web analytics

WIPjoy #9

9. How would your MC use Twitter?

Actually, I think she avoids Twitter, and I’ll tell you why. Her dad is famous. If Nerissa tries to go on Twitter, all she gets are requests for pics of her dad, questions about her dad, etc. Even if she makes up a name and identity, she gets ferreted out. Her dad advises against bothering with most social media, so Niss mostly texts and Skypes or FaceTimes her friends and that’s about it.

She might have Instagram though.

WIPjoy #8

8. Introduce the MC (share a pic)!

The main character is Hamlette Nerissa Dey. She goes by her middle name for obvious reasons. She’s sixteen, daughter of A-list actor Bryce Dey. Nerissa (Nissa for short) grew up with a certain amount of privilege, but throughout the novel she begins to see ways in which she’s been too self-centered. Through the events of the book, she matures.

Nerissa has reddish-brown hair. Her mother gives her grief for being a size 10, but Nissa is satisfied with her curves. (I feel like it’s important that not all our heroines be waifs.) I can really only borrow stock photos to try and create an image of her, since I’ve got no particular actress in mind. (Her dad is totally Hugh Jackman, though, and her evil uncle is Ethan Hawke.)

Here’s Nissa from the back—this is totally her hair, anyway. And this model comes fairly close to my mental image, at least in terms of attitude:

WIPjoy #7

7. A writing tip that has helped you.

There must be so many . . . I remember my thesis advisors telling me to watch for the word “just” because I used it too much. That was helpful. I know that it’s important to get a draft out and not pause to self-edit because then I’ll never finish the draft. That’s a useful tip, though I admit I struggle with it. Which is why it takes me forever to finish a draft. I’m trying to get better about that, though. Learning to query only agents at first and then publishers if I didn’t find an agent—that was good information, too. (I made the mistake of querying both simultaneously with one of my early manuscripts.)

In short, there are a lot of helpful tips out there. Some you’ll be able to implement, some may be harder. Some may feel unfair, like when I say, “Don’t rely on dreams and visions to move your protagonist through the story,” and then you see a successful author like Rick Riordan do that all the f***ing time, and you wonder why you can’t. The answer is: you’re not Rick Riordan. (And, really, it drives me up the wall when he does it, too.)

I’m always learning as a writer. I think that’s important. Publishing is a rapidly changing industry, and trends are also always in flux. (That’s another tip: don’t write to trends because by the time you’ve got a finished manuscript, that trend will likely be over.) So stay on top of what’s going on. And write what you like, what you feel passionate about, because it will show in your prose. Your enthusiasm as a writer is part of what pulls your readers in.

There must be a million more tips that have helped me but that I’m not thinking of right now. When I get good advice, I adopt it and it becomes part of my process, so integrated that I don’t even think about it any more. Meanwhile, be sure to follow #WIPjoy on Twitter for more great writing tips!

IWSG + WIPjoy #4

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

What am I insecure about at the moment? How my beta readers will react to my manuscript! That always makes me nervous.

Question of the Month: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

That’s for me to know and you to figure out!

Seriously, though . . . Probably? I do remember when writing a short story (“Immanent” in The World Ends at Five), I had the girl in the bookstore wearing one of my favorite outfits. It was the outfit I was wearing while walking to work the day I came up with the story, in fact. That’s the only immediate example that springs to mind, but there are probably more instances in my writing that I’m not thinking of.

And now:

4. A line that expresses your theme.

Probably the opening line: “I didn’t even make it home for Dad’s funeral, which sucked enough without everything that came after.”

WIPjoy #2

2. Tell us about YOU.

Well, it’s all right here on this page under the “About” tab, but here’s a recap:

