Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Promises

So, I gave you my 2012 wrap up and those were super exciting. (insert laugh) 

So, today is a new day, tomorrow is a new year, so now I give you…my New Year's Promises. 

These are not resolutions, per se, but promises to myself, for myself, by myself. Why promises and not resolutions? Well, for one, I like to mix it up. Dare anyone ever call me a follower. I am not. I march to my own beat. Always have, always will. People either love me, or ignore me. Either is fine with me. I will never be just like anyone else. And why should I? Or anyone for that matter?

I digress…the definition of resolution is the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones, answering, or solving. There are other sure, like mathematical resolutions, literary resolutions, scientific resolutions, and even political resolutions. My point is, I am not breaking anything into simpler parts. Oh no. I am instead trying to alter parts or add parts to the already existing or broken parts. I will not be resolving anything this year. 

I will promise. Promise is defined as a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified. Yes. This. Promises are something intimate and binding. They are things that, if done, can change a life. So this is what I will do. I owe myself this much. I will make myself promises for the coming year. 

And I am writing them here, posting for all to see, so you all (as well as me) can hold me accountable. If you see me violating or breaking my promises, please call me on it. I mean it. That's what friends and fellow humans do. They lend a hand. 

Here we go, in no particular order.

I will finish my WIP and write a second Women's Fiction manuscript.
I will continue to query the hell out of Princess Paradox.
I will write every day…okay, maybe 5 out of 7 days. Even if it is a paragraph.
I will attend one writer's conference.
I will not be afraid of agents. They are people too.
I will visit at least 3 of the writer friends I have made.
I will not compare myself to other writers or other published books.
I will blog more.
I will read at least one book for fun a month. (I read a lot as a teacher already)
I will be the best damn teacher I can be. Those kids need me, and I need them. And on the days where I want to come home and cry, I will remember why I became a teacher in the first place.
I will try to believe in myself more.
I will start running again until I get to the point where I can run 3-4 miles regularly (like I used to)
I will embrace my new found independence without fear and try to risk more.
I will put my heart out there, even if it means it gets broken.
I will make the amount of time I spend with my daughter quality time.
I will laugh more.
I will continue to love hard. Because otherwise, what's the point?
I will try not to obsess over things I cannot control.
I will believe that life has a way of working out, things may not turn out how you planned, but there is a reason for it.
I will look at rejection as a new opportunity.
I will do random acts of kindness for strangers at least once a week.
I will call my dad more.
I will call my friends more.
I will spend more time doing things for me.
I will explore my world more.
I will do something that scares me at least once a month. 
I will try to give myself a break. (thanks Jules!)
I will not give up if I do not get an agent.
I will have faith that this amazing thing that I have WILL work out. 
I will pray more and doubt less.

So, that's all. Not much. I have a lot of work to do this next year…but everything is possible, right?

Happy New Year to all of you. May it be blessed with all the wonders and joy this world can bring. Love to you.

So, in the words of Semisonic:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Out with the old...

12 o'clock,timepieces,holidays,household,midnight,New Years,special occasions,hours,minutes,hands

 So, it has been a while since my last blog. I am so sorry. But it has been a crazy time. If you would have asked me this time last year, what I would be doing, I probably would have said, "Nothing. Just the same old, same old."

Ohhhhh, last year's Carey. You were sooooo wrong. So very very wrong.

So the year in review:

children,crowns,people,princesses,royalties,personal appearances
I finished my MS, The Princess Paradox. It took 3 years in the making, and I almost quit a few times. But fortunately, some wonderful students I had gave me the push to get it done. I will forever be indebted to my first beta readers…Jenny, Kennedy, Skye, Brittney, and Mary. To hear them squeal in excitement was amazing. Each day, I would bring in a chapter for them to read. They would sit side by side during independent reading and, like an assembly line, they would read it page by page, gasping and "awwwww"ing at all the appropriate times. I love those girls.

I queried the heck out of my MS, joined some contests and that led me to the next great moment of my life. Don't laugh. Really. Here goes…I joined Twitter. Okay…I will wait for the laughter to cease. Are you done? Okay.

It started out as a way to stalk a few slush pile readers when I joined Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness. I watched the tweets of lovelies: Shelley Waters, Dee Romito, Summer Heacock, Stephanie Diaz, and so many others. Boy was I surprised and flattered as all get out that one Miss Summer and one Miss Dee had been secretly stalking ME! We became fast friends and now I could not imagine my life without them. That evolved into a twitterfest which has me now at over 400 followers as well as some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I can't believe such a small thing like Twitter can make things of this magnitude happen. Not only do I tweet and email with many of these people, I actually chat on the phone and have plans to meet them. IN REAL LIFE. I have to also shout out to my twinsie Erica Chapman who's blog was the host to my PitchMadness entry. I now love her and we chat quite often. 

