Writing in 2013: A Look Back

This has been an exciting year for me with writing. At the beginning of the year I finished my second novel, a YA contemporary about a girl’s personal struggle with hating herself for being a follower instead of her own leader and how a new transfer student helps her change that. After I finished it I started researching literary agencies, how to query, what a synopsis should look like, and I began sending out letters seeking representation. Replies came back with plenty of rejections and one full manuscript request.

During the summer I began writing my third novel, a YA thriller centered around a kidnapping and the ensuing struggle for survival, to keep me busy while I waited on news from the queries. I finished it in only a few months and have just recently begun crafting and sending query letters for it. I’ve learned a lot this year about the writing industry, and I believe my work and I have both grown and improved. More than ever, I know this is something I need to keep pursuing.

Yesterday I answered questions about books I read this year for a blog link-up/e-book giveaway that this blog is running. Today, I promised to answer the writing questions. So here we are!

Check out yesterday’s post if you want to know what sort of books I read recently or if you need some new recommendations.

How many books did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us too!)

I’ve written two this year. I wrote my second novel in the first half of the year which is 105,000 words. I wrote my third novel in a couple months later in the year, and it is stands at 60,000.

Which was your favourite to write?

My second was a totally different route from my first book, and I really like how one small idea came together and grew into what the book became. I had no idea where I was taking the story initially. All I knew was I wanted to write about two teenagers who lived across the street from each other and were from totally different worlds.  Seeing where it ended up from that idea feels really rewarding. The characters just took over and told their stories.

Which was the hardest to write?

I’d say 2 was also the hardest. I planned Book 3 out more whereas Book 2 took a lot of discovery which was really frustrating and overwhelming some days. Writing a female perspective was tougher for me as well because I usually do male narrators. Some days I just didn’t want to tackle the task. Book 3 flowed easier when actually writing.

Tell us about you favourite Male Character you wrote this year!

Book 2 introduced my MC’s love interest, Cameron Dawson, a mysterious bad boy next door that completely shakes up everything for my female MC. He’s damaged, but doesn’t take crap from anyone. He’s brutally honest and strictly secretive at the same time. He’s romantic and sensitive but violent and hardened. I liked his layers. I like writing rebels and damaged heroes.

And how about your favourite Female Character?

My MC in Book 2, Maddie Carlisle. She went through a complete transformation. At points you can hate her and her actions as much as she hates herself, but you feel sorry for her too because of the hard situations she’s in. You root for her then want to smack her when she doesn’t step up. She’s very dependent on others, and by the end it’s interesting to see if that’s still the same case. She has plenty of adversaries, but really she’s her own worst enemy.

Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?

In Book 3 my MC’s best friend Tyler Hammons starts out as a flirty, pompous tough guy, and we’ll just say he gets a new perspective. Also in that novel a guy named Jasper Riley is a character who juggles a lot of different roles and affects the main character in ways he didn’t expect. His sidekick status isn’t that he’s funny or laughable, but shown in the importance of how he changes others and furthers the development of the story.

Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn’t go together as expected?

I’m not going to ruin the romantic subplots! But I will say all characters were meant to be together.

Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books.

Actor Ezra Miller as Jasper Riley

Actor Ezra Miller as Jasper Riley

Actor Jake Abel as Tyler Hammons

Actor Jake Abel as Tyler Hammons

Actor Penn Badgley as Ezra Winchester

Actor Penn Badgley as Ezra Winchester

Actress Denise Vasi as Sadie Atwood

Actress Denise Vasi as Sadie Atwood

Actress AnnaLynne McCord as Peyton Hammons

Actress AnnaLynne McCord as Peyton Hammons

Epic quote(s) you wrote?

(Note: From Book 3. This quote ties into the title and has a lot of meaning for the events in the plot.)

“Ezra, on the road of life you have two choices.  You either stare in the rearview and look at where you’ve been until you crash and burn, or you look out through the windshield and focus on where you’re headed.”

Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go!

Book  2: journey.

Book 3: most.

Show us your favourite funny scene!

(Note: This is from Book 2 when the new guy, Cameron, first comes to Maddie’s school. I always hated when teachers would make you introduce yourself and then ask the class to say hi back so maybe this was my way of finally saying what I wish I could have back then.)

