Monthly Archives: August 2015

Pitch Wars Mentee Bio

Hi, everyone.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m participating in Pitch Wars, which is a contest where mentors each pick a mentee and help them polish their manuscript, and then they submit it to agents. More information can be found here.

All the mentors had to write a bio for this, and many of the mentees have decided to do the same. Instead of just talking about myself (because I don’t like doing that), I’ve decided to let Madison, the main character of my submission – DEGENERATION – interview me. Madison, say hi to everyone.

Um, hi, everyone. *waves*

So, Madison, if you could please get this interview started.

I’m one of your least talkative main characters. Why would you pick me to do this interview?

Um, because your novel is the one I’m submitting for Pitch Wars, and I thought it would be a nice way for everyone to get to know you, as well.

Fine. *sighs* You sure you don’t want Shawna to do this? She’d love the attention.

Your sister isn’t the main character. You are. And you need to get better at dealing with attention. How are you going to be a famous photographer if you can’t stand a little attention?

Yeah, because people are constantly chasing down photographers for their autographs. But fine! Fine! I’ll do it. Um… What am I supposed to ask you?

I don’t know. Questions you think the mentors might like to know.

Okay. Why would a mentor want to work with you?

Because I’m a hard worker. I’ll consider every suggestion, even the ones that are hardest to hear. In fact, I’ve often found that the suggestions I’m most averse to in the beginning end up being the most helpful in the end. I’m not afraid to throw out the entire draft and start all over again if I have to – although I certainly hope that wouldn’t be anyone’s suggestion!

How would you describe your sense of humor?

I’m the sort of person who generally does well in Cards Against Humanity because I’m a terrible, terrible person. Humor helps me deal with things. I also like puns, even though they’re lame. I blame my boyfriend for that.

How long have you been writing?

Since second grade when my teacher gave us all these blank little books, and we got to draw a cover and write our stories in them. I mostly wrote short stories in elementary school, and in middle school I was obsessed with writing screenplays. After that, I moved on to Harry Potter fan fiction. It wasn’t until I discovered NaNoWriMo my first year of college that I started focusing on writing my own original novels.

What’s NaNoWriMo, and how has it helped you as a writer?

National Novel Writing Month is where you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’ve been participating since 2007. Writing fast helps me get stories finished. For the longest time I didn’t write because I was sure I would mess them up when I tried to put them down on paper. NaNo helped me realize that anything is better than nothing. Anything can be edited to become something halfway decent. Nothing is always going to be nothing.

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve ever done?

During NaNo 2013, I wrote 500,000 words – 4 novels and a bunch of short stories and “deleted scenes” from other novels.

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Tried to be a teacher. I made it through one year, and it was the worst experience of my life. I have so much respect for anyone who can do that job. I just wish I had taken everyone’s advice and not wasted all that money on a master’s degree!

I’m a great photographer – or at least I’m getting there. Other than writing, what do you do for fun?

Most of my free time is spent reading. I also listen to music and watch TV with my boyfriend and play with my new puppy, Tali. She’s a dachshund, and she’s absolutely adorable!

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What sort of TV shows do you watch?

My absolutely favorites are Arrested Development and Veronica Mars – though I missed both shows while they were on-air. Same with Firefly, another great show. I also love Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though for some reason I still haven’t seen the last season of either show, and The West Wing, though the first three seasons are the best.

Okay, I’m officially out of questions. If anyone can think of anything I should have asked, please leave a comment below and Katie will answer you as soon as she can – which should be pretty soon since she has, like, no life.

Thanks, Madison. And thank everyone for reading! If you’d like to check out some other awesome mentee bios, please check out the list here.

Falling back in love with your novel

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on yet another draft of DEGENERATION. It’s my oldest story, the one that’s closest to my heart, and the one that I was seriously starting to hate. The plot seemed non-existent. The characters were boring and whiny. It seemed like a bunch of rambling that no one – not even me – wanted to read.

Suddenly every dream I had ever had of my becoming a published author came crashing down around me. I know this story better than any of my others. I’ve been working on it on and off for over seven years. If this novel was shit, surely everything else I had ever written was bound to be shit, too, and I was doomed to spend the rest of my life staring at binders full of abandoned stories that failed to live up to their potential.

And then I realized that Pitch Wars was coming up, and a tiny bit of hope flared up inside me. I knew what was was wrong with the previous drafts. I just hadn’t changed them because it seemed like a lot of work and I was half-hoping someone would read my novel and declare it perfect as-is, and I wouldn’t have to do any more work on it.