Because fellow writers just "get" each other. It's nice to know that if I ever need a CP or Beta reader, all I have to do is call upon my fellow writers and it will happen like BOOM! If you have yet to join this community of writers, you must. They lift me up, encourage me, make me laugh, and are there for me whenever I call. Oh...and follow me. Because I'm cool like that. 

My mom inherited a small two bedroom place in Berkeley, so another thing I got to do was visit my MS's main character, Nora's hometown of San Francisco. I even saw and took pictures of the spot where her coffee shop was and saw the address I used for her house. So, that was cool. Plus, I really fell in love with San Francisco. Left my heart there, actually. Okay…I didn't, that was just for comedic effect.

I began no less than 2 new WIP. 

  • One, titled The Thief, I have tabled for a bit, but I love the feel of it. I have the outline and the first 3 chapters or so written. It's kind of a YA contemporary romance, but with definite thriller bits. Laryn, my MC is a cat burglar along with her father. When they move to the wealthy Newport Beach area, she enrolls in school to find her next gig. She decides her next target is the home of the very popular and very rich football hero. Too bad she gets caught in the middle of a robbery. But he has secrets of his own he wants kept. And Laryn has unintentionally discovered them. So they vow to protect each other's secrets. But what about their hearts?

  • The other WIP is Speechless. A YA Fairy Tale retell of The Little Mermaid. I am currently 43 k into that one. I love it. For more info, see my previous post in which I was tagged.

I now have two kitties. So there's that.

I was Maid of Honor at my one of my best friend's weddings and hung out with her in Colorado this summer. That was fun! Never been to Denver. It was Aurora, actually. As in THE AURORA. I saw the theater where that tragedy happened. And the flowers and support. 

I also went on a cruise to Alaska.

Also, here's a big one not many people know but will soon...I am recently single. A single mom. Yep...I know guys will be lining up. Because they love women with kids. (insert sarcasm here) Especially when the daughter is a smart, sassy, and miss independent-will-tell-you-what-exactly-she-thinks-about-everything-whether-you-want-her-to-or-not. I guess if a guy can handle that plus me, he's a keeper. 

So, that's it. My year in review. I don't yet know what is on the road in front of me. As Robert Frost so eloquently put it:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 Pretty exciting, huh? J

My New Year's Resolutions post will be coming soon. 

How was your year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This I Believe

I was planning for an observation in my classroom today. And so naturally, looking through things, I got sidetracked. Story of my life. Anyway, as I rummaged around, I found this little ditty. Well, it's not actually a ditty. Not even about Jack and Diane.

It is an example paper I wrote, a narrative to use as an example for my students. As I reread it, I realized...I need to post this. It's a great little insight to who I am, my experiences as a kid, and what I firmly believe. If you have not yet visited the This I Believe website, shame on you. Go. Read. Be inspired. Write your own.

Here is my This I Believe Paper.

Turning on the Light

I was an awkward twelve year old. I had dark brown unruly hair, thick glasses, and was a bit on the pudgy side. All this and a pair of braces too. With head gear no less. I was a normal tween with hopes and dreams. For example, would Javier ever notice me? Will I get to go a concert with my friends? Is my friend mad at me? I also had one nagging question always in the back of my mind. Will people like me? This is the question that haunted me and governed over everything I did in middle school.  

You see, one thing I understand about all people, is that whether or not they will admit it, it is a universal truth that all humans want to be loved and accepted and to know that they are normal. Everything that we do is to help us gain acceptance. Whether we want to become a famous novelist, or a doctor, or a musician or a cosmetologist; we all want to be liked and appreciated. 

I remember what it was like to walk the halls of middle school. I always was wondering who was saying what about me, if the laughing I heard was at my expense, or if I was going to be teased. I wasn’t pretty or good at sports, or a top student. I was ordinary. Nothing special. Except in Mr. Akamine’s class. 

Mr. Akamine taught choir. I was an alto. I hated it. I wanted to be a soprano because they always got the melody of the song. The alto always sounded boring. It reminded me of a whale’s bellow. Sometimes, Mr. Akamine had this habit of calling on random people to come up to the front and sing on the microphone. I remember trembling at the thought of going up there. 

And then one day it happened. He called on me. I couldn’t refuse. There I stood, feeling naked and embarrassed, ready to be laughed at. Another joke people could make fun of.

I took a deep breath and began singing the lyrics to Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong, his favorite. I sat there singing for what seemed to be ages. When I finished, I remember it being so quiet. Mr. Akamine looked at me and smiled. “You have a beautiful voice, Carey.” 

I beamed. I was so happy. I looked out at my fellow classmates, and they were so quiet. They began clapping. My face flushed. When I got to my seat, people by me patted me on the back and said things like “good job“, and “way to go“. 

