1. I got ENGAGED! If you’re on twitter or facebook, you probably already know this, but it’s the main reason why I’ve been MIA. Some of you have been emailing and asking for details.
Shootingstarsmag.com is holding a YA Book Carnival this week with TONS of links to win YA books and prizes of all kinds. To join in on the fun, my partner in crime (ie. my critique partner) and I are giving away a couple of Ally Carter books.
Contest closes June 30th!
This topic is very apropos to me lately because, as you can see by my lack of blogging, I’ve been struggling to find time to write. Or even sleep. Every time I think I may have a few minutes or an hour, something interrupts me. My writing has suffered in the last few weeks because of this, and so has my ability to timely respond to emails. And then today I was thinking back to nanowrimo 2007 and how I worked 12 hour days, commuted to and from the city (15 minute subway ride with 20 minute walk each way), managed to watch all my November sweeps with a day of each show airing, read 1-2 books a week, and still ended up writing 94k in 26 days.
And really all this means is I’m not trying hard enough right now. So how did I squeeze in the writing time back then? Well, I’m going to tell you! And then I’m going to take my own advice because I’m determined to finish the draft of the super secret retelling rewrite by Sunday since I now have some other revisions to get back to on my book on sub.
1. Squeeze in bursts whenever you can. If, like me, you’re addicted to TV and can’t miss sweeps (though not a problem for me in the summer), I write during commercials. For those 3 minutes, I’m completely focused. I bang out as much as I can without stopping, without thinking. Now, this may not work for everyone. I like to pour out my first drafts as fast as possible, pretty them up later, operating under the philosophy that you can’t edit a blank page. So any time I can use for writing, I will. Other places I find time to squeeze in writing include: 12 minute subway commute. I sometimes bring my alphasmart with me, and if I can write without anyone interrupting to ask, "Is that a computer? What is that?" then I can usually bang out 750-1200 words on the commute alone. Oh, I should note that it helps if you type insanely fast. So fast that sometimes my fingers have to wait for my brain to catch up. So fast that anytime I freelance at a new place, someone comments on the speed. I do make typos, but I also don’t worry about those in first draft. Clean up is for revisions! But then you may ask, what if you’re lacking time for revisions, not first drafting? The same method applies. I can’t edit on my alphasmart, but in those cases I’ve found uploading my book to my Kindle or maybe even iPhone and reading it like a book and scribbling notes will help me be productive on my commute. Then I try to tackle a chapter a day. Or a scene a day. Whether it’s in short bursts or a long stretch. I can’t focus on pacing during the short stretches, but there are other things I *can* do.
2. An alternative method to squeezing in bursts is to write a paragraph or 3 or so lines of dialogue every 15 minutes or so. And by this, I mean do it while you’re at work. One paragraph is not that long. I can get that out quickly! Then I spend the next 15 minutes thinking over the next paragraph. You could probably squeeze in some actually work in there if you feel you must or if you want to keep your day job. (And if any of my bosses read this, I DO NOT DO THIS OR CONDONE THIS.) But if you write one or two sentences at a time throughout the day, I guarantee you’ll end up with a productive day. Sometimes I get over 3k like this.
3. Lunch breaks are the perfect time to get some extra writing in. Eat a bite, write a sentence. Wash, rinse, repeat. I actually don’t usually get a lunch break because I work on a live TV show and well, they need graphics constantly. But it does tend to slow down a little at lunch and so I do the bite/sentence thing when I can. But this is all about stealing time you might be using for other things. Multi-task!
4. Wake up a half hour earlier or go to bed a half hour later (or both if you choose). I’m not the kind of person who likes to sacrifice sleep, but I can justify losing a half hour since it doesn’t seem too daunting. But if you take this half hour, you must actually use it. Surfing the internet would be a waste of your time.
5. Use the internet as a reward. What I like to do is say to myself, "You can’t go back online until you write 500 words." Then I stick to it. I hit 500 words, I get my reward. Once my internet fix is sated, I do the 500 thing again. The key here is self discipline. You’re only hurting yourself if you play around during your work time. There are other rewards too. Chocolate works. TV. A book you’re itching to read. I personally don’t like to deny myself of anything I enjoy, such as the TV or reading. If I can find a way to do everything, I will. Obviously if a deadline is pressing and I need to complete something, I will give up on everything else. I’ve done that in day jobs many many times (such as pulling all nighters and sleeping for an hour or two on a work couch before getting right back into it–several nights in a row.) But I’m pretty good about time management (usually, not in the last two weeks) so unless unforeseen circumstances get in the way, I can almost always schedule myself so I don’t have to sacrifice anything. I think withholding something you enjoy might end up making you bitter about the project taking your time, and one thing I love more than anything is writing, so I don’t want to be bitter about.
