Thursday, January 22, 2015

Return to Revision-Land!

Well, I've officially taken the train back to Revision-land!

Thanks to feedback from my awesome critique partner as well as my own notes, I know (mostly) where I want to go with Draft #2 of my fairy-tale retelling. To my astonishment, I only have one scene slated for deletion—the other changes are new scenes or rewrites of existing ones. I'm not really rearranging much of anything either, which is really weird to me!

I usually work chronologically when I'm drafting or revising, but this time I'm trying something a little bit different, and I started with the ending! I expanded my last scene today—and lost a couple of hours in the process!—and I LOVE IT SO MUCH!! Sometimes you have to run with an idea when it comes to you, and that was definitely the right choice for me today!

I'm not sure what I'll do next. I might work backwards, I might attack the middle, I might return to the beginning and go chronologically from there. We shall see! But in any case, I'm back working again and it feels great!

Cheers, all. Happy writing! :-)

Friday, January 9, 2015

These Broken Stars

I finished These Broken Stars last night, and I'm not sure what to do with my feelings. Does anybody else have thoughts? I need to know if I'm the only one left feeling kind of unsettled… There was an aspect of it that disturbed me and I can't quite get it out of my head! Very, very unique book. I thought I knew where it was going but I DEFINITELY DID NOT. Lovely writing and well-drawn characters and fascinating world. Good first read of 2015!

In other news, I'm preparing to revise my novel! Gonna revisit some revision techniques I used a couple of years ago, and see how quickly I can whip this thing into shape. Can't wait to make it better!!

Cheers, all, and happy weekend!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On Retellings

I have always loved retellings, like Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted (Cinderella), Edith Pattou's East (East of the Sun, West of the Moon), Robin McKinley's Beauty (Beauty and the Beast), Diana Wynne Jones Fire and Hemlock (Tam Lin.)  Ever After, I must admit (only slightly shamefacedly) is still my favorite movie (another Cinderella retelling). There's just something intriguing about stories so timeless they can be told over and over again and no one (myself included!!) seems to get sick of them.

The novel I finished drafting last month is a retelling of the fairytale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with a little bit of Tam Lin thrown in because I thought it meshed really well.

My favorite fairy tale of all time is Beauty and the Beast which, like East of the Sun, is a variant of the Cupid and Psyche myth. I love it SO much I never thought I'd do a retelling—there are many, many wonderful versions out there already (And yes, Cruel Beauty is on my to-read list. I'll get to it soon!). But stories have a way of tugging at you, and here I am now with a first draft of my own take on East of the Sun. I have no idea if I did the story justice (though I hope I did!), but regardless, it was a fascinating experience to follow a plot essentially already written for me, trying to keep it fresh by doing new/different things, and at the same time wanting to remain faithful to the spirit of the original fairytale. I made a conscious decision to not re-read the fairytale before writing my first draft, as I wanted to allow myself the freedom to follow the story where I felt like it needed to go.

In my version, I modeled the setting after 19th-century rural Russia. Looking at pictures of the Siberian landscape inspired whole sections of the plot (seriously, it's so gorgeous!). I'm excited to do further research and incorporate even more historically-inspired details in future drafts.

Now that my rough draft is finished, I'm going to go back and re-read the original fairytales, dig deeper into my world, fix inconsistencies, figure out the real backstory of a character who unexpectedly turned out to be somebody different than I'd planned, unravel the confusion of my middle, work on characters' relationships… Lots and lots to do, but I'm looking forward to shaping my version of East of the Sun into exactly what it's meant to be.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Challenge! :-)

My friend and CP Jenna presented me with this book challenge! Here goes!
1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?
Let's see… I'm in the middle of Days of Blood and Starlight, which I was reading via ebook from the library. My lease expired, so I have yet to finish it. I was having a harder time getting into it than its predecessor, but still plan to finish when it pops up at the library again. :-)
2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?
Hmmmmmmm maybe Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith. I've read it approximately five billion times since I first discovered it as a teen back in the day. I just can't help re-reading it every year or so.
3. Which book do you love to hate?
I'm not a Twilight fan, and I have to agree with Jenna about Wuthering Heights. I've read and enjoyed the other Brontes' books, but that one—my gosh. So many unlikable characters!!
4. Which book would you throw into the sea?
There's a lot of "what books do you hate" questions in here, haha. I'd have to say maybe a paranormal creature book (I'm just not generally a fan!).
5. Which book have you read the most?
I'm a chronic re-reader (see above). Favorite re-reads are the books in Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series, which include The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings. I love these books SO MUCH. They're ridiculously fun to re-read, because they're so layered you always see something you didn't before.
This past fall, I read The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski twice, and I plan to read it many, many more times. It was SO GOOD.
6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?
Probably any book about math.
7. Which book could you not live without?
The aforementioned Queen's Thief series, Lord of the Rings, Middlemarch, all of Jane Austen, and I'm gonna have to add The Winner's Curse to the list as well!
8. Which book made you the angriest?
While it didn't make me angry per se, The Fault in Our Stars left me feeling empty, soulless, and depressed. I didn't think it was a gorgeous heartbreaking romance so much as trying-too-hard to be deep (don't hate me!!).
9. Which book made you cry the most?
Agreeing with Jenna yet again that If I Stay was incredibly beautiful and sad (and more poignant, IMHO, than Fault in Our Stars). Also, the climax of Ruin and Rising was pretty rough! ETA: Sorrow's Knot, by Erin Bow. OHMYGOSH. You need a whole box of Kleenex for that one.
10. Which book cover do you hate the most?
So many "hate" questions!! I guess my cover pet peeve is that so many books look exactly the same. I get tired of photos on covers (because again, they often just look like carbon copies of each other!), and tend to lean towards illustrated covers, like the Grisha trilogy. That said, I have to agree with Jenna (haha—again!!) that These Broken Stars has a completely drop-dead gorgeous cover. The book is super addicting so far, too!!
I'm tagging my other amazing CP, Jen Fulmer, and Twitter friend KL Norton, to complete the challenge next!!
Happy reading in 2015, everyone! :-)

Watch out, 2015, Here I Come!

Okey dokey, smokey—it's time for the post you've alllll been waiting for. My goals for 2015!!

  • Revise/rewrite/edit/polish the novel I finished drafting in December. Infuse with more heart, and MAKE THE MIDDLE BETTER!!
  • Write a brand new book—because all revising and no first-drafting makes Joanna a dull girl!
  • Read outside of my normal genre preferences—like a thriller or a mystery or something nonfiction.
  • Bake more stuff—I've realized I really like baking!!
  • Get an electric hand-mixer—Related to above. Whipping butter by hand is SO HARD YOU GUYS.
  • Some kind of bookcase project—I have some outdated bookcases that I think would be really fun to update/paint/shabby-chicify or something.
  • Never, ever, EVER give up! I don't post a lot about querying, as giving too much detail on that front can be unprofessional, but suffice it to say, this is my motto!
I hope you all have a lovely year stretching ahead of you—here's to a fantastic 2015! *clinks glass*