From that point on I became a regular in front of the class. Perhaps that is why I like performing in front of people. That applause was so uplifting. From that day on, I felt like there was one thing I could do…sing. Now, I may not be any Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift, and I did not go on to star in the high school musical or have solos in the concerts, but the one thing Mr. Akamine gave me was a belief in myself. That I was worthwhile. I had talent and most important, he liked my singing, which to my middle school mind meant he liked me. I also got acceptance from my peers. At least for a little while.

I believe a good teacher can do that. A good teacher can give strength to those that need it. A good teacher can see the light in every one of their students and try, and sometimes succeed, to let that light shine. A good teacher gets branded in the hearts and minds of those they teach. I can’t recall the teachers who made me miss my bus after school. Or the ones that gave me detention or Saturday school. I have no recollection of my kindergarten teacher or my fifth grade teacher. The ones that are engrained in my mind, Mr. Akamine, Mr. Sisman, Mr. McCormick, are the ones who saw me not as a student, but as someone who offered something special to the world. These are the ones that shaped me. 

I believe that every encounter with every individual leaves marks on our soul, and they help us, for better or for worse, become who we are today. I believe each person carries the echoes of all the people that have entered and left their lives. Which is why, at the end of the day, I want all my students to understand that I see the special in them. I see their gifts. And after all…I like each and every one of them.
So...what do YOU believe? Write it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Butterfly or The Moth?

I will start this blog post with the most epic lines EVER. Ahem.

Best LOST Metaphor Ever
John Locke [gently]: "Come here. I'm gonna show you something."

[John leads Charlie over to a small tree with a cocoon attached to it. He points at it with his knife and asks...]

John Locke: "What do you suppose is in that cocoon, Charlie?"

[frustrated at being force-fed a metaphorical lesson that he doesn't know where it will go or how long it will take because he just wants John to give him his stash back, he answers choppily...]
Charlie: "I don't know... a butterfly, I guess--"

John Locke: "No. It's much more beautiful than that. That's a moth cocoon. It's ironic - butterflies get all the attention, but moths, they spin silk. They're stronger. They're faster--"

Charlie: "That's wonderful, but..."

[interrupting, and pointing with his knife...]
John Locke: "You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging it's way through the thick hide of the cocoon.

NOW, I could help it - take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive.

Struggle is nature's way of strengthening it. 

End scene.

Why start with this epic scene of LOST? Why the hell not?
Okay. I have a better reason.

Because in the past few months of my life, I have slowly begun my own metamorphosis in many ways. Some of these will remain cloaked in mystery to most of you. Sorry. But the one I know all writers can connect with is writing. So…even though the following is really happening in ALL aspects of my life, one  change is my writing.

I have gone from someone who teaches writing, to someone who writes. I have gone from someone who would never think of not teaching to someone who would love nothing but to stay at home and write for a living.

And there are more life changes forthcoming. Some I know about. Some remain to be seen.

And they are all scary as hell. Why? Because I can't tell yet if I am a moth or a butterfly.

The Beautiful Butterfly
I want to be a butterfly. I want the glory. To be appreciated and loved. Everyone loves a butterfly. They are symbolic of beauty and grace. They float lightly in the air, touching the wind with their wings and flitting about on the breeze. Anyone who sees one, stops for just a moment, to reflect on the beauty of nature and the wonder of it all. Butterflies represent possibility, hope, and new beginnings.

They are insects of the day. Sunshine and spring flowers come to mind. They are coveted. Beautifully perfect in every way.

I want to be a butterfly.

But I'm sitting here, all encased in the thick cocoon around me. And I am struggling. Against myself. Against the life I'm living. Against expectations. Against time.

And I don't know if I am coming out a butterfly.
View details
The Moth

Moths are creatures of the dark. They are underappreciated. But they are also annoying to most people. They are the underdogs. They search for light because I think somehow, they desperately want to be touched by the sun. They want to be coveted. They long to be beautiful. They want to be THE choice, not the afterthought.

Sure they are strong. Sure they spin silk. They are useful. But ask most people if they had to choose, would they be a butterfly or moth, my guess…is they'd be a butterfly.

Moths are forever in the butterfly's shadow.

And all this brings me back to LOST.

As Locke said to Charlie:
Struggle is nature's way of strengthening it. Me. I have to believe whether I come out of this cocoon a butterfly or a moth, I will be stronger for my struggle. Stronger for having had to change.

I could ask for it to be easy. I could ask for a lifeline. A metaphorical cut in my cocoon with a knife. But easy isn't always better. It's just not. It's only…easier.

So, I wait.

To become…whatever I am destined to be.

Because it really isn’t up to me. Is it?

So, if you could choose…would you be a butterfly or a moth?

Tagged! I was tagged by Miss Brandi Lynch. Tagged to write about what you ask? My current WIP of course. So here is is...

What is the working title of your book?


