Friday, August 26, 2011

10 Random Facts: Tag, I'm It!

Been a while since I had a "just for fun" post, so since it's Friday, I thought I'd play along! I was tagged by Rebecca Knight (of Legacy of the Empress fame) to list 10 Random Facts about me, and tag four others to play. Here we go...

1. I've always wanted to rewrite my author bio to make myself sound more mysterious: "An international woman of mystery, Tere Kirkland was born in Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. She now calls the Crescent City home." Or something like that. 

2. I have a huge issue with controversial food items... veal, goose liver, sweetbreads. My issue is that they're so DELICIOUS!!

3. Food in general is my biggest weakness. I really should exercise more, but then I'd probably become one of those people eating out of the Ben and Jerry's pint while walking on the treadmill. Maybe I just need to find a house to buy with a second floor so I'll be in better shape. ;)

4. You may not know this about me but I've been house-hunting since spring and it has consumed my every waking moment. I used to spend my lonely hours writing or reading, but lately it's all real estate listings and hgtv shows. Room Crashers? Yes, please! (sidenote, but will someone please convince hgtv to play actual renovation/decorating shows instead of one episode of House Hunters after another, interspersed with the random House Hunters International and the occasional Property Virgins. Not even My First House is about the house as much as the hunt. Boring!)

5. Also, since we've been seriously house-hunting, I have curtailed almost all of my bad shopping habits. I haven't stepped into Urban Outfitters for over a month and I haven't even bought a new lipstick at the drugstore or anything. Necessities only! Like Snickers Ice Cream bars. What? Snickers Ice Cream bars aren't a necessity? O_o

6. Speaking of guilty pleasures... I shouldn't admit this, but I have been recording far too much MTV programming this year. My Life as Liz season 2, Teen Wolf (did they ever clarify what was going on in Jackson's neck with the wolf's bane, or did I miss that?!!), and now Awkward. RE: Awkward, this show is hilarious, touching, and yes, oh so very awkward. Just like high school. What? It's called research, people. MTV scripted television is how I keep current, okay?

7. I'm loving True Blood this season. Every storyline except Sookie's. She's kind of boring, and seriously, the worst problem she has is that she's in love with two vampires and can't choose? WTF? They really ought to change it to the Lafayette Chronicles. That storyline with the ghost and the baby totally made me cry! Witches FTW!

8. I tend not to read adult paranormal romances because they should really be called adult paranormal sexcapades. All the sexual tension in YA is so much more satisfying. Nothing against writers like Charlaine Harris, but it starts to get old after a while...

9. So my Evangeline revisions are finally done and turned in, but just as I was finishing, I inadvertently came across an old photo (Bayou Saint John, 1878) of one of the locations in the novel, which revealed that the area was quite a bit more developed than I thought. A frantic scene rewrite ensued. Here's the pic:

10. Now that I'm done with Evie, I'm back to work on my alternate-reality aetherpunk-western. Wahoo. Except that I've left it alone for so long, I fear I may have lost my way. A re-read, and a total immersion day of writing is definitely in order. Wish me luck for Saturday's writing binge!

Okay, these were not random so much as loosely associated, but still, I came up with ten, which should count for something. Now, on to the lucky taggees! (Not sure why, but "Taggees" sounds like a line of baby clothes to me, lol)

Susan Mills!
Karen Denise!
Caroline Starr Rose!

Tag! Y'all are it! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surviving Submission—Blog Chain Post

Last night I was in that weird half-awake, half-asleep state, the kind that usually provides a drowsy sort of contentment with myself, the world and everything.

Then I felt a tickling near my head. Thinking it was just the dog's tail, or her foot, about to kick me in the head as usual, I brushed at it. Only to have my fingers catch on the jagged spurs of a palmetto bug's leg. *eep!*

Frantic sheet swiping ensued, which woke the husband and the dog, and still, the little bastard got away. I spent most of the rest of the night feeling phantom insect legs crawling on my skin, so I got almost no sleep. It gave me a lot of time to lie awake and worry about the revisions for Evangeline I just finished...

Oh, wait, I forgot! Welcome to my very first post as a member of a blog chain. :) Don't forget to scroll through the blogroll in my sidebar, and be sure to check out Michelle's post here, and  Margie's post here.

