Sunday, January 31, 2010

Writing Relationships

I always viewed writing as a solitary job. One in which I put my ideas and characters on paper then send it to an agent who would fall in love with my words, sign me and, without any further work from myself, get me a million dollar publishing contract. Well, not far into my journey as a writer I discovered that things aren't as easy as they appear. I haven't even made it to the agent who is going to make me work harder than I ever have before, because I'm not just trying to make myself money, but also her/him money.  The hardest part is accepting that what I put down on paper may not be the best I can do.

After spending two months writing and finishing about 20,000 words I realized I had written crap! How could I not have realized this sooner??? So, I started over and this time I decided to try to find someone out there in the same boat as I was.  My search began with Google and, as from a previous post, you can bet I had a hard time finding what I specifically needed.  Then I stumbled across The Next Big Writer (see my link under writing websites).  After spending a few months reviewing (and doing a pretty crappy job of it) I forked over the best $50 I've spent in my writing career.

The first chapter I posted was shredded and I realized that every notion I had about writing needed to be tossed out.  What I thought I knew was nothing compared to what was expected of me.  It hurt like hell but I quickly discovered that the pain was inflicted with the best intentions and that there were people out there that believed in and shared my passion and that they didn't just want to tear me down, but help me learn and grow as a writer.

I've been a full member for almost a year and the wonderful writers and reviewers I've met during that time have surpassed my expectations of a writing workshop.  There have been people who drop in and give a moments look, or those who are continually there to give consistently needed honest feedback.  All have made my experience as part of tNBW community amazing.

I may never be a published writer, but I've had the opportunity to learn from some talented writers, and if I can't see my novels in the bookstore at least I'll be able to look at theirs and say I read that before it was published.

So THANK YOU to all of those wonderful members of tNBW!

On my iPod:

Hot 'n Cold by Katy Perry

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Making it a Job

So I've been reading quite a few blogs lately focusing on how to treat writing like a job, and it got me thinking about how I write.  When I first started with The Evolution of Janie, I set daily goals for myself, laid out a week in advance.  If I did more than I planned wonderful, if not oh well.  It was on a white board and I just swiped my finger through the black ink and not a trace of my failed goal remained. Well, apart for the stain on my finger.

But after finishing my first draft of Janie, my goal board collapsed.  I hemmed and hawed, until one day it drifted off my immediate radar.  November brought Nano and Janie disappeared entirely, eclipsed by Songbird and the delight of having a novel complete in a month.  I threw myself into it, writing every night and finishing my 50,000 words in 30 days.  Tha problem?  The story wasn't done and any accountability walked out the door as December came marching up.  It took me another 40 days to finish the draft of Songbird and then the editing began and I'm thinking will always be there. 

Yet I can't stagnate.

I've started my new novel (the first of a trilogy) and have rediscovered  yWriter 5 - it was free and although it doesn't do everything I want it to, it has the absolute one thing I need:  a daily word count target.  I put in my ultimate target and when I want to have it complete by and it gives me my daily target, my overall completed percentage and I have something to keep me focused. I'm competitive, even if it's only against myself.

So make it a job? Yes, but a job where I can win suits me better.

If you're interested in where my new work is going, I've updated my WIP and added in brief descriptions each book in The Gifted Trilogy

On my iPod:

Halo/Walking on Sunshine mashup by The Cast of Glee

I really should spellcheck before I post!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Researching my project

I was lying in bed last night thinking about my new character Phoebe. She's been talking to me about what's happening in her life and what exactly she's capable of doing.  And the longer I listened to her the more I realized I needed to know things that I didn't know already. She was talking about Spiritual gifts and I realized that even though I've read about them in the bible I didn't really have a true grasp of what they are.  So, I started my reasearch.  I rolled over and asked Brandon, "What are the spiritual gifts?" "Why do you want to know?" "I've got an idea for a series of books and I need to know if it'll work, but I don't know what the Spiritual gifts are and if they'll fit my idea."  His brilliant answer? "Research it." 