I realize now how stupid that was. Being a writer, at least a published one, is nothing but hard work, writing and rewriting until you’re sure you’ve made it the very best it can be. I thought I had already proven that I could do that, but I hadn’t. I was taking the easy way out. I needed to start over again.

Not completely over again. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m trying to rewrite an entire book from scratch in the two weeks before this contest starts. I’m keeping all the major plot points and even most of the actual content – I’m just tightening up the writing and showing more of Madison’s personality. It’s hard to write an entertaining book when your main character is afraid of speaking to people. If I have any chance of getting other people to read this, I have to make sure that Madison’s personality shines through in her thoughts, and I have to find ways for her to grow as a person.

That’s what this draft is all about. I’ve sent the first few chapters to a couple people for feedback, and so far everyone who’s read it has agreed that this version is so much better than any version that came before. To be fair, I’ve only shared one other draft with people, but still. I’m excited about my novel again because I finally faced the tough edits I knew I had to make.

Is this draft perfect? Of course not. I know I’m going to have to change other things down the road. And that’s fine with me. I’ve thrown out practically every draft I’ve ever written, but I’ve learned something from it each time. This time, I think I’ve finally figured out a way to make my character’s voice more apparent. I know I have a long way to go still, and I look forward to making more changes on this story, but so far I’m just so excited with what I have so far. I’m just over a third of the way through this most recent edit, and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

Some people might think that two weeks isn’t enough time to do a serious edit, but I think it is, at least for this novel. Like I’ve probably mentioned before, this is my fourth draft (not including the two times I wrote it as a screenplay), and I’m keeping most of it the same. I’m just adding a few scenes, removing others, and making sure to show more of Madison’s personality when I can.

Even if I don’t get chosen for Pitch Wars, I’m super happy with the novel I have now, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned while writing this one and applying it to all my other manuscripts (though those will take a lot longer to finish).

What about you guys? Anyone else entering Pitch Wars?

Yet another “wow, I haven’t updated in forever!” post

The last time I posted on here was to say that it had been four months since I blogged anything and to explain why.

This time, I’m posting to say that it’s been four months since I blogged and to explain why.

The school year ended the second week of June, meaning I am officially free of my horrible teaching job. Saying goodbye was actually a lot harder than I expected. I got a nice set of pens as a thank you for teaching there, and I ended up hiding out in the bathroom for a bit so no one would see me crying. I didn’t expect that. I knew I would miss the people I was working with, but I didn’t think I’d cry about it. Given how much I hate goodbyes, I guess I should have known better. Now that I’m away, though, I’m really glad to be done with that job. Saying goodbye to the paycheck was really hard, but it’s worth it not to be miserable every day.

Most of the rest of June was spent packing or watching Netflix to avoid having to pack. Since I’m no longer a teacher, my boyfriend and I couldn’t afford to stay in out apartment (plus we just didn’t like it). We ended up moving about 15 minutes to the cheaper side of Charlottesville. We like our new apartment a lot better. It’s smaller but cozier, and the outside feels like you’re walking through a park. We have a little stream and a fenced in patio with several trees. It’s mostly quiet and just really nice.

Most of July was spent back in Georgia visiting our parents. We also got a puppy! Her name is Tali, and she’s 3/4 Dachshund, 1/4 chihuahua. She’s adorable, especially when she’s sleeping. We’re still working on potty training and biting, but overall she’s really sweet. She eats up a lot of our time, but we don’t mind too much because she’s really cute. She’s currently curled up in her little doggy bed near my feet.

Here are some pictures of her:

Now we’re back in our apartment, and I’m doing my best to focus on work and writing. So far I’ve been doing a pretty good job of avoiding both. Partly it’s because of Tali – I’ve been waking up super early with her, which leaves me groggy and not wanting to do anything and taking naps in the middle of the day. Plus I have to spend a lot of time trying to get her not to eat all our furniture.

My first writing project is Degeneration. I’ve shared the current draft with some people, but I wasn’t really feeling it. A big part of the novel is supposed to be when she realizes she can’t keep avoiding making decisions and sharing her opinions, but we never actually see her doing that. I’m going back and adding in some more scenes – really, I’m rewriting most of the first half of the book. The second half should only need tweaking.

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while, but now that I’ve actually done it, I think I can keep this up. Part of taking writing seriously is taking this blog seriously and doing my best to connect with other writers. So if you have a blog that you think I’m not following but think I should, please leave a link below!