Monday, January 31, 2011

E-Publishing and Self-Publishing

This is something that's been on my mind lately so I thought I'd discuss it here today.

Up until recently, I've been against self-publishing. I mean, when I was 12, I thought it was cool and had this ridiculous idea that I was going to self-publish my WIP. That idea quickly left my head. But, as I've grown up and entered the review world and read a few self-pubbed thoughts were always along the lines of "Self-published books suck. The author is just trying to find an easy way out, instead of querying and waiting and having their work edited like a normal person. If the story was good, they'd have an agent."

And, to a point, I still believe that. I believe that many times, people publish their rough drafts just to see their name in print. I believe a lot of the self-published books out there are books that need a lot more editing and rewriting. But, I also think that sometimes, self-publishing might be the right choice for someone, IF their work is edited, IF they've tried to get an agent and queried and queried and queried, IF the book is READY to be published.

I've had similar beliefs about e-publishing and e-books as well. My father wanted to get me a Kindle two years ago and I told him no way, absolutely not. I love my books. I love the smell of my books, I love how I can take a book off my shelf and pet its cover (yes, I do that) and flip to my favorite pages. I was upset when publishers started sending out e-galleys instead of ARCs. I wanted nothing to do with something that wasn't in book format.

But now...Now, I don't see it as such a bad thing. I don't think books will go completely out for a LONG time. I have the Kindle app on my iPod and I really wouldn't mind having a Kindle. I think that e-books can allow people to purchase books cheaper, especially when the publisher lowers the price to .99-2.99.

I've noticed a lot of times, e-publishing and self-publishing are becoming the same thing. Karly Kirkpatrick did it. Now Jessica Ashley (aka Jessica Burkhart) is doing it. Both of these authors are also taking it a step farther. Along with two other authors, Karly Kirkpatrick has created DarkSide publishing and Jessica Ashley and her BFF created Violet and Ruby. I'm really intrigued by both projects and I'm looking forward to following both to see what happens.

So. Thoughts? What do you think about self-publishing? E-publishing? What about the Violet and Ruby idea? I'd love to hear everyone's opinions!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Gets Some Action

Or: Man, I need a makeout scene. 36k (and counting) and none yet.

First, I'd like to do a tiny bit of shameless self-promotion and tell you guys that I have a contest at my book blog. It's international, doesn't have a ton of entries, yada yada.

Anyways, you remember how I whined about not having a makeout scene two Saturdays ago when Berserk was at 17k? And I guessed I'd have one by another 10k? I'm at almost 20 and I still haven't had one. So, yeah, still going a bit bonkers over that.

In that post, I mentioned action-type scenes and that's what this post is going to be about.

I hate action scenes. (Laina-speak definiton: action scenes aren't necessary battle scenes or fighting or what say you. They can include things like two girls going shopping or working or... something I could think of if it wasn't nine in the morning. You know what I mean?)

They aren't easy for me. It usually takes me at least three tries to get the skeleton of an action scene right, and then another two revisions to get to a point where I don't hate them. However, certain people seem to like them when I finally get to the point of not hating them. I think it's because I know they're one of my weaknesses so I spend more time on them then I do on scenes that are easier.

Why do I include them? Because you can't write a book that's all kissing scenes. Well... you can... but people have to be 18 to buy them.

So today I'm asking you guys: What kind of scenes do you like best? What kind do you like least? And how do you deal with the ones you're not great at?

Peace and cookies,

Friday, January 28, 2011

So, I Can't Review Books Now?

There was a chat a few days ago on twitter where a few agents said that if a book reviewer queried them and the reviewer had given one of their clients a bad review- the agent would reject them. There were also a few authors who said that they wouldn't blurb someone who gave their book a negative review. I can understand why the author wouldn't want to blurb that persons book, but what I don't get is the agent-part.
As an aspiring author who loves reading, I find it hard to come to terms the fact that because I review books online, I can't get representation from some agents. I can understand where the agents are coming from, but I disagree with it. If someone ends up writing an amazing book that should be published, and you reject it because that person doesn't like one of your other clients books then it seems unfair to the querying author.
People have the right to dislike books and discuss them online. I've been reviewing for more than two years, and writing for three or four years. If I had to choose between being a published author and reviewing books, I don't know what I would choose. To me, it seems harsh. People don't have a right to share their opinion, at the risk of being turned down by an agent.

