Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Drafts

Now that I am in the throes of the (fifth? sixth? seventeenth?) draft of my MS, I can reminisce fondly about the good old days, the days of the first draft. I've read on a lot of these blogs how so many writers absolutely loathe their first drafts, but I'm in the opposite camp.

I love them.

I think I love them because they are still that daydream...there is still that excitement over what will happen next, that utter delight when I am surprised by the paths my characters take. My favorite way to figure out storylines is when I am driving~I put on the radio, and just let my mind wander. (The right music definitely helps.) And then, my mind savors that plot, or dialogue, or chracterization~whether it be in the shower, right when I wake up, or jogging~and I can't wait to jot it down on paper. What really helps me, when drafting, is to just type away, all in lower case, as fast as I can. I try and imagine my scene, much like a movie scene, and just type what comes into my mind. That seems to work very well, and I can get really authentic dialogue if I am really open.

However. First draft, is not where I am at.

As I polish my MS, at this point, it seems like it is scarier because it is getting all so real--people are reading this, my words, with the intent to sell, for the very intent of other people reading and buying my words. And while that thought is exciting (exhilarating! dream fufilling!), there is an element of fear attached. The leader of our critique group mentioned the other day that at this level, what people tend to do is fear success. And as scary as it can me, I can not, will not, let that happen to me.

I will be brave.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Writing and Mommydom~the Guilt Factor

So...I joined Twitter. Italic

Hi, Twitter people, nice to meet you. I'm Kara. I'm kinda new around here...

Still trying to figure out my place in that enormous universe. Seriously, if I'm being honest, Twitter kind of reminds me of when I had to change schools my junior year in high school. Um...yeah. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and instead of cool clothes and cheerleader outfits, everyone has all these brilliant, witty, fantastic things to say, amazing websites, fabulous posts, shiny new book deals...it's daunting, people!

But enough of letting you all into my own squishy sense of self-confidence. What I keep noticing, time and time again, is that a lot of y'all are...moms. And here is where I am fascinated, and where I have tons and tons of questions. How do you balance it all? I have a full life. I work in adoptions part-time. And I have a husband and kids ranging in age from 14 to 4. So that means I occasionally have to do laundry. And go to games. And ballet.

But writing is an integral part of who I am. And every time I pay attention to one area of my life, I still feel that good ol' Irish-Catholic guilt flaring up. (...Playing with the kids? Grreeeatt...but you didn't get to your word count for the day. ...You wrote ten chapters? Sure, but your youngest just asked you why you love the computer so much.)

Arrgh I am so neurotic!

I guess what I really want to know, is how other moms, dads out there balance their writing life with their personal life.

Do you limit how much time you spend each day writing? Do you have a daily word count. Do you ever feel . . . !!GUILTY!! for neglecting the little things that other, more perfect moms do: aka cooking homemade cookies, being on the PTA (yuck!), or handsewing every Halloween costume? (Please don't tell me that you can do all of the above and write. I can't handle hearing that. )

Seriously, I have been impressed, since lurking around the writing universe of Twitter, by how many of you have incredible websites, amazing books, great self-promotional tools, and are young moms. To oftentimes little kids. I would love to know how you do it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Archetypes in Fiction

Today was a very stressful day. *sad face* Had to go to court to finalize an adoption (awesome!), but got like fifty phone calls in between, and when I came home, I had a virtual Mount Everest of laundry (which I have yet to tackle....hence the blogging....ahem...).

But! On a brighter note, I am going to take my sons on a date to see Red Riding Hood before it leaves the theaters. Anyone seen it? Any good? Wait, don't tell, because I'm planning on seeing it anyway.

Which brings me to my post topic. Archetypes in fiction. See, every good fairytale is really just a take on one of the basic archetypes out there. Anyone every read any of Joseph Campbell's works or Women Who Run With the Wolves? If not, check 'em out. Really good stuff. Growing up, (and heck, even as an adult), I am a little wee bit embarrassed by listing reading as one of my hobbies. Because, let's face it, to the outside world (aka non-readers or writers), that doesn't sound very. . . cool.

But in our defense, if you've read a little Freud or Campbell, I have come to the notion that we as human beings read stories, listen to stories, as a way to connect with ourselves and the world around us. When we read, we are working though our issues, learning, and hopefully growing.

Some of my favorite classics are The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Chronicles of Narina, The Black Cauldron, Harry Potter--so it comes as no surprise that my current MS is basically a"hero's journey"--it's a storyline to which I'm always drawn. And everyone knows that the typical Romeo/Juliet storyline continues to thrill, with each and every new generation that comes along (loved Simone Elkeles' take on that with Perfect Chemistry.)

Anyway, so the next time someone makes you feel bad for reading, tell them to mind their own business. You're working.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Emotion in YA

I was having a personal pity party a few days ago, and went into my closet to unearth the dozen or so journals I have stored there, from 5th grade up until currently. And upon reading them, I was struck by how much emotion filled each and every page.

Anger, despair, heartache, elation, depression, love... I thought, boy, I was an angsty little thing, wasn't I? On the flip side, I was impressed with how in touch with my emotions I was, how much of my life at the time was spent living in the moment.

Good YA does exactly that. It takes you to that deep core of yourself, where you are insecure, hopeful, unsure--where you are truly you. As a writer, it's an excellent reality check to make sure that I portray my characters as having lots and lots of heartfelt, honest, emotion, that the readers can identify with.

My own teenage years are something I continually draw upon for my own books because it was such a magical time of firsts: first kiss, first love, first heartbreak, the first tenuous toe-dip into the vast ocean of adulthood. There is so much possibility. The world is wide open.

Now how do you feel about that? :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bringing You Up to Speed

Clearly, I have not gotten better about blogging. Ah,well. I blame it on life--my mom life, work life, wife life, writing life, and the fact that I was a teen/young adult more in the Breakfast Club/Friends/Melrose Place era rather than the whole Blog/Twitter/text era. But I'm learning. Acutally, I have discovered the joys of texting and am quite fascinated with Twitter. But I digress! Remember when I said I wrote another book? So anyway, I started querying in October November (admittedly, very, very half-heartedly--hardly got more than a dozen out for a while.) Then my writing partner finished her project and began querying right around January first--which motivated me all over again. My goal: get up to fifty queries out there and hit 50 rejections, whichever came first. I got rejected, of course. But after the first ten, it was cool--I told myself that this was the process and then I started on a new MS that I was really excited about. And then...one day...I got a request for a partial. And another. And another. Suddenly everything became very real and publishing my book started becoming more like a real possibility. My critique group, the fabulous Mondays, were awesome. So supportive, so encouraging. Of course you'll get published, they said. Love those people. And then it happened. Three requests for fulls, and by the end of the week, a couple offers. Wow. Blown away, I was. And actually, I still am. Every morning I wake up and pinch myself. It's real. In the end, I signed with the very lovely and eloquent Lora Rivera of the CG Literary Agency. She, from the very beginning, seemed to really get my book, love it for what it was, warts and all. (And it does have some warts--we're working on that.) So now, I have an agent, and am working on revisions. Oh, and the book, you ask? It's called FINDING PONY, about Jesse Sampson, a fiercly loyal fifteen-year-old boy, who, after a sickening experience in foster care, sets out to find his kid sister lost in the system, braving gangs, drug dealer, cops, and social workers. I'll talk more about it later, in upcoming posts. In the meantime, look out for my website, which I'm in the process of developing, and newer posts. I'd love to hear from you.