a wonderful idea for a blogfest. As she says, in most blogfests we post excerpts from the middle of our novels. This is a great opportunity to start in the beginning.

This is perfect timing, because I've been thinking about beginnings. This week I started a new WIP, a YA paranormal. And as I tweeted last night (FOLLOW ME), I've had to remind myself not to stress about the beginning in the beginning, because I write a better beginning in the end. That's the only nugget of wisdom that I can share today. Beginning a new WIP, always leaves me feeling quite humbled and terrified. It's like a first date. Is this the one? Do I want to spend all my free time with these characters, this plotline? Is there a better one out there for me? Is this the best for me now? But the answer is quite simply, you'll never know unless you try. Tell the voice of doubt to shut the hell up, and write your heart out.

Back to blogfest. I'm pulling this from my finished WIP, Iron Thirst. The novel has two beginnings: prologue and chapter 1. This excerpt is from chapter 1 where we meet Felicity Johnson. Hope you enjoy.


Who knew two tiny fangs could be so hard to find? I bought the pair nearly five months ago, and I specifically remember thinking to put them somewhere that I could find them. My room is a complete and utter disaster. I have been through every drawer, emptying the contents onto my bed in search for the last thing needed to complete my costume. I can’t be a vampire without fangs.
            I plop down on the bed, and close my eyes. Where did I put them?
            “Bathroom, second drawer, along with the red contacts,” I say aloud to the ceiling.
             I leap from the bed. Christian will be here any minute, and I want him to see the complete look. I slide open the drawer, and there they sit. I can’t believe I forgot the contacts too. They set me back nearly a hundred bucks.
            I insert the teeth, and begin trying to attach the colored plastic to my eyeballs. I should’ve waited on the eye makeup. I run back to my closet to grab shoes.
Zipping up the knee-high leather boots, I stop by the mirror for one last look. The struggle was well worth it. My eyes glow a bright crimson with black around the edges, as if the fire inside has burnt the curved periphery. I bounce my palm off the spikes of my black pixie wig. The menacing grin is complete with two sharp fangs over my scarlet red lips that look poised to wreak havoc amongst the unsuspecting city of Atlanta.
            Well, the town won’t be that unsuspecting, considering the rest of the people at DragonCon will also be dressed in costumes ranging from Star Trek to Night of the Living Dead.
As I darken the shadows under my eyes to give myself the true undead look, the doorbell rings. I slide down the banister to get to the door--safer than taking the stairs in these boots.
I fling the door open, and there he stands. We both let out a scream and begin cackling at each other. Christian is a yicky-ucky zombie, complete with a tattered, stained, once-white shirt, suspenders, and pants that look as if they had been buried. His normally perfect hair is dirty and a total mess. His skin is painted a weird grayish green, and his mouth is bloodstained. No one would recognize this scary critter as my clean-cut best buddy.
 “Felicity Johnson, you look a-freakin-mazing. I would have never thought that you, of all people, could pull this off.”
I should be offended, but he is quite right. Everyday “me” is not sexy, not scary, and definitely not a vampire.