Put It On Me

I’m not a blogger anymore, and I just need to say and accept that. I realize I’m here right this minute but it doesn’t mean anything. Don’t fall for me. I’ll only hurt you. And I’m really self-serving too because the only reason I’m here is that I can’t figure out how to tweet this properly.

So once upon a time I wrote a piece of flash fiction. And then I wrote a related one. And then I wrote a third one. And they were all about the same person in the same multi-planet-co-op but they were all stylistically different and what not. And I always thought I wanted to just keep doing that but then after the first three and brainstorming a fourth and fifth, I was like, that’s really restrictive and also it’s a big concept and maybe I should write a novella. And then I was like maybe it should be a YA novel. And then as per yoosh, I started writing two sets of notes: If This Were YA and If This Were Adult, and again as per yoosh, one of those lists got longer much faster. Decision made.

So I did what I do which is Excel Spreadsheet. (S/O to my boo, Excel.)

Ja Rule

And I made all my separate sheets, and had a grand ole time, and started gridding vaguely, and deciding on the major points of the plot, as you do. And like this minor character needed to be really important to the protagonist, right? So I was like, getting images for the first chapter and I got my first line and I got this dope idea for world building and just a lot of stuff was like YUSS. And so I wrote the first chapter and it was really good and it destroyed the entire plan and plot and built in all these other expectations and made the minor character way more important and crap, this is literally what happened when I drafted Avrilis.

So now I’m over here like six months later – because things – rereading the chapter and realizing I have to write a book to match/fulfill this chapter and like, who said writers get to decide what stories they tell? WHOM?!

Anyway.

Also did Fyre Fest really happen or was that a beautiful fever dream?

And finally, did I ever show you this? Ignore the date, I told you I’m trash, don’t make it a whole thing.

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On Sensitivity Reads

In the words of Old Rafiki, “It is time.”

Today I’m talking about sensitivity reads – not a study in what they are and why I encourage them (I feel like you should know this by now and plenty of people have already discussed it), but an explanation of on what I feel comfortable/equipped giving feedback – and what it might cost.

Since finishing my last wip and announcing my availability on twitter, I’ve gotten the range of expected responses/reactions. Just a quick word of advice: Don’t expect free labor from marginalized people. But that’s common sense by now, right? So maybe it’s time to tack on: When they inform you of the rate, especially don’t tell said people that you’re disappointed in them.

no joke Ezzie

I know, Unamused Baby Ezzie. No one would do that. (They have.)

But! Those experiences aside, I’m glad I’ve started offering editorial services and sensitivity reads! It’s been a year since I was editorial intern for a publisher, and I missed it. And to be honest, what with the malaise that just reappears at random because, you know, of the world and the nation and the pushback you get on declaring your humanity and right to not die or be hated as a form of patriotism, it’s actually really nice to open someone else’s work. Because I can’t always get in the head space to create, but being too far from what I love can make that malaise worse. So thank you, is I guess what I’m trying to say. Despite that there can be problematic content in the work – which is the whole reason you’re paying for the service – it can be an escape for me, right now. It reminds me there are people who want to do better.

Unfortunately, I’m not the right sensitivity reader for everyone. (Not so much unfortunate as true.) So on to where I can most help you.

Across age categories and genres, I’m happy to read your ms if you’re writing about Black American history and/or identity, and any of these intersections (or these topics on their own): womanness, motherhood, family dynamics (including sisterhood and sibling dynamics in larger families), higher education (specifically PWIs), expatriation, international travel, interracial relationships, accelerated education programs (specifically GATE and International Baccalaureate), invisible disability, performance cultures (ex: marching band, drill team, dance, etc).

Now obviously, there are variations on the above topics, or different but related ones. If you’re not sure or just generally have questions about this, contact me. Tell me about your project (a synopsis like one you might query to an agent and what you’re looking for – but try not to go too in-depth with explaining your intentons) and we can go from there.

And so, rates, amiright? Like many others, my base rate is $300*. This is based on three major criterion: (1) that the novel is no longer than 100k, (2) that the novel is polished, and (3) that the turnaround need not be shorter than 8 weeks.

*ETA: I have slightly raised my base rate due to the number of hours I’ve found I devote to each read. This new rate is also subject to adjustment in particularly swamped seasons. I will advise, in that case.

Need help getting polished, with or without a sensitivity read? We can chat about that, too – but before I begin, please! Kiss emoji, wink emoji!

I think that’s enough to get us started, yes?

Final note: though my tweet says to DM me, that can get…unwieldy. Instead, follow the hyperlink above or just head to my Contact page for info on how best to reach me.

Aight, that’s enough work for one day. Now here’s this:

giphy1

 

 

You Cannot Make Sense Of This

The title is your fair warning.

