Friday, June 28, 2013

Excerpts from the Editing Journal

It's Friday, and -- wow -- I'm happy to say that I met all of this week's writing goals. Woah. I think setting weekly goals works well for me. I've often had issues setting concrete goals with definite deadlines. Somehow I end up getting things done, but often in a haphazard, frantic manner. I have a good picture in my head of where I want to end up -- but the baby steps between here and there are often hard to visualize. If I can plan week by week, I can make better progress.

I also finished Edit Round 3 on The Book and have started ER4. At 103,951 words, it still needs some serious trimming. My goal is to get it below 100k. Then what? I'm avoiding answering that question, at least for now. Like with drafting, I've found that I edit better when I don't worry about the future.

I've discovered some good editing strategies. I've outlined, made a "Changes to be made" doc, kept "Discarded and alternate material" in another doc, and tracked my progress using Excel. (I have a weird love of graphs.) But the best thing I've done was start an editing journal.

The journal helps me keep track of time, progress, and goals. It also lets me mouth off my inner editing angst. I don't bother with grammar and I certainly don't give a shit about propriety. :) I didn't expect to have fun journaling about editing. Keeping a record of my progress gives me insight into my own writing process, and hopefully will help me be more aware of my own flaws and strengths.

Just for fun, my two favorite excerpts from the editing journal:

"Unnecessary commas are sprouting all over this document"

"The thought of tackling this second half keeps stalking a clown with an axe."

In other news, I'm flipping the eff out over Partials by Dan Wells, which I got on my NOOK for PC as a part of this deal/cover reveal. And when I say "flipping out," I mean the "I'm going to re-read this every month and bully all of my friends into buying it because OMG." It's a post-apocalyptic YA title. I think my favorite thing about Partials is that Kira is the strongest protagonist I've ever read. It was cool to read her struggling between her sense of ethics and her scientific curiosity. Actually, scrap that. My favorite part is that it doesn't play by the same rules as a lot of YA. Many of the annoying tropes I dislike aren't there, and when you say "raise the motherf/ing stakes," it's not afraid to go there and do it BIG.

So, yeah. Put that on your TBR list. 

Currently Reading:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Up in the Writing Life

I'm participating in Ready. Set. Write! this summer, a blogfest type thing where we all set writing goals and hold each other to them. I've tried for a long time to find a good way of setting concrete goals that I can stick to, and this will help me.

Weekly Writing Goals:

- Finish writing the revamped scene/section of The Book. I have about 500 words to go, so that's doable in a week. CHECK! I finished it Monday morning.
- Get back to editing the rest -- but only after the new part is done.
- Write at least two more Examiner reviews this week.
- Post here 3 times a week.

What I'm Reading

I just finished The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and I am now sufficiently depressed.

I also bought four ebooks for my NOOK on the computer, and I plan to raid the library later this week. I just finished reading House of Many Ways and The Game by Diana Wynne Jones, Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde, and the Paranormalcy trilogy by Kiersten White. Bleep, I loved those books. Although I did get a bit exasperated with Evie's unwillingness to do anything "wrong." That's par for the course for the hero, I suppose. That's why characters like Vivian exist, to do the hard things the hero can't.* And I was REALLY happy that Jack came back for the last book. And I even started to warm up to Reth, especially when he pointed out how selfish Evie is as long as she's happy and content. But I love it when characters have real flaws. Oh, look at me. I'm totally fangirling out, aren't I?

I have reading goals as well: Read all of Diana Wynne Jones's books (that I can get my hands on), and read more classic sci-fi. I'm easing into the sci-fi with Partials by Dan Wells, which I absolutely LOVE.

What I'm Writing

I'm editing, as usual. I just finished writing the new scene. Instead of going on a boring side trip to a jungle and failing at life, a character gets kidnapped in the jungle side trip and fails at life in much more interesting ways. Don't worry; I saved the old version in my "Discarded and alternate material" file. That's a lot of text to just delete. I'm still not sure whether either version fits in the fabric of the novel or whether the whole idea is a side trip waste of time and words.

I also wrote a practice piece for The Write Practice.

