Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Check out the Diversity in YA Reading Challenge! You could win a ton of new books by spreading the word.
I'm working on my YA WIP that involves two different aspects for me: 1) alternating first person povs; and 2) a boy main character.
And guess what? My crit group loves the boy's voice a lot more than the girl's. Woah. I did not think that would be the outcome.
What that means is that I need to really work on the girl's voice and go through her chapters carefully and make her as fun to read as her brother.
Can I do it?
The challenge is on.
What has surprised you about your writing?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
One of the articles that popped up in my Yahoo news feed the other day was about people making a living with multiple part-time jobs. The NY times article was a fascinating read for a number of reasons. Not only have I made my living with multiple part-time jobs on numerous occasions, but I have to admit that I almost prefer to work that way. And it appears I'm not alone, because the article touches on the growing trend for Gen Y'ers to prefer sampling with multiple careers.
Both of my parents have been in the same field (if not the same job) for pretty much my entire life. While I on the other hand have a resume that could rival Mr. Ryan Seacrest himself in variety and quantity. And I have to admit, I wouldn't want it any other way. All of my work experience has pushed me to think outside the box and be in a state of constant learning.
I think part of the reason I'm drawn to writing so much is not only is it an outlet for creativity, but it gives me something to work for professionally outside of my current career.
Maybe it is being born into (or at least relating with) a generation that's in constant contact via email, cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. But as a result of all this communication and motion, I get bored easily. Very easily. As a result I'm constantly looking to the future for new ways to get fulfillment in work and artistically.
Writing has been one of those ways.
And as the article suggests this can be both good and bad. Because it's easy to get distracted when things are hard and then it's almost a given you want to move onto the next job or activity.
But if you want anything great to happen, you have to rein yourself in and keep plugging away!
--Emily, Miss Habitual Job Seeker
Monday, June 27, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
About a month ago, I faced the fact that my TBR (to-be-read) book pile, if unchecked, stood a good chance of taking over the house. (I assume the only reason it hasn’t already is that the prospect of ruling two middle-class adults and one self-important cat isn’t particularly compelling, as coups and takeovers go.) I couldn’t shake the thought that there’s a certain silliness to buying more books when I have dozens of perfectly good unread books at home. (Readers everywhere will understand, though, that you have to be in the right mood to read a book, and sometimes that means putting off the TBR pile another day.) Also, I like to subscribe to literary magazines, but ever since I sold my first book, issues of these journals have been piling up unread.
As an inveterate list-maker, I decided that making a list would help me put a dent in the TBR pile. Nothing thrills a compulsive list-maker like crossing off items on a list, or getting to add to a list of accomplishments! I decided to do both: to make a list of all newly-read books and magazines that were already in the house as of April 17, 2011; and to list all books purchased since then, and record whether I’ve read them or not.
I know you are all waiting breathlessly for my stats, so here they are for the first month: Since starting this project, I’ve read three novels that I already owned; seven issues of the literary journal OneStory; and one issue of the literary magazine Tin House (likewise). I have also purchased ten new books, of which I’ve read six. That’s a net decrease in the amount of unread material in the house! I’ve also reread some books, as I always do, but they don’t count toward this list.
I’m not sure how I’ll handle library books—I don’t have any checked out at the moment. *ponders* The nice thing is that, read or unread, library books don’t hang around the house for long, joining the TBR pile in whatever act of rebellion it’s plotting.
How do you manage your TBR pile—or do you manage it?
Jennifer R. Hubbard writes contemporary YA stories, including The Secret Year (Viking, 2010), “Confessions and Chocolate Brains” (a short story in the 2011 anthology Truth & Dare), and the upcoming Try Not to Breathe (Viking, 2012). She blogs at http://JenniferRHubbard.blogspot.com
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was talking about writing a short story? Well, I'm still working on it but it's going better (Yay!). And we just got the BEAUTIFUL cover so now I'm even more excited to finish and make it great. Isn't it cool?
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
In honor of my latest WIP that I'm excited about, I'm posting a teaser. Enjoy!
The Forgotten Night
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
This week has been filled with cleaning, cleaning, sprucing up, and more cleaning. I definitely come from the group of people that believe messy environments are the sign of a creative mind, and choose to clean for only one of two reasons:
1.) When you have to flip through 100 papers to find the one you need. (Or you know...you have to start hand washing dishes because there's no clean bowls left to put your Lucky Charms in.)
2.) Or when someone is coming to visit.
