Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Awkward Introductions

Well, it's technically Tuesday, right? *grins* I'm going to post this now rather than in the morning because I don't think I'll have time later. I promise I'll read everyone's, though!

Also, sorry for the doom-and-gloom post on Saturday, but thanks for the cheery comments! The you-suck soundtrack was blaring rather loudly in my head, but it was combated with a healthy dose of determination, brand-new orange-flowered Wellingtons, and charlieissocoollike. :)

In any case, Rose and her werewolf shadow have been chased out of Paris by a gryphon, which seems to have finally gotten tired of looking for them. That's when Rose starts asking questions.

I sincerely hope the dialogue is right this time around. *bites fingers*




Sunday, June 27, 2010

Writer's Block

(Warning: rather uncheery post ahead.)

Yes, my friends, that evil thing has attacked me. I'm not sure what exactly has me stuck - I think it's a combination of laziness, frustration, and flat-out fear. The scene I'm attempting to work on (and yes, I work in order, I hate skipping around) is just not working out. Possibly because I already wrote it, in a sense, and all of what comes after it as well, so I am used to these characters as they will become, not as they are in this point in their story. Which is weird.

Also, I'm trying to keep in line with the historical and rather dark new tone of this but to me, it just feels stilted and disjointed and I'm never sure if I'm doing the right thing.

Yes, yes, I know. Edits. Edits are key. And they are indeed wonderful. But tone is not something that can be fixed with edits - that's the whole reason I'm rewriting A Bridge to War from scratch. And I think rewriting it again, if I get it wrong again this time, will not only be annoying as all hell but a complete waste of my time.

But anything I say about my current state of writer's block just seems like an excuse, and often not a very good one at that. The long and short of it is that I feel rather off whenever I try and write, and so I've not been forcing it.

I think part of the reason I'm so stuck is that I don't really know where I'm going with this. I'm not sure just how many plot elements from version one I'm keeping, and how to make them work in version two, and how to work all that around existing historical events.

What I think I'll do tomorrow is outline the heck out of this and see if that helps at all. I sincerely hope it does.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: As One Door Closes...

... a gryphon tries to eat you.

After Rose and Avar's (still referred to here as "the werewolf") initial meeting, Rose discovers why he was in her alleyway and stealing her laundry - he's trying to get away from the determined gryphon who wants to eat him. And then, when she appears, the gryphon decides she would make a nice dessert.

Also, to anyone who might know more about the layout of Paris in 1789 than I do, firstly I apologize if there is not a gate or a wall in this particular location; the map I have seems to suggest that there is. And secondly, TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.



Friday, June 18, 2010

Blog Awards!

Shiny new layout is shiny. ^_^

So I have just received a blog award! Yaaay! Actually, I got the same one from three different people. Hehe. Karla Nellenbach, Caitlin Darrell (who spells her name right! :D), and Ellen all gave me this award:

And of course, blog awards always come with lovely sets of rules. Which are as follows:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

So, seven things about me.

1. I have been dancing since I was four years old.
2. I read each of the last three Harry Potter books in eleven hours or less (eleven hours for each one, not for all three!)
3. I have two cats, and they are adorable.
4. I am Curtain Master at my sister's dance show tonight!
5. Did I mention I went to go see Neil Gaiman?!?!
6. I am quite tempted to start videoblogging. And maybe writing songs?
7. With the possible exception of my writing, I am really not that interesting.

So, because I am a fail and don't know that many people (and because this award seems to have gone around to half the universe already), I'm going to cheat and only do five.

1. Ella Fastiggi of The Language is Broken.
2. Claire of Confessions of an Anime Lover.
3. Race of Creare.
4. Amber Forbes of Amber's Editorial Dream.
5. Dys of Fabrica Scribendi.

Woot! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh. My. God.

I apologize for not posting a teaser yesterday. I know excuses are lame, but I have a very good excuse.