Oddly enough, the title was the FIRST thing I came up with. I was thinking of things I could write and the titles that could go with...and this one just jumped out at me. I thought...hey, cool title. So, I began to work it out in my head what it would be about. 

Where did the idea come from for your book?

Well, I knew I wanted to do a fairy tale retell in a contemporary setting. I thought about all the possibilities from the obscure to the predictable. Cinderella has been done and done. Same with Snow White. My favorite fairy tale story is The Little Mermaid. But that one really had it's challenges since ummm...the MAIN CHARACTER CAN'T TALK. How the hell do you write a book when your MC has no voice? Inner dialogue can be too much. But then I thought...what an exciting challenge? Challenge accepted. 

The other thing I wanted to be mindful of was the fact that I wanted to stay true to both versions...the Disney version as well as the original Hans Christian Anderson version, which is much more tragic. I really liked the haunting story Anderson told and how it involved complete sacrifice for the one you love. Sometimes, when you really love someone, you simply have to let them go. It's only fair. You want them to be happy, even if it means without you. It's the ultimate pain. But also the ultimate love. This is what I explore in SPEECHLESS. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Well, of course since she is seventeen years old, this will be a YA Contemporary. 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Oy.This is my first don't judge me.

When a horrific accident robs seventeen year-old Lorelei Bell of the thing that defines her most--her voice--she must fight against her own inner demons, a frenemy who has it out for her, and the death of her old identity to find her new voice...and a chance at the love of her life.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hoping to get an agent with the book I am querying at present who also reps YA. If not, I will query this one for sure.

How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Still writing. It is 2/3 done. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Any of the current contemporary retells. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea. The characters are so beautiful in my head, it would be hard to match them to a real person. The closest actor to play Lorelei in my mind would be Debra Ann Woll.
Debra Ann Woll of True Blood
 She pretty much embodies the feisty personality and the girlish charm of Lorelei. Plus...she is gorgeous. 

As far as as Erckan, Lorelei's love interest..I have yet to find a guy who can match the gorgeous that is in my head. Perhaps Zac Efron is the closest. Because...LOOK AT 
Ummm...yeah. Perfection. Erckan indeed.

Britt as Blaire

Of course, the nemesis and frenemy would be Blaire, played by Britt Robertson.  That would be all I could figure out now. :)

Okay. I'd watch this movie! :)

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As I said, I wanted to explore the idea of a timeless love in which sacrifice and loss was involved. I love how the original Anderson's end is tragic, but beautiful. I also wanted to write a novel that the kids I teach could read. :) That...would be awesome. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The romance of course. And the buried past between Lorelei and Blaire. And as always, I love to play with the preconceptions people have about an antagonist. Blaire is not over the top bad...only to Lorelei. I think that makes the best antagonist. The one who is nice to everyone else, but has it out for one person. And Blaire's reason is really understandable, which makes it hard to hate her. But isn't that real life? One person's enemy is someone else's best friend. 

So, now I have to tag:

Erica Chapman

Jodie Andrefski

Megan Paasch

Andee Hannah

Angie Black

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nano Nano

 Welcome one and all to the greatness and fabulosity that is NaNoWriMo. What is this weird acronym, you may ask? Well, of course it stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is a month long time of craziness where writers all across the globe commit to writing 50 k words in one month. That's absurd, some may cry. Yes, I'll concur. It's freaking battier than Adam West in a pair of pewter tights with  a mankini. See more about it here: NaNoWriMo
Is that Janet Reid?

Here's the idea though. It takes just 1600-ish words per day to hit the 50k mark. That could, depending on your typing capabilities, range anywhere from 1-2 hours per day. Okay, that's do-able. Here's the other thing. You are supposed to NOT EDIT or REVISE during the writing. Whahaha???

That, my dears, will be the hard part. Why? I'm a perfectionist; I will not want to close down my computer to anything less than perfect. Or at least, semi perfect where if I sent it to my CP, Jodie, she wouldn’t consider me an epic failure. So, I'm not sure if I can commit to "no going back". But we'll see. 

So, my WIP (another acronym? Seriously, I thought the teaching world had too many of them…I was proven WRONG) a.k.a. work in progress which is currently at 31k will be the lucky recipient of my constant attentions. My current novel, a YA fairy tale retell is one that I am in absolute love with and I am excited to finish it, go back in to revise, spiffy her up, and make her look like a superstar. 

And to be clear, I am kinda in love with my MC's love interest. I know it's wrong to be in love with a seventeen year old, but seriously, he is freaking amazing! If I could find a picture of what he looks like in my mind, and I could stop drooling, I'd post it here. As it is…this is the closest I could find. 
See? Pretty gorgeous, no?

The thought that I will be DONE with my first draft on my second novel is pretty damn exciting. And if when I finish it at the end of November, it will mean from start to finish it will have taken me 3 months to write. Which is impressive seeing as The Princess Paradox took a whopping 3 years. I had some writing blocks during that time. Epic ones. They were sucktastic.

