The other day, I was tagged by the amazing Alexandra Shostak. Who knew you could play tag with blogs? And that when you get tagged you have to spit out a bunch of personal information? If I were less self-absorbed, I probably wouldn't like it. Well, okay, admittedly at first I was rather hesitant because some of these questions can only be answered by me in ways that make me seem moronic. But what can I say? I can't resist a challenge, and it's not often I turn down the opportunity to discuss my writing, just as I can't stop talking about my children.
So, I'll play. And while I'm running around like a lunatic chasing down the next victims, you can read my answers....
Shakespeare and Company Bookshop (Paris),
former stomp of Super Writers like Hemingway
What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Last thing: A short story called "On a Tuesday," for a contest hosted by Shannon Messenger First thing: The first real complete "story" was a book called How the Elephant Came to Be, which I wrote at age eleven, about an insecure, self-hating elephant-like creature with a long tail and a short snout that travels around Pangea believing himself to be the only of his kind. Through the course of his travels, his tail gets chopped, his nose becomes stretched, and he meets an elephant who looks like the old him. And they live happily ever after, the Adam and Eve of the elephant world. I also wrote a pretty crappy play that same year about a teenager who falls in love with her teacher, but I won't go into WHY I wrote that story--nor will it ever see the light of day.
I used to, but I haven't in a long time--for good reason: I'm rubbish at writing poetry. I prefer to write poetic fiction (if there is such a thing...if not, pretend like I know what I'm talking about).
Hm, not the adolescent variety, but I confess that most of the poetry I've written has an angsty edge to it. One of my favorites was "Beans," which I wrote in honor of my oldest daughter when she was two. We used to play at this park that had pebbles covering the ground instead of mulch--pebbles that Precious used to call beans. I think the last line was something like, "and the beans will just be pebbles now," or some such. It made me sad to see her get older--still does. (angsty, no?)
Favorite genre of writing?
I love writing YA with elements of fantasy in a realistic setting. I like working with magic....so, my writing leans towards magical realism or urban fantasy. Have not yet ventured into steampunk, but I might try my hand at it next year.
Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
Probably a character I created for a short story called "Oxygen Thief." You can figure that one out. It has long since been a private nickname I use for all morons. I also have a minor character in Aeternus named Peter who is a bit of a pompous jackass.
Best plot you’ve ever created?
I don't know. I really, really love the plot of Aeternus, but I'm also digging the plot of my current WIP, which is very different. It's like trying to choose between all of your children. I refuse to pick a favorite.
Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
Hmm, until it's published, I'm pleading the fifth on this one. (Paranoid? Ya. For good reason? Ya.)
How often do you get writer’s block?
I haven't had it in a long time, and to be honest, I don't think it was really writer's block as much as it was a case of children-will-you-stop-needing-me-all-the-time syndrome. They still need me, but I've been honing my skills in selfishness.
Write fan fiction?
I hadn't known you could do this until recently. I think I always wanted to, but figured that would be tantamount to plagiarism. Now that I know better, I may give it a whirl just for fun. I've got my eye on a certain sparkly vampire that needs to fall in love with another man's wife. Yes, that just came to me, and my OCD forces me to write it, so you're not allowed to laugh.
Do you type or write by hand?
I've written by hand, but only when my laptop battery ran out, such as on the plane moving from the UK to the US. I ended up with 28 double-sided pages I had to transcribe onto the computer. Not fun. Mostly, I type, but I have a scattering of post-its all over my desk filled with random notes (yes, it's my very clever non-organized organizational system) as well as a series of spiral notebooks and one leather-bound notebook, all of which are filled to the brim with notes.
Do you save everything you write?
After losing an entire manuscript and the heart to write again for nearly two years, yes. I save EVERYTHING. Back up, back up, back up. By the way, I should amend this by saying: I should back up, back up, back up. I often forget to (as evidenced by my loss of a second manuscript). Ye gads, I'm a glutton for misery.
Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
I don't abandon ideas. I'm obsessive, and if it doesn't work at first, I generally will tax my brain trying to make it work. Sometimes, it actually works. And when it doesn't, I change the idea and pretend it's still the same by giving the characters the same names.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve written?
Aye, must I choose? Curses! Okay, Aeternus--but I love it by one less degree because I have to fix the pacing in the beginning (which *sob* means I may have to cut out a beautiful subplot). Because of that, by one half of a degree more, my fave has to be my current WIP.
What’s everyone else’s favourite story that you’ve written?
I don't let many people read my work because I'm insanely insecure and stupid like that. My mom really loved Aeternus, but she also was partial to How the Elephant Came to Be. And she's pretty dang smart (and a former English major), so I HAVE to believe her when she tells me I'm the most talented, most brilliant writer on the planet. I really ought to put that tidbit into my queries, don't you think?
Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Yes, I write romance because I love Love and romantic crap. And since I write YA, I tend to have angsty teens who exist in dramatic worlds (um, I write magical stuff, so it's inevitable--you can't have a fallen angel and NOT have drama), but I do strive to keep my angsty teens from being all whiny because that's just pure annoying. I still love you, Twilight.
What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
Ashbourne, UK. It was also my favorite place to live.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I have one completed YA paranormal romance ms (Aeternus) that I'm tweaking before querying a second round; I have a YA magical realism romance that is over halfway finished; and I'm just starting a third novel still in the plot development stage (looks like it's going to be a YA paranormal romance that leans a little more towards fantasy than Aeternus). I also work on my blog regularly, which, let me tell you, takes a lot more work than one might think.
Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I won a Young Author's Award in sixth grade for How the Elephant Came to Be. Apparently, they overlooked the pathetic illustrations. I also won the award for Outstanding Senior in Creative Writing for 2003 at Purdue University. That's kind of a funny story, too, as I didn't even know about it until the day after the big banquet. My fave professor and mentor, Bob Lamb, made me stand up in the middle of class to congratulate me; I was still reeling when he asked me why I didn't go to the banquet.
What are your five favorite words?
1. Jackass. 2. Chuta. It's a very bad word in Ecuador, often used in conjunction with "madre." Otherwise it means "he shoots" (but when I use it, I don't mean the boring definition)
The rest are far too tasteless and lewd to actually write on a pg-13 blog. And yes, I'm hereby labeling this blog pg-13 for sexual content and nudity.
What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Definitely Scarlett, the MC of my current WIP. She's a bit tougher than I am, and curses more often, but she's sarcastic and laughs at inappropriate times just like me (and as is true for me, it's hard to make her sarcastic lines sound witty and not cruel without hearing the tone of her voice). Also like me, she's a master of sticking her foot in it (mouth, dog crap, etc.)
Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Often, I see something random that will trigger an idea, but I've had dreams inspire me, conversations, music...I've gotten a lot of ideas in the shower or just as I'm falling asleep (yeah, not the most convenient times to have to go digging for a notebook and pen).
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Sure. I have strange dreams though, so it can be a bit of a challenge to sift through the random weirdo-ness to find the story.
Do you favor happy endings, sad endings or cliff-hangers?
Cliff-hangers bite. Sad endings are just...ugh, sad. My novels all have happy endings, though not of the seal-with-a-big-bow and deliver-with-confetti variety.
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
There are times when my degree in English trumps my degree in creative writing, yes.
Does music help you write?
I tend to sing at the top of my lungs along with the music, and this has a tendency to distract me a little bit.
Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.
"Cliff-hangers bite." Just kidding....
"Watch the sass, smartass. It's not too late to make you ugly." (from my interview with Anthony, one of the main characters of my current WIP. You can find that interview here, titled "Meet Anthony (Who's Killing my NaNoWriMo Word Count)."
Alrighty then, Anne, Courtney, Harley, and Sara F....You're IT! (Is that illegal? I think I tagged too many people....)