Archive by Author

Thinking = Plotting

18 Aug

A Guest Post by Marina Cohen

~~~

I’m often asked how long it took me to write my first novel. It’s an easy enough question. You’d think the response would be fairly straightforward, right? Not so much. In fact, by the time I’m finished I’m sure people wish they hadn’t asked.

I start by saying it took me six months to write my first novel—because that’s how long I spent hammering away at the keys of my old computer to turn the idea floating around my head into pixels. Most smile, satisfied with that response, but then I tell them I’m not finished. I go on to say it took me nine more months to rewrite the exact same story—just to get it right. This is when they begin to nod politely and back away. Hold on, I say. I’m not done yet. I spent another four years editing, revising, submitting, getting rejected, revising some more, editing again, re-submitting, getting truckloads of rejections, before I finally got my very first contract. And then it took another year before I held my novel in my hot little hands. At this point they turn to run but I give chase. Wait! That’s not the whole story! You’re going to miss the most important part! Because before my fingers ever grazed a keyboard, I spent ten years thinking.

Ten years.

Thinking.

Huh.

So what exactly was I thinking about? Well, my plot, of course.

For me thinking is synonymous with plotting. Even now, five novels later, I need to think out my entire story before I can begin to write the first word. There are all sorts of different plotting graphs and styles, but honestly, it all boils down to thinking.

My family has gotten used to it—that glazed look in my eye, the vague responses, the rich scent of burnt toast filling the air when my brain has abandoned the real world and entered the world of my current work-in-progress.

Now, I’m not a meticulous plotter in the sense that I don’t sketch out every chapter, nor do I use charts or configurations. But there are elements I must work out in my mind, or the idea just goes into a folder to revisit at a later date. Here’s what I need to know prior to writing:

  1. What’s the inciting incident?  What propels my MC off their path and spins them in a totally different direction? Of course this incident can be subtle, but I like to make it something quick and dramatic to hook readers.
  2. I must know how my story will end. This is critical, so that I can work toward setting up the climax and ending, building it, moving toward it with every detail. If you don’t know how your story will end, you can plod forward, but I think you may end up doing a fair amount of re-writing. I like to have a twist ending—something readers don’t see coming. And I also like to connect my ending in some significant way to my inciting incident.
  3. I divide my plot into three chunks—that three act structure I’m sure you’ve already come across. And each chunk ends in its own climax, spinning the story in a different direction again, but bringing the reader that much closer to the ultimate climax.
  4. Finally, it’s important to remember that plot does not simply refer to the events of your story. It’s also (and in some ways more importantly) about the emotional journey of your character. Who are they at the start of the story and how they change as a result of the events of the story.

Now, even though I have all this in my mind, when I sit down to actually write my story, more often than not, it takes unexpected turns. Characters I hadn’t imagined muscle their way into my manuscript uninvited—and it’s usually these surprise twists and characters that I end up loving the most.

So I sit. And I think. And I think some more. I think while I cook and clean and shop—but never while I drive, er, ’cause that would be dangerous. Ahem.

I think while I’m awake. I think before I go to sleep. And I even think in my dreams—which, by the way, often provides me with the best answers to my plot problems!

So the next time you’re just sitting there staring off into space and someone asks you what you’re up to—you tell them not to disturb you. Can’t they see you’re busy plotting your next incredible novel?

~~~

Marina Cohen is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction for both children and teens, including three middle-grade novels: SHADOW OF THE MOON, TRICK OF THE LIGHT, and CHASING THE WHITE WITCH; and two teen novels: GHOST RIDE and MIND GAP. GHOST RIDE (Dundurn Press, 2009) was voted Honour Book of the 2011 Red Maple Fiction Award.