I know this post isn't totally writing related, but as someone who wants to get published someday- I'm worried about being turned down because I'm a book reviewer. What do you all think about this?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Triangle

So I hear love triangles in YA fiction are becoming a trend. Which saddens me, really, because I adore love triangles. I’ll readily admit I’ve used them in pretty much every book I’ve written. They’re just so fun to read and to write.

On further deliberation, I decided that I disagree with this. Love triangles aren’t a trend; they’re an element of plot. This isn’t some new thing recently dreamed up by an author. Triangles have been used in novels for generations, haven’t they? Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens. On and on. If we’re going to call the love triangle a trend, we’re saying that the greats used them too, right?

I’d like to think that a triangle can be unique. Maybe what we find trendy is the way they’re unfolding and the characters that are involved. Some strong, beautiful girl and two opposite, beautiful boys. Okay, it’s easy enough to shake things up! Consider making it a boy being fought over by two hideous, weak girls! (Maybe not, but you get the point.) We’re writers. We can defy the trends. Even after all this vampire hype, people are still coming up with new angles for them. Even after it’s been said that werewolves are on the outs, new werewolves are entering the scene.

Trends are silly things, especially when we can find ways around them.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I'm probably writing this post because my superfantastic friend Tasha gave me a superfantastic holiday/birthday present: a ticket to see Fiddler on the Roof. Tonight. TONIGHT. I'm just so frickin excited!

I've been a fan of Fiddler for a while. A long while. Probably over a decade. My parents played the CD when I was young, and I've hummed/listened to the music ever since. Recently I saw the movie, and now I get to see the performance--YAY--which boils down to an I-love-fiddler-on-the-roof.

Because, not only does it have catchy songs--"Matchmaker, matchmaker, bring me a match" "If I were a rich man, yahadidididididididididum" "Tradition, tradition!"--it has a really interesting storyline. This is also true for my other favorite musical, Hairspray. Great songs--"You can't stop the beat!" "Little darlin', I've got to be the ladies' choice" "Nicest kids in town!"--and a super storyline. Even Cats, told totally in song, has an interesting, if confusing, plot behind the music.

I consider a musical to be a piece of literature. Someone wrote the script, the lyrics, and the music. So what is it that makes these musicals (and others) so neat? Is it the songs? The storyline? A bit of both?


Monday, January 24, 2011


It's 9:00 PM and I just finished school an hour ago. That would be over 12 hours of math and chem and finals and other icky things. My brain = fried.

But, I think a fried brain can be a good thing. After I post this, I'm going to get my iPod out, curl up under a thousand blankets (we're in the middle of the coldest weather in 6+ years, currently), and daydream. I might daydream about my current book characters or maybe about that crush of mine or, who knows, about something random, like what it would be to meet some celebrity. I guarantee that no matter what it is, it will be something crazy and random that will never, ever come true. But that's okay.

"What if" are the two most important words for a writer and there's no time like the time right before you fall asleep to think up all the crazy possibilities.

Which is exactly what I'm going to do now. Who knows what kind of plot holes I'll work out or what book ideas I'll come up with.

So I leave you with one of my current inspirational songs. (Note: STRONG use of language in the lyrics. Be warned!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday is a Copycat

Or: Books I’ve written ala Hannah Moskowitz

A while ago, Hannah posted a list of books she had written but hadn’t sold in a question/answer post. Last night (Wednesday) when I was lying in bed watching the lightshow behind my eyelids and wondering why the heck I was awake at 5am when I had to get up 8, I decided it might be fun to do a post like that.

Hers had dates and summaries, but I’m bad at remembering dates and worse at summaries, so we’re just going to wing it here, okay? :P Most of these won’t have word counts because I didn’t have a laptop then and no WAY am I typing them up now.

(Late 2003, early 2004ish?) Unnamed novel/novella about an orphan boy who gets sent to a boarding school and meets a set of twins, a boy and a girl. There was also a weird subplot about a car accident and a younger brother in a coma or something. I think I killed him off eventually. I was eleven and this was the first thing I ever wrote that wasn’t for school. Strangely, it was contemporary and told in 3rd person past tense, from the orphan boy’s POV. I think his name was Will and the girl twin was Nessa. Can’t remember the boy twin’s name. That one shall forever remain trunked. It was forty or fifty longhand looseleaf pages of awful writing, so not really a novel, but I was eleven.

