Monday, January 26, 2015

Every Project Is Different

First: yes, apparently, New York City might get 3 feet of snow in the next few days. Which, when you're 4'11" is...a bit daunting. I'll keep y'all posted on how that's going, probably via Twitter. It means lots of Netflix, snacks, reading, and hopefully writing.

Also: one of my favorite authors followed me on Twitter today :-)

I have hit Chapter Ten and approximately 25k in my latest project, an as-yet-untitled women's historical fiction thing. I was thinking about the fact that it's so different from my last story---different historical time period (Victorian instead of Georgian), also half contemporary set, with two protagonists, clearer antagonists...

But unlike with The Keegans of Banner's Edge, I don't have much of an urge to blog about the new story. Not yet, anyway.

Here's the thing about writing novels: you may think you have the knack of writing them because you've finished them before or written several novels or published a book or two...

And then you start the next project and the process is familiar...

Then you realize that maybe that writing style isn't going to work in this story. Or that you need to stop and read a research source for a minute. Or that you feel that you're doing the POV thing better.

Every project, while maybe a similar thing, is different--so the way you approach it is different. Apparently, for this story--maybe because there is some mystery going on--I don't want to blab about it to the whole world. Yet.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Strand

Today, I saw two of my best friends for an outing. We went to see The Imitation Game (really good movie; it made me cry), which stars Benedict Cumberbatch. It is about the breaking of the Nazi enigma code by a group of linguists, cryptographers, mathematicians, etc. at Bletchley Park during World War Two. In particular, it is about Alan Turing, who was brilliant and homosexual and prosecuted for "indecency" and forced to have hormone treatments--chemical castration--by the British government. 

We saw the movie in the Village, which placed us mere blocks away from The Strand. The Strand is book heaven. There are cheap books outside, new and used books on every conceivable surface inside, and three floors of books. Book heaven. 

I really don't get there enough; I should go more. I kept seeing books on my to-be-read list and picked up others that I may very well have read a little of had the place not been hot and crowded on this holiday Monday. 

 The fact that I only came out of there with two books is...a bit of a miracle. I've been reading so much on my Kindle lately that being in the nirvana of books made me feel overwhelmed and peaceful at the same time. Overwhelmed, because there are so many books and oh, my god, there's that one that I wanted to read, too! My birthday is later this week and really, what better way to treat myself than good friends, food, Cumberbatch, and The Strand?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Half Life by S.L. Huang

Half Life (Russell's Attic #2)Half Life by S.L. Huang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zero Sum Game was a quick, tightly-plotted thriller, which introduced us to Cas Russell, Rio, Arthur, and others. Half Life delivers as the next book in the series, by giving us Cas trying to keep a promise she made to Arthur--to stop murdering people. Several huge threats build through the novel, testing Cas' promise to her friend (Cas struggles with the concept of having friends now, as well, which is awesome). Cas develops as a character through this book, but this character growth doesn't compromise her mathematical power or the action, which comes to a tense end. An enormously entertaining book. Can't wait for the next one.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG: A New Year

Hey everyone! This is the first IWSG of the New Year!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a writing group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Check out the group here! We post every first Wednesday of the month.

It's 2015. I've been writing my second draft in earnest since just after Christmas (I'm in Chapter Five) and I'm having a great time doing it. Few writing-related insecurities right now (that'll change). But what will 2015 bring? I'm more insecure or anxious about getting myself motivated to do other, non-writing-related, necessary real-world things. I suppose I get task-avoidant when things make me anxious, but in this instance, I can't be like that.

We were also asked to give a short intro with this post.

My name is Michelle Athy. I'm from Queens, New York, went to Emerson College in Boston to study writing, and primarily write historical fiction. I also have an obsession with anything purple and a love of beaded necklaces. Welcome!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dealing With Two Time Periods

It's kind of like time travel, but not. But it kind of is. My current project is a half historical fiction/half contemporary/women's fiction hodge podge that is currently untitled. I've tried doing dual timeline stories before, but they didn't click.

Not to jinx anything--I may very well still be in the honeymoon phase with this one--but this time, it's going pretty well.

Here are some of the things I like about interweaving two time periods:

1. Expansiveness. I have a tendency to write a little too big picture sometimes. With two time periods, it naturally lends itself to being kind of a sweeping saga without too much clutter or characters.

2. You Never Get Bored. So far, I'm switching between Present Day and 1893 by chapter--Nicole's chapters are odd, Victoria's are even. What this means is that not only will a reader get a contrast between the girls, but I don't feel like I'm getting bogged down in a particular scene or sequence because in the next chapter, I have Nicole amused at how her dad can only text in one or two word messages at a time and in the one after that, Victoria will be seething about her cousin's continued betrayal.

3. Limits The Research. I had--and am having--to do bits of spot research on late Victorian times as I go, since I don't have the ten-plus-years of reading Regency romances to give me an idea of what the Regency might have been like as a background. So while I've read the autobiography of an English stage actress, read the autobiography of Consuelo Vanderbilt, and am reading bits and pieces about Victorian theater, I don't feel that I need to dive all the way back to 1895 because...well, it's only half the story.

4. Diversity. As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, I'm passionate about depicting diverse characters in literature, particular of the mixed race or mixed culture variety because, like, hey, that's me! On the other hand, I'm really into historical fiction and costume dramas, which often have a lack of diversity. My last book was about a white Englishman with one white daughter and one black daughter living in 1790s Barbados and moving to 1800 England. But with the two timelines, I can have diversity in a variety of ways--whether in Victoria's memories of her childhood in the British Raj or her later interactions with fellow actors, including working class and homosexuals--or in Nicole's modern day New York world, where her own family are of different cultures, her students are a mosaic of races and ethnicities, and her childhood best friend, a lesbian, is a newlywed.

5. Relaxing the Voice. Goes along with Never Gets Bored. The way I write when I'm Victoria's head is not the way I write in Nicole's. Nicole's first person narrative is closer to the way I would actually speak, but not my natural writing voice. Victoria's third person narrative is closer to the way I would write a historical fiction story, but it's also more controlled and restrained than Nicole's stuff.

6. Keep The Story Going. When I'm writing an early draft of a story especially, I have a problem skipping the boring or unimportant parts because I'm still trying to find my way or really, really want to get my point across. But when I know that I'll dip back into Victoria's pov in the next chapter, I don't want to write about how glorious the long, fancy dinner was--I want to get to the drama.