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Digesting the Revision Letter, a pep talk

19 Jul

A Guest Post by Erin Bowman

~~~

You’ve written a book. Your agent has sold it. Your editor (holy cow, you now have an EDITOR) is working on getting you revision notes. They’ll come in the form of a “revision letter,” which will likely be long and single-spaced and full of big picture items that need addressing.

If you are anything like me, you will simultaneously crave and fear this essential document. So without further adieu, some things to keep in perspective as you read through your letter:

Remember that Editor loves your book

She had to love it enough to pitch it in an Acquisitions meeting. She had to get Sales and Marketing and Higher Ups onboard. She had to believe that your story was one the world should see, and then she brokered a deal that would make that possible. Remember this, because a revision letter can come with big and sometimes overwhelming suggestions. Things like: Subplot A should be cut, Character X feels flat, world-building is lacking, and oh, lets switch from first person present to third person past. You might not be prepared for it. So no matter how long your letter is, no matter how many characters are flat or subplots need cutting, remember it in no way correlates to how much (or little) Editor loves your story. She loves it. The end.

These edits will make your book better.

Stronger. Tighter. Un-Put-Downable. Everything Editor points out is done with the end goal of crating a better story. She might even ask a bunch of questions, offering no answers along the way, simply because she wants you to think about what these questions mean for the story and know that readers will be asking the same things as they devour your tale. As you read through your letter, there’s a good chance you’ll be nodding your head in agreement to 99.9% of the things Editor says. I know I did. You might even kick yourself for not seeing them first. Deep down, we know there are flaws in our books, areas that can be strengthened. Editor will find them, document them on paper, and then push you to man-up.

Take some time to digest it all.

There’s a rare chance it works for some people, but I advice against reading your letter and immediately jumping into revisions. I like to sit on my thoughts before any major rewrite. I let ideas marinate. I think about how one change here might affect twenty things there. I brainstorm several different options before I sit down to tackle the right one. I think this is a crucial step. Read your letter. Think about it for a week or two. Make notes. Think some more. Then start.

Ask Questions.

If something is unclear, always, always, always speak up. When I was younger, I never asked questions when I needed clarification. I thought it would make me look dumb, like I had no clue what I was doing. I am a firm believer that you actually look smarter when you say, “Hey, I’m not quite following this. Can we talk it over again?” And here is why I bring this up: Revising is hard. We all know this. You don’t want to spend weeks revising only to take the story down a path opposite of what Editor had in mind. If you don’t follow something in your letter, ask Editor to clarify. If you see what she’s saying but think it will drastically (and detrimentally) alter other points of the story, see if she can hop on the phone to hash it out. I’m pretty sure she’ll be more than happy to discuss things.

You have the answers.

You do. You envisioned the story, dreamed up the world, peopled it with characters. You have the answers even when you fail to see them. Remember this when you are knee deep in a scene, your story’s guts spilled because you’ve hacked it apart, and all you can think is, “I have no clue what I’m doing. How will I ever fix this?” You will. Maybe not that very day – you might need to take a break or go for a walk or come back to it tomorrow – but you will figure it out. You will find the answer and you will stitch your story back together impeccably. It won’t even scar.

Do it your way.

This has been more of a pep talk than an advice-centric post because I truly believe that writing (and editing) is an individual and unique experience. No two people will tackle it the same way. Only you can decide what works for your story, your situation, your process. Find those tactics and stick to them.

Happy Revising!

~~~

Erin Bowman lives in New Hampshire with her husband. When not writing, Erin enjoys hiking, giggling and staring at the stars. She drinks a lot of coffee, buys far too many books and is not terribly skilled at writing about herself in the third person. Her debut THE LAICOS PROJECT will be available Winter 2013 from HarperTeen. She blogs regularly at embowman.com.

Too Close For Comfort?

14 Jul

or

Why you are in love with your first novel

 A Guest Post by Aya Tsintziras

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We’ve all heard the saying “you’re too close to your book, you need someone else to look at it with fresh eyes.” And while getting different opinions on your novel is an integral part of the editing process, no matter what stage of the path to publication you are at, what if being too close to your novel is a good thing?

I believe that it is.

Confession: I don’t have a CP. When I’m finished a draft of a book, I show it to my mom, who I consider my first reader, and she points out little stuff like typos and the bigger stuff like a plot point that doesn’t make total sense, or a secondary character’s boyfriend who has three different names (that happened in my current WIP). Then I revise. Then I send my book off to my agent. (Then more revisions, of course.) That’s it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have CPs. Whatever works for you. I don’t show my early drafts to more than two people, and that makes me very close to my work. In the case of my first novel, with each round of revisions I did with my editor, I started to feel more and more disconnected from my book, like it became something of its own, something that was less of a story I used to write in high school late at night in my bedroom or in my favourite Starbucks after school. It became something more like, well, a novel that would be published. (On August 26, 2011, to be specific.)

