Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Git 'Er Done

I've never been much of a procrastinator. Back in school, I generally raced to get assignments done so that I could move on to more important things, like hang out and drink coffee with friends. I hated putting stuff off til the last minute and never, ever pulled an all-nighter to study or complete a paper. At any job I've ever had, if there's work to be done, I just get it done. End of story. I'd much rather be busy than sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

Let's be honest though. There are always those projects that I dread, that are mind-numbing or have no real deadline. Those are the ones I do, in fact, put off for a while.

So after another week off from In My Mind's Eye, last night I finally worked on revisions for over two hours. I just barely got through the first three chapters. And after looking back at some of my feedback, I realized there's still some more tweaking to do on those chapters. It's a much longer process than I ever dreamed it would be. As I mentioned before, I already completely changed the beginning, but last night I moved even a few more things around. I have a document started of the pieces I've been removing, and my original intention was to put those pieces back in somewhere else. Now I'm thinking the story might be ok without them. Ahhh, decisions.

I really, really want to get this completed and have the best manuscript I can possibly write in my paws before I start querying agents (and want this to happen by the end of January at the latest). I think I'm just starting to be afraid that I'll never be done revising, that there are always going to be more things I think I should change or move around. Like, when does it end? How will I know I'm really, truly done? Every time I think a chapter is complete, I decide to change it again. Is this going to happen with each and every chapter? Every time I open the story, I'm going to want to change more stuff?? Ugh. It's stressing me out just thinking about it.

I don't feel like I'm procrastinating about getting the revisions done, I just feel like I need more time to do them. Like, twelve straight hours of uninterrupted time to sit and read and fix things. And I will never get that much time all at once. Certainly not at this time of year.

But I know I'll get it done, eventually. Last night I was reading through my Twitter feed, and I follow a handful of YA authors. All of them seem to know each other. They respond to each other's tweets and offer encouragement and praise for each other's novels. I want to be a part of that community. More than anything I've ever wanted before.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ding Ding! Round 1!

One of my editors finished reading In My Mind's Eye already and provided me with some really good feedback. Basically she said the beginning definitely needs to be reworked because it doesn't have the same feel or rhythm as the rest of the book. This was no big surprise, as I couldn't agree more. So. Back to the drawing board.

The last time I tried to rewrite the beginning, I basically took what I already had and removed some paragraphs, rearranged some stuff, and then added a bit back in. It didn't work. It was still too...I don't know, wordy. I stared at it for a good two hours before finally just giving up. I think having a good week or so away from the story helped immensely. This time, I opened a brand new word document and just started the beginning completely fresh.

And guess what? It is SO MUCH BETTER.

I left the opening two paragraphs as is, which may or may not end up becoming a short preface. But the new beginning FINALLY flows right into the story, without a crapload of character description and background info. I think I'm finally getting there. I think readers won't get bored within the first five pages anymore, getting bogged down with so much info right off the bat. I think they'll now be curious to find out more...they might be scratching their heads a little until they get to the part where I explain why Sophie is the way she is. Which will still be towards the beginning, it just won't open with it anymore. But having some incentive to keep reading is a good thing, yes?

Hallefreakinglujah, you guys. I feel like this has been a major breakthrough. And I've only gotten one person's feedback so far! By the time I get everyone else's, I'll definitely have a bestselling novel on my hands. Er...right?

Anyway. It's Friday and I have a lovely low key weekend with the husband in front of me. It's the calm before the storm that is the insanity of the holiday season. I'll be pretty much booked every weekend through New Year's after this, so I'm planning on enjoying my down time! Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The title of this blog is completely stolen from my favorite website, Forever Young Adult. It means The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome. The main symptom I experienced yesterday (and there are several, you'll have to go to their website for the full definition) was "After finishing the final sentence, you stare at the last page for at least two minutes. An irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath are common side effects during this stage."

I experienced this not once, but twice yesterday. First, when I finished The Hunger Games at lunchtime. I know some of you have already read it, but holy crap, you guys. Must. Read. More. I'm totally going to go out & get the other two in the series this week. Then, last night, because I'm taking a break from my own book while my editors are reading it, I decided to start another little YA novel called Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr. Yea, I got totally sucked in and read the whole thing in about three hours, finishing it right before I went to bed (and completely ignoring my poor husband in the process- sorry, babe). I just could not put it down!

I don't want to get into too many details about it, but it's one of those books that really inspired me. I was a little bummed out by the ending (mainly because I'm a sucker for happy endings- and while this was basically happy, it still wasn't exactly what I wanted to happen). It was about the special childhood friendship between a girl and a boy who were both basically outcasts, teased and tormented every day at their school. Boy moves away, leaving girl to fend for herself, and she totally reinvents herself after a few years and a new school. Boy returns several years later and her past slaps her in the face- all the things she's tried so hard to forget come rushing back in.

