Everything’s Coming Up Roses

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As you may have realized from last week’s post, I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. Ever since I ditched my fairy tale WIP, I’ve been having trouble getting motivated to write. (Ok, that’s a lie, I wasn’t motivated to write it for the last month or so either, that’s why I ditched it.) It’s been a long winter, and cabin fever has set in – without even the promise of a conference this spring to look forward to. On top of that, I’ve been mired in query-limbo, waiting for responses (and deadlines for non-responders). Basically, I’ve been feeling blah.

But this week that all changed.

It all started when I posted my fractured fairy tale for Susanna Leonard Hill’s contest. I got so many wonderful comments on my little story that I couldn’t help but smile. They made me feel good about myself as a writer again. Even better, I woke up this morning and found out I’d made the list of finalists! Go here to read the top ten stories and vote for your favorite (there are so many good ones, I had a hard time choosing where to cast my vote). Voting is open until Sunday, and winners will be announced Monday.

Also this week, I decided to pitch one of my PBs during #pitmad (a Twitter pitch party for agents and editors). I didn’t get any favorites from agents (I’ve heard there wasn’t a lot of PB love) but I did get a bunch of retweets from other writers who liked my pitch enough to promote it. My confidence rose again.

As if that wasn’t enough, my husband (in a tremendous bid for the husband-of-the-year award) is taking charge of the kids and the house this weekend, while I disappear to a friend’s empty place for my own personal mini writing retreat.

Squee!

I’ve spent this week making sure I have every aspect plotted out for my new WIP. Plus, I’ve fleshed out a couple of ideas for PBs in case I need to switch gears. My goal for the weekend is to write 10,000 words (more would be amazing, but I don’t want to cripple myself with too large a goal).

I also have a brand new purely-for-pleasure book to read.

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to come back next week and fill you all in on how the weekend went.

How did your week go? Any good news to share? Did you get some PB love during #pitmad? Tell me about it in the comments.

Fractured Fairy Tale Contest Entry

Susanna Leonard Hill is having a contest on her blog to write a fractured fairy tale, with an optional spring element. It was a challenge to stay under the 400-word limit, but, squeaking in at 399 words, I give you:

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Little Red Riding Hood and the Tiny Rude Bunny

Once upon a springtime, Little Red Riding Hood encountered a bunny nibbling grass near the forest path. He said, “Good morning, little girl. Where are you going?”

Now, Red knew she should not talk to strangers. She had talked to a wolf once, and had almost been eaten! But this was just a tiny bunny, so she said, “To grandmother’s house.”

“What’s in your basket?”

“Fancy eggs,” Red answered, showing him. The eggs sparkled like beautiful pink, blue, green, and gold gems. “We’re going to share them with the village children.”

“I want them!” The bunny grabbed at the basket. He was not a very polite bunny.

“No!” said Red. And off she went.

The bunny was angry. He wanted those eggs! He would trick her into giving them to him.

Over the river and through the woods, the bunny raced to Grandma’s house. And, because bunnies are very fast when they want to be, he got there well before Red.

Bunny knocked on the door. No one was home. So he ran inside, put on Grandma’s clothes, and jumped into her bed, just as Red got to the cottage.

She was suspicious immediately.

“Grandma, you look so small today.”

“People shrink as they age,” the bunny said. “It’s not nice to point it out.”

“What big ears you have.”

“Ears never stop growing. A polite girl wouldn’t mention it.”

“What big whiskers you have.”

“How rude!”

“What big teeth you have.”

That was the last straw for bunny. “The better to eat your eggs,” he said and jumped from the bed.

Red wasn’t scared. After all, this wasn’t a big, bad wolf, this was a tiny rude bunny. She picked him up by the scruff of his neck. “No,” she said. “In fact, as punishment, you can deliver these eggs to the children for us.”

“Good idea,” said Grandma, coming in and pulling out a wand. (Ever since the incident with the wolf, Grandma had been studying witchcraft as self-defence.) She cast a spell to make the bunny deliver the eggs.

But the bunny was tricky. Instead of giving the eggs to the children, he hid them around their houses. The next day he went back and stole the ones they’d missed. But the kids had so much fun that Grandma let the bunny keep his eggs, so long as he promised to hide more again next year.

Now that you’ve read mine, head over here to check out the rest of the awesome entries.

Putting a Spring in Your Step

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It’s the first day of spring today, not that you’d know it from looking outside. Lately I’ve been feeling like my writing career is about as frozen as the weather. So today I thought I’d give myself and you a public pep talk to remind us all that winter can’t last forever, and sooner or later brighter days will shine.

