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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: 1st Page of my #NaNoWriMo Project!

As promised, here's a tiny excerpt from my NaNoWriMo draft. It's currently titled MILANO, but I suspect that will change. The book spans three different countries and has taken more research than any book I've ever written. Anyway, here's just a little bit of the opening, about a page and a half. Keep in mind I haven't edited it yet and this is only a first draft. Let me know what you think!


It should be illegal for girls over five-seven to wear heels. And I’m not saying that because I’m jealous. Believe me. It’s just that when you’re five-two and not a lesbian, there are better ways to spend your day than staring at forty-eight female breasts.

    And to be honest, they all look the same from this angle.

    But then, I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? To look like a herd of perfect, beautiful, tall bodies. That’s why people will come to this fashion show. To see beautiful bodies in beautiful clothing. That’s why it will pay my way to Spain.

    The actual show isn’t for two weeks. Labor Day Weekend, right before school starts up. It’s billed as a back-to-school event, but looking over the rack of outfits the stores are supplying, I’m sure our crowd will be made up of mainly skanky over-forty women and leery-eyed men.

    “Can these hemlines get any higher?” my best friend Tristan asks, spinning in front of the mirror to see if her underwear shows. If she’s wearing any, that is. If there are two things I’ve learned about models in the last six weeks they’re these:

1.    Models are not shy about their bodies. By not shy, I mean they’d walk through the mall in their own bra, or even without it, if it meant getting to the stage on time.

2.    If models wear any underwear at all, it’s usually thinner than the dental floss in my bathroom cabinet.

“Any cheek, Jamie?” she asks me. Tristan is the one and only model I’ve ever met who cares at least a little bit about how much of her goods she’s showing. But she’s still ruled by the dental-floss underwear rule.

“Yeah, there’s cheek,” I tell her with a smirk. “But not under the dress.”

If Tristan’s one thing, it’s cheeky. She’s also smart, funny, beautiful, popular, and fiercely loyal. To me. Which means I’m fiercely loyal right back.

She smirks, because along with being loyal, we can both take a joke.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yay!!! I Finished!

Guess what I got today???

89,284 words later, I have completed my NaNoWriMo draft. And believe me, this is a first draft. But it's done and I LOVE so much of it. In fact, I don't even remember much of it, because with that many words, I was writing so fast that scenes literally flew by. But I skipped back to the beginning, just to see how horrible it really was, and surprisingly, I fell in love all over again. I really love the premise of this book and the voice came out just the way I'd hoped.

I have to run for today, but I hope to be back tomorrow with a small Teaser Tuesday excerpt. For others who have been working at drafting, how's your progress?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Honest Post About #nanowrimo

As you can see, I'm an official 2011 NaNo Winner! (though I can't claim my winnings officially until the 25th I think). I've actually blown by the 50k mark, which is still quite amazing to me, since I've always been known as an under-writer.

Even at nearly 74k I'm still not done my book, so I'm racing against the clock to try and get it finished by the end of the month. I figure if I don't wander too much, I might get there in another ten thousand words.

But as this year comes to a close, I've been reflecting on my NaNo experiences, and thought I would share, for those who might be interested.

2007 was my first year participating in NaNo. As many of you probably know, my debut YA novel, LOSING FAITH was my first attempt at NaNo (but definitely not my first attempt at writing a novel). I wrote the first draft in 21 days. It came in at around 46k, and I had to pad some of the descriptions and so forth to get it up to 50k by the end of the month.

I took almost a year to revise it with the help of stellar critique partners. I sent out queries to agents starting in September, and by November, 2008 I had myself an agent. My agent helped me with some small edits and then submitted it to editors in January 2009. By April we had a deal with the amazing Anica Rissi from Simon Pulse. LOSING FAITH hit the shelves of bookstores throughout North America in September 2010.

This is the quickest I can imagine getting a novel traditionally published, from conception to on sale. Really, the edits all along the way were not the "rewriting-the-whole-book" variety.  And it still took THREE years. Just sayin.

2008 - This year during NaNo, I wrote a YA novel called BELLY UP.  And because of my success from the last year, I also decided to write a second novel simultaneously. We'll call this one "The Novel We Don't Speak Of Because It's So Bad." (TNWDSOBISB). I wrote BELLY UP  with an outline, revised it a couple of times, sent it to my agent, and I still need to do one more revision before we try to sell it, but I have confidence that one day it can be done. TNWDSOBISB, on the other hand, was written without an outline, just on a spurt of an idea, and yeah, we don't talk about that one.

2009 - This year I wrote a YA novel called PERFECT AIM. It's about a teen archer, and I still really love this book, but it needs some major work before I send it to my agent and so far I have not had the time. I started this one with a 38k outline (yes, you read that correctly). The one problem I found with this is because so much of the story was in the outline, I got a bit lazy while writing during NaNo, and the voice ended up a bit stilted. So that will be one of the main things I need to fix when I go back to revise.

Also, during this year's NaNo, I was under a deadline for LOSING FAITH revisions for my editor, so that kept me VERY busy!

2010 - This year I attempted a companion novel to LOSING FAITH for my NaNo Project. I wrote a basic outline, discussed with my critique partner, and started writing with a basic idea of where the plot would go. I ended up going out of character quickly with my MC, I figured out later because many of the plot points in my outline just didn't suit her personality. So I'm still in the midst of revising this one and the plot has changed so much that it really is a brand new book.

