Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Author Interview -- Jodi Meadows

As promised in the newsletter, we have another Author Interview for you! This time, it's with newly-published author Jodi Meadows. Write On!, meet Jodi!


Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut.

*A Kippy is a cat.


MAGGIE: Your debut novel, "INCARNATE", was just released this year! How exciting! Tell us a little bit about it-- the premise, the story behind writing it, and how it ultimately landed in book stores.

JODI: Hah, this question is totally cheating. There are like five questions in one! But okay. I've actually gone over the publication process with Authoress Anonymous recently, HERE*.

So, the short version is this: many years ago, I had an idea to write a story set in a world where everyone was perpetually reincarnated, except one new person. But that idea sounded hard, so I put it aside and worked on other projects. Then, when I was coming off a really low point in my writing life, I decided to write a story for me, rather than for publication. I wrote INCARNATE. It ended up getting published anyway. 

MAGGIE: Maybe just a little. ;) Perfect answer! Which brings us to: Querying can be a long and wearying process, and I'm sure you've had your fair share. What is the best advice you can give to those of us who plan to query in the (near) future, or who already are querying now and may be a little discouraged?

JODI: Hmm. Keep querying. Query more. Query until you run out of agents to query, and then start querying the next book. (You have been writing the next book, haven't you?)

But also, pay attention to what kind of responses you're getting. If your first ten or fifteen responses are all form letters and no requests, then you probably need to work on your query letter. Compare it to successful queries. (Many authors post theirs online somewhere.) Figure out what their queries are doing right and what you can learn from them. Make sure you're sending out the absolute best query possible.

And if you're getting lots of requests but no offers, it's time to start looking critically at your first pages or entire manuscript. If they give you feedback, don't ignore it. Consider their comments and decide if they're in line with your story. Believe in your manuscript, but don't be afraid to see its flaws and fix them.

MAGGIE: Excellent advice! Semi-related, I've heard tell that you're wickedly fast when it comes to drafting novels. What's your trick?

JODI: There's no trick. When I'm drafting a novel, I write every day for hours and hours. My average wordcount per hour isn't much different than most people's. The only difference is that I can write all day because I don't have another job.

MAGGIE: Ahh. Makes sense! On that note, how many novels, in total, have you written?

JODI: Oh goodness!

Finished manuscripts . . . twenty-one. INCARNATE was number seventeen.

MAGGIE: Wow! Just out of curiosity, do you hope to publish all or some or a few of those twenty-one stories?

JODI: There are a few of those manuscripts I'd like to see published, but a lot of them . . . no. They were good practice. I'm glad I wrote them. They helped me figure out my strengths and weaknesses, and they taught me a lot. But some just don't need to leave the house. Ever.

MAGGIE: Let's talk CHARACTERS. They're so important to a story. How do you, personally, bring characters to life? 

Image swiped from HERE
JODI: For me, my characters appear in my head fully formed, but transferring them to paper can be tricky. Even though they're all there already, I still have to get to know them. Some people do character interviews and take lots of notes on how their characters might react to different situations. Though I've tried that, it wasn't for me. The best thing for me has been to drop them in a scene (even if it doesn't make it into the story) and see what they do. I try to listen to their voice, consider their past and motivations, and learn their deepest fears.

MAGGIE: When it comes to editing novels, a lot of us feel daunted or buried alive in our own mistakes and failings. How do you tackle edits and revisions? What mindsets have you found help to carry you through?

JODI: The first thing I do when I get back edits is walk away from the computer. Alarmingly, I tend to go on cleaning binges while I let ideas tumble in my head. It's important for me to think about things before accepting or disregarding them, that way I don't ignore something because they're WRONG or accept something because I'M SUCH A TERRIBLE WRITER I WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH WOE. Neither extreme is good for the story or me, so thinking about it while I do something productive -- that works best for me.

Once I've come to terms with my perfect story not being so perfect, I try to make a plan. If I'm still feeling good about it after a couple days, I get to work.

