Monday, April 30, 2012

Feeling like a fraud

Great post from Leigh Ann on Wednesday.  Also great article which was posted on her blog.  It really got me thinking, because I do feel like a fraud or that I shouldn't be using the term "writer" for myself.

In college, I didn't take a single English class or real writing class.  I was required to take two freshmen writing seminars, but they weren't on creative writing, and I didn't even like them.  Most of my time was filled with biology and other science classes, where the most writing I did was lab reports (yuck).

I think it's hard to identify myself as a writer, because it's something that's so new, and if you look at it at the surface, out of character.  But, I was always, always a reader.  And I love to create, whether it's music, photos, whatever.  So it's not really out of my character.  Writing is something I can do by myself, which is also another reason I like writing.  I'm shy and don't want to have to wait for other people for the creative process.  I like creating characters and story-telling.  There are so many interesting people in my brain with interesting stories.  (I do not have multiple-personality disorder -- don't worry.)  But if you asked me what I am?  First thing I would say is an Ultimate frisbee player, followed by musician, linguist, soon-to-be teacher of high school science, and then probably a writer.

But I think about writing all the time.  I write (almost) every day.  So what's to say I'm not a writer?  I thought maybe when I started Novel 2 I would feel more like a writer, because the first one wouldn't just be a fluke.  And I guess maybe that is true.  But I still think, sometimes, that maybe finishing these novels is luck.  BUT WHO AM I KIDDING?  Writing is hard work and they won't write themselves, so we owe it to ourselves to call us WRITERS.

Friday, April 27, 2012

announcements and winners

Okay, I know ya'll are very excited.  But first I want to thank you all for following my little blog and being so helpful with everything writing!  It's so nice to know there's supportive people out there in the blogosphere and that we can all lean on each other when need be :)

So without further ado, the winner of the blogoversary giveaway is:

Nothing beats the old-fashioned pull-it-out-of-a-hat method.

*hooray*  *tosses confetti*

Amanda, you should get an email from me shortly about where I should send Insurgent and then it should end up on your doorstep on release day.  Or at least that is the plan.  (Sometimes the postal service and technology have minds of their own).  Then you can furiously read it and finish it, and tease us with how awesome it is.  Enjoy!

Also if you've forgotten what happens in Divergent, check out Veronica's post and brush up!

One more announcement.  If you live in the Philly Area, the Philadelphia Writer's Conference is coming up on June 8-10.  I've never been, but I will be going this year!!  I'm super excited because two of my writer teachers will be having workshops.  I'm going to the YA/MG workshop with Marie Lamba (one of my teachers), Horror, Fantasy and Sci-fi (which I'm super excited about!), and the Character workshop with Jonathan Maberry (another of my teachers).  Sign up by May 1st to get a discount, though you can still sign up afterwards, so don't worry if you need to think about it for a little while.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

how to title your book

If you haven't entered my blogoversary giveaway of Insurgent, hurry up!  You only have until Friday at 7 am!

So I found this article from Rachelle Gardner on how to title your book.
Awesome.  Because I was having problems.  I started Novel #2 recently, and I really needed a title.  It could be a working title, but I needed something, so that I could save the Word doc (and not just as Novel 2).  So... more brainstorming.  My fave, right?  So I read Rachelle's blog and I think it really helped.

The first thing I did was made a lit of titles that I liked.  My favorite titles were not necessarily of my favorite books and visa versa.  I did some analysis and tallied up what each title signified, for example, a setting/place, character or thing.  (Most of my favorite titles were setting/places followed very closely by characters).  Then I picked my three favorites which were The Dark and Hallow Places, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Let The Sky Fall.  I think all of these triggered some sort of emotion from me and made me want to read them.  (fyi: I've actually never read any of these novels, so take that as whatever you want).

So then I made a list of single words that fit with my novel.  Anything that came to mind.  Just general association.  Objects, people, emotions, things, whatever.  Then the real fun started.  I began to put them together.  (I don't do single word titles because I think they get too easily confused with other titles.  Read my post about that here.)  I wanted something that triggered an emotion, but obviously had something to do with my story.  But I didn't want to give too much of the story away in the title.  I wanted something that would entice the reader, from just the title, to pick up the book and read it.  So I made a list of possible titles, not editing myself, and just let them pile up.  I sat on them for a little while and when I came back, one or two popped out at me.

It was beweteen The Disloyalty of Colors and The Abandonment of Senses.  I decided on the former because I think colors is a cooler word and had more to do with my book than the latter.  Plus, I felt like it kind of gave a synsethetic feel to the title.  Colors are neither loyal or disloyal in reality, so personifying them is kind of like mixing up the senses, and I thought kind of a cool way to get synsethesia across in my book.