Here goes:

You wrote a book. Take a moment and let that sink in. You wrote a whole novel (and/or picture book or books). You didn’t just talk about it, or think about it, you did it.

Not only did you write it, you thought it – unlike those horrible poems you used to write in high school – was good enough to try and get it published.

And then you started learning. Independent learning. You scoured the Net and schooled yourself. You learned how to write query letters and synopses, and how to revise. You analyzed every book you could get your hands on. You stalked researched agents. Heck, you even started a blog!

Somewhere in there, you also made new friends. Writer friends. Critique partners. People who encourage you and make you better. People who love writing as much as you do. Who love your writing as much as you do (some days, like today, they might even love your writing more than you do).

You found inspiration. You have a whole file (or notebook, or folder) of story ideas just waiting to be written.

Each and every one of these things is a success that should be celebrated.

Sure, you’re not at the end of the journey yet, but when will you be? There will always be another step: got an agent? Then you need a contract. Got a contract? Then you need to write another book, get another contract, get 5 star reviews.

There is no destination, only an ever-lengthening journey. So, enjoy the trip. Curl up with a blanket and some cocoa while you still can. With any luck, all too soon we’ll be complaining about the heat.

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A Monster Ate My WIP

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Ok, not really.

I wrote last week about how, having reached the halfway point of my WIP (MG fairy tale retelling), I was dragging the words out against their will. Well, when I went back and applied my 6 Tips to Beat the Monster in the Middle – it turned out that number 6 was all I needed. (Although, number 1, the break, may have helped give me the clarity I needed to find it.)

My poor manuscript was just too maimed to salvage. I outlined this draft more than any other I’ve written so far – I drew maps, made family trees, sketched out a castle blueprint – but it wasn’t enough. There were plot holes you could drive a pumpkin carriage through, and I would have needed a magic wand to fix them without starting over from scratch.

And then there’s the fact that fairy tale retellings seem to be on every agent’s wish list right now – which means by the time I finish this book and all its revisions, it’ll likely be a hard sell.

So I’m moving on.

I have a shiny new idea for an early MG, and I’ve spent the last week (March Break) outlining it. I have character interviews, a plot graph, and an itch to start writing.

On top of that, you may have noticed by the shiny new badge on my site that I made my ‘conference’ decision and opted for Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. I’ve written three PB drafts so far, and am working on revisions on all of them. Sure, I’m a little sad that I won’t get to travel, but I’m loving the inspiration and inclination I’ve gained so far.

The monster may have eaten my WIP, but he did me a favor.

What about you? Ever abandoned a book before? Tell me all about it in the comments.

The Monster in the Middle

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I am 25,000 words into my MG fairy tale re-telling WIP. Exactly halfway (well, halfway to the 50,000 I’m aiming for). And I’m starting to feel the drag – the fatigue that comes along at this point in novel-writing.  I’ve already finished building my world, and I’m still a good 15,000 words from the exciting climax and conclusion. For the last few weeks I’ve had to drag every word out of my brain and onto the computer.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the ideas I’m using to help me get over the hump and slay the sluggish beast that is the monstrous middle:

1) Take a break. Last week I didn’t write a word on my WIP. I wrote blog posts, drafted 3 PBs, and revised another PB, but I gave myself permission to ignore my WIP.

2) Re-read what you’ve written. When I did NaNo I didn’t have time to go back and re-read. But since I’m at the point of doubting my skills, I want to go back and re-fall in love with this world and the characters I’ve created.

3) Go back to the drawing board. I’m not saying to scratch everything, but go back and fill in more details for the middle section. Outline the heck out of the next few chapters until you get to that exciting conclusion. And while you’re at it:

4) Make life harder for your MC. Is the writing getting boring? Maybe that’s because nothing’s happening in the book. Clearly, the MC has it too easy. Throw in a few more obstacles and put some more danger in her life.

5) Read some good books in your genre/category. Do they slump in the middle? How do those authors avoid falling into a rut? (Obviously I’m not suggesting copying, just learning from how the masters do it.)

6) Know when to walk away. Maybe there’s a reason the middle isn’t working. Maybe you’re reluctant to write because you’re seeing plot holes or world-building issues that require an entire re-write to fix – assuming you even know how to fix them. Then you have to decide: scrap everything and start over? Or just scrap everything? I don’t think there should be any shame attached to realizing your WIP isn’t working. On the other hand, if you constantly find yourself getting discouraged around the halfway mark, it might not be the book – it might be you.

And that’s all I’ve got. I hope to dive back into my WIP refreshed, and renewed next week.

What are your tips for beating the monster in the middle? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to add some new tricks.