Editing Hell: Bad Fairy

One of the agents I’m talking to asked me to scale my Bad Fairy book back from 146,000 words to 115,000 or less because that fits the length that’s commonly accepted in the market for first novels.  If I can do that then she’ll look at it.

I considered it for a while and decided that even though it’d likely be hell, she’s probably doing me a favor.  I’ve had a couple full-manuscript-reading agents end up passing on my project citing a saggy middle or problems with the pacing.  So . . . maybe an ultimatum like this is the best way to help me tighten it up, like it or not.

It’s just frustrating because I already got it down to 146,000 words from its original 171,000 words (mostly with Jessie’s help), and I thought THAT was monumental.  The ridiculous word count was part of the reason I never entered this book in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition; they have a word cap of 150,000 words.  I was astounded when I slipped below that for the first time.

And now I’ve gotta do it again.  I’m not looking forward to it but I need to roll up my sleeves.

In the meantime, I made a comic about it for So You Write.  Haha.

New Webcomic: So You Write

I’m having a lot of fun networking with other writers and sharing experiences, and I was looking for a new artistic outlet to use my Copic markers, so my new webcomic So You Write was born.

It’s a huge departure from Negative One since it actually tries to be funny and has some semblance of background, but I know I’m not really a strong artist and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make fun of me.  🙂

This comic incorporates autobiographical experiences I’ve had with writing, querying, and all kinds of creativity-junkie lifestyle references.  Real people make cameos and whatnot.  I hope all you writer types enjoy it.

Character doodle for Stupid Questions

I have this problem when I write first person . . . I tend not to know what my protagonist looks like until or unless someone else comments on it, unless it’s significant. So in order to figure out what people look like, sometimes I have to draw them.

In celebration of completing my book yesterday, I completed this doodle of the main characters. It came out pretty cute. And now I know what my protagonist looks like (though I already knew what the girl looked like since, you know, he likes her and he mentally comments on/observes her a lot).

They’re texting each other because the story is mostly about a long-distance relationship. 🙂

I might try drawing something in color sometime, but this was my first crack at drawing them and I like the way it looks in black and white.

Completed New Novel: Stupid Questions

Finished writing the novel version of Stupid Questions!

Genre: Science fiction romance

Length: 25 chapters/350 pages/~95,000 words.

Tag line: “How do you have a down-to-earth romance with a girl who can fly?”

Keywords: SCIENCE FICTION: speculative fiction, romance, ESP, telekinesis, modern, relationships.

Protagonist: Nick Harris.

POV: First person, past tense.

About:

Nick Harris, news station cameraman, gets the shock of a lifetime when a guest on his show nonchalantly demonstrates apparently superhuman abilities. Intrigued by the enigmatic Summer Astley, he finds himself stumbling into asking her out after the show, and though her telekinetic powers are amazing, he’s quite a lot more interested in who she is under the mask.

After a weird couple of dates, Summer and Nick begin a long-distance relationship and try to figure each other out, but Nick is still struggling with baggage from his last relationship and Summer has no social skills due to growing up in isolation. Summer also believes that Nick has an uncanny ability of his own and is borderline obsessed with making him explore the possibility, but Nick insists that his unusual perceptiveness is just an offshoot of his observational skills. As these two rather unique people try to figure out how to fit into each other’s lives, they find themselves answering as many questions as they ask.

Next up: Lots of editing! The following people have volunteered for the test audience:

Victor, Mommy, Jessie, Cara, Mike Lee, Jay, Kim, Corinne, Shelby, Becky, Clare, Ryan, Alasdair, Robert, Elise, Fred, Alicorn, David, Stas, Amanda, Reeny, and Sandy.  We’ll see how many actually read it.

 

Twitter Pitch Contest: Finding Mulligan

Mónica B.W., Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake, and Krista VanDolzer collaborated to put on a contest called The Writer’s Voice Twitter Pitch Party.

Basically it involved getting on Twitter with some agents who had agreed to participate, and then trying to pitch your book in a message short enough to fit in a tweet.  Challenging, eh?  ESPECIALLY for someone as wordy as me!

I decided to take the challenge and came up with seven short little tag lines to describe Finding Mulligan.  Then I asked my pals on Facebook to vote on them and used the pitch they liked the best.  Here were my choices:

  1. If your two personalities are in love with different guys, does that count as two-timing?
  2. Falling in love with the guy of your dreams? Awesome. Finding out he lives in your head? Not so awesome.
  3. Dream guys are the best. Until you wake up. [I don’t like this one because it’s too vague.]
  4. The world’s strangest love triangle begins when Cassie’s other self meddles in her romantic life. And then it starts to get weird.
  5. Can’t a gal and her other self have a good old-fashioned reality-crossing romance anymore?
  6. Love triangle, shmuv triangle. With three guys in two universes chasing one girl with two personalities, this is at LEAST a love pentagon.
  7. Cassie’s other personality shares her life, her dreams, and all her memories. You’d think she’d be willing to share her boyfriend too, but noooo.