Yes, I am here because I have nowhere else to go. You knew what this was. Do not be petty, just accept me when I randomly appear, and don’t make a big deal about how long I’ve been gone. That’s all I ask.

So, basically I am that dog in a room on fire. Like, outwardly, I am an object completely at rest, and then internally I am that spastic cat on the bed. (I’m apparently Gina Linetti and am unable to express myself without invoking comics, gifs or emojis.)

Serious question, for the writers among us. Why. Why do we do it. Not the writing – that’s life and necessary. I mean the part where we do a month-long marathon where we’re just like creatively bingeing. We know – WE. KNOW. – what comes after.

During binge:

DanceLiv

Moments after you write “The End”:

tumblr_inline_nj58cpuwep1rbhpj3

I don’t know, I couldn’t really find a picture of Kerry Washington looking ravaged, y’all. Basically she just did a color run, but whatevs. Anyway, my point is I am internally destroyed. And we know this happens. Like, seriously, the come down is the worst because my brain is still circling that story and even though I have another project I’m super obsessed with, I know I’m not there yet.

But no, this time’s different anyway; there’s a new, fun layer. It’s called waiting. LOL, waiting is not new, querying and revising and writing in general is totally all about waiting, but this is waiting for things that are going to be on shelves and sent out for public consumption and it’s oh so quiet, Bjork, but like maybe not in an hour or so? So my brain wants to stay on alert and therefore is ravaged, preparing, plotting other project, listening, stopping suddenly in the middle of conversations and then the other party’s like, ….are you okay? And then I lose my train of thought because what were we talking about?

AND I’m keeping secrets so I can’t even bother you incessantly about the one thing I can occasionally get my brain to run with.

So anyway.

This is fine

 

Talkin’ It Up

We are so overdue for a rap, friends. Get in here.

That might look more sinister than intended if it were anyone but beloved Morpheus. (Let’s take a minute and talk about what Laurence Fishburne means to me, shall we? The answer is everything.)

So, as we recall, I’m one of the Sweet 16s – an awesome part of which is getting to read ARCs (advance reader copies) of awesome debuts!! Three that I’ve adored, thus far?

Desktop2The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry (**)

Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

**ETA: While I enjoyed my initial read of TLTSTW and do not deny that, I do think it’s necessary to point to the very problematic content that was brought to our attention after this post was written. Rather than remove its mention here, I’d like to make note of what I learned. While I wasn’t versed enough to be certain of it, scholars on Native Culture as well as Native activists and authors noted the mishandling of troubling subjects such as the adoption of Native children into white families, the lack of tribal recognition or identity while using stories from various, varied Native cultures as though they are monolithic. If you’d like to know more about the criticisms this title received, I recommend Debbie Reese’s storify on the subject. It is my opinion that if we publicly note enjoyment of something we find out is problematic, we should warn our audience of the problematic content. (And now I return you to the original blog post!)

The awesome thing (I like that word) is that these books could not be more different. Abyss appealed to my love of effortless worldbuilding in science fiction, and the originality of these massive beasts trained from birth to defend their ships? Yes, thank you. TLTSTW was basically written specifically for me, I can only assume, based on the magic realism, the wry humor, and the hypnagogic hallucinations (long story, short version of which is, hooray, I used to experience these a lot more often!). And Rahul’s Enter Title Here was legiterally the most refreshing thing I’ve read so far this year. Loved the concept and the construct, and as a norcal girl who went the accelerated program route, this amazing and also sometimes detestable MC felt so real to me – despite that I cannot think of a single person in my program who seemed like her in the least, lol. And it’s set in Norcal, I mean, come on. I am getting to be that person. Allegiances and all that.

In my own debut news, September approaches, and I am SO looking forward to my own cover reveal, designing/ordering/sending out LLoA swag, and getting to attend writerly events! For me, most things remain pretty quiet. Such is the life of a fall debut when it’s only March, I think. 🙂 But my body is ready.

In the meantime, I am both writing the follow-up to LLoA – which, have we talked about why I don’t think the word “sequel” is necessarily accurate?! no? someday – and also, prepping to write other things!

Thing the 1st: an adult scifi novel based on one of my short stories. While I at one time assumed any related novel would be extrapolating on the story from said ss, I now think I need to sort of explode those parameters. Like, blow them up. It pins in the story, when the whole reason for developing it into a novel is because of how much potential I think there is in the concept.

But this took a backseat to Thing the 2nd: a YA urban fantasy about these present times of ours. This has eaten my brain. I’m co-writing it with my sister, which would be the first co-writing situation of my life, if one could possibly forget that we’ve done this before. Literal decades ago. When we, sisters who decided we are more accurately described as twins despite being two years apart, wrote the story of Megs and Pegs. Two twin sisters entering kindergarten. (I’m peeling my skin off as I tell you.) ::abruptly stops::

THINK FAST! Ever wondered if my contrarianism is a new development? Pretty sure it isn’t but want that certainty confirmed? Well, the lovely Ami Allen-Vath is debuting this month with a lovely novel called, LIARS AND LOSERS LIKE US, and in prep, she invited me to take part in a blog post about prom! For which I even donated a picture from my Senior Ball. Wanna see? Click away!

