Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Day Q&A!

Tis the season for answering questions! Last Q&A of 2012. Maybe even the last one EVER, if those Mayans were right. So leave any question you want in comments, and I will answer asap.

• Yes, you may ask multiple questions.

• No, they don't have to be about writing.

• Yes, I will feel bad if no one asks me anything.

Off to the gym with my brood! But I swear I'll be back soon.

35 comments:

  1. When do you write? And how do you stay focused?

    What other "bio-punk" books would you recommend?

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    1. Heather, right now I usually write during nap time or in the evening when my husband is home to man the kids. I'm not really sure I have a method for staying focused, mostly because my limited time *forces* me to focus. When I only have a couple hours to work, I can't waste that time doing other stuff.

      As for bio-punk, man, most of the ones I'd recommend are coming out next year! PIVOT POINT by Kasie West. MIND GAMES by Kiersten White. Oh! THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken is out today! And the synopsis has Biopunk written all over it. Looks like a cool read.

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  2. Say the world ends on Friday, What meal do you choose to eat as your last meal?

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    1. Right now I'm craving some Pork Bulgogi something fierce. This is a Korean dish that is glorious and spicy and all the things I love about food. So I'd probably go with that. Also, since my bday is the day before the world ends, I will probably be having sushi anyway. Another MUST.

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  3. First off I think your awesome and now for a writing/advice question my writing is fuelled by how I feel as of late I have been feeling blah and writing revising has been feeling like a chore for example normally when I am revising a chapter it takes me an hour but lately its taking days because I have been so distracted any suggestions how to deal with this? Finally I love the cover of TRNSPARENT.

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    1. Keisha, I think it's okay to have blah moments. It's not always easy, and it sounds like you may be burning yourself out a little. Take a break! Breaks are okay. Try to find that love again and come back to the MS with a new perspective.

      At least that's what I do if I have the time to do it. When I'm on deadline, I have to push through and crash later. But if you have no deadline, let the story marinate and take your time. That is such a wonderful luxury. I know it might not feel like it, but it is.

      And thanks, I love my cover too:)

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    2. I realized I forgot the A in TRANSPARENT, great advice I am so stubborn and work myself as if I am on a deadline the only deadline is within my mind lol, Happy Holidays and I hope 2013 will be a successful year for you.=o)

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  4. How did you find your critique partners?

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    1. I'm looking for a new one right now actually. My current one is totally obnoxious. If you have any advice, I'm open to it.

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    2. CPseeek.com! Just opened thanks to Brenda Drake and the other lovely PitchWars mentors! Also, I find that the people I meet on social networking sites and through blogging (once I do my research and see if they're trustworthy or not) are the most fabulous people to ask, because a lot of them are looking, too. Ask and ye shall receive! Some people (like me) really love helping others out and the worst that could happen is that someone says no (which isn't actually too bad at all. :]).

      Best of luck!
      Deserae

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  5. Like you, I have a tendency toward social anxiety (anxiety in general, really--I'll be in a bunker with my canned goods on Friday). This means that to most people, I come across as rude and unfriendly and acerbic, when really it's just that my idea of "personal space" is about the size of Texas, and I'm easily overwhelmed.

    Lately it seems like there's as much importance stressed on the author as there is the book. Publishers want great books, sure, but they seem to want outgoing, put-together, people-person authors to go with them. The first part I can handle. The second part makes me want to curl up in a ball and get a job at Dairy Queen and never write another book ever again.

    So my question is: how do you deal not just with putting yourself out there, but the expectation of putting yourself out there? How have you learned to vie for attention that, just going off of what I've read here, you don't really want?

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    1. Ooo, Elizabeth, good question. First, I offer my sympathies, because I DO know what you're talking about. I'm definitely that person who reflexively steps back if a person even looks like they're *thinking* about hugging me.

      But I don't think there's as much expectation as you're imagining. It can feel like it, but really the ONLY expectation is good writing. Everything else is just icing on the cake. I mean, look at Suzanne Collins. Do we ever see her? Did her lack of social appearances impede her success? Um, no.

      For me, I've taken a "do what you can" approach. Instead of comparing my ability to that of more social authors, I have determined to do the most I personally can without sacrificing my mental health and ability to write. Which really go hand in hand for me. And when I take out the comparison, it seems a lot of the stress surrounding promotion vanishes.

      Now, when it comes to social situations like conferences and signings and such, I do have to prepare myself. And I have to be careful not to push myself too much because that's when I get cranky and can be ruder than I want to be.

