Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What's Up Wednesday - Monster Stories

Wow, Blogosphere - it's been a long time!

Sort of. I'm still around, lurking in the shadows. But between new home, new job, and as much writing as I can squeeze around the two, I don't have a whole lot of coherency left to spare!

I can't tell you about all the writing stuff. But here's a tidbit...

My current WIP has led a bit of a tortured life. It's denser and darker and twistier than anything I've ever written - the kind of thing that requires a lot of concentration - and yet every time I got seriously rolling with it, something would interrupt. Usually notes on a different project, but sometimes real life things, too, such as the move to a job I was working at last year.

It's a YA gothic horror novel, a genre I love but had never written before. More often than not I mix my creepy into fantasy, paranormal, or mystery stories, so entering the realm of straight-up horror was quite the exciting new world. And it's a monster story.

There's so much that I love about monster stories, but I think my favorite thing is that they're so personal to the author. I've read monster stories about grief and loss, and the pain of marginalization, even the scope of humanity's kindness and cruelty. Monster stories can be devastating and empowering, horrifying and comforting all at once. I had a vague idea from the start what my monsters were about. This was a story about guilt and memory, the way the things in your head can take shape and come to life - for better or for worse.

At least, I'm pretty sure I came up with that first. I think it was life that started imitating art in this case, and not the other way around. But this time last year, the things in my head were taking shape.

I already knew my anxiety had gotten worse since I graduated college and started work - I became an obsessive quadruple-checker, I had dreams I was at my job, and when I woke up I'd feel like I hadn't slept at all - but it was manageable then, at my first job, and probably not too different than the stress that most of my friends felt. Starting my new job last year was different. I knew from the start it was more than I could handle, and that in normal jobs people didn't go to work every morning terrified of what might be waiting for them there. But I felt stuck, and I felt like I hadn't earned the right to bail out yet, so I stayed for a year.

I wasn't doing well. I think I hid that better from some people than others. I think I hid that extremely well from myself, because as far as I knew, I had an illness that just wouldn't go away. I went through the days exhausted, but when I finally crawled into bed, my own pounding heartbeat would keep me awake. When I think back to last year and all the things I usually look forward to - holidays, family gatherings and so on - I remember feeling too tired and nauseous and dizzy to enjoy anything much. It thankfully didn't manage to ruin the moment I'd dreamed about for three years, but I was even home sick the day that Sara offered me representation, and I remember opening several of her subsequent e-mails in various doctors' offices.

(And there were quite a few of those. And a handful of misdiagnoses that came with them. It wasn't until I was meeting with one of those doctors and let out a particularly dark laugh at the "Do you have a stressful job?" question that the words 'anxiety' and 'depression' were spoken aloud - and even then I didn't think it was right, at first. It was.)

The change was slow, but it happened. I let go of the idea that I was supposed to have some high-powered, Type A day job alongside my writing. I built up the resources and made a change. The 'monster' isn't gone, but it's curled up at the back of my head. It stirred every now and then over the past couple weeks, but it's keeping quiet today. With any luck, it'll be quiet tomorrow, too.

And now, without a few of those interruptions, I can work on that gothic horror WIP. The subject matter is as dark and dense as it ever was, but the process is anything but. It comes from that knowledge, that feeling of being swallowed whole - but it also comes from the feeling of finally finding your way out.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nomad

DC was never going to be permanent.

I could say the same thing about every place I've lived for the past decade or so. When my family moved to Florida, I knew I wouldn't stay. I grew up with brilliantly-colored autumns and winters that never ended, I wasn't built for that constant heat. And Tokyo had an end date built in. I didn't have time to get comfortable, even though part of me did anyway.

And when I came back to Boston for college, I knew two things: that this was my home without a doubt, but that once those four years were over, I wouldn't necessarily get to stay.