  • I’m an only child.
  • Grew up in Texas but with my extended family and roots in Southern Louisiana.
  • Went to the University of Texas at Austin, where I studied media, screenwriting, and Classics. Also psychology because I was particularly interested in how fans interact with the works they are fans of.
  • Became a semi-well known fan fiction author whose works appeared in several zines (back before the Internet, folks). Won some fanfic awards.
  • Had the best job ever at a little mom-and-pop shop that I swear should be the setting of a sitcom. Only job I ever had that I didn’t mind getting up and going to each day. (And yes, that includes writing.)
  • I studied parageography under my mentor Dr. Douglass Parker. He helped me create the world of AElit, which was part of my Master’s thesis.
  • Was part of the Shakespeare at Winedale program.
  • Also active in local community theatre.
  • I interned on the set of Hope Floats and worked for producer Lynda Obst. But instead of pursuing that career, I chose to go to graduate school at Emerson College in Boston.
  • Interned at Houghton Mifflin, and they hired me after I graduated.
  • Met my husband in my first ever Emerson class and knew immediately that he was the person I would marry. (We hadn’t even spoken to one another yet. But I’m the kind of girl who knows what she wants. I proposed to him.)
  • We did marry the day before graduation, so we missed our graduation ceremony because we were on our honeymoon. At Disney World.
  • Eventually left Houghton Mifflin to work at Pearson Education. But left publishing when I had my first child. Which is when I began writing again.
  • First publications were in 2004: one short story in a magazine, two poems in other magazines.
  • Taught Shakespeare, mythology, and creative writing to elementary and middle schoolers (ages 9-14) for several summers at a local community college.
  • Moved to California in 2012 and self-published my first story (“Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Last Line,” which was a story I’d written in 1999 as part of my graduate school application). It did pretty well, and I felt encouraged, so I kept writing and publishing.
  • Now here I am with three kids, two cats, and a hamster. Six published works (4 self-published, 2 small press), a WIP in the hopper, and more work than I can shake a stick at.
  • Oh, and I’ve had plays I’ve written produced, and one was made into a short film.
  • And I’ve won a screenwriting award and had a script given a professional table read at Sundance. (Still trying to get someone to actually film it, though.)
  • I still do freelance editing work as well.

And of course you can find all my work on my Amazon page. (Or under the “Books” tab on this site.) I write in a number of genres: fantasy, mystery, historical romance. Whatever strikes my preference. Hopefully you find something you like!

WIPjoy – October 2017

(I never finished the last one, but this one I’m determined to get all the way through!)

1. Introduce your WIP!

Well! I actually just finished the first draft of it. It’s a YA contemporary take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet titled . . . wait for it . . . Hamlette! I had a lot of fun writing it and it’s now in the hands of some beta readers. If you’re interested in beta reading it, you can apply to do so here. (Note that I’m on a tight deadline and also ask that my betas don’t discuss the manuscript on any social media until the book is published.)

Hamlette is about 16-year-old Hamlette Nerissa Dey (she goes by her middle name), whose father Bryce is was an A-list actor. After his abrupt death, Nerissa is visited by her dad’s ghost, and she and her best friend Bea hatch a questionable plan for confronting the murderers.

The novel resides somewhere at the nexus of funny, absurd, and sweet. Nerissa discovers a lot about herself and her world as she muddles through what seems to be an untenable situation.

Happy October!

Fall is my favorite time of year. After months of heat, jeans and sweaters make me happy. I wouldn’t mind a little rain, either. Where we live it’s not quite cold yet, but the weather is trending in that direction. Fingers crossed!

We’re also now entering the final quarter of the year. A good time to look at those goals and see what needs the final push. Last July I posted these revised goals for the second half of the year:

  1. Finish and submit Hamlette to the interested agent
  2. Finish and submit Changers: The Great Divide to Evernight
  3. Finish and publish Faebourne
  4. Finish the new Sherlock Holmes story

Even then I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish all of this in six months. However, I’m happy to be able to say the first goal has been met. Well, the finishing part. I’m having some readers look it over before I send it to the agent. But that will be done in a couple weeks, so I’m counting this goal as completed.

Next, I’m turning my attention to some editing work I’ve been hired to do, and then I’ll get back to my other goals. These will likely loop into 2018, but I’m okay with that. I’ve accomplished a lot so far in 2017:

  1. finishing and publishing Brynnde
  2. compiling my Sherlock Holmes stories and releasing them on audiobook
  3. finishing Hamlette
  4. having a short story accepted to an upcoming anthology

I feel as though 2017 has thus far been a strong year for me and my work. (Knocking on wood now in hopes that these last months continue to be as good.) For sales it’s been my best year since the first year I began publishing (2012). So that’s something to be proud of!