Another Draft Down!

Ahhh…

I just finished rewriting and editing yet another draft of my first book. I cannot tell you how amazing that feels. Primarily because it’s the best thing I’ve written up until this point.

Have I neglected my blog and bloggy friends to get it done?

Yes.

Have I done little else but write and edit?

Yes.

Do I regret those actions?

Not a bit.

I have a love-hate relationship with my writing at times, but I’m proud of this draft, and this time I’ll have two different writers/editors give feedback before I resubmit it to agencies and publishers. I’m so excited (and terrified!) to receive their feedback so I can make my book even better!

My latest draft ended up being 126,000 words, which is FAR too long for a middle grade book. I whittled it down to 108,000, which is three thousand words MORE than my last draft! HA! I’d hoped to shorten it with the rewrite, but so much changed I just couldn’t. Once I get feedback, I’m hoping to cut that to less than 100,000, but I have no idea where else to cut.

I’m sure some of the cuts will break my heart, but them’s the breaks when you’re a writer striving for publication.

So, tell me… what have you been working on since I’ve been shamefully absent? I can’t wait to hear about your projects! Hopefully now I can get back to blogging regularly since this monkey is finally off my back.

Now… on to outlining the rest of the series! Woot! And continuing my work on the second book.

Happy writing!

“I do three drafts handwritten and then it’s typed up… They are different from each other, they are hopefully improvements in the sense you’re going back over something. The first time you write it, it’s the first thing that you can think. The second time you’re trying to shape the dialogue, helping the characters. The third time you’re doing it because you want the words to sound nice, hopefully making the prose better, making it more fun to read, making the jokes funnier and the scary bits scarier.”
― Clive Barker

“Your first draft is a petulant teenager, sure it knows best, adamant that its Mother is wrong. Your third draft has emerged from puberty, realising that its Mother was right about everything.”
― Angeline Trevena

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
― Dr. Seuss

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Style Tells A Story

Costume(morgueFile)

Don’t freak out. I’m not going to talk about fashion, except that which belongs in my book.

In this case, my reference to style means the clothing of my characters. While others may disagree, I believe clothing is a crucial element in any writing, but most especially genre writing.

Would you dress an undertaker in bright pastels and clown shoes? Unless you’re writing about an undertaker with an identity crisis or some kind of comedy, the answer is no.

Clothing needs to match the essence of the story, as well as the setting, dialogue, and character background.

For example, my MC starts out incredibly poor, so, of course, she’s clothed in ratty jeans and hole-y sweaters. Even when she’s plunged into a different world of fancy clothes followed by clothes required for boot camp, she maintains the persona of one who came from poverty. Just because the clothes change, doesn’t mean the person will.

While at boot camp, the kids have to wear a uniform every day that consists of pliable leathers and cotton – formed in ways to make it easy to move, run, jump, and hide when its required. They’re even given specially crafted boots. If you’re new to my blog or don’t remember, I’m a physical therapist. Therefore, I just had to give my characters well-fitting and tailored shoes. Our feet are probably one of the most important parts of our body concerning mobility and healthy movement, but we so often neglect them with crap shoes that don’t fit, all in the name of fashion. I couldn’t do that to my poor characters.

Let’s think of other books and the style that accompanies them.

Lord of the Rings, written by my all-time favorite author, consists of clothing and style consistent with ancient tales and epic stories. If Tolkien had had his characters wearing jeans and sweatshirts, his book would have gone nowhere.

The Lunar Chronicles, including the books Cinder, Cress, and Scarlet, have a large variety of styles, but it’s consistent with the futuristic premise. There are mechanical and geometrical aspects to their clothing that fits with the time. Again, if Marissa Meyer had put her characters in jeans and a sweatshirt, we’d have known right away they didn’t fit the futuristic setting.

This seems like such a basic concept, but it’s amazing to me how many authors miss the all-important clothing concern. Just a word here or there about clothing in a book is enough to get an idea of style. I’ve read dozens of books that had me shaking my head with their lack of continuity with era, setting, and class. The way a person dresses tells us so much about their personality and life perception, but it’s so often disregarded. That should never be the case. No matter the genre.

