Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NYC Midnight Finals!

Some of you have been following my progress in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest, and I appreciate all the feedback!

For those who missed it, I was one of the lucky 25 writers who made the final round! My final story (open genre / location: iceberg / object: lighter) is in for judging. The prizes are PRETTY sweet, but mostly I'm just thrilled to be in the final round at all. I can honestly say I never expected it when I signed up for the contest, and it has been fabulous discovering how much I can pack into 1000 words.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be back with an update soon. Results are posted after the new year. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A NaNoWriMo Pep Talk From Your Trusty ML

It’s the final stretch. Where are you, WriMo?
Are you 5k away, marching confidently toward that finish line?
Have you just dragged yourself across 25k?
Are you despairing with so many back at 10k?
Does it seem impossible?
Regardless of where you stand today, humor me. Root around in this holiday-infested week and find some AIC (arse in chair) time. I don’t care if you stopped back on November 2nd, or if you were, just this morning, pounding out your 1667. Get ready to plop your cheeks and tap your fingers.
You may notice that my word count blows right now. I’m not going to hit 50k this year. I’m 100% okay with that. You know why? The book I’ve worked on for the last FOUR Novembers is months shy of agent submission. Editing that has sucked up every last ounce of my attention, and it’s a wonderful, exciting flurry. But I never would have gotten here without those Novembers. So if you *don’t* have a finished book, if you’re NOT 100% okay with letting this month fizzle away (and returning next year!), then stay tuned.
I want to tell you a story about the final week of NaNo last year, and how it changed the course of my now-complete manuscript.
About this time one year ago, I sat down completely aware that Thanksgiving was about to wreck my progress and threaten my productivity. I decided to write TEN THOUSAND WORDS in one day.
That is NOT an easy feat, in case you wondered. One fifth of a NaNo.
I think I actually ended up somewhere near 8k. That didn’t matter. It wasn’t about the number. It was about writing MORE THAN I EVEN COULD in one sitting.
At first, things were pretty normal. My characters followed my plan. I would pause and think (quickly) ahead, and send my characters where I planned. But eventually, I couldn’t think anymore. I couldn’t figure out where to take them. I wanted to quit. I’d hit 3k. I thought…that’s better than a daily goal. I could try again tomorrow. And then I got annoyed. My GOAL was 10k. I wasn’t even halfway. Surely I could get SOMETHING on the page.
That’s when the Bathhouse Debacle happened. Two of my characters, stark naked, met in a bathhouse. Argument ensued. Fighting. Death. The dialogue was AWFUL. The description was CHEESY. The whole thing was HILARIOUSLY wrong. Worse than bad fan fiction. I didn’t even know these people anymore. I almost quit again. Part of me was worried that I would never look at those characters the same. “What is real?” my existential self wondered. “Did I just make that happen? Can I take it back?”
But I was only at 5k. So I kept going.
The characters did things that 1) I NEVER expected and 2) I knew could NEVER remain in the final draft. That might scream “waste of space” to you. It did to me. But I was determined to finish, so I pressed on. Something fascinating happened. AFTER the characters calmed down and put their clothes back on (and after one came back from the dead, because he certainly wasn’t going to die in a bathhouse brawl), they reached a point in the plot that I’d never thought of, that made SO MUCH MORE SENSE than what I had planned. Later, I deleted the horrible bathhouse scene. I replaced it with completely unrelated story that brought my characters from where they were to where they’d ended up. And it WORKED.
The end of that 8k day remains in my finished product today. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I never would have thought of that plot point if I’d never written the Condemned Bathhouse Scene.
So what do I suggest to you?
Set an unrealistic goal.
Run at it with complete abandon. Do not think. Do not worry. Accept that nothing you write has to remain. Allow that some of it might.
Isn’t that the whole point of NaNo? There are only five days left. USE them!
Much love,

Monday, October 6, 2014

NYCMidnight Flash Fiction - Challenge #1 Results

The results were posted, and I got fourth place! I really didn't know what to expect, so I'm pretty excited.

Fourth place gave me 12 points to take into round two, which happened over last weekend. If I place decently this round, I'll have a good shot of making it to round three. Cross your fingers for me.

My prompt this time was: Fairy Tale / Pawn shop / A wooden figurine

Final Stats:
Word count: 999 words
Title: "It Takes a Knight to B1"
Synopsis: A scheming knight intends to make the Game Master a pawn in his plot to woo the queen, but the Game Master will not be played.

Yes. ALL the chess puns.

'Til next time,
-- Meg

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...It's Back to Teaching I Go

The time had come, the walrus assured me.

While freelance editing is going great, and the book is speeding along, I decided it's time to get back into the academic world. That sticky, harrowing, addictive place I can't seem to do without.

And what is a new job without the challenge of starting ten days before NaNoWriMo?


So, starting October 20th, I'll be back on the red pen side of the desk teaching composition to college freshman. Wish me luck and bananas. (Apples are okay, but nothing beats bananas.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FINISHED - 155,648 words / 515 pages

There isn't a whole lot to say right now, except that...MY FINAL CHAPTERS ARE WRITTEN! Earlier today, I hit "send" on the final chapter and epilogue of The Accounts of Verdi Mier. They're off to my critique group, and I cannot even wrap my head around it.

It's been an incredible...er...five or so years. From writing to editing to throwing the whole thing out and RE-writing.

Final stats: 155,648 words / 515 pages.

I hope to spend the next two months whittling that word count down to the 120k region (my ultimate goal before I submit to agents).

