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Posts Tagged ‘The Aeronauts’

  1. The Art of Story Fermentation

    December 21, 2012 by Kiersi

    The moldiest thing I've ever eaten by Jer Thorp

    "The moldiest thing I've ever eaten" by Jer Thorp - flickr

    The Art of Story Fermentation,
    or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Set an Idea Aside

    I’m back from my quest and coming to terms with an uncomfortable realization: the manuscript I had intended to query agents with is just not the one. Now I am slowly accepting the fact that the first manuscript isn’t ready yet. And that’s OK.

    So. Story fermentation. What the heck does that mean, and why am I writing a whole blog post about it?

    I use story fermentation to refer to the process of letting a concept, plot, idea or story just… sit. When you push it to the back of your mind, let it gather some mold and dust, let it age and change and grow as you work on other, more prescient things.

    Another term I’ve come to use a lot lately is the idea pipeline. Let’s say you have a great idea. You wake up, having just had the most incredible dream, and you know it has to become a story. A short story, a manuscript, whatever. You start to work out the characters, the premise, the point A and point B (A referring to where a story begins, and B referring to where you want it to end). Once the idea has fully formed, like some kind of chicken fetus, it breaks from the shell and you give it life on the keyboard. (more…)


  2. Vision Quest 2012: The Mission

    December 3, 2012 by Kiersi

    Three-way goat fight!

    I leave first thing in the morning tomorrow for my friend’s ranch in northern California. As seen above, there are goats, which I will be herding and milking in exchange for my room and board. I’ll be living in a grounded boat on the property with no internet connection and very little phone service, if any.

    The perfect place to write. (more…)


  3. 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…)


  4. Why I Love and Hate Writer’s Group

    September 5, 2012 by Kiersi

    Writer's Group on Facebook

    Facebook: Where the writer's group hangs out between meetings

    I have the best writer’s group ever. I mean, ever. Six women who all write YA. Six women who are monumentally talented,  and each in their own unique way. We have a fantasy writer (yours truly), one contemporary, two magical realism, one working on historical fiction, and even a graphic novelist (artist and writer, whoa). I believe something like four out of six of us have been published in the past. And, to the internet’s credit, we all met on Facebook. If you like, I can do a post at a later date about how I found and organized this group, and the critique method we’ve developed to make the most effective use of our limited meeting time.

    So. I love my writer’s group. But now you may ask, “Why does the headline also say you hate them?”

    Because they are always right. And that usually means I have to do a lot of work. (more…)


  5. On Antagonists and the Villainous Mastermind

    August 22, 2012 by Kiersi

    Yesterday I had one of those dreaded “duh” moments while talking plot with my good friend and co-conspirator, @eddyrivas.

    Antagonists have a tendency to hide their faces. In my case, while working on The Aeronauts, one of Eddy’s best plot criticisms was that the evil Empire seemed “faceless.” Sure, we knew who the Emperor was by name and reputation, but it was hard for the reader to get a full and believable sense of his badness. As readers, we get that he’s a bad guy because everyone says he’s a bad guy–but where’s the proof? Where’s that gnarled, hawk-nosed face to go with it? (more…)


  6. WWC12 Wrap-up

    August 14, 2012 by Kiersi

    Willamette Writers Conference 2012 - Portland

    This year’s Willamette Writers Conference 2012 was a startling success. I pitched to four agents and one publisher, and received from all of them requests for more. I attended sessions all three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and did my best to stay sane and conscious enough to socialize.

    Part A: The Program

    I wish I could Vulcan mind-meld with you, if only so you could have experienced with me Eric Witchey‘s stellar, re-orienting talk on Story Fluency: Story as a Second Language.” It’s not my place to divulge all of the secrets that Eric, in turn, divulged to us–but I can tell you that my most basic understanding of the structure and arc of story is fundamentally changed. It goes a bit like this: (more…)


  7. Day 1 and 2 (California Road Trip ’12)

    July 20, 2012 by Kiersi

    Day 1: Portland to Mt. Shasta

    You can't see how fast I'm going in this picture, right? Good. That's probably good.

