Adventures in Reduxes, Step 1: Deconstruction

Hey, sweet readers. Either we’ve known each other for awhile or we’re planning on the sticking it out for the long haul, yes? So I might as well be honest with you. I need to tell you three things right now: 1. I’m a pantser, (which you might have known.)2.  But I hate that about myself, (which you probably didn’t know.)3. I am LAZY. (which, if you’ve been paying attention at all, you definitely knew.) So, what does a lazy pantser do when she wants to write with an outline but doesn’t actually want to write an outline? She writes a redux. It makes perfect sense! You can just take a story you love, change some details to put it in a different setting, or a different universe, or add some aliens, or change someone’s gender, and BAM! Awesome story! Outlined for you! Just write it! SO EASY. Right? So very very not even close to right. I’m currently working on a Bible story redux and an Austen redux, and the first thing I’m learning is that the first step in any redux is perhaps the most counterintuitive – Separate yourself from the story. This was so, so tough. I’m doing this redux because I love the story. LOVE it. But in order to do this redux right, I had to first tear myself away from making gaga eyes at it so that I could completely critically rip that sucker apart. These are all issues I’ll be exploring in subsequent posts, but questions like: What was the original pacing of the story? How does it need to be changed...

An Invincible Spring

So. I’m not what you might call the most cheerful person. I’m a pragmatist. An acute one, even. Which means that this whole crazy publishing business can make me kind of…well…crazy. There’s no right way to write, or get critique, or revise. (No. There isn’t.)There’s no one perfect path to being published.There’s no way to know whether the steps you’re taking are moving you one step forward or two steps back. It’s true. Frustrating, maddening, terrifying. And true. If you’re used to figuring out how well you’re doing by grades, or employer evaluations, or getting a raise…Dear writer friend, you’re going to have to find a different way to gauge your progress, and your worth.More than that, and especially if you’re a pragmatist like me, and you watch this whole writing-and-querying thing go down for awhile, and realize the true subjectivity at work behind everything –you’re going to have to find a way to keep yourself afloat. I’m still not sure whether I have.But I do know that I’ve stopped caring so much about whether and when I get published. I know. That sounds stupid. Because of course I care, right? I mean, I’m still querying, still working my butt off, still plowing through that new WiP’s first draft (one third of the way done as of this weekend, thankyouverymuch.)Yeah. I care. But I kind of…don’t anymore. I want my writing to make me happy. I want it to make other people happy, too, of course. But the reason I started wasn’t to hold a shiny hardback or to snag a three-book deal or to have featured advertising on Goodreads or to...

Why I Love Writing “Scenes” (You Know Which Ones I Mean)

***PSA – I know I’ve been a bit of a Debbie Downer with the whole Trying to Get Published thing. I don’t like it either. Accept my apology, sweet readers? I’m going to try my darndest to blog most about what makes me most happy – actual writing. Maybe some good karma will flow from my outbox along with my queries. Now, on with the post.*** So. Let’s say you’re having a bad writing day.We all have ’em. Maybe you’ve just discovered a plot hole you just can’t figure out how to fill.Maybe your dialogue sounds wooden no matter what you do.Maybe you can’t, for the life of you, find this character’s voice. What do you do? Well, conventional wisdom would tell you to fill out a character worksheet.Or do some freewriting. Or maybe outline a little more, or brainstorm with CPs. That’s all well and good, but most writers I know? They write a kissing scene. (Or something a little more…intense. You know what I mean.) As we’ve all heard me whine, I’ve consistently hit one stumbling block with Chrome – not hearing the main character’s voice. In fact, as I was whining to one of my saintly, patient CPs, I was only hearing Havah’s voice when she was with (and, um, with) her boyfriend. So I wrote those scenes. (And some Scenes, too.)And I loved writing them.And I loved the characters.And I felt joy in working on the story. And then?I realized why: I “heard” Havah so well when she was with her boyfriend because that’s when she is most open, most vulnerable. That’s when her soul is most laid...

