Monday, April 30, 2012

#WIPMADNESS Final April Check-in

As I am sure many of you are doing, I'm scratching my head wondering where in the world did April go? I hope it was productive for all you wipsters, out there.  I just got word that my agent is done reading the WIP I finished in March and is in the process of writing up her notes for me. It looks as if the May Madness will be all about revisions.

April was a good month for pre-writing and I accomplished a lot. I spent time thinking about my characters and the plot while I researched some critical elements of the story. Journaling through it brought me that beautiful "Aha!" moment when I discovered my main character's emotional arc for the story. Now I have something more concrete to shoot for when I start the actual writing.  While I have no word count for the month, I do have a hatful of magic to launch me into the next leg of the journey.

Thank you all for sticking with me through the madness and I look forward to keeping it all going with you over on Angelina's blog throughout the month of May.  Rock on, Wipsters!

Monday, April 23, 2012

#WIPMADNESS April Check-in Week 4

How in the world did week #4 get here so fast? This month has been about balance. With the last WIP done and in the hands of my agent, I have spent the last few weeks journaling through my new WIP and handling a rush of work at the day job. It is the last week of classes here, so I have a pile of students all clamoring for help on their final projects.  It seems that I just start to lose myself in a character exploration when some forlorn undergrad crawls into my lab, gasping for that last-minute miracle. Alas...I won't write the paper for you, kid. I have my own writing to do!

And what do you suppose is the #1 issue with the student writing I saw last week (college freshman, sophomores, and juniors)? PLAGIARISM.  Scratch that. The #1 issue with student writing is that they have no idea how to THINK. I will refrain from my ever-growing tirade about NCLB and the whole teach-to-the-test mentality, but suffice it to say a significant portion of our young people cannot think, which is why so many refuse to learn the difference between researched support and plagiarism. It's devastating!

How many 1st-person narrators in YA books are thinkers?  I have yet to encounter one who isn't. And of course the kids who read YA are the thinkers or they wouldn't be reading independently. So why are so many kids content to coast? Is it the pressure or fear of failure encouraged by a tyrannical system? Do they just want to make sure they have someone else to blame? Or is it just a severe lack of creativity (both in the teachers and the kids)?

It can be very deflating to keep beating the same drum, but I am shocked at how many of our college students cannot think critically or write with any sense of personal stakes. All I can say is thank God for the arts and I pray that they don't get cut from primary and secondary schools anywhere because at least that is one place where students are encouraged to push the boundaries. And thank God for those amazing teachers out there (in all subjects) who refuse to be boxed in by a test. If you teach them how to think, they will nail that test. End of story.

Oops. I guess I did fall into a bit of a mini-tirade. I'll stop there and head back into WIP country.  How has your week been, wipsters? I hope the #wipmadness has been good to you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

#WIPMADNESS April Check-In Week 3

It's another morning-after-insomnia Monday and I'm running character sketches through my brain.  That may be why sleep eluded me last night. Too many ideas that would not take a break. As I'm scurrying about trying to lay out the details and backstory of my main character, one question nags me:  what is this book going to be about?  Seriously. What is its final raison d'ĂȘtre?

Have you ever launched into a project with a wisp of a notion but had no idea where it would end up? I don't know that I would say my current predicament is quite that extreme, but I am wrestling with two different possibilities and finding it hard to reconcile them. It is a ghost story, as mine tend to be, but this one is going to be more than that. This time I really want the character to drive the story in a way I haven't developed before.  How do I do that?

That's what all the research and sketching is for.  I've written about how every story finds its moment. It will be told when it is ready.  The problem is I'm just a little too impatient about this one. So it is back to the journal and the preliminary doodling for now.

How has the madness treated everyone this week?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

#WIPMADNESS April Check-In Week 2

Week 2 took me all over the place, figuratively and literally. I started the week with a few good days in my WIP journal, working out the main character and some logistics of this new project. I think I have a name for her and some deep backstory details. I'm chipping away at the surface and digging deep.

The best and hardest part of my week took me on a journey north. All the way to Pennsylvania! Coming from southwest Georgia, that's quite a haul. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.  My not-so-angsty teenage son and my tween daughter really needed a visit to our old home town outside Lancaster, PA. So a 15-hour drive on Thursday (starting at 3:00 am) got us there just in time to start spring break with the best friends who have never been replaced. Watching my kids shine with their old buddies totally made the 30+ hours of driving I've done in the last 4 days worth it. Plus, I got to take in some of my favorite natural sights, like this little gal up here. (I'm pretty sure it's a gal, considering the subsequent photo frames and the mystery dance her partner did with her!)

That's the WIP journey, too. Finding my way through research and soul-searching those characters and ideas will eventually uncover something golden.  

So where has your WIP journey led you this week?

Monday, April 02, 2012

#WIPMADNESS April check-in, Week 1

Happy April, Wipsters! March Madness was truly on fire, and I want say thanks again to all the fabulous people who hosted and who participated. I'll be hosting the April edition right here on Mondays. Let's start by setting some goals for the month.

Goal #1—Since I was so fortunate as to finish my WIP in March, I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks brainstorming my next project. I know the subject, but I don't have a clear idea where it is going yet, so the first step is a shiny new journal. I have journaled through my last few projects, especially in the early planning stages. It helps me to get my head around the idea and explore the problems/research/plot points/characters... So that is where I begin.

Goal #2—READ. I need to catch up on some reading, which will help me decide on point of view and approach for this next book. It will also give my brain a break.  I'm going to start with LIAR by Justine Larbalestier. I just read John Green's amazing The Fault in our Stars, and bawled my head off, so I need something a little different. TFIOS was amazing, beautiful, and so on point, and it made me miss Indy a little bit. I know exactly where 86th and Ditch is and the Art museum and Castleton Mall (aka Hassleton) are. Which brings me to another goal:

Goal #3—Decide when and where the next book will take place.

As I await the edits from my agent, and hope she likes the ms enough to give me edits, I'll be pulling my thoughts together for the next big thing.

Where does everyone else plan to go in their journey this month?