Finally, did you miss my Valentine’s Day interview as part of my #WO2016 crew’s blog hop? Check it out!

Aaaand I think that’s everything.

Speed-Dating With Bethany

As an aside, I considered reusing the blog title “Rando Calrissian” because I just really feel like it didn’t get enough affection and is one of the most underrated of my clever blog titles. Shoulda timed it to coincide with episode VII. The following are equally random tidbits*, in an attempt to reconnect with you, dear reader. The things I do for England.

(1) Yesterday, during our Montreal Sunday Funday – which is what I call our weekly return to the city for church and fellowship…because I’m not great with titles *all the time* – I took a bite of chicken salad and immediately had a full sensory memory of the last time I’d eaten chicken salad. Which was like twenty years ago. I am 33 and feel it is far too early for this sort of phenomenon.

(2) Relatedly, I awoke with the theme to L.A. Law in my head.

So. That’s…

Yeah.

(3) I will be getting cover samples/images any day now for THE LAST LIFE OF AVRILIS, which you should know by now is linked to the Goodreads page where you can add it to your TBR and eventually your eyeballs, and I. Am. Excite.

Beyond excite.

I had a phone conversation with Georgia McBride, you guise. And lemme just sum it up thusly:

(4) This season’s marathon of the original Planet of the Apes franchise has left me with three truths thus far – because full disclosure, Ezra and I haven’t watched #5 yet, but will today! I do not apologize for how much space will now be devoted to talking PotA.

I will never apologize.

(4.1) The 2nd movie – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the one in which a strange subterranean enclave of telekinetic radioactive humans worships a bomb and which includes an unnecessarily long “church” scene complete with organ and hymnal – which I would have *EASILY* said was my lowest ranking in previous seasons, actually went up in rating, if not ranking. I AM AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

(4.2) The 3rd movie – Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which Zira and Cornelius come from the future to 1971 and are first the toast of the town and then, well, not – remains the absolute highlight of the franchise. Period. I realize this doesn’t sound like new news, but it was confirmed. Favorite.

(4.3) The 4th movie – Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, in which Caesar begins the revolution in 1991 – tanked in my rating. Just tanked. I think due to the overall comparative strength of the story, I’d given them too great a pass on the complete and utter lunacy. No more.

But, you, beloved…

Yes, you, MacDonald. You were just grand.

(5) They opened a huge Dollarama on Queen Mary as soon as I left Montreal. Thanks a bunch, friends.

(6) There is no Popeye’s in Northcountry New York. The implications of which worked me into a nearly destructive lather at one a.m. Still adjusting to being back in the States, but nowhere near to what I’m accustomed. We’ll get through this together.

*If perchance you followed the link to Rando… you would know that my Planet of the Apes ….fixation, shall we say, is inescapable.

You Are Hearing Me Talk

There are things over which an author has no control. This is never more easily understood then when you are the author. Lately, there’s been at least one dust-up over something the author of a very popular series could not really be expected to change. Because, the “not in control” thing. But I guess some people think we’re just kidding.

Expectation:

Reality:

(But she looks comfy, tho.)

And so anyway, the point of all this is who knows what will be, but IF I were to see an audio rendition of The Last Life of Avrilis (guess where that links to… guess!), I have but one request. That the narrator be one of the following:

Pictures

To be fair, I think everything should be narrated by one or both of them. No. Not both. We would not survive it.

While, on deeper meditation, it seems strange to have a grown man narrate a novel with a young female protagonist written by a woman… I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Have you heard them speak?! Was your soul not awakened?! (Apparently I have no convictions and stand for nothing. Because I think this could still work.)

But on the off chance that either selection would be off-putting, I will also benevolently accept another superstar narrator, in the form of Meagan Good.

 

And Start Again At Your Beginnings

New book, new process. That is the apparent fact of my life as a writer. So despite that I’m writing a “sequel” – and you’re all, Bethany, why would you put that in quotations, and I’m all, Friend, I can’t really go into that – writing Avrilis 2.0 is another exercise in learning to write the book. And that’s not a bad or hard thing.

It’s exciting to me to figure out what I need and what I need to know to really start a project. Once I had my grid process for Avrilis 1.0 (whose Goodreads page I SHAN’T neglect to foist upon you from here on in, get used to it!), I thought that would be the key to all future projects.

Shuttup.

Anyway.

So I still have the chapter grid, altho the column functions are different now because I graduated from needing all of them (YAY improvement!) and also identified which ones I don’t really rely on (like “dialogue” became “highlights”), but I have disabused myself of “pantser” or even “plotter” in the sense that I often see it used.

