First, the exciting news! You can now pre-order my book!! Click here to buy it directly from Canon. I’ll be having a local book signing party too, so stay tuned for info about that. Also we still have a special bit of swag in the works for anyone who pre-orders, more news on that forthcoming!
WHAT I’M WORKING ON:
I just finished up the first residency of the second year of my MFA program, whew! This MFA is a two-year program that meets for three week-long, intensive residencies (October, February, and June). I’ve been loving this program, particularly because it’s stretching me to branch out and write things I wouldn’t normally touch (I’m looking at you, poetry and screen-writing). So now I’m plugging away at homework, the largest portion being a new novel (!!). This one is a middle-grade steampunk fantasy about a 12-year-old thief named Lyra who’s trying to beat out her dad and become the greatest thief in an alternate 19th century New York. I can safely say this is the most fun I’ve ever had writing a novel (and this will be my sixth completed novel), mainly because I’ve been throwing in all the magical steampunk contraptions that I always wanted to read about as a child. And for research I get to do things like google “airship blueprints”.
WHAT I’M READING:
I just finished The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. My thoughts on this book are twofold:
1. It’s nothing like Never Let Me Go. So if you read that and disliked it, you might love TRotD! If you read it an enjoyed it, you might be thrown at first by this novel.
2. I should have read this book more during the day rather than right before bed. I do most of my reading at bedtime, but Remains needed more careful attention than I gave it. This is nothing against the book, it’s more like I was trying to eat a steak with my hands in a semi recumbent position rather than sitting at a table with a fork and knife. I did read the last few chapters during the day and found it to be absolutely lovely. And then I wished I had paid better attention through the first bit. It is on my list to reread at some point, now that I understand better what the author was accomplishing. All that to say, Ishiguro is a master and this book shouldn’t be missed. But it also shouldn’t be filed under “the perfect beach read.”
I am also halfway through The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman which is as delightfully terrifying of a fairytale as I think I’ve ever read. Gaiman’s descriptions never disappoint, and his monsters rival Miyazaki’s art in their creepiness. Note that this is not a children’s book. I’m really hoping it ends as strong as it’s started.
When I’m working on a novel, I have found that the only way NOT to spiral into panic or uncertainty is to just keep writing (picture Dory singing that over and over, you’re welcome). When I start to think the novel is no good, my temptation is to set it aside until I feel like writing again. But, turns out, when you have a tangled ball of yarn staring glumly at you from the corner of the room, you never feel like going over and untangling it. You just have to make yourself do it. And the only way to ensure that I actually keep writing is to set myself a daily word count. I’ve found that the number that works best for me is 500. I have to write 500 words a day, in rain or shine, in sickness and in health. It’s not really that many words, usually it’s about one scene, but if you stack those 500 words on top of each other, you’ll have a novel in about 4-5 months, depending on the length. Sometimes, those 500 words feel like pulling teeth. And sometimes it starts out painful and then around word 350 something clicks into place and I bust out 1000 words without hardly noticing it.
So if you’re struggling with a novel, set yourself a (preferably low) goal and stick with it!
That’s it! Thanks for reading!