Monday, August 27, 2012

Holy Crap, I Just Wrote A Novel

Happy Monday, Peeps!

Okay, if you're anything like me, I know what you're thinking - WTF is happy about Monday?

Well, even though I still have to drag my butt out of bed today to go to work, and even though I still have to get some form of dinner on the table when I get home, I'll still be smiling (barring disaster) BECAUSE:


My nephew Evan rocks hardcore. It's in the genes.

Those of you who read my Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone post (and thank you, if you did) know that this one was particularly challenging for me. I decided halfway through to make it a romance AND a mind-bender, and I was terrified I'd screw it up.

Of course, it hasn't gone to my betas yet, so there's a good chance I *did* screw it up. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

But even if this ms hadn't been particularly involved, I'm pretty sure I'd still feel the same way about finishing it - The "Holy-Crap-I-Just-Wrote-A-Novel" High.

I've written three manuscripts. By now, it should be nothing new, right?

Except that all three times, it felt like I would never finish.

All three times, the word count seemed to creep up at a snail's pace, until I was sure I didn't have enough plot for a full-length novel.

All three times, I was juggling work and home and family and friends, and telling myself there weren't nearly enough hours in the day to ever get this done.

And all three times, I was dead wrong. Because finishing a manuscript is a huge deal, no matter what your situation, no matter if it's the third or the thirtieth. It's an accomplishment that no one else can take away from you.

It's a high well earned. And whether it sits in a drawer or makes it to the bookshelf, it's still the product of long hours and hard work and love poured into every page - it is something to be proud of.

I'd like to think that if I ever stop feeling the "Holy-Crap-I-Just-Wrote-A-Novel High, then that's when it's time to hang up my writing hat. Because I want to feel this way EVERY SINGLE TIME I write something...

...Right up until the ugly reality of revisions hits home. (Cue buzzkill music)

Have you felt the Holy-Crap-I-Just-Wrote-A-Novel High lately? Do you feel it every time? And most importantly - how do you celebrate?

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Inspired" To Talk About My Book!

The lovely and talented Dahlia has tagged me to be part of the Be Inspired Bloghop!

As I read the questions Dahlia answered about her own (amazing, hilarious) novel, I realized how rare it is that I actually talk about mine on this blog. I've mentioned that it's a contemporary romance and I've posted one or two excerpts, but other than that, I guess I'm a little superstitious.

Today, superstition is going out the window. Here are a few factoids about my Book Baby:

Q) What is the name of your book?

Q) Where did the idea for your book come from?
A) It started with a dream. I saw a girl and her boyfriend snuggling up against the lockers at school (because, apparently, I dream of strangers). Then the door at the end of the hall opened, and another boy walked in. The girl's face turned white and fell, and then she ran to him and threw her arms around him, leaving her boyfriend - and me - to wonder WTF had just happened. I built the rest of the story around that dream.

Q) In what genre would you classify your book?
A) Contemporary YA Romance

Q) If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition of your book, who would you choose?
A) This is WAY easy.
Ashley Benson as Kelsey

Sean Faris and his biceps as David
Max Thieriot as Ryan
Q) Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book.
A) LYM is the story of Kelsey and David, and it alternates between events in the past that led to their friendship falling apart, and the unexpected way they come together again in the present – as more than friends, even though they both try to fight it.

Q) Is your book already published?
A) I WISH! It's currently on sub, so here's hoping!

Q) How long did it take you to write your book?
A) Wow, I didn't realize it until I looked back to answer this question, but almost a whole year.

I wrote the first scene in January of 2011. I was working on another ms, so I kind of let it simmer for a while and didn't write more until March. Then I hit a stalling point again over the summer (busy season at work, revising and querying my first project) and finally finished in December.

Q) What other books within your genre would you compare it to? (Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?)
A) I'll be perfectly honest here - I have no idea. I've been told my writing is reminiscent of Sarah Dessen's, but I've actually never read one of her novels, so I can't agree or disagree. I do know that if you enjoy flawed but likable characters and high-tension romance all thrown into a pretty, historic setting, you'll like this novel :)

Q) Which authors inspired you to write this book?
A) Probably Stephanie Perkins. I remember so much hubub over ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, and when I read it, I kept thinking, Wait... this is a story all about romance. You can DO that? Really? JUST romance?...... I want to do that! I CAN do that!

Q) Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.
A) Well, first, go and scroll back on up to that photo of David. Now imagine him in a baseball uniform. Now imagine him shirtless and sopping wet. Because that happens in my book.

No, seriously, in my opinion, it's a fun, fast-paced, sometimes funny, sometimes angsty read that shows how the past can bite you in the ass while hitting on so many of the emotions we experience when falling in love for the first time. And the kissing scenes are hot, if I do say so myself!

That's all! I'm supposed to tag five more people to participate in the Blog Hop, but y'all know by now that I prefer not to obligate anyone. So if you'd like to answer these fun and easy questions, consider yourself tagged! And don't forget to tweet or comment with the link :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our Signature Stupid Moves

We've all had moments where we found ourselves thinking, how (and/or why) did I do that?

Sometimes, we even find ourselves asking that question repeatedly - about the same thing.

I started thinking about this when my husband managed to lock himself out of our house yet again last week. It's something he does at least once a month, and I can't understand it for the life of me. Sure, everyone misplaces their keys once in a while - but not my husband. His keys are always in the same spot on our kitchen counter.

