Titles and Doings

Wah! MUCH has been going on here to keep me from posting!

One of the most EXCITING was getting to meet Susan Adrian and her lovely family while they were in Denver! Suze is one of my FAVE Twitter acquaintances, and it was awesome to see her in person and spend time talking YA (under the guise of a baseball game with husbands), and finding out that she is EVEN COOLER in person! See, I have proof:

Em&Suze

(I’m the dorky one on the right) Oh, and the Padres slaughtered the Rockies, but oh wells. Most fun I’ve had at baseball all year!

Aside from meeting AMAZING and TALENTED fellow writers, I think I mentioned in my last post that I FINISHED MY REWRITE. And since then, I FINISHED MY REVISIONS. So I could no longer prolong the inevitable - the chocolate reward bunny met his demise. And then I got a stomach ache. But it was the best one I’ve ever had. :)

I proceeded to get even MORE stomach aches because I SENT my ms out to be read by other people – NON-family members – YA WRITERS – for feedback. *sweats*

I haven’t heard back from everyone yet, but the initial response has been more positive than I EVER expected, and I’m a little overwhelmed. Obviously the ms DOES need more work before going out to query AGAIN, but I think this last start-to-finish rewrite was the best move I ever made (don’t I say that about EVERY step of revision? Hee).

BUT – MF (Mind Fire) might just be getting a new title. Okay to be honest, I’ve never been overly ~thrilled~ with MF… S came up with it when I first realized my ANTI-TALENT when it comes to titling, and it has functioned pretty well as a working title. I’ve even grown attached to it. But (sorry MF) I never could say I <3 Mind Fire.

And did I MENTION the anti-talent?? Because let me tell you – what I lack in title inspiration, I COMPLETELY make up for with my ability to PUN ANYTHING. I have 1,000,000,000 brilliantly cheesey names for a book which (somehow though written by me) didn’t come out cheesey…I don’t think. Well, okay there might be a slice or two of muenster in there. Omg guys, PLEASE tell me if it’s cheesey, I can take it…

A few examples from the Title Slush Pile: YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD FLAME — THE ELECTRIC SIDE — CARRIES A FLAME — TELEFREAKS — HOT DESIRE.

Ohhh yeah. Every book has them – the titles that NEVER were and NEVER will be! I promise this book is NOT a bodice-ripper, so…back to the drawing board. I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel of my iTunes library listening to EVERY song I own for inspiration. I even listened to…Ace Of Base.

Might have to sit on it for a while.

But LUCKILY I’ve also added to my music library these past two weeks! My BFF Jodi tried to tell me about Regina Spektor MONTHS ago. And just like ME – I didn’t listen! But Regina kept popping up EVERYWHERE, and when she made it to my ears via Pandora on my Blackberry…I couldn’t help getting hooked. She hasn’t offered any title inspiration YET…but she makes me feel ~good~ which is awesome. So I leave you with one of my fave songs, Apres Moi,  from her album BEGIN TO HOPE – pick it up, she will make you HAPPY!!

Great Finishes, Oration, and D100D

This should be about THREE blog entries, but by the time I realized that was going to happen, it was too late to write them separately!

Thing that have been going on with me:

I FINISHED MY REWRITE. Gah, that felt good. I had been saving this dark chocolate bunny since Easter on a shelf above my desk, waiting for that beautiful moment when I typed THE END (again) to consume it as a reward for my months and months of work. Unfortunately for me, when I DID type the magic words, I was totally sick with some horrible spring-is-here-but-you’re-coming-down-with-plague cold, and I didn’t even WANT the bunny. Which is so wrong. So now he gets a stay of execution and he’ll have to be revision bunny. But he’s not getting out of this intact. Whahahahaha.

