Saturday, January 22, 2011

Conflict? Yeah, right. Secret #2 Revealed

So, I'm reading Writing the Breakout Novel, right? Under the Plot chapter is the topic of conflict.  But prior to this, Donald Maass recommends reaching deep into yourself and pulling out the real stuff to write the great stuff.  In doing so, and applying it to conflict, I have now realized what a peace maker I am.

So HOW do I write about conflict when I do everything in my personal life to avoid it?

Let me back up.  For those of you who know me, I'm sure there are varied opinions on this topic as it applies to me. And I think that's because I work so hard to AVOID conflict that I end up exploding, like a volcano, and creating more than if I had just spoken up in the first place.

See?  This is me: always smiling.
And usually, the more I feel-good or bad-the more I smile.
Very deceiving, isn't it?  Especially when that smiling face suddenly morphs into a crazed, screaming woman-whom everyone in my life has met at some time.  As much as I've tried to hide her.

Anyway, because I generally dislike conflict, I think I'm finding it very hard to incorporate into my fiction.  But then again, I hate reading happy "Mamby Pamby Land" books where everything smells sweet and feels perfect.  THAT ought to tell me something.

DUH!  I'm conflicted.  That means, if I write it, I can no longer pretend it's not there.  Or can I?  Well, maybe that would deepen my sense of inner conflict and enhance my novel.  So, THAT'S IT!  I'll keep the conflict going until I've gotten my way.

And, true to the self I've always wanted to be...I hope my novel "gives you hell" the same way it's given me HELL!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Well...that's CRAP!

As I look at my novel through new eyes, I realize how many parts of it are CRAP.  That's not to say I'm a bad writer, it means I've grown.  I now see scenes with more clarity.  Before, I thought they had a purpose.  Now, I know they don't.

But that doesn't mean I have to get rid of them forever.  I can either reincorporate them later in the book, where they'd have stronger impact or keep them for future novels.  Either way, they're axed.  And it HURTS!

So, instead of giving up, I'm dealing by building a bigger, better novel.  I'm tightening things up--hammering words and thoughts into place.  It only makes sense.

I have faith.  I know I'm on the right path, because I see the signs.  Like I said in a previous post, I'll be attending SCBWI's Winter Conference in NYC.

And Sara Zarr is going to be there.

Why is this a sign?  Because she writes the most amazing realistic teen fiction novels.  Not fantasy, paranormal or vampires!

 (Not that I have anything against any of those genres-but YAY for me!!!!!!)

 And WHY does this matter?  I write realistic fiction and a few years ago it seemed that my genre was never going to come of age, again.  Now, I have more hope than ever.  There COULD be a Judy Blume type revival. And I'M READY!!  I don't think reality ever went away--it just sort of faded into the background of teen novels.  But with amazing authors including Jay Asher and Jo Knowles bringing it back with their talent, I believe the best is yet to come.  And I hope I'm one of them.

So, while I hope, I'll continue to axe and hammer my novel until I get it right.  It's the only way I'm going to get anywhere.  Yeah, it hurts, but I'll survive.  I have to.  I started this.  I'm not one to quit, EVER.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Learning from the best...

I'm not sure what is exactly appropriate for me to reveal, so forgive me if I'm a little vague.  But this blog is devoted to my writing experience.  I think it's only fair I speak a little about what I'm going through.

A few months ago, I submitted my novel to a new, small publishing house.

I waited for a response.  I tried to be patient and optimistic.  It paid off.

Shortly after the first of the year, I inquired about the status.  I was shocked speechless to receive the most amazing email.  It started with great praise, continued with suggestions and ended with inspiration.


From what I've heard about the writing/publishing industry, not too many people.  So, I'd be stupid NOT to listen to words of advice given.  I immediately ordered Donald Maass's Book Writing the Breakout Novel.

Every paragraph resonates through me.  Every question he asks rocks my world.  AND I am going to his seminar in March-SWEET!!

I am truly happy I bought this book long before his seminar.  Let me tell you-it's forcing me to dig deeper into myself than ever before.  And, kind of hurts...A LOT.  But according to Mr. Maass that's the stuff breakout novels are made of.

This is why I started writing learn about myself, to deal, to FEEL.  I just didn't expect "it" to actually happen, I guess.

What's "it"?  I don't know?  Success?  Publication?  Both?

I started with the intention that no one was actually going to read my words.  But that's changed.  So, I guess I have to as well.

Here goes, I guess....It's back to revising and reaching deeper into myself than I ever thought possible.  And I want to THANK those who are helping me-you know who you are! :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NYC here we come! AGAIN

The countdown to Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 2011 Winter Conference is on!!!

 Sera and I at our first SCBWI Winter Conference
This is my fourth time going.  I'll never forget how overwhelming my first experience felt to me.  Not only am I a small town girl, but five years ago, I wouldn't even call myself a writer.  I've come a long way since then.  I'm still a hillbilly, for sure.  I mean, the sight of skyscrapers still make me gasp and I giggle on the subway or in a taxi.  But now, at least, I can call myself a novelist.

But am I new?

How do I legitimately label myself?

Does it even matter?

I am going with two friends: Sera and Nicole.  Maybe I should start there...what do I call them?  Writers, of course!  And they are BOTH novelists because they have completed novels.  BUT SO HAVE I!  (I've even submitted it, which, by the way, was a very rewarding experience.)

Why can't I be so kind to myself?

Sera and I even attended a publishing launch party last year!  

All of these questions are directly related to one thing: MY OWN FEAR.

Yeah, I know....for those of you who know doesn't fit into the picture of me.  But it's true!  I'm scared-OUT OF MY SKULL.
Shameless photo from my disaster relief trip to Haiti. NOTE: I was at the local  cemetery learning about Haitian burial rituals

But on the other hand, maybe it fits me better than I'm ready to admit.  Fear is healthy, normal.  It's what you do, or DON'T do, with it that counts.  So, fear and all, I'll take myself to the Big Apple, sandwiched by writer friends.

This year is going to be different, I can already tell.  A lot has changed in the past year. Some of it has been fate, but most of it has been personal effort.

I am a Young Adult Novelist because that is what I've made myself and no other adjective needs to be added.