A little imagination and a bit of research, and all this could be avoided.

And not only should it be accurate, but it can convey emotion. The colors associated with fashion tell a story. Some people wear blue to stay calm. Others wear red to feel powerful and in passionate. Black renders formality and importance. Gray is somber and bland. Green makes us think of health and wealth. Brown is earthy and casual. Each color evokes emotion and, when paired with certain items of clothing, can convey a great deal. Be astute to what you use to tell your story.

What about you? When did you consider clothing or style when writing? When you started the story? Finished?

Clothing and colors count, people! Keep it real. Literally. 🙂

Happy writing!

“As she always did on any really important day, Penelope Hayes wore red.”
― Anna GodbersenThe Luxe

“Fashion is a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality.”
― Karl Lagerfeld

“What I really love about them… is the fact that they contain someone’s personal history…I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment… without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?… I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them or kissing someone…I look at a little hat like this, I lift up the veil, and I try to imagine the face beneath it… When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you’re not just buying the fabric and thread – you’re buying a piece of someone’s past.”
― Isabel WolffA Vintage Affair

Because I’m Lazy and Need to Update… A Questionnaire

Hey, yo!

Man, this updating stuff is something that’s been on my mind all week. I feel terrible that I haven’t updated more on here. I really miss interacting more with my WP buddies, but time is a nasty you-know-what.

I was over on bluechickenninja’s blog just now, and she posted a really cool questionnaire that she snagged from a fellow blogger, as well.

So, since my brain is mush from my new job and getting so much writing done (yay!), I’m going to do the questionnaire.

Not that anybody really cares to know this crap about me, but I like doing questionnaires, so you’re all going to suffer.

Here we go!

Reader (I’m adding writer) Questionnaire:

1. What is your favourite book?

My favorite book ever is not something that I can narrow down. There are too many amazing choices. I’ll include a few that just pop up continually: Lord of the Rings (obvious if you actually read my blog), Anne of Green Gables (also obvious), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Flowers for Algernon, Persuasion, The Princess, Forevermore, umm… umm… I like so many others, too. Gah!

2. What are your goals? For the year? For your life?

My goal for the year is to finish the massive re-write of my first book and get an agent. Also, I need to finish the first draft of the second book in that series. My goals for life are vast. I have too many to list here, but I’ll say I want to be published, adopt a bunch of kids, and be happy.

3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work. 
Yes. My work is varied, depending on what you’re talking about. The piece I’m working on right now is a series of books for the middle grade market (7-12 year-olds). It’s a fantasy based around a young girl and her friends who are part of an ancient race of beings who protect humans and the Earth. It follows them for a few years and we watch as they battle “the bad guy,” each other, and themselves.

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Everywhere. I want to see it all.

5. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre and was it worthwhile?
The last movie I saw in the theatre was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I’m sorry to say I was extremely disappointed in all three of those movies. The acting was good, and most of the digital effects, but I’m sorry. I am a HUGE fan of the book and all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing on Middle Earth and everything else. The amount of changes they made to the storyline was RIDICULOUS! I was so mad because Peter Jackson is an amazingly talented man. Why did he let this nonsense go on? Yes, they took information from the indices, but much of what was changed wasn’t even in those! Yagh! The Hobbit is an awesome story without all the added goop. The Lord of the Rings are my all-time favorite movies, so I had high expectations and hopes for The Hobbit movies. They didn’t come anywhere close to my expectations.

6. I’m curious, are there any books that you’ve tried to read and simply couldn’t finish? This is a no judgement zone.
Yes, I’m sure there are many. I can’t stand forcing myself to finish I book I despise, unless it’s for school. But honestly, I enjoyed pretty much all the books I was assigned for reading. There are too many other books out there to waste my time reading something that doesn’t hold my attention. Twilight was one of them. *Shudder* Blech. I rolled my eyes about a dozen times in the first two chapters. I never finished any of them.

I know there are more, but that’s the most memorable one that comes to mind.