My relationships with places have always been as fraught and complicated as my relationships with people, and for this city, it started as a business transaction. It didn't matter that we were incompatible from the start. It had a job for me, my first real job, so there I was. I didn't think it'd be a problem, leaving this place. I had far fewer attachments here than in any city I've ever lived in. I'd be out the door before it could sting.

But attachments show up whether I like it or not - they always do. The things I hated about this place softened into one big affectionate eye roll. Then I found things to like, then I found things to love: the food, the bus routes, the monuments all lit up at night. I got into the habit of turning off all the lights and pulling back the blinds every night before bed to look out at the National Mall, and I grudgingly had to admit that this place could be beautiful when it wanted to be.

I love it here. I made more amazing friends than I could have hoped for. But I'm still a tourist in the world of politics, and the kind of life I'm looking for as a writer isn't here in DC. So at the end of next month, I am coming home to Boston. And while you can never really say what's going to happen next, it'll be the first time in a long time that I won't be carrying escape routes in the back of my head.

It's exciting, and terrifying, and I'll miss this place more than I can stand. Maybe I'd hoped, at the beginning, to avoid these mixed feelings. But I'm a writer. I should have known better than that. :)

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

State of the Becky

Heyyyy, all! I hope everyone is doing well, and I hope the USians among you are staying safe amid this swath of summer storms.

Sorry it has been so quiet around here lately! I am still around, lurking and reading all your posts, but I have not had much to post lately. It seems I have finally reached the point in my publishing journey where it's better if I just keep my mouth shut about the specifics until I have something concrete to say - which is not a natural impulse for me, having blogged so heavily about my querying process, but I'm getting used to it! So all I'll say is: all is well, my soul remains uncrushed by this business, and perhaps someday in the future I will be running all over the blogosphere screaming news from the rooftops.

In the meantime, I have hammered out my writing schedule for the foreseeable future, and I am really excited about it. There was a significant period of time last year where I had a lot of half-formed ideas but wasn't truly excited about any of them, but now I'm really happy with my line-up and I can't wait to get to work. And, of course, this allows for the prospect of a new idea coming in and sweeping me off my feet, which is always fun.

Here's what I've got on tap, and the order in which I'll tackle them:

*

Project #1: Revisionland! Once again. =P I would have thought that revising a single manuscript so many times would be a tad bit disheartening, but it's actually really fun. There's something really fascinating about working on something you know inside and out -just when you think you're done renovating, you find a whole new floor of the house you haven't even touched yet. Working on this one has really been a crash course in how to be a better writer. I'm just waiting on some notes, and then off I go again.

Project #2: Drafting overhaul. I generally don't do this, but Project #2 is a special case - the drafting process got pretty broken up amidst all my trips to Revisionland, and though I had 60k under my belt in the first draft, I realized I was going into Act Three without any of my usual momentum. And since this is probably one of the most heavily structured stories I've done, I need that momentum!

So once those Project #1 revisions are done, I'm going back to the beginning with Project #2. I won't be starting from scratch, but I can change the things I need to change, and keep the rest consistent. And that'll free me up to plow full speed ahead into the as-yet-unwritten denouement!

Project #3: Drafting! FINALLY. Project #3 has gone through two or three false starts since I came up with the idea a couple years ago, and it's finally ready to go. And I couldn't be happier. It'll take me back in a more surreal, fantastical direction (Project #2 is straight gothic horror), it takes place in one of my favorite cities in the world, and if I do it right, it will give people nightmares. So let's hope I do it right.


*

So that's what I'm up to, loves. What are you working on this summer?

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Special Preview for Leigh Ann Kopans' ONE - in Comic Form!

Hey all! As I'm sure many of you know, the fabulous Ms. Leigh Ann Kopans is coming out with her debut novel, ONE, TOMORROW! As a proud (and thoroughly psyched) member of #TeamONE, today I will be posting the final graphic novel-style preview of ONE. For more information and to see more of the comic, see the link list at the end of the post!




Find a full list with links to the other installments of this series on the author’s blog: 
www.leighannkopans.blogspot.com

Or follow the author on Twitter @LeighAnnKopans for daily updates!