(2004ish, maybe late in the year?) A couple of false contemporary starts. I’d write a few pages and run out of steam. One of them, though, I wrote probably 20, 30 pages on. Characters were Evan and Amanda/Mandy. (Totally reused that name. Evan, I mean. Hey, it’s been seven years, it’s all fair game now.) All were 3rd person, past tense. Some had multiple POVs, some didn’t.

(2004, summer I believe.) Teh Vampire Novel That Would Not Die. It was briefly called Vampire City but, wow, bad title. Then I dropped that because I cut out the city so… anyways. This one was in 1st person. The tense changed all over the place, but writing first person felt right, so I ran with it.

The original draft of this I wrote in the summer between 7th grade and 8th grade. It took me about a month and it ended up being about 80 longhand looseleaf pages. In the beginning it was about a girl who moved into a house of vampires because her mom was the cook or housekeeper or something, then fell in love with the vampire son and they run away together. Yeah… great plot there, huh? Well, I was twelve.

I ended up writing about six different versions of this. In the numerous incarnations there was reincarnation, fairies, witches, babies, children, orphaned younger siblings, different species of vampires, ghosts, this is getting worse the more I type, it switched from YA to adult to YA to adult… and it spawned. It spawned two sequel/companion novels about characters from that world. Yeah. All 1st person, often different tenses.

There are a couple of versions of it that it might be fun to beg, borrow, and steal from, but all in all, this one is firmly trunked.

(2005 or 2006ish.) The Shapeshifter Novel. This one was about a teenaged shapeshifter named Camryn who discovers her best friend is also a shapeshifter. (Cats, not wolves or anything. Like leopards and things.) Told in 1st person. This one actually crossed over with Teh Vampire Novel.

This one spawned about… I dunno, it’d probably only be about 5k if I typed it, of scenes for a sequel/companion about another character. There was a character in the spawn that I actually ended up writing into one of Teh Vampire Spawn novels because I thought he fit better there. Apparently he was a player.

Moving on. Insert several more rewrites of Teh Vampire Novel That Wouldn’t Die, an attempted rewrite of that one of the contemporary ideas.

(2007, I think.) Okay, don’t laugh at this one. An untitled adult werewolf romance novel. Told in 3rd person past tense, it ended up being about 100 looseleaf pages longhand. I don’t even know. That was a hot mess.

(Fall 2008.) Hello, laptop! This is when I got my first laptop. I, of course, proceeded to try to write Teh Vampire Novel That Wouldn’t Die again because that’s how I roll. I wrote a 20k draft, I think, before it died. That was all I really did until:

(June or July 2009 to December 2009.) My YA werewolf book. It was 3rd person, past tense. Mostly because I’d been writing in 1st present for so long that my brain decided I was in a rut and needed to be challenged. It does that. I don’t appreciate it.

This one… I do still have a soft spot for this one. I still like the characters. I’d like to try and revise it someday, but not right now.

(January 2010) There was a 10k sequel I fooled around with.

(July 2010) Spyder, my YA paranormal romance/magic realism told in 1st person present tense, about a girl named Avery who has some very special powers and yeah, I suck at summaries. It’s better than I’m making it sound (I hope).

(August to Octoberish 2010) The Genie Book. YA paranormal romance novel about a girl who finds a genie in a bookstore. Fizzled at a bit under 30k. This is another I’d like to revise and rework someday, but at the time, I didn’t click enough with the MC.

(November 2010 – now, January 2011.) Berserk, my NaNoNovel that I’m currently rewriting. It’s a YA paranormal romance about berserkers, breakups and, erm, I ran out b-words besides the obvious. I… really like this one. That’s all I’m saying, though.

That took a long time. Hope you enjoyed it!

Peace and cookies,

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Ideas, How You Haunt Me

Like Harmony, I get Shiny New Idea's very often. Whenever I get a new SNI, my mind goes into hyper-drive. I can get a new idea anywhere. My current WIP (the beauty queen zombie book, also known as How Beautiful You Are) I got while staring out the window in the car.

