Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WIP Wednesday: Introducing....

I said I would do this, so here it goes. Part of releasing myself from the confines of closet writing, I guess. This is my first Work-In-Progress Wednesday, where I tell you what I've been working on this week. For this first edition, I thought I'd give you a peek into the novels I have in progress.

Working Title: Beaker Becker or Up Lantau Running (still debating)
Audience: Young YA (11-14 year olds)
Status: Complete; submitting to agents

Brief: Marcy just moved to Hong Kong seven months ago, but she can't seem to find her niche. It's only when her mom and brother return to America to care for her ailing grandmother and Marcy is forced to live on Lantau Island for the summer with a flamboyant distant cousin, that she finally starts to find herself.

I just finished rewriting this book's first chapter again. (I think I've rewritten it about sixteen times; I'm not exaggerating.) The little common feedback I've received from agents or other knowledgeable people was they didn't like my main character. YIKES! I think this was mostly because my book used to start with a big fight between my fifteen-year-old main character, Marcy, and her mom. This made Marcy seem snotty, mean, and whiny. But she's not really. She's just that way with her mom because they have a difficult relationship. Obviously, I wasn't getting this across, so I started with a new approach this time and pushed the fight to the second chapter. Part of this whole journey is that you really don't know if you've improved anything until you send it out to agents and see if you hear anything back. It's kind of like fishing -- figuring out the right bait.

Another biggie in editing was that I changed my main character's name. HA - the power! She's not Marcy anymore, she's Lila. It's strange how just a name change can give such a different feeling to a character. So, consider that when naming your children.

I'm planning to enter Miss Snark's First Victim's Secret Agent contest this month with my new, hopefully improved, completely-different, the-name's-even-changed chapter. So, we'll see what people think -- and most importantly, perhaps, what the Secret Agent has to say.

Working Title: Mine, Valentine
Audience: Young YA (11-14 year olds)
Status: Middle of first draft

This is my new baby, and I'm in a newborn baby stage of maternal pride. We'll see if I still like her as much when she grows up. She has a lot of potential, but there's also a lot of room for disaster, thanks to some tough themes I'm wondering if I can pull off. She's been a lot easier to write than Beaker because I know some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Brief: Thia has a lot of issues. Her dad left their family four years ago on Valentine's Day. Her mom's a chain-smoking, wanton woman, and her brother's a tattooed and pierced goth recluse. It's Valentine's Day again and Thia has a yearly tradition: to make something good happen for herself, to counterbalance the terrible thing that happened four years ago. Last year she pulled strings so that six guys gave her flowers. This year, she's determined to land a boyfriend. But when rumors start circulating at school that Thia's mom was seen kissing her potential boyfriend's dad, Thia needs to set the rumors straight or risk losing the boy of her dreams on this all-important day. Something keeps tugging on the back of her mind, though: what if the rumors are true?

This book is set in a small town in Western Washington along the Columbia. I don't call it Camas, but that's pretty much what I have in my mind as I'm describing her about town.

I'm going to try to finish this first draft by writing a minimum of 1,000 words a day. I don't think it'll be too much of a challenge since I type quickly and already have my plot and subplots laid out.

Working Title: Mr. Maddigan's Junk Yard
Audience: Unsure
Status: Middle of second draft

This one is slightly different because it's a novel based on a novella I wrote for a creative writing class in college. It's a time-travel book, very light fantasy. I dug it out of a pile last summer and thought it had a lot of promise, so I decided to rewrite it, adding some subplots to lengthen and strengthen it.

Brief: Sarina and her mom just moved back into her deceased grandfather's house after three years on the run from an abusive father/husband. Their next-door neighbor, her grandfather's life-long friend, has a junk yard filled with old treasures: her grandfather's first car, a pair of carousel horses saved from a fire, a windmill from a miniature golf course, to name a few. What Sarina doesn't realize is that the junk yard is also a place where two alternate universes collide, a place where she can meet her grandmother and grandfather when they were young. Sarina is now faced with a decision: should she warn her grandparents about certain future events and risk changing the present? If she does, she might speak herself out of existence.

This one has been on the shelf for a couple of months as I made room for the other two. That's the nice thing about books: they're not like children in that they don't mind being neglected for awhile.

That's about it! I think I may possibly feel brave enough to go ahead and post this now. It still feels a bit like laying my neck on the chopping block. But go ahead, hack away!

Thanks to Kate (for the amazingl WIP Wednesday artwork and the original idea) and Dr. Carolyn Kaufman at Archetype (where I first heard about doing this).


  1. As someone who's only novels are young adults (its just safer that way), I would totally pick up any of these books. They sound great!

  2. Yay, I'm so excited you've posted your first WIP Wednesday! Really interesting, too. I can especially relate to being told my main character is less than likeable. That happened to me recently, and was definitely an *oh noes!* moment.