Pitch #1 was elected as the best, so I used it during the pitch party.  And got no attention.  Boo.

Then I re-read the rules and they’d updated them.  Turned out that since the agents would be drifting in and out of the feed all day, we could not only tweet our pitch more than once, but change it if we wanted.

I tried a few times, modified a couple of them and tweeted, but nobody nibbled.

Until finally I was feeling contrary and tweeted #5, the one nobody liked except my friend Joy.  Immediately one of the agents asked me to send her a 40-page partial.

Go fig.

So that worked out well for me.

Ready to Query: So You Think You’re Asexual

My basic first draft of So You Think You’re Asexual: An Introduction to the Invisible Orientation  is complete, though of course there will be lots of updates and changes if I end up finding representation.  I’ll be soliciting a test audience if it looks like my book is going to get the kind of interest I want.

My basic query letter (with personalized agent stuff at the beginning, and modified if needed):

What if you weren’t attracted to anyone?

A growing number of people today are identifying as asexual: they aren’t sexually attracted to other people, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.  A commonly overlooked and dismissed orientation, asexuality is estimated to affect approximately 1% of the population.  However, because of the overt sexuality of society, most asexuals feel isolated and ill-informed; they remain invisible, confused, and think they’re broken because they cannot relate to a central aspect of human life as we know it.

Is it a hormone disorder?  Can asexual people have relationships?  Should it be cured?  This book outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexual world.  It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, and it includes tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.

My qualifications for writing this book include the following:

I’ve been writing about asexuality awareness since 1998.  As an asexual person casually writing about my own experience, I posted a Top Ten list outlining the most common misconceptions about asexuality on my own website.  This earned me media attention and mainstream magazine interviews (“Asexual and Proud,” Salon, May 2005; “No Sex? No Problem,” The Daily Beast, July 2009; “The Opposite of Sex,” Marie Claire, August 2010).  Some years (and several interviews) later, I created two series of asexuality-themed YouTube videos to reach a different demographic.  One was a video version of my Top Ten list, and the other was an ongoing series called “Letters to an Asexual.”

These earned me more media attention, many subscribers, and a part in a documentary as a major interviewee ((A)sexual by Arts Engine, premiered at Frameline, the gay and lesbian film festival, in June 2011).  I also picked up a spot writing articles on the subject for Good Vibrations, a respected sex-positive magazine (“Asexuality is Not Antisexuality,” January 2011; “Sexual Attraction vs. Romantic Attraction,” February 2011; “Are Asexuals Queer?” March 2011; “How to Be an Asexual Ally,” July 2011; and “Why Should the Sex-Positive Community Promote Asexuality Awareness?” October 2011).  I’ve been mentioned on international television and interviewed for various academic and human interest pieces, usually pseudonymously under the name “swankivy” or “Ivy,” but my legal name has also appeared in several of the interviews.

I have a full proposal and sample chapters available if you’re interested.  Thank you for your consideration.

The Writer’s Voice Contest: Finding Mulligan

Mónica B.W., Cupid’s Literary Connection, Brenda Drake, and Krista VanDolzer collaborated to put on a contest called The Writer’s Voice.  It was a pretty cool contest for writers seeking agents to enter their polished novels and get a chance to have agents bidding on them to see partials and full manuscripts.  I figured I had nothing to lose, and I was lucky enough to actually make it into the competitive link pool, but then I had to hope one of the ladies above would choose me for their team.  They didn’t.

None of them are agents (as far as I know)—just other writers—but I figured if one of them picked me and I got a chance to get seen by someone who wouldn’t have otherwise seen me, it was worth it.  But since they chose other writers, I didn’t get to participate.  That said, Krista approached me after the contest, having said that she would let people know if their entries had been one of her favorites despite not being picked.  She left the following comment on my entry:

Just wanted to let you know that yours was one of the entries on my short short list. I thought the premise here was really intriguing, and your first page had a lot of mystery. I just worried that the concept would seem too similar to that new TV show Awake. I know you’ve probably been writing this since long before the show premiered, but I worried that people would find it derivative. It stinks when something steals your thunder like that.

Best of luck to you and FINDING MULLIGAN, because this is just the sort of thing I’d like to read.