When I finish my WIP, I already have ideas for a new women's fiction manuscript. Actually 2 ideas. No. Make that 3. Crap. I think I will be doing this writing gig for a while. As long as I have stories to tell I guess. 

I will try to regularly update this blog with how I'm doing. 

For those on twitter, follow the hashtag #NaNoWriMo to get updates on fellow nano-ers. Also, the AMAZING Megan Whitmer hosts #writeclub on Friday nights. It's basically 30 minute sprints of writing, where writers all over can check in, get props, pats on the back, and kicks in the ass when writing. It has helped me become accountable for my writing. I look forward to it every week and my Friday nights simply aren't the same. Fewer hangovers. Less money spent. Fewer sleezy bars. MORE KISSING SCENES! (Totally an upside) Thanks Megan. You rock the writing world HARD.

So…who else is in on Nano? What are your goals? Post 'em here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hey...remember me?

It has been a WHILE. Sorry I’ve been neglectful. Ever since I found these contests and one Fizzygrrl and Write For Apples, I’ve been pretty dern busy. They’ve introduced me to a host of new characters that honestly, I don’t know how I’d live without. Feaky Snucker, another lovely human being, said it best. (at least I am pretty sure she did and if she didn't she was thinking it) Facebook is for friends you have but don’t really know anymore, whereas Twitter is for friends you never knew, but should have known a long time ago. Yep. Sums it up. Shout out to the amazingly wonderful Erica Chapman, Kat Ellis,  Laura Hughes and J.C. Gregorio as well. These ladies are going places, so please visit!

On to other news. A man jumped out of a pod and free fell. Made a record. Pretty cool. I guess writing a book pales in comparison. But on that note, yesterday as I was talking to my husband, I found myself saying, “If I keep at my current pace, I should be finished with my first draft of my manuscript in ten weeks.” Which is not what was funny. What was funny is afterwards, I found myself thinking, you know, why does it take so long to write a book? Then the next thought I had was…WTF? If it only takes a total of 4 months to draft one book, while I work, take care of my family, and have a social life, well…that is pretty fan-freaking-tastic. I can’t believe this writing thing has become my life. But it is.
It has gone from something I thought about doing, to something I AM doing. And it’s true what they say. The more I do it, the more fascinated I get in the craft of writing, and thus the better I become. It’s pretty damn cool.
Writing is so much more than coming up with an idea and stringing words together to make a coherent sentence. It’s finesse and crafting to get the right emotion, the right image conveyed to the reader. It has changed how I see the world.
A few years back, there was a writer strike. All the network TV stopped for a few months while writers picketed for fair wages and compensation during what was then an internet boom with streaming programming at the forefront. Even then, I supported my fellow writers with a “hells ya” and signed petitions online. I knew they worked hard, and since they were the brains behind every character, every joke, every amazing one liner still heard today, they deserved whatever they asked for.
What was cool though, was the solidarity between writers. They banded together and it really seemed like every one of them genuinely liked and cared about another. And you know what? Now that I am writing, and have found myself fraternizing with the writerly crowd, there is something I’ve realized. This IS true of all writers. It’s an incredibly loving and supportive group. I am honored to be one of them.
Which brings me to the point of this blog post. (Took a while huh?) The writers got together and created a website called WHY I WRITE.  See here for the original post. Click on the calendar to see more.

Each day, there was a new post from a writer with an essay about why they chose to write. Reading through all of these, my emotions ranged from pleased, to laughing riotously, and filling me with hope and passion. They were great essays. Maybe my next post will be my Why I Write. But in short form...
I write because I have to. I write because I have these voices inside my head that want to get out and they won’t leave me alone until their story is told. I write because the legacy of the human mind is gifted through words. I write because more than anything, I want my legacy to be that I made people laugh, or touched them with words, or took them away from their problems for just one day.

So…why do YOU write?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

THE PRINCESS PARADOX : The Original Chapter One

My original chapter 1. This was before edits and revisions. (except I did add the essay like heading to help readers understand what this first chunk is) I am posting to get feedback about the flow and first impressions. Especially the first 150 to 250 words.
Should I keep it?
Do you want to see the new Chapter One?
Please comment. Yes YOU!


Sad but true, some people out there are very dishonest and steal others' work. To see more about it, support fellow writers, and get smarter about what to post and what not to post, read the blog of her account: Where Ladybugs Roar

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Your gut: It's not just for lunch.

View details
Trust me!

Hey fellow writers. Today I want to blog about something on the serious side. This is a shout out to all writers, whether you are published or not. Trusting your gut.

This week was a week of whirlwind emotions for me. My current manuscript, the one in contests and sitting in the slush pile, is a story I totally believe in.