MAGGIE: Excellent advice. You're famous for your epic kisses (and I do agree, INCARNATE has one of the best I've ever read.) What is your view on romance in novels, and what you've found works or doesn't?

JODI: I love romance in novels! Obviously. :)

Writing a good romance isn't easy, but a well-written romance just stays and stays and stays with you. They make me happy. 

Since you mentioned my kissing scenes, I'll also add that while I like it when they kiss . . . I also try to focus more on the emotions that come with the physical. Those emotional responses are just as (often more) important than whose hand is where and what someone's tongue is doing.

MAGGIE: So true! At the end of the day, published or unpublished, most of us reading this are writers. Because it's always uplifting to read, what are your dreams as a writer? Where do you want your stories to take you? 

JODI: The thing about writing dreams is that no matter what goals you accomplish, there are always more just beyond that. If your dream is to write a book, well, what about getting that published? What about writing more books? What about hitting a bestseller list, or award nomination, or reaching a certain audience, or selling a certain number of copies . . . 

I played the goals game for a long time before INCARNATE sold. I still do, to an extent (because I want to be able to sell more books and feed my cat and ferret in the future), but I've also learned a lot about how focusing solely on goals affects one's happiness. 

So for me, the best thing has been to have a few goals, sure, because they can drive me to do better than I am, but my biggest focus needs to be writing the best story possible. I need to write a story that moves me, first. I need to write for myself, rather than everyone else, and trust that someone else out there (hopefully lots of someones) is going to love the end result as much as I do.

My biggest dream as a writer? To never forget what's truly important when I'm writing a story.

MAGGIE: Beautifully said. Are you writing anything now? If so, describe it in three words.

JODI: Incarnate number three. ;)

MAGGIE: Woohoo! I can't wait. If you could have only one super power, what would it be and why?

JODI: Supergenius. Because who doesn't want to be ridiculously smart? Maybe I would finally be able to achieve Perfect First Drafts.

MAGGIE: Love it. We'll end with a fun one. Favorite ice cream flavor?

JODI: Chocolate chip cookie dough. Ice cream AND cookies together in one bowl. Yum.

MAGGIE: Excellent choice. Now I want some. 

Thank you so much for participating! You've given some AWESOME answers. 

JODI: Thank you for having me!


*Link not working? Copy & paste:

Until next time!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thank you, Alison!

As we wrap up the St. Patrick's Day Critique (didn't leave leave a comment yet? It's not too late!), HUGE thank-you's go to our special guest critter, Alison Weiss, who took the time to leave super awesome feedback on all the entries! You rock, Alison!

Critique can be hard, so during this time it's important to make the choice not to let the faults of your work override how much you love it. Take a deep breath, step back, and tackle those problems when you're ready!

Thanks for participating, and hope everyone enjoyed.

Until next time!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


TITLE: Aqueous
GENRE: YA contemporary fantasy

“Where’s my camera?”

Dad looked thunderstruck. “Is that all you can say? You almost died. You shouldn't have been out in the first place. This is why I--"

“Lane!” That was mom. “Shut up! Just shut up, will you?” She stroked my hand. “How are you feeling, honey?”

“I want to know what happened to my camera.”

“Well, where did you have it last?”

“On the boat.” I swallowed an unwanted lump in my throat. “I put it in one of the storage compartments.”

“It should be fine. When Joseph realized you were gone, he circled back to look for you. He ran the boat ashore.”

“And left it there?”

Mom nodded, patting my hand gently.

“But my camera!”

“Do you mind?” dad snapped. “That camera almost cost you your life!”

I knew dad talked louder the more upset he got, but it didn’t soften the sting of his words.

“The best thing you can do right now is try to relax, and get some sleep,” the nurse said, her calm voice a lifeline in a sea of discord. “You've had a close brush with hypothermia.”

I bit my bottom lip, and then winced. It was swollen, painful to the touch. What had I done, bit a chunk out of it?

