Friday, July 22, 2011

Editing: The Hard Way

Sit down now, minions, and I'll tell you a tale of woe and frustration, but one that has a silver lining.

Way back in October of 2008 (two-thousand and EIGHT, y'all!) I had an idea. A shiny new idea about a girl and a boy and the adventure they shared, and the love that blossomed between them. Sure, that story has been done to death, but my take has a unique twist. When I started out, the words just poured out of me. Words that didn't always make sense, or seem to fit the tone. By the time I'd finished, and mustered the courage to show it to betas, I was worried about some of those words.

Not the ones that made up my plot, or the dialogue (though all that has since gotten a major overhaul), but the words that contributed to my STYLE.

Problem was, I didn't trust myself.

When I got back a few crits back that recommended killing some of my darlings, I lost what little confidence I'd had in my ability to turn a phrase. This was not the fault of my critters, by any means. Those darlings were begging for it anyway. But over time, the editing demons nipped away at me. I felt the need to homogenize my work, to make my mc sound more like an average teen. To reduce the writing to plots and characters and dialogue and get rid of all those darlings that abounded.

But the problem here was, they weren't all darlings. In my attempt to regulate my character voice, I'd slowly stripped away all my authorial voice. I'd undermined my own work because I felt the need to try and write like someone I'm not. I wanted to make my Evangeline as snarky as some of the other teen heroines out there, but she just ain't a snarky girl. BIG mistake. So now, my manuscript for EVANGELINE has some consistency issues. Subconsciously I was aware of this fact, but had no idea why, or how to rectify it.

Luckily, my rock-star agent and her awesome assistant noticed what was happening with the voice in my recent revision, and commented on it. And let me tell you, they are some patient ladies, willing to work with me through every edit to develop this story from "good" to "great". Pretty much the only thing standing in my way right now is myself. Or, more accurately, the changes in voice I'd made over time. The last thing I want to publish is a book that isn't genuinely mine.

In my desire to write like someone else (not even one person, but multiple people, which is even worse for consistency), I totally robbed myself of my own advancements in style. For a long time I thought that the editing process was squeezing the individuality out of me, but it wasn't. In my misguided attempt to write what I thought others wanted from me, I was moving farther and farther from my ideal story.

Only now do I feel like I'm finally getting "my" story back. And it wasn't because of any criticism anyone gave. It was just my own lack of faith in myself. Since then, my editing demons have taken wing, probably to go pester one of y'all. Sorry about that.

So here's the moral of this story. Have faith in yourself and don't read too much into reviews unless you hear from multiple betas that you need to make a change. It's funny, but this realization that I actually CAN write made me feel like a huge weight lifted off me. This has been the most important realization in my entire writing process, a cathartic epiphany.

So, what epiphanies have y'all had about your writing lately? I'm thinking everyone should have at least one. ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Win Win!

You know those weeks when you just can't seem to lose, when all the pieces fall into place and the timing is right for amazing things to happen?

Yeah. I don't either.

Have I ever told y'all I have Scottish Luck? (Just so you know, Scottish luck is the exact opposite of Irish luck. Don't believe me? Brush up on your Scottish history sometime.) Sometimes it seems that I can never have any good luck without karma, or fate, or destiny coming back in to even things out.

So this morning I was very happy when I drew a winner for my City of Fallen Angels giveaway. It made me feel like somewhere along the line I did something right. Because not once in two years, 2 YEARS, has this person won any of my blog contests, even though they've entered pretty much every single one. Okay, so MAYBE her 18 entries had something to do with the odds, but I'm still gonna go with destiny. ;)

And the winner is:


Please email your address (which I promptly deleted from my email last time you sent it to me. I'm an idiot) and I'll get it out to you ASAP!


And Happy Wednesday to everyone else.

Remember, there'll be another giveaway at the end of the month for THIS:

Thanks to everyone who entered, especially my new followers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

It's been a dog's age since I did a Teaser Tuesday, and even though I usually tease y'all with snippets of my own work, I've been reading so many great books lately (ARCs, all, but I vow to review each and every one on Goodreads) that I figured it would be more appropriate to feature a snippet from what I've been reading.

After I finished The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, I realized how fast I've been tearing through books lately, and since hubby is still reading Ashfall, by Mike Mullin, I figured I had one more book binge in me before we were back to sitting on the couch scrolling through the contents of our dvr. So I better make it a good one. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor.

My crit buddy Jade had been so excited about this one, I put it on the pile for her and never really looked at it until last night. Once I got to page 8, (of this ARC edition, which is still subject to change, and I shouldn't quote from it, but isn't the point of an ARC to spread the word about the book?) I was HOOKED, and now I'm bound to finish this book before Jade gets here. Shhh, don't tell her. I'd never read any of Laini Taylor's previous novels, so as I read, her words and imagery cast a spell over me. This is the passage where it all began:

As Zuzana took the book, a couple of other students, Pavel and Dina, crowded in to look over her shoulder. Karou's sketchbooks had a cult following around school and were handed around and marveled at on a daily basis. This one—number ninety-two in a lifelong series—was bound with rubber bands and as soon as Zuzana took them off it burst open, each page so coated in gesso and paint that the binding could scarcely contain them. As it fanned open, Karou's trademark characters wavered on the pages, gorgeously rendered and deeply strange. 

There was Issa, serpent from the waist down and woman from the waist up, with the bare globe breasts of Kama Sutra carvings, the hood and fangs of a cobra, and the face of an angel.

Giraffe-necked Twiga, hunched over with his jeweler's glass stuck in one squinting eye.

Yasri, parrot-beaked and human-eyed, a frill of orange curls escaping her kerchief. She was carrying a platter of fruit and a pitcher of win.