Let me start from the beginning. I have a beautiful six-year-old daughter who's in love with all things princess. It started after a family vacation to Disneyland. Right when we walked in the front gates, her jaw dropped and she stood there, frozen. A cute three-year-old (at the time) girl, who'd never watched any Disney princess film, just witnessed "the most beautiful girl in the world." Belle stood in front of us in her golden sparkly gown signing autographs and taking pictures. My daughter strolled right up to her and asked, "Who are you?" After being told politely she had to wait in line and then she'd get her time with Belle, we went to the back of the line and waited for at least ten minutes.
An illustration of a child dressed up as a princess
We were almost at the front when the photographer with her said, "Belle needs to take a break. Look at your maps for her next visit and we'll see you there." Sure we were disappointed, but my daughter was determined to find every princess she could. (We found a few) But more than anything, that moment created what was to be the vision for a story. A girl, so in love with princesses that for her, happiness would only exist if she was a princess.

Three years later, my daughter still plays with princesses and loves all things princess, although she has branched out to things like unicorns, fairies, and cats. Always the cats.

The other part of my inspiration came from teaching and becoming a fan of Sex and the City. Odd combo? You bet. But at the time, I was teaching my 8th graders how to write using commentaries as mentor texts. We analyzed the traits of commentaries to figure out "what does a piece of writing need to include to be considered a commentary?" After commentaries, we analyzed book reviews, debates, and genres of fiction (namely my favorite genre science fiction).

It was then that I applied the same idea to the princess stories. I asked "What does a novel/story need to include to be considered a fairy tale/princess story?" I combined the answer to that question with a Carrie Bradshaw-esque commentary on each element.

My story became a combination of op-ed pieces commenting on each part of the fairy tale, with each chapter of the narrative paralleling the op-eds. What I ended up with was a fun and unusual storyline which is unlike anything out there.

Sure, you say, every writer believes his/her work is unlike anything out there. But for me, it's truth. I know it. This is now why I'm reminding you of the reason for this post. I knew when I was writing my manuscript, I'd have an uphill battle. I knew it would be a) hard to explain and b) hard to sell to agents. But I believed in it. And I knew I was offering readers something they've never seen before. Some will love it. Some will hate it. For the record, all my betas love it.

Here's the problem. It's a pattern the reader picks up after seeing three or four chapters. After many partial rejections, listening to my betas and critique partners, I did the unthinkable. I changed part of my story. I added a chapter that was never supposed to be there. It's a funny chapter. It draws readers in. But it was never supposed to be there.

Screen bean character with a hand on its head while crying
I questioned myself so much I got to the point that I hired an editor to line edit and critique of the first 30 pages. I needed a professional insight to why my partials weren't turning into fulls. She did a fantastic job. Wanna know what her biggest feedback was? Start your story at Ch 2. WHAT? Ch 2 is much more engaging, you get the meet-cute right off the bat and it tells the reader everything you said in Chapter 1 but in a more subtle way. WHAT? Start at Ch 2. As in my original Ch 1 before I added. Facepalm.

Now, I am in a dilemma. Do I keep the chapter because it's engaging and gets a lot of attention, or do I nix it, begin where my story truly began? I don't know. I am in a bind.

I know what you're thinking. "So? Start it at Chapter 2, Carey. What's the big deal?"

Remember how Carrie starts each episode typing her op-ed piece on something having to do with relationships, then the episode would be directly related? That's my novel.

I will take any excuse to
post a pic of the gorgeous Adam Levine.
All of my original chapters started with the Carrie Bradshaw-esque op-ed pieces. Slamming fairy tales. I think it throws readers off because it's an in-your-face "fairy tales suck" kind of way to start a story. Think "Payphone" by Maroon Five and you get the idea.

You meet my MC, but there's no action in the first 2 pages, just funny sarcasm. But the point is, my MC is so busy critiquing fairy tales, she fails to see her life is EXACTLY like one. Which is the irony of the whole thing. My whole premise was that fairy tales are so engrained into us, we don't realize it. It just becomes a part of our worldview and then girls are left wondering why our prince charming and happy-ever-after isn't waiting for us. We then become disappointed, jaded and cynical, when really, it was silly to believe in fairy tales in the first place. We had unrealistic expectations.

My gut told me to keep my original story. I told my gut to go stick it where the sun don't shine. Now I'm regretting it. I've changed my manuscript based on what others were saying and not being true to myself or my story. I cried a lot this week. And still have a rock sitting in my dumb shoulda-known-better talkin' gut.

And I'm not alone.

I have two critique partners who are now going through the same thing. They were told their story is too slow, or that waking in a dream is cliché. They have rewritten and toiled and cut and revised. They have stressed and worried. One has cried. We are probably keeping Kleenex in business. Like me, they're both talking about shelving their story and starting with a new WIP or completing a WIP. (Work in progress for those who are non-writers) This pisses me off. They both have great stories that should be told.

