total words to date: 94,627
chapters revised: 27/27 (draft 5)
word count: 1471
This Months' Goals:
The Muse Online Writers Conference was a brain-load of information, and a boost in creativity. I didn't keep up with all the workshops I signed up for initially, but the forums will be open for another month so I can go in and copy any information I want to save. The workshops I put the most time in were both poetry related.
The Creative Block Buster for Poetry workshop had a one-hour chat every morning Monday through Friday in addition to the forum. The chats were very enlightening. We brainstormed, discussed, and learned techniques to free our stuck poems. I learned how to listen to my poetry. I workshopped two poems during the week, and am very happy with the end results for both. Lisa Gentile, the presenter, had a power outage and was not able to make the Friday chat. I think it was a blessing in disguise for the rest of us. We talked about what we had learned, and by the end of the hour we had decided to put together an anthology of poems improved by the course, and meet again for future chats. Essentially, we formed a Poetry Group. Yay! We'll be meeting once a month to chat. Very exciting.
The other one I focused on was How to Turn Your Poetry Into a Saleable Chapbook. Yes, a mouthful, but an educating one. With encouragement, I went with the dark theme. Even my husband had once commented that a lot of my writing had the thread of darker emotion. The title I chose is Chiaroscuro. What, exactly, is my chapbook about? Exploring the darkness, bringing the monsters of death and abuse into the light. Thanks to the workshop, I have a completed chapbook, all formatted, and the tools to either submit or self-publish. I traded in-depth critiques with another member. Thanks to her feedback, I'm polishing/tightening the individual poems. My acknowledgements section is rather bare, so here's the plan:
- Polish poems (mostly tweaking, no major revamps; I'm not in the same place I was when I wrote them)
- Submit the best to various markets.
- Once I get some publishing credits, submit the chapbook as a whole to poetry chapbook publishers.
(warning: rambling thoughts ahead)
Another Authoress Secret Agent contest recently ended. I made changes after the last one, and submitted a revised opening. The general consensus this time - opening much improved. However, my ratio of yes/no hooked didn't really go up. Out of 11 comments, 3 were definitely hooked, 4 definitely not, 2 said it was improved but still not quite hooked, 1 would read on for the genre though not quite hooked, and 1 would need to read the blurb first. Due to the tightened opening, an issue appeared on this first page that used to come up on a later page (see comments on opening, or skip to agent comment below to name that issue). I had received a couple comments prior saying it might turn off readers, or be a tough sell, but now that an agent and a couple more readers have expressed the same thing... and my husband admitted to not liking it as well... Gosh, tough stuff.
The event in question shapes my MC and though nothing is ever shown (trauma occurring before story opens), it does trigger some events and conversations in the first five or so chapters. No one seems to be bothered by the physical abuse, just the other kind. My husband did make the point that the issue is probably more that it appears so soon in the book, before the reader has a chance to really care about the characters. A backfired attempt to create reader sympathy (more a side effect, as the issue isn't there just for reader sympathy, but for character shaping and those aforementioned event triggers). I don't want to narrow my audience too far, or kill my chances to get an agent or publisher, if it really is that big of an Issue. So, in my next read-through and revisions, I will see if it is plausible to take out the problematic content. *sigh* Much work ahead.
Analyzing the agent's comment:
I do like how this adds some backstory detail in without being obvious, but I'm just not feeling enchanted. I'm not a reader of this kind of YA, but what hooks me regardless is character. Work on making your characters deeper, even on first glance; if you're writing a fairy story, there's a temptation to mimic fairy tale language, and that keeps your characters flat. Add details that make them seem real and full of life. I also balked at the suggestion of sexual abuse ahead, it didn't seem to fit with the tone.
On a plus note, no one complained that my opening had "telling dialogue", instead I got complimented from the agent. One problem fixed at least. Another issue in that comment. She refers to it as YA. My story is not Young Adult. The MC does start out as a teenager, but that alone doesn't make a YA. Would the confusion be cleared up with merely the introductory query letter or back blurb? Most likely. The question is, does the opening voice imply YA? Any opinions on that matter are welcome.
... Well, that was quite an entry. Probably could have been broken into three parts. Kudos and thanks to all those who made it this far. Don't be shy about sharing your opinion on anything in this post. I need to hear it straight.
Additional question for any who might help: Today, whilst using Windows Live Writer to compose this post, pressing enter is frequently creating a bullet point rather than simply starting a new paragraph or line break. How do I make it stop?? I'm pretty sure all my list html is closed, yet it keeps spawning new ones... This post is a mess...
Going to take a nap while B is still at school.