But I know the book so well I could basically recite it verbatim if you asked me. And this is a good thing, because if you get some comments on your novel during the editing process, for instance on changing a plot point, you can say, no, my character wouldn’t do that. You know your characters, because my theory is this: the relationship you have with your first novel is the most important relationship you will ever have with any book you write. Feel free to disagree with me on this – I’m not saying you won’t ever enjoy writing another book again. You’re a writer, so you love to write. But the first one is like your first love affair with a potential career, with the idea that you can really pursue the path to publication, with the fact that you are serious about this. And it’s probably true of every writer who makes the transition to author that their first novel is the one they will revise again and again for years upon years. I worked on my own first book for six years, counting before and after my book deal.

I don’t have the same attachment to my current WIP. Not that I don’t love working on it, not that I don’t think it’s another important story to tell. But it’s just not the same. And that doesn’t make me sad, it’s kind of bittersweet. Because my first novel is the only first novel I will ever have, and I feel a sense of real peace that soon it will make its way into the world.

So it’s okay to be “too close” to your novel, at least your first novel. You know the characters like they are your best friends, and you know what they would say and do in certain situations. And eventually, whether you’re sending off queries in the hopes of landing an agent, or waiting for the next round of revisions from your editor or agent, you will have to let go a little bit. And with each round of edits, you will let go a bit more. And when your book is on the shelves, that’s when you will let go the most, I bet. Because you’ve worked hard to make your dream come true, and now it’s time to work on your next book, and to continue living the dream.

~~~

Aya’s first novel, PRETTY BONES, will be published by James Lorimer on August 26, 2011. Aya lives in Toronto, where her days are filled with coffee, pop culture and, of course, writing. She is addicted to television, so it’s probably a good thing that come September, she’s off to grad school to study TV writing and producing. You can follow her on twitter @ayatsintziras and visit her website at www.ayatsintziras.com.

The Seven Stages of Writing a Sequel

12 Jul

or

AAAAAAAGH #*$#&$*#*&%# Sequels!

A Guest Post by Jill Hathaway

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1. Elation – Your editor wants you to write a sequel! Everyone wants to know what happens next. They love your characters. They love the premise. They love you! O happy day!

2. Denial – It can’t really be that hard to write a sequel, right? People do it all the time. Never mind that they usually have an idea of what happens in the long run. You can figure that out as you go. You’ve done it once, and you can do it again. No sweat.

3. Hope – You have an idea. It’s the best idea evar, really. Just take your main character and send them to SPACE. Why didn’t you think of this before? It doesn’t matter that none of the other characters your audience loved from the first one will be in the sequel. Or that it’s a completely different genre from the first one. It’s brilliant, I tell you! BRILLIANT!

4. Grief – Your editor doesn’t think shooting your character into space is such a good idea? Your agent laughed in your face? Your critique partner actually threw rotten tomatoes at you? Well. It was a pretty dumb idea, wasn’t it? I mean, space? What were you thinking? You are so stupid. You’ll never come up with a good idea again. Just grab that tub of Ben & Jerry’s and retreat to your bedroom. Go wallow in your failure, dumbhead.

5. Thunder Bolt of Awesomeness – Wha? What was that? An even better idea kicked you in the head, knocking the Chubby Hubby right out of your mouth? Well, better grab a notebook! Write write write write write! Get so excited that you send your editor, your agent, your crit partner multiple unintelligible emails. WHAT? Everyone loves your idea? Then get your butt started!

6. Realization – Oh, yeah. This is what writing a book is like. The trek to the salt mines every day. The pages of uninspired prose just to get one little golden sentence. Still, you already know the characters. You already know the world. It’s just figuring out how to make something new without changing it TOO much.

7. Hope – WHAT? THERE CAN BE TWO STAGES CALLED THIS. You write “THE END.” You look over the material. It’s raw, but you think the clay is all there. You like it. You kind of love it. Your crit partner kind of loves it. You roll up your sleeves, ready to start the real work of revising. You can do this. You can. You’ve done it before, and you will again.