7. Are you currently working on a new book/project right now? If it’s secret, you don’t have to tell me about it. If so, however, I hope it’s going well.
I already talked about my re-write for my first book. That’s the major project. I have about 12 other books in the making, all in various stages of completion, so occasionally my mind wanders to one of them and I get sidetracked from my main project. My other writing projects range from Christian fiction/romance, to children’s books (think under seven years old), to murder mystery, to non-fiction books on Christianity, to comedies, to historical fiction… It’s an awesome list of projects and I love them all, but it’s definitely overwhelming.

8. If you could live in any of your favourite books, which one would you choose?

This is difficult because there are so many books I love. Middle Earth is probably my first choice (LOTR), but it’s a close tie to Prince Edward island, where Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) grew up. I’d also love to live for a time in Jane Austen’s England. Many people tell me I was born 200 years too late, so that would put me right about in the correct time period.

9. Are there any book-to-movie adaptations that you think are just incredible? That you absolutely hated?

I think LOTR was amazing. Yes, they changed things, but the story pretty much stayed on track. The cinematography and special effects were groundbreaking for the time. It won a million awards, and rightly so.

My least favorite adaptation is the third Anne of Green Gables movie. The man who owns the rights to the stories mucked it all up. The first two were good, a bit off, but nothing completely unforgivable. The last one was horrendously off-story. The writer/director basically made an entirely new story to suit himself. I love the characters and the acting was great, but I’m ashamed of Kevin Sullivan and his wanton abuse of the success of L.M. Montgomery’s magnificent books.

10. What do you look for in a book that you want to read? What’s the first thing to capture your attention?

Sometimes it’s the cover. Especially for kids books. I read a lot of them because that’s the age-range I write for, and if the cover is boring, kids won’t pick it up.

For other books, it’s the synopsis and the first page or two. If I roll my eyes even once during the synopsis, I put the book back. If I’m not hooked after two or three pages, I set the book down (assuming I’m in a bookstore). Sometimes I’ll read two or three chapters just to see if it gets better, but if not, I won’t finish it.

11. If you’re an author, what do you do when you first get an idea for a book?

I get ideas at the most inopportune times. Usually in the shower, while I’m driving, or when I’m at work. None of these times are conducive to writing something down, so if I can’t do that, I say the idea in my head over and over again. If I’m near my ever-present notebook, I’ll write down as much as I can on the topic. If I’m driving, I’ll pull out the dictation app on my phone and talk away until I’ve exhausted the creative juices.

I have waited too long and lost the idea for a book. That makes me nuts. Usually it’s a dream or some passing thought while I’m driving and I don’t get it down quick enough, thinking “Oh, I’ll remember on my own.” Pfft. Not.

12. How do you feel about different genres? Romance? YA? Sci-Fi? Poetry? Do you have any favorites? Any least-favourites?

I love many genres. Middle grade fiction (what I write), fantasy over sci-fi, fiction over non-fiction. Prose over poetry.

I’ve read a little of everything. I love the classics. And magical realism.

13. If you could meet any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

J.R.R. Tolkien. No question. The man was a genius. He created multiple FULL languages that people can actually learn and speak. He also crafted the most historically complex and detailed modern epic fantasy masterpiece. I’d love to pick his brain.

14. Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction.

15. Are there any characters that everyone loves that you can’t stand? Or vice versa?

I despise Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I honestly don’t know how anyone could like her. Also, Bella Swan from Twilight. She is the epitome of what a main character ought NOT to be.

16. What do you like to do besides reading/writing?
I sing. I’m a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan. I like movies. I love to travel. Having dinner with friends. Exploring someplace new.

17. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

I’d just like to have made a positive influence on someone’s life. I’d love it if someone told me, near the end of my life, that being friends/enemies/co-workers/neighbors with me changed their life for the better, I’d die the happiest person on Earth.

Does that sound too self-absorbed? Oh, well.

18. What is your favourite guilty pleasure book?
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

19. Do you have a reading goal set for this year?
I never make reading goals. I usually read well over 100 each year, so it seems pointless to make a goal for more than that.

