Day of the Dead…line

Day of the Dead is this week and this year I might need to create an altar for the final draft of “There With You.” I’m sorry to admit it, but I haven’t finished writing and implementing the last round of edits. I gave myself until Halloween to do it, so technically there are two more days, but it’s just not going to happen.

I have two chapters left to read through and scribble over. That can happen by Wednesday for sure. It’s the actual putting in of the edits that isn’t in the cards. During round two of edits (to prepare copies for the critique group) I spent 10 hours — TEN HOURS — in my super uncomfortable computer chair, typing in all the changes I’d written down. For perspective: That is the same amount of time it took to get from the Atlanta to Rome. In an equally uncomfortable seat. (But with much better food.)

So, technically, the final draft isn’t dead… it just hasn’t yet been brought to life. That’s my fault. I’ll light a candle for it. And then I’ll light a fire under my super uncomfortable computer chair and get back to work.

I lit the candle in my mini chiminea. And that’s papel picado in the back, for decorative measure. 🙂

Let’s talk about… teenage assassin nuns?

Publisher’s Weekly recently posted an article about how the trends in YA lit are not just love stories or fantasies or paranormal circumstances… but all of the above, mashed into one book.

Example, mentioned in the article, from the agent who pitched Robin LaFevers’ “Grave Mercy”: “medieval historical thriller featuring teenage assassin nuns.”

She DOES look like a badass, doesn’t she?

The problem with reading articles like this (even though I find them interesting and it’s good to know what’s on trend) is that my inner monster immediately starts roaring.

“ROAR! Your plot isn’t that complicated!”

“ROAR! Your characters aren’t that dynamic!”

“ROAR! Your story isn’t a mash-up of really big ideas so you’re never going to get an agent or book deal!”

“ROAR!”

Now, I’m beyond actually listening to the monster to the point of giving up, so that’s not a major issue. I know there are readers of all kinds of books out there, and some will find the books mentioned in this article too far-out for them. (Some readers left comments on the article saying as much, which was a nice little confirmation.)

The issue, mainly, is that these lit trends come and go and there are probably a lot of writers who submit the wrong things at the wrong times and get dismissed. It’s just like everything else, really — you get lucky, or you don’t. What a bummer.

OR, what a challenge!

I’ve also read articles in which agents and publishers say that all the bells and whistles, all the social media marketing on the author’s part, all the trendiness of the subject matter in the submission… none of that matters if the writing sucks and the story falls flat. It has to be GOOD before it can be anything else. [Insert your own metaphor about foundation/substance/order of events here.]

I’m not saying the book about teenage assassin nuns isn’t good. It got published, right? All I’m saying is, I’m taking my time making my not-that-mashed-up story as good as I can. Then, hopefully, I’ll get lucky.

Blackout Night, part deux

Last week Gemini Ink had another Blackout Night, inspired by Austin Kleon’s “Newspaper Blackout” book where he used existing articles to make new pieces of writing by blacking out some of the words. I had a lot of fun at the last one, so I went back for more. (And I will go back again if they have another — it’s way fun.)

Trying to get fancy.

This time around I tried to be more visual and more mathematical with my approach. The first piece I did was a brief about the pope’s butler going on trial in Italy. (Gee, I wonder why that caught my eye? 😉 ) I decided to keep pairs of words together to tell the story:

trusted butler,

daily Mass,

stand accused,

private correspondence,

blockbuster book,

secretive institutions,

Paolo Gabriele,

on trial,

sensational crime,

scandal broke,

Vatican tribunal,

aggravated theft,

already confessed.

My visual element was to add vertical lines to the marking to make it look like jail bars.

The second article was a sports story about a UTSA (Go Runners!) football player who was almost passed up by recruiting coaches. I don’t like this one as much, but here’s how it turned out:

a list of prospects,

Wade wasn’t on the list.

Today, regarded one of the top players.

how did transformation take place?

it boils down to passion.

“That kid loves football. He really does.”

“He’s a playmaker.”

aggression got him into trouble.

smashed,

flagged,

better by the day.

The player coaches were ignoring.

“I just ball. It’s all I can say.”

what prompted coaches to change their minds.

“sometimes you have something special.”

“That’s what he was.”

About halfway through that one I wished I’d blacked out everything but the quotes. I’m going to try that approach next time and see what happens. The only visual thing I did was draw a couple of arrows. I liked it in the headline, “Passion —-> into playmaker.”

The last one was a spotlight on actress Rita Moreno’s one-woman show (which I attended and it was fantastic. I’m excited to read her memoir when it’s published.) The headline was “The life of Rita,” so I only kept words that started with the same first letters of the words in the headline.

Talk to Rita,

tell the life,

the legendary roles of Rita.

Short, sweet, to the point. These words were all out of order, so I tried to draw them like a map so the reader would follow correctly, but it came out kind of sloppy.

I’m trying to figure out how I want to keep these clippings. I still have my ones from last time, too. My friend Amber introduced me to art journaling. I’m thinking these could be made into a very cool art journal entry. I’ll keep you posted on that progress. Any other suggestions?