February 2017 Goal Check In!

Blessed be, all! It’s the last Thursday of the month, so it’s time to look back on how I did on my goals. As you may have noticed, it was a bit of a rough one, so without further ado–

  1. Writing: Notes for Noble Virtues- I did get a healthy start, but I didn’t quite manage to finish the first third of the book. I’m only a couple thousand words from that, though, so there’s technically a chance I could still accomplish it before we flip the calendars to March.
  2. Reading: Finish the Rai-Kirah trilogy by Carol Berg- I finished REVELATION a few days after my goal post went live in January, and it actually managed to redeem what was otherwise a rocky read for me. Loved the beginning, struggled through the middle, but the ending pulled it up strong. RESTORATION, however…It’s a much stronger book than Revelation. I’m enjoying it much more. I just couldn’t seem to make the time it deserves so I can sit down and just do it, so I’ve only gotten six or seven chapters in so far.
  3. Bonus Goal: Work Every Day- Not even close. Several days of the month, I didn’t even see my bed before it was already the next day, just to turn around and go back into work six hours later. And that was on top of getting sick. I’m still new to this whole prioritizing-self-care thing, so I didn’t want to push it.

But! One bad month doesn’t mean I get to take the rest of the year easy. It’s time to get back in the saddle and get my butt to work. So we’ll be taking another crack at all these goals.

  1. Writing: Notes for Noble Virtues- For March, I want the whole thing annotated so I can put it away to cool in time for Camp. At which point, I’ll be going back to Kheras to start my first round of revisions! Wish me luck!
  2. Reading: Finish the Rai-Kirah trilogy by Carol Berg- I am bound and determined to give RESTORATION the time it deserves and finish it by the end of March!
  3. Bonus Goal: Work Every Day- This one will be hard. Trying to get my brain back into daily work after having to take so much time off is like herding cats. Every time I rally my willpower, I find something shiny. I’m going to manage it, though!

Lit Snobs: Judging a Book by its Genre

Blessed be! I survived Valentine’s week (and the chest cold that had me coughing the entire week, though that still lingers). I’m still working on getting my productivity back to where it should be, but I’m being gentle with myself as I recover from both the massive amount of overtime hours and my ill health.

In the meantime! It dawned on me toward the beginning of this month that I’d been a bit of a hypocrite when it came to turning up my nose at books. See, I love YA lit. And I love fantasy. And I love dystopias and fairytale reimaginings, all of which are things that, in my undergraduate program, weren’t considered “real writing.” One of my professors even went so far as to write on my YA fantasy story that I “had good instincts, but [she] wished [I’d] write something worthwhile.” It made me defensive of the stories I adore, perhaps overly so. Any critique of those genres by extension became a critique of both my writing and of me as a person.

So, when I got to my MFA, which encouraged and applauded these sorts of stories, I built something of an echo chamber around myself. My stories were valid! My tastes were valid! The work I did and the novels I loved weren’t of lower quality or lesser merit! And this was a good attitude for me to have. But.

But. I took it too far. Somewhere along the way, I decided that “YA is worthwhile, too!” meant that “Adult fic is universally boring and preachy.” For years, it didn’t matter what you handed me. If it wasn’t YA, I would either not read it or I’d read it grudgingly and use every instance of slow pacing or thematic embellishment to support my prejudices against adult fiction.

I didn’t even realize how deep-set this reaction in me had become until one of my betas and my CP both told me that my vampire history would be better served by treating it as an adult novel. I actively rebelled. I didn’t want to venture out of YA because I had convinced myself that anything else was lacking!

After a long talk with my CP (and a lot of soul-searching) I’ve started trying to deprogram myself. I’ve developed a long list of adult fic recommendations from a group of trusted friends that I’m slowly working my way through, broadening my horizons and undoing a lot of self-brainwashing. I’m rereading my vampire history, as well, looking for places where my blinders-on approach to YA might have hampered the story. I won’t say I agree that the book is best served now by a change of audience, but it certainly won’t hurt to venture outside of my box!

Five Things: Ships I’ll Go Down With

Blessed be! With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’m going to be putting in a ton of hours at the day job. Which, naturally, means my body has decided it’s time to get sick. So, while I fight my way through this chest cold and the bottomless work hours ahead, here’s a list of literary ships that I’ll gladly sail on!

  1. Damen and Laurent, Captive Prince trilogy
    This is a classic slow burn pairing. The two start off despising each other–with very good reason–but are forced through circumstances to work together. Grudging trust gradually turns to respect and then something more. It’s realistic, though, in that it’s not a straight line from loathing to forever. They both fight it for a long time, push each other away, and come back together again several times over the course of the story.
  2. Alanna and George, The Song of the Lioness quartet
    This was one of my very first ships from waaaaay back in my high-school days. George and Alanna were cute to me even then, but I didn’t understand just how rare their relationship was in fiction until I was much older. They have a mutual respect almost from the start, and George helps Alanna chase her goal of being a knight with no expectation that she’ll ever pay him back for his kindness. Of the three potential romantic interests Tamora Pierce gives us for Alanna, George is the only one who doesn’t try to change her to fit his expectations of what his ideal partner should be.
  3. Lauren and Kit, A Summer to Remember
    Remember when I said I generally don’t like romance novels? This seems to be the exception that proved the rule. When I was first working on my vampire historical, I picked up any book I could find that was set in roughly the same time period, including this one. And I absolutely hated the protagonists at first, both as people and as a couple. Lauren was rigid and unapproachable; Kit was brash and a downright cad. But they brought out the best in each other and, through the course of the story, I came to genuinely care for them even as they grew to love each other. I found myself fully invested in the pairing and crossing my fingers that they’d stay together in the end.
  4. Daja and Rizu, The Will of the Empress
    Not all of my ships are happy ones. Even though they don’t get much screentime, this is the first time a relationship in a book has actually made me cry when it failed. The affection between them is so tangible and sweet, but circumstances just don’t let it work out in the end. Despite that, it’s not treated as either of them being in the wrong, which is rare in fiction.
  5. Seyonne and Aleksander, Rai-Kirah trilogy
    Now, I haven’t finished the series yet, but I am completely invested in these two. I know nothing romantic will come of it, but I don’t care. The utter devotion between these men is enough to drive the narrative. Like Damen and Laurent, it’s a slow burn from indifference at best to hatred at the worst to being as close as two people can be. Even if nothing romantic or sexual comes from them, it’s a ship I will go down with.

Old Stories; New Beginnings

Blessed be, all! As some of you may know, today is Imbolc, one of the eight Wiccan Sabbats. While I no longer identify as Wiccan, I do still keep loosely to the Wheel of the Year. Imbolc for me is all about new beginnings, cleaning out the old to make room for new growth.

On that note, it’s fitting that I took a fresh look at an old story today. I’ve been actively working on it for five years now, done so many drafts and revisions that I’ve lost count. I think I’m currently on number seven, which is more than I have done on any other WIP. I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve built. But. The more I look at it, the more I can see places where it could be better.

Just today, my critique partner and I started looking at ways to bring some of what I learned in writing the sequel back into the first book. Some of it was obvious: a new motivation for one of my protagonists; a bit of nuance for the other. But now we’re taking this old story and looking at it literally from a new perspective. In the sequel, I introduce two more viewpoints in addition to my two mains. The plan now is to take one of them and run it back through the first book, too. If all goes well, it should be the extra push this story needs!