Oh yeah, and bunny…I plan to finish revisions this weekend, FYI.
:D My 17-yo niece Aurora graduated high school last week, and we flew to Ohio to cheer her on! I think people tend to forget how hard high school is – maybe not necessarily the academics all the time (ok, they have their moments – damn you, AP European History), but anyone who spends four years just surviving the social constructs of teendom deserves some CHEERING in my opinion. So we did. :)

I’m sure everyone has been to at least ONE high school graduation (although I did not attend mine). This time around, while listening to different people talk, I couldn’t help thinking AUDIOBOOKS have ~ruined~ public speaking for me. Sure, I was expecting platitude-laden speeches about the “places you’ll go” and how this is the “first day of the rest of our lives” mixed in with metaphors about the sky and the sea…but oh dear. As Neil Gaiman once said of poetry: “It’s all in the delivery.” S finally suggested that the principal was probably a good principal BECAUSE he doesn’t speak well. Which shut me up because it seemed to make sense, and didn’t all at once. But MAN, I just HEART audiobooks. You need to know what you’re doing to record those things, and I salute professional audiobook readers for mastering the craft! And I also ~secretly~ want to record my own book someday.  Um, but back to shooting for publication first!

Aaaaannnd from Ohio we went to Virginia to see my sister and her husband and my 9mo-old niece Audrey who is a ~ways~ from HS graduation, but hey, this Baby Einstein stuff is completely insane, so you never know! Also, I AM SO NOT READY TO HAVE KIDS. Eeep.

Anyway, I took some advice from my Twitter pals and brought along THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by A.S. King  to distract me on the flights – and it was ~FANTASTIC~. I give it FIVE eyeballs rolled in sand (!!!!!). YES!! It is the perfect book to fly with if you’re an anxious flyer in need of distraction. There are all kinds of threads to follow and weave together, tons of pain and sorrow, love lost and found, and – PIRATES! And a freaking GIRL PIRATE!!! How cool is that?

The dogs didn’t play as huge of a role as I anticipated, but I appreciated everywhere they appeared in the book. Since I have gained more than my share of knowledge/experience with dogs through my day job, I read all of the Dog Facts carefully, just waiting for King to slip up…but she was flawless. :D Every dog her voice slipped into was completely in character, not overly anthropomorphized, and just all around spot-on, right down to the pit bull. I’m excited that this book is *out there* as an amazing story, and also because people could really learn a thing or two from it about dogs and behavior!

The other thing I loved about D100D is that it never shied away from being REAL. Yes, there were more than a few moments that turned my stomach or made me wish I didn’t have to be a witness to the scene, but too many books fade to black when things start to get tough, and I don’t think that’s fair to the readers OR the characters. There is a point where things can become gratuitous, but I never even glimpsed that in this book. I don’t want to include any spoilers, but let’s just say that people are only human, A.S. King knows people AND dogs, and she knows how to weave a good yarn. Aye.

Off to pwn my revisions! Squeee!

You Make My Heart Pound Throbbingly

Recently, I’ve been reading a very successful YA series (NOT Twilight). These books are right up my alley – they’re paranormal, action-filled, humorous, and the concept is unique. And most of all…I am ~swooning~ over the male love interest. *c’thunk, c’thunk, c’thunk*

But OMG the writing is atrocious.

All through the series I have been asking myself WHY I am so compelled to keep reading when I am literally tripping over unnecessary adverbs down every page. Not only that, but this author has a habit of telling, telling, telling. Don’t get me wrong, they often *show* what’s happening with the characters quite effectively – but it is almost always followed up by a sentence or two *telling* the reader what they were just shown.  

Maybe I am simply a snarky writing snob.

And yet…when the love interest takes the MC in his arms, my hearts pounds in my chest.

So I guess I don’t really need to ask myself WHY I’ve kept reading. I suppose if characters/a story is strong enough, it can make you look past the bad writing. It’s just one of those things that makes me face-plant along the writer’s path. I peel my face off the pavement, pull pieces of gravel out of my wound, and look down *unbelievingly* at the writing that made me fall. And then *I think how that fall HURT*.