“Can’t hypothermia kill you?” I asked.

The nurse’s forehead creased. “Yes. Very easily, and very quickly. You’re extremely lucky.”

I wasn’t sure if I felt lucky. I wasn’t sure of how I felt about anything. Except that I wanted my camera back.

I wanted those pictures.


TITLE: Practissimo
GENRE: Historical Adventure/Romance

Taylor lifted his weapon—a sharp stick—and jabbed Manerow in the face.

Eric roared, clapping his hands to his cheek.  “Guards!  To me!”  His call rang across the garden.

Eric swiped, and Taylor ducked, thwacking the branch across Eric’s knees, and the man stumbled back, almost hitting Addie.  She jumped to the side and ran around the fountain to the the hedge opposite him.

Manerow stepped forward and swung, keeping a hand to his cheek, and Taylor cracked the stick against his wrist.  Eric grunted and swiped again from the right, and Taylor lashed him near the eyes, sending him backwards.  The strategy held for now, but against more than one opponent, he wasn’t sure.  He wasn’t sure against just the one.  He hadn’t planned for things to get this far.

Eric abandoned his one-handed attack and lunged for the branch, managing to grab the end.  Taylor jerked at it, but it didn't budge, and Manerow rammed the stick into his gut, forcing a yell from him and thrusting him back into the hedge.

Taylor pushed off the branches, getting halfway to his feet, and Eric punched him in the face.  His vision flashed dark, pain shocking around his left eye.

“Eric, please, that’s enough!” Addie cried.

Another powerful blow dug into his stomach, and he curled in on himself, dry heaving into the leaves.

“Eric, please!”  She sounded close.  The rumbling of boots on dirt surrounded them, and Taylor glanced up.  Addie had wrapped herself around Eric’s arm, and ten guards filed into the alcove.

She stepped back, rose petals falling from her gown, eyes at her feet.

“Sir Manerow?” one of them asked.

Eric pointed at Taylor, red-faced with exertion.  “This is the intruder.  Take him to the king’s dungeons as instructed.”


Title: Begging to Breathe
Genre: YA mystery

I spend the first length of the pool underwater, dolphin kicking along the bottom, dragging my fingertips across the tiles. The bulkhead that separates the part of the pool for competition from the part of the pool for easy swimming floats two or three feet off the bottom, and from my perspective, I can see a shadow of something trapped underneath it. Something big.

I porpoise up, take a deep lungful of air, and dive back down. I’m less than five yards away, and my heart is pounding, because what I think I see can’t be real. I need air again, even though I can usually hold my breath for a couple minutes. I start to remember last year. As I tread water, taking deep, shaky gulps of oxygen, oxygen that refuses to inflate my lungs, Blue comes up behind me.

“Get out of the middle of the lane,” he says, swimming forward.

I pull his ankle backward. “L-look under the bulkhead.”

“Is it a condom again?” His voice breaks. He bites his lip.

Usually he throws out dirty jokes like I throw out second place ribbons—or, like I would if I had any—so I narrow my eyes. He raises his chin. I sigh. “Ew, no.”

He turns around and swims back the other way, leaving me alone. With it. Whatever it is. I focus, exhale, then inhale, and dive down, keeping my eyes closed until my searching fingers hit plastic. I follow the bulkhead down until it ends, then I open my eyes—and let out a scream of bubbles and kick away hard, fast, choking and gagging.

Oh my god oh my god oh my god.

Because it’s Julia.

And she’s dead.

And it’s all, undeniably, my fault.


Title: Beyond the Horizon
Genre: Mystery/Romantic

As I near the turn in the corridor, my back against the white walls, my heart beating wildly in my chest, I can’t forget last night and the message that I saw. Crouching down and peeking to make sure all is safe, I turn back and signal to Tania to come. She runs towards me silently, her silver hair swishing with every step.