6. Set goals and stick to them. Say to yourself that you’re going to write 3k today. Or an hour a day. Or whatever. Try your best to hit it. If circumstances beyond your control get in the way, then try to tack on the missed word count the next day on top of that day’s goals. I do this during nano and it really works for me. I also try to write a lot more words at the beginning of the project so I don’t lose steam on it. So on day one I might write 7k. Then by the end, I might only be writing 2k a day, but it still feels productive.
7. Have a writing buddy that holds you accountable. Tell her your progress each day. This is why I love nano so much, because everyone is encouraging everyone else. I tend to get competitive and that helps me. But when it’s just myself, I like to tell my crit partner my goals so that if I don’t hit them, I feel guilty about it. Because she KNOWS I failed! The last two weeks, I’ve been very bad at this step, but it stops today.
8. Plan your day’s writin in advance. This is the one I find the most helpful, but what I like to do is leave myself a little bit of time–like 15 minutes, to mull over the next day’s scenes while in bed. I play the scenes in my head like a movie, run through the dialogue, the blocking of the characters. I visualize it. If I fall asleep before I can do this, then I try to find some time to do it before I start writing. Maybe I think about it on my commute while walking to my office. Maybe I think about it in the elevator. But either way, I get the scene solidified in my head so by the time I actually need to write it, I feellike I’m transcribing it instead of floundering and trying to figure out what should happen in the scene.
9. If you’re stuck, make a note about it and move on. My first drafts are riddled with things like WITTY DIALOGUE GOES HERE or SHE NEEDS BETTER MOTIVATION. If it takes me more than 3 seconds to think of, I move on and come back to it in revisions. I usually don’t skip scenes unless I’m really stuck, but that’s where #8 comes in.
10. I find to-do lists that I can check off each scene helpful. Not only does it act as a quick outline, but it keeps me focused and shows me how much I have left.
My current word count on the super secret retelling is 75k. I suspect I have approx 10-15k to go. Though this is a rewrite, I started from scratch so it’s technically a first draft. My first drafts are always too long, and I always find at least 25-30k to cut in revisions, which leads to a much tighter 2nd draft. The goal is to finish these 10-15k by Sunday. Can I do it? We’ll see. I do have a busy busy weekend. But I’m going to find a way to squeeze in as much time as possible. Anyone with me?
1. My round robin copy of SHIVER arrived a few days ago. I am halfway through and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I am trying to finish reading so I can send it back out again on Monday, but I don’t want to part with it! I will take a picture of me with it soon, I just haven’t had a chance yet (mostly because it has been raining and my hair gets frizzy yucky in the rain.)
2. I have not written a word in over two weeks. I am also really behind on replying to emails, so if you are waiting to hear from me, I am not ignoring you, I promise. It took me over a week to respond to my own agent! The problem is I’ve had very little computer time over the last two weeks, sometimes less than 5 minutes a day. I’ve done most of my internet surfing on the iPhone, which is easy to read on, annoying to type on. It seems things may finally calm down next week so hopefully I’ll catch up. I’ve set a goal to finish my rewrite of my retelling by father’s day so I can set it aside and do some other revisions on another book I need to do. Hopefully those revisions won’t take too long and I can come back and revise the retelling with fresh eyes.
3. This weekend the boy and I are going to the NYC BBQ festival in Madison Square Park! It’s our favorite thing–he is a foody so this is like a dream for him. I don’t eat all that much there because I don’t eat pork and that limits things, but they have mint juleps at Tabla across the street and well, I like alcohol. If you live near NYC, you should definitely consider going! It’s very fun! The lines are long though so keep that in mind. Earlier or later in the day is better. (We have a pass that lets us skip the lines, but to get it we had to guarantee that we would spend $100. Most of that $100 will be going into the bf’s stomach.)
4. I am in TV withdrawal.
5. What are everyone’s weekend plans?
Saw this on a few LJer blogs and I am short on time today so this is perfect to post.
This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
1. TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer
2. THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood
3. A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L’engle
4. FIGHT CLUB by Chuck Palahniuk
5. VAMPIRE ACADEMY by Richelle Mead
6. THE END OF THE AFFAIR by Grahame Green
7. THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER by Sarah Dessen
8. HOMECOMING by Cynthia Voigt
9. VALLEY OF THE DOLLS by Jacqueline Susan
10. GUITAR GIRL by Sarra Manning
11. WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson
12. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
13. RULES OF ATTRACTION by Bret Easton Ellis
14. LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov
15. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS by Jonathan Swift
*Note, there is one that definitely should be on this list, but since I’m retelling it and my agent wants me to keep which book I’m retelling a secret until it’s closer to submission, I can’t actually name it.
**For some reason the Babysitter’s Club book #8 BOY-CRAZY STACEY will always stick with me. I can recall the entire novel. But I felt stupid posting it so I put it as an amendment. (And btw, I did not have to look up which number the book was, that’s how vividly I remember it.)
