Expensive Cat

There's really not much going on in my writing world. Still working away on the Sarah stories (Now Would Be Good). I worked up a new synopsis of Sadie Speaks to send to my mentor in a few weeks. I'm also really frustrated—I applied to a postgraduate semester in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts—I was hoping to work with a well-known YA author on Ugly—but they're taking a long time to get back to me. I think it's a rejection, which means I should get started revising Ugly again, but since I don't know, I'm stuck waiting. I'm kind of disappointed, though. I felt pretty confident in my application. But whatever.

I'm also trying to decide if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year. If I do, I'll be working on my second romance. It isn't totally planned out yet, which means I'll need to spend some of October prepping it. I haven't done NaNo since 2017, when I wrote Ugly.

I'm going to be running a sale (99 cents) on my book for a week in November and featuring it on Bargain Booksy again, on November 10th. I'm hoping to get a few more sales than I did when it was still $4.99.

Now for a little rant. This guy:

Maddox biting computer
Maddox trying to bite my work computer

Is in big trouble. I have a Macbook Air that I bought in July of 2019, and about four weeks ago the screen died. I fortunately have Apple Care, because they counted the chipped glass from Maddox's bites as accidental damage, so it didn't qualify for repair under the warranty (even though the tech at the Genius Bar agreed with me that it was unlikely to have actually caused the damage). That was $100. Within 3 hours of getting the repaired computer back, this monster bit the corner again, chipping it. Then, last Wednesday, the screen abruptly died. So, either his biting really is causing the damage, or I'm just really unlucky (no, I'm definitely unlucky, either way). I have an appointment at the Genius Bar Thursday. I'm hoping Apple Care will apply again and it will only be $100 again.

Sigh.

Writing in 2018

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. 

Marvin made creepy by a Happy Light
My favorite picture of Marvin
Maddox posing for the camera by the window
The new guy, in a rare moment of calm

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. 

NaNo 2017 Update

NaNo is wrapping up and I’m pleased to say that I “won” Monday, though I technically hit the 50,000-word mark on Sunday the 19th. I’m not quite sure how I did it that fast, but I’m trying to finish the whole book by the end of the month. I’m projecting 80,000 words at this point. I think maybe the reason it went so fast is that it’s a semi-autobiographical story, so a lot of it was just telling what happened instead of having to figure out how things would go. Right now I’m in the middle of writing a visit to Glasgow, Scotland, which is really fun because I’m reliving the time I spent there (which was awesome).

Here’s my status as of this afternoon:

NaNo 2017 bar graph
NaNo progress

It’s really crazy. I should be at 43,333 by the end of today, but I’m currently at 70,855 and am not done for the day. 🙂

That’s all for now. I’m busy.

NaNoWriMo 2017

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual challenge where you attempt to write a whole “novel” in November. 50,000 words. That requires an average of 1667 (actually 1666.666…) words (5-6 pages) a day for 30 days. Then, at the end, you have a rough draft of a book.

Now, to be sure, that draft is pure rubbish. And probably too short, unless you’re writing middle grade. Even YA is usually 60,000+ words. So it has to be heavily revised and greatly expanded upon. But the main point is that you have something substantial to work on. It can be regarded as a very long synopsis with some actual scene writing. Most writers need that first draft to start the hard part of writing. Recognition of the value of that draft is clear in that it even has a nickname: “shitty first draft.”

Anyway, NaNo’s really hard. Each year tens of thousands sign up (in 2010 it topped 200,000 and last year there were 384,126 participants). And each year a small fraction of those people actually “win” (i.e. write at least 50,000 words). Last year it was less than 9%. The website allows you to track your word count and interact with other participants on forums. It even helps people coordinate to interact in real life (such as in “write-ins” where people get together to write).

But I’ve found NaNo both helpful and fun. I never participate on the forums, but it’s fun to watch my friends’ word counts go up. I’ve done it four years in row now (winning each time) and am about to start my fifth one. I used to have trouble getting myself to actually write. NaNo sort of trained me to write every day. Outside of November, I don’t write quite so much, but I do spend at least a couple hours doing writing-related work almost every day, with more on weekends. NaNo’s also good to break the habit most amateur writers have of constantly going back to the beginning to fix what they’ve realized needs to be changed—thus never making it past the first third of the book or so… You have to just forge ahead, no matter what you realize you’ll have to go back and change (after you get to the end of that first draft).

I’m scrambling to get ready, tweaking my 40-page synopsis (really, a scene-by-scene breakdown) after some feedback from my critique group. It’s going to be another YA novel, though I’m also trying to get a draft of a different novel ready for a beta reader since I won’t have time in November and she’s ready to read. And on top of that, I have two blogs that I post weekly to, so I’m trying to get some reviews ready for those (which means I’m trying to read a bunch, too). Just a few days left to get it all ready. I’m excited to start the new YA novel, which is going to be somewhat autobiographical, but also nervous because some of it’s going to be hard to write. However, people say writing about unpleasant memories can be therapeutic, so we’ll see.