The problem I have with constantly getting new idea's is that once I get one, there's no turning back. I start working on it (because I don't outline) and then I totally forget about any other WIPs. You know when you can hear a character in your head? Sometime they're more quiet and sometimes you have the louder ones? All of my characters are loud and obnoxious. So every month I get a SNI, which means I have this huge folder on my computer that is half finished novels.

I'm now in this awkward stage of writing where I have so many partially done WIPs that I never know which one to write. Even my old and finished WIPs from 4 years ago are still in my head, haunting me. And I don't know why! I have these really angsty rocker voices (4 years ago, I believe I was in 6th grade. And I really liked the whole Hannah Montana idea, so I wrote like 2 books about that sort of thing).

How do you all keep the old voices out of your heads? Or how do you keep so many SNI's from coming up? Let's discuss in the comments!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Easy Plot Questions

We all know that when we sit down to undertake this huge thing called writing that it isn’t going to be simple. There are so many things to work on and keep in mind. Characterization, development, setting, dialogue.

And plot.

Oh, plot. I’d like to think that this is as difficult for all the rest of you as it is for me. It’s actually intimidating, when you try to look at the bigger picture. Plot is everything. Without it, you have no story. Least I can figure, there are two big questions the writer needs to ask himself/herself when writing a book.

1. What’s the ultimate goal?
2. What’s standing in the way?

Then there are the subplots. Everything would be way too boring with a little drama on the side, right? The story would be less satisfying without the romance or the mystery… plus the word count would be much lower. The questions for this is:

1. How does this tie in with the major plot?
2. What's the ultimate goal?
3. What’s standing in the way?

Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it doesn’t. For some reason I’m having a lot of trouble with plot for my W.I.P. (I have an outline - I've babbled to you guys before about my outlining.) It's just tough. But I think that as long as we keep looking for inspiration and keep at it with these questions in mind, something great will come out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I may have mentioned this unbridled passion of mine before, but since there've been two posts concerning love in the past week, I'll say it again: I. Love. Google. Earth.

Whether it's researching a city on a continent across the globe or a small town just outside Baltimore, Google Earth has been my BFF. We've done so much creeping together. Hours and hours of it. (no, not creeping on people, creeping on places.) I have "walked" down streets of places I have never been through Google Earth Street View.

If setting is essential--or even just a good/semi-important addition--to your plot, Google Earth can tell you what places are residential, what are commercial, what are unoccupied, you can find out what kind of houses in different areas and what the walk between two buildings actually looks like. You can locate restaurants and see pictures by other users.

When I was writing Rain, one of the scenes I utilized Google Earth for the most was a scene at Goodwill Bridge. Google Earth gave me the location and people had posted pictures/panoramas of the view from the bridge at night and during the day. (I even made a wax picture thing in art class of the night panorama.)

If you don't have Google Earth, and plan to set your story someplace on Earth, get it. GET IT.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shiny New Idea!

Yes, I've started yet another WIP. At this point, I might as well quit calling thing WIPs and just call them all Shiny New Ideas (SNI) because I never get too far with them.

Some writers are all disciplined and won't write their new ideas until they finish whatever they're working on but well, I do. Usually it's because I get this scene or this voice in my head and it just won't leave or it's really good and I don't want to lose it, so I have to write it down.

That happened to me this week. I was talking to one of my friends who mentioned they were grounded but wouldn't tell me why...I got thinking of all the possibilities that it could possibly be (all worse than what it probably is) and that evolved into a scene which evolved into an entire novel idea.

I won't say much more about it, other than the fact it's split POV between two girls, involves a lot of emotion and complexities within teenage relationships, and this song has become the theme song to it:

(Kids in the Way are my current addiction. I suggest checking out "My Little Nightmare" and "Fiction" as well.)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday + Kissing Scenes = Love

Or: I couldn't come up with a clever subtitle for this.

I don't know if you know this about your resident Saturday, but I'm not the best at action-type scenes. They're really hard for me to write and it takes a lot of revision for me to like the final result when I write them. You know what is easy for me?

Make out scenes.

No, seriously. There's so much possible emotion in kissing scenes. Besides the, er, obvious, there can be guilt (if the character thinks they're not kissing the "right" person), fear (if the two characters making out are friends and one character is worried about losing their friendship), sadness (if it's a kiss goodbye), guilt (if they don't feel the same way as the other person, if they like someone else too, if it's their first kiss with someone of their gender), disbelief (if one character has had a crush on the other for a long time), nostalgia (if the two characters have broken up), SO many others.

