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‘In Progress’ Category

  1. Vision Quest 2013: Homeward Bound

    June 12, 2013 by Kiersi

    A cat lying on my lap and the computer

    The biggest victory from this trip was making leaps of progress on two stalled projects. I keep wanting to use the “nylon sock” metaphor because I just finished listening to the audiobook of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (a 44-hour marathon of an audiobook, perfect for road-tripping and a great book to boot), but I don’t think anyone who hasn’t read/listened to it will get the joke–so instead, I’ll just call it a breakthrough, and hope we’re all on the same page.

    Update 1: The middle-grade book is entering a solid second draft stage, and getting the tires kicked by a trusted colleague in the writing trenches. It’s kind of a painful kicking, but healthy. I think of it as detoxing.

    Update 2: Seekrit Project (which I think we’ve determined falls more squarely in the NA category than the YA) is at 20,000 words, but I’ve halted in order to get busy on my new author website, crank up my freelance copywriting workload, and start querying the project mentioned in Update 1. But if I were to summarize Seekrit Project in one sentence, it would be this:

    Fantasy and magic, sex and romance, scandal and political intrigue, all wrapped up in an ensemble cast.

    I am having way, way, WAY too much fun with it. Like, if I know you in real life, I probably won’t ever let you read it.

    I made this, but I only remembered to take a picture of it when it was halfway eaten already.

    Here is a list of other things I did while staying at the ranch and getting the peace and quiet to work on bookish things:

    – We put on beekeeper suits and went and played with bees. We increased the size of their hive boxes and poured in some sugar water. Did I mention that bees are adorable? They wear these really cute little pollen-chaps when they return home, it’s the cutest darn thing. BEES IN CHAPS, my next picture book.

    – Was told that I was the best “city person goat milker” that’s come to the ranch. I salute my teachers.

    – We made the above chevre out of fresh goat milk. It was pretty easy, I’ll grant you that. It only took a few days and a couple good tools to make a killer delicious little cake of goat cheese, and I rolled it in herbs before serving.

    – Cooked my first ever Indian curry from scratch, with fresh goat meat that was raised on the very same ranch. It was delicious.

    All appreciation should probably go to my host, who is as kind a soul as he is a great rancher and human. Hat off to you, Che.


  2. Your Thing Is Good and You Should Feel Good

    May 7, 2013 by Kiersi

    Back in March, my dear friend and critique partner Eddy Rivas posted a great blog post called, “Your Thing Is Good and You Should Feel Good.” He invited anyone and everyone to post a piece of their WIP to the comments section. He would read each one and reply, “Your thing is good and you should feel good.”

    It was a hit. And I think I know why.

    Sometimes we writers fall out of love with our work. It happens. It’s not because we don’t love the story or the characters anymore. Personally, I grow weary of the revision process pretty quickly. I love writing a new story; it’s thrilling, exciting, like first love. But over time, when I have to deepen my understanding of my story, my characters, and revisit them constantly–I get sick of it.

    I fall out of love.

    So, today, dear Eddy gave me what I call some revision therapy. He asked me:

    “Tell me what you love about this book.”

    I told him. I love my assassins–especially young Scorpion, missing his tongue, but still sexy as all get-out. I love my drunk Han Solo character, who goes by Lionel Harvey. I definitely love the climax of this novel; it’s scary and sad and the end of a great character arc.

    But I’m not on that stuff yet. I’m still mired in the first third of the MS, where it seems like I’ve been for the last few months.

    “Well,” he said, “tell me what you love about the part you’re working on.”

    I had to think about it. I love the gryphon carrying a horse around in the air–it’s such a ridiculous image, and the horse is almost too freaked out to actually, you know, freak out. She’s just stunned. I loved writing that look on her face, giving her life and personality.

    I love getting to know my characters better. They’re pitted against some bandits, and hijinks ensue–and let me tell you, I love me some hijinks.

    Suddenly, after this conversation, the juices started flowing again. I’m tearing up this MS and putting down new, better words like my hair is on fire.

    “Your thing is good,” Eddy told me. “And you should feel good.”

    It’s amazing what just a few words can do. My manuscript is good. I should feel good about it.

    I do.

    So tell me–what are you working on right now? Post it to the comments section, or even better, post it to your own blog–and let’s make this a thing!


  3. Small Improvements

    February 11, 2013 by Kiersi

    Final stage revising is all about the tiny improvements. Selecting the right word for the right location, moving dialogue tags to give the dialogue more oomph, sprinkling in more thoughtful observations and edgy humor.

    Here is a selection of bits and pieces from my August book release (the first book in the Fire and Brimstone series) that were changed, added, or improved in this final polish-oriented revision:

    Girls were screaming. Not guy-in-a-hockey-mask screams, but the screams of fanatic teenagers mobbing a rock star just before a show.

    An important distinction.

