Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: Oh Those Crazy Writers

Hello, all! I am quite swamped, and must be getting back to my small mountain of homework - so you know what that means? You get a Teaser Tuesday today!

This is another snippet from Smoke and Mirrors, which I wish I had more time to work on, but, ah well, such is life. In it, Theo and Josephine go to visit a scholar whose essay has gotten Theo all confused. He's hoping to find out that his suspicions have been only that, but, well... we don't always get what we wish for.



“Forgive me for intruding, Mr. Atwood-Berkley-”

“Nonsense. Reynolds never lets anyone in to see me, it’s getting rather ridiculous.”

His wide, fixed grin was beginning to make Theo uncomfortable, and he felt Josephine shift uncomfortably beside him. He repeated his faltering introduction of himself, this time including Josephine. She dipped a short, brief curtsey. 

“Ah, excellent, excellent. Do sit down. Reynolds! Bring us some tea, that’s a good chap.” 

The butler bowed, a gesture that made him look as though he was two fixed pieces on a hinge, his torso remaining quite straight throughout the quick bob. Theo and Josephine seated themselves on a sofa near Atwood-Berkley, the feather cushions very much deflated. Theo settled his bowler hat on his knee, Reynolds having apparently forgotten to take it when they entered the house. Perhaps he was not quite as good a butler as his demeanour suggested, or perhaps he was not expecting their visit to be of long duration. True, the entire thing was making him uncomfortable – the fact that he was still sinking into the sofa as though it wanted to trap him did not help – but nothing so far suggested that there was anything wrong. He struggled to match the writer’s unnerving grin, hoping very much to find his suspicions proven wrong. 

“I’ve been working on a thesis about practical applications of magic,” he began. “My professor gave me one of your articles-”

“Ah, yes, he would at that. He is quite fond of my theories. It’s odd that no one else is, I haven’t been able to publish for months. What do you make of that, then?” 

“I – I find it all very strange. You seem to suggest in the article I was given that illusory magic could be made corporeal-”

“Oh, well, yes, of course it can. Rothfeldt and I came to that conclusion years ago.”

For a moment, all Theo could do was stare at him. He could not be serious. He could not smile brightly at him and calmly deliver such a statement. It simply was not possible. 

“But – surely that is impossible-”

 “Nothing is impossible. Difficult, maybe, but not impossible. Reynolds, there you are. Won’t you show them?” 

The butler had returned with a tray of tea things. The man paused, but then set down the tray and moved closer to where Theo and Josephine sat. He rubbed at something with his foot, something on the floor that Theo could not see. And then Josephine yelped. Before he knew what had happened, he had fallen to the ground, with his sister sprawled there beside him, and the sofa they had been sitting on was gone. It had vanished, leaving nothing in its wake, not even a solitary goose feather. 

“There, you see? Not at all impossible.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Do All the Things

Yesterday in Italian class, my professor handed around a sign-in sheet for a weekly Italian conversation hour. While this would, in truth, probably help my floundering Italian skills a lot, I passed it along immediately without adding my  name. She gave me a look, of course, and jokingly asked why I hadn't signed up.

I answered with "Non ho il tempo! Necessito fare tutte le cose. TUTTE LE COSE, MARELLA."

So basically I made a meme joke in a foreign language because I am just that cool. (One other kid in class laughed...)

But seriously. I have to do ALL THE THINGS this semester. Allow me to illustrate:

1. Writing Children's Literature class
2. Writing the Short Novel class
3. Italian class
4. French Revolution history seminar
5. voice lessons (and the practicing that goes along with those)
6. Ballroom class (this is more stress relief than anything else, and fortunately doesn't come with homework)
7. Direct a Broadway Revue showcase that goes up six weeks from Saturday
8. Internship with a literary agency (aka read all the queries and manuscripts) 
9. Work on inviting a YA author to campus to give a reading
10. Write MY novel
11. Clean my apartment
12. Cook sometimes. Because, you know, food is good.
13. Go to work.

So yeah. All the things. And do you know how I manage to do all the things?

I don't.

Doing this many things is a crazy kind of balancing act. I'm a full time student, and so homework is currently my first priority. I may only be taking four academic classes, but all four of them really pack a punch. They involve a lot of reading and writing, which might not necessarily be hard, but they take TIME. So much time that I spent all weekend holed up in my room working, rather than, you know, seeing my friends like people SHOULD do on the weekends.

And I do need to sleep at some point, even if I'm notoriously bad at it.

