Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I’m Stuck

Yes, stuck.

Stuck like a rear-wheel drive car in a ditch next to the Erie Canal (I speak from experience on that).

No, it’s not writer’s block. I don’t really get writer’s block. I’m sure there are members of this family who WISH I did get writer’s block and then maybe I’d stop tapping away on the keyboard and throw the darn tennis ball to her a little more often.

But let’s face it, the dog has never been terribly supportive of my writing so there’s no surprise she’d be all bitter like that.  

No, the reason I’m stuck is because I can’t blog about what I really want to blog about.

Trying to do a work-around post by merely alluding to things doesn't help much either. A couple of times I’ve started roundabout posts about what’s going on in my publishing quest so that I don’t break the rule about not discussing these things online, but inevitably the posts became so oblique that even I didn’t know what I was talking about. I’d start out with some metaphor for my current situation, and then next thing I know, I’m writing about fracking rights in Pennsylvania.

No, the fact is, I’m stuck, and I’m going to stay stuck a little while longer. But not forever. And I realize I’ve now been frustratingly elusive, so apologies for that, but I do feel better for talking about the things I can’t talk about.

Please, if you’re going to chuck something at my head for being so annoying, be a pal and do pick something soft that won’t leave a mark.

Thank you for your understanding.

OH! And don’t forget, you’ve only got a few more days left to enter the BWB Blog Contest.! Click here to find out more and to enter. The prizes are, like, beyond awesome. Remember that Oprah episode where she was telling everyone in the studio audience, “You get a car! And you get a car! And you and you and you! Everyone gets a car!”

Yeah, it’s not that good. But almost.

I'm going to announce the first winner on Monday, 10/3! Will it be you? I'll bet it will.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Total Eclipse of the Art

Why do people think Total Eclipse of the Heart is a good song?

It’s not even an OK song.

It’s a truly, empirically-proven awful song.

Seriously. Researchers in Zurich tested this song at the molecular level and determined, “Zis song, eet sucks beeg time.”

Despite this, I see it pop up all over the place as if it’s an American standard. Most frequently on those shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The X Factor, The Voice, Mega Karaoke Space Bus. All those shows where singers try to pick the biggest, balladiest tunes to showcase their pipes.


I’m telling you, if you tried to torture me into believing Total Eclipse of the Heart was a good song, my last utterance before perishing from disembowelment would be, “I still think it suuuuucks.”

But OK, I know some people—a lot of people—like it. That's fine. I’m happy to be in the minority of people who know what good actually is. I'm also someone who hates pandas, so perhaps I'm just woefully out of step with popular taste.

I do think everybody’s got an example of this sort of thing. When you feel genuinely bewildered about what’s trending or can’t understand why people like something you don’t. Or more to the point, don’t like something that you love.

But what can you do? Your compass of taste and passion points where it points and you gotta follow. If you try to recalibrate your tastes, you're doomed to fail. And then you become a Taste Zombie, just following the herd, hoping for your next meal of brains, singing along with the rest of the zombie chorus, "Once upon at time there was light in my life, now there's only love in the dark...."

You don't want that to happen, do you?

Hard as it is to accept, if you keep writing long enough, you will have at least one project get crushed under the millstone of Popular Taste. I know I’ve got one, and I’m still not sure what to do with it. I guess I’ll wait and see if things change. Which is all I can do.

How about you? Have you ever set an oddball project aside or hoped the trend winds would change direction in your favor?

** Don't forget to click the post title to get the comment box to come up, 
although keep in mind, you're only allowed to leave a comment
if that comment is "ZOMG, I hate that song too!" **

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The BWB Blog Contest!

How I wish I had a pair of those giant scissors they use at ribbon cutting ceremonies right about now!

And a giant ribbon, of course.

Because this blog contest deserves the kind of fanfare that only giant desk accessories can provide.

We all know how hard it is in this biz. To keep writing when you’re discouraged, dejected, demoralized, and all those other d-words that seem inevitable as you make your way along the dusty trail toward publication.   

But when you’re feeling down or, worse, when you feel like giving up, here's your saving grace: your BWB. 

That’s right, your best writer-buddy. 

Your BWB is there to offer you a swig from her canteen at high noon. And suck the rattlesnake venom out of your leg. And not turn you over to a posse of vigilantes just to collect the reward money. In other words, your BWB has got your back, and you’re going to thank your BWB someday when you write your Acknowledgements page because you have pep talks that go something like this: 

You: *sigh* I suck.

BWB: You do not suck.

You: No, it’s true. I suck greatly.

BWB: You stop that talk this instant. And don’t use adverbs. They’re bad for you. *whip crack* Now get back to work!

If it wasn’t for your BWB talking you down every once in a while, who knows where you’d be?