I don’t actually think this concern is too worrisome, because my book is literally nothing like the premise of that show (except that they both involve falling asleep and having a different perspective), but it was still nice to hear what she had to say.  Thanks Krista.

Other nice comments:

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Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, Semi-Finals: Finding Mulligan

Finding Mulligan was cut from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition at the semi-final round.  I will not be moving on.

Here is the (again, unflattering) Publishers Weekly review:

Just quirky, or crazy? That seems to be the question at the heart of this overblown, confused romantic fantasy. Cassandra’s life pales in comparison to the extremely realistic dreamland she often visits. There she’s known as “Dia.” Unlike Cassandra, Dia is beautiful, endlessly talented, and beloved by all dreamland’s denizens. When Cassandra, a college freshman, moves into a new apartment, she grows fascinated (some would say obsessed) with the lifelike portrait of a man painted on her bathroom door. She’s convinced this man will appear in dreamland as well, and sure enough, Dia meets the man (named Mulligan) and falls instantly in love. Mulligan must have a real-world counterpart, Cassandra reasons, and so she remakes herself into a version of Dia to make herself recognizable to him. Disturbing flashbacks about Cassandra’s chronically-ill younger sister are meant to explicate her mental state; her consistently kooky behavior, however, itself more than accomplishes that purpose. Cassandra’s ultimate recognition of the “real” Mulligan bears little heft or drama and could certainly have been accomplished in fewer than 381 meandering pages.

Hm, it’s kinda offensive to say a possibly mentally ill person is “kooky” and “crazy” because some of her attempts to figure herself out seem on the extreme side. My character’s “kooky” behavior isn’t disordered and random. It follows directly from the way her reality is. Boo.

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New Nonfiction Book: So You Think You’re Asexual

There aren’t any traditionally published laymen’s books about asexuality, so I decided I’m just the girl to write one.

After all, I’ve been interviewed in magazines, radio, and visual media.  I’ve made helpful videos on YouTube and have nearly 1,500 subscribers.  I’m followed by a lot of people on Tumblr and LiveJournal and AVEN regarding asexuality.  So, since “who you are” matters more in selling a nonfiction book than what you’ve actually written, I decided if anyone’s qualified to write one it’s me.  And I’ve begun to do so.

This one won’t be handled the same way I’ve handled my fiction, though.  Nonfiction books are often sold based on the idea/the author, and often get purchased before they’re written.  I plan to have a first draft before I query, but I also don’t intend to solicit a test audience until or unless I find representation or a publisher for it.  I will be querying agents, though, even though you don’t necessarily need one for nonfiction, because I feel more comfortable doing it that way.

This is going to be FAST because I’ve said all this stuff before and I just have to figure out how to organize it.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012, Quarter-Finals: Finding Mulligan

Finding Mulligan has been chosen as one of 500 quarter-finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

My “prize” now is to go on to be judged in the semi-finals.  Publishers Weekly will be judging my novel—the full manuscript—and they will decide whether I get to be one of the 100 left in the semi-final round.

Rating me and recommending me were two Amazon Vine Reviewers.  Here is what they said about my first chapter:

Reviewer #1:

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
Cassie is an interesting character, and the author does a fine job of letting us get to know her and her parents. She expertly introduces the family dynamics and sets the stage for her story in an authentic and believable manner. With the exception of a couple of the introductory paragraphs, the author’s prose flows smoothly and she handles the dialogue very well. Cassie clearly comes across as a teen about to be on her own, exhibiting all the frustration, nervousness and excitement common to that age.

What aspect needs the most work?
My one problem with this excerpt was the author’s introduction of the chimes in Cassie’s head. She is introducing a very important element here, and it just seemed like a clumsy way to introduce Cassie’s alternative dream world. The story recovers nicely when Cassie begins to talk about the boy in the painting, but getting from regular teenager to girl who has another identity just didn’t fly.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
I think this was a fairly strong excerpt and I liked where the story was going. I didn’t really understand the chimes in Cassie’s head, and wish more explanation was provided. The strength of the excerpt lies in the very strong characterizations. I hope the author is able to maintain Cassie’s strong voice during her dream life sequences. That will surely make for a memorable story.

I enjoyed the author’s prose and felt that it was very readable. I liked the hints of romance to come, and am very curious how the remainder of the story will play out. Nice, original idea that will be sure to hook plenty of YA readers.

Reviewer #2:

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
It’s intriguing, well-written, with believable dialogue, and the pacing is good.

What aspect needs the most work?
I can’t think of anything. It’s not clear what Haley’s issue is, but perhaps that’s clarified later.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
Excellent.

Dude, #2 was just phoning it in like mad.