Monday, May 9, 2011

Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why, you had to hide away for so long!

Finally feeling like I'm getting back into the revision groove.  A couple of weeks of taking a break/working on another piece have helped significantly.  I've also passed page 100 in the draft, which means I'm more than 1/3rd of the way through the full go-through (at least, go through the first.)

What helped me most, though, was sending the draft to someone--a woman who has been in my writing workshop several times, but she and I will be in different sessions this term--and having to explain to her what will be changing from this draft to final.  And when I put it all down in words like that, I was like, "Oh, wait, this isn't that bad.  I can do this."

What I am not happy about are these annoying, gnat-like insects that have made their way into my apartment, again.  I don't know what they are--gnats, probably--but I had the same problem last year, and cleanliness (or lack thereof) doesn't seem to matter to them.  My theory is that they come in through the window, because they're small and I only seem to notice them after I've had the window open (which I did this afternoon), and because they always seem to hang out by the window.  (Although one adventureous gnat has wandered over to bug me while I'm writing--which is how I discovered they're back.)  But it's weird--I'm on the 11th floor, and I thought bugs generally stayed closer to the ground.  Bug spray kills them good n' dead, but they come back periodically.  It annoys me, and I wish I knew how to get rid of them.

But I sprayed them dead for now, and I am ready for bed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

April: A Month in Review

Holy shit, it's May!  How the heck did that happen?  Just a second ago, I was happily proclaiming that it was April, and now...May!  Time flies when you're having fun, or something like that.  Though in actuality, I'd like time to stand still for awhile, or save time in a bottle, as the Jim Croce song says.  But that is neither here nor there, and not something I want to talk about on this blog--or at least, not in a month-in-review post.

Anyway...the best thing about April, other than warmer weather, was all the BOOKS!  Not just quantity, but quality.  I read so many books that often, at the end of the month, they all seem to blend together and I can't think of what books I'd like to talk about.  This month, not so much.

Nightshade by Michelle Rowen was absolutely wonderful.  It focused on Jill, an aimless office temp, who is caught in a Mexican standoff of sorts and injected with a formula that makes her blood posionous to vampires...and yet irresistible.  Afterward, she is kidnapped by Declan, a half-vampire/half-human hybrid who suppresses his "evil" vampire side (i.e. his emotions) with a serum, and is horribly scarred from his years of battling vampires.

This year, I've been reading fewer and fewer urban fantasies, eschewing them in favor of romance.  I read so many of them in 2009 and 2010 that I started to feel a sense of "been there, done that," that maybe I had already experienced everything that could be explored in urban fantasy.  This book reminded me of why I fell in love with the genre in the first place.  Jill is swept up into this world she knows nothing about (vampires' existences are secret to the general population), and her kidnappers--Declan's employer/foster father--frequently take advange of her ignorance to manipulate and use her.  But as the book progresses, we get to see that Declan's as much a victim as she is, which sets up an interesting parallel between them.  Much as I enjoyed Jill's character, it was Declan I really fell lin love with.  He grew a lot as a character in this book; his beliefs and worldview are shaken to the very core.  It doesn't hurt that tortured heroes are very, very sexy!

Nightshade has everything I love in fiction: a heroine who remains strong and determined in spite of everything that happens to her, a hero who grows and evolves just as much as she does, and a plot that kept me on my toes.  I can't wait until the sequel, Nightshade, is released in July.

The other book I want to highlight for April, Where She Went by Gayle Forman, is also from a genre I have backed away from: young adult.  Now, my reasons for backing away from YA are a lot different than my reasons for backing away from urban fantasy.  With urban fantasy, I still love it, but I just felt like I wanted to read some different stuff for awhile.  With YA, I made a conscious decision to stop reading it as much.  It had started to depress me; I was tired of reading about heroines who were 16 years old.  Don't grown-up women in fiction have adventures, too, I wondered.  It was that wondering that brought me to urban fantasy in the first place.

But I never gave up YA completely.  There were always books that stuck out, books that lingered in my memory long after I read them.  Forman's If I Stay was one of them.  The protagonist, Mia, is involved in a horrible car accident that kills her family and leaves her comatose.  Told primarily through flashbacks of Mia's life, Mia must make a decision: to stay and live, or go.

Where She Went picks up three years after If I Stay, and is told from the perspective of Mia's high school boyfriend, Adam.  No one dies here, but in its own way Where She Went is just as harrowing as its predecesor.  It's a fantastic book, and it answered all the lingering questions I had after If I Stay and then some.  It was one of those cases where, although a sequel might not have been necessary, it certainly added to the story.

And in writing-related news, I hit a bit of a wall with my revisions, as I already talked about.  It's not surprising, really.  First of all, I've been hanging out with these characters for almost a year now; my brain needs a break!  Second, I just got...overwhelmed, I think.  Revising over 300 pages of prose is not an easy task, and I started to feel like it would never be done.  Plus, I've discovered that it's much harder to discipline myself to write in the evening than it is to write in the morning--especially when that "writing" is actually "revision," which isn't as much fun to me.  I am considering--though I haven't decided yet--whether I should just start getting up earlier in the morning (say, 4:00 or 4:30) and writing in the morning.  Problem is, I'm not a morning person, and getting up at 5:45 or 6:00 is hard enough!  I'm not sure my brain would be awake enough to even write in English, at that point.

Other option is just trying to up the self-discipline.  Set aside a time, turn off the ringer on my phone, unplug my internet cable, and just go at it.  Unfortunately, self-discipline has never really been my thing.  So we'll see.

The good news is, I think I've gone over the hump on revision.  I sent someone in my writing workshop (which, unfortunately, I won't be attending this term--I switched to another day) the complete draft of my story.  As I did, I wrote an e-mail saying, "These are the big things that I need to change."  As I went through it, I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought.  There are four important scenes that need to be either rewritten or added to, two for content and two for excitement.  The rest is just minor tweaking based on what I did in those scenes.  Four scenes.  That's all.  I can do it!  (Where's Tony Little when you need him?)

And that, my friends, was April.  I resolve, in May, to blog more frequently.  We'll see how that goes.