Man with book and questions
Don't EVER...
All the writing books tell you, don't start with backstory, or setting, or dream waking, or prologue, or in a different POV from your MC. The thing is, at some point you have to stop listening to everyone else. You have to listen to your heart, your story.

If you give your story to ten different people, they'll tell you ten different things. If those ten things they tell you to change don't fit your story or your MC, don't do it. If you write well, and your story is compelling, those things won't matter. We, as writers, have to believe that someone will see our story, and will get it—the way it is.

When agents say they have to love the story to want to represent it, we have to remember that we too, have to love the agent as much as our story. We have to get each other, because that's the only way to make the partnership work. I don't think it's coincidence that most pubbed authors have a friendship with their agents. Getting our story means they get us. And getting us means we get them. It's a Mobius strip, forever looping.

So, when you're thinking about shelving that story even though it breaks your heart, or when someone asks you to change it in a way that doesn't seem right…trust your gut. It's ALWAYS right.

I wish I would have learned this sooner. So…gotta go revisit my original. See if I can jazz it up.
By the way…I'm thinking of posting my original first chapter on my blog. If this is something you would like to see, please leave a comment.

Would you like to read the original first chapter?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday Recap: Reader Appreciation Award, A New CP and Contest Updates, not in that order.

Friday. Only 171 days left of this school year. Or so my co-worker tells me. This means I have 171 days to get my butt in gear and get an agent for my present manuscript, finish my WIP and query the hell out of that. All before summer. I better get on it. No more procrastinating. Like working on anything other than my writing. Certainly not a blog. Er…

briefs,cartoons,clothes,underwearSo this week was so crazy. Being in 3 contests made me lose half my mind. I was checking my local blogs and websites more times than Brittney Spears checks to make sure she's wearing underwear. That's a lot, by the way.

The results are in! I had 2 agent requests. One for 75 pages and one for 150 pages. I am so excited, but nervous as hell. So, I am doing (yet another) read through just to make sure there is nothing that blurts out "mistake". Not that there should be. I have read my novel more times than I care to admit, and I can practically say the whole thing out loud. But, still, even now, I get nervous twinges when I send my baby out in the world. I hope I've prepared her for what she may face. I hope she can speak for herself and not let others take advantage of her. I hope she shines. It's the best I can do. At the end of the day, a writer has to believe in their story. Because if they can't, why should anyone else?

I do. I believe this story needs to be told. I believe there is an audience. I believe that not every girl wants the traditional story with the expected storyline. I think there is room for a protagonist that is flawed and makes mistakes. When I started out writing my novel, the question I wanted to answer was this: What if the character we were rooting for was not necessarily a perfect person? What if she made the wrong choices? If she did something so unspeakable, would we still forgive her?

accessories,apparel,Cinderella,cushions,entertainment,fairytales,glass slippers,high heels,household,pillows,storiesI also wanted to take a hard look at what fairy tales do to girls as they grow to be women. Do these princesses and their stories make it into our own worldview? I think they do. I think they color how we look for love. Obviously, as we get older, we realize the truth. Life isn't a fairy tale, and how boring if it was.

I'm now entered in GUTGAA and made it in the email window. New query. We'll see how that works. Same 150. Because I love it. And that's how I roll.

Now, even more exciting…I was nominated for a Reader Appreciation Award. I know. Cool right? Yep. It totally is. And I am honored. See, the plus of all these contests is the networking and making new writing friends. And they are really wonderful women. The community of writers I have found on sites like Query Tracker and Twitter amazes me. We are all here, going through the same things. I see published writers helping unpublished. I see unpublished rooting each other on. I see fellow fangirls tweeting to their mentors, co-writers, and would be writers. It's amazing.

Can I tell you a secret? Don't tell, because if this gets out…I will be out one wonderful CP. That's critique partner, for those who don't know. These are the fellow writers that read your writing when it's crap and tell you it's crap. But they also tell you what they love about it. They give you honest feedback, but support you at the same time. It's fabulousness. And I have some of the best ones around. Especially my new one.  I swear, I think we were born to meet. One of her screen names even matches my manuscript…paradox girl. How crazy is that? She loves rain. And coffee. I'm from Seattle! That's not coincidence! It's kismet! I heart you Jodie Andrefski

Not only is she keeping it real on my first foray into YA lit, she's a tremendously talented writer. It's going to be months, not years, until she is signed. I know it. I can sense it. She really is that amazing. Kind hearted, smart, funny…all wrapped into the cutest little blond package. But, shhh. I don't really want this getting out. Else others will be clamoring for her, and she'll realize what a nerd I am and ditch me. I would die. DIE! So keep that on the down low.

So, I must also follow the reader appreciation guidelines. Because those be the rules, yo. (I'm not sure what possesses me to free style like a rapper sometimes, just go with me on this.)

