What’s Up Wednesday? Week 7!

I didn’t end up posting for Week 6 of Ready. Set. WRITE! last week because I was so deep in the revisions that I wasn’t doing much else. Still, it was great revising virtually with a few of you on twitter when the timing worked out. 🙂

What I’m Writing:

Finally something concrete to report. I ended up finishing revisions this week! The good thing of continuing to work on a much-revised and much-critiqued manuscript is that you can watch the feedback begin to line up and hopefully see a clear way to fix those last issues because the ones that are still issues tend to pop up in more than one person’s feedback. This time, I made a checklist after combing through all the comments with a critique partner’s help (comb, comb, comb), and I *think* I’ve successfully addressed everything on the list. I’m not naive enough to think revisions are ever actually “done” until the ARC stage, but still, I’m happy that I have a pretty solid manuscript this time, and now I’m ready for a little time off!

What I’m Reading:

I managed to squeeze in some reading time in the past two weeks since posting:

CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC by Sarah Darer Littman. I’ve wanted to read something by Sarah since spending time with her at a writing retreat– she is every bit as smart and funny as her writing–and the concept of this one really intrigued me.  If you’re looking for a hysterical MG read for girls, definitely check it out.

SERENA by Ron Rash. I finally finished this! The second half went much quicker than the first half, and I’m glad I stuck with it. Lots of thrills as he went a bit GOODFELLAS in that second half, so I’m really looking forward to seeing J-Law in the title role when the movie comes out.

VERY FAR AWAY FROM ANYWHERE ELSE by Ursula Le Guin. This novella was short, so a very quick read, and even though it first came out in 1976, it still felt as immediate as many contemporary YA relationships today.

What Inspires Me:

Last week, fellow WUW-buddy Patrice Caldwell passed on the Inner Peace award to my blog. I’ll be thanking her more as well as posting Seven Things About Me when I finally decompress next week, but just a shout-out of thanks for now, since it was really nice to see Patrice’s post when I was so deep in my own muck. 🙂

What Else I’m Up To:

Planning for our first “rustic camping” trip with the girls. We’ve gone camping in our backyard and have been taking the girls to nice,modern campsites (the kinds with showers, a pool, and even pancakes in the morning) every year, but this is the first time we’ll be doing a carry-in-carry-out campsite with backpacks.

Best of all, instead of arriving by car, we’ll be going by public transportation! OK, and by boat, too. I found out that you can camp on several of the Boston Harbor Islands, so we’ll be taking our gear on the blue line to Long Wharf and then hopping on a boat to the island. Hopefully we’ll get a nice starry night on the ocean and a beautiful sunrise over Boston Harbor.

Thanks again to everyone involved in Ready. Set. WRITE! This was a great motivation for me to keep plugging at it, and though I’m collapsing now, I’ll still be cheering the rest of you on. Hope you all has a great week!

What’s Up Wednesday? Week 5!

Time for another Ready. Set. WRITE! post for this summer’s blog hop on Wednesdays. It’s not to late to sign up! And you can find this week’s linky list of all the writers involved here.

This has been a great week for me to participate. Today marks the last day of a four-day writers’ retreat on Lake Champlain, and it has been an amazing mix of hard-fought struggling and brainstorming leading to a (hopefully) triumphant revision, as well as a chance to read, socialize, and relax with a group of fabulous authors.

What I’m Writing:

I set aside my outline for my huge project I’m planning to rewrite this fall to go back and revise my YA sci-fi at the retreat this week, and I’m pretty sure I’ve finally nailed my first 50 pages. My beta-readers will tell me for sure of course, but this is a huge head-start for me–I don’t get this sort of time to work so intensively at home–so I’m confident that I can continue with the rest when I return.

What I’m Reading:

I’m still struggling a bit with SERENA, but I’m willing to stick with it for a bit longer. I really love the setting and the characters, but it’s definitely a bit slower-paced than what I’m used to. Still, I think it’s worth it.