    I had to admire Rain, striding into the cameras, oblivious to the sound of beetle jaws snapping her everlasting likeness.

    I never thought of cameras or cameramen as having such a peculiar likeness to beetles until Mockingjay.

    The sky had a strange milky-gray pallor, like it had had too much to drink the night before.

    A British friend added, “Or bad tea.”

    Weston is already stirring things up at the office. Tad acted all morning like a giant inflatable tube-guy in an auto dealership parking lot, flailing around and stressing everyone out.

    This was actually inspired by an episode of The Simpsons. I think Homer gets one of those tube guys.

    “It just doesn’t make sense! He read one of your assignments and—”

    “Hey, girls.”

    Veronica’s entire body stopped moving, like someone had pressed pause.

    “H-h-hey, Everett.” She recovered miraculously as Everett slid in next to me on the bench. “What’s up? You’re looking good. I mean, your hair is looking good. I mean, the rest of you is OK, too. In fact it’s more than—”

    “Thanks,” he said, interrupting her. He turned to me. “What are you up to this weekend? Brandy’s dad’s out of town and she’s having a big party on Saturday night.”

    Veronica’s face fell. “We didn’t hear anything about a party.”

    In this draft, Veronica became “Ronnie,” making her both more personable and also more dorky. I amped up her bitch meter but in a funny, almost likable way. She has so much more character and personality now–perfect for a supporting character.

    I took a couple hours off from this final revision sprint to make a little sculpture tribute to Pendleton Ward, creator of the fabulous TV show for kids and adults, Adventure Time. (Seriously, if you are ever lacking in ideas while writing children’s lit, this is the show for you.)

     
    Remember, taking breaks and using your mind in new and unfamiliar ways is important to a creative lifestyle!


  4. Oh, god, it’s time to write a query again?

    January 12, 2013 by Kiersi

    Yep, it’s that time again–a new manuscript, a new query.

    For me, writing a query is a long, long process; one that usually begins while the manuscript I’m querying is still in the early stages (first or second draft). There are a couple reasons for this:

    1. Writing a query requires fundamentally understanding the story you’re trying to tell. When I say “query,” I’m meaning the whole shebang: the hook, the pitch, the short bio, the ass-kissing. And none of these things are possible to do well if you’re not absolutely sure of the story, the characters, and the stakes.

    And it’s not just understanding the structure of these things, or what they look like, or writing them in pretty sentences–it’s also understanding their appeal. (more…)


  5. Support Typewriter Stories!

    January 10, 2013 by Kiersi

    Image by R Walker

    As it turns out, sending lots of mail requires lots of postage. And did you know that postage costs money? Me neither. Helloooo. I mowed through an entire booklet of forever stamps in two weeks.

    Holy cow. That’s like, twenty stories in two weeks. Rock! (Haven’t heard of the Typewriter Stories yet? Read them here!)

    But in order to keep up this totally H-core creation of tiny, funny stories, I need some help. Why? Because holy cow postage is expensive in large quantities. I mean, at 41 cents a pop, it doesn’t seem like much–but add it up over a couple dozen letters and it balloons like my thighs over the holidays.

    So, I am asking you, my wonderful people and readers and receivers of typewriter stories: Can you help me?

    I’ve determined a couple ways this can be done. First, and easiest, is just to donate using PayPal. Even a single dollar will buy me two-and-a-half stamps. Awesome, right? Cheap? Of course. Here’s the button:

     








    Whoa, so easy it just blows your mind, right?

    Optionally, you could buy me some stamps! Now, I’m reluctant to just put my address up on the internet (understandably, I think) so I’ll be getting a P.O. Box that can receive stuff in a week or two.

    In the meantime, here is a link to the list of forever stamps on USPS’s website. Just email my Typewriter Stories mailbox at request.a.story(at)gmail.com if you’re interested in contributing some stamps and I’ll be happy to give you the address.

    Thanks in advance, you loverly people!


  6. I Hate Editing

    January 8, 2013 by Kiersi

    I have no idea what this is, but it is awesome

    "Crazy Frog" by moffoys - Who even cares what it is, it is perfect

    There are some superstar authors who don’t hate editing or revising. I spend a lot of my revision time envying them, instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing, because that’s how I roll. And that’s probably also why I still haven’t finished a revision of my middle-grade book, Gryphon. Because I hate revising.

    I do love writing, though.

    So, over time I’ve been building up my resolve, and packing it together like a mud pie from lots of little shredded pieces of sanity (they fall off now and again, and must be collected in a handmade wicker basket). The following bullet points have occurred to me:

    -Print it all out, to stop the ever-present I must change this word right now, this isn’t right, and now I am so hung up on this one stupid line that I am so frustrated with myself and I wish this had all never happened at all goodbye world. (more…)


  7. Vision Quest 2012: The big city, a new book

    December 13, 2012 by Kiersi

    The epic Golden Gate Bridge. Taken during the Bay Cruise on a peculiarly calm, un-blustery winter day.