This week's reason for The Great Clean centers on No. 2. Not only do we have company coming this weekend, but we also have hundreds of people that will be traipsing in our house for a Historic Home and Garden Tour. And since they have to fork over $10 to see all the homes and gardens on the tour, I felt I owed it to them to at least dust.
But I will have to say that I have found myself on multiple occasions this week just stuffing random papers into drawers, throwing things into closests, and taking more and more items down into the basement to sit out of view.
And after doing all this, I'm just now realizing that it's going to take me twice as long to put it all back to it's rightful place when the home tour is over. And if I'd just taken the extra time upfront to do the proper cleaning then I probably won't be wanting to bang my head against the door when I have to clean again in a few days.
I'm guilty of doing this with my writing as well. Sometimes I'm lazy and want to shortcut my revisions or I think "oh this simple solution will still work. It might not be the best, but it will be ten times faster and easier."
And you know what...in the end it's not worth it. Because it almost always needs redone.
If only I'd listened to my mother when I was younger and learned the proper way to clean, maybe both my house and my current work in progress wouldn't be such a mess.
Oh well...it's a good thing Creative Minds are born from chaos...
Hmmm....maybe my coffee table/trunk really would make a better laundry basket in the basement?
* Note: this is not my office. To prove it you can find the picture posted on this site and track down the real owner of this office. But I will say at least the papers seem to be in neat piles! That's points in my book.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
In Defense of Keeping the Day Job
Every writer knows the old adage, keep your day job. It’s spoken to aspiring writers as a soft warning with the requisite slight grimace and empathetic head tilt. It’s meant to relay a thousand cautionary tales: less than twenty percent of debut authors will ever see a royalty check; bookstores are crumbling and publishers are investing less money in new authors; with the uprising of e-books, authors are making less money. Keep your day job. But it’s every writer’s dream to one day turn in their two weeks notice, right? Or is it? Well, I’m here to tell you that keeping your day job is not always a bad thing.
Now, I’ll fess up: I only work part time and I’m one of those rarities who loves their day job. I’m an optometrist and it’s a great field. But believe me, there are days when after prying scraps of metal from the ultimate eye squeezer that I’m contemplating full time writing. So why don’t I?
For me, it’s all about balance. Writing is the ultimate roller coaster. It’s an emotional ride. Because writing is so subjective, it can bring crippling insecurity. I’ve seen major NYT bestselling authors blog honestly how they still fear their new books will not be well received. It’s a financial ride – a nice advance check followed by months of no income at all. Writing, I’ve also found, is a roller coaster ride of time management as well. There will be weeks of intense deadlines that require a monopoly of time followed by a span of weeks where you sit twiddling your thumbs waiting to hear back from your editor.
This constant undulating of emotions and paychecks and time requirements can elicit extreme joy: I just got the most amazing fan letter! I just got an awesome advance check! I just met my deadline! Or it can throw you into a fit of lows: I just got a two star review on Amazon! Will I ever earn out my advance? What am I supposed to do while I wait to hear back about my submission? For me, I like to complement this roller coaster ride of highs and lows with the steady reassurances of my day job. I don’t have daily emotional doubts about my ability in my day job, there’s a guaranteed paycheck and a nine to five schedule.
Then, there’s the physical nature of writing. There’s all that sitting and staring at the computer screen. All that quiet. I love the balance of having days where I’m bouncing around from room to room, seeing new faces and talking with new people. Which brings me to the solitary nature of writing. Sure, there’s social networking available to the lonely writer. True. And there’s value in it, absolutely. But, for me, the computer will never replace true connections with other people. I’m still a firm believer that much of actual communication in a relationship is relayed through tone of voice, body language and the ebb and flow of an actual verbal conversation. All these things are lost with just typed words. I love that my quiet, creative writing time is balanced with a day job that puts me in constant connection with different people. Not only does it fill a social need, but it serves as a schoolroom to witness actual people and their quirks and mannerisms – all things that eventually help shape my character development and dialogue. In fact, it was a little over a year ago when I walked into the exam room to hear two teenagers in the midst of a very animated discussion on how they should make a voodoo doll of an ex-boyfriend. I quickly scribbled a note and the next day, in my writing time, I crafted an entire voodoo scene that wound up in my new YA novel.