But at the same time as I'm a full time student, I am also a writer. And I WANT to have the time to work on my novels. I need to. I am serious about this. I want to be a published novelist so badly it hurts sometimes. I lie awake at night wondering what more I could possibly do to get my foot in the door, to have someone give me a chance, to prove that I love this and I am willing to work so hard to achieve it.

But when all my time is spent staring at textbooks, the free time I have I usually NEED to devote to relaxing, to hanging out with friends and letting my brain unwind for a change, because otherwise I might just explode.

And I do write every day. My project for short novel? That's a novel I want to write for myself as much as I now need to write it for the deadlines imposed for class. I'm at the level of my major that I can write what I want to write, rather than bending everything to the prompts given in lower level writing classes (and that's not to say I didn't learn anything in those lower level classes, just that I now have the freedom to do what I want).

So I cheat a little. I snatch moments when I can. Because I do all the things - and all of those things are things I want to be doing. I love my internship. Rehearsals for Broadway Revue start tomorrow, and I'm super excited. I like my classes, no matter how much I complain about all the homework I have to do.

No piece of writing advice works for every writer, except, I think, this one: don't let it stress you out. As long as you are writing, it doesn't matter. Steal moments when you can, and don't beat yourself up about it when you can't. It's not worth it to turn something you love into a chore.

So have a cup of tea and take a break, my lovely writer friends. I'm going to go finish my Italian homework.


In other news, my friend Stefan Bachmann's book THE PECULIAR releases today! YAY STEFAN!!! It's a really good book, you should read it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

About The Book

Hello All! So, my awesome summer intern friend Ari tagged me in her last blog post. I think this one is especially interesting and useful, so I am going to pounce on it (... a week later... sorry Ari... I might talk about Doing All The Things on Thursday...) I hope you guys are interested too!

1. What is the name of your book?


2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

Heh, this is kind of a long story. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was sitting with my friend Erin on a bus in the dark, on the way back from our annual band/chorus trip, and I said I'd been mulling over a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a werewolf in. She thought that was awesome, so I wrote it on and off for a while. I finished it and started working on a sequel.

Then I went to college and asked a professor how one goes about publishing a novel. She introduced me to a student in the other section of her Intro to the Essay class - Kody Keplinger - who taught me how to write a query letter and told me that, seriously, I needed to cut my book in half if I wanted to actually pitch it. I managed to get it from about 163k (!!!) to 100k (!), and then I queried it. I got some interest, got some feedback, and then decided it needed to be reworked. I puttered around for quite a while, trying to find a good way to fix all the problems in the ms.

And then I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. The only thing that's stayed the same from the beginning are the central characters, who I love beyond reason, really.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

YA historical fantasy. This might be a point of contention for some people, since there are werewolves in my manuscript. I do see this in the realm of fantasy rather than paranormal, however. In most paranormal books, I think, the werewolf/vampire/evil rabbit character has to keep that identity a secret, and there's an introduction to that secret world for a normal human character. Whereas in fantasy, elements of magic - in my case, a magical creature - are simply present and accepted in the world. Does that make any sense or am I losing my mind?

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

Um... well... Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian looks rather like Avar, I think... although that random kid I sat next to on the Tube once was a dead ringer for him. He was also wearing a fez, too; so much the better.

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.

Seventeen-year-old Rose must break her family out of the most feared prison in Paris before they face the guillotine, with only the help of the werewolf who got them all into trouble in the first place. 

6. Is your book already published?

*grins hopefully at the Literary Powers that Be* Someday, I should hope!

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

Um... about five years, I think? Although that's from "initial idea" to "manuscript as it is now," not how long it actually took me to physically write anything. That I don't remember.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

Well, my query letter compares it to The Scorpio Races and A Great and Terrible Beauty, because that kind of mixture of reality, history, and fantasy is what I'm really gunning for when I write.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

Well, goodness. Libba Bray to an extent. I think I was initially inspired by wanting to write my own version of Beauty and the Beast. After that, my obsession with the French Revolution and my love of the characters carried the project.  

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

It's a kissing book. *grins*

All right, there it is! Some information on A TERROR OF DARKNESS. I tag... anyone who wishes to complete this tag! (I know, I know... but d'you know All of Those Things I mentioned? I ought to go do them now. Until Thursday!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It Was Bound to Happen Eventually...