~~~

Jill Hathaway grew up in Iowa and received her MA in literature from Iowa State University. A high school English teacher, she lives with her husband and young daughter in the Des Moines area. You can visit her online at www.jillscribbles.blogspot.com. SLIDE, her debut, will be released from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in 2012.

Reading as a Writer

7 Jul

A Guest Post by Jodi Meadows

~~~

When I was a teen, I read anything I could get my hands on. Books, newspaper, cereal boxes, warning signs. Anything. If there were words, I read them. During this time, I was writing a little–not very well–but mostly I was reading, filling my head with stories from the library and whatever I could afford from a bookstore.

I loved books indiscriminately. I almost never left a book half-finished. I loved big, never-ending series because they were like going to a second home where I knew all the characters, might get introduced to new ones along the way, and I understood the rules of the world. I got to go on adventures without ever leaving school. (Since a lot of my reading time was hiding the book under the desk so the teacher wouldn’t catch me. . . .)

After I got married, I had the opportunity to write full time–so I took it. I joined the Online Writing Workshop and learned a lot about prose, grammar, structure, character development, my utter lack of logic when it came to character motivation . . . Oh, I could go on about everything I needed to learn, but, heh, let’s not. In addition to receiving critiques, the OWW requires members to give critiques. They say you learn just as much–if not more–from identifying and discussing what does and doesn’t work for you in others’ work. Anxious to do well, I did as many crits as I could possibly manage while still writing The Best Fantasy Novel Ever.

Over the next few years, I became sharply aware of all my failings as a writer and, as a result, hypercritical of any other piece of writing I encountered. Every time I picked up a book, the newly awakened editor part of my brain reared up and made me think about how I would have written that sentence differently. Better, in fact. And oh, look at that horrible use of passive voice. Or an adverb! Kill it with fire! (It was pretty dramatic in my brain for a while.)

I stopped being able to read books for enjoyment. I didn’t realize that was what was happening at first, only that there had been a book on my desk, half-read, for months. And I had no desire to pick it up again. It was a sad time. But still I wrote. Still I critiqued. As I grew more confident in my craft, and better able to turn off my internal editor (or at least shove her into the same dirty closet other writers were shoving theirs), I began reaching for books again. Sometimes they were books I’d picked up on my own, and other times they were books a group of friends and I had decided to read at the same time. Either way, I began to enjoy reading again. I had to. I love books, and being without– It was awful.

A lot of writers go through this. It’s normal. It’s easy to start feeling judgy when learning a new skill and someone does exactly what you were taught not to do. How dare they break the rules??? But there are no rules; there’s only what works. What we think of as rules are actually just things that typically work.

Eventually, you claw your way out of the unfun nonreading time. It gets easier to recognize that the story the author is telling may not be the story you wanted to be told, but that doesn’t make it a bad story. It gets easier to stop nitpicking every sentence because you would have written it differently. And it gets easier to remember that you didn’t write the book; someone else did.

Learning to tell the internal editor to shut up is an important skill if you want to be able to read a book without screaming. For writers, reading is an essential part of the job. (And often why writers start writing in the first place.) It’s important to know what books are out there, what’s currently selling, and what’s making readers swoon. Even more important than being able to tell what an author did wrong is being able to tell what they did right.

I wouldn’t want to go back to being able to read indiscriminately; it’s important to know the difference between good books and bad books, and keep a healthy diet of good books. As with food. But mostly, it’s important to read, because how can anyone who’s not feeding their creative brain hope to produce anything?

It doesn’t matter where you are in your writing: reading is part of the job, and great books will open your eyes and change the way you think. They’ll inspire you, entertain you, and stay with you long after The End.

~~~


Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. Her debut, INCARNATE, is coming January 31, 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

*A Kippy is a cat.