Aside from the fact that Stardust and Good Omens are some of my favorite books ever and Coraline and The Graveyard Book are the cleverest and scariest and most unique and most interesting children's books I've read since I was a kid, this was amazing because I got to sit in an auditorium with 600 other nerds (one of whom was, of course, my best friend Ella) and listen to grown-up (although Neil insists he is not a grown up) authors talk about things I think about every day. Because I am a writer, and I spend most of my time at school and online with other aspiring writers, I do know that writers aren't otherworldly, unapproachable, godlike beings, but still, it is an amazing thing to hear one of your favorite writers talk about things you think about and agree with your opinions.

Ella and I had no idea what to expect from an event like this, never having gone to any author events (something, I think, that this experience has changed. I fully intend to go to EVERY author event I can from now on). Also, it was New York City. And Neil Gaiman. And the event was free, and on a first-come-first-serve basis.

So we arrived at Columbia Teacher's College at NOON. The event did not begin until 7.

Blogsphere, I think I can safely say that we a) were the first ones there, and b) are some of the nerdiest people on the face of the planet.

We actually didn't sit around at the door for seven hours. We got there, talked to a security guard who was not even aware there was an event there that day, and then walked the few blocks back to Morningside Park, where we spend four hours in the company of a lovely picnic lunch, some SPF 100 (because we are pathetically pale), and a Mister Softee ice cream truck that insisted upon driving back and forth in front of the park nonstop for at least two hours. It was a lovely afternoon, and we started up what might turn into a video blog of our adventures this summer.

At four, we went back to the college to wait. There was no one else there, so we sat down on the steps of what we thought was the front of the building. I pulled out Ella's copy of American Gods and started reading it, holding it up so that any passing nerds could see "Neil Gaiman" in big letters on the front and come tell us what to do. It worked - we met a very nice young man who said he was waiting around the other side of the building, so we followed him. This was when we found ourselves first in an actual line. Whoa.

This was also the weird part of the day. Out of all the nice, nerdy people, Ella and I also ran into a rather creepy guy who was blatantly hitting on us from 4 in the afternoon till the show started a little after 7. (Seriously, I think I must have gotten an "I heart creepers" sign tacked to my back without my knowledge, because although that is most definitely not true, I seem to attract only the REALLY weird people at nerdy events.) But the original guy who showed us where to go was very nice (and also an aspiring writer) as was the woman who wound up sitting next to me. Nerds are great people. :)

At about five o'clock, they opened the doors without telling us and we discovered that there was another line forming inside. So we went from being first to being about twentieth in line, but that didn't really matter. We still wound up in the second row. And we got in, which we hadn't been certain of that morning when we set out, so our goal had been achieved!

And then, around seven, all the authors filed in and began to talk. They were promoting an anthology Neil Gaiman had edited with Al Sarrantonio. In attendance were Kurt Andersen, Lawrence Block, Jeffrey Ford, Joe Hill, Kat Howard (whose story in this anthology is her first published work and was written in 19 hours and then sent off. WHOA), and Walter Mosley. Everyone except Walter read an excerpt from their story, and all of them sounded really interesting. I am not a big fan of short stories, but I do like hearing authors read aloud from their work (I'm going to have to work on that, considering that I HATE doing it...).

After that, there were moderator-directed questions and some audience questions, and while Walter Mosley basically stole the show, I was sitting there drinking in every word Neil Gaiman had to say. He said some pretty hilarious things (including telling one audience member what a question was when he had forgotten what to say), but I think one of my favorites was when he was talking about unexpected plot twists. He was saying that it is not so much the character popping up and taking the bit and running away from you, which I hear about a lot and which has always sort of worried me, because that doesn't happen to me. I've always worried that because that's never happened I was writing my characters incorrectly or something - because they weren't directly bossing me around (other than in a "write me write me write me NOW" sense), they weren't as real as I wanted them to be. But Neil Gaiman was saying that for him, it isn't so much a character running away with the plot as the realization that what you have been planning inevitably and logically leads up to something that you had not been planning. And that, to me, makes complete sense.