The Problem with Being A Far Thinker (as a writer)

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved to know What Was Going to Happen. I would plan my future career and spend hours finding the best colleges to attend and all the classes I would sign up for. I had a strategy mapped out for grad schools, internships, and meeting Mr. Right. I knew how many kids I wanted to have, how far apart they’d be born, where our family would live, and what my work-life balance would look like. Guess how many of those careful plans actually panned out in the way I imagined? Yeah. None of them. Still. Guess what old habit is dying hard in my adult writing life? Like most of you writers out there, I dream of getting published. I know full well that’s never gonna happen unless I work my tush off to get there. Yes, that requires a lot of work and careful planning. I’ve had self-imposed deadlines for drafting, strategies for sending to CPs, a carefully structured method and schedule for when I would send my queries, and to whom. Now that the queries for ONE are out, I’ve started on the next WiP. And, as you may have guessed, I have a plan for when I’ll start querying that one. That’s right. I’m planning my query process for a new novel before my currently querying novel is in the drawer. In some corner of my twisted mind, this all makes sense. I’m allowing One to query  widely, unfettered by any clinginess or obsession from yours truly. More importantly, I’m building an iron, spiky, barbed-wire fence around my heart...

Friday Obsessions: Pinterest, Anita Diamant, and Hamantaschen

Happy Friday, everyone! Another week of non-awesome progress on the WiP, which I’m attributing to the 6-week homestretch of hosting this (non-alien, allegedly adorable) parasitic creature. I’m sleeping a lot of hours, but not sleeping very WELL, which is totally destroying my “wake-up-at-4:00-every-morning-and-write-like-a-motherf—er” strategy for getting anything done, you know, EVER. (And let’s not even talk about what a cruddy CP I’ve been.) It’s worth it, I know. It’s cool. *weeps* In other news, I’m calling this week “not bad at all” in the query trenches, which, of course, falls somewhere between “could be worse” and “only slightly anxious.” Let’s just continue to keep our fingers, toes, and possibly eyes crossed for good luck for ONE, hmmmm? Thanks. Yeah, okay. Let’s get on with the show.This week’s obsessions are a pretty even balance between super-girly and super-Jewy. You’ve been warned. Everything I was obsessed with this week.Because I know you want to know. 1. Pinterest. Yeah, yeah, it’s tired, I know. And to be fair, it’s only a minor obsession. I made a board for Chrome, and it always makes me sigh with the pretty. I’m gonna go ahead and recommend it as an amazing tool for all you writers out there who are visual like me. For example: I found these trees on Pinterest, which are now alllllll over Chrome City: 2. Anita Diamant. Okay. So, Anita Diamant wrote a bestselling book called THE RED TENT about 13 years ago that was a retelling, or fleshing-out, of a Bible story, which is kind of what I’m trying to do with Chrome (TRT is incredible, by the way, I...

Accessing the Love

Thanks to the goodness and brilliance of my CP, Marieke, (and the subsequent input of a handful of other CPs, love you ladies) I have a gorgeous new query for ONE, so I spent this morning sending a third query flurry. So. This post will be short. (That’s supposed to be me, sending off a query flurry.Yep. I look just like that. Right now.) So. When I was smack-dab in the middle of drafting ONE, I blogged about it. The feeling. That surge of affection you get for your work-in-progress that drives you to stay up late, wake up early, and keep your butt glued to your desk chair during your lunch break just to get in a couple hundred more words. Sometimes, it just happens. Yesterday, I thought of a particularly awesome line from the original Bible story I’m retelling in my WiP, that takes on a completely new meaning and yet means EXACTLY THE SAME THING in Chrome, and OMG you guys. Seriously. I wanted to write for hours. (Of course, I was elbow-deep in dishes and laundry, but what can you do?)Other times, though, you have to push The Feeling. I know that when I’m in need of a writing boost, there are a few things that help me. One is listening to the soundtrack. The other is taking a moment to revisit the themes, characters, and lines I most love about the WiP. Almost always, taking a look at photos of my characters helps. I mean, seriously. Look at these beautiful people and just TELL ME you don’t want to write something about them. So,...