What Else I've Been Up To

I have a new job. I've been writing book reviews for Examiner. I'm also waiting on my cello to be fixed. While driving it to my lesson, it slid forward and bashed against the back of a seat, jarring the bridge and soundpost out of place. Luckily, it's an easy fix.

My blog, much to my surprise and delight, was also featured on Twitterific. They linked to the post, "Writing the Dreaded YA Love Scene." I recommend checking out their list of twitterific writers and blogs. It's a diverse list with something interesting for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the post about knives as murder weapons.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Gardening inspires me; I've always had a green thumb. I planted a seed I found in my grapefruit, and holy crap, it's actually growing. Good books are inspiring, though sometimes oddly discouraging. Occasionally I read something brilliant and sadly wonder if anything I write will ever have the power to move others as I was moved by it.

My cat is also inspiring. I firmly believe in his dream to become the next Pawvarati, although I wish he didn't have to practice at three in the morning.

*Also, Batman.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear YA: Stalking is NOT Sexy

I've just finished reading Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. It's a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it if you're into paranormal or fantasy fiction.

In my book, Paranormalcy wins Cutest Relationship Award. There is very little staring soulfully into each others' eyes and "just knowing" that Evie and Lend are "just right." He doesn't freeze her in place her with his electric gaze that seems to stare into her soul. She doesn't dazzle him with her superpowers or her sweet, soulful shyness. Instead, there is lots of fun bonding time, friendship building, crush-having, and figuring-out-who-the-other-person-is before it blossoms naturally into romance.

Paranormalcy also wins Creepiest Ex Award for the character of Reth. Reth is an ancient faerie with an obsession for Evie. He doesn't care about physicality or sex; he's all about manipulation, mind control, and a really creepy intrusive thing he does that is basically mind rape. 

All of his language is typical rape culture: You belong to me, It's for your own good, You'll like it once you let me, "I'll enjoy it when you beg me to touch you again" -- and the phrase, "I'm just waiting for you to stop struggling and realize that you want it." Oh, and the fact that he can touch her throat to stop her from screaming.

The thing that really pissed me off, though, wasn't him. It was Raquel, Evie's female mentor and boss. Over the course of the book, Evie tries to get her to take Reth's aggressive behavior seriously. She asks to stop working with him, and is ignored. She asks Raquel to forbid him to come near her or touch her, and is ignored. She asks them to please at least be considerate of her history with him, and Raquel just rolls her eyes and tells her not to be silly and overdramatic.

By that point, I'm screaming, "What is WRONG with you, woman?!?" I hated Raquel. What kind of mother figure dismisses stalking? A supernatural creature is stalking her. Jesus. 

She should at least have considered Evie's status as an employee. As a professional woman, Raquel has no doubt experienced workplace harassment. Granted, it's hard to file suit against a faerie, but at the least she could have honored Evie's request not to work with her fucking stalker.

OK, all of this is fictional. If I'm getting worked up over it, it's because of something that made me madder than all of the above combined.

One of the reviews on the outside of the book began, "The two sexy paranormals who vie for Evie's affection each had their own victory. One won Evie's heart and the other won mine."

Lend, I suppose, is sexy. He seemed more cute to me, but sure, sexy, whatever. But Reth? How many times do I have to say this, YA? Stalking is not sexy. You could argue that Reth is sexy physically, but to my mind, no matter how hot someone is, if they start behaving like a fucking rapist then fear instantly overrides any perception of them as sexy. 

If you're reading Paranormalcy like there's a love triangle between Evie and two hot guys whom she is equally interested in, you're doing it wrong.

The review snippet seemed more like an attempt to attract readers by casting Paranormalcy as a Twilight-like love story. It's not. Also, it doesn't need to have anything in common with Twilight. It's a fantastic book already. 

All YA Paranormal is not Twilight. It does not have to be Twilight to be good or even to sell well. Frankly, I am tired of Twilight-like stories. And I am even more tired of people who think that being stalked is a turn-on.

Review: Style by Chelsea Cameron

A book I read was good, and I want to share it with you all via a review! :) I'm reading more of Chelsea Cameron's stuff, and this...