After that, we joined the crowd of people thronging around Neil and I got Ella's copy of American Gods signed and could not think of anything to say to him (honestly, when the person before you says that he is an inspiration to her every day and thank you for all the beautiful words, and all you can think of is "Stardust is one of my favorite books, I love it," your mouth just sort of stays shut) and then we wrestled our way out of the building and headed back to the subway. Where, of course, the extreme brilliance of the day was capped by a man subway surfing with a guitar.

And then we went to Port Authority, waited around, caught a bus, and went home to have a much needed cup of tea. There really were too many fantastic things yesterday to take in. Considering that I woke up today with a splitting headache, I think I still can't quite process it.

But you know what? It was absolutely, positively worth it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Because John Green is a Genius

So at school, I met another writing major named Sarah. Sarah is a Nerdfighter - specifically a "person who is made out of awesome instead of blood and organs and things," and unspecifically part of an internet community started by John Green and his brother Hank. Sarah told me some pretty cool things about Nerdfighting and about John Green's books. I had heard of Looking for Alaska and wanted to read it because I heard it was pretty good.

Cue summer. As I was finishing up Letters to Oliver, I took breaks/procrastinated by watching John and Hank's vlogbrothers on YouTube. Yes, all 678 of them. (I obsess over things. Whoops.)

I have also read all four of John Green's books, and own two of them. So I can say two things with extreme confidence: one, that I am now a bona fide Nerdfighter, and two, that John Green is an amazingly talented writer.

Looking for Alaska, which of course has nothing to do with the state, is a really powerful book. It is raw and honest, both in an emotional sense and in a sense of the action on the page. It absolutely feels real, which is one of the reasons it is so heartwrenching. It is broken into a "before" and an "after," and because I knew that, and because of the title and the summary, I knew exactly what that before and after were leading up to. But really, that didn't matter. The book still made me cry, and while I will admit that I cry like a small child at movies and Broadway shows, it usually takes a lot in a book to make me cry. But John Green has this amazing talent for blending the poetic with the starkly realistic, something I'll talk more about later.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is his most recent book, but I'm going to talk about it now because I'm going in order of how much I liked them. Not that I disliked either Looking for Alaska or Will Grayson, Will Grayson - they were both great; I just liked his other two a little bit more. WG,WG tells the story of two characters with the same name who meet up and whose lives become intertwined. This is a really good example of the other thing I love so much about John Green - his quirky characters. His characters always seem to have at least one defining quirk. Pudge in Looking for Alaska memorizes famous people's last words; Colin in An Abundance of Katherines loves anagramming; Q in Paper Towns is always nervous. John's Will Grayson has rules for life and likes keeping himself perpetually average. His side characters are all well rounded as well - Tiny Cooper, for example, is just hilarious, and I can absolutely imagine a person like that. WG, WG is a particularly good example of John Green's amazing characterization because it is cowritten by David Levithan, and his chapters, possibly because of the IM-ing style, were not as captivating. We're so much in the head of the all-lowercase and rather emo will grayson that none of the other characters pop at all, and don't really catch my sympathy. Tiny Cooper can be annoying as all hell, but I still want to give him a hug; on the other hand, I just want to punch Maura in the face.

An Abundance of Katherines
is much more lighthearted than anything else he's written, and I really want to give Colin a hug. This book was quirky and fun, but it didn't throw aside the bigger issues that John Green likes to make us think about - he just looked at them from a different angle. Also, this book has footnotes. Humorous footnotes are some of my favorite things ever, and there are lots of them in this one. And because Colin is a former child prodigy, you learn a lot of interesting things from it as well - like why the shower curtain blows into the shower, and not out. And that Tesla liked pigeons. I think the only problem I had with this book was the ending - it felt a little bit "and the moral of the story is" to me, but it made sense within the book, I guess, as the prologue was like that as well. All in all, however, this was fun and I enjoyed it very much.