For me, weaving together the stability of a day job with the creativity of writing has helped me achieve a blended balance that keeps me sane. So the next time someone tells you, don’t quit your day job, don’t necessarily think of it as a bad thing. Think of it as an avenue to balance the undulating emotions, keep a healthy bank account, throw some diversity into daily activities and an opportunity to study people for inspiration.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Yes, I get it. They need to sell their product. But don't bash bookstores and make people feel like a loser for going to one. To me this commercial sounded like:
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
At the YALSA Symposium last November, a librarian talked about "mash-ups," or books that combined two genres into one story. She mentioned BLOOD NINJA, a combination of Japan, the ninja culture, and vampires. A perfect example.
I also put HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER in that category. It combines humor with paranormal.
Mash-ups can be fun to read -- and smart to write. With the YA fiction market the way it is right now (favoring dark, edgy, moody, paranormal books, to generalize), adding a "mash-up" to your chick-lit, light, realistic novel could be the way to go.
I'm not saying that you have to -- or should -- write for the market. But I do think that if you want to get published, you have to write with the market in mind. Still write the story you are passionate about, but if mashing it up some way with a selling genre fits into the book, go for it! At least write one version that way and see what happens.
My current WIP is a darker speculative story, something new for me, but the plot has been percolating in my head for years and the market seemed right now to get it out. My next idea is a humor-ghost mash-up that I am so excited to write. Back to evoking some laughs but with a touch of ghostiness to give it a possible market. Why not?
Chasing trends is not the way to go, but it doesn't mean you should try to sell VHS players to people who want to watch movies now and in the future. Sometimes you have to go with the flow and see where it takes you.
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Been feeling a little bit like this lately...
Which usually means I'm analyzing my story too much and have lost site of what I love about the book or characters. To try to undo the Writing Blues, I thought it might be helpful to remind myself of some of the decent (no...good) things about my current work in progress.
- The characters are fun and witty.
- The setting is unique and allows for so many possibilities.
- About three of the five senses seem to be represented. And three senses are definitely better than none.
- The book is almost done!
- Those last five years of writing haven't been a total waste and the writing itself is actually much improved. Thankfully this isn't the first book, because if it was then I'd realllllyyyy have a long way to go to get it up to par.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Compound verbs began to pack their things, insisting they were leaving.
Compound verbs packed their things and left.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The schools that my library serves just released their summer reading lists. Yay! Now I can order the books that my lib doesn't own or have many copies of so that I have offerings when the teens come in!
Something I've been noticing, though, is that some of the lists have a lot of adult fiction. I totally enjoyed HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, and I'm fine with it being on the high school lists because it does have teen appeal. BUT there are so many awesome, awesome YA books out now that I kind of wish the lists leaned even more that way.
Admitedly, I am deeply biased since I'm the YA Services Librarian, but in addition to my love of the books:
1. I want teens to know that there are book being written WITH THEM IN MIND; and
2. my YA book budget is decided with YA book prices in mind, and when I have to buy adult titles for the YA required reading collection, it creates an unbalanced use of the funds.
I also feel like there is a lifetime for all of us to read books intended for adults, but YA books really can be "outgrown" by some people and I want the teens to experience as many of those novels now.
Many arguments can be made for including the adult titles, like the fact that they can push teen readers out of their comfort zones, but I'll let someone else write that post.
Or weigh in here.
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Happy almost summer everyone!
Beach reads are some of my favorite all time books.
Here's some coming out this summer that look like they'd be perfect reading while you are at the beach (or just sitting on your deck sipping virgin strawberry daiquiris while pretending you are at the beach).
Monday, June 6, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Last week I went to Narragansett, RI for vacation. Wow. What a beautiful place! I'd post pics if a) Blogger was working properly, and b) I hadn't forgotten my camera in Newport. But I digress.
We were surrounded by water almost at all times, and the power of the ocean was relaxing, invigorating, and inspiring all at the same time. How I wished I could retreat there to write. Somehow just being around all that power made me want to sit by it, amidst the rolling fog, and let the words flow!
I was not there to write; I was there to hang out with friends and sight see and eat (yummmmm...Crazy Burger). Which was all good too!
Now I am back home, sitting on my porch in the awesome summery spring weather, with my pond and ducks and red-winged blackbirds and robins and sparrows, all of whom I love. But I still feel like the words would flow better if I were listening to the rush of the ocean instead of the traffic on I-390.
What about you readers? Do you find you write better in some environments than others?
And those of you who live on the ocean, do the words really flow like I imagine they would? Or does a change in scenery jumpstart creativity?
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing