Update Tuesday 10/9-10/15 — October 18, 2011

Update Tuesday 10/9-10/15

Okay, that time again!

Mirror, Mirror:

FINISHED!

Ahem. Sorry. Just a little excited. I stayed up uber-late on Tuesday night and finished the book. Estimated word count for notebook 2 on this one brings me to just under 60K for a total word count. It’s okay, though, because there are lots of floating head scenes that need fleshing out after I finish transcribing everything.

NaNo Project:

Well, I’ve opted not to participate in NaNo this year.  So this is the last you’ll hear of NaNo for the year from me.  The reason for this is that some other things have come up that make drafting a new novel the lowest of my writing priorities right now.

Top Secret project:

This is what’s taken over.  It’s a project I’ve worked on before, but I’m not saying which one it is or what specifically is happening with this one.  I’ll tell you when I can.

How are your WiPs going?

Update Tuesday 9/18-9/24 — September 27, 2011

Update Tuesday 9/18-9/24

I can’t remember exactly where I left off at the end of the previous week.  I do know that I fell into this trap where every time I sat down to write, I ended up spending my writing time working out some niggling little detail of world-building that I didn’t think about when I did that initial push in that department.

This was both good and bad.  Good in the sense that going forward I have a clearer idea of some things, but bad in that it means some revision in what’s already been written.  But then good because that’ll actually beef up my word count some and really (I hope) make my world seem more vivid.

I’m pretty sure I wrote a couple of chapters last week.  How’s that for being accountable?  I need to keep better track of my work each week if I’m going to continue doing these update posts.  And I will track it more diligently.  After typing this I’ve gone and written out a sticky note for myself marking where I’m starting the next week at.

I figure I need to fill this spiral notebook and one other to have an appropriate word count; but then I remind myself that the point of writing longhand is so that I’m focused on story and not word count.  I can always find places to add in words.  (I am generally pretty spare in my descriptions and I know readers would like to see more scenery so my characters aren’t just talking heads.)

How are your WiPs going?

My Life Revolves Around Him… — September 16, 2011

My Life Revolves Around Him…

and I might die if he doesn’t reciprocate or if he does but then he leaves me.

Sounding familiar?

I’ve done my share of deriding this situation in YA books.  That I wouldn’t want my daughters to emulate that as a role model.

Re-reading my journals looking for whatever thoughts I put to paper following 9/11 made me absolutely cringe.

Every single entry is a laundry list of the random things that went on in relation to boys.  Me reading too much into situations, me trying to contrive ways of being noticed by the latest crush, etcetera.

And I realized something.

I was that YA heroine whose life revolved around a boy.

And that scared me.  There are times my journal entries haven’t changed that much since those days.  Recent times.

But then there are the gems of journal entries where I’m actually looking outside myself.

I don’t know where those are but surely they must exist, right?  I can’t still be stuck as a teenager in an adult’s body?

Maybe in some ways I do still have that sixteen year old inside me.  But I know I’ve changed and grown.  For one thing I no longer diagram movements of the boys I’m crushing on.  (Seriously, I diagrammed.  No lie.)  For another, my journal entries aren’t nearly as epic as they used to be.  (I’ve had journal entries that went on for pages and pages.)

Re-reading my journals shows that in some ways I have changed and grown yet in some I haven’t really.  I do still use my journal to (over)analyze (to death) when I’m worried/wondering if a boy likes me.  But then I also really use my journal to let out all my frustrations and worries and such.  Reading through some of them is like reading a roadmap to major decisions.

So, deride the trope as I may have in the past, I guess I need to be a bit more understanding.  Because I’m more Bella Swan than I realized, care to admit, or am comfortable with.

What about you?

WiP Wednesday 9/4-9/10 — September 14, 2011

WiP Wednesday 9/4-9/10

Wow.

Okay, first off, the WiP posts are changing.  These posts will now cover the calendar week previous to this rather than Wednesday-Tuesday following the last update.  That way, I can write (hopefully) all the week’s blog posts in one session and then move on.  This is aimed at streamlining the time I spend social networking and freeing time for writing and real life duties, such as gouging my eyes out, er, job hunting.

On to the updates.

Mirror, Mirror


So, yeah. I finished typing out everything that I had written.  That topped out at 31,230 words.  I won’t transcribe more until I’ve filled this second notebook.

I do still hope (*fingers crossed*) to finish this book by the end of day September 30.  Hope.

How are your WiPs going?

WiP Wednesday 9/7 — September 7, 2011

WiP Wednesday 9/7

Well, it’s that time again.  This time I only have one project to update you on.

Mirror, Mirror (YA traditional fantasy)

I’ve made some progress.  Thanks to a temp job and a sudden move across state lines, August was a rather unproductive month for me.  I’m settling back into a semblance of normal and have been getting some writing done.  Usually this happens at night right before bed.  Which I’m fine with.