So now I want to do that with my first book, but I'm kind of stuck in mind-set of Code of the Firefly already being the title, so I'll have to see if I can break out and come up with something better.

How do you come up with titles?  What are some of your favorites?

Monday, April 23, 2012


First, if you haven't entered my blogoversay giveaway of Insurgent, check it out!

So I've done it.  I've started Novel #2.  I even it put it up in the bar under "What I'm working on".  That makes it official, right?  Go check it out if you'd like.

But, beginnings are HARD!  I forgot how daunting a blank Word doc feels, since I've been revising COTF for so long.  It's ominous and so open-ended.  I'm not far in and I'm already second guessing myself.  Did I put in enough world building?  Are my characters coming to life?  Do they have the right personality?

But you know what?  That doesn't matter.  I mean it matters, but that's not what the first draft is about.  It's about getting the story on the page.  Second and third and fourth (etc) drafts are for polishing.  First drafts are supposed to be crappy.  This is something I have to continually remember, so that I don't get hung up on word choice.  If my character sighs three times on a page, it doesn't matter; that's what revisions are for.  Just GET IT DOWN on the page.  Don't stop.  Don't revise.  Just go go go!

I've read so many author blog posts about giving permission to write crap and to fail.  It's something I believe in too.  If we're so concerned with the first draft being good, we will probably never finish it.  My revisions are MASSIVE but that's okay.  At least I finished.  So don't worry so much with if the first draft is good, or if you're following your outline exactly.  Get it down and change it later.  Whatever helps you finish the draft is what you should do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

6 month blogoversery giveaway!


6 months ago, I was taking two classes on creative writing (Novel in 9 months class by Jonathan Maberry and Writing for Teens by Melissa Jensen).  Those two classes propelled me to start a blog and I've never looked back!  So we have to celebrate (it's the little things, right? :) )

So let's look back on the past 6 months:
-I've completed the first draft of Novel 1, a YA fantasy, aka Code of the Firefly (okay, so I really started this before I started blogging)
-finished first draft revisions
-wrote a query
-edited query a gajillion times
-started Novel 2, a YA SF-ish, yet to be named
-starting reading a bunch of blogs and continually loving it!

Hopefully the next 6 months will lead to:
-finishing final draft of COTF
-sending queries for COTF
-finish first draft of Novel 2

So in honor of 6 months of blogging, and my love of world-building, I will be giving away Insurgent by Veronica Roth!

Here is the summary from good reads: 
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

This is the sequel to Divergent, so if you haven't read that, what are you waiting for?!?  It has: a cool world!  Factions!  Fears and getting over them!  A boy named Four!

So what to do.  "Follow" my blog (it is a blogoversery after all) and leave a comment that you want to enter.  That's all you have to do!  Want another entry?  Tweet or post a shout-out on your blog about the giveaway and tell me that you did so in the comments (this is on the honor system, so I trust ya'll).  It will be open until Friday 4/27 at 7 am EST so that I can randomly pick a winner, pre-order it and have it shipped to you by release day.  Or at least, that is the plan.  Yes?  Yes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

writing brain vs. revision brain

I've been revising CotF for a long time and finally finished the nitty gritty edits.  There were some places where I had to write whole new scenes in order to convey everything that I needed to.  But when I tried to do it while editing the scenes around it, I stalled.  I was stuck in editing mode.  It took me awhile to get back into writing instead of editing.

I realized that my brain had been in editing mode.  It was able to chop scenes, cut words, or reorder sentence structure, but creation of something new, of that new scene that I need to add, was entirely a different muscle.  They must be different parts of the brain.  Switching gears was something I hadn't counted on needing to do.

I ended up revising everything in that chapter until I got to the part where I needed to add the new scene.  Then I tried to switch gears and just focus on writing, not going back to editing for the rest of the day.

Has anyone else come across this problem?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Update

How was everyone's weekend?

I went to the first ever Professional Ultimate frisbee game.  The league (AUDL (American Ultimate Disc League)) just started this year in 8 cities and Philadelphia was one of them!  So 1700+ of us fans went to Franklin Field at UPenn to watch the game vs Buffalo.  It was really fun to see so many Ultimate fans and the game played in such a big stadium.  So it's a very big time for the Ultimate community.

I also got a lot of outlining done, thankfully.  I might be able to actually start writing in a few days which I'm super excited about.  I'm loving this new concept and think it could turn into a really cool story.  (More secret messages!)  I'm still sorting out my characters a little bit, but I have their motivations, so I think the rest could just come as the story unfolds.

