Revisions: Homestretch

Today’s post will be super short. I need to save all of my energy for revisions and a short road trip we are taking this weekend.

I’m in the home stretch of my latest round of edits for my current work in progress. I only have about 50 pages left to edit, but they are the ones that need the MOST work! I know this and still, I procrastinate!

I feel a little like this turtle . . .

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I wonder if I will ever truly get there. I don’t want to rush it, but I’m also starting to feel like it’ll never feel quite done, but maybe that’s common for most writers? Somehow I doubt I’m alone.

“If you get to the point where you can’t make a book any better, but no one wants to publish it, set it aside and start something else. In two years or five or ten, you might be a better writer, and you might find you are willing and able to make it better. You can take only what you want or need from the original drafts, and leave the rest.” – From: How Do You Know When Your Book Is Finished? The Blunt Instrument on How to Begin and When to End

I still love my first officially “finished” novel and the quote really puts that into perspective. I learned so much from writing it, but I lost steam and had to set it aside after a long time and many rejections.

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Supporting art

Last week the sun popped its head out here and there. I blame it on the energy those sun breaks gave me, but I felt like getting out in the world and supporting my friends and husband in their artistic endeavors. Granted, I’d try to do that no matter what the weather was like, but this week and into the weekend was a busier one than normal.

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The first event I went to was called Object Stories and was held at the Portland Art Museum. My friend Justin had an exhibit there and all of the object stories were about hidden disabilities. It was a powerful message, especially when the artists got up to talk about their pieces. It made me think about how I approach people and the judgments I oftentimes automatically make about them without understanding the full picture. I think it’s natural to have a gut reaction to something someone says or how they act. However, taking a step back and being aware of those reactions, pausing, and opening myself up to a truly open conversation and experience with people of all types is something this exhibit reminded me to do on a regular basis.

In addition, there is an awesome YouTube channel where the artists talk about their pieces as well. I highly recommend it.

IMG_8644The second event I went to was my husband’s show. He plays in a band called Body Mask and they played the art closing for Joey Maas’ pop art show at Ace Hotel. I’ll admit that I’d had a bad day and didn’t feel like going, but I dragged myself out and it was SO MUCH FUN. As you can see from the photos, the art was super smart and all the connections it made (someone had to make a few of those for me…) regarding cultural and social commentary felt like a valuable contribution to the world as we know it today. In addition, the band brought a lot of energy and fun to the event. Also, BALLOONS! Overall, it was a good night that lifted my spirits exponentially. Great art all around!

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The last thing I’ll say about all of this is, go out and support your people! Art is important for so many reasons and whatever your reason is, go support your friends, strangers, and loved ones. It makes me feel so good when someone comes to one of my readings, it makes me feel like what I’m doing is worth it and valued. It’s just an extra good feeling that your people know how important your art is and why you do what you do. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get out and go, but make a point to show your appreciation for the artists in your life.  HUG them, but also go to their shows.

 

Blogging in 2018 & when your title might not work anymore

So, I think I’m going to start blogging again (let me know if you think it’s a mistake)! I’ll try for one post per week and see if that is sustainable. I’ve just finished my second novel (well, will it ever really be finished?). For now, I’m into writing shorter pieces and thinking about future bigger projects.

In the coming months, I’ll be mostly revising my novel and sending out queries to agents and then small presses. I’m giving myself a limit on how many agents I sub to before I send to small presses. I made the mistake of sending my first novel out to too many agents and then I stopped sending to small presses. I was getting some bites too! This business is all about perseverance, but sometimes you need to know when to change your tack, right?

At the moment my current project is called LANA BONG’S SHANGHAI MARKET, but I don’t think the title fits the content anymore. However, I LOVE that title! It’s mine though, you can’t use it :).

Other writing ideas floating around in my brain:

  1. Book of short stories and narrative non-fiction centered around Ohio. Pick up a copy of Midwestern Gothic to read my narrative non-fiction piece, Whispers. Sorry, shameless self-promotion right there!
  2.  Chapbook – Not sure how to organize this, but I’ve always loved them. I’m into eclectic collections, but I’m not sure if my tastes are what readers want. Will do some research.
  3.  Novel #3 in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. What I mean when I say this is that there is a definite narrator sitting down with the reader to tell the story of someone else’s life and how they relate to it. I like the distant feel, but also the lens in which the story is told, from someone else’s perspective (so trusting the narrator is a big deal).

What I need from you, dear reader:

Please help me with this title conundrum. What do you do when you discover your FAVORITE title doesn’t work anymore? I’d love to hear from writers who have a similar problem or any suggestions from non-writers as well. Anything helps!

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#777 Challenge Accepted – “American Honey”

Great 777 post!

Erin Kettle

Christi R. Suzanne tagged me for the #777challenge. We met through an eye-opening author class at the Attic Institute with Whitney Otto in Portland. Since then, a few of us have stuck together to become great writing, critiquing, and commiserating friends.