I filled the first notebook (I’m writing this one longhand) and moved into the second.  When that happened I also started to type out what’s already been written.  I’m probably sitting around 29K-30K words right now so I am probably going to end up adding a lot in when I go through and revise.  There is room for it as I tend to be pretty spare in my setting and action descriptions on the first draft.  Especially in dialogue passages.  The first revision usually largely addresses the floating head syndrome.

In all, I plan to be done with this book’s first draft by the end of the month.

How are your WiPs going?

YA Writers and the YA Community — July 8, 2011

YA Writers and the YA Community

As I’ve walked this writer’s path these last two years, I’ve been trying to find where I fit.  My first book was not YA in that the characters weren’t in their teens.  My second book was and wasn’t YA.  It was traditional fantasy with a massive cast of characters who all took center stage as viewpoint characters at one point or another.  My third book was decidedly not YA.  I knew that going into it and I embraced that.  I’d found where I belonged, I thought.

Then the current project came along and I’m pretty sure it can fall squarely in the YA category.  I do plan on finishing it but I’m not entirely certain that it’s one I want to publish.  It’s a realization I came to on Wednesday as I watched the beginnings of something unfold on Twitter.

A few weeks ago (I can’t remember how long it’s been), there was that article published in the Wall Street Journal about darkness in young adult literature.  The vitriol that spewed forth onto Twitter and the internet in general disgusts me.  It disgusted me then and it continued to do so on Wednesday.  YA authors and those in the industry who took part vilified the author of that article when it hit the internet for the first time.  They seemed to relish the opportunity to attack this one woman who dared to voice an opinion contrary to what is currently the loudest voice in YA.

Then on Wednesday they delighted in the opportunity to pounce on this author again when she and a YA author were both on a talk radio program.  (There were other people, I think.  I didn’t tune in for the reasons I’m discussing in this post.)  I shut down Twitter.  I couldn’t bear the vitriol spilling forth again against the article’s author.

Do I believe censorship is a good thing?  Absolutely not.  It’s not the industry’s job or the government’s job to protect my children (figuratively speaking since I’m not married) from things they might not be ready to handle or that would damage them more than help them.  It’s my job as a parent (again figuratively).  I have two nephews.  I buy them books for their birthdays and for Christmas.  Some day they’re going to be reading YA books and I know I’ll have to be more careful when purchasing.

Do I get that darker content in YA isn’t going to go away and that there might actually be a lot of kids who prefer that darker stuff?  Absolutely.

Do either of these mean that I’m going to attack someone for voicing a differing opinion, for calling attention to a trend that simply means parents should be more diligent in being involved in and aware of their children’s lives?  Absolutely not.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything written in the Wall Street Journal article.  But I don’t agree with how it was handled by the YA community within the publishing industry.  Earlier in this post I said that I might not necessarily try to get my current project published when it’s finished.  The behavior of the YA community that I witnessed (major mob mentality) in the wake of the WSJ article and an article on Slate (though that one didn’t garner near as hateful a reaction as the WSJ one) have made me question whether the grass really is greener on the YA side of the fence.

Is this sort of behavior indicative of the entire YA community in the publishing industry?  Perhaps not, but it does appear to be the most vocal.  And that voice isn’t something I want to align myself with.  It’s making me question many things about my writing and about where I want to go with both my writing career and any career I’m hoping to obtain in the publishing industry.  (The latter is probably shot to bits with this post.  If that’s the case, then it’s probably not an industry I want to join as a professional on that side of the fence and leads me to think I should stick with writing and maybe go the indie route.)

WiP Wednesday 6/29 — June 29, 2011

WiP Wednesday 6/29

Yay for progress update day!

Short story:
FINISHED!  As of yesterday, this story is done.  I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll attempt to get this one published.  It ended up being just over 13K.  Wordy for a short story, yes, but that’s how all of mine seem to go.

YA fantasy:
I finished chapter 4.  But haven’t written past there yet.  I focused heavily on the short story this week because I wanted to get it done so the creative energy could be concentrated on the YA.  I discovered during the process of writing that story that I can’t have two first drafts going at the same time.  It just doesn’t work.

Lodestar:
Still sitting, waiting for revisions.  Which will start probably in the next week or so.  Just to prove to myself I’m able to revise and draft at the same time.  (Preparing for the eventual day when I hope to be writing under contract.)

How are your WiPs going?

And, please, if you missed yesterday’s post on the Stories for Sendai Anthology blog tour, read it and put this anthology on your buy list.  All proceeds are going to aid survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan back in March.

The Painfully Oblivious Parent — May 26, 2011

The Painfully Oblivious Parent

You know the kind.  Oblivious to the point of being absurd.  Bella’s dad in the Twilight books is one.  The dad in Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed (a book which I far prefer to Twilight and a lot of other YA paranormal romance books that I’ve read lately) is another.  (Though in his defense, because I really did enjoy the book, he’s nowhere near as densely oblivious as Bella’s dad.)  But the one that takes the cake for me is Eliot’s mom in “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”  (Yes, it’s a movie, but the trope is the same.)

