So, I finally got my release date for Finding Frances (!). It is:
Monday, February 3, 2020
I’d hoped it would come out before the end of this year so I could enter it in a contest through PNWA, but this is fine (I’ll have to wait until 2021 to enter it).
Other than that, there’s not much news. I’ve got my MFA residency coming up in January, and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be my third semester.
I’m working on finishing up the Now Would Be Good collection about my character Sarah, which I’ve now decided is going to be a novel in parts rather than a short story collection. Each part will just have its own arc, in addition to the whole book having one.
My critique partner is almost through Sadie Speaks, so I may pick that one back up and revise it.
I’m still shopping Ugly around, without much luck. I’m a little irritated about that one—I’m not getting as many bites as I think I should. They all say they want something different (which this story is) but it seems like they really just want the same thing as always. Frustrating.
I made the last edits I’ll make on Finding Frances and my editor sent it off for formatting. Once I get that back, I’ll approve it and then I think I’ll finally get a release date.
One of my critique partners did a full read of Ugly and gave me a few recommendations. I’ve implemented two of the three I plan to deal with before submitting to the agents and editors who requested it at PNWA and ECWC. Just need to do the last one…
Another critique partner is working her way through Sadie Speaks a few chapters at a time. That book needs quite a bit of revising, but she’s giving me some good guidelines for doing it.
I’m still working on the “Now Would Be Good” story collection that I’m going to submit for my MFA thesis. My critique group is going through the last story I’ve written. I need to plan out the next (last) story, or maybe the last two if necessary—I can’t decide.
I got my edits back from my editor at Wild Rose Press Friday. It was interesting, because there really weren’t that many things (she told me it was a very clean manuscript). It turns out I use the word ’t-shirt’ a lot—and their convention is to write it ’T-shirt’. So she changed that in each instance. And she did not approve of my many ellipses, so she removed most of those. And they don’t allow you to have more than one sentence-terminating punctuation mark, so I had to change a handful of ?!’s too just ?’s. I also overused the word ‘smile’ (there were 111 instances of ‘smile,’ ‘smiles,’ and ‘smiled,’ plus 25 of ‘smiling’) and had to rephrase my way out of more than half of them. They also have a specific convention they follow for texts, which I had done differently. (They do them in italics surrounded by em-dashes, like —wassup—) But that was really it. I went through it Friday night and yesterday and did a quick final read through this morning, and sent it back to her. So things should proceed reasonably quickly now. I’m hoping I’ll have a release date soon.
Other than that, I’m currently working on the last part of my book in parts (it used to be a collection of short stories, but I decided to not require them to stand entirely on their own, because they’re all about the same girl, anyway.). This is the book that the short story I’ve posted on this site, “Now Would Be Good,” will be a part of (though I’m going to have to rework that part a bit). I’ll have that done and somewhat polished by the end of the year, which means when I start the spring semester of my MFA, I will have all the raw material of my thesis. I’ll get feedback on that part and the end of the last one, and then I’ll be ready to start putting everything together as an actual thesis. I’m really hoping to get it mostly ready in that semester so that the fourth semester will be easy.
I still have queries out on Ugly, plus one partial. I had another partial out, but it came back a no. She gave me some actual feedback, some positive and some more critical, which will be useful if I hear the same things from other people. The main critical point was that she didn’t always understand Nic’s motivation and choices. I don’t plan to change those, but it might be important for me to clarify her reasoning.
I don’t even remember why I missed posting last week. I think I was studying for the math class I just finished. I took the final for it yesterday. This was just a precursor—a review class—of what’s to come in August, when I’m starting the real classes. It’s going to be tough, but I’m hoping it’s worth it to my money-making career.
As far as writing goes, I’m waiting on edits from my editor for Finding Frances. She should have them to me by the 29th, if not sooner. Then I’ll have 30 days to follow her suggestions (whatever they are; I have no idea what to expect). Apparently after that, things move fairly quickly. I’m hoping the book’s out by November.
I’ve also got two partial requests out on Ugly, which is good, even though I’ve gotten about fifteen rejections.
