Monday, February 28, 2011

What Revisions have Taught Me... far.
I remember having a sense of relief the day I typed that last word of my manuscript. I didn't realize that was only the beginning.

Here, I'll put this in a familiar equation that has taken on an entirely new meaning for me:


End-product= Manuscript x (Corrections)^2

Now. By 'corrections' I don't mean just spelling and grammar. No, no, no. If only it were that simple! It's content, logic, flow, plotting, character development, natural dialogue, relatability, believability (try conquering that one in fantasy)...oh the list goes on. And every time I'd read through it, I'd find something else that needed more work.

At around 100K words, that obviously wasn't a job done overnight (a few years?!). For the perfectionist in me, it seemed never ending. Mostly because the more I'd write, the more I'd learn and develop my craft (still). So every time I'd go back through, I'd find something else I wanted to tweak and change. Ah, the labor of love.

Probably the biggest thing the revision process has taught me is to trust you, dear reader. It sounds silly, but it's true. I know you are brilliant, sharp, witty, and intuit an alarming amount of ideas. (Not so great when I'm trying to be deceptive with plotting! ;D ) But you don't need to be beaten senseless with the same idea, said in 3 different ways, 3 times in a row. Thanks to Ben for helping me understand what I'm doing to you! So, I've learned to trust you. It's not that you aren't 'trustworthy', it's that I really want you to get it--see what I see in my head. But I'm learning the best way for that is to give just enough detail so that you can see it in a way only you can, and make the story yours as much as it's mine.
And through that process, hopefully you'll learn to trust me too!
What has the revision process taught some of you?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa is to blame for my delay in 'journaling'. I try to blog about books I read, as I read them. But this series was so captivating that instead of writing about book one, I kept reading. And reading. And last night, I finished! It's been awhile since I've read a series that's taken over my thoughtlife. So, Julie Kagawa if you ever, ever read this, PLEASE HURRY UP AND FINISH THE IRON KNIGHT! (book 4 in her series). I'm dying over here!

The Iron Fey series is about sixteen-year old Meghan Chase that discovers she's actually a half-blood faerie princess, her real father being the Summer King Oberon. That's only the beginning of the faerie-twisted, Shakespearean-esque satire set in the modern day. Her best friend on Earth is the comical, fun-spirited Robbie, whose actually Robin Goodfellow from a Midsummer Night's Dream, sent to protect her. And, of course, like all Shakespeare stories, Meghan falls in love with the son of the winter Queen Mab and Meghan's elven-family's enemy: the Winter Prince, Ash. He's the Hot-Boy-With-Sword: dark hair, lean, muscular, with silver eyes, skilled fighter, and an icy-demeanor that only Meghan can melt. It's...beautiful.

With technology in the real world growing exponentially, a new power has risen in the Nevernever: the Iron Kingdom. Iron is toxic to faeries and threatens to destroy all of the Nevernever. The series follows Meghan as she finds love while embracing her place in the Nevernever. It's an exciting, unputdownable adventure, with memorable and funny characters whose development I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The ending of book three is both perfectly satisfying and heart wrenching (still suffering). Ms. Kagawa's balance of action and romance is perfect--the scenes are described beautifully while capturing emotion that yanks the reader right into the story. (Which is why I've gotten nothing done all week...ahem...Ben's started to metabolize his own muscle.)

A little caution: there's some language throughout the series. It tapers off drastically after the first book.
They are, as follows:
The Iron King, a novella called A Winter's Passage, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen.

The fourth and final installment, The Iron Knight, is slated for release in the fall. AND it's supposed to be told from Ash's perspective. But please, Julie. HURRY! Don't do this to me!

***If you like YA Fantasy, check out my book, GAIA'S SECRET. The sequel is coming soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oh Writing, How I loathe love Thee!

Due to many, various digital (and paper) stimuli, I had a revelation this week.

I have learned to write backwards.

"Are you suddenly dyslexic?" You may ask. Aside of the fact that that's impossible to attain as an adult, no. I've simply discovered that my path to learning how to write a novel is completely retrograde.

I've summarized it into what I'm going to call my 7 steps of grief writing.

1. Write a novel.
2. Time to figure out the plot.
3. Re-write novel.
4. Read a book about plot, Anatomy of Story by John Truby. A. Maze. Ing.
5. Re-write novel.
6. Plot solid; time to figure out "voice".
7. Re-write novel.

So there you have it. Completely backwards. Don't worry, my story doesn't read that way ;)

If any of you would like to share your journey, I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

It is the one day during the year that we must go beyond ourselves, showing love and kindness toward others. Every other day, we're allowed to be selfish, antipathetic misanthropes.

Well, not really. ;)

Here's me sending some e-hearts, particularly to my amazing family and friends. My life is so much richer having known all of you incredible, talented people. I wish the miles didn't keep us apart.

And here's to you Ben; my best friend, the love of my life. God spoiled me rotten by letting me spend my life on Earth with you.