Then you have things like the physical senses. What the other character smells like (aftershave, perfume, rain, paint, cinnamon), tastes like (gum, peaches, toothpaste), where their hands are (on the other character's back, shoulders, holding their hands, cupping the back of their head or sides of their face), how they're standing or sitting (in a chair with the other character leaning down with their hands on the arms, leaning against a door, in a car, this is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss book).

Who initiated the kiss? What are the ramifications? Will someone be angry about the kiss? Should these two characters be kissing? Will their parents, friends, the world approve? Will they trust each other after? Is this the start of a relationship or a secret they won't talk about?

I honestly could gone about this for a long time but I'll move on and tell you why I'm talking about this in a blog post.

The book I'm currently writing, Berserk, is as of now 17,500 words long. I'm on Chapter Eight. This is my second draft. And do you think there's been a make-out scene?


I don't even see one happening for at least another 10k. You guys have no IDEA how weird this is for me. And it's making me a tiny bit insane. *cough* Just ask my crit partner.

Well, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go yell at my characters some more. :P The weirdos. Who won't make out.

Peace and cookies,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Loves Love

I am one of those people who are on the cusp of reading romance novels. I don't. I've thought about it. It's cheesy. Who cares.

So when I'm writing I'll get like three thousand words in and then my brain goes on this crazy tirade and for some reason, it wants me to have the main character and the boy start kissing. This isn't really a big deal, except for the fact that I'm not writing a romance novel. And so far in what I'm currently writing, there isn't a boy. No, currently I'm dealing with some diva zombies. And it would be *really* weird if my main character just went around kissing dead people.

A few years ago at an Australian conference, David Levithan did a speech where he discussed "killing the vampires". No, he didn't mean trying to destroy Edward Cullen. He was talking about the little voice in our head that tells us not to do something because we'll be embarrassed by it (at the speech he was talking about publishing LGBT books).

Though I support Levithan's argue about vampires. The vampires I'm talking about right now are different. These are the kissing vampires. They are the ones who yell into my head every time I hit three thousand. They are the ones that must die.

In some cases, the vampires would win. But my character doesn't go around kissing random people. She isn't like that. So die vampires, die!

Did I just spend this whole post talking about kissing? Yes. Yes I did.

I just started this writing blog. Here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just Don't Do It

One thing that I have learned to avoid at at costs when it comes to writing: I should not compare my work to someone else's. It's great to read other work, of course, but when comparison comes into play, things can get ugly. I know that when it comes to me, I can guarantee that I will walk away unhappy. Feeling bad about myself, my own writing. Sometimes I'll even lose the motivation to keep pecking away at it.

Comparing the work and learning from the work are two different things. When we're learning from it, we'll see a technique or a line or a description and think, Now that's how I should try to do things. When we're comparing, I believe the thoughts are somewhere along these lines: Wow, that is such great description. Man, my description sucks. Why do I even try? There's no way anyone will ever love my work when there's stuff like this out in the world. I'm horrible. I'm a lousy excuse for a writer. Never again, I say. Never again.

And, you know, even if what you're reading does have more description, or a more twisted plot - whatever - everyone has a different writing style. Different doesn't equal bad. It's just... well, different. The writing could still be good, still be enjoyable. I made the mistake of comparing this last weekend, and I dug myself out of that hole by pounding this into my own head. So, okay, my novel isn't poetic or extensive in detail. I'm still working on it, and it still has worth.

So, my bit of wisdom this week. Learn, don't compare.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Earlier I was thinking about genres-- and not about reading different genres, but writing them. All genres, like fantasy, dystopic, contemporary, and et cetera share similar, crucial components. They all should have a gripping plot, an interesting voice, and believable characters. The setting is usually the main thing I see setting genres apart. (That and the fact that some fantasies and scifis have bizarre names.)

By setting I mean more than just the backdrop-- I also include the boundaries of the fictional world (e.i. magic or space travel and whatnot). Therefore, the biggest different in writing one genre to another is the amount of explaining required.