Last week I read SURFACING by Nora Raleigh Baskins. The cover and blurb totally drew me in, and it really delivered with a dark, haunting story, complete with a dark, haunting ending. I wanted to smack the main character at times, but she was so realistic that she totally jumped off the page.

Here at the retreat, we had a reading last night, with each of us sharing a three-minutes WIP snippet, and I already can’t wait to read some of these books–both from established authors reading from work under contract to newer writers looking for agents for their work. Totally top-notch.

What Inspires Me:

This week, it was all about the retreat, so I’ll share a photo I posted on twitter this morning that pretty much says it all.

sunrise

 What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Before I left for the retreat, I camped out in my backyard with my girls. We didn’t get much sleep, but we cooked outside, read by flashlight, and just had a lot of fun. We’ll have to do it again later this summer!

What’s Up Wednesday? Week 4!

In case you missed it, I’m participating in the Ready. Set. WRITE! blog hop on Wednesdays this summer. It’s not to late to sign up! And you can find this week’s linky list of participating writers here.

What Inspires Me:

 Last night, I got to attend one of my critique partner’s book launches for her new YA sci-fi, PARADOX! Ammi-Joan Paquette is multi-published already–our group has been together for eight years–but this kind of thing doesn’t get old. Three things really stood out to me sitting in the audience this time:

  1. I am so proud and happy for Joan. I was even a bit nervous! But no worries, the launch went off great.
  2. It was amazing to listen to her read that first chapter in its printed form and find it so similar to the very first version I read a few years ago.
  3. It was an inspiration to hear her talk about the problem-solving and research she did to resolve some of the issues her editor wanted her to work on once she had his letter. This book is sci-fi, and it’s got some pretty complicated aspects to its plot. I remember some of the emails that made my brain hurt as she was brainstorming, but in the end, both she and her editor were much happier with the changes.

paradox_thumb

What I’m Reading: 

Last week, I finished another YA sci-fi ARC my friend Jen brought back from BEA. ENTANGLED is by Amy Rose Capetta, and what struck me most was the beautiful writing. I personally had some issues with the plot, but again, lots of gorgeous imagery in the writing.

I started reading SERENA by Ron Rash because I heard that Jennifer Lawrence is going to be playing Serena in the movie version. I’m having a little trouble concentrating in the beginning, but I’m going to try to stick with it. It’s a historical novel and there’s something a bit Hemingway-esque about the writing, so I’m hoping I get to an un-put-down-able point.

Two great research books came my way this week. I got THE GERMAN ARMY ON THE SOMME 1914-1916 from the library, and just spent $50 (on one book!) for BRIEFE AUS MUZOT 1921-1926, which are letters Rilke wrote, including several he wrote to my main character’s mother, so I’ve already read and marked those.

briefe-muzot

SURFACING by Nora Raleigh Baskin arrived yesterday, and I was just going to peek at the first page last night, but ended up reading the whole first chapter. I might need to finish this before SERENA. Totally gripping beginning!

What I’m Writing:

Last week, I did some more research that led me to the book of letters pictured above, and found out a few more details about some of the other characters, so that was pretty exciting. I also made some progress on pulling my new outline together, and even drafted the first couple of paragraphs that might become the new beginning. So, yay!

But I also got some more feedback on another ms and waded through all the comments I’ve gotten so far with a critique partner, and will be switching gears in the coming week(s) to do a little revising on that project.

Still, forward momentum is forward momentum!

What Else I’m Doing:

One of my best friends from high school was up for the weekend, and we all went to Chinatown for dim sum. I’m still drooling thinking of the dumplings and scallion pancakes. Still having an awesome summer playing and reading with my little girls in spite of all the rain, but I’m really looking forward to the writing retreat I’m going to next week. I’ll be there from Sunday-Wednesday so hopefully I’ll have a full-of-goodness post next week.

 

What’s Up Wednesday? Week 3!

Yay! Another successful week for the Ready. Set. WRITE! version of What’s up Wednesday!

