Took the first pages of a new YA to my critique meeting this week. I was very nervous. The problem with starting a new novel is that you end up living with it for a LOOONG time. You have to love it enough to spend months (or years) with it. And your critique group has to live with it too, which makes it even harder to show it to your peers the first time.
I had the last critique slot. “What did you bring?” April asked as I passed out copies. We only do 10 pages at a time so we never get to read a full novel. But it’s useful in a way quite different from my online novel critique group (there we read a full novel ms every month--so every five months you get to submit a complete manuscript.) At Onwords & Upwords (the name of this group) the focus is more on a close reading of a small sample. Not great for story arc or plot holes, but awesome for voice.
“It’s new,” I said. I was one copy short so passed them all out--didn’t feel like reading aloud anyway. I focused instead on a handout someone had brought in. Also tried not to peek (and failed!) as they read my pages.
Meanwhile, Amy scribbled furiously at the end of my prologue, Joann read with a slight frown, Sue flipped back several pages, Kate made quiet notes, Natalie read calmly, her face impassive, April did too. The clock ticked. I figured out that the reason the handout didn’t make sense was because I was holding it upside down.
“OK, the prologue threw me,” Sue said. “But maybe that’s just me.”
“It’s the pronouns,” Kate said. “you have to clarify the 'theys', Nandini.”
“I like it,” said April (April likes everything!!!)
“It made sense after I went back and reread it though,” Sue added.
So we went back and forth. Sure, there were issues, but they liked it overall.
But. “You know, at the end?” April said. “It sounds a bit like …”
“Leela,” I finished. (FYI, Leela is the mc of my last YA historical.)
“I know,” I said. “I’m hoping to find Katyani soon. I just have to live with the story longer.”
And so I do. For this reason I have to cut down on the internet for a while. It’s a constant distraction. Doesn’t help that I’m all antsy because of the submission process too. I need some time alone with the new ms so I can find Katyani’s authentic voice. I just have to listen really hard and pay attention.
So it’s goodbye to the blog for now. I’ve promised myself that I’ll be back once I’ve got 15-20K words done. April, perhaps? (Er … the month, not the person!)
We shall see …
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Was looking at pictures from our last trip to India and decided to post some. Can't believe how little my kids look! They look nothing like this now ... how time flies.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The Narmada river. I took this picture on my last trip to India. The river is a big part of the setting of my YA historical currently out on submission--Leela's Star.
We’re planning a trip to India in June! Now that I’m sure we’re going I can’t WAIT to get there. Every cold freezing morning I walk the dog, I promise myself real heat when I get there; 120 degrees in the shade heat, authentic Delhi chaat (a seriously spicy street food) heat, sleep all afternoon or die from sunstroke heat. Just feel like I’ve been cold forever. That summer in Massachusetts; even when it rolls around, it never lasts long, does it?
The last time I was in India, six and a half years ago, I had just started to think about writing. I’m so excited to go there as a "real writer", at least in my own mind ;-), and be inspired. The ms I’m working on is set in the Himalayas and in the plains of North India, and we’re planning on spending most of our time in Nainital, a small town high in the foothills of the Himalayan range. In fact, we’re lucky enough to be staying at the Governor’s mansion, a Victorian Gothic style mansion built in 1899 by the British Raj (my sister’s mother-in-law is the Governor, and an amazing, lovely, woman). Great timing, huh? Like I said … can’t WAIT!!
P.S. I have a post up about real life fantasy settings on the Enchanted Inkpot this week (along with posts by some truly wonderful writers). Mine is about a monastery in the Himalayas. Check it out here … Fantasy Settings...or Are They?--Part 2
Friday, February 12, 2010
Lousy week. Snow, early release, sick-kid-up-all-night-with-strep-throat, and so forth. Pretty much the only thing that kept us going (the kids and I) was the wait for the Lightning Thief movie (release date: TODAY!). As you can see from our well thumbed copies of Percy Jackson 1 through 5, we're fans. Instead of the usual overdose of TV I'm subjected to when the kids are home, this time there was peace and quiet (except for the occasional bickering who had what book in the series). Thank you Zeus, Poseidon, Athena et al. Look forward to seeing you on the big screen later today.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
And until all eight hundred and forty boxes are sorted, delivered, and paid for, there isn't going to be much time for blogging. We got lots done today, thanks to the humongous jeep of my co-cookie-mom, Sue, and a full afternoon of dedicated cookie sorting. Now for a good soak and some well earned thin mints ...