I haven't made a decision about grad school yet.  I'm having a really hard time deciding.  It's either go to Boston for the summer through the school year (but I don't have a place to live yet) or stay in Philly and start grad school in January (which will take me until the following yr to graduate).  Philly would be [much] cheaper but longer, while Boston will be shorter and I'd get to finally be back in Boston with my friends, thought I still don't have an apartment.  I really want to be done grad school in a year because I want to start teaching and not be in an in-between state for much longer in my life.  I have to decide like ASAP so I'm trying my best not to freak out.  (I've never been indecisive before and I'm not sure how to handle it...)  I've given myself til Wednesday to decide so hopefully then I'll feel a little better.

I hope everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, April 13, 2012


So I've begun to brainstorm Novel #2.  And I've... never really brainstormed before.   

When I started with CotF, I really had no idea what I was doing.  So I just sat down and started writing (and then had to fix everything in subsequent reads).  That is something I want to avoid for this novel, lol.

So I started brainstorming.  I think there are three main things to work out when beginning.  1) Characters 2) Plot 3) Setting.  Makes sense, right?

For me, plot is the most difficult.  Usually I already have some idea of the premise and who the characters are.  But creating a problem and solution and actual plot, takes a little more thinking and analyzing.  I get one of those yellow lined
 pads of paper and just write.  I take my premise and try to poke as many holes in it as possible so that I can come up with solutions.  If I have more than one solution, I'll explore a few of them, asking as many questions as possible, and then decide which I like best.  Then go onto the next hole and rinse and repeat.

Next are the protagonists, so for me, the main character and the love interest.  Both need to have wants and motivations, but also flaws.  Maybe a secret.  Maybe a quirk or two to make them interesting.  But they also have to fit together.  No insta-love here!  There has to be a reason for why they are drawn to each other, for why they are compatible.  Does one want something that the other can give?  Does he find his strength in her?  Something to make them connected.  That's that part I'm brainstorming right now and have to do some soul-searching (his soul, not mine) to figure that out.

For this novel, I had a hard time deciding setting.  It wasn't my inspiration this time, like it was with CotF, so I wasn't really sure where to put it.  Could it be contemporary?  Not really.  I mean it could, since it's founded on real things, but for what I intended there had to be some paranormal stuff.  So Urban Fantasy?  There aren't any other races, no wearwolves or faeries, so probably not.  Paranormal?  Maybe, but I kind of wanted some other world stuff.  SF?  Maybe.  Dystopian? I didn't really want to write a dystopian, plus my government wasn't flawed, per se, just a little futuristic.  So SF was calling to me, sort of like the movie In Time except with energy controlling everything instead of time, kind of a light SF.  But I need to do some real world-building to make sure.  So I've requested a bunch of books from the library on YA SF (and also just read FEED by M.T. Anderson) to do some research.  When in doubt, read, right?

How do you brainstorm?  Or do you just start writing?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Poppy" books

So a few days ago a friend of mine commented that she wasn't interested in reading The Hunger Games because it was too "poppy".  I have to admit, I was a little offended.

Yes, it's popular, so I guess it could be defined as "poppy" but it's so much more than that.  I don't think she really knows what The Hunger Games encompasses.  I think maybe I felt like she was disregarding it simply because it was popular.  You know, the whole sell-out makes things uncool thing.  She wasn't even giving it a chance.  But the reason a book becomes popular is because it resonates with so many people.  It is relateable.  People feel something for the book.  It's not a bad thing for a book to become popular.  Everyone can have their own experience with it, so it's unique to that person, but he/she can discuss it and feel a bond/community with the people who also read it and loved it.

I think she's sort of relating it to Twilight, which is like the pinnacle of "poppy" and I can understand her frustration, but I think she's confusing popular with no-substance (not that Twilight doesn't have substance, but if you've never read Twilight, you might think certain things and have certain biases when hearing about it from other people).  But THG is completely different.  THG is about the facing the odds, sacrifice, non-conformity, standing up against tyrants, things that aren't popular.  Everyone doesn't have to like it, that's perfectly acceptable, but at least give it a chance and read it before making a judgment about its content.  I really hope she does decide to read it, because I think she will be presently surprised.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Novel #2

So I am back from vacation... finally.  I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation though.  I made my goal of finishing the first draft revisions before vacation started and sent it out for critiques so I feel like I actually accomplished something!  It's a great feeling, right?

So I'm starting on Novel #2.  I said I was going to outline this novel before I begin writing, so that I don't make the mistakes I did last time.  But it's very different than what I'm used to.  It's weird to not be writing and to just be brainstorming.  I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything, but I know this is for the better, because otherwise it will take me forever to revise and fix all the problems that I made when I didn't have an outline.

So I'm forcing myself to outline.  And I also seem to be brainstorming about secret messages again, which is cool.  Secret messages are always fun, right?

I hope everyone had a good holiday!