And Brimstone, of course—he was the star of the sketchbooks. Here he was shown with Kishmish perched on the curl of one of his great ram's horns. In the fantastical stories Karou told in her sketchbooks, Brimstone dealt in wishes. Sometimes she called him the Wishmonger; other times, simply "the grump."

And that's only the start. It gets more intriguing and amazing the longer you read (I'm at page 122). Check out the Goodreads page for more info. Believe me, I'd love to tell you more, but you'll just have to read it yourself. I'm evil, I know.

Don't forget there's still time to enter to win a signed copy of Cassandra Clare's City of Fallen Angels! And at the end of the month, a giveaway of an ARC of The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson.

Friday, July 8, 2011

On Necessary Evils

The devil made me do it.

I must admit, I never thought I'd say this—kind of like I never thought I'd trade in my paper books for my Nook—but I'm kind of addicted to Twitter. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? I know, you're all aghast at this revelation. Or maybe you're not, if you're one of those people who have already embraced Twitter. But if you are still resistant to Twitter, yet think it might be something worth learning more about, this post is for YOU.

The reason I started (eventually) messing around with Twitter was because I figured I needed to make connections with my peers, i.e., the other writers out there who are slogging through social media trying to figure it all out. Obviously, some of us figured it out faster than others. But there is a tool that helped me get into the swing of things much easier than simply staring at a seemingly endless stream of tweets and wondering who the eff all these people are. That tool is Tweetdeck. It's a free download for both Mac and PC platforms that helps me organize using columns.

Slow down now, you're probably saying. Why in the name of pretty pink poodles would I need to organize my Twitter stream into columns?

Because there's more out there to discover than just the tweets of all the people you follow. That can be a column of its own—All Friends. Add a second column for direct mentions if you want to be sure you didn't miss any tweets where someone replied to you or mentioned you.

I like to stick with only three or four columns, total, so let's pretend there's a particular topic of conversation, that for the sake of accuracy, we'll call a trending topic, that you'd like to follow. Simply search for the hashtag (#YAsaves has been a pretty stable column for me, as was #ALA11 last month), and you'll get any post that contains that hashtag. All in one pretty little column next to your others.

Searching for trending topics helps you to put this whole Twitter thing in perspective, anyway. For example, say you're writing. You want to tweet about a specific trial or victory you've encountered. Instead of sending out a tweet to just the people who are already following you, you send that tweet with the hashtag #amwriting. In this manner, more people will see your tweet, that is, all the people who currently subscribe, so to speak, to that trending topic.

Which is pretty amazing, if you stop to think about it. It can help you discover new people to follow, or lead others to your twitter stream.

For the sake of sensory overload, we'll call it quits today. But I think that by using Tweetdeck, you'll be able to tell very quickly whether this type of social media is for you. Or isn't. But don't judge before you've tried it, or at least taken advantage of the tools out there to make it easier to manage.

Now fly, my fledgling Twitterers! And tweet me @TereKirkland if you've gotten over your Twitter fear. I'd love to hear about it!

And don't forget to enter to win a signed copy of City of Fallen Angels!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Get Ready, Mundies!

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Okay, it's not until tomorrow, and we're going to have a crawfish boil since all the flooding up north has sent a lot more oxygen rich, cold water into the bayous this year extended the season. We didn't want to do anything crazy this year for my birthday since we're saving for a house, and OMG thanks to ALA I have more books than I can shake a stick at, and I haven't had crawfish for at least... a month. ;)

So I'm posting today since I'm going to busy between now and then, cleaning and prepping and pruning my fig tree... It's a hard life, y'all. It has been beastly hot this week, though, so we're borrowing our friends' kiddie pool, too. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

I think I was with Sara (the sweetest girl alive. kept making sure I was with the group since I tend to stay in the back. even gave me her wristband for the Rioren signing ((where I sat in line with the hilarious Shannon and Cristin, who has the best Texas hurricane stories)), she's so awesome.) and Alexandra, ( who I will always remember fondly for comparing the dragon eggs in Game of Thrones to Chekov's gun) and Carol maybe, (who is so much fun. she can put away more beignets than I thought humanly possible, and still turn sideways and disappear.), at ALA last Saturday, when who did we stumble upon, in the back by the waterfountains and the graphic novel stage, but Cassie Clare signing books!

Copies of City of Fallen Angels, to be precise! How wonderful, I thought. I thoroughly enjoyed the first books in both the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices books. But I haven't read the second and third Mortal Instruments, and I'm so spoiled by my Nook that my wrists start to ache at the sight of a book that big. So I almost didn't get in line. But then I thought of, you, dear minions, and how there might be two or three of you willing to fight to the death in a savage underwater chess match for it. Or you could just enter in the comments.

Oh, and I got her to sign my Nook cover, which is how I enjoyed my first Cassie Clare books, anyway. I'm such a nookwhore. I have no idea how I'm supposed to read all these ARCs. So tell you what. I'll have Name of the Star to give away after CoFA has been won. That's Maureen Johnson's newest, y'all! Unsigned, but still, it could be yours!

To enter for a signed copy of City of Fallen Angels:

Comment- You don't have to wish me a happy birthday, but it would be nice. ;)
Old Followers= +3
New Followers= +2
Tweet= +1 per tweet per day (5 entries max)
Devoted blog post = +5
Sidebar= +2
Buy a copy of Legacy of the Empress (see sidebar)= +5
Adding up total entries= +1 Thanks in advance

Enter until Tuesday July 12th at midnight central time. A winner will be announced Wednesday morning!

That's it. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Update: If you're interested in reading "Jace's letter", Cassandra Clare has it available here. Enjoy!