All of this makes two thoughts run in circles through my mind: If this book is what’s successful, I’m never going to make it. And then, If this person can be successful, darn it, SO CAN I.

…Hello Mr. Doubt.

A little rewrite analysis:

1st Draft: taught me all of the above about adverbs, telling, and BAD writing in general.

2nd Draft: taught me that even with nice writing, all the elements in the book MUST tie together – despite how badly I wanted to tell those pages and pages of backstory or have that unrelated shih tzu run through that scene.

3rd Draft: Isn’t finished yet but…maybe will ~finally~ bring all the lessons of Draft 1 and 2 together??

Or maybe I’ll reach the end and have a well-written story no one wants to read.

…she said *sulkily* and walked off to finish Draft 3.

EFF!! Is for FINISHED!

My revision….~*drumroll*~ is done. 

MIND FIRE Pages Revised :

Zokutou word meter
244 / 244
(100.0%)

Ended up adding about 1700 words, for a final count of 59,759.

Now it’s off for first-round-catch-the-embarrassing-stuff family review (thank you sis!), and then…real crits.

My head just exploded.

Revision Progress

Quick progress report…

MF Pages Revised:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
159 / 244
(65.2%)

I’m trying to buckle down and finish this ASAP. I keep getting hung up in places that need lots of work, but then it is so magical blowing through pages and pages that don’t need a thing and make me smile. Yay. But seriously, bed at 1:30AM and rise at 6:00AM, not cool. I’ve got to finish this if only so i don’t fall asleep on the road…Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………………

Back to silence…

Twitter

So…anybody else here hang out on Twitter? I was sitting on a seedy street corner with Courtney Summers and she promised it would take me places I’ve never been. Now I’m thinking about having a direct line inserted into my vein. Seriously, the coolest thing is that It makes it easy to keep up with people while you are bogged down halfway through a revision. :)

And honestly, trying to come up with an answer to “What are you doing?” in 140 characters or less is simply an awesome writing exercise.

So make like REM: Follow Me, Don’t Follow Me: 

http://twitter.com/Emily_YA 

It’s your choice…but duuuuude, you gotta try it. Totally twittery… ;)

Radio Silence / Buried Under Dogs

Honestly I doubt anyone’s missing my amazingly insightful and esoteric posts and comments, but I’ve been scanning through everyone else’s posts that I’ve missed recently and trying to catch up on some comments, and just don’t want anyone to think I have disappeared into cyberspace – does anyone call it that anymore? 

My revision is going well. Here is an excerpt from my notes: 

-Ok listen: tomorrow just save as a new experimental doc and rewrite the scenes. Most can be cut and pasted around. Just mention the TK, but don’t fully explain.

F*CK F*CK. This is going to change the car ride and Addy’s thoughts along the way too. Are you sure this is right???

Okay, rewrite ONLY the scene in the woods – just that to start. See if IT works better.

If it does, slam head into desk and do the others too.

-But there isn’t time for this in woods – Addy is only sneaking away. Can’t say TK without MUCH explanation. Need more time. (Course, this is a prob in mall too – but she gets in trouble then).

So yeah, just when you think all you have to do is proofread, these scenes you forgot all about from the beginning of your novel come back and bite you in the arse. Hard. 

Oh, and some months ago I agreed to take care of my friend’s dogs.

Easy enough, right? Except she’s super-dog-lady and I am now running a canine intensive care unit. And trying to revise. I have a really old great pyrenees of my own, and a 5-yr-old standard poodle. For the next TEN days I also have in my house two yellow labs (shedding machines), one of which has cancer, and a one-eyed newfoundland. And my two cats. Oh, and two of the dogs eat raw meat for their food and require ginormous amounts of supplements that she very sweetly arranged into four different SMTWTFS granny boxes – for each dog. There’s more, but I’m starting to sound whiney. I love this friend and she’d do the same for me in a heartbeat. They are all very nice dogs and obviously I love animals – it’s mostly the time-suck of making sure everyone gets fed/medicated/pottied…and then there will be “accidents.” 

