Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stage fright

So, I finished Wingspan a few days before going to San Diego.  Now I have read it through and am pretty sure it doesn't suck.  Now I need to have it proofread by that wonderful person who made my first 50 pages worth reading.

The problem really is stage fright.  I am the kind of person who wrote all their stories in a notebook in middle school and never let anyone read them.   The least in-character thing I did in the first half of my life was start posting fanfiction, where people could not only read the crap I came up with but comment on it.  The fanfic people have been very kind to me.

On the other hand, everything in this book is either something that I've come up with or something that I've reinterpreted from a friend's brilliant idea.  The proofreader is one of those friends.  In fact, she told me, "It can't suck.  It's got too much of my stuff in it."  I laughed and agreed on principle.

So, goal for this week is to read it through and then send her the email.  Heaven help me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Incentives and Progress

So, I'm used to keeping a tally on the site of how many words I've written, how many queries I've sent, etc.  Let's just leave it at this for now:

I have added almost 17,000 words to Wingspan this month.
I have cut out a lot of stuff as well.
Therefore, I am around 44,000 words.
I'm writing every day for Camp NaNoWriMo.

So, I'm closer, but probably not close to that elusive dress that's still in Katey's closet.  But!  I did buy myself some new tennis shoes today to celebrate the 15,000 mark.  When I hit 20,000, I'm going to buy some sorbet.

So, now that I've shared the ways that I'm going to shamelessly reward myself for doing my job, here's more information on how it's all going.

I have been writing a lot of the mushy stuff.  It's been hard to sit alone in my room in my singles housing apartment, knowing that no guy actually looks at me unless I'm leading music in church.  I'm not bothering to get over it right now because I'm too depressed by other things to even care.  I have written too many things out of order, which means that, while I've written a breakup scene, I've also written the scene where the guy first asks the girl out this week.

I wrote an amusing scene and then forgot that it was in one of my shared documents on Googledocs.  Katey mentioned it, I got her honest opinion and then at her suggestion added a character to aforementioned scene.  Scene has been completely transformed and I want to use that character more.

I'm trying to build up more of a relationship with the parents.  Again, not the easiest thing to do when there are so many other things that need to be dealt with in the storyline.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


So, The Summer of Finishing Wingspan is in its last month and, you guessed it, I have not yet finished Wingspan.  So I took drastic measures.

Step 1 was resolving to write something, ANYTHING every day.  Even if that meant 200 words per day, it was something.

Step 2 was letting my friends convince me to sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo.  50,000 words in August.  Not sure how it'll work out. 

Step 3 was setting up incentives.

Step 2 is going fairly well.  It has a stats page where you can see how close to September 1 you are, meaning whether you'll finish on time or in December.  I am now at September 6.

Step 3 isn't very developed yet.  Mostly, it has been things like, "I finished my wordcount for the day.  Now I can have my popsicle!"  But I have something fun waiting for me at the end.

Last week, Katey and I went dress-shopping for a trip to see Les Miserables.  That show was amazing the fourth time around...  But back to the story.  So, we agreed to share opinions on dresses.  At one point, we stepped out of opposing dressing rooms to find that we were wearing the exact same dress.  She immediately said, "I saw it first!"  (Sometimes, Katey is like a little sister.)  Neither of us actually got that dress, but it made an impression.

So, today, I went back to that dress store and bought the dress.  It was 30% off as well, so that made me feel even better.  Then I handed the bag to Katey and ordered her not to let me wear it until the Sunday after I finished Wingspan.

I have graciously allowed her to borrow it until then. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Writer's Retreat

I am an introvert.  That means that sometimes, many times, it is exhausting and headache-inducing for me to deal with people.  At those times, I tend to hole up in my room with a lot of books or my computer.  Sometimes, I'm tempted to get a hotel room and just not have human contact for a weekend.

This weekend, I get to have one of those times.  A friend of mine, the one with whom I escaped to Philadelphia, is off to the beaches of California with her very lovely family.  They couldn't bring the dog or cat and wanted people to water their garden.  Enter their friends who like their gardens and really like their house.

I firmly put my foot down about scheduling and said that after I went to see Brave and ate lunch with friends, I was going to have some time to myself with my novel.  I have enjoyed it so far.  I got a lot of good work done; the newly-christened Nathaniel is turning out to be a really fun character to write and I'm starting to really write the differences between Aislin and Maeve.  I developed some more of the relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Byrne.  

