Ready. Set. Write! 2015: Goal Setting

RSW2It’s that time of year again! Time to kick ass and write words! Too bad my brain is having some major malfunctions at the moment and I haven’t been able to be on the computer for very long. I think I’m becoming nearsighted? Maybe? Anyway, I’ve been getting ocular migraines whenever I spend too long in front of a screen or a book, my two favorite hobbies, so my goals will be a bit light this year until I can get my eyes figured out.

My main summer goal WAS going to be to finish the draft of my new story, THE VAGABONDS. However, I feel like this is not going to happen now that my computer time is stunted, so I will say I’d like to get some of it drafted.

So this week’s goal: Maybe 1,000 words? Not a lot, but my eyes are already hating me for logging on to write this post!

See you next week! 🙂

The Click

I recently wrapped up edits on my last WIP (which I guess is just a W now, as it’s no longer IP). It has seen many critique partners and betas and is finally as good as I can make it.

So, onto the next project! Right?

Ugh.

In my mind, I knew exactly what I wanted to work on for my next project. But when it came time to start, there was no spark. I poked around, working on outlines and character sketches, but nothing about the story was clicking with me. I tried a different story. Outlines, characters, etc. Still, no click.

Then, as if by divine intervention, I was reading a fantastic book* that has less than zero to do with any of my WIP ideas, and I felt a CLICK. (Capital letters totally necessary). Almost as soon as I felt that click, my new project fell into place and I found that excitement that was lacking with my other projects.

This click phenomenon is such a mystery to me, but it has happened before and I am willing to bet it will happen again. It’s like something in my brain snaps me out of a writing funk and finds exactly what I should be writing about and how I should be writing about it. Maybe my subconscious has been chewing on my writing dilemmas somewhere in the background of my mind? Is this a universal thing?

The thing about the click is that I wish I could put my finger on it and press it like a button any time I lack inspiration. But alas, so far, for me, the click never comes when bidden–it’s like my toddler in that way.

Has this happened to you? Have you experienced the click?

 

*Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Book List 2015 – Update

Brief update on where I’m at with my reading challenge for the year!

1. A book with more than 500 pages

2. A classic romance

3. A book that became a movie

4. A book published this year – ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven

5. A book with a number in the title

6. A book written by someone under 30

7. A book with nonhuman characters – HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams

8. A funny book – THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

9. A book by a female author – BRIGHT COIN MOON by Kirsten Lopresti

10. A mystery or thriller

11. A book with a one-word title

12. A book of short stories

13. A book set in a different country – WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN by Kristin Rae

14. A nonfiction book

15. A popular author’s first book

16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet – ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell

17. A book a friend recommended

18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book

19. A book based on a true story

20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list

21. A book your mom loves

22. A book that scares you

23. A book more than 100 years old

24. A book based entirely on its cover – USES FOR BOYS by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (though the cover did NOT seem to match the story…)

25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

26. A memoir – YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler

27. A book you can finish in a day – POISONED APPLES: POEMS FOR YOU, MY PRETTY by Christine Heppermann

28. A book with antonyms in the title

29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

30. A book that came out the year you were born

31. A book with bad reviews

32. A trilogy

33. A book from your childhood

34. A book with a love triangle

35. A book set in the future

36. A book set in high school

37. A book with a color in the title

38. A book that made you cry – I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

39. A book with magic

40. A graphic novel

41. A book by an author you’ve never read before – RACING HEARTS by Laura Lascarso

42. A book you own but have never read

43. A book that takes place in your hometown

44. A book that was originally written in a different language

45. A book set during Christmas

46. A book written by an author with your same initials

47. A play

48. A banned book

49. A book based on or turned into a TV show

50. A book you started but never finished

It’s Officially Here!

Tangled

Today is the book birthday for BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT!! Yippeeeee!

You can now purchase the anthology on Amazon here. And on Smashwords here. Also on iTunes.

Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Curiosity often leads to trouble…

Thirteen powerful voices in young adult fiction invite you to journey into startling new Wonderlands in this nod to the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s timeless character, ALICE.

