Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Weirdness That Ate Yesterday

I need to visit blogs today in a major way. (Unfortunately, I need to clean my house today in a major way also.) So much to do... and little kidlets around now to obstruct all activity.

So, we just got back from a ten day trip yesterday....

(Actually... every day is weird for me. I just told the son he couldn't have olives for breakfast. He came back to tell me that dad has given him permission to use the can opener. I told him he still couldn't have olives for breakfast. Now... he is having a brownie instead. I'm such a good parent.)

(This is after I had to end a strange argument between B and T that started when B started bragging she was the first one awake. "I'm the first one awake! I watched you wake up! Can you believe that? I was the first one awake!" I ended it by saying, "I was the first one awake and NO you may NOT hork my blanket. Go get a different blanket!" It's cold here in Washington.)

Where was I?

Oh. Yesterday. So, B locked the keys inside the car. I went out and tested two doors (saw the other two were locked and looked longingly at the keys) and came back inside to get the husband to break into the car. (We only have one set of keys... the husband lost my set.) The husband went out to the car and was half-way through breaking into the car when the daughter discovered she could climb through the back gate/window. I'd never considered the possibility that my daughter had locked each door individually rather than use the power lock on a door. (I should have.)

I'm also still struggling with that lame rib injury, but that isn't weird... so we'll set it aside.

So, I was on Twitter, catching up with everyone when I noticed an agent starting a thread on sex in YA. Most of you know I'm fairly conservative... despite the steamy vampire scene I posted on here a few weeks back. My big hot button issue is underage drinking in YA, but I do tend to post an opinion on sex and profanity in YA. Well, as much as I hate to debate, I got sucked into one. I've discovered few people are lobbying to keep YA with age-appropriate limitations... and "it's reality" is the new justification among YA writers. If popular media inspires reality than really we're creating this beautiful new reality involving sex, drugs, profanity, and no restrictions or consequences... but, once again, I don't like to debate. No one changes their mind... and I typically have people get all snarky and shout things like "I have different ideas on what's allowed than you do, so stop trying to tell me what to think or what to allow my children to read!" It never fails... and yes... it happened yesterday too. I just ignored it.

So, someone asked me for examples of books where there were no consequences to sex or drinking and I provided them. For sex, I pointed out that Shiver had absolutely no consequences to sex. (Wake was my example for drinking... but really it could be an example for everything, but I haven't read the later books in the series... and I won't.) Five minutes later, I was tweeting back and forth with Shiver's author. Yes... I was tweeting back and forth with Maggie Stiefvater. Yes, it was surreal.

Yesterday was weird. Our dog came back from living on the farm. (zombie dog?) No, he was being kenneled on a farm while we were gone. He had a blast and he seems moody today actually. I can hear him muttering, "I got to live on a farm and play with other dogs and no one told me to stop barking! What is this crap??? Oh... and she took me running. RUNNING! AND she brushed my fur. WHY did you bring me back here??? WHY????" No. I really can hear him saying that. Nanaimo is just like that. He's moody and he likes to mutter... more than other dogs.

Okay... enough goofing off. I should go do... things. *eyes laundry* At least I won't get into a debate with a best-selling author today over her sex scene if I'm busy doing laundry... there is that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Geeky Writer Gets Nuts

Okay... so I don't usually do this (create geeky things,) but I'm very excited about this dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA I'm writing. It's called "The Sentinel's Run."
I keep backing up to file away more back-story to reference.

I've adjusted pictures of my two main characters. This is Coby. He's the narrator and becomes a Sentinel.

This is Mori. She is radioactive.

Coby lives in Tereslay, a small farming community. At the age of seventeen, he enters mandatory military service for five years--as do all of the males at seventeen.

He travels to the Dunn which is the main military outpost guarding what remains of North America from an army of machines that have destroyed the rest of the world and made most everywhere inhabitable.

Anything with digital components can be turned against the remaining humans. The sentinels are fighting to push forward the "Line" which is a barricade protecting the habitable land from the "Anbot"/machine army. The Anbots send the machines that they've turned against the humans to kill them as well as digital crows to spy on them. (In this picture.)

Here is what remains of North America. The rest is either inhabited by Anbots, or destroyed and impassable. The dark section is the line which they're trying to maintain.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited about it. I've got a bunch more info tucked away like the ranks of the military and slang and speech patterns. It's going to be somewhere between 50K and 60K when finished... I think, and I think it'll be the first of two books, but I haven't worked that out completely.

