Friday, August 15, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour Post

My participation on the My Writing Process Blog Tour is due to John Henry Fleming's persuasive powers. I can't say no to my professor, not matter how long I've been out of school (and it hasn't been that long, come to think of it). I've written about John on my blog a few times now; his writing is delightfully bizarre, showcased through his newest book, Songs for the Deaf. 

John's other (but no less impressively bizarre) books include The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel just re-issued in a 20th Anniversary Edition ebook; Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary; and The Book I Will Write, a novel-in-emails originally published serially and now available as an ebook. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of South Florida, and he’s the founder and advisory editor of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. His website is

1) What are you working on?

The moon and stars revolve around my debut novel at the moment, LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS. After juggling multiple projects for so long, it's strange to say that Fallon Dupree and her world of charms and fortunes is what's on my mind. I'm working through my first round of revisions.

Before starting a new project, I'd love to write some more flash fiction and short stories. I feel like it's been a while and I have some new ideas lurking.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

HMM. Not sure how to answer this one. A lot of my writing falls into the vein of magical realism. I think magical realism is still growing in the YA genre, but a lot of those books I’ve read tend to have dark, sometimes very sad tales to tell. I prefer to write stories that are a little brighter–maybe that’s years of Disney’s influence on me, but there you go.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I can’t help it. I grew up exposed to storytelling that embraced the strange, if not for fantasy’s sake, then humor. I’m talking about cartoons, video games, children’s books, fairy tales and mythology. In my own writing, I strive to create stories of oddball characters and circumstances. If I had any writerly motto, it would have to be straight from Edgar Allan Poe: “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.”

4) How does your writing process work?

In the beginning, I’m a scavenger. I keep my eyes open for ideas and start gathering bits and pieces that shine, so to speak. When they come together, that's when the work begins.

While I use notebooks to write outlines, character bios, and other notes, I do the writing itself on a computer. I’m actually a terrible speller, so seeing the errors while I’m writing is a huge distraction for me–not a problem if I have good old Spell Check on hand. This is probably kinda weird, but when I’m writing on my computer, I love having the Word file zoomed out so that I can see two pages at a time. It’s like I’m hovering over the page in a helicopter, rather than in the trenches. After stealing writing time both in grad school and at my job (yay, lunch breaks!) I’m so used to people walking behind my desk and getting a clear view of my computer screen. So the privacy of writing with such tiny print is an added benefit to that habit!

I usually write my first drafts fairly quickly, but that depends on outside forces, like life (work, laundry, room-cleaning, socializing. What are those things?). The amount of drafts I go through while revising depends upon the project - I've found that each new book demands a different process.

Thank you for inviting me to join the tour, John. This is the part where I'm supposed to introduce you to three awesome writers making their posts next week. 

But I kind of failed at that.

The blame is in my corner. I don't have many authorly friends. YET. I also worked mandatory overtime for the first time this week. My brain has melted into an unidentifiable shape. 

But if you're interested in reading more about the writing process, do check out John and Jim's posts. Startlingly enough, I seem to have beaten Ira. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Revision Game

As you might have guessed, my tardiness has much to do with THE BOOK. July ended on a bittersweet note, with both my job getting crazy-busy and my dog falling ill.  Misty is much better now, though still recovering, and I'm getting used to the roller coasterish excitement that is now becoming my day-to-day life at the office. 

Meanwhile, Swoon Reads has been full of surprises! In case you missed it, voting for LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS' cover totally happened. These lovely covers had been the choices:

Which one did you vote for?

The cover voting made me even more inspired as I work through my revisions. Which, by the way, has been going pretty well despite facing some intimidating changes. When I say "intimidating," I'm not talking about the meaning in a classic sense. My editorial letter rocked. After combing through the letter with my editor, Holly, and finding solutions and brainstorming for a good few hours, I'm excited. I can't wait to share the new scenes, the twists and turns that are forming underneath my fingers as I type them out into what's becoming a shiny new draft.

But if you've ever written anything, be it a short story, novel, or even essay, you know what I mean when I say that there are intimidating parts of everything we write. Those scenes that you want to revise and make better, that you're just itching to unravel - but you remember the mountains you climbed to pull that idea from you head in the first place, and wonder if it will stay intact once you start making it better.

And so, while I bravely plunged into my manuscript with sword and shield in hand, I had some moments where my attitude was more like...

... and I'm pretty sure that's normal. Going slow, and taking these scenes piece my piece, usually helps me. If you poke a hole, ignore the whizzing sound of the air rushing loose, or plug it up temporarily with a giant I Shall Return note in the margins. Or highlight. I love highlighting. Listening to perfection in the form of movie soundtracks doesn't hurt either (if you peeked at my Twitter feed this weekend, you knew I was half-bawling, half smiling while revising to A Little Princess and The Secret Garden soundtracks).  

I've got a few more matters to attend to before turning in my first round of revisions *snaps on surgical gloves*

When the headaches subside and the night wraps stars around my house, I recover a sense of adventure and revise.