      I try to get myself in a realistically positive mindset, if that makes any sense. I tell myself things like, "There will be a lot of people there, you already know that. Some of them will probably want to talk to you, and you can smile and be friendly. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it's okay to skip classes or to go outside for a solitary walk to recompose yourself."

      I also bring things that I know calm me down—like my sketch book. If I'm feeling stressed out, I whip it out and draw during a class. It helps me find my center again. I also have plenty of snacks on hand because I'm hypoglycemic and tend to get MORE anxious when my blood sugar is low.

      And most importantly, I remind myself it's okay to be honest with people. To say, "Hey, so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, can I just take a break?" Most people are totally cool with that, and it's much better than standing there and looking stressed and, as you said rude and unfriendly and acerbic.

      I still tend to freak out pre-conference though. Usually the day before, it's like *required* for me to have a panic attack. And after a conference I feel like I got hit by a bus for like three days. I just hide in my house and decompress from all the social stuff. This is why I only go to one or two a year.

      So yeah, do what you can do and don't worry about the rest, okay? Another really good example is Robison Wells, who is very open about his mental health struggles. Check out his blog for great posts about how he deals with being an author and having things like social anxiety and agoraphobia, etc.

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    2. Great answer, I so wanted to ask that question too, I'm trying to find some good ideas and solutions to deal with my anxiety too. Thanks for the help :)

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  6. First: you’re made of awesome, second: I can’t wait for Hose of Ivy & Sorrow to come out.
    Third: my question, so I know you way back were writing a book about Ninjas, um…right now I’m writing a short story about ninjas..so..if it’s not rude…can you please lead me to good places for my research for the story?
    And another one: is “relax I’m a ninja’ is the same novel you called ‘Side Kick’? if not what become of Side Kick anyway?
    The last one I promise: what do you think about writing a novel say in the Victorian Era (a historical), with the dialogue matching the time and everything, but the narration itself is in the modern English? The narration is in the third person, you think it will work, or will it come out too weird?

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    1. 1st: Thank you!

      2nd: Double thank you!

      3rd: I did write a book about ninjas! It was my first book I went on submission with—the one that floated out there for 15 months before I put it out of its misery. As for research...I'm afraid it's been a LONG time since I was researching that topic (In 2008) and have since lost a lot of my notes/links. But I would start with looking up the Japanese words: Shinobi and Kunoichi. I would also watch the episode of Deadliest Warrior that features ninjas. I believe it's Spartan vs Ninja. Lots of good info on their fighting techniques there.

      4th: Relax, I'm A Ninja is NOT the same as Sidekick. Sidekick is a contemporary novel I wrote in 2011, and is kind of on the back burner waiting for the market to swing its way. I love the story very much, but it's not exactly your high concept, hooky type novel. Still, I hope to sell it someday when the time is right.

      5th: I'm not sure. Anything is worth trying, but it does sound like an odd combination. I have never written historical, but I would imagine writing in that genre requires the same delicate touch as writing in a teen voice. A YA writer doesn't write teen speak verbatim, but gives you a feel for it. I think historical is the same way—too much and it won't read well, too little and why bother, you know?

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  7. Your titles are awesome! I have to come up with a new title for my book and I'm at a loss. Any advice? :D *HUGS*

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    1. Dang, Kathryn, I wish I did! I fully expected and prepared for title changes, especially with TRANSPARENT. So I was pretty surprised when I avoid the dreaded title change both times!

      For me, either I have a title or I don't, pretty much. There seems to be no middle ground. But for my friend who have gone through title changes, there is A LOT of brainstorming and throwing out just every possible (and even silly) thing they can think of. It can be so hard to get just the right thing, but consider genre and audience and do the best you can. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks so much! Ha ha, I'm the same way about titles. That's good advice about considering genre and audience, though. Maybe I'll just take one from Laini Taylor, if I can't think of anything... ;)

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  8. Hi Natalie! I've loved following your all day Q&As and can't wait for Transparent! I was wondering, when Transparent went out to editors initially how did you feel? Were you optimistic/confident that it would sell? Did you feel like it'd never happen for you? What was your general outlook at the time and how did that change as the submission process progressed?

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    1. Oh man, to be honest? I was a HOT MESS.

      TRANSPARENT was my 2nd time on sub. My first subbed novel did not sell, and after 15 months I put it out of its misery and did the final edits on TRANSPARENT.

      I was pretty much expecting to repeat history. I had some hopes, of course, but I kept them buried deep down where I hoped they wouldn't get hurt again. I wanted it so badly, but I was beginning to think it would never happen for me. The first time on sub was so horrible and emotional (to the point that I ended up on anxiety medication) that I had decided I was only going to try one more time. I just simply couldn't keep putting myself through that roller coaster, so TRANSPARENT felt like my last shot at this whole publishing thing.