Well, to celebrate BWB’s everywhere, a couple of my comrades—the lovely Renee Collins and equally lovely Angelina Hansen—and I have put together this awesome blog contest for writers of YA and MG fiction.

How to Enter: In the comment section, tell us briefly (in 100 words or less) about your best writer-buddy and how she/he inspires and encourages you. If applicable, include a link to your blog as well as your BWB’s blog. Again, this is for YA/MG fiction writers only, but you can write in any genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Not-paranormal, Somewhat Paranormal – anything. **To leave a comment/entry, click on the post title and the comment box will appear below.**

To Qualify to Win: Be a blog follower of mine, Angelina’s or Renee's, simple as that. You probably already are a follower anyway. ‘Cause you’re cool like that.

Winners: Each of us will choose a winner at random from the entries at our blogs. And, yes, that means that you have not one but three chances to win. Because you can go over to Renee’s blog and follow her (if you don’t already) and then to Angelina’s blog (and follow her as well) and leave comments/entries there. 

Wear it with pride!
Prizes: Winners at my and Renee’s blog will each receive a query critique from our fabulous agent, Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management. The winner at Angelina’s blog will win a query critique from her agent, Katie Grimm with Don Congdon Associates. And here’s the good part, not only will winners receive a query critique, your writer-buddy will receive a copy of Cheryl Klein’s new book Second Sight  AND both the winner and her writer-buddy will get one of these super cheesy, BFF half-a-heart pendants. Awwww! 

I know, right? 

Have you ever heard of more amazing amazingness?

Deadline: Entries must be submitted by Friday, Sept. 30 at midnight. Then we will announce the three winners the following week: one on Monday, 10/3; one on Wednesday, 10/5, and the final winner on Friday, 10/7.  

I look forward to hearing your inspirational tales. And, yes, before you email to ask, you can absolutely write your entries in iambic pentameter. 

Don't forget to click the post title to get the comment box to come up!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cut and Print!

Ta-da! The new blog design is tres, tres loverly, innit?

(That's right. I mixed French and British English. I can do that sort of thing. Because this is America.)

You have no idea how many hours of foolish messing about it took me to come up with this fairly simple blog renovation. I actually hit upon this design early in the process of redesign, but of course, me being me, I had to then go and try out sixty-seven other possibilities before I decided, “Eh, think I’ll go back to that first one.”

In my defense, my aesthetic is not easy to nail down. I have an unfortunate addiction to plaid shorts, for example. Can’t expect Blogger to support my peculiar notion of what looks good with a “Kristen, Who Likes Plaid Shorts, Will Like This Template,” now can I?

Make sure you click around and check out the tabs. Ivan the Muse will be very sad if you don’t look at his new page.

Well, that’s that then. Moving right along…

Here’s what I really want to talk about: When you’ve reached the end of your first draft or whatever you regard as your “final” draft (hahahaha – I love that term…final draft… it’s, like, the funniest concept ever), do you print out a copy to read it/edit it?  

I do this, not so much because it affords me some special ability to see mistakes because, believe me, it doesn’t. That's because mistakes are mischievous, living things. Oh, yes, and they’re not only alive, they have a well honed sense of irony and clearly they hate writers' ever-living guts. That's why they only jump out from hiding in plain sight once you’ve dispatched your “final” copy to a reader, agent, editor, etc. That’s how they get their kicks.

No, it’s not for proofreading's sake that I print stuff out. It’s because of my all-too-human need to see what I’ve been working on in some final-ish form. Because once they're printed, those words on the page have to stay where I darn well put them. Which makes it easier for me when I pound them with my tiny fists and shout, “For the love of God, stay still, you little [expletive deleted because this is supposedly the blog of someone who writes books for children]!!!”

But here’s the horrible thought that just occurred to me recently. With the advent of electronic publishing and the very real possibility that there will be books that will never come out in paper format, we are in a position of NEVER BEING DONE. Don’t you see? With a paper book, once it’s done, it’s done. Printed. The words are immutable -- or pretty close to it. Changing them is a difficult and expensive prospect. With e-books? Heck, you can always go back and change them.

En followed by a thousand o’s.

Don’t you understand what this means, people? You will not only be the author of a book, but its eternal steward. The temptation to rewrite will never leave you because rewriting will remain a realistic possibility for the book’s entire life.

I’m telling you, look not into that abyss. 'Tis the way of madness and oblivion.

One last thing…*sniff, sniff, sniff* Do you smell that? That strange, sugary smell? Doesn’t that smell like you’re standing downwind of a BLOG CONTEST??! Tune in next week to see what that’s all about. There’ll be prizes. Oh, yes. There will be prizes.

Oh, and I'm afraid, despite all my fiddling, I still cannot figure out how to fix Intense Debate to show comments on the main page. So if you want to leave me a comment--and I hope you do--you've got to click on the post title. Then the comment box should come up at the bottom of the page. 'Kay?