“Look, I know we’re not supposed to be here but I really need that book! I’m sorry if I—” I say, whispering but she covers my mouth with her hand suddenly, signalling that someone might be here. I switch off the flashlight and we both crouch down, listening to the sound of slow, heavy footsteps and our racing hearts.

A gruff, low voice then says, “I got it. Let’s get out of here.”

His partner, in an equally gruff voice adds, “Check to make sure we left nothing behind.” They then separate and footsteps begin to come closer to us. Trying to squeeze ourselves into a ball, I grab onto Tania’s hand and we try to be silent, not even letting our breaths make a sound. My mind races, thinking of where to run if he gets any closer. If we get up and run now, we might be able to make it to the second floor. Okay, God. It’s all up to You now. 

Reacting on instinct, I grab Tania’s hand and run as fast as I can, praying we don’t get caught.
“He’s seen us!” she screams, and we zip through the old familiar hallways, running towards the light.


TITLE: The Night
GENRE: Epic YA Fantasy

Taeon strode out of the trees, fists clenched in an effort to restrain the fire as he approached.

“Get away from her, Varloi,” he said through clenched teeth.  The fire raged against his control, pressing in on him, wanting to burn this magician to the ground.

“I interrogate a prisoner,” the Varloi replied, unmoving.

The heat redoubled, and Taeon tried to think through its stifling presence, to consider the consequences.  “Leave her, Varloi.”  The fire licked at him, more insistent, and the invisible tongues of heat became claws.  The noon sun saturated the air around him.  He had to get rid of it, before it became too much to control.

The magician only smiled.

And then the heat recoiled, and light dimmed, flickering.  The Master Varloi stood beside him, holding a small golden box.  The metal inside glowed a deep, malevolent red.

The red metal drew more, though the heat was gone, pulling and grabbing at the fire that lived inside him until he collapsed.  He shuddered with weakness, and with the pain like daggers of ice.

“Stop!  You’re killing him,” Nari cried.

The Master Varloi closed his box slowly.  “Very well.”

Taeon gasped, stealing back his breath.  “What is the meaning of this, Varloi?”  He struggled to pull himself up as warmth returned in an aching flood.

“As an ehkel of fire, an uncontrolled display of power would prove fatal to many among us, including our prisoner.  It was my duty to the keralen to eliminate the threat.”

“I had it under control.  And it is my duty to keep the prisoner safe from your methods, magician.”

“That has been removed from your responsibilities.  You have proven yourself unfit to lead this mission, and, therefore, I shall be reinstated as master.  You will obey me.”


Title: We've all Been There
Genre: YA

“We are here today with rising country pop singer, Juliet Summer.”

This was it. I fingered my purity ring willing it to give me luck. It was St. Patrick’s day after all.

“Please my friends just call me Tex.”  I inwardly cringed at the word friends; they weren’t what-you-might-call plentiful.

“Where does that come from?” The audience laughed, I couldn’t really see what was so funny about it.

“It’s my middle name.” My slight twang seemed magnified against my host’s culturally neutral drawl.

“Alright Tex.” She specially put a cowboy sound on it. It sounded so fake it was sick.  “Do you know who Timothy Walters?” And then smiled like I should know, like everyone knew, but I didn’t.


“Really? Well you can meet him now.”

“Okay.”  I  stood up and turned my head toward the entrance I came in.

In walked in T.W. the famous, like really famous singer, who hadn’t heard of him? And I had just said I never had. So much for luck. I had never really believed in luck before. I knew God orchestrated all those details. So more likely it had been bad luck for me to believe in luck.

“Tim I would like you to meet Tex.”

“Hi.” I shook his hand, blood creeping up my face.

He sat down next to me on the couch and I was sweating bullets.

“I think I have heard of you before. I mean I just didn’t recognize your full name. Sorry.” I didn’t know to whom or why I was apologizing. It was just something I had to do.

“We’ve all been there.” He laughed at my stupid, na├»ve mistake.

Before I could respond, I heard, “And we will be right back with more from Tex and T.W. after this.” And we went to break.