    This post has two parts: first, my adventure south to San Francisco, where I met up with some friends and experienced the city for a weekend. Second, an update on the Vision Quest, and other bookly-things. I’ll be reviewing Stephenie Meyer’s The Host tomorrow, so please check back for a review that will probably surprise the hell out of you.

    So, on to part one: I love San Francisco. Not in the way I love Portland (for its culture, art scene, and greenness), and not in the way I love Los Angeles (drivers I actually understand, beautiful people, also Venice Beach). I love San Francisco because it is insane. (more…)


  8. 50,000 Words? Check. NaNoWriMo? Check.

    November 29, 2012 by Kiersi

    This was my first year doing National Novel Writing Month and it was a wild success. I just finished the last keystroke of my 50,497th word and I feel like I could walk on the sun in my bare feet and come away with the perfect tan.

    Since I hit the 50k-word mark for a middle grade novel titled Gryphon, I am now supposedly a “winner,” though anyone who completes this feat of caffeine and bruised fingertips counts as a “winner.” And, in reality, 50,000 words is short even for a middle grade book.  Nonetheless I’ve entered the third act of the story, a.k.a., the sprinting stage, where all the really big “oh no you di’int” stuff goes down; from here I know every twist that comes next, and it’s just a matter of time (much like a train wreck) until the end arrives.

    As a writer, I’ll often map out big twists or moments in advance, and then anticipate (and also visualize, often on endless repeat like your kid watching Lion King ten million times) a particularly important scene for days and sometimes weeks. Here’s one from the second act. I was pretty gratified to finally put this baby down on the word processor:

    He didn’t push her away, and for that, she was grateful. It was awkward at first; their lips trying to find purchase against the other, their hands unsure of where they should go, but nevertheless it felt perfect, more perfect than any other thing Rheya had ever done. It was right, if a little strange.

    Then she realized she couldn’t breathe and broke away, and the two of them sat there, panting, staring only at each other as if the entire world around them had vanished into the dark. And who would have minded? If the world were gone, and only these two left, everything would probably be as it should.

    A prickle of light poked its head over the distant hills. It was dawn. But neither of the two children could let the other go.


  9. My Next Big Thing

    November 27, 2012 by Kiersi

    The delightful Michelle Berger tagged me in the “Next Big Thing” blog meme. I’m not usually one for these kinds of things, but I love the premise of this particular meme, as it gives me an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite projects. I’m passing the torch onto two excellent individuals, who are listed at the bottom of this post along with the date of their Next Big Thing. Please check them out!

    1.  What is the working title of your book?

    The Aeronauts. The original title was Joshua Shell and the Aeronauts, but everyone who heard it immediately thought of the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. (more…)


  10. Day 13: On Productivity and Escapism

    November 13, 2012 by Kiersi

    I finally surged past the target word count yesterday, as illustrated by the Screenshot of Pride shown above. NaNoWriMo (for those of you just joining us–this stands for National Novel Writing Month) is chugging along, and as we near the halfway mark, I’m keeping one eye focused squarely on the prize: a finished, 65,000-word first draft of my middle-grade novel, Gryphon. (This is also my excuse for the radio silence lately. Take it or leave it.)

    I have to say, though, that I couldn’t have made it this far without one thing:

    Oh, man. The ABC drama Once Upon A Time has totally and completely captured my heart (or was it Prince Charming/David Nolan/Josh Dallas? UGH WHO KNOWS.) And is that any surprise, since it comes from some of the same people who were involved with LostI think not.

    Writers seem to have mixed reactions to the concept of multi-tasking–but when I’ve reached a roadblock, or when I’m simply tired of banging the keyboard all day and want to sit back and think for a while, it helps me to dive into some escapism. I wrote at least 2k last night while Prince Charming romanced Snow White in the background. There are fake tears and angst and evil queens–what more could you ask for?

    Oh my god look at that face.

    As promised, here is a brief blurb from Gryphon as we near the halfway mark. ONWARD, MY FRIENDS.

    “We don’t have to worry about you getting recognized,” she said, thumbing through his hair thoughtfully. “But me—clearly they recognized me. So I need you to do something, Frost.”

    He swallowed. Rheya handed him a dagger, wound up her hair into a fist over her head, and turned her back to him.

    “Cut it off.”

    “All of it?” he asked.

    “All of it.”

    Slowly he took the hair from her and pulled it tight, tight enough he could start sawing at it with the dagger. Huge chunks of black hair began to separate from her head, and something felt so wrong, so sad, about removing those shining, curling locks. They were a part of her, and when he was finished, he couldn’t help thinking she looked naked without them.

    Tune in next time for more mischief! And Rumplestiltskin.