Sandra asked us to blog on this topic: How have the recent changes in the publishing industry affected your career/writing plans?

This question was also in my thoughts last night. A lot. While others have posted to applaud the increasing respectability of self-publishing, or to lament the closing of so many brick and mortar bookstores, those changes haven't had much of an impact on my career or career decisions at this point. What I'm the most affected by right now is the increasingly selective submission process at publishing houses, and the rate at which trends keep changing in young adult literature.

I'm an agented author who's been trying to sell a paranormal romance since late 2010, when the genre had pretty much already peaked. While my manuscript has improved substantially (or at least, I like to think so) since I first sought representation, now the market is much tighter. Too many YA paranormal romances are being submitted to editors. If a publishing house recently acquired a paranormal romance and they only buy a certain number of them per year, it's unlikely my manuscript will find a home there. The same holds true for dystopian right now. The popularity of books like The Hunger Games has led to an increasing amount of futuristic and post-apocalyptic submissions.

So, it's become bigger than just writing the best novel I possibly can. My manuscript has to do more than just stand out from the pack. It has to have luck and timing on its side, too.

Now, I'm not trying to sound defeatist, or say that someone just got a book contract because they're lucky. It's a combination of so many factors, and luck is the least of it. Which means that we wannabe authors are just going to have to strive even harder to make our manuscripts shine, to work with what we CAN control. And that as tempting as it may be to drop your paranormal romance and start writing a suspenseful thriller, the best thing you can do is right [was just about to change this typo, but it just proves how tired I am today. Blerg.] the story that you love. The story that calls to you and demands you share it with the world.

But you're also going to have to be tough—palmetto bug tough!—enough to withstand more than your share of rejections. And just like that palmetto bug, you're going to have to be persistent. (Well, my imagination sure thought he was persistent, even though in reality, he probably scuttled off into the kitchen once the light went on, in search of the trash can under the sink. Goal oriented, those palmetto bugs are.)

So I guess I'll close by saying, that as gross as a palmetto bug's legs are, they did give me a lot to think about last night. I need to be as tenacious and impervious to rejection as my winged friend to achieve my goals. If only they were as simple as finding some garbage under the sink. ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reading like a Writer: Nook Style

Some of my newest minions may not know this about me, but I can't stop talking up my Nook.

It's no secret that I love being able to scroll to change pages, read for hours without my hands cramping, to sideload library books, and—most importantly—my manuscript. (On an unrelated note, I vacillated like a mofo on whether to use an Oxford comma there, or leave it out. I think it adds a much needed dramatic pause, so I kept it in. Viva la comma d'Oxford!)

Though I'm a big advocate of printing out my manuscript, or reading it aloud, I think transferring it to another device, like an e-reader, does the same job. Just by shifting the format of the words I've been staring at for months (years?), editing suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. I don't know about y'all, but after a while, I stop *seeing* the words. It's more like I'm aware of them. They don't have the impact they should. And if my words have no impact on me, how am I supposed to tell if they'll have an impact on anyone else?

So here's where the e-reader comes in. When I read my manuscript on an e-reader, it feels more like a real book. (Same goes for printing, but I know ink and paper are of the essence for some folk) So when I read, I'm—hopefully—being pulled into the world I've created with my words. Usually, glaring style issues I've unwittingly been ignoring make themselves apparent: too much repetition of sentence structure, weak transitions from one sentence to another, and even pacing problems.

Mostly what I've noticed is that I can let myself enjoy the words, the way they sound, the images they conjure, much more when it feels much more like a real story. I mean, who hasn't been reading a great book, when suddenly, you're thrown out of the story by a strange turn of phrase, or repetitive sentence structure? It's those little things that can help make or break your novel when it comes to finding an agent, or later, an editor. These are craft issues, which I took fairly seriously before, but only because I was still learning. Now, even though I feel more comfortable with my style, I put even more emphasis on the way the words come together.

Anyone can "tell" a story. I want my readers to smell the mildew in the Louisiana air, sense the chill of witch magic, and feel along with my characters.

How do you get yourself out of the editing rut? Read aloud? Print? Write everything on Post-its? I'd love to hear it!