Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Flathunting, or Why, Sometimes, Giving Up is a Good Thing

Dear Lovelies,

For those of you who've been following me from the beginning (aka three months and a continent ago), you've probably learned that if nothing else, I am persistent.  I work my ass off to achieve my goals and don't stop even after they've come to fruition.  Class A Workaholic.

In theory, I should be the type of person that requires meticulous control of everything.  I should suffer meltdowns when things don't go the way I want.

The reality is the opposite.
Today's Teaser comes after a series of seeming failures: flathunting.

I tried, I really did.  I was viewing flats online months before I got here.  Hell, even before I was accepted into the program.  But every time I tried to take the next step and have a viewing, something would come up.  Every time, the flat had just been taken--maybe even minutes before I'd shown up.  I figured, okay, clearly something better is coming along.  I just have to wait to find it.
And then, a wonderful thing happened: a flat found me.

Through a string of writerly connections, I was offered an amazing, homey 2 level, 2 bed flat for cheaper than most studios.  In the perfect location, for the perfect amount of time.  It even has a front and back garden.  And anyone living in a city knows, that combination is rare.

The point I'm trying to make is this: I'm a firm believer in working hard.  In fact, I don't think there's any other way forward.  But I also believe that working hard must go hand in hand with having a little bit of faith.
Sometimes, there's really nothing you can do to get what you think you want.
Sometimes, you need to try every possible angle only to give up and have something better offered.

This lesson is one I've experienced many times.  The moment life seems to be failing is the moment before life steps in and hands you a reward for all your hard work.  Sometimes we really don't know what we want, and it's almost like life has to sort it out for us.

Although relevant in all areas, I feel it's especially true in the writing world.  The entire pitching/querying process seems to embody the idea of working really, really hard to perfect something, only to throw it to the wind and let the right person find it.  It might have to bounce around a bit, but eventually--if you toe the line between letting go and working hard--it (or you) will find the right home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Write what you know...

...or, Why I'm growing more and more hesitant about this whole 'Academy' project.

As you may or may not know, I've begun working on an interactive, multi-media standalone project for the Hunter Series.  Basic premise: a collection of diary entries and articles from a girl who attended the Academy right before the world ends.  Exciting, yeh?  I get to make stationery and interactive quizzes and such.
But then it gets dangerous.

Because the project is hitting really close to home.  Rather than avoiding this, I'm steering it right into the heart of the beast.  I went to boarding school in the middle of the woods the last two years of high school.  It was for art, not magic, but it's providing the framework for this entire project: the loneliness and isolation, the loss or seeming betrayal of close friends.  The thrill of being someplace new and terrifying, standing on the verge of graduation and life.  At boarding school, when the rest of the world is locked away, everything is much more intense than normal life.  For a teenager, that's like a pressure-cooker of hormones and emotion.  SCARY.  And then we add in magic, and the apocalypse, and vampyres?  I can't even imagine.  Well, I can...

The frightening part is how easy it is to get into the head of my MC, how simple to sink back into over-flowery prose of too much, too soon, and no way to avoid it.

It will get even weirder when I start trying to incorporate visual elements, like photographs (think I can use my own photos, or should I make them up?) and hand-written love notes.

Weirder still will be the eventual devolution of the MC and the story, when entries become clipped or scribbled over or torn out.  Because yesterday, I realized something terrifying:
I'm basically writing House of Leaves for a YA audience.

This doesn't bode well for my sanity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Mender

Hello loves,

As I've another jam-packed day today, I'm doing the Teaser earrrrrrrly.  For you, at least.  It's noon my time. ><

It's been a crazy few days here.  Lots of reading and class and circus teaching, a bit of homesickness, but all is well.  I head to my first workshop today to learn what my uni peeps think about my experimental fantasy novella... thing.  Then another class, then trapeze, then drinks and chats with new friends.  Tomorrow I'm debating a trip to the countryside.  We'll see.

I present you the first draft of the first(ish) page of Book Two in the Hunter series, Mender.  New characters to fall in love with, and a whole new country to explore.  Enjoy.
Maybe I should mention there's potentially offensive language.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Update. Sort of.

I realize that it's been a while since I updated, or maybe it just feels like that.  Somehow a weekend has come and gone and now it's technically Monday.

It's been a nice, slow few days here in Glasgow.  Nothing new on the publishing front which bodes neither good nor bad, but I will admit, I check my email every ten minutes just in case.  The one perk of this is that my firing rate for email responses is quite high.