TITLE: A Gamble
GENRE: Fantasy

Only three Blots landed purple side up. Famiem huddled closer to the back of the Drawn's wagon, her shackles clinking.

Raylen took a deep breath, and slid the Blots toward her competitor.

Bad toss, that was. Pity. The trader smirked as he shook the flat disks. Purple and green flashed between his fingers, whirling and clashing but never escaping his grip.

He's experienced. Raylen gritted her teeth. But only luck matters here.

So said the Drawn, who watched impassively at the side of the board, gauging and measuring and weighing, as always. The youngest fidgeted.

With a flourish, the trader spun the Blots onto the board. Half spun straight into the dust, yet more than three greens remained. Raylen's mind stalled.

What does that mean?

Her heartbeat quickened, the trader swore, and the oldest of the Drawn shook his head.

"Poor luck. Very poor luck," he said slowly. A pause as he regarded Raylen, then Famiem. "The girl has freed herself. But she must bet that freedom back again to win her sister."

Hardly a daring wager; she'd already staked her life on the Blots to catch the Drawn's interest.

Raylen scratched her wrists. She shook the Blots. Then her eyes closed - dropped them onto the board and jammed her fists into her armpits, waiting.

"Lucky girl," the old Drawn said. Respect laced his voice. "A perfect win."

Raylen opened her eyes. Purple stared up from every Blot.

And the youngest Drawn stared hard at her from across the board. Here came the real gamble.

The boy slowly cleared the board as the other Drawn ran off the "luckless" trader and removed Famiem's shackles.

He didn't say a word about the pouches strapped inside Raylen's sleeves, or the purple paint coating both sides of the disks.

Raylen had been lucky.


Title: Substitute
Genre: Science Fiction (short story)

Some people have skeletons in their closet. Things they don’t want as public information, whether out of fear or shame. Things that shouldn’t have happened. Things that shouldn’t exist.

Some people have skeletons. The Senate of Eochatos has me.

“Claudia.” said a loud voice. I jerked my head up. The doctor stared at me, his glassy eyes shifting as he looked over me. He stroked his chin with one steel hand, “How is your emotional processing?”

“Just fine.” I said, smiling tightly as a grey-clad nurse approached with a syringe and two-inch needle.

She murmured, “This won’t hurt a bit.” and began to wipe the back of my hand with a sanitizing cloth.

The doctor leaned back against his silver chair, “Senator Drendle said you’ve had trouble sleeping lately.”

The needle sunk into my hand, sending a thin plastic tube into the vein. I watched out of the corner of my eye as blood filled the capsule on the table. “I guess.”

“You know, Claudia, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” he said, irritation bleeding into his tone, “That’s why we’re here, you know. To help you.” Because without us, you won’t be here. Without our help, you’ll fall to pieces. 

“I’m tired of being treated like glass.” I said finally, pulling away from the nurse. The tube tugged against my hand, “I’m not going to break if I don’t come see you every week, Dr. Mallon. Besides, you’re the psychologist--it’s not good for people to be controlled this much, especially not at my age.”

“Not good for people.” he repeated, putting emphasis on the last word.

I clenched my jaw, “I am a person.” The nurse silently pulled out the tube and threw the needle aside, capping the vial of blood.


TITLE: Extraction
GENRE: YA Sci-fi

I sink to my knees and scoot back from the edge as far as I can, gritting my teeth and trying not to think about slipping. I am too high, too high, too high.

A loud whirring arises in the streets below me. From around a corner, a round silver contraption lifts into the air, its rotors spinning a cloud of dust. A flight pod, come to rescue me.

Only, no way is it really for rescuing. I'm going to need a clever story.

As the pod nears my beam, my throat tightens. The chances of them letting me into the Core, letting me grow old and live to save Logan are next-to-nothing now. Why did I do this? I should have found some other way to escape the boys, not started climbing a restricted building.