About ONE (a novel by Leigh Ann Kopans:)

Release date: June 11, 2013



When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window.

Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

Add ONE to your Goodreads and learn more about the author here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/
show/17251203-one

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Things to love about Boston (and Cambridge, and Somerville, and so on)



Driving across the bridge at night with the windows rolled down.

Getting hilariously lost and eventually figuring out where you are in relation to the Pru (or the Citgo sign, for that matter.)

Friday night singalongs at Jake Wirth's, and how Pianoman judges song appropriateness by the lateness of the hour. ("Lola? At 8:00? Ask me again when everyone's had a few more drinks.")

The view from the windows of the train when the Red Line rolls across the river at the MGH stop.

Umbrella jousting with Newbury Street crowds on a rainy Saturday morning.

T operators who see you running down the stairs and hold the train for you.

Dinner at Bluefin. Or Addis Red Sea. Or Shabu-ya. Or Fugakyu. Or any Indian restaurant you can find.

The North End. All of the North End.

That immediate bond you feel with other pedestrians when a driver does someting monumentally stupid. Especially when you all start cussing him out at the same time.

Walking all the way from Kendall to Porter on a beautiful day.

Hot taro milk bubble tea.

Irish coffee at 1:00am in some random pub you've never seen before.

$10 nosebleed seats at the theatre.

The thick, thick accents of the T operators. "Next stop: Pahk Street."

Waiting for the bus on a freezing winter night and huddling with your closest friends for warmth.

The way you have to work together to hold each other up on a crowded Green Line train.

Building a Halloween costume from whatever random pieces you can find at the Garment District.

Running to catch your movie at the AMC Boston Common after one of those ridiculously strong cocktails in Chinatown. Bonus points for high heels.

Game day. Even if you're not going to the game.

The way certain T stations will always be under construction.

The way the old and the new bleed into each other - the sheer amount of character in each square foot of architechure.

A quiet morning and a Dunkin iced coffee the size of your torso.

The sarcasm, the abrasiveness, the snark, the gallows humor. The knowledge that despite all of it, these people have your back.

Descending into the tunnel on the drive from Logan and knowing that when you get to the other side, you'll be home.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A peaceful moment in a beautiful town

video

There's nothing I could possibly say right now, so here's a video of a dog playing fetch in the fountain in Copley Square, Boston.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Linkage!

Hello darlings! I have been busy busy busy lately, but here are a couple things I've written that may be of interest to you:

Revising with an Agent on Operation Awesome - some tips on unagented revisions, and things to keep in mind!

My 17 & GONE review on Afterglow - in which I devour Nova Ren Suma's latest, and gush about it in a vaguely coherent manner.

Phew. I've got lots to catch up on, so I better get to it. I hope you're all getting a great start to your week!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pens for Paws



Hey all! Want to bid on some fantastic prizes and help raise money for an awesome cause? The Pens for Paws auction is going down right now to raise funds for Fat Kitty City, a no-kill, cage-free cat and dog sanctuary located in El Dorado Hills, California. You can bid on signed books, agent critiques, and even a fabulous Operation Awesome package full of critiques and more swag than you can shake a stick at, featuring the ladies and gents of Operation Awesome. (Yours truly included!)

Bidding for the OA package ends on March 15th at 11:00pm, so don't miss it!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Finding my quiet place

Post-Zombie Apocalpyse DC? Nope - just DC on President's Day at 8:00 in the morning.

At this point, I should just start skipping the caffeine. I could run on nerves alone.

It's a combination things, really, the first and the most obvious being sub jitters like whoa. I was in denial for the majority of January and parts of February, if just because after years of waiting, everything happened so fast. And at some point, the whole thing sank in, and it has dawned on me that this thing might actually happen for real.

Scream.