What I’m Writing:

Actual progress this week! I finished plugging all the feedback I’ve collected into my WIP’s original outline in Scrivener, doing massive thinking along the way about what I need to do to resolve each issue when I start the actual rewrite. I probably sound like I’m on the slow road to nowhere with this approach, especially after letting the manuscript sit for almost a year, but with this particular project, I decided to give it all the time it needs, which is apparently a lot. But now that all my thoughts and ideas are in place, I decided I’m actually ready to start messing around with the new outline for this new version! I dug in yesterday and feel like I’m actually planning a new manuscript now. Yay!

What I’m Reading:

I’d started BELLE EPOQUE byElizabeth Ross last Wednesday and I only needed another day to finish it. What a beautifully-written, atmospheric read! If you like historical fiction that transports you to another place and time (like late nineteenth century Paris!), this book is for you.

I’m almost done reading the other ARC I borrowed from Jennifer Malone’s BEA haul. 🙂 ENTANGLED by Amy Rose Capetta is another YA sci-fi, and I’m hoping for a huge, satisfying ending, so I’ll find out soon.

I’m also beta-reading a wonderful historical fantasy for a new critique partner I met at NESCBWI.  It’s so well-written that I know it’s going to find a home. Love that feeling!

What Inspires Me:

I spent a lot of time this past weekend in a couple of online German photo archives, and while I could probably spend weeks just doing this, even a couple of days were helpful too see the details of the time and place.

What did dance students wear in Munich in 1916? I found this image on http://timelineimages.sueddeutsche.de:

Schule fĂĽr Tanz in MĂĽnchen, 1916

And this one of disabled veterans doing calisthenics (also relevant to my story) in 1917 on http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org (the image resides at the Preußischer Bildarchiv):

Kriegsversehrte bei sportlichen šbungen

I’m trying not to spend too much additional time on research since I already did a boatload of research for my previous version of the manuscript, but as a history geek, it’s definitely part of the rush.

What Else is Going on:

Summer is in full swing, and I’ve been taking my small twins out to the beach, the pool, and the park as much as possible. They’re also really starting to love to read by themselves. One of my favorite moments last week was sitting on a blanket in our back yard with one of my girls while I read my book and she read hers. Bliss!

Looking forward to reading about everyone else’s weeks, too!

What’s Up Wednesday? Week 2!

So psyched to see everyone else who jumped in on Ready. Set. WRITE! last week. I’m loving the motivation to stay on track. Here’s where I’m at this week.

What I’m Writing:

I’m happy with my own progress for the week, but I definitely won’t be posting about huge word counts or chapters revised anytime this summer. I’m still preparing for a huge rewrite, which includes setting up my project in Scrivener, importing outline notes and brainstorming on those, and lots of Thinking. I did some of each of that this week, but I can already see how much more it’s going to take. Right now I’m just scratching the surface, but that’s totally fine with me.

In the meantime, some tangible progress:

Girl-Poet_characters

What I’m Reading:

Since I’ve been spending more time Thinking than writing, I’ve also had more time for reading this week. I also got lucky with three fantastic reads in my TBR pile:

ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans. I breezed through this in one day–such a fun read! My twitter summary was “zippy, geeky, and romantic!”

THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This took me a little bit to get into, but I ended up loving it.

THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone. This is a spy thriller for adults (gasp!), but it was sososo good. Excellent plotting and so many twists it had my head spinning.

Then I finally cracked BELLE EPOQUE by Elizabeth Ross open this morning and I already don’t want to put it down. Love it!

What Inspires Me:

Since the inspiration for my novel was Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry, I’ve been turning to it this week. I couldn’t help going back to his Sonnets to Orpheus, and this stanza, which provided the initial spark for me:

And almost a girl it was, who went forth
from this single joy from song and lyre
and glowed clear through spring’s fog
and made herself a bed in my ear.

Reading his work again reminds me of how beautifully he strings words together, and how much I love this series of poems. Can’t you just see the girl?