Shifting Priorities

How is it March already?

What started out as a one-week break from the blog turned into two. And the only reason I’ve been remiss is because I’ve been slammed lately.
My critiquing responsibilities skyrocketed since the fall when I joined a new writing group. We meet monthly, and the week before, each member submits anywhere between 30 to 100 pages of their WIPs. Then those pages need to be read and responded to in time for the meeting. Needless to say, when that week rolls around each month, critiquing has to be the first priority.
My own writing often has to be put on hold, and that means my blog as well. I’m also a member of another writing group that meets weekly, so I sometimes have to be creative with how I divvy up my time.
This month another variable was added to the equation—my editorial pass on the collaborative project I wrote about a few weeks ago. 70k that needed extensive line and developmental edits. Hence the radio silence on the blog.
Now, I wouldn’t trade joining the new writing group or working on the project for anything. But sometimes something has to give, and more often than not, that’s this blog.
I’ve been blogging now for three years. When I started, conventional wisdom was that you needed to do social media all the time. Now, slowly but surely, people are starting to back away from that.

If you’re a totally new, unpublished writer who is focused on fiction, memoir, poetry, or any type of narrative-driven work, forget you ever heard the word platform. I think it’s causing more damage than good. It’s causing writers to do things that they dislike (even hate), and that are unnatural for them at an early stage of their careers. They’re confused, for good reason, and platform building grows into a raging distraction from the work at hand—the writing.

Do I regret blogging? Absolutely not. I enjoy it and I’ve enjoyed the connections I’ve made because of blogging. But that doesn’t mean I always enjoy the time and energy it takes to maintain one.
Especially when it comes up against my own writing time and professional responsibilities.

So that’s where I’m at. If I’m not here, I’m writing. Which is how it should be.
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Potpourri to Start 2013

So it’s been awhile. Between the holidays, houseguests, and a mystery illness during the majority of December, I haven’t had a whole lot of energy for the blog. But it’s a new year and a new beginning for all things writerly.

A few announcements to get me caught up:

  • First, applications are now being accepted for Taos Toolbox 2013. I found it to be a great experience and made a lot of writer friends through it. So if you want to take your craft to the next level, expand your network, and spend two weeks in the mountains of northern New Mexico, get your application in. 

  • I’m now reading slush for Masque Books, Prime Books’s new digital imprint. So if you have a great speculative story, check out the submission guidelines and send it in! 
  • Duotrope is no more—at least not in a format I can support since they now charge for access to the most useful parts of the site. This is disappointing, as I was a heavy user and proponent of the site, but such is life. If you are looking for a Duotrope alternative, check out THIS POST for your options. Happy subbing! 
  • Finally, be sure to check out L. Blankenship’s Kickstarter for the continuation of her hard fantasy romance series. After successfully funding Disciple, Part I, you can pre-order Part II. I was one of L.’s betas on this project, and I highly recommend it! Samples are available through the Kickstarter page

I hope 2013 is off to a fabulous start for all of you. Happy writing! var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”); document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-15029142-1”); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {}

Rebuilding Momentum

I’ve been a bit of a slacker lately. At least as far as my blog goes. I haven’t been able to post for the last couple of weeks. In fact this place would be a ghost town if I didn’t have comments from spammers to keep me company. Thanks, guys. Or, umm, bots.
But although the blog may not show it, I’ve been rather busy this last couple of months. Lots of writing going on, and there’s also been an uptick in my critiquing responsibilities. Then I had family in town for Thanksgiving. I basically spent the week before the holiday cooking and cleaning like a madwoman and the week of trying to stay sane. I survived, but just barely.
And now? Now, it’s back to the writing routine and my much-abused blog. I’ll be dusting off the cobwebs so to speak these coming weeks, so please bear with me.
In the meantime, here are some helpful links to help you stay productive:
Happy writing, and see you next Wednesday!

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Next Big Thing Meme

I was recently tagged by Fran Wilde, a fellow writer and friend I met at Taos Toolbox, to talk about my current Work-in-Progress. Be sure to learn more about her WIP Bone Arrow, Glass Tooth, which I had the privilege of reading part of at the workshop.

1. What is the title of your Work in Progress?

Fireproof

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, for starters, it wasn’t always a book. It started out as a short story. My response to a particularly bad season of wildfires—one actually got very close to my house. I wondered what it would be like to live under threat of fires all the time, how that would define you as a person and shape your culture. And the idea evolved from there.