A door slides open, and an official reaches his hand out. “You'll have to jump,” he shouts over the loud rotors.

Act. Innocent, I tell myself. That's the only thing that might help me.

I jump with a cry into the pod and stumble when my feet hit the metal floor. The patrol catches me as the door slides shut, silencing the wind's roar.

Hands release me, and my legs give out.

“I'm s-s-sorry,” I fake-sob. “I didn't mean to c-c-climb!”

“It's all right.” The official drops to a knee beside me. “We're going to catch the kids who were chasing you.”

Shaking from the cold, breathing unsteadily, I stare at him.

His eyes are narrowed, but not in the way I am used to. Like he's on my side, all of a sudden. Still programmed to harm, but this time it won't be me. This time, it will be for me.

I don’t know how I ever got so lucky.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Critique SUBMISSION WINDOW CLOSED!

The submission window for the St. Patrick's Day contest is now officially CLOSED! All the entries will be posted TOMORROW, open for critique by anyone who visits the blog, as well as our special guest critter, Alison!

Make sure that, if you entered, you critique a minimum of 3 other entries.

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Special guest critter announced...

We're STILL TAKING SUBMISSIONS for the St. Patrick's Day critique, until tomorrow at 6pm EST or when we hit 15 entries, whichever comes first.

All the posts will be open for critique by all the Write On! teens, anyone who visits the blog, and our SPECIAL GUEST CRITTER. That special guest will be Alison Weiss of Egmont!

If you don't already know from our monthly Ask-The-Editor rounds, Alison is an editor, and has agreed to give feedback on all the St. Patrick's Day entries. Get your lucky excerpt/scene together, and submit while there's still space!

Monday, March 12, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Critique -- SUBMISSIONS WINDOW IS OPEN!

Aaaand it's time to get those no-more-than 300 word lucky scenes ready, because the SUBMISSION WINDOW IS OPEN! Full guidelines below.

We're accepting NO MORE THAN 15 ENTRIES, so waste no time getting yours in!

  • The submission window closes FRIDAY, MARCH 16th at 6PM EST.
  • You may only submit if you're 13-19 years old. Sorry, grownups!
  • Submit no more than 300 WORDS of your lucky scene. It can be part of your WIP, an unfinished novel, or simply a 300-word piece you wrote up specifically for this crit round. The focus is your writing skills, so don't worry where the words come from!
  • You may only submit one entry.  Subsequent entries will be disqualified.
  • Send your submission to with the subject "LUCKY CRITIQUE."
  • Format your entry EXACTLY AS FOLLOWS.
    • SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
    • YOUR AGE: (type it here)
    • TITLE: (type it here)
    • GENRE: (type it here)
    • (Put your lucky less-than-300 words here)
  • You will receive a reply email with your post number.  Please be patient! Mad will be taking care of submissions by hand.
  • By entering this critique round, you are giving implicit permission to have your work posted and publicly critiqued.
  • By entering this critique round, you agree to critique a minimum of 3 other entries.
  • All entries will be posted anonymously.  (Your age will not be included, either.)

We're aiming to post our entries ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Critique!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we're having a special critique round. This is an opportunity to have your work read (and critiqued!) by teens, adults-- basically anyone who reads the blog! You interested yet?

The theme is luck. Whether it's a pivotal scene where your MC's luck is changing, a lucky escape, an unlucky day, or anything you can think of relating to 'luck' is up to you. Complete submission guidelines below