So, now... I'll go rub my hands together in glee and contemplate the level of my craziness. BAWAHAHA!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Monet's Cathedral Within Us

Above is the Rouen Cathedral painted by Claude Monet. Below is the same cathedral... also by Monet.

Series of paintings were not unusual for painters. In fact, this was not even the first series of paintings that Monet did. What was unusual was the number of paintings. He painted more than thirty paintings of the cathedral. He, in fact, rented a place across from the cathedral. For two years, Monet painted and painted the same subject. He was fascinated by the play of light across the cathedral. He painted it at different times of day and in different weather. He painted and painted and painted.

What I find interesting about this series of paintings is:

1. It is of a man-made object. As writers, we're telling a story that has already been told. If you think otherwise, you're lying to yourself. All the stories have been told in one form or another. At the heart of a story are core motifs that repeat and repeat and repeat. There are not a million stories out there... not really. There are several stories with some changes. I remember reading a post by a person who insisted they had something that had never been done. Never. They were shocked when this wasn't greeted with excitement but more amusement at their naiveté. It's been done. It's been done well. It's been done differently, but it's been done. Now, you can try to bang your head against the originality obstacle, but this will produce crap. There is a reason that the stories have been told. They're honest and real and the story is in the journey. So, sometimes, as writers, we can choose to find the beauty in something that was created by others... in stories that exist and breathe.

2. None of the paintings are alike nor facsimiles of the original. For a more significant sampling of the complete series: The Rouen Cathedral Series. None seem like a forgery of the other. As artists, it isn't enough to be accurate. We must put the readers there. They must see what we see. If it's the fog of a cold morning obscuring our vision... then that is what must be. No one goes to the galleries to see the blueprints for the Rouen Cathedral Series. It's quite possible that some of the paintings are not *gasp* accurate. Art can be in the details, but it's mostly in the vision.

3. I wonder which one, if any, felt the best. Was there a "right" one for Monet? Was there secretly one that captured what he felt in his heart? Is that even possible? He spent two years working on this. Painting the same image over and over... and yet... not. As writers, we're often faced with POV questions when beginning a story. Whose story is it? Should it be in first person or third person? Should I write it in past or present tense? I've come across two recent "series" where the book was written from more than one POV. I'm thinking of Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" and "Midnight Sun" and then Julia Quinn's "Mr. Cavendish, I Presume" and "The Lost Duke of Wyndham." I know in Julia Quinn's situation, the books were written at the same time and they were intended to be published. I'm curious if she felt like one was "better" than the other.

The reason I'm thinking about this is that I just realized I need to rework the beginning of the WIP I'm working on, the Sentinel's Run. Unlike Monet, I can see that I haven't got the light right. I realized I need to rework the voice of both characters. While it'll retain many of the original characteristics and features, it's going to be a heavy makeover most likely. I'm trying to psyche myself up for this. Unfortunately, as previously noted, I have restless brain syndrome. I don't like to approach the same subject a second time. I can't tolerate repetition. It's the right thing to do, but it's not the easy thing to do. I believe the predominant thought in my head was "Damn! Really?" followed by a groan.

Above is a photo of the cathedral. It's beautiful... like our core stories. In its own right, it's a work of art. It's beautiful. It was crafted by Masters. We are not improving on a story. If we are merely retelling it. Sometimes the difference between a work of art and a nice painting is getting the light "just right."

So, it's back to work for some of us. Le sigh.

Oh... I'm still on vacation and my grandparents are here. Ta!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Writerly Moments

I'm on vacation right now, so I'll be light on the internet right now.

The longer I'm writing full-time--the more I find my brain trying to capture moments in words. My niece was married on Saturday. She was beautiful. Not in the sophisticated "I spent millions" fashion-conscious way. She was perfectly happy in the moment. Instead of being jealous--I was more aware of how perfect moments can be. It was too windy. Her dress was too "cream-colored" to wear in the temple. Not all her family could be there. It was so far from perfect, but she was marrying someone who she was so deeply in love with. Imperfect moments can be perfect. I don't think pictures will capture that and probably even my words won't.

There are so many moments in our life that are about the context and the feelings. Your first kiss. Your first love. The day you graduate. The birth of a child.

In this dystopian WIP, I'm trying to grab these moments in a setting that is far from perfect. In fact, that's the definition of a dystopian. An imperfect and flawed society. I'm loving this dystopian and it's going well.