What Sales Reps Do

23 Jun

or

What It Means To Work in Other Aspects of Publishing that Isn’t Editorial

by Vanessa Di Gregorio

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Note: an updated version of this post is now up on our new blog, Pub(lishing) Crawl! Click here.

~~~

Disclaimer: I may or may not be tooting my own horn here (just a little). I’m also not going to talk about writing – I’m going to be talking about my career and the publishing biz for those of you who are interested.

~

Ah, publishing. The glamorous life of schmoozing with authors, publishing great books, spending extensive amounts of time reading, and a whole lot of talking (or so people like to think). When people think of the publishing industry, people think of  writers and editors. When writers think of the publishing industry, they think of agents and editors and bookstores and that damn slush pile. But people don’t really think about all the other aspects of publishing – all the marketing and the publicity and the sales people that lead to the things an author truly wants; for their books to be on the shelves in stores and do well.

When I first started out in this industry, my dream job was first editorial – but I didn’t even know what type. Then I realized that I loved substantive editing – looking at the big picture of a manuscript such as plot, characters, etc. And then I interned at a literary agency and thought, “this is what I’d love to do”. But ultimately, I wasn’t comfortable with the thought that I would probably not make any money for a year as a literary agent (props to all of you lit agents out there!) – especially since the hubster self employed. I wanted one of us to have a stable salary. And so I looked for other things I wanted to do; other areas of publishing where I could fit in.

During high school and part of university, I had worked at a book wholesaler, selling to schools and libraries. I took English Literature in University, went to school for Publishing, and figured my experience would get me places fast. But it wasn’t easy – publishing is VERY competitive (especially here in Canada). The only way to get an editorial gig in-house is to go freelance for years and then hope some editor somewhere kicks the bucket (sad, but true). And I wasn’t willing to be that patient (especially since the majority of publishing peeps are healthy, unlike me). So I looked into publicity. And marketing. And sales.

I was already familiar with sales from that wholesale job, and familiar with online marketing thanks to this blog; but when I began working at this sales agency I realized that I didn’t know a lot. Marketing, publicity, and sales are all major aspects of publishing, and all as important as editorial. I didn’t realize that publishers had sales reps who went to accounts (bookstores, wholesalers, gift stores, etc) and sold them their list. I don’t know what I thought – maybe that if a book was published, people just magically carried it. I didn’t realize you had to SELL to the sellers.

I’m lucky to be working for an agency repping some of the best publishers out there. Over 30 of them. And my job is to pick out what works for stores, which books deserve to be highlighted.

Selling is fantastic. Selling means talking to people about great books. It means getting excited about a new list every season, and making an impact on the people who, in turn, impact your average reader just by shelving a book in their store. It means grabbing a coffee, chatting, going through catalogues and samples, and learning what some book and gift stores have preferences for. It means going to book fairs and gift shows and finding new homes for books. I put the books out there – I can give the little guys a chance. And I think that’s pretty amazing. Will everyone listen to me, or have the same taste as me? Probably not. But I can try my damn hardest to get a book on the shelves if I really believe in it.

And you know what’s even more awesome? That I can actually do that now. Because I’ve been promoted to Sales Representative for Central Ontario and Inside Sales (told you I was going to toot my own horn, haha!). I’m going to be able to drive around with catalogues and samples in hand and I’m going to get to geek out over gorgeous covers, brilliant authors, and fantastic books with other people who love them as much as I do.

So those editors who sit in a chair for hours and hours, working on an author’s manuscript? I might not be that person, but I am one of those people convincing stores to stock and sell your books. And to all you published and soon-to-be published authors out there – on behalf of sales reps everywhere, I’d like to say, “You’re welcome”.

😉

~~~

Vanessa is a newly promoted (!) Sales Representative for Central Ontario and Inside Sales at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She also has a book publishing certificate under her belt. Currently, Vanessa is working on RIFT, a YA fantasy novel, and a Children’s non-fiction series. She also geeks out over stuff at Something Geeky.

Saturday Grab Bag: Mashup

4 Jun

Mashup:

Here are some great links on writing, the industry, and all things book related. Some are serious, and some are just downright hilarious. We highly recommend you read them!

– PURE. BRILLIANCE. This is showing, not telling, at its best. Author Chuck Palahniuk (who is awesome, btw) challenges all writers to stop using “thought” verbs; instead, writers should find other ways of getting across what a character thinks by showing them what that character is seeing. Seriously, read this; it just makes you itch to get back to writing!

– This is a test you’ll actually WANT to take! Let us know in the comments whether you guessed right or not (male writer? female?) – some of us LTWF girls were pretty bang-on, and some of us not so much.