Mystery. Madness. Mayhem. Each story in this collection will intrigue, bewitch, and enchant. Through rich historicals, castles and keeps, wild wormholes, secret workshops, deadly plagues, and gritty urban explorations, we present new tales of Alice and her white rabbit.

Whether an intrepid reporter, a would-be car thief, or the last human in a world ruled by machines, at the heart of each story Alice is a girl discovering who she really is in worlds that never fail to surprise.

What wonders await, oh curious reader? Leap down the rabbit hole and discover the truth…

Did I mention yippeeeeeeeeeeee?? 😀

 

Getting Excited!

The BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT anthology is coming out on Tuesday, April 14th, and I am so excited! Working with Leap Books has been a really positive experience, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other contributing writers. I haven’t been able to read ALL the other stories yet, but the few I have read were fantastic!

I have one last fun reveal before the book releases, and that’s my story’s cover page. Shannon Delany, editor and artist extraordinaire, created beautiful paper cuttings to introduce each story, and I absolutely adore the one she made for mine. You can click the cover page to read a short excerpt of my story on the Leap Books blog.

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Also, you can still enter to win a copy on Goodreads! Contest ends tomorrow!

And feel free to head over to the Leap Books blog to check out excerpts of the other stories!

 

2015 Resolutions Update #1

I’ve decided to check in on my New Year resolutions a few times throughout 2015, just to keep me on track. It’s easy to forget the goals you set for yourself January 1st, but it sucks to swim in all that guilt on the next December 31st when you realize you haven’t done a single thing you wanted to that year. This year, I resolved not to disappoint myself. On the eve of 2016, I want to feel proud of what I’ve accomplished.

So, here’s how I’m doing. I chose focus words instead of resolutions this year, and here they are:

  • Peace – I’m trying my best with this one.  In general, I’m a very anxious person, but after weaning my son, all my anxiety problems absolutely BLEW UP. Like a delayed postpartum that I am still getting a grip on (and some days failing miserably). In January, I started attending yoga classes on a regular basis. I’ve done yoga in the past and enjoyed it, but I made a commitment to go at least six times a month, but preferably eight. The physical aspect is great, lord knows I need more exercise, but I mostly love working on quieting my mind and finding a meditative calm. It’s really hard for my mind to wander when I am so focused on holding a pose (and I am often very focused because I’m just not that good at any of them yet, haha). Also, I have experimented with supplementation, though I haven’t found anything too effective yet, and I made my first appointment to see a counselor which is a huge, scary step for me.
  • Courage – I’m not sure I’ve done anything particularly courageous this year so far, apart from really working hard on my anxiety, which is usually something I talk a lot about and never actually DO. I am planning to query my novel some time in May, and I am saving all my courage for that!
  • Diligence – I have worked hard on this one, too! I have wasted so many of my son’s naps by getting sucked into social media or some kind of internet time warp, but since January I have made a concerted effort to work on my novel as much as possible. I write/edit during naps and in the evenings, and I now have a completed manuscript that has been beta read multiple times and I am steadily working through revision notes. Not to mention going to yoga so much–that has taken a lot of diligence, too. Some things I could use a little more diligence on: finding educational games for my son and I to play together, finishing the Star Wars quilt I started for my husband, and cooking more meals at home.

How are you doing with your resolutions? Are you sticking to them?

Agent Research

Querying is hard you guys. Emotionally, yes, but it’s also just hard.  Every agency has different submission guidelines, each agent has different preferences, and some of them have names that are sooo hard to spell (is that just me??). Obviously, you want to research each agent and their agency. You want to make sure they’re the kind of agent you’d get along with, and you want to make sure there is at least a shred of hope that they will like your specific novel. And that research portion can be crazy time-consuming.

