Thursday, September 30, 2010

Before: First Writer's Conference

I wrote a few weeks ago about submitting the synopsis and first chapter of KIN for an upcoming writer's conference. I was able to put it together and send it off on time. I discovered during this time that mixing e-mail, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and OpenOffice Write really causes formatting issues and that I probably need to just use Word (or Docs). Why did I have to learn about this when I mailing off something this important? We shall see if it came out acceptable this weekend.

Yes, the Writing for Children and Young Adults Conference is this weekend. When I handed in my submission, I couldn't help the nervousness and excitement that crept into me. A list of expectations keeps adding and crossing off in my head. Will I meet other fun writers? Will I get completely lost on the University of North Dakota's campus? Could an editor/author/agent actually read my story and like it? Could I even possibly win the award for most promising work?

I have researched many articles on suggestions on how to dress, what to bring, how to approach people, and what to say (or not). I have my outfit (I decided to go dressy) , a list of all the things I can possibly stuff in my Stargate bag (I have an accordion folder), and sheets of paper as back-ups if the GPS doesn't work (addresses are the best clues). You would think that I would be staying overnight (I am not--- one of my best friends is getting married Friday!). No, I am packing for one day.

And these were my thoughts before I found out editor Sharyn November was going to read my work. My friend Violet, who is also attending, started freaking out and told me that we were both having our work looked at by November. Checking my e-mail, I saw the e-mail that confirmed this news. We were both really excited and freaking out at the same time. Late Saturday afternoon, we will sit down with November for fifteen minutes to go over our synopsis and first chapters.

Sharyn November is the reason why I pushed myself to hard to attend this conference and she is reading my work. How did this happen? Why am I completely thrilled and terrified at the same time? The conference's website says it all: "Sharyn November is a senior editor for Viking Children's Books and the editorial director of Firebird Books. She has acquired and edited books by Laurie Halse Anderson, John Barnes, Charles de Lint, Sarah Dessen, Diana Wynne Jones, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Ellen Klages, Pat Murphy, and Nnedi Okorafor, among many others. " Diana Wynne Jones? She wrote my favorite book, Howl's Moving Castle! I read her Firebirds anthologies, and the authors and work in the books were amazing. I wasn't prepared for this, but I can handle it.

This is a huge honor. I am not having my expectations high. To me, this is the moment that I can have a professional in the field give me the critique that I have been waiting to hear. It might good, it might terrible. It could be in between, but whatever it is, I am not giving up. This is a milestone, a marker to where I should go. It is what I make it.

I will write an "After" update next week. Here's to a great weekend!

Natasha

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week

Being an avid reader and an aspiring writer, it is really hard to ignore Banned Books Week. Why are banned books a big deal? The American Library Association explains it simply: "Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week." Also, as Americans, it is against our freedom of speech according to the First Amendment.

There are tons of lists that you can find of books that have been banned. Can you believe books like How to Kill a Mockingbird, The Shining, The Grapes of Wrath, The Canterbury Tales, and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night have all been banned somewhere? How about the Harry Potter series, Bridge to Terabithia, and A Wrinkle in Time? The lists go on and on and affect both children and adult books.

This is an issue that is happening today. Right now Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak is under attack from a man who wants the books banned because it has"soft pornography". When the book is about a girl who is raped and how she deals with this traumatic experience "pornography"? This has caused a campaign over the internet speaking out against the proposed ban and the man's comments. This book was a Printz Honor Book in 2000 and is not only being attacked unjustly, but his reasons are disturbing.

I encourage you to go out and buy a banned book that you have wanted to read or go to your local library to check one out. Read one in your book club. Support banned books!

Why else should we support banned books? The article Censorship is rampant and lethal from the School Library Journal can explain it better than I ever could.

Time to lighten the mood! I found this web series called Book Club that I think is worth sharing. I think the characters are quite unique and cannot wait to see more.

Lastly, I wanted to share that my friend Natasha Nuhanovic's poetry collection is out! A big congrats to her and I encourage you to check out her writing. It is beautiful and moving.