In my experience, writing a contemporary requires the least explaining. I don't mean to say contemporaries have little explanation-- there could be explanation as to how belays or trapdoors work, or the setting-type explanation about how the nooks and crannies of a ski lodge hide secrets or the expanse of an Oregon beach is actually the perfect meeting place for a rookie con artist (just off the top of my head). However, for a contemporary, I like to classify those sorts of explanation as 'description," because they fall within the boundaries of a world readers already understand.

Writing a scifi or fantasy or dystopia requires more explanation-- new world boundaries, created phenomena, "impossible" locations. When writing any of these it's easy to go in circles with explanation. I always make sure I understand the basics of my imagined setting before I try to explain its way onto the paper.

Just a few thoughts on explanation vs. genres. What differentiates between genres for you?


Monday, January 10, 2011

My One Resolution

I'm one of those people that usually spends New Year's Eve coming up with a long list of resolutions. And by long, I mean LONG. The list of writing resolutions itself is generally quite long - finish this book, write that, rewrite this, get that into querying shape, etcetc. And you know what? None of it happens. Ever.

So this year, as I was thinking about the brand new year starting, I began thinking about resolutions and I realized something. Something really, really important.

I've gotten caught up in the terrible trap of writing to publish. I've stopped writing for myself. I've started writing and setting goals with the sole point of publishing. I decided I was too young and inexperienced to write this heart-wrenching YA I love so much so what do I do? I switch to MG. Now, don't get me wrong, writing JESSICA was definitely a good experience. I learned a lot about my writing when I attempted to write that in a week. But, I didn't write it because I couldn't get it out of my head - I wrote it because I decided it would be easier to try to publish that as a teen than a YA because being a preteen IS something I've experienced.

I've forgotten to what it's like to write because I WANT to, because I just can't get that character's voice out of my mind and I need to know what happens.

I was surprised at the revelation because I've always considered myself to know better, to know that writing to publish is not a good thing to do, that the best stories come out of loving the story, not the desire to publish.

I'm disappointed in myself.

Because, really, I'm in no place to publish. I have no life experience at all. I don't have a ton of writing experience - as much as I like to think otherwise, my writing kind of sucks right now. I know that I'm improving a LOT but I'm still not at the point where anything is publishable.

I know people will argue and say that I don't need life experience to write a good novel but Maureen Johnson said it and I agree. I've spent my entire life in a one-redlight (literally) town. I've been to ONE city in my entire life. I cyber-school, so I don't even have the day-to-day high school drama. I don't live on a farm or anything country-ish like that. I just am. And, really, it's rather boring.

So, going back to my resolutions, I decided that instead of setting writing goals, goals that focus around getting closer to publication, and instead of focusing on losing weight or any of those other 392912 resolutions I usually make, I was going to make one resolution and one resolution only - to live.

It's about time I start experiencing life, something outside of my comfort zone, and I think, with that, my writing is going to improve and someday, I'll be able to look back on my teenage years and not regret writing instead of living.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Broke Her Brain

Or: Why the holidays were hard on me and why I shouldn't try to write two projects at once.

The holidays are stressful. We all know this. My last post before we took our holiday break was totally evidence of this. (Sorry about that, by the way. I tried, I really did. But it just wasn't happening.)

In less than a week, I made like 5 dozen cookies, wrapped way too many presents, ran a Storytime with nine kids between the age of fifteen months and nine years old, whom I then proceeded to wind up on sugar with candy canes and those cookies I mentioned earlier, packed for 2 days out of town, shopped on the 23rd (scary!), and probably a dozen things that I have already repressed. And I wasn't even that busy compared to some people!

But like an idiot, I let myself get stressed out about it. I don't know if you know this about your friendly neighborhood Saturday, but when I get really stressed, I barely sleep and when I do, I have stress nightmares (those are fun). So because of that, I was either too tired/stressed to write or I didn't have time.

Throw in trying to figure out how to balance two projects at completely different stages and you know what happens? I play too many facebook games (I love me some Frontierville), reread all my favourite Hyperbole and a Half posts (and there are a lot of favourite posts), empty my Google Reader and clean the spare room. And kitchen. And my room. (I also clean when I'm stressed or having writing issues.)

So here's what I've decided/figured out:

1. Not writing during the holidays when I'm stressed out of my mind is okay. It's going to happen and there's nothing I can do about it so I might as well accept it and not let it stress me out more, because that'll just backfire on my and make me want to write even less.