I feel a little better than I have done for the last three weeks, in which I have written almost nothing due to overwhelming depression.  A couple of years ago, my depression was so bad that, for a summer, I couldn't find joy in music, in dancing, in writing, in work, in anything.  I've been very close to that and because I remember what that was like, I have been getting very panicked.  Not a good combination.  I've also contacted a friend who is a psychotherapist to get a referral to a psychologist who can meet with me on Saturdays.  I've been working such crazy hours that I can never fit therapy into a schedule, but it has to be done.  I'm not good at expressing emotion (Well, other than anger and general stubbornness), but when I'm so depressed that having someone forget to say hi to me on a day makes me cry for an hour, it's getting out of control.

It also doesn't help that I have a recital on July 20.  I have done many recitals, since my parents let me start taking violin lessons when I was 3, but this is the first solo recital I've done since 1999.  It's also the first time I've ever done a piano-only recital.  I am playing everything from a Mozart piano concerto to a piece from Transformers.  My current choice of an encore piece is actually something that Katey, my ever-patient roommate in whose room my piano currently resides, agrees sounds like the themesong for Wingspan.  

So, I'm having a good, alone night to myself.  Tomorrow, I get to hang out with my friends, but for now, I can have some real me time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


In general, I use this word to describe my stranger plot bunnies.  Some examples of crackfic, written and unwritten are:

-The Mormon missionaries knock on the door of a vampire coven in Forks, WA.  WRITTEN
-Sirius Black's motorbike was an Autobot and her little brother was the flying Ford Anglia.  UNWRITTEN.
-Clark Kent and Anakin Skywalker have a one-upping contest about their superpowers.  WRITTEN

Currently, I'm entertaining a bit of plot crack for Wingspan.  It all started with the need to write a scene in which Maeve suggests that Aislin date a fairytale creature like herself.  One of the recommendations is "Find yourself a nice vampire" and the answer is "Naw, he'd say I taste like chicken."

Well, then I got around to remembering my first experience with therapy.  My parents sent me to a group in Needham where young teenage girls got together and talked about the problems of being, well, a teenager.  It took the edge off the problems I was having with my best friend who decided she hated me, my first boyfriend moving away just when I needed a support like him, starting a new school because things were so bad at my old one, etc.  I thought that somehow, Mr. and Mrs. Byrne would find a similar group for teenagers with "special needs" like their daughter's. 

Now I've got this mental image of a variety of characters and the entire thing sort of reminds me of the undead meetings in Terry Pratchett's "Reaper Man."  But the character who won't leave me alone is a girl bitten by a vampire just before the vampire got killed off by a pseudo-Buffy and now she's not a full vampire, but she's no longer her normal human self.  She's getting through life having to have one blood transfusion a day to curb her cravings and wears long-sleeved shirts and jeans any time the UV index in Allston, MA gets above a 5.

THere are other things, but I shouldn't be surprised that, in the book that starts out with a nude shoplifter getting deported from Canada, I have some crack.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Moving on

I just got back from my completely non-research trip to Ireland. It was fantastic, I took pictures of everything including a hair salon run by Michael Anthony and a thousand signs/graves with the Byrne name on them.

While there, I also heard back about my 50-page excerpt. I submitted it with a query and book proposal and found out on Thursday that they want to see the rest of the book.

So, now I just have to write it and make sure it's as anal-retentively perfect as I tried to make the excerpt be. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Home turf

I've gotten together my 50-page excerpt to send as my pre-query for "Wingspan" and I have to write a small commentary on the 'home-court advantage.'

With "The Deserter," I had a lot of fun discovering the ins and outs of a new world. Yes, that mostly meant inventing my own magical underground, but I raised a character in a semi-familiar setting of Philadelphia. I researched demographics. I found her favorite restaurants. I even calculated what kind of mortgage her math-teacher father and PR specialist mother could reasonably afford. I found that, yes, I could have a mentor from El Salvador because Philadelphia hs a famously high percentage of Latino immigrants.

When I started formulating the 'world' of "Wingspan," however, it was a completely different matter. One person asked me why I didn't set "The Deserter" in Boston and I said it felt like cheating. It also felt like the wrong setting for that story. Boston is home of the swan boats. It's the setting of "Make Way For Ducklings." Both of those things made me feel that I should set my book closer to my hometown.

More importantly, the idea first came about when I imagined a swan-maiden with nocturnal acquaintances. I pictured her wandering the CVS near the BU Central T stop where I used to wait for the train. I had mental images of conversations held at the base of the artist statue by the Boston Public Library. Every inspiration that struck me was in a very familiar place.

That also meant that I could cut myself a break in terms of research. This time, I didn't have to do much investigation into demographics because they could mirror my own. Because I grew up around Armenians, Greeks, Irish-Americans, Jews and African-Americans, I could patch together the ethnicities. My Armenian-American friend Vana became her Armenian-American friend Sosi. My various Irish Catholic friends were combined into the character Avril. I even cheated and wrote a character named after my friend Ethan.

Sometimes, it feels wonderful to cheat a little.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When the muse sleeps not

Neither do I. Really, if you hadn't noticed, this post is being made after 3 in the morning. I have been trying since before midnight to fall asleep and have nearly succeeded three times, but my brain keeps kicking back in.

Current muse vexations:

1) The Botosphere

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but in my many ramblings as a fanfiction author, I delved into Transformers to write an Autot blog. That turned into a story with a couple dozen chapters, a timeline, intrigue, conspiracy and a lot of Spanglish. I also have two wonderful co-authors who add stories to the project and collaborate on the chapters of that original story.

Currently, we're trying to get the next chapter up this mid-week so that NEXT weekend, when my friend Jon comes out to visit, he can help co-author the NEXT chapter. By the way, if you've never experienced it, having an over-30 man get giddy about co-writing giant alien robots with three Mormon chicks on his winter vacation, it's a really fun thing. Plus he'll be out here for the annual Life, The Universe and Everything symposium, at which he and I will be presenting our paper. That paper is what I blame for my not getting much else done during November, by the way. I have to have a scapegoat and, well, "Informed Consent: How to Mentor the Chosen One" is it..

But! Anyway! Eowyn77, one of my two co-authors, insists that as soon as I'm done with this chapter, I'm not allowed to work on the Botosphere until I'm done with the next thing on my muse's to-do list. What is that thing, you ask? Well...

2) My 50-page excerpt

I won't go into too much detail here, but I have a hint of a possibility of a nibble. I'll tell you the outline of this saga, but won't tell names or specific affiliations. Not on my finished manuscript--I haven't been querying the way I ought to lately--but this one has a weird backstory to it.

When I was about 9 or 10, I had a great Sunday School teacher. We remain friends to this day and she's a fellow writer. She mentioned a while back that she was working in the publishing industry. In the course of the conversation, I told her a bit about my current project. She got interested in the idea of the modern Swan Lake and asked if she could pitch it to someone she knew. I said sure and just after Christmas, she let me know that someone she works with wants me to submit some things to him.

Now, this guy knows that it's not finished yet, but he's interested in pre-querying, basically. So he's asked for me to write a query letter, a proposed synopsis for the rest of the book and then send him a 50-page excerpt of what I currently have. And he was sure to mention that they don't take unsolicited manuscripts. So HUGE PRESSURE right now.

Mostly, I'm trying to get what I have into a more coherent, less-uncertain-about-the-pacing version. It's harder than it looks!

3) Back to The Deserter

I need to do revisions on this anyway. It's been too long since I did a hardcore editing session. It's very rare these days that I get inspiration for that book at all, since it's already written and has the plot worked out and the remaining four books have their plots mostly worked out.

Well, yesterday, I was sitting at my desk and considering a book I had read recently. Katey made me read some of the Vorkosigan Saga and one character, Sergeant Bothari, suffers from dissociative states to such an extent that he borders on the multiple personality side of things.

That also reminded me of the Rowlingesque motif of soul-splitting as embodied in the Horcruxes.

Eventually, I was reminded of the bad guys in The Deserter. The antagonists are pretty clear-cut, but the dream I had while suffering pneumonia was very specific about the Crossmen and the danger they posed. In the book, I talk about how the Crossmen are not necessarily a bad thing--there are crossers who function as guards or police. They can protect as well as attack. Now the evil crossers in my head have decided that they have delved too deep into what their powers can entail and essentially become multiple personalities. It's a little bit of borrowing from Star Trek and Bizarro Superman alike, but I'm liking where my muse is going with it.

The bad news is, I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in weeks.