– Let’s face it – we all wear clothes (or at least, I hope you all do!) – so what better shirt to wear for writers and book lovers than a bookish t-shirt? This is the place to get the shirts that let you wear your love of literature! (Some of us LTWF girls have bought shirts from here!)

– Literary agent Kristin talks about the e-book sales being under-reported by publishers, and self-publishing.

– This will make you laugh (or at least smile!) – so read this! Besides, who DOESN’T like these types of posts?

– I love inkygirl (aka Debbie Ridpath Ohi) – and I love her cartoon strips (this one in particular made me laugh). Here she talks about her resolution to not go online for a set period of time everyday – and why the mornings just don’t work for her.

-Want to get your novel critiqued AND help a good cause? Writer Kat Brauer offers a critique of 250 words for every $1 you donate to her charity: water fundraiser! Plus, she has a HUGE line-up of agents and authors offering critiques! Be sure to stop buy–it’s running until June 30th!

~~~

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Quotes:

~

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

~~~

Happy Saturday everyone! Let us know what you thought of the articles this week (or if you have any you want to share). Or just let us know what’s up!

😀

Saturday Grab Bag: Mashup

28 May

Mashup:

Here are some great links on writing, the industry, and all things book related. Some are serious, and some are just downright hilarious. We highly recommend you read them!

– If you love HP, this might just make you tear up.

– The ever-so-awesome actress and screen writer Felicia Day (whom I <3) wrote an awesome article on why and how she started writing.

– Author Jody Hedlund talks about how to create characters that your readers can actually like.

– If you have an android phone, get ready to go scanner-happy! You can now scan in your library of books and their barcodes and add them to your Goodreads shelves!

– Looking for book reviews from a publishing insider? Rachel is a selector for Children’s and YA books, a national book wholesaler in Canada. If you like book reviews, I suggest checking her blog out!

– Love seeing pictures of books in sexy places? Well, SO DO WE! 😀

-Want to get your novel critiqued AND help a good cause? Writer Kat Brauer offers a critique of 250 words for every $1 you donate to her charity: water fundraiser! Plus, she has a HUGE line-up of agents and authors offering critiques! Be sure to stop buy–it’s running until June 30th!

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Books - That is exactly how they work

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Quotes:

~

“So I would encourage you all to read, read, read. Just keep reading. And writing is another skill. It’s practice. It’s practice. The more you write, the better you get. Drafts–our kids are learning the first draft means nothing. You’re going to do seven, 10 drafts. That’s writing, it’s not failure, it’s not the teacher not liking you because it’s all marked up in red. When you get to be a good writer, you mark your own stuff in red, and you rewrite, and you rewrite, and you rewrite. That’s what writing is.”

Michelle Obama

~~~

Hey all – Happy Saturday! Let us know what’s up in the comments! 😀


Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought: Vanessa Di Gregorio

26 May

by Vanessa Di Gregorio

~~~

You might recall that Sarah and Sammy kicked off the Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought series. Well, today I thought I’d share with you a bit about myself and my day-to day life.

But what you first need to understand is that I have a problem.

I’m super busy (or at least I feel like I am). And when I’m not, I procrastinate. A lot*.

*Not to be confused with the Alot

From the moment I wake up (at 6:00 am), to the moment I go to bed (10-10:30 pm, cause I ain’t no youngin anymore), I am busy. My commute, my work, and subsequent commute back home leaves me feeling a tad bit tired. Then there’s dinner, catching up on TV shows I adore (Glee, The Office, Fringe, Modern Family, and Game of Thrones to name a few), perhaps a bit of reading here and there, and a husband I like to spend time with. And that’s not including the times when awesome games like Portal 2 come out (which then occupies even more of that spare time, if not all of it).

Then there are the work events, where I try to network with as many fellow publishing peeps as possible (despite my bouts of social awkwardness). Or there are the times I go out to catch up with friends after work for a couple of hours.

Does this make me any more busy than the average person? Probably not. Which brings me back to my problem: I procrastinate.