Yes, that's right. His keys are right next to his cell phone and his wallet, and yet he manages to proceed down to the garage (which is locked from the inside) having grabbed only two out of three (and a couple other things, granted), and not realize it until he's closed that (locked) door behind him.

Cue knocking on the door, followed by grumbling, disbelieving Gina stopping whatever she's doing to stomp downstairs and bring him his keys.

The first few times this happened, I thought it was totally unfathomable that it could happen more than once.

But then I realized almost everyone has a signature stupid move - even in writing.

For most of us, our manuscripts aren't "born" perfect. It takes the sharp eyes of some trusted betas and critique partners to shine them up, and point out the things we fall victim to over and over again.

For some, it's passive voice.

Others (clarification: myself) have love affairs with crutch words like "just" or "well." (I recently read a published novel where the phrase "just shrugged" appeared so many times, I almost screamed. For shame, editor. For shame.)

Which brings me to repetitive phrasing - AKA, wait, you mean "crap on a cracker" isn't as funny the seventeenth time as it is the first?!

Or maybe your characters exhibit the same physical reactions over and over, sighing and rolling their eyes so often they might as well be having a mild seizure.

Obvious favorite in a love triangle? Make the other boy a complete douche, and don't bother giving your readers the option to like him (ding ding ding! Me again!)

Still, maybe your claim to fame is changing a character's name or physical description mid-stream without realizing it.

Or, you could be a fan of my latest stupid move: thinking you're done or almost done with the project, only to go through the first half of the novel and realize there are at least two or three more scenes that need to be written before you can show this underdeveloped mess to anyone without a massive dose of shame.

So tell me, peeps - what's your Signature Stupid Move when you write (or otherwise)? Which ones do you notice in published novels that drive you up a wall (and do you notice them because they're your own?)?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: AKA, What the Hell am I Doing?

Have any of you ever started a project, got halfway through, and found yourself thinking, what the hell am I doing?

That's where I am right now, peeps.

Most of you know the manuscript that landed my kickass agent was a contemporary romance. It makes perfect sense, considering I'm a romance junkie. I love reading it. I love writing it. If most other genres are coconut milk ice cream - enjoyable enough, a lot better for you, but just not quite as delicious - then a good romance is my ginormous bowl of real, chocolate-fudgey Ben and Jerry's dairy Heaven.

Yes, I really did do a photo shoot with a container of ice

So why, I ask, am I attempting to write a psychological thriller right now?

I'll tell you.

When the idea for this manuscript came to me months ago, it was as a paranormal romance/thriller type novel.

I let the idea percolate while I finished LYM, but as time went on, it seemed agents and editors alike had started to regard "paranormal" as a four-letter word. (Click the link for a great post by Tristina Wright)

Then I had the amazing fortune to speak to John and the Other Awesome Offering Agent on the phone. The only not-so-awesome part? They both confirmed my fear that paranormal is getting the cold shoulder in the publishing market right now.

Cue instant, intense panic. And sadness, because I like a good supernatural story.

I'd already started writing SP as a paranormal and had about 20K down. There were no vampires, no werewolves, no shape-shifting unicorns or whatever - just a not-so-dead dead girl. I should be fine, right? It's all those *other* things that are crowding the bandwagon, right? RIGHT?


(And just a side note on bandwagons: if everyone didn't clamor for the same one at the same time, they wouldn't have to abandon ship en masse. Though I suppose that's the nature of a bandwagon. *sigh*)

I had ideas for new contemporary romances, but they were just twinkles in my eye at that point, and I am a sloooow drafter.

Cue copious hyperventilation.

I think it was my CP Dahlia who said, "Well... does SP *have* to be paranormal?" (Not kidding, guys, I associate with geniuses)

That's when it hit me: No it does not! I can morph this puppy into a psychological thriller while still keeping the basic structure of the premise AND all the sweet-n-steamy romance! Wahoo!

The only problem? It was WAY easier to write as a paranormal. Like, way.

Developing a main character people can be sympathetic toward while also questioning whether or not she's completely off her rocker has been daunting, to say the least.

Which is to say: this mc is driving me freaking crazy with all her psychological issues and all her damn "feels," because I'm the one who has to do them justice. My original vision was much more cut-and-dry.

I'm finding that when I sit down to write, I wind up staring at the blinking cursor with my bitch face, like so:

Seriously, SP? You can't write your damn self already?

On the other hand, when I do finally manage to pull off a scene that I've mulled over for hours or even days?

It's freaking awesome.

So while I'm still a bit miffed at paranormal being mean-girled out of the market as punishment for its own popularity, the upside is that it's been an opportunity to challenge myself as a writer. I might be kicking and screaming every step of the way, but I have a feeling I'm going to be seriously proud of myself and this novel when and if I finish it.

Will it be good? No clue.
Will my CP's think I've lost my damn mind? Quite possibly.
Will my agent think it's crap? God I hope not.
Will psychological thrillers replace straight romance as my Ben andJerry's? I highly doubt it

But I tried something new, and that in itself feels pretty good. You know... when it's not making me want to go on a murderous rampage. And if it doesn't work out, I can still rock a contemporary romance like it's my birthday (I hope).

What about you, peeps? Have you ever stepped outside your writing comfort zone? Were you glad you did it? (And what are your thoughts on the current stigma against paranormal?)