    As usual, I didn’t get out of the house until at least three hours after the time I had initially convinced myself was “crazy late.” Late is the new early. I started listening to the audiobook of Marie Lu’s Legend. Holy cow, if you haven’t read it already and you’re a fan of dystopian YA, Legend is a great find.

    Anyway, it was a five hour drive or so to Mount Shasta, where I navigated my little rear-wheel-drive Squirtle-mobile over road (or what passes for “road” in places like this) that was probably only intended for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Well, c’est la vie, Squirtle.

    I pitched my tent and heated some soup. Rather, I tried to heat some soup, but I’d forgotten a can opener (and a cloth, and soap, and a knife, and a bowl). Hmm. No can opener. (more…)


  8. How does it end?

    June 7, 2012 by Kiersi

    How does it end? Work on my WIP has emotionally stalled at 114,000 words.

    I just thought I had more time.

    I thought the wind up to the climax would take longer. Maybe not longer–in fact, it’s far beyond the acceptable length for a YA novel. (Though it is purposefully a stand-alone tale, and Harry Potter did it, so why not? Hmm.) I simply figured I’d have it all pounded out by now, by this point in the story. That I’d know how it all would end.

    Up until now I’ve worked off a general idea: There’s a big-time betrayal, an out-of-left-field twist at the end. Good guys confront bad guys in epic battle. Then comes a climactic confrontation, a showdown. The good guys win, but at a price.

    For a long time, I knew those bullet points. Later I filled in some spaces, like, “The Emperor is going to have this awesome prison where the cells are suspended by chains over a giant steam boiler.” Cool. Good image.

    But the mortar is missing. I have all these big awkward rocks with which to make a wall, and nothing to hold it together. The length issue–I can fix that with good editing, if it needs fixing. Without glue, though, the story won’t make it. It’ll be like a runner falling just before the finish line because he spent all his strength early.

    I just have to keep remembering: first draft. First draft. Even if the writing falls apart at the end, even if the story meanders another 25,000 words (please please please don’t go on that long, please) I can mop it up like a bad spill on my rewrite. I’m not afraid of a rewrite.

    What I’m afraid of is not getting it done. Ever. To just write and write until the story is gone, gone in the stratosphere, like an elevator to the moon.


  9. The Power of Arbitrary Deadlines

    May 30, 2012 by Kiersi

    An open book

    I'm getting back into making 3D art in Photoshop. Like I need more distractions right now.

    Arbitrary deadlines are, in all likelihood, the only way I ever get anything done.

    I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), you’re probably familiar with the power of an arbitrary deadline. There’s no monetary reward for finishing on time, but there is a subconscious reward: I did it! I got it done! And in only one month!

    I apply the same principle to my daily writing, my weekly writing, and occasionally, even to a particular novel as a whole. As an example, many of you know I’ve been working on a novel called The Aeronauts, a sort of Waterworld-meets-steampunk YA fantasy. Some time ago, I told myself I wouldn’t let it drag on for more than four months; once I reached that point, I could safely say I’d lost the thread of the novel and it was time to wrap it up.

    Well, we’re coming to the end of May and, of course, the end of my first arbitrary deadline. It came so fast and so suddenly (what with traveling all spring-long) that I was completely unprepared for it. (more…)


  10. Learning to Fly (excerpt)

    May 22, 2012 by Kiersi

    American Air Force Harlingen, WASP Texas, female pilot ww2 by juffrouwjo - Flickr

    Photo of American Air Force Pilot by juffrouwjo, Flickr (click for link)

    My YA fantasy novel, The Aeronauts, is maybe-sort-of-finally reaching its finale. Soon. So, so, so soon. I hope. I’m rounding on 90,000 words now (longer than the average YA) and I think it’ll be another 15,000 at least before everything is said and done–probably one more month of work. Friends tell me that since it’s a fantasy, long is okay. Well, it better be!

    Before anything else, I have to say this about The Aeronauts and its protagonist, Maria Gomez: it has been a hell of a fun ride so far. This book is such a blast to write that if it’s even a quarter as fun to read, I think it’ll go over well with teenage audiences. (more…)