Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Messy and My Neat

Right now, I'm invincible. Every day, it seems, I can write. The dread pirate writer's block has not reared it's nasty old head. I credit two things with my success: First, I only have a small window of time to write each day. This means the timer on my phone goes off and I have to hare off to pick up littlest from pre-school or hot foot it to a conference call before my writing can sputter to a stop. Nothing concentrates the mind like a deadline and having one or two hours a day to write makes me more productive than if I had oodles of time (at least I think it does, I haven't as yet, experienced oodles of time.)

The second thing that is helping me avoid writer's block is a two pronged approach I call Messy and Neat. When I feel the molasses creeping into my words, when I feel like the momentum is congealing and I might be in trouble I deploy the Messy button.

My Messy looks like this: I start writing something ridiculous. I let the stupid idea that popped into my head flourish like an ugly print on a button down shirt. Example: I had Mop looking through her dad's old journals and suddenly drug cartels, jaguars and mayan temples exploded into my head. These three ideas, you might be happy/sad to learn, did not make it into the book ultimately, but I didn't tamp them down. I went there. I let the stupid idea out into the light of day because I fear no stupid idea. It's not a waste of time (though it might feel like one while you're doing it - give over to the experience and don't worry about the stupid, is my suggestion.) For me, I was able to maintain momentum and exorcise some dumb ideas in the process. As a bonus, writing these scenes brought me to something else that I did use.

Now to my Neat. For me, Neat is about getting out of the tyrannical shadow of 50,000 other words. Words are shy things and sometimes, they need alone time. They don't always flow freely when they're attached to their many brethren. If I'm feeling the scene isn't flowing or is somehow soft in the middle (you want your scenes to have six pack abs, narratively speaking.) I open up a brand new document and paste my scene, warts and all in there. Maybe it's the clean, clear space of the new doc, or maybe it's just a psychological shift, but it works for me. Without the heavy weight of the rest of the story, the words flow more freely and the middle tightens up nicely.

So what methods do you employ to keep writer's block at bay?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Greetings from the Writing Cave...Now Go Away

I've been sequestered in my writing cave of late, occasionally coming up for air to tweet about scenes that are soft in the middle, or giggle at the internet meme of binders full of women.

But mostly I've been writing my ass off. I've been clocking about 1-1.5k a day. That may not seem like very much, but I only have about 3 hours of writing time a day and part of that time is spent drinking coffee and staring out into space. It's amazing to me that I can write nearly as much a day now, writing a fairly tight first draft, as I did doing NaNoWriMo when I was throwing words up against the wall to see what sticks.

This leads me to two separate but related questions:
1) Are you doing NaNoWriMO? Why/why not? I'm not doing it this year, and probably not ever again. While participating definitely was the springboard for me to get serious about writing, ultimately, I agree with Maggie Stievater (who's RAVEN BOYS audiobook I am OBSESSED with)- what you gain by getting your arse in gear and writing, you lose by having to go back in and heavily alter/edit/rewrite what you didn't have the space to think properly about in the first place. Read Maggie's NaNo thoughts here. Bonus Question: What do you think?

2) What does your writing cave look like? I thought I'd be the kind of person who needed 'things' to get me writing. Like, a lucky pencil, or a special coffee mug. I even bought a pair of silver owl bookends (before I actually started to write, when I thought I might like to write.) But none of those kinds of things help. I write anywhere and everywhere, as long as there's music. Library, Starbucks, screen room, dining room table, bed. Right now, I'm a beggar who can't be choosy. But how about you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

All Hallow's Read

Candy is dandy and liquor is quicker, but books are the coziest by far. So give someone you love a scary book for All Hallow's Read.

What's that? You say you've never heard of the holiday?

If Neil Gaiman says so, it's a real holiday.