Thankfully, my family and friends are awesome, and no one has had to talk me off the ledge yet, because my amazing agent has made sure I don't get anywhere near the ledge. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

When you combine that with day job, though, it makes for some... interesting results. There are moments here at work where my head is decidedly elsewhere - in my head I'm reading my PM announcement and planning a launch party and holding my book for the first time, and then, complete with a sitcom-esque record scratch, someone interrupts my fantasy to ask me to fix the printer. And then on the other hand, the day job stress ends up displaced to some other inopportune moment. Like when I'm trying to sleep.

Contrary to popular belief, the writing life is not for the faint of heart. As much as I wouldn't trade it for anything, it's terrifying.Writing does make for excellent stress relief much of the time, but generally, it helps my writing when I'm not a distracted mess.

And for me, the best thing I can do for myself is find a quiet place and set aside a few moments to just exist in the universe and take in what's going on around me. I had to work on President's Day, for example, and rather than going straight to work, I took a different bus than usual, and I wandered down one of the busier streets almost completely alone. Sometimes I don't have the time or energy to go out of my way, but finding a quiet place for myself can be as simple as turning off all the lights and watching the city from a distance.

Some days it works better than others. But much of the time, it helps me catch my breath, put everything in the appropriate boxes, and start over with a clearer head.

And now I'm going to unpack one of those boxes, because I have some receipts to process. So tell me, readers - how do you manage your stress?

Because I could really use some pointers. ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Operation Awesome debut!

Citizens! I just made my first Operation Awesome post, brought to you by sub, the ALA Youth Media awards, and lots and lots of daydreaming. Check out my post, Secondhand Triumph, and have yourself an awesome Friday.

To all my New England/Tri-State Area people out there, stay safe and stay warm!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Awesome News!




Just a quick update, but for those of you who haven't heard yet, I will be joining the... well, awesome bloggers of Operation Awesome as a new member of their team! You can catch my first post there this Friday, February 8th, but in the meantime, do check out all the amazing posts over there, if you haven't already. Operation Awesome was a huge help to me during my agent hunt, and I hope I can be just as helpful to all the newcomers!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Please Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself!


Good morning, all! Just saw this awesome-looking blogfest going around, and thought I would dive in myself. I'm always getting awesome new people around here, and I don't always get a chance to properly meet all of you.

So, hi! My name is Rebecca Mahoney, but the only people who call me Rebecca are the ones who don't listen when I say "please call me Becky." So please, call me Becky. :) I am almost 25 years old, and I've been writing for almost all those years. Most of what I write is YA, generally of the fantasy, horror, or mystery persuasion, but I will dabble in anything that grabs my attention. I am represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Some fun facts about me:

- I am originally from the Boston area (er, Southern New Hampshire, really), and I currently live in DC. It's a strange, strange city, but its quirks have somehow grown on me. Nevertheless, my level of New England pride borders on obscene most days.

- By day, I work as an admin coordinator, which is a fancy way of saying that I spend most of my day trying to keep that throbbing vein in my forehead in check.

- I am proficient in Japanese, but my real second language is sarcasm. I am also fully conversant in silliness.

- I love: food, accessories, marathoning really well-written TV shows, marathoning really hilariously bad movies (preferably with friends), champagne, new recipes, buying more tea than I can possibly drink, adding excessive amounts of hyperbole to rather everyday routines, and of course, reading amazing books.

- I don't love: rude people, DC public transportation, being chased by bears. Terrible things, all.


I am also opening today up as an Open Question Day. If there's anything you've wondered about me (within reason), please do ask!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sidekick Love

Pictured above: Actual flawless human being John Watson.


(I found that .gif on Life in Publishing, where you should spend your Friday afternoon today if you like laughter.)

I am deeply in love with all things Sherlock Holmes. My bookshelf prominently displays that giant compendium of all the stories, which could probably kill a man if I threw it fast enough. I also not only have Holmes-inspired blends of tea (mmm, earl grey with hazlenut and caramel), I also have Holmes-inspired perfume oils. I wouldn't call myself an all-knowing superfan by any means, but we are approaching serious geekery levels over here. Arthur Conan Doyle is my hero, even though he totally forever bitter that his Serious Fiction didn't get as much attention.