Hope your day is filled with hearts, kisses, and too much chocolate!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

"It was a dark and stormy night."

Yes. It begins that way. And it's perfect.
I know, I know. I can see you over there--arching your brow. No, I did not read this in grade school. I can recall the topic rising in a discussion, though the memory's fleeting and a bit hazy. Probably because it was a dream. That being said, I've always been curious about that little wrinkle and have finally, as an adult, read it for myself. And I'm so glad I did. What an enjoyable read!
A brief (very) summary:
Margaret "Meg" Murry is equivalent to the school's reject. She's so brilliant she's odd, wears glasses and braces, and can't seem to control her tongue. What a delightful person. She can't help it; her parents are scientists. Her father's gone strangely missing, and her mother--she doesn't seem concerned about him in the slightest.

Then one day Meg's brother, the 'prodigal' Charles Wallace (who didn't start speaking till age 4, and once he opened his mouth, started using words like 'exclusive'), leads her to Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Mrs. Whatsit is the most talkative (to the annoyance of her other two companions), Mrs. Who only speaks by quoting other novels, in their native tongue (Latin, German, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.), and Mrs. Which who is the most guarded, most wise. Those three eccentric, funny women explain the 'tesseract'--sort of like a wormhole you squeeze through to travel through space faster than light-speed. According to the three women, that is where Mr. Murry has been. And it is because of this 'tesser-ing' he's trapped in 'The Black Thing'--a dark cloud of evil threatening to infiltrate the galaxy.

On a fantastic adventure where things--and people--aren't really as/who they appear, Meg learns to use her inner strength to rescue her father and save her brother Charles Wallace from evil.

Would I recommend? Absolutely!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This Week in Food: Socca

Layered Casserole with Beef, Cabbage, & Potato

Since I've been on this unintentional trend of "one-pot-meals", I thought, "Hey, why deviate?" So, rather than change that trend, I opted for changing the region. ITALY! The recipe brought to you buy Lidia Matticchio Bastianich (thanks for the beautiful Italian cookbook Uncle A!)

Socca is from Valle d'Aosta, a region located in the northwest corner of Italy. It's nestled right in the western Alpine range surrounded by infamous peaks like the Matterhorn. (Yes, the inspiration for the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. I wonder if that's also where they got their inspiration for the abominable snowman...)

The dish itself is exactly what the English name says (see above): a big casserole with slices of beef, shredded cabbage, and sliced potatoes (all nicely seasoned with a sort of homemade pesto). It bakes for a couple hours, then bakes again, covered with a layer of shredded fontina, which then bakes into a crusty cheese topping. Needless to say, the smells saturating our home made my mouth water for 2 hours straight.

Could it get any better? Yes. It could. We ate it.

And we'll definitely be making this one again. Anyone interested? :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Update on my Writing Process

Hey everyone,

I felt it was time for an update. I'm moving on to the next chapter of my journey as a writer, and it is entitled: Panic Attacks.

Here we are. Three re-writes, countless drafts, revision after revision, a short film called "revenge of the 'delete key'", etc., and I have loved every moment of it! I also, unfortunately, now believe my characters are real people, and have been caught talking to them aloud. (Please do not call a therapist on my behalf. This is perfectly normal, I assure you.) So where does that leave me? Submissions.

Now, before I go into that, I must say a few things. I would not even be here without all of you. Many of you have read a draft along the way--some have even read multiples. But all of it--the encouragement, support, feedback, enthusiasm, critique--I can't emphasize enough how much I cherish and value it. You have all been the life preservers as I float along a dark, foreboding river to lands unknown (hopefully not to the Heart of Darkness). And Ben? Let's just say he should be sainted. It's a lot to ask someone for hours and hours of their undivided attention, and none of you hesitated when I asked. Thank you! My story is better than it ever could have been on my own, and I feel truly blessed to have such a supportive network of friends and family. And it is that support which encourages my confidence to move forward to...

Submissions. These days, every author needs an agent. Agents are quite remarkable human beings--they receive over one hundred submissions every week, somehow manage to read through all the query letters and book blurbs, and above that, market all of their current manuscripts to publishers/editors/etc. 'They' liken the Agent-Author relationship to a marriage. I've read in many places that landing an agent is probably one of the most difficult things to do, hence my next chapter: Panic Attack.

I feel like I'm sacrificing my firstborn. Seriously. I've cradled and nurtured it for about 19 months, hiding it from the authorities. Soon, I shall be querying and sending sample pages to agents that fit my genre (YA Fantasy--and no, it's not about vampires). I hope and pray that someone will love my story as much as I do, and realize how committed I am to learning and working to improve my craft. That being said, it is also very likely that I will have no such luck. Only time will tell, as time always does. And while time's doing the telling, I'm trying not to panic.

Regardless of what happens, I wanted to tell all of you thank you--for everything. I've found my passion through this process: a love (and obsession...) for creating stories.
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