ellen mcbee

She's always up to something…

Starting another project?!

So, I sent my thousand words off to an agent yesterday. I have been through the manuscript of What You Stand For about six times the past week, tightening up the main plot, tightening each sub-plot, reading for character, for humor, for consistency of names. In any case, it’s finished. For now. And I’m sending it out.

Meanwhile, I was planning to start the sequel, and I have some scenes written for that. I’ve now got the vague idea that I might write out the rest of a draft as part of NaNoWriMo this year. But I have heard some good reasons not to start the sequel right now. Mainly that if the first book requires some serious rewrites and changes, I don’t want to have to make huge changes to the second book.

What to do?

Well, the Poland project comes to mind.

This is another New Adult (I think), but this time it’s a historical. It’s about young people in World War II Poland, who made up huge chunks of the resistance. So I’ve started reading and researching, and it looks like it’s going to be a lot of researching and reading before I’m ready to start writing a story. It’s pretty much an untold story in the west, owing to Poland being a Soviet state immediately following the war. And the betrayal of Poland by the Allies, and all. People like to think of World War II as having been won, but I’m questioning that conclusion now. If you lost huge chunks of the world to the Soviets, does it count as victory? Not to mention the devastation of Europe. Warsaw for instance was pretty much flattened during and after the Warsaw Uprising (not to be confused with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising).  If the city is destroyed, have you really saved the city? 20% of the population of Poland was killed; have you saved the country if all those people are dead? Not to mention all the concentration camps and extermination camps and the machinery of death that were built in Poland.

I guess these are the kinds of questions fiction is for.

Now I just need a plot. And some characters. And a title. Also I’m starting to think my Google search history is probably looking strange.

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Getting ready to send it!

I’m still in my existential angst, but now I’m thinking that maybe my decision to make the manuscript into a romance was a little premature.  But I got some really good ideas, namely that there needs to be more conflict with my sorority and fraternity and that it needs to take longer to mesh the two groups into one team.

I just attended a Webinar by Gordon Warnock on New Adult, and I’ve read Deborah Halverston’s Writing New Adult Fiction, and honestly I think both of them are describing a type of New Adult that’s not really being published yet.  But I also think it’s the kind I’m writing, and the kind I’d want to read.  So I’m going through What You Stand For again, and making it funnier and more conflict-y (is that a word?).  Because honestly, young people are funny!  It seems looking back that we laughed all day long.

And there can still be *love* and there can be serious big thoughts and all the other stuff.

So, short entry today, but I have a lot of work to do!

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Embracing the writer you really are

Colorado Gold with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers!  I laughed!  I cried!  I drank!  I met lots of really cool people!

Including an editor!  WHO WANTS ME TO SEND HIM THE BOOK!

So that was pretty exciting, but…let’s just say the rest of the weekend my interactions with him suggested that he wouldn’t like the book I was sending.  He told me that he didn’t see a lot of New Adult that wasn’t romance but he was intrigued by the sorority girls being the heroes.  So, after a whole lot of soul-searching and existential questions, like “Is it still art if everyone’s structures are the same?” and “Was it even art in the first place?” and a talk by William Kent Krueger who said that he was a much better writer when he stopped trying to be Ernest Hemingway…

I’ve decided that I’m a romance writer.  Or that this is a romance story, anyway.  Which I have to be if I want to write about this age group–and get the book into the hands of readers.  Because honestly, in the first drafts of this book the romantic story kept trying to take over.  Which doesn’t mean that I was falling into plot traps, or that I wasn’t as good with my characters as I should be.  It just means that I wanted to write the romance all along.

All my musings led me back to the question of why I wanted to be a writer at all, and why I wanted to write this particular story.  It was to tell the story, and it was to talk to young women.  Not in a preachy sort of way, but in a meeting of equals way.  The same way I parent, you know?  Parenting is a two-way street; it’s not something I do to them, it’s something parent and kid do together.  It’s not about imposing my needs on them; it’s about recognizing their needs and teaching them to be civilized people too.  I used to be a young woman.  And now that I’m a less-young woman, I want to explore the themes of making mistakes, and learning to trust again (including yourself), and in the end being who you really are.

So that means for the next few weeks I’m restructuring this manuscript, adding back scenes that I thought were too romance-oriented, and writing two serious (gulp!) sex scenes.  I’ve already written some serious foreplay scenes with these two, so how hard can it be to get everyone’s clothes off?

I know.  I just have to jump in and do it.

At least my shoes were comfortable this time.

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September mornings

Ahh.  After the long weekend the kids are back at school.  And I’m doing my last prep for Rocky Mountain Gold.

Well, I wish it was the last!

They don’t tell you what editor/agent you will meet with beforehand.  So I’m doing three separate packets based on posted submission guidelines.  I figure that if I don’t meet the other two I can still use the package.  So I’m writing my synopses today.  I’m almost finished with the six page one, and then I’ll cut it down to three, two, and one.  Next I need to write one more query letter and print out the sample pages each requests.

I can’t decide if I should print off a complete manuscript.

I think putting the manuscript of the first book away for a while was a good decision.  I’m re-reading it now as I write the synopsis and it seems fresh and new.  Also, it’s still funny.  And it’s still a good book.  Maybe the strangest thing is that the scenes leading up to the They Have Sex scene are better than the actual sex scene.  I’ll have to think about that.  Meanwhile, this is a good book.

Today I’m sitting in my sunroom admiring the new sound wall.  It’s almost finished and they’ll put in a gate and I’ll have my alone space back.  I can’t really decide if I need to be alone (no kids or husband around) when I’m writing, but I definitely work better when I don’t have a back yard full of construction workers!  There’s plenty of yardwork I could be doing, but first:  Colorado.

The other writing news is that I’m working on my second book.  I’ve written around 25,000 words, and have rearranged scenes and story so that I have finished the first act.  I’m workshopping that material Friday morning.  Also, after a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to have the second book of the series as a dual viewpoint between Brooks and Kit.  Her voice is so well-developed that sometimes it narrates my real-life adventures.  I don’t have a real handle on him yet, but expect it will come.

All right, back to work with me.  And you.

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