But anyway. Like most fans, I have been slowly working my way through all those adaptations, pastiches, homages, and Doyle estate-approved fanfics that are out in the world today. And I'm not actually very picky! As long as its own merits are strong, I don't care if it's particularly faithful to the original stories. The basic idea if the brilliantly observant social maladjust genius is so prevalent, especially on TV today, that you can go at it many ways.

The way Holmes and his multitudes of TV clones are written and played is a dealbreaker, especially since it's easy for writers to veer overenthusiastically in one direction or another. But lately, I find that even if the central character is brilliantly done, I can't get behind an adaptation without a great Watson.

John Watson might be one of my favorite characters ever: a good, honest, ordinary person who somehow catches the attention of this larger than life personality, and as the stories go on, the narrative shows us exactly why he is worthy of Holmes' (and our) notice. Not to mention he's a total badass, as well as the POV character of the entire series. There's so much you can do with that character type.

And plenty of adaptations have completely effed that part up. Adaptations and Holmes-inspired fiction lately has generally been a lot better about that, but others write the sidekick character as a complete non-entity, there to emphasize the brilliance of the protagonist.

No matter what the genre is, the development of the best friends and sidekicks is vital to how much I enjoy a piece of fiction. If he or she exists purely for the protagonist to bounce off of and then ignore when the love interest comes along, it kind of makes the protagonist seem like a bit of a sociopath. Who you choose to associate with says a great deal about you as a person, so what does it say about the protagonist if he or she spends so much time with a blank slate? When you leave a best friend underdeveloped, you leave the protagonist underdeveloped, and you miss out on having a potentially great character and a really interesting relationship.

So in conclusion, remember to love your sidekicks. They will love you back!

(This post is brought to you by my WIP, in which I took a Watson character type and made her the protagonist of the whole damn story. I'm telling you: serious levels of geekery going on here.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ready, Set, Sub!

Hello, loves, and welcome to my first post of 2013! It promises to be a very, very exciting year, with lots of great changes to come – you’ll see some announcements around these parts before long!

But first, something I must get off my chest...

~I'M GOING ON SUB~


(Y'all know you missed the multi-colored text. It is not a celebration without it.)

It's an interesting little in-between world I've stepped into, leaving the agent-hunt behind. It was easy to give into querying despair, especially toward the end there, but for the first time since early 2010, everything is new again. I can remember what it felt like to be at my college roommate's house during our February break, sending my first query in the midst of one of those classic New England snowstorms. I remember trailing after my friend during our shopping trip, checking my e-mail every two minutes, and hearing her remind me, very nicely, that it was a Sunday.

Granted, I am a little more jaded than 2010 Becky. I can (and will) still dream about a quick and wildly successful sub process, but I know now that these things can take time. Sometimes lots and lots of time.

So in learning to navigate this world, I'm keeping one eye on what is and the other on what might be. I'm going to start working in overdrive to balance the progress of my WIP with the needs of my day job, with the optimism that I will get the opportunity to tip that balance in favor of the former before long. I'm going to make time for things that make me happy and enrich my writing, like reading amazing books, seeing the sunlight on occasion, and working on my mindblowingly awesome just-for-fun cowriting project with my friend. (I highly, highly recommend the latter, by the way. It's like improv with plot outlines!) And I also want to make time to just think, reflect, and just exist in the world for a while, without anxiety gnawing at the back of my skull. I think that might be more helpful to my writing process than anything.

My only resolution for 2013 is to be brave, whatever that means in any given situation. And for this situation, it means that I'm going to tackle the next step head on and try to enjoy the ride. And wherever it takes me, I look forward to it.

Happy New Year, and I wish you all the luck in the world on your publishing journeys. I can't wait to see where you end up, too!