Hello-My-Name-Is-Label-LB-1992

I have accepted how very much happens on the page. I imagine the writer who can completely plot out a novel and know down which rabbit holes her mind will go, and I think, how nice for her. Or something less committal and equally uninvested. The thing is, go, her. Do you, everybody. But I am very aware that anything I plot will end up sounding super boring or will be so far-fetched that I’d never get there organically once pen goes to paper. Or I’ll summarize a conflict in one sentence and be like, this is gonna bloom once I’m actually writing it! And either, nope, that was it, wasn’t as deep as you thought, or yep, there’s no logic to that. Too intentional.

SO! What worked/is working with this one: I wrote down the major things I knew would happen and estimated where in the book they would occur. (That’s something I’ve never done, btw, tho it feels closely related to word-count segmenting, which I did for This Is Not Heaven.) And then I worked my way back from the first such thing (I mean, the first chapter inciting incident notwithstanding), and voila. First five chapter outline, give or take.

But to be honest, this time the thing that made everything pop-pop! (isn’t it cuuuute how Magnitude went on to be Sid in Galavant, d’awwwwwwwwww)

– wait, where were we?

YES! So the thing that ended up being the MEAT? Totes not the list of big things or whatever the devil I was talking about here. It’s what happened off-camera (Bethany, you’re talking about a book. I know, shuttup.) and how people feel about it. Seems so DUH once it’s decided. But something was missing and trying to just plot out a book and think about the things that would happen and even KNOWING the things that would happen didn’t make it WORK.

All of which is to say, that column I didn’t need on a grid anymore… is basically what I just circuitously defined as being the thing I needed to know.

Look Alive! Have A Lively Look About You!

I AM HERE.

What is life, guise. What is it.

What’s this life for.

It’s like…. life.

It’s bigger.

It’s bigger than you, and you are not me.

I’m….sorry, those are various song lyrics and assorted foolishments. I can’t rightly remember how to do this, but I feel like I’m nailing it.

So anyway, I am no longer an expatriate, for one thing, as my family has moved five minutes inside the US border. There’s that. So many changes, all at once, this summer was a whirlwind. And now it’s quiet. Like, country quiet. Like, city folk sitting in corners holding lanterns and holy water quiet. Which brings me to we got a new dog! (Read: a bigger, younger, much more vocal dog.)

Walker

Meet Walker. He is convinced he’s a cat, a human child, and whatever fights apple trees. I will love him more when he’s not teething anymore. (Spoiler: that bed – that bed that geriatric Phineas loved? – is no more.)

Other news: I am a Goodreads author with a book page for Avrilis and that just hasn’t lost its luster yet! LLoA is in copy edits, I’m anxiously and excitedly waiting to see what her cover will look like (insert SPDJFPOSKAGPKSDFG or some reasonable facsimile), and I’m writing the second book (more on that later)!

I’ve made friends with the local library (well, one town over), mostly because they are housed in this ridiculously awesome brick colonial and YAS. Oh and they gave me books so… I mean, friends for life.

So yes, we love the house, Ezzie loves his new school (1st time in an American school, he feels like he’s arrived!), we’re happily still in our church family, and life is moving right along!

Hopefully I’ll have more news to share soon! 😉

OHANDIT’SALMOSTCHRIS–

How I Be

I managed to solve a little problem today. And to celebrate? I’m going to tilt my chair.

Yep. I’m just speaking in Homer Simpsons quotes now. It is the perfectest herald of joy, so they say. (They don’t say that.)

During this whole move back to the United States but not a state we’ve ever lived in situation, there is UH LOT to do. Trust. And I’ve gotten some good-great revising done and am somewhat staying productive? Somewhat.

BUT!

I’ve been musing on Avrilis Book 2 – hold for glitter cannon festivities – and today the elements and recent story bit additions feel like they slipped into place so that it feels like this is a book! The world wraps around that, the characters themselves fuse it all together – with their whys and needs and motivations – and I know you’re thinking, why would you be this pleased over something that’s admittedly early stage? Because that’s how you get to the next one.

Sing wid me now…

That’s Where You’ll Fiiiiiiind Meeeee

I’m not saying I’m bidding this blog adieu – SWEAR! – but so much things, guys. Everyday life is getting real for the moment, SO:

If you’re looking for me, you are most likely to find entertainment on my FB author page! (Click it up!)

If you’re looking to read some of my work, you must away to tNY Press’ Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature and read an excerpt of my novel! So happy to have a piece of my non-traditional, cross-genre novel out in the ether. Can’t wait to share the whole thing! And also, highkey loving the artwork they paired with my story!

I shall blog gloriously someday/eventually. Until then, take it one day at a time. And know that I love you.