Check out her stuff and her novel MORT ADDENDUM…you’ll never look at Kool-Aid ever the same! Follow her at @christirsuzanne.

The goal of the 777 challenge is to share seven lines from page seven of your manuscript, then tag seven more writers.

This excerpt comes from my finished novel, AMERICAN HONEY (currently looking for representation).

AMERICAN HONEY is women’s fiction weaving together a journey in two timelines about coming-of-age, leaving your past behind, and then recapturing it.

American Honey

So on to the next, I challenge friends from The Writer’s Voice, Pitch to Pub and Query Kombat!

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777 Challenge Accepted

777 Challenge Accepted

J Stryker, a writer I met through a twitter pitch party, tagged me for the 777 challenge. He’s got some great book ideas so you should check his stuff out. Thanks for tagging me! Anyway, the objective of the 777 challenge … Continue reading

Interview with Rebecca Kelley, author of Broken Homes & Gardens

I first met Rebecca in an advanced fiction workshop at Portland State University in the Spring of 2002. I’ll never forget one of the scenes in a short story she had written. A woman is cutting up a cucumber for a salad that she is going to share with her boyfriend. She alternates between thick and thin slices, so she cuts up the cucumber in “thick, thin, thick, thin” slices. The details you put into that scene created an authentic story for me and I feel like that is translated through your current work. – Christi R. Suzanne

I interview Rebecca Kelley about her new book, Broken Homes & Gardens. Read the interview

Broken Homes & Gardens Review

Broken Homes & GardensBroken Homes & Gardens by Rebecca Kelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can a man and woman be friends? Harry asked Sally this in the popular 80’s flick, and one of my favorite movies of all time, When Harry Met Sally. This assumes that the man and the woman we are speaking of are interested in the opposite sex. Rebecca Kelley’s debut novel, Broken Homes & Gardens, also attempts to answer this question for the modern reader.

Malcolm and Joanna meet at a party and subsequently end up in bed and then write letters to each other while he goes overseas for a year. They were never really friends, were they? Of course they were. Kelley does a beautiful job of pulling together their friendship and the attraction for the length of the novel. We see how they complement each other. Joanna is a little boxed in and must follow her self-imposed rules and teaches Malcolm to answer for his actions. Malcolm is more open and free and teaches Joanna to let go.

Joanna is convinced that she only wants to be friends with Malcolm in order to remain in his life forever. If they were to get into a romantic entanglement it would end sooner rather than continue on into infinity. Joanna struggles wholeheartedly to deny herself her feelings for Malcolm that we wonder if they will ever end up together, or if they even should.

Malcom on the other hand is a strong character who knows what he wants, but isn’t sure if he can win over the part of Joanna that struggles to push him away. Malcolm is just the type of level-headed, laid back, and good-with-his-hands type of guy that a lot women would love to have vying for their attention. Yet, Joanna struggles with the concept of getting into a long-term relationship with him.

The passion portrayed on the pages lends to the overall authenticity created within the lives of these characters. We are driven to root for these two to somehow make it through their own self-imposed restrictions and hope they end up together.

Kelley answers the question I posed at the beginning of this review with: men and women can be friends and lovers if they listen to their hearts.

Interview with the author to come! Check my website for the update.

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author and received a review copy.

View all my reviews

Review: The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger's Wife
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I admired the quality of writing throughout this book. I loved much of the story told. My favorite thread was The Deathless Man. I kind of forgot about the thread about Natalia (the main character) and how she was a doctor looking for her grandfather’s clothes, so that one wasn’t very memorable.

Overall, I do wish that I would have gotten to know the character’s a bit more. I think I just like to know who is telling the story and why we need to care about the main characters. There were a few parts that went into far too much mundane detail (toward the end with the apothecary). Once I took a breath and read for the quality of writing I was fine. I felt like one of the family members sitting around on a porch listening to stories about different people we knew. I loved that about the book. I could imagine my grandmother telling me about her sister’s hair dresser etc. and how one time there was a tiger who crept into the salon etc. I enjoyed that meandering storytelling because of the way I’ve been told my own family stories. I thought that was a beautiful and delicate touch that wasn’t too heavy handed.

In the end, I was a little confused. I was wondering about the actual ending and how that fit into the overall story. I felt like it wasn’t quite there, but I liked what it was trying to do (which I’m not 100% sure I got). I was trying to connect it to the overall story and it left me a little baffled. I felt like the story of the Deathless Man was a little stronger than the Tiger’s Wife part (or maybe I just liked it better) so I wondered why the book was called this. To me, it didn’t give the book any extra meaning, which isn’t necessary, but I think I wanted a little more.

I think this is a talented writer and I’m waiting to see what her next book will be like.

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