The waiting is over. I signed a contract with Wild Rose Press for Finding Frances on Monday. I don’t have many details at this stage, but I did have to submit some information for the cover designer, as well as the blurb, tag line, dedication and more. My next step is getting the final manuscript to my editor. I never heard back from Pearl Jam, which is a bummer, but not the end of the world. I’ll just have to go with my own made-up lyrics.
Right now the biggest thing going on is I’m waiting to hear about Finding Frances. It’s been with the senior editor for two weeks, and the editor I’ve been talking to said it should take no more than three. So hopefully I’ll find out this week if they’re interested in publishing it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it it they want to publish it.
I’m on my break from the MFA now, not going to be back until January. I’m going to finishing the collection of stories about Sarah, as there’s just one left to write (and four to revise…).
The other thing I’ve been focused on is getting Ugly out to quite a few agents, hoping that one of them will be interested. I also entered it into the BookLife Prize, a contest from Publishers Weekly that considers unpublished and self-published books. It received 9 out of 10 points and I got a really nice report back from them (they read the whole thing and give you some feedback). I’m including it here:
Plot: This story has many subplots that weave together seamlessly, with the most poignant being Nic’s struggle to identify her gender and sexuality. Things come to a swift, yet satisfying, conclusion.
Prose/Style: Vincent’s prose is straightforward and clear. Her talent shines as she develops Nic’s voice throughout the novel; Nic is unafraid and unforgettable
Originality: Nic is not your average teenage narrator. Her cynicism and honesty make even the most basic observations feel refreshing.
Character Development: Vincent’s characters are well-developed and in tune with their emotions. The story’s protagonist, Nicole “Nic” Summers, is surrounded by a cast of complex family members, friends, and frenemies.
Blurb: Readers will rally behind fifteen-year-old Nic Summers as she navigates the pitfalls of adolescence in this moving and timely YA novel.
I finished up my second semester of the MFA. Now that’s on hold until January, when I can start the third semester (stupid work vacation policy…). It was a good semester, where I got a lot of work done (I’ve done 36 of the 45 total short papers I have to do in my first three semesters) and some good creative work, as well. I’m still working on the short story collection about Sarah. I got one story completed and about two-thirds of the next one done. I’m working on finishing the second one. Then there is one more to write, and I’ll have drafts of all six stories. I expect to get this done during my semester off.
This week, I finished up judging for the two contests I judged for this year. Judging is mentally exhausting. I sort of want to just lie down and sleep for a week now.
Something I’m excited to get back to is the Ugly manuscript. I had one rejection from an agent, but the other agent and the two editors haven’t responded (since November), so I’m assuming those are no’s, as well. So I’m free to make the rest of the edits my last reader recommended. Then I’ll start sending it out en masse.
In other news, I heard back from the editor who has Finding Frances. She’s waiting on a report from a reader (she has to send an official reader’s report to the senior editor and I guess this person has been slow in getting to it). So it’s still in the running. I also made a little progress in getting the permission for the lyrics I need in the book—I have spent hours researching how to get this permission with no success—then someone pointed out I should just contact the band’s fan club. I did this and they told me they forwarded the email to the appropriate person. Of course, I haven’t heard back in the several days since then, but it’s progress. And I still have a solution even if I don’t get the rights—I wrote “song lyrics” for a made-up song and use that in the appropriate places in an alternative manuscript. It’s just that the real band has much better lyrics.
I’m still waiting to hear back on Finding Frances. I’m debating whether to follow up or not. I think part of me doesn’t want the possibility to be over, since I’m not submitting it anywhere else if this doesn’t pan out. Maybe I’ll follow up at the end of April if I haven’t heard by then. I probably shouldn’t seem uninterested. I don’t really know…
I mentioned earlier that I was taking a playwriting class this semester. I finished it up early and got good feedback from my instructor on the 10-minute play I finished and the shorter scene from a different play I haven’t written yet. She even said she hoped I’d write more drama over my little break (since I’m having to skip the fall semester). This has me sort of excited about possibilities and I checked with my playwright friend for how to submit plays for consideration for contests and production. I found one that my 10-minute would be perfect for (it deals with mental illness, which is the theme for the theater), so I’m planning make some revisions to it and submit it.