Natasha

Monday, September 20, 2010

Into the Groove

There is a time when writing just flows. The story just comes out and it all makes sense.

I am in the middle of a rewrite and it feels really amazing. Even when I think my writing is terrible, I have the confidence that the story is better than ever. Or, at least I hope that I am this lucky. I remind myself I can always go back and to just keep moving.

I ended up becoming stumped after finishing the synopsis and first chapter for the upcoming writing conference last week. I am doing my best to sit at the computer no matter what for a certain amount of time. If I write, great. If I don't, I will be back again another time. I also try to sneak in a few words during the day as my brain wills it. It is great to have direction again even if I find myself lost from time to time.

Speaking of lost, check out this article from the Huffington Post and Andrea Cremer's blog about the ridiculous claims that Laurie Halse Anderson's book "Speak" is considered soft core porn. It will get you into the spirit of the upcoming Banned Books Week, I promise!

Natasha

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Deadline and the Synopsis

I have decided that deadlines are a good thing for me. In all the years I was in school, I think I missed less than three deadlines. I sometimes procrastinated until the very end, but I had it in on time.

The reason why I am late this week is for that very reason. Today was a deadline day to hand in the first chapter and synopsis of KIN for a manuscript critique at an upcoming conference. I have stayed up late for days and worked for hours to get this completed on time. I e-mailed my submission a few hours ago and it is an amazing feeling. Tonight I plan on exercising and sleeping, and then onto the rest of the KIN rewrite.

I really enjoyed writing the synopsis. I wrote a long outline and then shortened it two times until it was less than four pages long and almost 1400 words. As with the rewrite, it is hard to make those cuts to what you might see as important. You must reveal the plot and even the ending. If you can write effectively enough, someone will see the potential of the story in those few pages. It is scary and exciting at the same time.

One of the biggest struggles with this submission was trying to find information on the elusive synopsis. Why do I call it elusive? There is no real standards to the formatting to synopses. There are short and long versions. They are not the same as outlines. Yes, none of this makes any sense. It will be interesting to find out more at the conference. For now, I wanted to share the links that I have bookmarked.

Guide to Literary Agents- How to Write a Novel Synopsis
Carolyn Jewel- The Dreaded Synopsis
Fiction Factor- Mastering the Dreaded Synopsis- Condensing Your Novel
Del Rey Digital Writing Workshop- How to Write a Synopsis FAQ


After reading through this information, I know have realized I will never complain about a query letter ever again.

Natasha

P.S. Much thanks to my helpers during the editing/rewrite phase: Joey, Paul, Kris, and Violet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A New Beginning

"I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life?"
Alison Goodman (Eon: Dragoneye Reborn)


The rewrite has begun (again)!

I am learning more and more about writing every day. I know how to write. I can sit down and be dedicated. I think the challenge that I really need to sit down and work on is rewriting. This is where the real work sits because that first draft is for me. You don't want to read it, and boy, I don't want you to read it.

Once I read the first draft, I am learning that I need to crack down on my mistakes even more. Rewriting is necessary, especially since I don't outline. That's right. I don't outline my stories. I write down ideas, and most of the time know where it can go, but writing is a journey where I reveal things as I go. That is why a rewrite is more important more than ever.

This novel is going through a major change. I am redoing the point of view. I am cutting characters. I am changing their roles. I am even changing the name. Why go through all that work? I believe in my heart of hearts that this story has a right to be told. I could shelve it, but I want to give it a little more time. I want the first rewrite completed and then I can analyze where I am going.

By this time next week, I expect myself to have the first chapter and that sneaky synopsis sent off for the conference. I will start the rest of the rewrite. It will be good to write again (even if it is technically a rewrite).

I am reading an amazing book right now. I read this book off and on all weekend as I rewrote and edited the first chapter. It is called Eon by Alison Goodman. It is not only an Asian based fantasy, but it also has other characters that I would have never expected. And do you see that cover above? It is amazing and I love covers that almost tell a story in themselves. Definitely worth checking out.

Natasha

Currently... Update Edition

It's ridiculous how long it's been since I've updated here. Life seemed to pick up and fly. I decided maybe the best way to upda...