2. I'm not great at working at two projects at once. Especially not two projects at very different stages. So I'm letting Spyder wait while I finish writing this draft of Berserk. When I finish writing Berserk and I'm letting it rest before I start revising it, I'll revise Spyder more.

I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but that's my writing plan/goal. What are yours?

Peace and cookies,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's Official

I'm so excited to tell you guys, and I'll admit, I've daydreamed about writing this post, being able to say the words. Well, here goes. Yesterday I signed with Beth Miller at Writers House.

Kelsey pauses for a moment to breathe evenly and not embarrass herself.

I think it will take a while for this to sink in, but I'm very, very excited to work with Beth. She's passionate about my work and I have confidence in her skills and abilities. As to confidence in my skills and abilities, well, I'm working on that.

So, the story. The first time I heard from Beth, I'd actually queried the agent she's an assistant to, Robin Rue. (For a project that I really had no business querying for, but that's another post for another day.) Anyway, Beth found my query in the slush pile and rescued me. She was interested in seeing some pages. I sent them to her, trying to retain my overzealous joy, and she then responded with a request to see the manuscript. Beth got back to me rather quickly with a pass. She explained to me her reasons for doing this and expressed interest in seeing more work when I had something.

Time went by. I edited the manuscript over and over again and worked on my writing overall. I then contacted Beth again, who said she'd be happy to take another look. I waited, and, again, she quickly responded with a pass. The reason was simple this time: she just didn't love the book. Which, oddly enough, really excited me. Here was an agent who wanted to feel as passionate about the work as the author.

So, finally, I left that manuscript behind. Or just stuck in in a drawer somewhere. The symbolism wasn't significant. I began work on a new novel. It took me about one, two months to finish the first draft. I then edited the crap out of it and had some of my betas help me out. It didn't take me long. I sent Beth a third query and, again, she was willing to take a look.

Beth got back to me within days stating that she loved the manuscript... but she was wondering if I'd be willing to make some changes. I tried to keep my cool as I told her, yes, I would be willing. (I think I might have failed at the cool aspect of it.) I edited again and again and sent it back within two weeks.

Days later, I got The Call. (Another blog post I'll have to do.)

Beth sent me a contract, which I read, signed, and sent back, making it all official. I keep pinching myself, thinking maybe it's a dream. But, nope, the pain reaffirms this is real and it's happening.

Now, since I'm very new at this, and there's only so much research I can do, I only have a vague idea of what comes next. I'm doing more edits on this novel, and I imagine Beth will begin submitting once we've deemed the novel shiny and flawless. From what other authors have said, being on submission sucks. And since I'm not a patient person, I realize this will be a difficult time for me. There's no guarantee someone will love the manuscript as much as Beth and I, and there's especially no guarantee any of it will be easy.

I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I'm always the first to admit it: I'm horrible at journaling. Every one of the (many) times I've attempted to keep a record of my life via journal entries, it's always been the same routine: I write a starter entry explaining that I never finish journals but this one will be different and yadayada, and these are all the important things about me and my pen and what color my wall is and yadayada... entries, spanning about a week total, fill the next few pages, growing shorter and shorter. A few words dated a month later are somewhere later, saying "Oops I haven't been keeping up...I guess I'll get back to a little while..." And that's that.

But. For the holidays my friend gave me a really pretty journal. She herself is a journaler, and over break I convinced myself to give it a try. But after the first entry I could feel it happening again; everything seemed forced, like I was saying redundant, kind of useless words--why was I explaining that I never keep journals because I suck at it? I already knew that!

I ripped that page out and started again. I wrote about whatever crossed my mind at the time. And I still didn't feel completely satisfied. So I turned the page again, and at the top wrote "Dear..."

I wrote a letter. The letter flew out of my pen faster than the previous entries, and left me with both a satisfied feeling and the urge to write another one. Why had I been writing journal entries to myself? I have nothing to say to myself. But to other people--definitely. And it's definitely interesting, writing to your friends and family, especially when they're not going to read what you write in the conceivable future. My journal now has pages and pages of letters, and I've been keeping at it for over a week.

So there's a piece of advice--if you're like me and have trouble journaling, try writing to someone else.