Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some good news on the writing front.

I have exciting news to share. I've had a piece published in a small literary magazine called, The Corner Club Press. In a world where rejection reigns, I'm so grateful for successes of any size. To write something and have someone like it enough to want to share it with others is a truly joyful thing.  This short story titled, "More Than a Little," will publish in another journal later.

I'm always hyper-critical of my own work, so I take no offense if it isn't your cup of tea, but if you have a minute, and you'd like to check it out, it's available for free reading.  This journal is newer, and I thank the editors for their support and interest. 

Now, excuse me while I do a little happy dance before moving back into my self-deprecation mode.

Monday, November 14, 2011

When losing is winning

For the past couple of weeks, I'd set the alarm at five to push through as many words as possible in hopes of once again successfully completing NaNoWriMo. I'd looked forward to receiving that "winner" badge all year, and I'd known what novel I'd write for ages.  My daughter had been begging for a sequel to last year's Nano Project.  All was going well.  Technically, it still is.  I may not have been 100%  happy with my plot, but I was on target to "win" a week early.  This was a huge accomplishment in and of itself because I hadn't been writing much, and I was pleased I could still produce something ... anything.  Plus, I found new ideas crept in when I wasn't looking, and I drafted another "Potential Projects" list.

Then, I went to an SCBWI-IL event, Prairie Writer's Day, and I had a wonderful experience which is going to make me a loser.  I sat through two sessions where first pages were read and editors/agents reacted.  I was fortunate enough to receive honest and useful feedback from Molly O'Neill and Stacey Barney. During another insightful session Ms. O'Neill read pages from some of the work she's edited and then followed up by reading from first drafts which authors were willing to share.  Suddenly, a lightbulb went on, and I knew what I had to do with both of my completed projects, including the one I claimed I was about to trunk--and it involves a re-write. I knew it was coming; I just didn't have a vision.  Until now.

So, I've decided to put my 25K+ Nano words aside in an effort to capitalize on my motivation and capture the flowing ideas on paper. 

Have I mentioned I'm competitive?  I don't like failing Nano.  But at the same time, I know that this is absolutely a winning situation.  So, I accept my Loser Trophy with pride as I set my sites on a new goal. 

Sometimes changing course mid-stream is the best thing to do.  Any experiences where changing goals worked out in your favor?  College major?  Career?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guest Post: Susan Kaye Quinn: Write First, Then Outline

It's a Virtual Launch Party for Susan Kaye Quinn's  Open Minds!!!

Write First, Then Outline - Wait, That's Backwards?
by Susan Kaye Quinn

Drafting my paranormal/SF teen novel Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) was hardly a straight-line process. When I finished (the second time), I took a break from the story and worked on other projects. I had a nagging sense that the story in Open Minds wasn’t quite right. It had all the elements of right, but it wasn’t really there yet.

So I embarked on a self-directed study of the craft of storytelling. I read bestselling novels, studying them and analyzing their structure (see my analysis of Hunger Games). I started reading books on screenwriting (see my review of Robert McKee’s Story), discovering that screenwriters were like novelists without all the words. They had worked out the art of storytelling, beat by beat and had no problem with owning the ancient formulas for telling a story. One of my greatest insights on how, in the right hands, storytelling formulas could produce a masterpiece that was anything but formulaic came when I saw the movie How to Train Your Dragon. It was based on a book that was almost completely unrelated to the movie. In other words, the screenwriters had taken a character or two, the setting, and completely rewritten the story. It was a middle grade animated kids movie about dragons and I cried repeatedly, cheered, and saw it about 5 times. 

I'm not even a fan of dragons (*ducks from fruit thrown by dragon lovers*).

But that movie was brilliant! And armed with Snyder's Beat Sheet and McKee's insights into moving an audience, I could finally see why. It wasn't a lightbulb going on, it was an entire outdoor stadium lightbank blasting my mind.

So I outlined what I had of Open Minds, realized it was a hot mess, recrafted a new outline and got busy with writing. There were still several drafts ahead of me, but finally I had the writerly tools I needed to carve out the story that Kira really deserved.

What had come before was just the beginning. I soon realized that not only had I forgotten to write the second half of the novel the first time around, but there was, in fact, a whole trilogy to this story. I am now writing Closed Hearts (Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy)—after a flurry of hyper plotting—and will be writing The Third Book Which Shall Remain Nameless after that.
And this time, I already know how it ends. :)


When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn is available for $2.99 in e-book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords) and $9.99 in print (Amazon, Createspace).

The Story of Open Minds (linked posts)



Susan Kaye Quinn is giving away an Open Books/Open Minds t-shirt, mug, and some fun wristbands to celebrate the Virtual Launch Party of Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)! (Check out the prizes here.)

Three ways to enter (you can have multiple entries):

1)      Leave a comment here or at the Virtual Launch Party post

2)      Tweet (with tag #keepingOPENMINDS)

Example: When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. #keepingOPENMINDS @susankayequinn #SF #YA avail NOW

Example: Celebrate the launch of OPEN MINDS by @susankayequinn #keepingOPENMINDS #SciFi #paranormal #YA avail NOW

3)     Facebook (tag @AuthorSusanKayeQuinn)

Example: Celebrate the launch of paranormal/SF novel OPEN MINDS by @AuthorSusanKayeQuinn for a chance to win Open Books/Open Minds prizes!