If I tag you next, and you are reading this…remember. You must follow before you can lead. So…read the directions below and rinse and repeat. (which is to say, it's your turn)

  • Identify and show appreciation to the blogger who nominated you (yep…I'll get to read all about me. Love this part. Take heart, when you do it, you'll have your blog love-fest too!)
  • You must add the reward logo to your blog.
  • Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
  • You must nominate 5-10 of your favorite bloggers for this award.
  • Inform your nominees that you nominated them.

See? Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

7 Things:

1.       I flew a plane. For reals. I was on an internship study, going down to Mexico. Guaymas  to be exact. We were researching one of the most endangered marine mammals of our time. The vaquita. At the time we went, there were only 1000 or so left in existence. Since porpoise don't survive in captivity, their chance of survival is pretty bleak. Beautiful animals. Their name means "little cow" in Spanish. We stayed with one of the top researchers at the time, Omar Vidal. Awesome host. We drank WAY too much mescal, ate crickets, and skinny dipped in the Gulf of California. On the way back, the pilot (a friend) let each of us (6 passengers on a Cesna) fly. Yeah, I flew us into the U.S. Pretty damn cool.

2.       My best friends growing up were usually boys. I didn't get along with girls. Too much drama. Besides, I smoked cigarettes, cussed like a sailor, and never wore a dress. Yeah. I was badass. In college, I dated one of my best friends. He is now happily married (as am I) to a wonderful girl and they are so great for each other. But I miss him and the crazy times we had, along with our other friend from Jersey. He's the real Jersey Shore. Good times. Taught me what a Philly Cheesesteak is supposed to taste like. And introduced me to TasteyCakes. Those on the East Coast, know this.

3.       I taught drama for three years to a bunch of 8th graders. I put on 4 amazing productions. And I loved every minute of it. Directing a play was like being god. I got to tell everyone what to do and how to do it. It was like Glee every single day. It was so awesome. And to see kids who were poor academically shine in the spotlight…man, that was a proud moment for me. The cast and crew became like a family. We bonded because we worked every day in class, and for hours at night, eating pizza, listening to music. Generally causing chaos. Drama folk are CRAZY. And I love them. I found an appreciation for theater and productions that are still with me. There is nothing like the feeling after a show. Better than any high. Ever. Which is probably why my WIP characters are all thespians. Write what you know.

4.       I volunteered at Seattle Aquarium collecting sea otter poop and separating the DNA from the other compounds. Yep…I scooped poop. That's marine biology at it's finest. But you know what, I got to get close and personal with the otters. It's cool that they began to recognize me. They were all like "hey, there's the chick with the food!" I also helped rehabilitate some wayward green sea turtles and learned they LOVE having their shells scratched.

5.       I play guitar and I am learning the ukulele. My first song was a Radiohead tune. Green Plastic Trees.

6.       I have the unfortunate luck of being both a sibling and an only. My brother, Darren, was struck by a truck at age 12. I was 8. Shattered my world. We were best friends. I miss him every day.

7.       I've ghost hunted. It intrigues me. Never have seen anything, but have put myself in some creepy situations. And I have experienced some things that defy explanation. I think the death of my brother propels me to prove there is something more.

Wow. That went a little heavy. Okay, turning the tables. Here are some of my favorite peeps.

  • 1.       Sarah Ahiers: Sarah Ahiers Writes One of the coolest writer chicks I know. She is badass. A great supporter of everyone, she helps anyone who asks. Never one to shy away from any topic, she'll tell you like it is, whether it's what you want to hear or not. And this is a GOOD THING. Love her.

  • 2.       Lisa Chickos:Kicked, Cornered, and Beaten Could a person be any awesomer? No. No they could not. Lisa is a) talented b)friendly and supportive and c) one of the most committed people to her passions. She puts 120% in everything she does. An amazing human being. Makes the rest of us look like punks.

  • 3.       TJ LovelessQueen of the Padded RoomMy orginal CP. Love this lady. LOVE. She is sweet, funny, committed to her characters, all around amazing person. Wonderful mom, devoted wife. She is someone who I want to remain in contact with forever. I cannot say enough good about her.

  • 4.       David List: Regarding Silexare Funny as hell. Smart as a whip. Has damn good taste in music. Need anything more be said? Oh yeah, talented writer. He writes a little darker and more fantasier…(is that even a word? Spellcheck says no. I politely disagree) Supportive, friendly, and all around good guy. Did I mention his cutting wit?

  • 5.       Mere Joyce: Mere Joyce Another fantabulous writer and person. This is the girl you want to talk to about YA. She knows it all. Well read, well spoken (typed), total supporter to everyone, she is one of the nicest people around. Not to mention she knows a thing or two about writing. She's one to watch.

There are some others I'll just mention, but I don't think they have a blog, Suzan Headley, Beth Brodie, Mary Beth Bishop, and Jill Urbach are also amazing ladies I'm proud to call CP's. Love to you.

That's it. I'm out.