Snippets: Get it?

Last night after I finished watching all of Fushigi Yugi on YouTube:

Andy: Please tell me you are not seriously crying over a cartoon.
{sniff sniff} It’s not just any cartoon! It’s EPIC.

I finish sniffling, shut down my computer, and get into bed.

Me: You just don’t understand. You’re not a romantic.
Andy: I am too!
Me: Oh yeah? How so?
Andy: I am a tiny insect that bites people and lodges under their skin, and I was born in the capital of Italy.
Me: You’re a Rome ant?
Andy: No, I’m a Roman tick!

I can has world?

I’ve sent a few queries for Twenty-Somewhere and plan to send a few more, but in the meantime, I’m also moving forward with my new story. You know, the one about the twenty-something couple that gets thrown into another world, which puts their relationship to the test.

As I mentioned before, I already wrote a lame first chapter that I had to scrap. Now I’m realizing just how much prep work I really need to do before I can try to write the real first chapter. Not only do I need to outline (something I don’t usually do because I’m stubborn/lazy), but I also have to truly create the world into which this couple gets thrown.

Worldbuilding. Oy. I’ve never really done it before. In fact, I’ve usually avoided it when possible, because as I mentioned before, I’m stubborn/lazy. I mean, inventing their clothing, language, geography, customs, history, values, whaaaa? I get tired just thinking about it!

But, no more. If I want to do this story right, then I have to do right by this story, and that means giving it a rich, full, carefully thought-out world.

Am I daunted by this task? Heck yes. But I’m looking forward to it too. Because some of my favorite stories revolve around fantasy worlds. Chronicles of Narnia, Fushigi Yugi, Harry Potter…

What about you? What are your favorite fantasy worlds, and why? What do you think makes them so great? I’d genuinely like to know, because I need all the help I can get!

(Also, for any other inexperienced worldbuilders like me, check out this great list of worldbuilding questions on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America’s website. And thanks to Erin for showing me that.)

All part of the process

Long story short: after a lot of stress and not nearly enough sleep, I turned in the full manuscript of Twenty-Somewhere to St. Martin’s Press on Saturday.

Thus, on Sunday I did nothing but lie on the couch and watch TV. Both on my laptop and on the actual television. Occasionally at the same time. Man, I am such a good bum.

(Side note: I really like the new show Life Unexpected! Well, I’m predisposed to like it because it stars Shiri Appleby from my beloved Roswell. But still, it’s a cute show with lots of potential.)

(Also, Fushigi Yugi is still my favorite anime ever. Mmm, Tamahome…)


I can’t really explain what I felt when I finished preparing the full, and then sent it. Not sadness or emptiness, and not pure joy either, but definitely something… big. Something so big I had a hard time sleeping, and let me tell you, I am a champion sleeper.

I also sent the manuscript to my mom, who said she loved it, and even teared up while reading the last chapter. Folks, that means something. Because my mom? She is not one of those warm fuzzy I-love-everything-you-do moms. She is not afraid to tell me when she thinks something I’m writing is crap. (Which is often.) So, that “big” feeling that kept me up? Yeah, that got even bigger when I realized that I had pleased not only myself, but also my toughest critic.

While I wait to hear back from St. Martin’s, I think I’m going to query agents about Twenty-Somewhere and see if anyone’s interested. I wasn’t planning to originally, since it started as a web series and is thus (a) highly unconventional, and (b) already available online (well, 2/3 of it). But SMP’s interest has me thinking that querying might be worth a shot.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the querying process, it’s like this:

  1. Writer writes Book.
  2. Writer writes query letter about Book, and sends query to agents to see if they want to represent Book (and thus Writer).
  3. Agent says yes.
  4. Agent writes to Editors to see if they want to buy & publish Book.
  5. Editor says yes.
  6. A bunch of stuff happens at the Editor’s publishing house (typesetting, cover design, marketing, etc.) and then VOILA! Book is published. Writer becomes Author. Author, Agent, & Editor make a gabillion dollars off Book and never have to work a day in their lives again! Escalades dipped in gold for everyone!

Or something like that. (Or more likely, this. But even this? Not so likely.)

Okay fine, in reality that almost never happens. And even when it does, it can take anywhere from 2 months to 2 (or 20) years. And there is the potential for failure/rejection at every step. As in, Steps 1-4. And 5. And oh yeah, 6. But still. Doesn’t it sound fun?!

Hello? Anyone? Anyone?

Yeah, welcome to the life of a writer. Can you believe this is what I’ve dreamed about since I was 9? Oh silly, silly Kristan.

The gods must be crazy

The amazing news is: After reading the first 50 pages of Twenty-Somewhere, St. Martin’s Press has asked me to submit the full manuscript for their consideration.


The bad news is: No real blog today, because I am mad scrambling to go over my full and make sure it’s good to submit. Sorry! Also, my new work-in-progress will have to be put on hold for a day or two. Oh well.

Thanks to everyone for the congratulations, and hi to any new readers coming over from #YALitChat!

Accidental drive to Mexico

First, go read this post about “outlines and word quotas and why they sometimes might lead to sucky writing.” Then come back and let me tell you about all the outlines and word quotas and sucky writing I’ve been doing lately. ‘Cause boy oh boy is it fun! (Not.)

Okay, if you’re too lazy to read Justine Musk’s post (but really, don’t be — or at least read section #3) then here’s the gist of it:

I believe in outlines. Except when I don’t.

I believe in daily word quotas. Except when I don’t.

I believe in encountering the work, which an outline can prevent you from doing.

Unfortunately, this is extremely relevant to my new book. See, I decided to set word quotas, but I did not outline, because I too believe in “encountering the work.” However, what I encountered this time was a big fat BORING first chapter.

Why? Because I wrote back story. I wrote 3,500 words about Jake and Yvonne that could have been summed up in one simple sentence: Their relationship has gone stale.

When I realized what I’d done, late on Sunday night, I kind of wanted to die. Because I was exhausted, I still had a quota to fill, and my writing was poop. (Poop!)

Did I cry that night? You bet I did. Teeny tiny tears of frustration. It sucked. Did I write that night? You bet I did. All 1,000 words. They sucked too.

So why did I even bother to finish my quota if I knew I might have to chuck most of it? Because I didn’t want to lose momentum. A more disciplined person probably could have afforded to just stop, take a step back, and focus on fixing Chapter 1, but I’ve proven time and time again that if I don’t keep my momentum going, I will lose it. And 2010 is about winning, not losing.

Therefore, I am now outlining. But wait, Kristan! Didn’t that quote say outlines are bad and lead to sucky writing?! Well, yes and no. It said outlines sometimes lead to sucky writing, because they can make a writer feel tied to an idea that doesn’t truly fit the story. But sometimes you really need an outline, otherwise you’re driving from Maine to California with no map. Sure, you might know to head southwest, but guess what? Mexico is southwest of Maine too. And though there are a few similarities, Mexico and California are most definitely not the same.

Some people have a really good sense of direction, and they would have no problem getting to California without GPS or Google Maps or even road signs. But me, I need a map. If something comes up, like heavy traffic or construction (cough cough metaphor for part of the outline that isn’t working cough cough), then I’ll find a detour. But driving across the country with nothing more than my instincts? That’s not for me. Not this time.

What about you? Do you have a good sense of direction, or do you prefer to use a map? (Note: I’m technically asking about writing, in a roundabout way, but if you want to talk about actual driving, be my guest!)