Missing Out

The Canada East SCBWI Conference is this weekend, and I’m not going. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure it was the right one (but it’s too late to change my mind now). I’ve been to the last…five(?) of their conferences, and I’m definitely sorry to be missing this one.

A lot of things went into my decision: being in-between the Beginner (what agents are looking for) and Pro categories (how to improve your school visits), the expense, the distance (everything is farther/more difficult when you can’t drive), my health, and the massive depression/case of Imposter Syndrome I was suffering from when it came time to sign up.

I will miss the social aspect, though. Getting to meet up with other writers, some I only get to see at these conferences, and making new friends. Some of my closest writing contacts have come from these conferences. But we have an Ottawa SCBWI get-together in a couple of weeks, and I’ll definitely be going to it, so at least I’ll get to see a few people.

I’m already thinking ahead to next year. The conference usually alternates between Montreal and my hometown of Ottawa, so if it keeps to schedule, next year it will be here. Having the conference in town definitely cuts down on costs: less transportation, most meals at home, and no hotel. Just the cost of the actual conference.

So, while I’m really sad to be missing out this year, I think I did make the right choice for me. But I already can’t wait for next year.

When Work is Like a Game of Twister

As you probably already know, I am an almost-full-time writer/stay-at-home mom: “almost-full-time”, because being a stay-at-home mom can definitely eat into writing time some weeks.

This has been one of those weeks. (And so was last week. Sigh.)

Between doctor’s appointments for me and one of my kids, sick days, a need for school volunteers, a crush of neglected chores and errands, plus a poorly-timed PA (PD?) day, I haven’t had much time for writing.

Fortunately, I’m still in the plotting stage of my current book, which is good, because I find I can’t put as many solid hours into plotting as I can when drafting. Not to mention, for me, plotting involves a lot of day-dreaming to figure out sticky little issues, which is something I can do while folding laundry or lying in a dentist’s chair.

But for the times I’ve actually needed to be at the computer/my notebook, I’ve had to squeeze it in, bending and twisting my schedule around to find the time. On a normal (deadline-free) week, I only write Monday to Friday, while the kids are at school. But the last two weeks I’ve been getting up at five a.m. all seven days to get at least an hour of plotting in (plus some social media & coffee time) before everyone is up and demanding breakfast, scribbling notes while dinner cooks, and generally grabbing any quiet moment to sit and plot.

And it’s worked.

By the time my work week starts up again on Tuesday (it’s a holiday here on Monday), I should be able to start drafting a new YA Fantasy. Yay! I’m really excited to get writing, already loving my two main characters, and their world. And considering how many pages of notes I have (roughly 40 handwritten, lined notebook pages), I don’t think I’ll be falling short on this draft’s length.

Well, that’s all the time I can squeeze in for writing right now. Hope you had as productive a week as I did.


MG Draft: Good News and Bad News

Well, the good news is that I finished the MG Fantasy draft I was working on. The bad news is that I was only able to bump it up to 21,000 words by the end.

But I’m not worried (yet). That’s just the first draft, after all. There’s lots of time for it grow up into a full book.

The next step, (in my writing process, at least, every writer is different) is to let the story sit, unread, for at least a month. Get some distance between me and my darlings, so I can judge them with a more impartial eye.

After that, I’ll revise on my own for a while, doing as many drafts as I feel it needs (and hopefully finding about 9,000 words along the way). I already know I want to focus more on character development, and I’m debating gender-swapping two characters to deal with some potential issues…I may even end up writing a whole second gender-swapped draft to see how that plays out.

Once I have the shiniest draft I can make on my own, then I’ll take it to my critique partners and see what they can do with it. After I revise with their help, it’s off to Bri for more revision suggestions (or possibly rejection).

But that’s all far in the future.

For now, I need to walk away from the story and focus on other things.

By happy coincidence, this a good week for me not to be drafting. I have a slew of non-writing things eating away at my time this week: doctor’s appointments, an event at my daughter’s school, the last minute scramble to get costumes ready for Comiccon on Sunday.

But that should still leave me some time to brainstorm for whatever I’m writing next. Right now I’ve got two projects competing for brain space: a YA Fantasy falling into some troubling gender stereotypes, and an MG Fairy Tale retelling that’s not developed enough for me to tell if it’s worth writing. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have scribbled out enough thoughts to at least figure out which one deserves my time.

Right, I think that’s it for this week. Off to brainstorm…

This Draft is Going Quickly…Too Quickly

I never thought I’d complain about drafting a story too quickly, but hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?

This new MG Fantasy is just pouring out of me, which is great. The words are flowing–a huge and wonderful change from having to drag them out, the way I’ve been doing for all my recent failed drafts.

And yet…I’m burning through my plot outline faster than my expected word count. Scenes are coming together with fewer words than expected, and I’m just about out of plot.

At this rate, my absolute bare bones first draft is going to top out at 20,000 words…sometime today. Now, this is meant as a young MG, so that’s not completely unreasonable, but in my head, I was aiming for more like 35,000 words.

So, tomorrow, it’ll be time to go back and see if I can add any more scenes, or fill out existing scenes. I know I need to add more character development (my kryptonite), so hopefully I can kill two birds with one stone. I think my new goal for this draft will be around 27,000 words.

The last time I had a draft fall this short, I added a POV to boost my word count. It won’t work this time, but that last story is the one that got me my agent, so maybe this is a good sign after all.

Either way, I’m excited to keep writing and see exactly how this story ends.