Paper Towns
, however, might just be my new favorite book. It is absolutely, blow-your-mind amazing. Remember when I said that he's got this amazing talent for blending the poetic and the realistic? Well, if he did that well in his first book, in Paper Towns, his third, he has absolutely perfected the technique. I suppose it helps that the book has an awful lot to do with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," but still. The book is all about misimagining other people, which everyone does, all the time. And Q explains it perfectly.

When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out. -- Paper Towns, pg 302

Not only is the plot thrilling and the prose absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, the ending - which is possibly the hardest part about writing fiction, as it is inherently fake; the only way things end in real life is with death - is PERFECT. Obviously I can't tell you why, but it is bittersweet and beautiful and just absolutely PERFECT.

I'll stop fangirling now and will instead implore you to go read some John Green books - especially Paper Towns. He is amazing, and you won't regret it.


Btw - John reading the prologue of Paper Towns.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Werewolves and Laundry

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

This is from the start of my A Bridge to War (and yes, I'll be keeping that title, at least for now, even though it's more a revolution and not a war...) rewrite. Anyone who was on FNW with me the other night will recognize this (sorry!) but I've been editing more than writing lately, so... there it is.

Hope the dialogue this time around is better!



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Epic Rewrite Time!

Song of the Day: I Know (A Song in Ten Words)

Now that I have finished Letters to Oliver, have handed it off to my dear friend Erin and am not letting myself think about it till it's time to dive in for revisions, I have started the monster project for this summer - revamping (all right, rewriting) A Bridge to War. I wrote about 900 words just last night, and I am quite pleased with it so far. Already it feels darker and more realistic and more historically accurate and more interesting and just all around better.

I had originally planned to rewrite the things that needed rewriting and salvaging as much as I could from previous drafts, but after last night I'm not sure that's going to work. In 3 pages, which will probably amount to about half a chapter, and less than 900 words, I said what it took me 17 pages, 2 chapters and over 5,000 words to say in the draft I was previously sending out to agents. Good Lord, but this thing is overwritten. Still, I'll probably take bits and pieces from the original, because there is still a lot that I like about it.

My plans for revision are as such:

1. Bump the timeline up about twenty years, from 1771 to 1789. Nothing happens in 1771. LOTS happens in 1789, obviously. And I have plans to combine a very important part in which my characters are imprisoned, my climax, and the storming of the Bastille. Good fun. :)

2. Make absolutely certain that everything is historically accurate, from settings to dialogue. My best friend is apparently far more Google-savvy than I, for it took her approximately five minutes to find an 18th century map overlay for Google Earth France. WIN. Also, I've got Wikipedia timelines and a European History textbook stolen from my friend Erin for fact checking, and Rosalind Laker's novel To Dance with Kings for dialogue and tone. Methinks that I am set.

3. Cut extraneous everything. There's a lot of dead space wandering around in the woods. There are also ten million extraneous characters. Some of the ones getting the axe include Nayiri, who was such fun to write but rather flat and useless, to be honest, Amelie, Rose's cute little sister who really serves no purpose at all, Rose's cousins in Paris, since Rose herself now lives in Paris, some of Avar's too many cousins, and some of my made-up government officials.

I think that once I tighten up the plot and actually align it with historical events to give this wreck of a trilogy some direction after book one, all will work out well. I'll also be adding in a little bit more of the romantic element that got cut in order to size draft 1 down to a slightly more manageable draft 2. But if I can cut 4,000 words in one night, hardly without a thought, I think that can go back in.

ETA: My mom the French major has absolutely, positively vetoed my title idea. Which is fine; I was just sort of musing aloud and asking for feedback on the musing. Until I get a better idea, it's going to stay as A Bridge to War. Because that took me long enough to come up with in the first place.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Leprechaun?

Hey, guys!

So, as you know, I have finished Letters to Oliver and am not allowing myself to look at it until I start editing it, probably later this week. Also, researching for my werewolf story revision is turning out to be trickier than I had thought (more on that later). Which means that today's teaser comes from another short story I wrote for class last semester. I really like this story a lot, and since I love the characters so much I might turn it into a longer piece later. (Which would mean writing an urban fantasy. What?!?!)

In any case, here 'tis.