The list of things I should be doing grows a bit higher by the day and I'm regaining that feeling I always had in college and boarding school--too much work and no time to do it in.  Though really, the pile is quite small and it's all things I love doing.  (I have to read this awesome fiction?  I have to go teach circus so I can get paid?)  I just set my personal expectations a few notches higher.  Have you noticed that I overwork?

All that said, I'm convincing myself that this is the week where everything good happens and I'll get a brief respite:
I'll find a flat and start feeling settled.
I'll get an offer from a really amazing publishing house.  Or multiple houses.  Because I AM GREEDY.
I will go out dancing.  Or on a date.  Or something.

If nothing else, I'll read and write and pick a day to wander into the hills.

If one really awesome thing could happen to you this week, what would it be?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday : Take a Test

Hello lovelies,

I truly wish I could tell you all the amazing things happenings behind the curtain on this side of the pond, but Alas!  I am bound to secrecy.  Needless to say it may involve the number thirteen and my agent being Wonder Woman in disguise.  And a lot of work between now and, er, tomorrow afternoon.

Needless to say, I've been busy and bouncy, what with a weekend of circus and tons of wind and rain and a potential Halloween/Cabaret circus act involving This Song and chains hanging from the ceiling.  YES!

Not to mention the fact that my first workshop assignment for grad school is DUE TOMORROW.

So tonight's teaser is truly that--a snippet of what's to come.  Now, I just need to find a good website/software to make this a proper, interactive test.  Thoughts?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Straightwashing? Is that like when you wash your colors with your whites?

So we're all abuzz about this article, and it's pretty damn upsetting.  In fact, I'm fuming.

Okay, sorry, no I'm not.

Why?  Because I have an amazing agent who is so pro-gay-characters, she's the one telling me to keep my characters snogging the same sex.  And so far, every editor we've contacted (and every editor that, out of the blue, contacted us) has shared the sentiment.  Including the Big 6.

Yes, there are agents and editors and readers out there who are against gay characters.  Period.  It happens.  I'll probably encounter them soon.  There are also agents and editors and readers who don't really want to see people of color or feminists or Muslims or whatever makes them uncomfy in their books.  That's just the way the world is right now.  Yes, it sucks, but it's always been like that and it will be for quite some time.  Some people just suck. But changes are happening and we're on the crest of the wave.  Hell, we're surfing the change as you read this.  Because there are agents and editors and readers who want--nay, love--gay characters.

What makes me laugh about the agents/editors mentioned in that article is this: they are missing an amazing opportunity.

I hate to make it about money, but gay YA is going to be a HUGE cashmarket soon.  Think about the "It gets better" movement, the overwhelming publicity that going AGAINST homosexuality has.  If there's no such thing as bad publicity, then the homosexual world is getting a lot of great press.  As gay characters grow more pronounced as sidekicks in YA lit and their fandom grows (Magnus/Alec, anyone??), imagine just how big the boom will be when there are more books centering around gay chars!

(I could write about social justice and all that, but many have already done it.  I didn't write gay characters because I saw a trend, I did it because I felt it needed to be done.  'Nuff said.)

I look at it just like I look at the agents/editors that passed over Harry Potter.
A few years from now and they'll be kicking themselves while the ones who saw potential are living in a castle off the coast of Norway.***

***This may not be where J.K. Rowling is, but it sounds good to me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Project!

All right guys, I just can't wait until Teaser Tuesday.  My mind has been racing the past few days, putting together alternative ways to tell a story.  And so, I present you my latest project: Academy.

For those of you keeping tabs on the Hunter series, this project takes part outside of the main timeline, but within the world.  And because I'm a masochist always pushing myself as a writer, well, the format's a bit different.  You'll see.

I may also be posting a few bits here and there for input, because, er, I'm presenting this at our first postgrad workshop.  (I cannot wait for the reactions... generally speaking, I'm the only YA writer in the bunch)

Welcome to the Academy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Song of the Day!

Please replace "girls" with "Brits" and honestly, let me know, because this side of the pond feels isolated in cyberspace.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Travelogue One : Catching up

Today I had a bit of revelation.
I've been bouncing around for some time now, trying to figure out what this blog should be.  Because if you haven't noticed, I've been all over the place, figuratively and literally.