  • The submission window opens MONDAY, MARCH 12th at 6AM EST and closes FRIDAY, MARCH 16th at 6PM EST.
  • You may only submit if you're 13-19 years old. Sorry, grownups!
  • Submit no more than 300 WORDS of your lucky scene. It can be part of your WIP, an unfinished novel, or simply a 300-word piece you wrote up specifically for this crit round. The focus is your writing skills, so don't worry where the words come from!
  • You may only submit one entry.  Subsequent entries will be disqualified.
  • Send your submission to with the subject "LUCKY CRITIQUE".
  • Format your entry EXACTLY AS FOLLOWS:
    • SCREEN NAME: (type it here)
    • YOUR AGE: (type it here)
    • TITLE: (type it here)
    • GENRE: (type it here)
    • (Put your lucky less-than-300 words here)
  • You will receive a reply email with your post number.  Please be patient! Mad will be taking care of submissions by hand.
  • By entering this critique round, you are giving implicit permission to have your work posted and publicly critiqued.
  • By entering this critique round, you agree to critique a minimum of 3 other entries.
  • All entries will be posted anonymously.  (Your age will not be included, either.)
Entries are planned to post St. Patrick's Day! Make sure to spread the word. The more people who know, the more feedback you'll get.

Good LUCK!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chat with agent Sarah LaPolla!

Our 10th Agent Chat is approaching fast! This Saturday, we're offering you the opportunity to chat with agent Sarah LaPolla for one hour. Details below.

When: Saturday March 10th at 7PM EST
Where: A chatroom accessible by registration only!
Who: Any teen 13-19 years old who has questions to ask, or would simply like to learn more about books, writing, publishing, queries, etc.

CLICK HERE* TO REGISTER! Not sure if you can make it? Register anyway, so the link will be in your inbox, if you need it.

See you there!

*Link not working? Copy & paste:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Come ask Alison Weiss YOUR QUESTIONS!

For TWO STRAIGHT DAYS, editor Alison Weiss will be answering our questions in the forums! Ask anything you want about anything you want-- books, writing, publishing, editing, cupcake-making. (Okay, maybe kidding on the last one.)

See you there!

Friday, March 2, 2012

FTT -- Maggie: Staying True To YOU

First off, I'd like to say that this blog post is for those of you who -- like me -- are writing with a future goal of publication. Whatever your motives: money, fame, touching people's lives, you know that at some point you're going to have to go through the process of querying and trying to sell a novel.

All stories begin as inspiration. A random idea, a momentary thought, caught on paper and developed into a fantastical world full of characters, feelings and happenings. If you've chased that idea to the point where you have a novel in your hands, it probably means that you love it. You're excited about it. It's your baby.

These two things -- pursuing publication and writing something you're excited about -- have their very own sets of emotions. The publication side tends to be more stressful, more focused on "what's selling" and on the "do"s and "don't"s of the publishing world. On the other hand, the excited-about-this-story side, though potentially just as much of a pain when it comes to structure, world building, editing, etc., is much more fun. We love it. It's special. It's irreplaceable. It's why we do what we do, right?

When these things meet, there is a tendency for one to completely suck the life out of the other. If you get too focused on the publishing, you may lose that love for your story, that excitement and that thrill that's so vital to creating something unique and original. Similarly, if you focus too much on how awesome your story is, you may not see things that need to be corrected if you ever want to reach publication or, ultimately, success.

Finding a balance is harder than it sounds, but it's achievable. This is the road I'm on now. I aspire to be published one day. I plan to query, land myself an agent, and, eventually, a killer book deal. (Like the optimism?) But my downfall is focusing too much on this goal. Much as I love my stories, as soon as it comes to sharing them with the world, or fixing them to query-able state, I start to panic. I lose faith in what I loved and spend too much time thinking about whether or not it will sell.

In the end, I think it's so important that you begin your journey toward publication with a healthy dose of each. Make sure you don't lose that passion! Stay true to the novel that kept you awake at night. That novel that sent a chill down your spine. That novel you screamed at because it wouldn't take the shape you wanted, and then doted over when it finally did. That novel that started in your head, and can only emerge through your fingers.

Sure, there will always be a risk of rejection. You may fail the first time. Or the first few times. But that's not a reason to give up. And this is what I need to keep reminding myself.

So. That being said, what are your thoughts? How do you keep the balance between your goals and your love of your story? Do you disagree with anything I've said? I'd love to know!

Happy First Friday of the Month, everyone! Until next time.