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The Blog of Anya Harker » 2011 » December

Well, it’s December 31st and in a few hours I’ll be heading off to the theatre to perform in yet another New Year’s Eve concert. I’ve been a part of these NYE concerts for so many years, it seems odd to contemplate a New Year’s where I won’t play “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and ring in the New Year’s with actors I’ve known for more than a decade.

And yet, who knows where I’ll be next year?

This year has been such a roller-coaster of emotions for me, and I really don’t know where to start looking at what shaped me this past year. I’m embarking on a new and (I will admit) terrifying journey into the world of publishing. Yes, it’s scary to think of putting yourself and your work out there in the hopes an agent will like it and your writing and sign you on. My manuscript is going through edits with my wonderful critique group and my query letter is sitting, polished, in dropbox and waiting to be sent out.

Yes, it’s scary as all hell.

While I’ve been home, I’ve come across a few things I wrote in high school (ugh!) and even books I made as a child. I’ve been writing my entire life and honing my craft as I’ve gone from picture books in elementary school to fanfiction in high school and college — and it’s time I followed my heart and went back to my creative lifestyle. It’s where I’m truly happiest.

Since I decided to push myself to really make a go of writing, I’ve managed to complete a short story, an entire novel, plot out several more, and be asked to participate in an upcoming eZine launch. I’ve been invited to write for Bleeding Cool on several occasions, and will be one of the bloggers in an upcoming YA Blog to be launched in the new year. Let no one say that, when I finally set my mind to something, I go at it with both guns blazing.

Thus, as this year ends, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few thank yous to the friends who have helped me through these past six months to find where I need to be.

So first of all, the biggest thank you in the world goes to my bestie, Kris. I don’t know where I’d be without her, and I certainly know she’s the one who has pushed me to finish this draft and will make sure I don’t chicken out and not submit this thing to agents when the time comes.

Then there are my two Danas — same spelling; different pronunciation. One who is my guinea pig for reading and I’ve left completely in the dark; the other who I have talked and talked to in order to figure out what direction my plot is going in.

And then a huge thank you to my pro-friends: Aimee, Jules, and Jesi — who let me ramble on and are there to talk me down off the ledge and offer such wonderful advice. ♥ And a special thanks to Mr. Tony Lee — who introduced me to so many amazing people in London and also has always been there with a witty remark or kind word of encouragement.

To my critiquers: Erin, Alexa, Nuri, and Jate. ♥ Your suggestions are invaluable.

But most of all — thanks to you guys. My friends and family with all of your support, it means the world to me. To those of you who I’m just getting to know thanks to QT or other corners of the internets, welcome. Thank you… for everything. (And I’m sure I’ve probably left someone out, but that’s what I get for writing this after a 4+ hour rehearsal. So if I forgot you? I’m sorry. ♥)

When the clock strikes midnight, 2012 will be upon us. May those of us who are struggling to get noticed and find our niche in the publishing industry find everything we’ve wanted in the upcoming months.

Happy New Year!

Internship Ho!

December 21st, 2011

Well, I have a brilliant piece of news — though I’m sure most of you have already heard about it already. ;^)

I’m at a literary agency! ……. Sorta.

I don’t have an agent yet (alas). The querying process will begin in the new year and I’m not afraid to admit I’m scared for that whole process to begin. *wibble* It’s going to be harrowing, nail-biting, and most likely test the limits of my (already tenuous) sanity.

However!

In January, I start with InkWell management as an intern in the agency. I’m so bloody excited, I keep jumping up and down, flailing like Kermit the Frog. It’s unpaid but they’re going to work on getting me a travel stipend which will definitely help a lot. I found the internship on the wonderful www.bookjobs.com and the description says they have a high success rate of placing interns in the industry. So here’s hoping I can do the whole “pub-industry by day; writer by night”… thing!

For the time being, however, I get to wait for January to come around so I can get started! And, y’know, start learning about the agency side of things!

The fact that it’s a synopsis, that’s what’s hard!

Honestly, until I sat down to actually write one, I thought this would be the easiest part of the journey. In my infant days as a writer, I assumed the hard part was going to be getting the 75,000 words down on paper and not giving up halfway through. Then when I hit my stride and was writing anywhere between 5-8k a day, I found that it was the (forgive the term) easy part of the whole process. As I sit in B&N helping a friend of mine plot her novel I realize that plotting is something I love to do and comes fairly easily to me as well. I’m at a point now where I look at a picture and can craft a story around it.