Anyway, if anyone is wondering…this is where I am. I have lofty goals of finishing my revisions this weekend since I’m kind of tied to home anyway…HA. We’ll see about that. I stand at 40% – paralyzed, cutting and pasting… See you soon world…

Write. Reverse. Delete. Repeat.

Since I’m spending so much time revising and thus, trying to make each sentence in my MS just right, I thought it might be worth mentioning what I have slowly discovered this past year or so… Sometimes all the right words are already on the page – just in the wrong order. I like to blame this on fatigue, or perhaps mild dyslexia, or both. If it gets late enough and I start typing with my eyes closed, the tsegnarts things come out. 

Frex: I just spent a good twenty minutes angsting over one weensy line of dialogue at the end of a chapter. You know – those lines that need to say more than all the ones written between it and the first line? So I cat-napped on my keyboard, kicked off my shoes and walked around barefoot, went into the kitchen to hold the conversation with myself in the dark, drank some ice water to try to wake up, and finally sat back down. Then I switched the beginning of the line to the end, and the end to the beginning. It works. Or at least, tonight it does.

So if you’re having trouble trying to say what you want to say – take a good look at what’s already there. Take an earlier paragraph and plunk it later. Move the dialogue closer together. Delete something! Or rearrange your sentences. Then you can have a bruised forehead like me from smacking yourself, saying “Doh!” 

And then, you move on to the next page…

Fears

 I am only here to procrastinate. With the rewrite finished and only revisions ahead of me, I am gripped by fear every time I open the Word document. I’ve read all the message boards. I’ve read all the blogs. I’ve eaten everything there is to eat (and more). I…haven’t done the chores I should do. I know once I get going it will be fine. I hope. 

I will remember why I love the story. 

The faster I return to it, the faster I can send it to someone - Which is a whole new bottle of bubbly fears. I think this is all the fault of daydreaming. When I can’t write during the day, my head goes up in the clouds to lofty places I shouldn’t let it go. It explores the uncharted territory of a finished manuscript. I pull it back down over and again, but it is full of hot air. So perhaps my head is the balloon and the MS is a big sharp needle. And this is about to get very, very messy.

Meh.

How many licks does it take to get to the center…

I just opened up the first draft of my WIP/revision to compare where the story was with page numbers in the latest draft. Yeesh. But then I started reading some of it, and… there was much more Yeesh. BUT, I think I can take this as a sign of how far I’ve come as a writer. I’ll fully admit that when I wrote that first draft, I was a hack. It was a “shitty first draft” as Anne Lamont reassures me. Stephen King said the first draft is just for you, but not to share. I agree with him too. And I can see…the bones are there.

 blogged today about critiquing. This is something I haven’t done for someone else since college, and I haven’t had done for me yet. Husband helped me with line edits on Ye Olde First Draft, and parents said “nice honey” which should perhaps have all been my first clue about how much it sucked. It finally sank in after I queried the draft and -strangely- got 18 rejections. Most of these were forms, but I thank the AgentGods that bothered to tell me what they hated about my first pages (only one asked for a partial). This led me to set the Draft aside and ponder. I started to rewrite, and pondered some more, not really sure what was wrong. Then I started reading – duh! I soon learned all of the writing sins I had made – AND how to fix them! I gained confidence that it wasn’t my premise which had a problem (Thank whomever you choose to believe in for small favors). But everything else was bad. 

So here I am on the umpteenth draft, and starting to feel some confidence. Not only can I do this, but I can see my flaws. I won’t deny I’ve got the writer ego-bubble totally poofed out sometimes and convince myself I’m the next Stephenie Meyer, but then I get out my needles and mercilessly pop. This part sucks – POP. This is totally unrealistic dialog – POP. This is not moving the story along – POP. And then fill the holes with stuff that… works? 

Maybe I’ll be brave soon and let someone else (not an agent!) decide.