Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Year in Blog: 2014

2014 NaNoWriMo Winner's Shirt!

2014 was quite an exciting year, writing-wise.

I finished draft four of The Keegans of Banner's Edge and began querying it, thereby receiving my first rejection letters. But still, I finished a book, queried it, and the rejections weren't that terrible, so better luck next time!

Some of my blogging buddies and I formed a loose writing group called The Consonants. Although we haven't had a regular chat in a  while, we do email each other asking for input and advice and a bit of critique. Yay writing friends :-)!

I challenged myself to read 40 books not of the research variety in 2014 and succeeded, surpassing 40 and making it to 46 books read for the challenge and maybe more like 50 total for the year, counting books I'm reading for fiction research purposes. I might go for 42 books in 2015.

I took a tiny step in making some of my fiction more public by posting fan fiction on Fanfiction.net. Granted, I haven't finished the last story I was posting on there and probably won't finish it; I've just run out of steam and original writing beckons.

The We Need Diverse Books campaign swept Twitter with its very important message and I signed up to be a volunteer.

I was honored to be a bridesmaid at my friend Katie's wedding!

I won another blogging award (thank you Krystal) and took part in several blog hops.

I joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group and am discovering new writer acquaintances through that network. Also, through the IWSG, I became a published writer this year because of an article I contributed to The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond. My name is in an e-book, y'all. That's exciting stuff!

I saw The Script in concert.

I won NaNo '14 with the project I'm currently revising, which is already turning out much better than The Keegans of Banner's Edge. I'm 10K in to draft two.

Have a great New Year, everyone! See you in 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

American Girl

I came across this image on Tumblr tonight and immediately, my childhood reading experiences came back to mind because I read all of these books. These are the original American Girl books--historical fiction stories for children, about a ten-year-old girl living in different historical periods. 

These books are probably the reason for my historical-seeking reading behavior now. I think I started with Addy's stories, then read Samantha and Kirsten's in school. In about third grade. Then I definitely remember reading Molly's stories and then, later reading Felicity and Josefina's books. I had most of the books at home--and they were such gorgeous books and the historical notes at the end were the bomb. 

So. Yeah. Slice of childhood. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Orphan Black and Outlander

Before, during, and after NaNo, I binged-watched Season Two of Orphan Black, which was twister than Season One, with more mysteries revealed and more clones in on the action.

One of the things I love about Orphan Black is Tatiana Maslany's incredible performances. She plays all of the clones. All. Of. Them. And it's incredible because in scenes where there are two or three or four clones (four clone dance party, anyone?), I don't think, "Oh, it's Tatiana Maslany acting opposite herself." I go, "Oh, it's Cosima talking to Sarah while Alison is doing something in the background."

From @OrphanBlack

Each of the clones has a distinct personality, appearance, reactions, just as if they were really different people who had grown up in different environments with different beliefs, despite being played by the same actress. I think it's exciting to see so many different types of women portrayed in one show. It's certainly opened up my mind to different ways I can write my modern-day female characters.

Jamie and Claire in episode 1

I also began reading the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon because I so wanted to watch the TV show and because I'm a reader first and a television watcher third or fourth, I waited until I was done with the book before I began scouring around for the eight episodes that have aired of season one of Outlander.

What a great show. Seriously. I love seeing anything 1940s on screen, so the 1940s stuff was great to see and then when Claire falls back into the 1740s...wow. Cool. Besides my wee literary crush on Jamie Fraser, Claire really is a great female protagonist, strong, intelligent, and adaptable, if occasionally a big mouth. The books are awesome, accessible historical fiction, deeply detailed, and the writing is detailed, entertaining, and just puts you there.

Watching an original TV show and reading five (so far) of an eight-book series and then watching eight episodes, I've picked up some writing tips, some characters ideas, and had a ball watching these productions. Which, considering how I felt about the recent fifth season of Downton Abbey (12 years on and everyone looks the same, including Maggie Smith...getting kind of unbelievable), is fantastic.

And people say you learn nothing from TV.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NaNo Update: A Question for Performers

So, wee update on the NaNo project here:

1. I have 400 words of a re-written beginning and I think I'm getting a sense of Nicole's voice. There's a little more meat to her plot, too, but I haven't figured out how that's going to wind through yet.

2. I'm reading some research on the Victorian era, in particular The Glitter and The Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, which is a really lovely book. Her descriptions are going to be so helpful when I go back to revise the Victorian portions of the book. I've also bookmarked other books that might help; will wait for after Christmas to get those.

3. Found some fiction from that era, too: Edith Wharton to start and then maybe I'll read Henry James and then scrounge up some time to watch the movie of The Importance of Being Earnest.

4. I've also been thinking a lot about what makes Victoria tick, exactly. She chooses to become an actress in a time when girls like her did not go on the stage, so she has to have a drive and passion for acting. I've known a few singers, dancers, and actors, but I don't exactly know what drives them to do what they do. I imagine it's similar enough to my compulsion to write, but probably not.

So, if you're a performer or know one, could you get them to answer one question?

Why? Why do you do it? Why do you want to do it? What makes you keep doing it, whether acting or singing or dancing? Help an extreme introvert out! If you think your answer might be too complex for the comments below, then use the contact form on the About/Contact page.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

One New Yorker's Reaction to the Eric Garner Case

This is a rant. You have been warned.

When I was a four or five-year-old, my (white, Irish-American) father used to tell me to duck if we were in the car and a police car drove by. This is not a normal reaction to cops. In kindergarten, we were asked to draw "our heroes." The other kids drew firemen and policemen. I drew the gas station attendant. My dad has never been a person who trusted the police--shades of the Irish dislike of authority here, despite so many Irish-Americans being policemen--and so, I ducked in the car.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG: The Next Plateau

It's IWSG Wednesday! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is an awesome group of writers who post every first Wednesday of the month to share their ideas, struggles, and insecurities. Check out the group here! Thanks to the co-hosts for December: Heather Gardner, T. Drecker, Eve E. Solar, and Patsy Collins.

Also: pick up The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond e-book wherever  you get your e-books. I have an essay, "Writing Vivid Characters," in the volume. #shamelessplug

So, this month: I won NaNoWriMo, which left me with a 50,000-word mess of a first draft. Leaving aside the mess, the things I learned about my characters, the list of reading for research--all of them are typical for me after finishing a first draft--I feel like I'm poised on a threshold to a new plateau of writing.

"Show not tell" has always been a bit difficult for me, not being the naturally descriptive type. It's not quite right to judge a first draft--particularly a NaNo first draft--on its quality, but I did. I've been reading a lot of books back-to-back throughout the year and recently, I've been reading through Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series--and her vivid writing, of characters, of setting, of evoking the senses in description--has been reinforcing things I've read in writing forums and writing books for years.

Except that now, I can see a way to make my writing like that. Maybe. I hope.