This year, I will be giving the following books to my loved ones on this super spooky holiday:

For littlest, who likes to say she sees ghostes for real:

For eldest who asks why zombies can't dance, I put The Cramps Zombie Dance on her shuffle and this book in her hands:

To my Dearest Husband (not to be confused with my plain ole Dear Husband, I guess,) I will be giving him:

Because it scared the bejesus out of me and because I'm currently reading the sequel:

So, what will you read this SpookTober? What will you give for All Hallow's Read?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Next Big Thing? If Wishes Were Horses...

The Next Big Thing is an idea from SheWrites meant to help female authors promote their WIPs. Earlier this week, Jenny Herrera tagged me in NBT. (I'm reserving the right to say Next Big Thing with a rolling of the eyes.) Below are my answers. Check out Jenny's answers here.
What is the working title of your book? FIND ME
Where did the idea come from for the book? My husband, my mother and Sleeping Beauty. Okay, let me break that down for you. Whenever I can't find something in the house (often) I ask my husband to find it. I don't know how he does it, but within 5 minutes he's found it, in one of the places I've already looked. When my mom was visiting over the summer and I lost my keys (really, it happens OFTEN) she went to the cupboard and got out a cup. Then she turned it upside down. I looked at her like she was crazy and she mildly replied that this was how her mother had always induced the "spirits of the house" to help her find something. Keys were soon found and the cup returned to the cupboard. Coincidence? I don't think so. It started me thinking about finding as a gift, a talent. And how not everything wants to be found. While noodling around these ideas, I added Sleeping Beauty to the hopper. You know when, as a baby, the fairies give Aurora gifts (beauty, blah blah blah) but the wicked fairy gives her a curse? That started me thinking about how gifts can come with curses. Wheels turned and now I'm about 40K into the dashed thing. *grins maniacally*
What genre does your book fall under? YA Paranormal or YA Urban Fantasy. 
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
Mop, my MC would look a little like Hopey from Love & Rockets:
And Ryan would look like a younger version of:
Ryan Matthew from Oddities
I swear I already had the name Ryan before I figured out what he looked like. Really. Oh and I realize I didn't answer the question as these guys are not actors (and in Hopey's case, not real.) Oh well. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Seventeen year old Mop can find anything; a lost wedding ring, a missing cat, a secret stash of love letters. But when Mop finds a severed arm buried behind a wall, she realizes that some things should stay lost.

(I know that is two sentences. I am not good at following directions when baking either.)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? When it's finished, I'll send it to my agent and then will cower behind a couch waiting for her response. I'm good at cowering, unlike Despereaux.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? UM. NOT FINISHED YET. I started writing in May just before going out on submission with my other book, as a way to not completely lose my mind thinking about that other book I'd spent more than a year writing and revising.(DON'T THINK OF IT!) and actually, as a distraction tactic, it worked pretty damn well. I'm enjoying writing FIND ME so much.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Though there are no fairies in it, I kind of liken FIND ME to Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tale series.
Who or What inspired you to write this book? I don't have trouble coming up with ideas to write about, but not all the nascent ideas are a) good or b) right for me at the time. I had been working on two other ideas, teasing them out, when FIND ME sort of made its presence known. As soon as I had the character, Mop, in mind, I knew it was time to tell her story. Not a great way to make decisions, I know. I don't predict the weather or the stock market, either.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I went to college in New York City and spent a lot of time there in my (misspent) youth and it always seemed to me a vibrating kind of place. No, not because of the subway, but because of the intense availability of maybe. People say that nothing shocks a New Yorker, because they're jaded, have seen it all. I think it's because a New Yorker knows that magic is real,and that only fools limit their pre-breakfast impossibilities to just six. New York isn't just a backdrop to FIND ME, it's a character too. I also really like that Mop is Hispanic. I didn't mean to make her that way, she just is. I guess it goes back to my mom turning that cup upside down to get the house spirits to help find my keys (see above if you're skipping around) - that kind of thing is so common in my (and other Hispanic) cultures, that I wanted to fold it into Mop's life. Voila!
Now it’s my turn to tag some fellow authors. 
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