20. Tell me anything about yourself that I haven’t asked. Random fact. Weird human trick. Whatever.

I have GPS fingers. Seriously. If you tell me something hurts, even a vague spot, I will be able to put my fingers exactly on the spot causing pain. Part of that is my career as a physical therapist, but I know other PTs who aren’t as good at that.

Listen to me boast. 🙂 GPS fingers. That’s an Amy-ism right there. It’s a thing.

Ergh! Enough about me. I’d like to hear about you! Feel free to steal away and let me read all these lovely things about you.

Happy writing!

The Great North

IMG_1721

Ahhhhh… Up North.

For those outside of Michigan, it may be a strange circumstance, but going “up north” is something that happens all summer long, and often into the fall.

People from downstate buy or rent cabins on lakes, in the woods, and travel there for a weekend getaway.

I’m not sure how common this is in other states, but in Michigan, nearly everyone goes “up north” for the weekend. Or know somebody who does.

Well, I am currently up north. The first location of my traveling PT job is in the northern part of the lower peninsula in Michigan. Tons of snow, lots of deadly icicles, pictured above at the cabin I’m staying at, and a veritable wonderland of outdoor activities.

Since starting this new job a couple weeks ago, I’ve written more in my gargantuan re-write than I have in the past five months. I knew that would happen. Surrounded by nature and natural beauty never ceases to inspire me.

It also helps that I don’t have internet in the cabin I’m staying in. (My choice).

Although the internet has many uses, it is mighty distracting for someone who procrastinates with her writing because she’s often overwhelmed by the enormity of it.

I apologize if I don’t answer people as quickly as I used to, or am noticeable absent from the blogosphere for days at a time. I can’t get on with my work laptop, so the only time I can use the inter webs is when I haul myself to a coffee shop or the library.

And, God bless ’em, but the libraries in small towns close at 5 or 6 o’clock most days. Well, for us working stiffs, that doesn’t do much.

How has everyone else been? Have you made any headway on your writing lately?

Something I’ve learned in the past few weeks… turn off Mr. Negative!

Writing is such a personal process, like all the other arts, and it is all too easy to have your own personal storm of negativity constantly brewing storm clouds over your head.

I know it’s hard, I struggle with this on a daily basis. But push that storm away from your atmosphere and close your eyes. Write whatever comes to mind.

Ignore the “that stinks” or “are you sure?” or “nobody will like this” comments that filter through your mind.

Open yourselves up to the immense creativity we’re all capable of. Don’t go with the common route that’s been established by so many other authors.

Search for new avenues and let your mind wander into places you wouldn’t expect.

And have fun!

Happy writing, friends!

“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“Try giving up all the thoughts that make you feel bad, or even just some of them, and see how doing that changes your life. You don’t need negative thoughts. All they have ever given you was a false self that suffers. They are all lies.”
― Gina LakeWhat about Now?: Reminders for Being in the Moment

New Year, New Job!

Happy Belated New Year to you all!

Although, really, I’m not the biggest New Year fan. It’s just the passage of time to me, and since I never make resolutions on January 1st, the new year sneaks quietly through my apartment after I’ve gone to bed early.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. First, I was horrendously sick, then the holidays, and now I’ll be starting a new job on Thursday!

It’s exciting, but it also makes my life a bit insane around these parts.

The paper work! Gah! The paper work is killing me! Because I work in the medical field, the amount of crap they make you go through to work is ridiculous.

But I am excited! About seven months ago, I posted this entry about becoming a travel PT. Meaning, I would travel the country every three months to a different state and work covering maternity leaves, short-term disabilities, etc. Grad school cost FAR too much, and although I love to travel, I can’t actually afford to do it that often.

This way, I get PAID to travel! The travel company pays for me to stay in a furnished house or apartment, I get money for food, they pay for my travel expenses, for me to get licensed in another state, for my healthcare, my liability insurance, and SO MANY OTHER THINGS!

Since I’m still single and without kids, this is the best time of my life to do it! I hope to see as much of the country as I can in the next few years. I’m beyond ready for this adventure.

I’m also hoping this will inspire my creative writing. As many of you know, I began a MASSIVE re-write of my first book a couple months ago and it is taking much, much longer than I anticipated. I’m not doing any copying/pasting, but am starting over from page one.