This is, however, more of a curse than a blessing. It’d be fine if I wasn’t trying to balance school on top of writing (or as I think my parents would rather hear me say “balancing writing on top of school”), but right now I don’t have time to plot out fourteen different ideas! But I digress.

While I let my novel sit and percolate in my brain for a while before I begin the hardcore edits, I thought I’d use the time to work on my query letter and synopsis. Even the dreaded query letter wasn’t horrible to write… once the idea came to me. Several drafts later, it’s in a drawer waiting to be used and I’m happy with it.

Finals are starting now and I’m turning to the synopsis as a study break… or so I thought. The deeper I get into this, the more I’m realizing it’s turning into more work than the take-homes themselves! How do you take something that’s 75k and parse it down into only 3-5 paragraphs? One of my professors suggested that I make them five veeerrrryyyy lllloooooonnnnngggg ppppaaaarrraaagggrrraaappphhhsss (in his words) but I don’t think an agent is going to like getting three thousand word paragraphs. ;^)

So that is my goal at some point… to get my SECRET PROJECT down to a measly 3-5 paragraphs. It’s not going to be easy, and there will probably be a lot of crying coming from my corner of the world that has nothing to do with law finals. Hopefully, once it’s done, I’ll have cracked the magic secret of writing the perfect synopsis.

More likely, I’ll be sitting in a corner, rocking, and wondering how on earth I got this done in the first place.

Pros and Cons of Navel Gazing

December 3rd, 2011

Navel Gazing: Excessive introspection,
self-absorption, or concentration on a single issue.

Sure, we all hit this point when we’re writing when you know that AMAZING scene is coming up soon and you can’t wait to reach it. It’s not such a bad thing to skip ahead to write that amazing scene because you’ll come back to where you were later. Right?

… Right…?

Well, as I (and I’m sure many of you have figured out) skipping ahead is a very dangerous habit to get into. Why you may ask? Well, I’m about to tell you… from my own personal experience of course. Again, personal experience. If it works for you, then scroll on by this.

This blog is thanks to Alexa, by the way.

1. You’ll only write your favorite scenes. This is probably the most dangerous of all the reasons navel gazing is so very, very bad. When you keep jumping ahead to write your favorite scenes, you’re going to wind up having a set of scenes that mean almost nothing because you’re missing everything in between. They may be amazing scenes, but without the rest of the novel, you won’t have anything.

2. Continuity. This figures into point number one, actually. When you have a series of scenes, you run the risk of not having everything flow together when you finally come around to writing those hated scenes. Sure, you (hopefully, in any case) have an outline you’re working with but what author hasn’t had something completely unexpected suddenly happen with your characters and suddenly it’s damage control as your characters decide to go in a direction that’s completely different than what you already had planned.

Face it. We’ve all been there.

3. Those scenes? Yeah. Those scenes. If you hated them because you skipped them, how is it going to feel when you have to write EVERY HATED SCENE EVER. And? I have a feeling your audience is going to tell it was like pulling teeth to write those scenes too.

Am I saying you should never skip ahead? No, of course not. Looking at my first draft, I had several scenes plotted out in my head and I even had the ending of this book finished when I was at the half-way point. Sometimes you do have to go where the muse takes you and write what you need to write that day. But on the other hand, it’s a dangerous habit to fall into as well. You run the risk of having to write things over and over and over again if characters screw up your well-made plans or having to write a bunch of scenes you don’t like all at once.

Instead, may I suggest a few alternatives?

1. Just Write it: Yep. Advice number one is to muscle through what you don’t like and just (to quote Earl) “git ‘er done”. Besides, when you get through the scene you’re not looking forward to writing, you’ll have a scene you want to write waiting for you as a reward.

2. why is it hated? Take a step back and look at the scene and try to figure out why you dislike it. Is it because something bad happens to the Main Character and you don’t want to make their life miserable? Or is it because the scene is an info dump and doesn’t have much action? Perhaps the reason you don’t want to write the scene is because there’s something wrong with the scene itself and it’s your muse’s way of telling you “DON’T DO IT!”. Like I said up above, if it feels like you hated writing the scene, chances are your audience will know you disliked it.

Jumping around isn’t a bad thing to do… so long as it happens in moderation.

And if you still want to jump around, navel gaze and stare at the shiny object in the corner to the exclusion of all else? Well, just let me know. I have a prodding stick with your name on it!

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