My Fiction Project 2011

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A couple of months ago, I participated in Art House Co-op’s Fiction Project 2011. It’s an art/story project where they send you a notebook, you fill it with stories and art, and they send it on tour and house it in their gallery/library. Art House is currently updating their website, so the fiction books aren’t online yet, but hopefully they will be soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the photos I took of my project before I sent it off.

I chose to illustrate my story “Beneath the Crape Myrtle“, which was published by Plain Spoke and The Liars League a while back. You can read the story in its entirety on my website. It’s about a dog. A ghost dog.

I dedicated my fiction project version to Holly.

Here are the photos. When the link at Art House goes live, I’ll post it as well.


Hello Blogness, My Old Friend

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*taps microphone*

Is this thing on?

Hello, my blog. My sweet, lonely blog. I apologize for ignoring you for a month. Or more. But it was for good reason. See, I was finishing my novel. And well, now I’ve done that. So I’m back. And I hope not to ignore you again. At least until that time comes for the all-out insane rush to finish the next novel.

Would you like to hear what it’s about? Here you go:

When bad-boy Danny shows up at straight-laced Eevee’s door claiming he doesn’t know who or where he is, she thinks he’s high and can’t get him to leave quick enough. But when she discovers he’s a kinder (not to mention cuter) version of Danny from a parallel universe, she does everything she can to keep him from leaving.

Panic Switch is a young adult novel. 325 pages and 60,000-some words long. And I’m pretty excited about it, if I do say so myself.

I’m also excited to be going to L.A. this week for the SCBWI Summer Conference! I’ll have loads of stories and photos and writing info to share with you. Can’t. Wait.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with more about what’s been happening in my month-long hiatus. See you then!

Under the Influence

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This week over at The Parking Lot Confessional, we’re talking about the authors who influence us. Due to my being a doofus, I double-booked our guest authors this week, and rather than try to reschedule either (especially since they both worked so hard writing awesome guests posts), we decided to go ahead and run both of them.

Did I mention I’m a doofus?

Anyway, my mistake ended up having kind of a cool twist. See, today is the day I normally blog at The PLC, but instead, today Tom Leveen’s guest post is up. And it’s awesome. So go read it if you haven’t. The cool-ironic-twisty part is, Tom’s novel, PARTY, has influenced the stuff I’m working on right now.

You need to go read it, too, if you haven’t.

Most authors tackle one narrative voice in their novels. Some tackle two or three. Tom took on eleven. Let’s say that again together: eleven.

Eleven chapters written from eleven different points of view. I know, you’re dubious. But you have to trust me when I say: it works.

Not only that, but Tom’s characters are so real that when I finished the book, I thought, “Man, I wish I could just hang out with them.” (Beckett, especially.)

He nailed the voice of each and every character in that book.

Now, if you’re like me, you know that getting character voice right can be a bit like trying to hold onto a wet cat. Or an octopus. Or a slippery fish. Anyway, it’s hard. Character voices sometimes wiggle and wobble and squirm when you try to pin them down.

Well, Tom makes it look easy. Which goes to show just how important the revision work he discusses in his guest post is. And how much it pays off.

The other thing that really blew me away with Party was how Tom took on all of the “issues” in the book. You know, the issues: peer pressure, underage drinking, sex, swearing, death, racial tension, relationships, annoying parents, God. Tom doesn’t back away from any of those hot potatoes. Which I think, both as a writer and a reader, is pretty brave. He created real characters dealing with real problems. It’s all of those issues that carry the plot of the book, marching each of the characters to their pivotal moment where they face the consequences of their actions. It’s kind of brilliant how all of the stories come together and then disperse. Like…people at a party… (Whoa.)

As a writer, I want to create characters that my readers want to hang with after the book is done. And I want to write stories that don’t shy away from the uglier parts of life. Party has helped me see how it’s possible to do both of those things, and do them well.

Great book.

The Elusive First Line

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I judge books by their first lines. Well, if I’m being completely honest, first I judge them by their covers. Then by their titles. And then by their first lines.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who does this. (Right?)

To be fair, the first line doesn’t determine whether or not I’ll read the book; but it does impact my enthusiasm for the book.

Take, for example, The Knife of Never Letting Go. My friend Amy Sundberg recommended this book to me a while back (Thanks, Amy!). I finally picked it up the last time I was at the store. I read the first line, and I knew I had to read the book. Great first line.

You can imagine, then, the pressure I put on myself to write good first lines. Because I know there’s someone else out there like me who is going to weigh in on the stamina of my story based solely on the first line. Eek.

This weekend while working on novel revisions, I finally found my first line. I mean, I’ve had a first line for a while, but it wasn’t THE first line, if you know what I mean. I knew it would change, but I hadn’t known yet to what. And this weekend I think I found it. The line that is worthy to launch the story. The line that hopefully has enough weight (and intrigue…and voice…) to make a reader keep reading.

Oh, I’m not kidding myself. I know it could easily change. And probably will.

But for now, I’ve found the elusive first line.

(Tell me I’m not the only one who goes through this, please.)

Just Write

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Have you promised yourself this is the year you finally write your novel?

And are you sitting there wondering how exactly you go about writing the novel you’ve promised yourself you’re finally going to write?

Have you bought books about how to write your novel?

Are you googling in hopes of finding the right resources to get you started writing your novel?

Are you reading blog posts from others writers to learn how to write your novel?

Are you putting off writing your novel because you’re doing “research”?

I’ve done all of those things. I have a lot of writing books. And I read a lot of blogs about writing. I’ve gone to conferences and seminars and workshops and classes.

There’s only one thing you need in order to finally write your novel this year.

You need to write.

So go.

Go and write. Don’t worry about anything else. At least not for now.

For now, just write.