For all that I claim to be perpetually busy, I still somehow end up spending at least 35-50% of my time on my laptop. I might be reading my fave blogs, checking my email, or scanning my Facebook or Twitter pages. I might even be writing up book reviews, browsing through Etsy or Tumblr, and peeking at my Goodreads account.

So where do I find the time to squeeze in some writing?

Here’s the thing: I don’t.

That’s a scary thing to admit to people I admire and respect; that’s a ridiculously frightening thing to tell all of you. I mean, here I am offering you advice; here I am telling you that you should write and read as much as possible.

Easier said than done, right?

I know, I know. I should be better. I should be more disciplined. I should be at the very least trying to meet a daily, or weekly, or even monthly word count as a means of motivating myself. I have wonderful CP’s who constantly beg me for the next chapter. And my response?

Soon, soon.”

I struggle with finding time to write. And even when I do convince myself that I should work on RIFT – even when I finally have that document open, staring at me, I get distracted. I procrastinate.

I’m surrounded by people who write so much more than I do; by people who go through the day looking forward to the chance they get to sit down and write. People who are so much more dedicated than myself; who schedule time to write. I did that once. I was good at finding the time. But now I seem to doubt myself a lot more. Now I think, “I’m not a real writer”. I don’t devote nearly as much time as I once did to writing. I worry that just because people liked some of RIFT, it doesn’t mean they’ll like the rest.

Yet I want to write. I want to finish RIFT. I have moments where all I want to do is sit down and write. But those moments, it seems, don’t come often enough anymore; or if they do, they get pushed aside. And it’s not that I’m not in love with the story; I am. But I think, “Well, I can get to that tomorrow. I need to do this first”.

Am I the only person who does this? If being a part of LTWF has shown me one thing, it’s how absolutely devoted every other contributor is. They all seem to write daily. They all put my writing pace to shame. They all write. I sit and think about writing.

I struggle with this on a daily basis. I know I should write. I want to write. I think about doing it;sometimes at work, or while I’m watching a show or reading a book.  But every day it’s the same thing; I put it off and do all the other things because they’re easier. Because sometimes, nothing else makes me doubt myself as much as writing.

But I love writing. I can’t imagine not writing, even if (lately) I haven’t found the time to write. I just need to make the time. I need to get my act together and actually become someone worth listening to.

Which I’ve started. With the help of a couple of CP’s, I write. We get together on the weekends and have writing sessions. And it works. Now I just need to learn how to write by myself again; I need to re-learn how to schedule time to write, to get away from everyone else and just put everything else on mute while I get into the zone and write – even if all I get down is a couple of paragraphs.

So, that’s basically what my day-to-day life is like. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not awe-inspiring or remarkable. But my goal is to make it a life where writing occurs more frequently, with more fervor and inspiration.

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A/N: My 12 year old brother came by as I was typing this up and said, “Why must you be so hard on yourself? And why are you writing THIS and complaining when you could be writing your book right now?”
To this I say, “Touché little man. Touché.” (He’s absolutely right, you know.)

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Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She also has a book publishing certificate under her belt. Currently, Vanessa is working on RIFT, a YA fantasy novel, and a Children’s non-fiction series. She also geeks out over stuff at Something Geeky.

Saturday Grab Bag: Mashup

14 May

Mashup:

Here are some great links on writing, the industry, and all things book related. Some are serious, and some are just downright hilarious. We highly recommend you read them!

– You might’ve heard about the uproar following New York Times’ Gina Bellefante’s review of GAME OF THRONES, the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. She claims Fantasy belongs to men – but this article looks at why fantasy appeals to so many women.

– BEST. COMIC STRIP. EVER. If you’re feeling the tiniest bit of doubt, this comic will definitely put you back on track!

– Curious about what the next big trend will be in YA? Well, looks like mermaids are going to be the next big trend to make a splash.

– The title pretty much says it all.

– Some pretty amusing comics! Definitely check them out.

– Boys, here are some reasons you should date a girl who reads. (Girls, this is bound to make you smile!)

– Howl’s Moving Castle = awesomeness. Howl’s Moving Castle PAPERCRAFT?! TOO awesome!

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(Many thanks to Alex once again for this link as well! :D)

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Quotes:

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Wooo! It’s the weekend! Share with us any thoughts, links, or book recommendations! Happy Saturday!