Other than that, I’m wrapping up the semester. I have four more papers to write and I feel very swamped at the moment (technically one of the papers is a revision of a rough draft, but still). I also have to finish up revisions to my creative work, though I really only have one scene left to revise so that’s not too bad. And I’ve only got about three weeks left before it’s all over. Then I’ll be halfway through the MFA, which is cool.
Oh, and there’s one more time-consuming thing coming up: I’m judging for two writing contests, one YA and one adult mainstream. Entries for both are due around the middle of May. Sigh. It’s rewarding but not easy.
I’ve heard nothing from the editor about Finding Frances. I don’t know what that means, because I expected to hear something sooner, but I don’t really feel like following up yet, so I’m leaving it. Hopefully she just hasn’t had a chance to take it to the senior editors yet. Or who knows—maybe the process takes a while. Me = clueless.
This month has been really rough. For reasons that I would be hard-pressed to explain, I’ve decided to apply to an online MS in applied statistics program (okay, there is a reason—I want to get better at stats for my job). I have to take a semester off from the MFA because of insufficient vacation days for the next residency, so I plan to start the stats degree this summer and take classes in the fall, then switch back to the MFA for a year, then back to the stats degree. I know, I know—I might be crazy. Anyway, the application requires the GRE, which I took today. Studying for that thing has sucked up so much of my time, and I still was disappointed by my score. Such is life.
I went to Starbucks immediately after the test and managed to write another annotation, though it took me hours. I still have to write 1 short paper, 1 3-5-page paper, and rewrite another short paper, all by Friday. My poor little brain.
Although I’m mostly lost in MFA work, I did get some news about Finding Frances this week. The editor who’s had it likes it and wants to take it to a senior editor. She told me she needed a synopsis and a summary, and I had to ask her what she meant by a summary. Then it turned out that she meant something different by “synopsis” than what I’ve always understood that to mean in the writing world, so it was good that I asked. Apparently, her synopsis is a very short summary of the story, somewhat like a blurb, except it hits all the major points including the beginning, middle, and end (rather than being a teaser like the back cover blurb). A summary is a longer-form version covering basically everything significant that happens in the story. I sent those to her Thursday and hope to hear back soon. If this doesn’t end up working out, I’m putting Finding Frances aside for good (at least until I have someone interested in another book).
I did also get a rejection from an agent on Ugly, the first of those to come in. Kind of disappointing, but it would have been quite a surprise to get some good news on my first round of submissions. One agent and two editors still have it, anyway. I also realized that one of the agents I intended to submit to somehow got missed and I never sent it, so I may send that one off soon.
That’s really all that’s going on in my writing world.
Well, I missed posting something last week. I didn’t have the book I was reading finished yet and I was too worn out to write a post. I still don’t have much energy, so this one won’t be long, either.
This semester is going to be intense. It started out that way because the first “month” was only 3 weeks and I was supposed to read five books and write four short papers in that time. I only made it through three of the books and half each of the other two, but I did manage to get the papers done. I’m playing catch-up this week. Then, I’m volunteering for five hours every Sunday at the writing lab of an area college, which takes a large chunk out of my weekend work time.
Other than that, thing are quiet on the writing front. I’m waiting to hear from the editor on Finding Frances and on the editors and agents for Ugly. It’s been about 1.5 months on the first and almost 3 on the second, so I’m hoping to hear soon.
I got back Friday from the residency for the current semester, which has already gotten going. I’m scrambling to get my first annotation done today for the book I just finished this morning, which I’ll be reviewing next week. And of course I have loads of other things to work on, too… But it’s all good.
I haven’t heard anything on any of the manuscripts I have out in the world, Finding Frances or Ugly, which is disappointing.
But one of the things I’m doing for the MFA is a strand called professional writing, which involves learning how to query magazines and journals for shorter pieces. Now, I really could figure it out on my own because it’s not that different from querying on longer projects. But the main point is to really try to get something published. So I’m taking one of the stories I wrote last semester—the shorter one—and prepping it for submission. I’ve contacted my line editor so I should have it ready soon. It sure would be nice to get a publication credit.