2011 - I've been working on another YA contemporary novel. The working title is Milano, but I suspect that will change. I had a short synopsis written prior to NaNo, which I had sent to my critique partner, which she shredded apart. I went through her criticisms and wrote a return email to her with some ideas of how to fix her concerns. Because of the busyness of life, I never got around to revising my synopsis. I just worked from the email that I had sent back to my CP, and I only looked at that once before November the first. I haven't looked back at it since.

To be honest, this has been my easiest year. I haven't felt blocked hardly at all. It has required a lot of research, but other than that, it has been going just amazingly well. It's definitely the most words I've ever written in a month, and I've loved this story every day I've been working on it. For those who follow my blog, you know I've had an incredibly hard year, and all I can say is that I believe this is just the favor and grace of God, a much needed refresher for my life. I'm so very thankful.

So those are all of my experiences with NaNoWriMo. I hope they help add some perspective to what you may have (or are) gone through, or at the very least, I hope my pain and suffering has made for entertaining reading! :-)

If you're looking to check out a published novel that was originally written during NaNo, there are several on the NaNo website, but some of my favorites (besides LOSING FAITH, of course) are WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

Happy writing, and I'd love to hear about your NaNo experiences if you'd like to share!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Giveaway Hop Winners!

I had such a great response to the November Giveaway Hop that I get to give THREE books away from my shelf. Unfortunately, my brain was absorbed in Nanowrimo when I posted the contest, and I neglected to have a "name" category on the form. So I"ll just have to announce the beginning of the winner's email addresses (I'll email them separately).

Congratulations to...

wilsondev, winner of CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick!

Jennifer, winner of THE 13TH REALITY by James Dashner

and xxsquigglesxx, winner of I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore

Thanks to all who entered! Congratulations again to the winners!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the November Blog Hop!

This contest will run from November 8-11, 2011.

Rather than offering one or two books for a giveaway, I've decided to open up an entire bookshelf for your choosing! I've tried to include lots of variety, so there's something for everyone here. All you have to do is pick your top three choices!

In case you can't see them well enough, the books to choose from:
I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman
WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison
I AM NUMBER FOUR by Pittacus Lore
JULIET by Anne Fortier
CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick
THE DIVAS DIAMOND by Victoria Christopher Murray
I LIKE IT LIKE THAT by Cecily von Ziegesar
THE 13TH REALITY by James Dashner
JUNGLE CROSSING by Sydney Salter
HUSH by Eishes Chayil
SWOON by Nina Malkin
COOL CACHE by Patricia Smiley

Some are gently used, some are advance copies, and some are signed. This contest is open to anyone with a US mailing address. I'll give away one book from my shelf for every fifty entries I receive, so the more people you get to enter, the more books I will give away!

Fill out the following form to enter:

And here are the links to other great contests in this hop:

Friday, November 4, 2011

#NaNoWriMo Tips, Tricks, and Reasons to Start (if you haven't already!)

The other day I did my first school visit. It was a ton of fun, and most especially fun because I got to talk about NaNoWriMo! I seriously could talk about that all day long.

Since many of you are either A. Enduring the pain and suffering of NaNoWriMo along with me, or B. Think people who try to write a book in a month were dropped on their head as babies....

I thought I'd share a few notes from my school visit. For your enjoyment and/or argument:

1.    It’s only a month.

You can use this month to do all the normal stuff you do, and feel the same at the end of the month, and wonder why your life never changes and why you never accomplish anything great. Or you can decide that this month you WILL accomplish something great. BTW, do you know that writing a novel is really something great?

2.    Do you even know how many people have thought about or attempted to write a novel?
Human nature – we want to be similar enough to the general population to not be a weirdo, but different enough to know we are special – to have a unique story that people would want to hear. Different but still relate-able. That’s why writing is such a popular idea.

 Ask anybody you know over the age of 35. I bet they’ve either thought about writing a book or even tried it. So what percentage of those people do you think have succeeded and what percentage have failed? All it will take is 30 days to surpass that multitude of people.

3.    NaNo is a great excuse for not getting your homework done (shhh, don’t tell your teachers this trick).
The next time you have an assignment that you haven’t gotten done, ask your teacher if they’re over 35 (then see point number 2) – have they written a novel? Do they have any idea how much work goes into writing a novel in a month? ‘Nuff said.
4. On that note…It’s a great excuse to stay up past your bedtime. Ask your parents if they’re over 35.

5.    There’s a great energy that comes with a bunch of people all trying to reach a similar goal.
Ride on that energy, and the momentum will carry you through.
Know that others have difficult writing days too, and be a support for them when they need it. Then they’ll be a support when you need it.

6.    Your writing will be much better than you think it is. Even if you think it’s craptastic.
When you come back to what you wrote in a month or a year, you’ll be surprised how many great things you find in there.
NaNo allows you to explore directions you may not explore if you weren’t letting your brain loose.
Always write forward. Kill perfectionism.

7.    Schedule:
I get up half an hour early in November. What’s half an hour?
Write 1000 words when you’re in that sleepy, weird-ideas-sound-amazing! state of mind.
Think about your story during the day.
Come back and write another 1000 words later.
Two chances for your muse to show up. If not one, maybe the other.

8.    Getting stuck
It will happen. It happens to everybody. Write anyway. Who cares if you have to scrap entire sections later? Sometimes you have to take detours to get where you’re going. And often that’s the ONLY way to get there.
Some of my best stuff I’ve written when I’ve been stuck. In Losing Faith, Tessa showed up. She wasn’t in my outline, but my MC was wandering aimlessly, alone for far too long during my “stuck” period. To shake things up, I brought in an unlikely friend.

9.    You will be amazed how impressed people are when you tell them “I wrote a book. Yes, a real one.