I've often thought about writing a book about my experiences being bullied in grade school & then again in junior high. To be honest, I've blocked a lot of it out. I only remember that a few select kids decided just to not like me one day, and they made my life a living hell. I think that's why this book touched me so much. It's not something I really ever talk about- in fact, even writing it here is extremely difficult. I know a lot of kids go through this stuff and survive and turn out to be pretty awesome people. Some don't. I believe there were about four suicides at my old high school due to bullying over the past year or so. The reactions former classmates had to these suicides were somewhat interesting- a lot of people "can't remember high school being that bad". Um, yea, because you weren't on the receiving end of the bullying. But god...kids can be so ruthless. I can still recall the terror of stepping on to the bus in the morning, waiting for the relentless name calling to begin. The feeling of being so, so alone, without anyone to sit with at lunchtime. I didn't have a Cameron Quick for even a little while like Jennifer did in the story. I'd like to think that going through all that still made me a stronger person, but I'm not really sure that's true.

I am so, so blessed today to have an amazing group of friends, some of them still from high school. I would do anything for any one of them. I'm so blessed that after a few awful failed relationships, my heart was able to heal and I finally found my husband, my other half. The stuff I went through as a kid sometimes seems like ancient history, other times, when I'm feeling especially insecure, it's like it's still just simmering under the surface of my skin. Like Jennifer in the book, a lot of times I push all the bad memories away and struggle to appear confident and in control.

I didn't mean to get all heavy in this blog...but I do love when a book affects me like this. Regardless of whatever bad stuff it brought up, feeling inspired is always a good thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Outta my hands

Well, my manuscript is now officially in the paws of my editors, along with a list of questions/concerns I have about the story. A part of me can't wait to get their feedback, and the other part of me is totally nervous that they're all going to think it's a piece of crap and I should scrap the whole thing. I just hope they'll be gentle. This is my baby, my first ever finished novel. Even if it ends up going nowhere, I'm always going to have a special place in my heart for this story and the characters.

Sooo...now what? It's weird to not have it to work on for a while. So much of my time lately has been devoted to just finishing the damn thing, and then I spent about another week or so revising. But it's time for me to take a step away. I've been so involved with the story that I've been going through major insecurity issues over it again, comparing it to some of the other YA stuff I've been reading and thinking it'll never measure up. Sigh. I definitely think it has potential, but it needs a lot of polishing. Like, a lot.

So even though I'll have another round or two of revisions to do after I get feedback, I think for now I'm going to start creating my agent list. I've been bookmarking agent sites here and there as I steal names from the acknowledgements of the YA books I've been reading. I'm gonna nerd all out and make a nice Excel spreadsheet though to help me keep track of where I'm sending it and stuff. And I'll keep working on my query letter, which I will most likely end up posting here for feedback at some point.

I still have a ton of ideas for more stories too. As I mentioned before, I'm feeling a sequel to In My Mind's Eye...and I also have another little story I started long ago that I'd like to continue. They say practice makes perfect, and I'll never get tired of writing. Even if I suck at it and end up writing just for myself and anyone I can bribe into reading it, I'll keep at it.

Happy weekend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Comments, anyone?

Real quick- some of you mentioned that you couldn't post comments on this here blog. I think I fixed that. I always welcome feedback, so please, comment away!

Or, of course, feel free to continue to be a silent reader lurking out there.

I'll have a post later this week...nothing new to report at this time. I'm still plugging away on revisions so I can get my first draft out to my editors before the end of this week. That's my deadline- you editors (and you know who you are) will receive copies by Friday at the latest. Even if I have to stay up super late tomorrow night & Wednesday night to get the revisions done.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Revising is hard, mmmkay?

I've been sick for a few days, so I haven't really had the desire to pick up my manuscript and start making those much-needed revisions. I finally had a chance last night to sit down and start to look at the beginning of my story and try to figure out where I'm going to move some of the descriptive parts I feel don't need to be at the very beginning. I'd rather get right into the story and give background stuff later.

Wow. It was hard, you guys.

I opened a separate Word document and copied and pasted the sections I want to move over to that, then tried to basically start the beginning where I wanted it to start- with Sophie, present day, the day she sees Brody for the first time at school. But then I went and added back in a little bit of the background stuff- I still think it's important to know right off the bat that she didn't have the most normal childhood. It's vital to understanding why she is the way she is, why her friendship with Jenna is so strong. There's a fine line, I think, between getting right into the meat of the story but making sure readers know who Sophie is first.

I think I'm struggling so much because I just really, really want readers to feel compelled to keep reading after the first two pages. Plus, when you're querying, most agents will ask for either the first chapter or only the first 5-10 pages along with your query letter. This means those first few pages need to be amazing.

And I know this is the first draft of the first completed novel I've ever written. It's going to need work. And while I think it's a good effort, when I compare it to other YA books I've been reading I'm not sure it's anywhere near as good as those. I really sit and wonder how a reader will think mine measures up to the Meg Cabots and Sarah Dessens of the YA world. I'm proud of what I've already accomplished just by finishing it, but I definitely still have my moments of insecurity and doubt.

As I mentioned before, I can't wait to get feedback on it from my "editors". I actually plan on coming up with a list of questions for them before they read it, things that might be nagging on me a little bit to get their thoughts about it.

But for now, I still need a few more days to plug away at the first chapter. Sigh. Wish me luck!