I’m about to head out to the Boston-area outlets and have lunch with YA blogger/book reviewer Laura of Laura’s Book Review Shelf and also find something cute and "Blue Moon" themed to wear for the SCBWI LA conference, but my boyfriend showed me this yesterday and it blew my mind so I thought I’d pass it along. *I* know 3d animation. I have worked with motion capture before. And I cannot figure out how this is done. This is not something coming out in 20 years, it sounds like this attachment for the xbox will be out relatively soon. I am kind of in shock. We’ve come a long way technology wise!
I apologize for the delay of this recap. Work kicked my butt this week. Now I understand how editors and agents can let a week fly by and get almost nothing done! So I apologize for my #blogfail. I will try to be better next week.
On Thursday I left work early because I had a "doctor’s appointment" that could only be cured by attending the Teen Author Carnival. My friend Michelle came, and I also met up with Jen Hayley, who I know from Absolute Write and twitter, but we’d never met in person. So that was cool! We have a lot in common since we’re the same age, live only a few minutes away from each other, and are both on sub for our YAs.
The carnival split all the authors into three teams. While one participated in the Q&A, another team signed books and a third team held a meet and greet. We mostly sat in the Q&A sessions because I wanted to hear what all the authors had to say. And secretly I like to figure out my own answers for, you know, when I sell a book and get to be on stage instead of in the audience. I can’t quite remember anymore what kinds of questions were asked, but it was interesting to hear the variety of answers. Sarah Cross also signed my copy of Dull Boy! W00t!
The entire event was run by YA book bloggers/reviewers, sites I frequent often, so it was also cool to put some faces to the names. They did a fabulous job of running this event and deserve major accolades. They also gave away a ton of books, and hey, free books are always awesome. Though my boyfriend wasn’t too happy since we’re moving soon and I’m supposed to be getting rid of the books, not acquiring more (something I have MAJORLY failed at recently.)
I met Jen Hayley again on Friday and we went to see TIGER BEAT perform at Books of Wonder. I was really impressed with the turnout of the event. Tons of people showed up! I recognized a lot of the book bloggers from the night before and several other authors. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan performed the opening act with a hilariously dramatic reading of two Spice Girls songs. Man, the lyrics of WANNABE are so deep. "I wanna. I wanna. I wanna. Really really wanna zigga zag ha." They also read TWO BECOME ONE, which is also so metaphoric, I just can’t figure out what it could possibly be about. I wish they were less cryptic with those lyrics. Haha. After that David Levithan performed an ode to Libba Bray where he rhymed her last name to a lot of funny phrases.
After that Tiger Beat performed, and I can’t tell you how impressed I was. Libba Bray could sing and play the drums. Barnabas Miller could play the drums, the guitar, and sing! Most of the songs they sang were, um, before my time, so I didn’t really recognize them. *hangs head* But still, this was awesome.
I found this on YouTube. It’s from the March performance, not the one I went to, but it gives you a good idea. Courtesy of Melissa Walker:
Afterward, Jen and I tagged along with Michael Northrop–I am super excited to read his book and he is soooo nice!–and went to kidlit drinks at the Houndstooth pub. At first I was intimidated so I stood in a corner until the liquid courage–in the form of vanilla vodka and 7-up–kicked in.
Because a little publicity never hurts, here are the book covers of the above:
We stayed until the room emptied. I didn’t want to leave! Though I should have, since I got a little too tipsy. I paid for it the next day when the headache made me miss Melissa Marr’s signing. Doh!
Both nights I wore my cutest dresses, so um, if you saw me here and you’ll be at SCBWI LA, just forget I wore them. K thanks.
I managed to pull myself together and despite the rain my hair managed to stay straight for the blueboarder dinner. I’m stealing this photo from Adrienne Kress’s blog (thanks!) Dinner was so, so awesome. I loved putting faces to names and everyone is so cool and nice! It’s great to discuss writing with people who actually care and understand. I was really nervous for dinner because I’d picked the place and I worried no one would like it. But it turned out to be a good place. We ate at THE HALF KING and I chose it because it has a private room and also because it’s owned by the guy who wrote THE PERFECT STORM, so it has literary ties.
(Didn’t repeat book covers from those posted above)
After that Bettina, Megan, Fran, Fran’s librarian friend, and I trekked across Manhattan via some very rude cab drivers (welcome to NY!) and went to a YA party thrown by Robyn Schneider, Julia DeVillers, and Bennett Madison. When I got there I spotted
(who I had briefly met on Thursday at the teen author carnival). I had such a great time!
BEA weekend recap coming soon. I have it half way written up, but work keeps interrupting me. But since I want to win Catching Fire VERY badly, I am linking to Reviewer X’s contest. It ends soon, so if you want to win, check it out.
And you can also win it here or you can win Along for the Ride or Shiver: Kidlit Book Club