So last Sunday, I moved into my lovely new apartment on campus. We have a great view of Cayuga Lake out the living room window (and also my bedroom window), and there's lots of space and a full-sized fridge and more drawers than I know what to do with, which is unusual but cool.

There is also a spiral staircase leading from the kitchen/living room area to the bedrooms-and-bathroom area.

Said spiral staircase looks like this:

This spiral staircase is made out of black-painted metal, which has those little cross shaped things imprinted into it, supposedly to give some measure of traction, although really it doesn't work particularly well. Why a college would put such a thing into apartments lived in mostly by people who are now old enough to legally purchase alcohol is beyond me. Basically, this thing is the Spiral Staircase of Death.

And yes. That's right. I fell down it.

I live with three other girls: Lisa, Sarah, and Other Caitlin (so called because, well, I'm Caitlin too, although she also answers to Molly Weasley). Lisa, Sarah, and I were sitting downstairs doing homework or puttering about the internet or some such thing, when Other Caitlin came halfway down the stairs and asked where might be the best place to find some new nail clippers at 7 or 8 in the evening. I replied "my desk..." which sparked a conversation about whether or not that was weird, which maybe it should be but really I didn't care very much (it wasn't as though she had just been gardening or making mud pies or something). So Other Caitlin thanked me profusely and went into my room to find the nail clippers. Twelve seconds later, she called down the stairs "where do I find them again?" whereupon I went up the stairs, grabbed my nail kit from my desk, opened it, and handed her my nail clippers. And then I went to go back down the stairs.

What I was wearing plays a small part in this story: I had on a tank top, a skirt, and socks. The socks were because I was inside and my feet get cold, and when they get cold they get sweaty and gross and so do my hands for some reason, but anyway, I had socks on. The Spiral Staircase of Death, as previously mentioned, has little to no traction, and I was hurrying down the stairs. I think I was even holding on to the railing, actually. I was on the second or third step up from the bottom, when I registered two things in very quick succession.

The first was: Oh snap, I'm slipping!

The second was: OH SNAP GROUND.

I threw my hands out and then I was on the ground, sort of kneeling weirdly in front of the staircase. I sat there a bit stunned for a second.

Then all hell broke loose.

Sarah shouted "oh no!" from across the room. Lisa, who was sitting in the armchair directly next to the stairs, looked up from her reading and frantically asked if I was all right. I said I was fine, shifting carefully so I could look at my knees, which were quite red. Sarah then told me that I'd fallen incredibly gracefully, like a ballerina dying onstage (so, thanks, I think?). The rug burn on my knees was getting redder by the second, which was a bit concerning, and Lisa said something to that effect, and I protested that I was fine. Other Caitlin, however, shouted from upstairs "OH MY GOD IS SHE BLEEDING?!?" and came running downstairs to see. I kept protesting that I was fine, and Lisa and Caitlin began (intentionally) overreacting. I was still sitting at the foot of the staircase, so I said that I'd relocate to the couch five feet away, and Lisa shouted at me to stay put and that I should elevate my legs before they fell off (even stuffing a pillow under my knees). I was given some ice. Other Caitlin and Lisa then hurried up the stairs (over me) to get polysporin and band-aids, which was when I ninja-ed my way over to the couch, where Sarah was sitting, really just being amused by the whole thing.

Lisa and Other Caitlin came back with their medical supplies. I was expecting to get yelled at for getting up and moving to the couch, but I didn't, fortunately. Lisa then proceeded to open her polysporin; when I held out my hand for some she said "I'm not putting it on your hand, I'm putting it on your knee!" whereupon I grabbed it from her and did it myself, thanks very much. I was unable to escape Lisa and Caitlin putting the band-aids on my knees, however, which tickled a LOT. Other Caitlin then handed me a piece of chocolate, because apparently falling down the stairs and coming close to dementors have the same remedy (hey, I wasn't going to say no to that one!).

This entire time, their incredibly comic and extreme overreaction had me laughing hysterically, so much so that when Lisa made a joke about me asphyxiating from falling down I said it'd be more probable that I'd do that from laughing too much. I'm not sure if I've done this episode justice writing about it - it was a complete flurry of running up and down stairs and shouting and general ridiculousness. Kind of like one of those goofy chase scenes where everyone is running frantically in and out of a set number of doors.

I suppose, then, that the moral of this story is twofold: one, be incredibly careful when wearing socks on metal staircases. And two, if you have to fall, do it gracefully, and make sure you've got some awesome friends around to cheer you up after you hit the ground.