The plot and such is essentially the same, but the tone may be a little different, a few characters added/deleted, some settings changed, etc. But my original manuscript was 120,000 words, which I whittled down to 105,000 before I sent it to agents this past spring.

I’m currently at about 7,000 words. Which equals two chapters. Gah! The first chapter was a beast, and the second one took a while because I was sick most of this month.

Nature and travel and new experiences always helps me to focus and write more, so that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.

Anybody have any new job/travel plans this year? Any locations on your travel wish list?

Happy writing!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.”
― Rumi

Illness Breeds… Progress?

Hey, friends.

I hope you’re all enjoying the wonderful Christmas season this year!

There has been so much going on the past few weeks for me, I feel like I’m caught up in a tornado of insanity. There’s so much to update you on, but some I can’t reveal yet.

No, I’m not getting published yet. I’m still in the midst of a massive re-write, beginning at page one, which will probably take me months to finish and edit.

I know many of you have been under the weather lately. A good portion of my patients have also been calling in sick, or I’ve been sending them home when they come to clinic with flu symptoms. My other patients certainly don’t need that.

It was only a matter of time before I fell ill, as well. Though I don’t think it’s the flu, it’s a close facsimile that kept me home today and feeling gross.

However, I have been more productive in the last two hours being sick at home with my writing than in the last few weeks combined!

Does this happen to anyone else?

Sometimes I think illness forces us to reexamine our priorities, and it also removes the barriers to creative thinking. When we’re feeling under the weather, our thoughts are inherently tuned to improving our health, or we’re wallowing in our illness, which can sometimes be the perfect environment for writing sad, emotional scenes.

This is certainly true of me today. I’m in the depths of chapter two where my MC is kidnapped by henchman of the “bad guy” and it’s flowing much easier than it has the past week.

You can read a little more about my book right here, from an entry posted this summer.

I’m thrilled that this fantastical journey my character is on continues to astonish and amaze me. The things that fly out of my fingers into the Word document make me smile, cringe, laugh, cry, and shout for joy.

I still have much to learn on my journey to publication, but, for now, I’m just happy to get a few pages written.

Happy writing!

First Chapter POV

Hello, all!

Sorry for the long absences. Besides being insanely busy, I realized that I was putting way too much pressure on myself about this blog.

I started the Science of Injury series here last month and, while I enjoy writing them, they take about two hours each to complete, and I just have little time for that right now. Or, I get intimidated by the length of time required.

So, while I do plan to continue that series over the next few months, I’m not going to allow myself to be stressed over my blog. I love it dearly, but this is an outlet for me, and there are too many stressors in life to add one more to the mix.

From here on, at least for a while and not including my Science of Injury posts, my entries will be much shorter.

Today’s quandary: changes in point of view (POV) from first chapter to second.

I’m currently in the process of rewriting my first book (again!) and my first chapter came to me in a different voice than the rest of them.

Now the first chapter is being told from a completely different POV than my MC, but she picks it up from chapter two through the end of the book. It is still third person omniscient, but the voice is someone else’s until the set-up of chapter one is complete.

I’ve seen this successfully managed by other writers.

Examples?

Rachel Gibson’s book Not Another Bad Date begins with the death of a character, and the first chapter is from her viewpoint in Heaven, which is actually a department store. It’s an interesting take, I’ll grant you. We see her POV a couple other times in the book, but otherwise it stays with the MCs. And it’s seamless. Again, it sets up the rest of the story from an interesting angle.

George R.R. Martin switches POV pretty much every chapter in his Game of Thrones series, though mine is middle grade, so I don’t want to confuse my young readers. Although young readers, I find, are often more intuitive than older readers.

Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles switches POV many times, especially between chapters. It doesn’t bother me at all, but I know it can be distracting for others.

J.K. Rowling’s first chapter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as well as Goblet of Fire and Half Blood Prince. It sets up the background so the reader knows a bit more than the MC does, which is as it should be, I think.

Those are just a few examples. Does anybody else have examples of changes in POV? What do you think of POV changes, especially if it’s only the first chapter? Do you have any preferences?

Happy writing!