I’m tired of seeing this.  Yes, kids do great jobs at hiding things from their parents.  (Though I was never one.  My mom’s always been one of my closest friends.)  But these parents and others like them are so dense and oblivious I groan when I read them.  I realize it’s a method of getting the parents’ noses out of the kids’ business so that the kids can be off doing their thing and conquering the world on their own.  But in my mind it sometimes borders on the inane.

A solution is the parent who knows but can’t do anything.  Percy Jackson’s mom comes to mind.  She can’t see any of the baddies her son has to face.  He has to move away from home for his and her safety.  But whenever they happen to have an interaction, she’s 100% supportive even though she might be terrified out of her mind underneath her calm facade.

I’d like to see more YA where the parents are aware of the situation but can’t do anything, as with Percy’s mom, or are aware to the point of becoming a source of conflict that can deepen the internal and/or external arc.  (I’m thinking of the mom in Sophie Jordan’s Firelight here.)

What think you?

Genre: Age range dilemmas — March 23, 2010

Genre: Age range dilemmas

Remember when I talked about all those lessons that I learned from my experience with Oracles Promise? Well, one of the biggest that I’m learning is that perhaps I shouldn’t be writing YA.

My trends in MCs:

Short story #1: 21
Novel #1: Mid-20s
Oracles Promise: 10
Lodestar: 26
WiP short stories: 20s
Short story #2: 20s
Short story #3: Old.  Like 50s, maybe.  But she was recounting events from her 20s.

Noticing anything?  Also, in Oracles Promise, some of my favorite characters were the adults.  When their role was cut drastically in the doomed first round of revisions, I felt a good chunk of my interest in the story go away entirely.

And that wasn’t good.

So, I figure I should pay attention to this sort of trend.  But maybe I shouldn’t.  “Write what you know” should only extend so far.  I mean, plenty of adults write YA and MG, right?

I am continuing our discussion of genre today with a little discussion on the age ranges between MG/YA/Adult.  In part this is to facilitate the genre discussion and allow me to move from genre to genre with clarity and cohesiveness.  (As opposed to jumping from genre to genre to accommodate age ranges.)

Middle Grade:

Characteristics:

  • Ages 8-12 (both MC and reader)
  • between 80-200 pages
  • Clear plot with a conflict-driven story
  • Quick pacing
  • MC solves the problem, no adult interference
  • Inward focused
  • MCs learning their place in the world, “learning how they operate in their own world”
  • Changes are on the inside

Themes:

Anything from friends to school to family relationships and beyond

Young Adult:

A definition:

“An age group including persons from about 12 years to about 18 years old: used as a reader category in libraries, book publishing, etc.”

Characteristics:

  • adolescent protagonist
  • subject matter and plot consistent with age and experience of the MC
  • The rest is a wide open field
  • More complex plots than in middle grade
  • internal change for the MC that is triggered by external events
  • MCs begin to see how they influence the world and how the world influences them

Themes:

  • Challenges of youth (creating a sub-genre of so-called “coming of age” stories)

From QueryTracker:

“Readers can handle complex sentence structures, advanced vocabularies, and multiple points of view.  Plus, with some books being in excess of 100,000 words (ahem, Twilight) authors have more room to write and explore sub-plots and multiple points of view.”

Then there’s this gem from Nathan Bransford:

“To me the separation between YA and Adult is not necessarily thematic, it has more to do with pacing and presentation.  When you read a YA novel the pace tends to be quicker, the books tend to be shorter, and things happen in a more straightforward fashion…In an adult novel, even an adult novel about high schoolers, things unfold more slowly, there tends to be more subtlety and ambiguity.”

So, my biggest problem, I think, is that I find adult conflicts more interesting.  There’s a lot of past when you’re an adult.  That’s a lot of stuff to explore, to let influence actions and thought processes, to incorporate into a plot or sub-plot.  I really didn’t like my childhood.  Well, that’s not true.  There were good parts and bad parts.  And I choose not to relive any of it.  Which makes it hard for me to write MG or YA.

Adult books are more ubiquitous.  There’s so much to explore with it.  And some adults are still reading YA.  (Okay, a lot of adults are.)  That’s evidenced by St. Martin’s new imprint that they recently launched.  (And, really, by the majority of my friends out here in the blogosphere.)

Remember this post from here ages and ages ago?  (It’s ok, I didn’t either.)

That’s it for our age range discussion.

Linky, copyrighty stuff:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young-adult_fiction
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/08/from-picture-books-to-ya-information-to.html
http://www.write4kids.com/feature6.html
http://www.yourdictionary.com/young-adult