Next week, I'll be back to normal. Things are going well. I have eight fulls/partials out right now. I'm afraid to jinx things, so I don't want to say more.

My son did manage to injure me rather impressively. He jumped on my back while I was laying down. His knees may have cracked one of my ribs. I've been on ibuprofen in massive amounts. This certainly wasn't in the plans for our trip. I'm hoping enough meds will help me pretend I'm not in pain so we can do the things we planned.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

As long as it needs to be....

So, I'm suffering from restless brain syndrome. I'm working on more than one WIP at once again. This time, I've added a Young Adult Dystopian into the mix. Normally, when I start a new project, I know how long it'll be. I can take a stab at its length. This time, I haven't a clue. It'll be as long as it needs to be but I have no idea how long that is. I did realize that I need to back up and add more into the beginning. I'm going to try to aim for 50K, but I might overshoot that once I flesh out my main character a bit more.

It's a good thing I finish WIPs every so often. I've got a lot at 20K that are sitting being thought about right now. I should make it a goal to finish all these manuscripts this summer. I just hope no more stories intrude. My body gave out before my mind last night. Ugh. My mind was still racing even as I was trying to get to sleep.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Glass Exists

I was recently talking with someone on Twitter about the concept of "Luck" vs. "God's Will." I know many of you don't believe in God, and that's fine, but it's something Christians take into account. When it comes to writing there is a certain "luck factor" in being published. Once you take into account all the monumental variables, you're left with that intangible variable of the right manuscript making it into the right hands at the right time.

It takes a certain amount of optimism to query. Each of the well-known agents receives around 100 or so queries a week. (Not an exaggeration.) Now, it's true that the bulk of those people shouldn't be querying that agent. (Not the right genre, manuscript not finished, they were never meant to be published) Whatever that factors out to--will be rejected and won't really be competition for you. Another fact is that most agents accept only 2 or 3 new clients a year. That's right. Out of 5,200 queries--they pick up 2 or 3. (I did the math for you-- it's .06%) On the other hand, I've seen a lot of the writers I know on Twitter picked up for representation lately. I've seen interns go through queries and so many of those are just not competition. I would bet that my competition for an agent's interest is closer to around 5 % of queries. Still, that's a lot.

The luck factor.

Query Tracker says there are 700 agents out there that accept fiction and are open to queries right now. That's a lot of agents. Nearly 300 say they accept Young Adult. Still a lot of agents. There is no way my ego can handle querying and being rejected or ignored by 300 agents. My goal is to query 150 before I reevaluate. I've been querying for a year now. I'm not admitting to how many queries I've sent out. (That's like a woman's weight as far as querying writers go.) However, I will say that 28% of the time I get a request for a full or a partial when I get a response.

So, what does this all mean? Am I complaining? Am I excited?

It's hard to say. People with OCD are, by nature, pessimistic. The world is a hostile place to us. You crazy nuts don't play by our rules. So, when it comes down to numbers, it's hard for me to be optimistic when my glass is always half empty.

But I write fiction--I believe in fantasy and strangely enough that factors into my optimism. So many variables, though. For me, the chief, trumping variable is God's will--or the luck factor for those that don't believe in God. It's not something that you can control either way. I really like to have control. My life is about control. Le Sigh.

Anyway, this was sort of rambling... and I'm watching Mythbusters at the same time. I'm guessing my family will still find the numbers interesting, though. So, that's the numbers that I face before the trumping variable. It's just... I'd like to know what that variable has in store for me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rejected for You, Baby!

I received my second self-rejection today. (Some of you may remember that the previous agent kept my rejection and I didn't get the chance to reject myself.) So, I have one self-rejection still out.


This was a rejection on Curse Me A Story.

Here it is:

(Sung to the tune of Gilligan’s Island Theme Song)

Oh Dearest Author of this tale,

A tale of a dreadful curse

It might have worked out for my list

And vampires would be worse

Unfortunately, I’ve got a heavy load,

And I can’t take any more on

Maybe if one of my clients dies

But by then, you’ll probably be gone. By then, you’ll probably be gone.

Your jokes were music to my ears

I nearly swallowed my tongue

If it weren’t for all those other clients….

Darn it… where’s my gun? Darn it… where’s my gun?

I’ve a list of victims now and you’ll be takin their place

Maybe this guy?

No, he’s so hot.

This millionaire or his wife?

The movie star?

The professor! He’s getting canned!

Soon you’ll make my list!!!

Until then… best regards,