Didn't he understand that I was?  I was asking him!!  Usually he knows everything ;-) Needless to say, I admitted he was right.  I needed to do some research.  I figured what better place to research it than to go right to the source, so I started looking up verses in the Bible and Lord, help me it was pretty broad! Putting the good book aside, I went to the source of all knowledge, true and false - Google.  It's not as easy as all those computer nerds make it look.  You can't just type in what you're looking for and find it at the top of the this. I clicked for hours on pages upon pages before I finally managed to get a link to something that gave me exactly what I was looking for and the motivation to get started on my book, well books since Phoebe just told me about her sister Monica and brother Ross. (They're triplets and yes, their mother was obsessed with Friends - I even had to research that to make sure the ages would line up - assuming they're seventeen and it'll take me a year to finish the first one, the dates match)

I've been lucky so far that my need for research up to this point has been limited.  Fantasy gives you a lot of leeway and contemporary YA can skim the surface of somethings. So, here's to my first foray into serious research and I hope that all works the way I want it too! :)

**How scary is it the Friends came out 16 years ago??? When did I start getting old?

On my iPod:

Bullet with Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins

Monday, January 18, 2010


So, I've been frantically editing and writing this weekend trying to get Songbird into shape for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  At this point I've had some amazing feedback on it from tNBW and even though there are more revisions that I need to do (thanks Tirz!) I'm going to have to wait.  I just don't have the time to   them (and edit them) before the contest.  I'm going to enter as is and see what happens.  And really it was a sigh of relief.  I'm done.  Well, at least for now.

But just as I put Songbird to the side, Janie has been demanding that I finish Evolution.  It was almost impossible to get back into.  I started reading from the beginning and at times I felt as if I was reading it for the first time.  Luckily, by chapter twenty-four (where I had left off)  Janie was telling me what to do again.  I cranked out two chapters and am ready for the next.

Just why is this post titled Voices?  Well, Janie is at war.  Because Phoebe and Olivia are starting to talk. Although, at this point Phoebe is pretty much dominating the other girls.  She giving me bits and pieces of her story, yet I'm not sure how they all fit together. I've always been just a writer who sat down and let the character take me where they needed to go, but this is so different it's like she doesn't even know who or what she is yet.  So I've decided to take a leap of faith and follow in my writing friend Rachel's organization technique.  I'm going to use some index cards and out line Phoebe to death (although I hope it doesn't end in her death!) Until that plan takes shape, I'm going to keep working on Janie.  She's been neglected for too long.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dreaded Query

Well, I finally reached the end.  I've finished my first draft of Songbird and as I begin the endless journey of editing and revising I also took on the query.  I had mild success with my query for The Evolution of Janie with 1 full request and 4 partials before I stopped sending them out to focus on reworking it.  This time though I feel much more confident in my query.  It's not perfect quite yet but it's on its way. So without further ado, here is the current version:

Dear Agent,

Everyone has that one defining moment when everything in their life changes.  For seventeen year-old Dani Mays it's the day her father killed her brother.  With Jace's death her life fell apart and now, ten years later, she still can't put it behind her.

After years of bouncing between her mom and foster homes, Dani finds her place with the Thompsons and a reason to want to stay.  Reece McCabe.  As far as Dani's concerned Reece is perfect.  Since fifth grade he's been her best friend, with a promise to love her forever.  But she wants more than friendship from Reece.  When she finally believes that the word "us" might be about to take on a new meaning, her illusions are shattered once again when she can't escape the memories of her past and the influence they have over her choices.

 The appearance of a former foster brother manages to confuse Dani even further as she struggles to accept the faults in people and in herself, and move into the present, even as the past threatens to end everything.

SONGBIRD (61,000 YA Romance) explores the effects life experiences have on one girl and her journey to finding happiness when she has given up all hope.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I have included the first two chapters for your review. The full manuscript is available upon request.

Angela Fristoe

I'm going to spend the next week or so, working on cleaning up my draft, and then research which agents would work best for me and Songbird.  All I can do is hope and pray that Dani's story touches someone's heart enough to have the confidence that they can sell it.

On my iPod:

Smooth Criminal by Alien Ant Farm

Friday, January 1, 2010

An End in Sight

Well, I didn't meet my goal of having Songbird done by the 31st, but I can finally see the end.  I have about a chapter or two left to complete then I can focus on what my goal for 2010 will be.  Every word I've written these past couple weeks has been dragged out of me, to the point that I wasn't sure where the story was even going to go.  But two days ago, I finally felt good about again!

Tomorrow, we head back home from our wonderful Chrsitams vacation and I'm hoping that having my own computer to use again will get me through the last few pages, and I can put Dani, Reece and Colin in the edit pile. :)

On my iPod:

Wheat Kings by The Tragically Hip