The other strand I’m working on is the pedagogy one and for that I will be volunteering at the writing center at Bellevue College. That starts tomorrow after work. Supposedly, they get a lot of students in there with personal essays for transfer applications. Still, I’m hoping it helps me learn how to judge/grade papers faster, as that was something I always struggled with when teaching before.
I’ve also expanded my platform a bit. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, kvbooks on both. There’s nothing exciting there yet, but maybe that will change. One never knows…
2018 was a tough writing year in some ways, but also good. I had a bunch of rejections on Finding Frances, but I finally heard back from the editor I sent it to in September and she requested a full. This is the last shot for that book, but she sounded really interested in the sample she read, so I am hopeful. I should hear in the next few weeks. I’m sincerely hoping that even if it’s a no, she’ll give me some feedback on it. I’ll be setting it aside, but it would be good to have some pointers on what to try next, when I do decide to crack it open again.
I also spent a good portion of the year frantically working on Ugly, my 2017 NaNoWriMo book, trying to get it ready for the PNWA conference in September. I had several requests on it, which is pretty exciting since those were my first pitches on it (six pitches and six requests, including four fulls). The five I sent are all still out there (I skipped one of the agents because she doesn’t like something that appears in one of my other books, so she probably wouldn’t be a good fit for me). I didn’t send them until early November so I’m not expecting to hear anything for a bit.
Also, of course, I spent half of the year on the MFA, which was great. I got two short stories done, both of which I’m happy with. One of them is going to be expanded a bit, but I like the short version and plan to enter it in some contests. I’m looking forward to the residency coming up and starting the next semester, especially the playwriting course (should be fun). I already made up my reading list and just need to get my faculty advisor to approve it or make her changes to it. This semester my mentor is Allison Amend. She’s written a few novels for adults. Still, I’m hoping to learn a lot from her, even if she isn’t focused on YA.
I also judged for the mainstream category of the PNWA contest, which was a challenge and time-consuming, but also beneficial. It still took up most of May. I was bummed not to final in any of the categories I entered, but such is life.
I was bummed not to do NaNoWriMo this year after a five-year successful run, but I had to prioritize the MFA. I may be able to do it 2019 because I won’t be doing the MFA that semester (I don’t have enough vacation so I have to wait until 2020 to start back).
Not directly writing-related but still significant to me, I also lost my favorite cat, Marvin, who would have been my muse if I’d had one. But I got a new little guy (Maddox) who’s actually a lot like Marvin. Not that he’s a replacement, but still. He’s affectionate but not overly so.
I suppose that’s it for 2018. I’m hoping 2019 has more actual good news in it than 2018 did, instead of just prospects.
I’m in the final couple weeks of the first semester of the MFA, which is pretty exciting—almost 25% done. I took three “classes”—pedagogy (teaching English comp), elements of prose (basics), and the primary packet exchange (short papers on craft and creative writing). I finished the pedagogy one by sending in my reflective essay earlier this week and today I’m working on finishing up the final packet. For the last class, I have to read short stories by three other students and provide feedback on that, but of course I’m waiting on people to post them (I posted mine last weekend because I’m a big dork). I worked on two stories this semester. The first has turned into a 14,500-word novelette and the second is a 4500-word story (the shortest I’ve managed so far). I’m pretty happy with both, even though I know they’re not done.
The next semester starts in exactly a month and I’m already excited about it. The theme of the feedback I got this semester has been that I don’t go deep enough into my characters’ emotions so readers don’t get enough of a sense of who they really are. So I’ll be working on that more next semester, among other things. I also found out I’m going to get to do a secondary genre study of playwriting, focusing on 10-minute plays. I have to analyze several for three months and then I’ll write my own. I already know the basic premise of the one I’m going to write, though I need to come up with an ending for it. I’m looking forward to this because it will be sort of fun, but also it will help me develop dialogue, since that’s primarily what makes a play.
I’m still waiting to hear on my submissions of Ugly. It’s been less than a month, so I wouldn’t expect anything yet, but still. The waiting game sucks. It’s out with two editors and three agents right now. And Finding Frances is out with one last editor. I should hear within the month on that one. It’s the last gasp for it, at least in its present form.