While I’m not quite in the query trenches, I hope to be after another round or two of revisions, so I have already started the marathon research stage. Here are some resources that have helped me (and may help you!):

  • #MSWL – aka Manuscript Wish List. This site, brainchild of K.K. Hendin and Jessica Sinsheimer, is a national treasure. Agents and editors list the types of books they’re eager to find in their submissions, and you can search by genre, name, and tags. Also, MSWishlist.com chronicles agent and editor tweets that use the #MSWL hashtag. There is some overlap, but both sites are worth perusing.
  • Literary Rambles – This blog (hosted by Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre) has everything: agent spotlights, writer and agent interviews, book giveaways, critique giveaways, a pie delivery service (maybe not a pie delivery service, but if they could find a way to do that, then they would really and truly have everything)… basically, this place should be one of your first stops when you start researching agents. The spotlights (handily listed down the left side) are incredibly detailed, and they cull information from a variety of interviews and websites so you don’t have to scour the internet in search of agent info.
  • QueryTracker – No-brainer here.
  • Publishers Marketplace – I don’t have a premium membership (to quote Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, “Help me, I’m poor.”), but searching through the member profiles can be very helpful.
  • Absolute Write Forum – Specifically the ‘Bewares, Recommendations & Background Check’ sub-forum. My crippling social anxiety has prevented me from participating much over at Absolute Write, but this forum is a fantastic searchable database of agents and agencies. Wondering if that superstar agent is a fraud? Curious what kinds of manuscripts an agent is more likely to request? Does the agent have confusing guidelines? Whatever your query (get it? LOLOL!), this forum probably has an answer. Or, at least, it probably has other people commiserating over the same issue.
  • ChasingtheCrazies – This is a blog by YA and NA author Amy Trueblood, and it has a bunch of useful information. Agent interviews focus on what they like to see in a novel’s first pages, and Amy has also included sections about writing queries, authors’ publishing journeys, and demystifying the publishing process. All of this stuff is worth a read if you’re querying, but I found the agent interviews especially helpful.
  • Query. Sign. Submit. – This subsection of author Dee Romito’s blog, I Write for Apples, has a list of interviews with agents, editors, and other authors.
  • Twitter – Not all agents have Twitter, but if they do, I’m sure it goes without saying that Twitter-stalking them can be a handy way to learn what types of clients they represent, as well as their preferences and pet peeves.

This is not an exhaustive list, because a lot of randomly helpful things came out of simply Googling agent names. Thanks, internet!

So, what are your go-to resources for researching agents? Give me something good!

Book Slog Syndrome

IMG_9515Have you ever started reading a book that you just can’t seem to get through? It’s not that it’s a bad book, or even an uninteresting book–somehow it just feels like you can only read it in slow motion.

Maybe that’s not a universal feeling, but I like to believe it is. Commiserate with me!

I don’t want to say the book’s title, because that’s sort of beside the point, but my current read has been S L O W.

S                    L                    O                    W.

What do you do when a book that you’re mostly enjoying feels like a total, never-ending slog? Do you quit? Power through the slog? Inquiring minds want to know.

Calling All Reader Friends!

Hello! So, as part of my 2015 Reading Challenge, I will need to read a trilogy. There are plenty of trilogies I’ve LOVED, but I’m so partial to contemporary that I’ll admit I’ve fallen way behind on most of the popular trilogies out right now. Which means I need your help!

I’ll likely read all of these trilogies sooner or later, but for some reason I am having difficulty choosing a good one for this challenge. The challenge is that I have to read all three, and with a lot of trilogies I am just not hooked enough on the first book to go through two more. I need a trilogy that is awesome all the way through. Something with a tingly romance and lots of back-and-forth will-they-won’t-they fun. Something that zips right through and doesn’t drag. Here are the trilogies I am currently considering:

THE CAHILL WITCH CHRONICLES by Jessica Spotswood

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UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

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THE GRISHA series by Leigh Bardugo

grisha-trilogy-covers

LUMATERE CHRONICLES by Melina Marchetta

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DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE series by Laini Taylor

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Now I need your input!

Which of these trilogies do I just HAVE to readrightnowOMG? Did I miss a different trilogy that is so incredible I should just chuck this whole list? What trilogies do you love?

Animated Book Covers and BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT

We are truly living in the future, and one small, insanely cool part of that is no longer being relegated to boring, one-note book covers. Now we get book covers that MOVE!

Epic Reads put together some really amazing animated book covers for some of their favorite YA books.

Ebook Friendly also rounded up a list of some cool animated covers for a variety of books.

And once you get done checking those out, feast your eyes on the animated cover for Leap Books’ BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT anthology:

BewareTheLittleWhiteRabbit_Animated

Have you seen any cool animated book covers lately?