I've now decided to host an as-often-as-possible feature: The Travelogue.

I love traveling.  I love getting lost.  And I love taking photos of all the places I've been.  And so, to bring you up to speed with my time in Scotland, below is the first entry in what will hopefully be many travel-related topics.  I'll still blog about writing and circus and everything else, but I like to think that showcasing these little sidetrips will help set this blog apart from the thousands of other blogs that do a much better job at being literary than I ever will.  Full photos are at the end of the post.

First trip: Horse Show and Largs

My first full day in Scotland, my friend Adam invited me down to the countryside to watch his sister take part in the horse show.  I quickly went from spectator to helper, whether it was trying to get the horse-truck unstuck from the mud to fastening shin-guards to the horses' calves.  (I don't know horse-speak, so forgive me as I butcher the terminology)  The afternoon was cool and cloudy, the grass irresistibly green and the landscape so perfectly Scottish that I grinned like an idiot the entire time.  And for the record, Adam's sister won the cross-country portion.

We then proceeded down to Largs, his hometown.  We met with some of his friends, grabbed chippy food, and walked the neon-lit promenade.  The Viking Festival was celebrating its final night.  We paused along the pebbly beach to eat our food and stack rocks on one another, because we are, if nothing else, mature.  Then we trekked to see the fireworks which were, quite unexpectedly, good.  The night ended with a quick train ride back to Glasgow, surrounded by drunken football fans, and a long bus to the city centre--traffic was at a standstill.  Actually, that's a lie.  The night truly ended with tea and video games, but that's another story.

Today's Trip: The West Highland Way

People often ask me why I chose Glasgow.  It's dodgy, dirty, and a bit dangerous if you don't know where to avoid.  But I love the place for all its hidden gems.  For every rough area there's a parallel street of gorgeous tenement flats.  For every crowded store-front street there's a garden and hidden walkways.  And best of all, everything is at your fingertips: for less than 5pounds you can take a train for half an hour and be surrounded by nature; if the deal is right, you can spend the same amount for an afternoon plane ride to Paris; and let's not forget, the city is home to the richest collection of art, nightlife, and culture in all of Scotland.  There's a reason it's called the fashion capitol.  Think London High Street, on a slightly smaller scale.

So today, after the flat I was meant to view was suddenly taken off the market, I decided to jump on a train and begin the West Highland Way, a ~96 mile hike up Scotland's west coast, all the way up to the highlands. Obviously, it takes about a week to complete, but I figured a small hike would be fantastic.  So, 3pounds for a ticket and 2 for a latte later, I found myself in the nearby town Milngavie (pronounced Mull-guy), the start of the Walk.

Freshly caffeinated and eager for fresh air, I trekked what I assume is about 6 miles out, through winding forest paths, over moorland, by lochs, and even through a ~1300 era castle.  Every step made me feel even more alive, more excited to just... exist.  When I finally turned around and hiked back, all the fears of being here were gone.  Not because anything big happened, but because I took the time to breathe and settle.  Then I returned to the flat I'm graciously being allowed to stay at, and made dinner.  And cookies.  And watched Doctor Who and Torchwood whilst drinking tea.  I said before that the truly important things in life aren't the great changes, but the space in between.  I fully stand by it.

There are wonders waiting right outside our doorsteps, magic in places just within our reach.  The world is a beautiful place should you choose to explore it. 

I truly hope you do.

Friday, September 2, 2011


So today was my first full day in Glasgow, which feels very strange.  Until I have a place of my own it feels like being a tourist at home--living from a suitcase, wafting around with other people's schedules.  The accent's sinking back in which is quite exciting.  Sadly, I filmed my YARebels vlog before I got here.  (If you haven't watched it, you should.  Actually, I'm not certain as I edited the night before leaving and haven't had the nerve to watch it all the way through since.)  Oh, and I'm currently trying to convince my Scottish friend to let me borrow his kilt.  I'm sure if you all voiced your support, he'd cave.

Went for a walk through my old areas last night, which was incredible.  They say that scent carries more emotional impact than any other sense, and I'd believe it.  Even just sitting in the terminal in London, the different colognes that scream "UK" made my head swim.

The switch hasn't been seamless--a lot of little setbacks.  But let's just not get into that.
Tonight, we're watching "Easy A" and drinking these. 

dirty Hendricks martinis, anyone?

Yes, those are bendy straws.