             Mrs. Nelson, our homeroom monitor, stands up with her attendance book and a happy smile on her face.  Before she starts calling off all our names or passing out fliers though, she walks over to Cameron’s side of the room and addresses the class.

            “Everyone,” she says, “we have a new student joining us today.  All the way from sunny California!” she says with added pep.  “Let’s do our best to make him feel welcome here at North Hill.”  She turns to Cameron with her smile spreading from ear to ear and gestures a hand at him.  “Do you want to tell us a little about yourself, son?”

            He finally looks up and tilts his head at her.

            “Are you actually giving me the option or just presenting me with a really nice command?” he asks back without missing a beat.

            Mrs. Nelson looks like someone knocked the wind out of her.  Her smile slowly turns into a frown and her brows furrow.  She stands meekly, confused that the new guy doesn’t want to stand up and share in her excitement.  When she doesn’t respond he says, “Okay then, I’ll share.”

            He stands up and faces the majority of the class. They stare back, sizing him up and ogling over his busted up face, trying to figure him out for themselves.  He isn’t speaking very long before they get
it.  Loud and clear.

            “My name is Cameron Dawson,” he begins.  “And I don’t care.”  Everyone stiffens as one.  “I don’t care if you don’t like me.  Chances are I won’t like you.  I don’t care if I hurt your feelings.  I don’t care if you want to talk about me because of it.  I don’t care about this piss poor town or your stupid school.  I don’t care if I pass or fail or even graduate.  I don’t care about your problems or how you want me to be.  And I don’t care, Mrs. Nelson, if you or any other teacher wants to punish me for not caring.  So I guess that covers my introduction.  You can spare me from all of yours’ because, you guessed it, I don’t care who you are.”

            He sits back down casually to a shocked silence.  Everyone is glancing around the room at each other between staring back at him. Mrs. Nelson is the worst of us all.  She’s frozen in place with her brows raised high and her mouth hanging open.  The silence drags on until someone finally shouts, “Freak!” from the back of the room.  Cameron just nods, like he was expecting it.

             And still doesn’t care.

Show us a snippet of dialogue you’re proud of.

(Note: From Book 2. Cameron is switching from his persona of not caring to pretending to have feelings for Maddie’s queen bee Jen in order to be accepted into their circle. He sits with Maddie during Jen’s dance practice and acts like he loves watching even though he can’t stand Jen.)

            “You know you’re pretty good at faking,” I say.

            “Yeah, well, it’s easy enough to act how I’m expected. It’s just more fun not to.”

            We watch them grind and shake and flaunt their bodies for a few minutes.

            “You know I’m like those girls you said you don’t want. I dress the same way Jenny does and let all sorts of guys stare me up and down, only letting them dream of ever being with me. I’m just like Jen.”

            Cameron breaks his gaze on the girls.  He stares into my face, suddenly serious.

            “You’re nothing like, Jen. You just don’t realize it yet.”

Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you’ve had this year!

I had two characters whose names both began with J in Book 3: Jasper one of the kidnapped teens and Jimmy one of the abductors.  I mixed them up in an important scene because I was typing so fast. Not good.

What has writing taught you about yourself this year?

I really started believing in myself a lot more this year. I started taking writing more seriously than just a hobby I’d do here and there. I committed to it more. I’ve learned about rejections and taking risks when you put yourself out there. I’ve felt defeated, but learned to keep going forward. It’s a process based on hope and fear, love and hate, uncertainty and confidence. It’s a strange thing.

Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?

Read. Best advice is always read. Whatever type book you want to write, read as many as you can. Just as you learn from doing, you learn writing by reading.

Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?

Book 2 has been under consideration at an agency since the summer. Querying 3 is a definite next step. I also plan to edit Book 1 and make it presentable to query at some point.

Tell us a bit about a book you’re super excited to write in 2014!

I have so many ideas. One involves a guy with an eidetic memory who is thrown into a murder mystery. Another involves a comedic paranormal tale about a ghost, a necromancer, a reaper, and a psychic in which the MC’s girlfriend dies and comes back as a ghost, and the other characters are enlisted to bring her back to life again. I’d also like to do this modern Greek-myth fantasy, and I really want to write a book about gamers and videogames.

That’s it! Thanks for reading! Post any comments or questions below, and be sure to visit the original blog to enter the giveaway or answer these questions yourself!

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