More rambling later. Right now, I just want to bask in this feeling and enjoy one of the good writing days.

NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Contest - Challenge #1

For those of you who don't know, I recently signed up for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest. Basically, you have 48 hours to write a story UNDER 1,000 words given a genre, location, and object. This goes on for at least two rounds (three or four if you place well enough), over the next few months. I plan to post my results here, just for fun.

I didn't have high hopes going into this round for two simple reasons:

1.) I've NEVER finished a complete story under 6k words, and have only finished ONE at that length. I just don't write short things. But I want to. And deadlines make me squirm, so I signed up!

2.) The first round coincided with the last two days of GenCon, which meant fitting the writing in between all the Con activities, on negative sleep. But I knew it going in. So...I threw myself under that bus.

My first prompt was "Horror / Trailer Park / 'For Sale' sign," which was great! (Luck! No comedy! No history!) My initial idea, despite four different perspective attempts, did not work out. (I'm convinced it will work out as a longer short story. So thanks for the idea, contest!) My final effort was written and edited almost entirely in the final three hours before the deadline...because DEADLINE. All things considered, I'll take it and cross my fingers that it's not too terrible.

We. Shall. See.

'Til next time,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oh, wow. It's been over a year.

I can only think of cliche things to say about how many times I thought about blogging and didn't in the past year. I didn't realize it had ACTUALLY been over a year. But here I am...and so much has changed that it's almost funny. At least I can update in quick little summary form. (I definitely don't have a year of blogging in me tonight.)

Things that have happened since I wrote here last:

1. I join roller derby. (WHAT?) Yes. I joined roller derby. Skating. Lots of women banging into one another. Lots of badassery. It's already  been through highs and lows: the will-I-ever-be-good-enough-to-play phase. The part where I made the B-team. The part where I've skated three bouts and our team won them all. I love derby, and it sucks up more of my free time than I even have. It sucks up unfree time. It sucks up EVERYTHING. But it's usually worth it.

2. The writing is going fantastically. Or at least, I hope it is. It feels like it is. I have three of four sections through my writing group, and every single time someone leaves a comment on my page that begins with the p-word, I squee, and daydream, and have to remind myself how very far I am from the p-word, even if what I have is good, and even if people like it. I have twelve more chapters to throw at the group...and then revisions to do...and beta readers to pin down...and more revisions. I've reset the bar before, but I feel like this is it. The next time I see snow (stupid SPRING snow exempt), I think I could be ready to return to my way-premature list of favorite agents and play the query game.

2.5 The last update talks about the 50 page critique I won. Well, the agent kind of disappeared off the face of the Earth and never answered my emails...nor did the people to whom I forked over a few hundred dollars for the charity auction. That sucked. Kind of a lot. BUT, it did mean those chapters were packaged and ready to fly at the next opportunity...which just came. It was only 10 pages this time, only the very first chapter, but as we speak it's in the hands of a published author with serious editing chops. I cannot wait to see what she rips into. I hope it helps. I know how important the chapter will be.

3. We got a puppy. Half the time I wonder what the actual eff I was thinking. Half the time her little golden face is the softest thing in the world and she just lurves me to death. Of course we named her Nymeria.

4. I taught briefly. Did I ever mention that? It probably doesn't matter. This is the only real dark spot. And I guess it was a big one. Once upon a time, I had a starry-eyed notion that I could be a great instructor at a crappy college while I figured out what I wanted to do with my degree. It went okay for a semester. Then I got PSEOP students in droves...some of whom could barely read or write at a high school level. A bit of academic dishonesty, a few WELL-earned fails, and a couple phone calls from parents who didn't really understand the concept of "college" later and... I found out what people mean when they call community colleges degree mills. The precious snowflakes "passed" their intro composition courses. They're off to fall flat on their faces at four-year schools now. I thought about looking for an adjunct position at a better school...one where the dean would side with the instructor who spent four hours compiling a 30+ page PDF containing proof of academic dishonesty over an angry parent who pays to keep the lights on. But the whole thing left such a sour taste in my mouth that I'm not sure I could. At least not yet. So back to stay-at-home motherhood for now.

5. In happier and most recent news, I not only played an MMO RPG successfully for more than fifteen frustrating minutes of keyboard-cursing...I joined a guild and am preparing for launch this Sunday. 0.o If I don't update for another year, fish for me at the bottom of Elder Scrolls Online. I'll be the wood elf strumming the lute, still complaining that "bard" isn't a playable class. (@PoisonedEro on Twitter, if you want to see the train wreck in n00b tweets.)

6. Books. Ones that I read. I would try to recap and make a list, but there have been so many...and since I finished one just a couple hours ago, it's taken over my entire brain and I can't get any of the others in. (Even Pride & Prejudice and I read that right before it. SO good. Still.) Anyway, the book is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I would say you MUST read it, but I'm not sure that's true because I don't know who you are. I know that if there was ever a person alive who MUST read it, it was me. I cried like a total crazy person for pages at a time where almost nothing immediately relevant to the plot was happening. I didn't even care about the plot. All I could think about was my first quarter at OU, and writing Harry Potter fanfics and RPs, and being awkward. And writing now. And struggling to make the jump between using others' characters and worlds and making my own. If any of that sounds like you, read the book and bring tissues. Even if it doesn't, I think it would still be great.

All the gods, what a full year. I'm probably leaving out huge headliner stuff. If so, I'll try to sneak it in later. I'll try to come back before 15 more months have gone by, too.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are.

Til next time,
-- Meg (and Venom, and Ero)