      As the weeks passed, I got worse. I was a nervous wreck, and I literally didn't hear ANYTHING for five weeks. No rejections or positive feedback. Just dead silence. I pretty much figured it wasn't happening, that no one was interested, that it was a sign I should officially give up.

      That week, I finally heard back from one editor—Transparent was going to acquisitions. But I had been through acquisitions and not sold before, so I didn't take much stock in it. The only good thing was that it was leverage to get other editors reading.

      So my agent nudged, and a week later I got the call. I assumed it would be an offer from the original editor in acquisitions, but it was another! In fact, it was the editor who tried to acquire my first novel and couldn't. I was shocked beyond shocked, and that's how I ended up where I am now.

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    2. I had a similar experience with my first book that went out. Filled with R&Rs and close calls and ultimately nothing. Now my agent is getting ready to send out at the beginning of January and my anxiety about it is seriously bone-crushing. I'm still doing final edits with the agent, etc., but I feel like I can never do enough and it's not good enough and how could it possibly sell this time. (Positive, I know!) Hopefully once it's out of my hands I'll stop freaking out so much, but right now I just can't stop worrying that there's SOMETHING I'm not doing.

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  9. Have you ever had a moment, getting a book finished, when you see another book by another author that has an element of the same plotline you've spent a year or two working on?

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    1. Yup. In fact, David Levithan and Andrea Creamer's novel, INVISIBILITY, comes out the same exact month as TRANSPARENT. It's about a boy who is invisible and a girl who can see him.

      It happens all the time. That's why people always say that execution is more important that your idea. Because similar ideas can branch into very different thing. My novel is kind of an X-men, science bent on invisibility. From the synopsis I've read of theirs, it looks like they took the magic route.

      It can be disheartening to see a similar idea to yours, but it doesn't really mean much in the long run. In fact, it can even be helpful because people tend to read in similar veins if they liked something.

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    2. I had it with writing mine, in the espionage-counterterrorism thriller genre. I was in the process of going through revisions, having had finished, and I picked up a book by one of the authors in the genre, saw the blurb on the dust jacket... and the central act in my book sounded suspiciously like something coming out of his. I thought, two years of work down the drain...

      I read the book, and while we touch on some common themes, his and mine went in completely different directions and characterizations.

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  10. What's your major wish right now?

    And why are some people's "prove you're not a robot" letters easier to see than others?

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    1. 1. Hmm, I guess I have a few. Now that my two novels under contract are basically done, I'd really like to sell more books. Not sure when that will happen, but I really hope it does!

      And my big, seemingly permanent wish is to someday buy a house for my growing family. Five bodies in a small townhome is getting pretty rough. But we make do, and I'm grateful for what we have. Maybe someday!

      2. And maybe you've entered google searches that make them think you're a robot?

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  11. What book do you want for Christmas?

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    1. Heh, well *I* bought myself ROOTLESS by Chris Howard for myself for Christmas! I can't get it, but I'm really looking forward to Gayle Forman's JUST ONE DAY. And I'm also dying to buy PROPHECY by Ellen Oh, which is out Jan 2nd. I read the ARC and am DYING for a copy to have all for myself.

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  12. Am I late to this party? Hahaha. :)

    Natalie, thanks for the opportunity to get to ask you questions! I think it's great that you take time out of your day to do this. I'm wondering what you do with new ideas when you're in the middle of a project. Are there ever any that just won't leave you alone? How do you power through and give it everything with something else in the back of your head? I realize that you have to really love something to see it through, but say you love them both? This happened to me recently and I'm just wondering what you do in this situation!

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    1. This always happens to me about the time I'm right in the middle of a draft or edits, haha. For me, even if I'm really excited about the idea, I've learned that if it's a good one it'll stick around until I can get to it. And if it's a REALLY good one, it'll get better the longer I let it sit.

      But I also just finished my 15th novel. And by now I'm very familiar with what it takes to make an idea into a good novel. Now when I get ideas, I'm much more aware of the work that will eventually come. So the temptation to cheat on my work is much less, heh.

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  13. Hi Natalie, I love when you do these all day Q&As.

    What was your favorite book growing up and do you plan on reading it to your children?

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    1. I loved Narnia. To this day they're the only books I ever reread, and I certainly plan on reading them to my kids when they're old enough!

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  14. Hi Natalie! What books about writing can you recommend especially for those who are just starting out? Thanks! :)

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