Saturday, August 17, 2013

Working on something new, still working on something old...

I started out this summer with a couple of goals--keep querying I AM CARAWAY and finish the new YA manuscript I had started. I've managed to keep the first and I've sort of been able to keep the second. Let me explain: 

My something new:

Back in May I was in the early stages of sending out queries and sample pages of I AM CARAWAY. I had gotten a handful of rejections and a couple of requests for more material. One of the best pieces of advice for any writer is to always be working on something new. It helps the submission process to be more bearable, it gives you more writing experience, and it builds your library of material. And if what you're querying to agents (or what you're submitting to editors) isn't having any luck, then it gives you another option. I had been toying with several ideas for a while but none of them had inspired me to open up a new word doc and start writing. Then finally one day I got an idea that did. I jumped on it. It was a contemporary YA which is what all the agents seem to want--what pretty much all agents represent and prefer, as opposed to sci-fi/fantasy. I fleshed out about 10,000 words within a few days. Then I hit a block, or more aptly for me, a loss of inspiration. It had happened before with two other manuscripts. I knew where I wanted the story to go but I lost my steam to write it. Like most writers, I became agitated and restless during that time. I spent a lot of hours reading and catching up on TV shows and wondering why I was in a funk. It wasn't until I got a new idea for another contemporary YA that I started to feel good again. I opened up a new doc and got to work. This one would have a literary hook (think Jay Asher's THIRTEEN REASONS WHY or THIRTEEN LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES...odd that they both have the number 13...) Around the same time I noticed a hashtag among some of the writers I follow. It was #WIPMarathon, or work in progress marathon. I didn't really know how it worked but it looked like those participating were doing "sprints"--taking chunks of time and writing non-stop and seeing how many words they could get in. Participating made them accountable to people and following others tweeting the hashtag gave them encouragement. Since summer had been so crazy here and I knew I might not always be around during those "sprints," I decided to set myself a reasonable word count goal for each day. My own version of #WIPMarathon. It was 1K a day. Everyday I find at least a couple of hours (usually once the kiddos are in bed) to get in my thousand words. So far I have succeeded. Yay me! Since most contemporary YA novels are around 40-70 thousand words, at 1K a day I can realistically have this WIP done in 2 months. Today I reached the halfway mark. I'm super excited about this one. My first 250 words are strong (for those of you who don't know that's a big deal for contests) and so are my first 5 and 10 pages (what you typically send to agents as sample pages). I just hope the literary hook and premise are interesting and my writing is strong.

My something old:

As for I AM CARAWAY, I am getting close to a point where I am going to stop querying and call this one my "trunk" novel. Most writer's first novels are just this. Everyday I learn something new about writing. I often go back and try to apply what I've learned to CARAWAY but I will admit at times it's daunting. I love that story and I really hope to one day see it in print but I'm starting to think that day might not come as soon as I'd like. The market for historical YAs is tough and my added element of faeries as the fantasy aspect and medieval England as the historical one makes CARAWAY especially hard to find a market for. It's longer than the average YA novel and takes time to get into and that's not good for a debut author. Debut authors need to grab quickly and keep it short. I have a few more agents I plan to query and once I hear back, if none of them are interested, this novel will be put away. The good thing about all of this is that I can officially say I have my training wheels off. I know how to query and pitch, I know which agents might be a good fit for me and which won't, and I am a better writer now than I was before. It may not have been the ideal outcome I had when I started but I can't complain. My biggest fear after finishing CARAWAY and not being able to see through those other two WIPs was that I would only ever be able to write one book. I don't think that's true anymore. I know I will finish this new one. And I also feel much more like a writer now. I mean how else would you explain my funk without my creative outlet? (:

Well, that's about all. Check back next week for my review of the second book in the MARA DYER trilogy. I loved it and can't wait to tell you why!

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear what you have to say so please, comment below!