Around that time, Wily Writers announced their YA post-apocalyptic theme, and I wanted to submit Fireproof. But I soon realized that wasn’t possible—my short stories are often novels in disguise, and Fireproof was one of them. So I set it aside and wrote Chicken Feet (which was accepted by Wily Writers and later reprinted in The Shining Cities anthology). I then returned to Fireproof with the new goal of fleshing it out as a novel.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

YA Science Fiction

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Let’s see if it gets picked up first.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?

I hate writing these. How about a paragraph?

Tanwen’s father trained her to be a survivor, but the colony will train her to be a spy. When a rogue collective takes aim at the colony’s water supply, she’s ordered to infiltrate enemy territory. Away from her family and friends, Tanwen must come to terms with all she thought she knew about her life. And when her mission objective changes from recon to sabotage, she’ll learn what’s really worth saving.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Representation, I hope. One day. Fingers crossed!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The idea was kicking around in my head Spring/Summer of 2011. Starting in Fall 2011, I started treating it as a novel and had a full draft by late Spring 2012. It’s complete and polished and I’m largely pleased with it, but still making the occasional tweak.

8. What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

The dreaded comparables question? I think this meme hates me 😉

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See Q2. I also wanted to explore a couple different themes:

  • Sacrificing what you want for the good of the community
  • How specialized education/skillsets can lock you into unwanted trajectories
  • We don’t have to repeat the mistakes of our parents
  • Grief and all the different shapes it takes
  • And, of course, hope in the future

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The southwestern setting is a huge part of the story, despite its SF trappings. Many elements are rooted in the culture and the people who make the high desert their home—and some things were ripped straight from the headlines. Granted most readers won’t care about all that, but it was important for me to have that extra layer of authenticity.

I also wanted to present a possible, if not probable, apocalyptic scenario because so many other books gloss over what happens in the past. In Fireproof, the connections between what happened and its impact on the resulting society are tightly drawn, showing the messy transition from apocalyptic event to resulting post-apocalyptic society. One of my trusted readers called it a pre-post-apocalyptic story, which is awkward to say, but in some ways accurately captures my intention.

***

Thanks again to Fran Wilde for tagging me!
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Delayed Miscellany

I forgot to post this Wednesday, but life and writing happened, so I’m not too repentant.

If you didn’t know, Gearing Up to Get an Agent (#GUTGAA) is going on right now, and I’ve been busy polishing my own pitch and critiquing others this week. And I got the good news this morning that I successfully entered the preliminary round for agent judging. Yay! Even if I don’t move on to the next round, my pitch has already benefited from entering.

I was also bestowed the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by the wonderful Jen McConnel. If you haven’t checked her out, you need to as she blogs about the writing life and provides insightful book reviews.

As a Very Inspiring Blogger Award recipient, I need to post seven interesting things about myself. Since I’ve done variations on this before, I’ll stick to writing-related things this time around.

1.  My Wily Writers story “Chicken Feet” is being reprinted in Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s The Shining Cities: An Anthology of Pagan Science Fiction. “Chicken Feet” is about a young girl who makes chicken foot ornaments, an aspect of Hoodoo culture, to survive a post-apocalyptic world. So please check out the anthology and the other great stories it contains.

2.  I won a partial request in this month’s Secret Agent contest through Miss Snark’s First Victim. Here’s a hint—it was for my YA SF story I’ve been working on. Keep your fingers crossed for me. And get your logline ready for the Third Annual Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction coming up later this year.

3.  I’m joining a new in-person writing group. I’m still keeping my current group of course, but this new group is comprised of members a little further along in their writing journey (think pro sales and book deals). I’m lucky to have been invited, and the first session is this weekend. Hopefully I’ll have more to share about this soon.

4.  I went to my first SF/F convention two weekends ago. And I lived to tell about it! It was a local convention, and much more focused on books and trends than fandom, which I appreciated. Worldcon didn’t make sense for me this year, but I’ll definitely be attending next year when it’s in San Antonio.

5.  I received my print of the cover illustration for the Fat Girl in a Strange Land Anthology – a reward I received for supporting their Kickstarter campaign to pay pro rates and bring back their magazine. I’m going to frame it and hang it along with the illustration for my story in the Memory Eater Anthology in my office. Cuz yeah I’m a dork like that—and I need all the inspiration and encouragement I can get sometimes.

6.  Elizabeth Craig will be interviewing me in an upcoming edition of the Writers Knowledge Database newsletter. If you haven’t signed up (which you can do here), you are missing out. The Writers Knowledge Database is a great way to find resources on craft, publishing trends, you name it.

Writer's Knowledge Base

7.  Finally, I picked up a copy of Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence after reading Janice Hardy’s interview with author Lisa Cron. This is the first craft book I’ve felt compelled to read in a long time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Okay… That’s it for me. Have a wonderful weekend and happy writing!

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