Showing posts from October, 2013

On Pearl, New Research, and a Bib

Before I dive into the madness and exhilaration of NaNoWriMo, I wanted to leave October with a hint of what I'll be working on come December, once the NewBrightShiny Idea is written and I have some time to think through what I want to do to The Sailor's Daughters, that ridiculous piece of work that is my historical fiction novel.
I say "ridiculous" lovingly.

This picture over yonder is a photo of some of my sources--those that I have in physical form. Aren't they pretty?

Yes, I am a massive nerd.Somewhere along way, these pesky Keegans went from a frothy turn-of-the-century, Jane Austen-ish story to something that requires a lot of facts and some sense of realism.

All I can say is, Thank God I'm not writing about real people who existed, y'know?

Historical Context

So, as I'm outlining my NaNo, my characters do things that normal New Yorkers do: go to Starbucks, take the subway, complain about the subway, do a side-eye when a celebrity walks by but go on about your business, get stuck in crowds, bitch about how slow some people walk. I'm deliberately leaving the year that this story takes place vague, but it's definitely New York as I experience it now, you know?

It's different in my historical fiction, which starts in 1799 and kind of ends in mid-1801. There were several large-scale things happening at the time, like the continuous warfare between Britain and France that would last until Waterloo, the growing British abolition movement (though, in 1800, because of sedition laws passed as Britain entered war against France, abolition groups weren't meeting), King George III's intermittent madness.

Then there are the general things about the time period that apply when one is writing about a segment of the British aristocr…

7 Things a Writer Should Do...

...after you get a beta's comments back on your WIP.

1. Read them. I took about two days to read and analyze my beta's very astute comments and then the rest of the time to read through the Track Changes in the document itself.

2. Have a drink. Not because the comments were harsh or bad, but because thinking about the amount of work that has to be done is simply exhausting. Plus, I happened to be out with friends in a place where drinks were readily available.

3. Thank your beta. I feel like this should be a given.

4. Process the experience. Can I just talk to you about college writing workshops for a second? They soured me on the whole workshop/critique/beta thing. Ask my college roommate about my state of mind after workshop---and that's mostly because in writing programs, they don't teach you how to approach workshopping someone else's piece. So then you have people telling you stuff like, "I don't like your main character." No explanation. No reas…

The Most Famous Book Set In Every State

My friend Meta the Beta sent me this yesterday. It's a story on Business and it's called The Most Famous Book Set In Every State.

Cool, huh? Scroll down on the link for the book summaries. What's the supposed most famous book set in your state?

The Great Gatsby is on the list for New York, my home state. It might be the most taught book taking place in New York, but I'd counter that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is also a famous book set here. Or that Walden is hardly the only famous book written about Massachusetts. I had to read The Scarlet Letter, Ethan Frome, and The Crucible in school.

So. Agree or disagree with any of the choices?

Chapter-by-Chapter Outlines

I classify myself as a sort-of pantser. What I mean is that I go in to a first draft with main characters, backstory, and a basic idea of the plot and maybe some research (if applicable). And then I go off into the chaos and fury of a first draft.

For whatever reason, I already know what I want endgame to be in this upcoming NaNo project. So, to stave off any urges to cheat and dive in to my first draft, I'm writing my outline. I started in my usual way. Setting: New York City, roughly this year, but could be next year. Characters: Emma, Ailey, Colin, Lily and some minor characters. Backstory: Emma's family is political, she is not particularly politically-inclined. In fact, she's agoraphobic. Colin's an actor, the son of jobbing actors, and becoming a bit more well-known.

And then a weird thing happened. Because I decided on my NaNoWriMo project so early, I found myself thinking about my characters a lot. How did they meet? What were their impressions of each other? …

On Anna

This post contains spoilers for Downton Abbey, season 4, episode 3. Don't read this if you haven't been watching or actually care about getting spoiled.

Also, as Australian comedian Tim Minchin says, this is one of my rare (ha!) but fun rants.

New Adult

I don't usually have a problem identifying the genre of my stories. If it's not blatant fanfic, then what I've written can easily be categorized as romance or historical fiction or chick lit.

But for the new NaNo, chick lit didn't seem to fit. I mean yeah, it's about a young woman and her...issues..., but there's also a guy's perspective in there, plus a little bit of a family background and whatever else comes out in the third week of November.
So then I thought, "Huh. What about New Adult?"

New Adult is a category I've been seeing more and more. And it's basically what I thought it was--and where I think my NaNo project (and indeed, a lot of my contemporary-set stories) sit comfortably. I doubt that people who aren't in writing or publishing know what it is nor do they care.

Sorry. You're getting a publishing education on this blog, too.

A Retail Rant


If you are going to call a store in another state to order an item to have shipped to your house, please don't be surprised by the shipping fee.

As in, yes, we have one. The fuck do you think this is, Amazon?

Yes, I'm sure the item total has to be over $50 to get free shipping. Really, I'm sure. No, really. It's 10:21 pm and we close at 10:30. Let's finish this off. What's your information?

The item you want to order doesn't accept coupons. But you know what? Even with shipping, this order is less than $20.

You want me to go fetch a random item to get your order above $50. Huh? How about I put it on hold for you and you can decide on an add-on tomorrow and call for the order then?

Oh, now you just want your original item. Fine. No, it doesn't take coupons. No, you don't get 20% off with your card. I'm sure you got free shipping with your last order, but no, it won't work on this one. Sorry.

Oh, now you want to put it on hold.