World's Oldest Fledgling

The blog of Stephanie Wardrop, Y A Author

Killing Your Darlings

WIP It Wednesday, revision edition

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Most people know that the phrase “Kill Your Darlings” is not just the title of a new movie about the early Beat poets starring Daniel Radcliffe. It’s a term, variously attributed to William Faulkner, Stephen King,  and others, that writers use to remind themselves that when you’re revising, no matter how much you’re in love with a joke or a turn of phrase or a particular passage of prose, if it doesn’t work for the overall good of the book, it has to go. As I revised the last portion of the Snark and Circumstance e-novella series, I whacked a lot of darlings this morning. It was a virtual bloodbath here, with some phrases cut down quite easily and painlessly, others struggling and clinging to life even as I knew they deserved to die. But an executioner has to be heartless, so the blade came down; noble sacrifices of parts were made for the good of the whole.

And as I was revising, I was thinking that sometimes “kill your darlings” is almost more literal. Sometimes you have to kill the characters you love, your almost flesh-and-blood darlings – or at least let really bad things happen to them. And that’s a lot harder (unless you are GRR Martin, apparently).

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To be honest, I used to scoff a bit at this notion. Duh, they’re characters, not real, I would think. But I have to tell you that when you spend a lot of time with these fictional people, inside and outside your own head, it becomes a lot harder to be disinterested in their welfare. Yet at some point in any narrative, your main characters have to come up against some serious chiz, be tested to the point of breaking, and that’s when some weird authorial maternal instinct kicks in for me and I want to protect them from all the pain and sadness in the world. But if I did, that would make for one really boring book. (And mean I have a pretty dangerous ego investment in identifying with my characters, perhaps).

So I had to suck it up and let my snarky self-rghteous teenage heroine, Georgia, get her much-deserved comeuppance.  For those of you who have admitted in reviews of the Snark series that you want to slap Georgia, I’ve got some good news for you: fate and her own ego slap her silly in this last installment. I had to let her be humiliated and regretful because that’s not just good plotting – sometimes that’s the only way to learn. In life and in fiction, I think, you have to earn your happy ending. And in Prom and Prejudice, I think Georgia earns hers.

I discovered something else through this revision process, but I’ll save that for next week: perfectly healthy writers can develop crushes on their male “romantic leads” and it is neither unhealthy nor creepy. I hope.

Stay tuned.

what I’m reading

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what I’m listening to 

Image(I can’t believe this is thirty years old)

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Making Villians and the Nature of Evil

WIP It Wednesday, Halloween 2013

I’ve been thinking about the nature of evil as I work (slooowly) on this WIP. I’ve never written a real “bad guy” before so this is new to me, and like all good liberals, I do not believe in a Manichean universe or a world in which some people are just born evil. If there is anything we can truly call evil, I think, it develops in a person as a result of complex environmental factors. I have to believe that this applies even to the pus-bucket who was just arrested (thankfully) for buying a puppy on Craigslist so that he could torture it.  Only two things in the universe would prevent me from punching that crapbag in the face if I saw him. One: I really need to believe that I am “better” than that. And two: I know that I wouldn’t be able to punch him hard enough. Better to donate to an animal rescue group to help other victims and hope karma eventually takes care of this sphincter muscle masquerading as a human being.

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As for my writing, to create this character, a villain with a capital “V”, I have had to think a lot about what makes him so villainous, so I’ve thought a lot about some of the literary and historical characters I have found to be truly evil. I’ve read some great books about evil and psychopathology, like Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test and Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect: Why Good People Turn Evil, both of which I’ve read fairly recently. But I think the first time I became aware of what could be called evil was when I saw a film in in fifth or sixth grade about Hitler and the Holocaust and realized for the first time that human beings can do some truly despicable things to one another. I had nightmares for a week. Then in late adolescence, I was fascinated by the Manson family, because I was a neo-hippie myself and horrified by the idea that young peace-and-love chicks could be persuaded (or coerced) into stabbing people. And as an adult, I was a huge Sopranos fan, in large part because, like many viewers, I was captivated by Tony’s balancing on an icepick-thin point between being an average guy from a messed up childhood home and a truly amoral, unfeeling “monster” capable of hurting anyone. A lot of us must feel this way, because Tony has morphed into a Son of Anarchy, a Blacklist baddie, and a meth cooker who manages to strike fear in viewers’ hearts while wearing tighty whites. Clearly I am not the only person who finds these characters so compelling. Image <-miss you, Mr. Gandolfini 

One thing that really fascinates me about those we could label “evil” is the fact that, as far as I can tell, no evil person in history has ever thought they were evil.  I don’t think Vlad the Impaler sat around his castle, drinking blood out of empty human skulls, and saying to himself, “Yep, I sure am evil.”  I think most “evil” people do what they do because they think they’re on the side of good, or at least because they think they’re right.  I heard an interview on NPR a few weeks ago with Louise Fletcher, who played Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and confirmed my suspicions about villains’ sense of themselves. She seemed genuinely surprised when the interviewer characterized Nurse Ratched as evil, because she always saw the character as someone who was convinced she was doing right in a difficult situation.

Image  <- Louise Fletcher – totally not evil

So for my WIP villain, Count Giancarlo Montoni,  whose name is taken from one of the first Gothic villains ever in Ann Radcliffe’s The Castle of Otranto, I have used the notion of a bad guy who is convinced he is good, or at least that he’s right.  He has powers beyond those mortals possess and believes that this gives him special rights or privileges – or  greater insight into what needs to be done to make the world a better place (as he defines that). He’s also modeled on the devil figure in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a guy who waltzes through history seeing what mayhem he can instigate, and in that vein, he’s also somewhat like the demons in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, who use their powers to do little more of use than mess with people. (They knock the hat off of a bishop, for example, if I recall correctly). I find fascinating and disturbing the notion that people with power and ability might do very bad things just because they can, and Montoni does this to a great degree. The world is his board game and we’re all just little plastic figures to move about.

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In this regard, I hope to make him like the literary character who most scares the crap out of me: Iago, from Shakespeare’s Othello. What always gets me at the end of that play is not the body count, the sheer number of lives that have been cut short or otherwise ruined for Iago’s caprice. It’s that when he’s asked by a thoroughly debased and shattered Othello why he did it, Iago refuses to tell him. And that destroys Othello even more. Because Iago made all of this awful stuff happen to him and Othello will never, ever know why. Iago is not the cartoonish super-villain in a crappy movie who dangles the hero over a shark tank while explaining, in great detail, the twelve points of his plot to destroy the world as well as his complex motivations for doing so. No. Iago is not going to give Othello – or the theater goers – any closure. Like Honey Badger, Iago don’t care. And a person who doesn’t care is truly scary. Because they are capable of anything.

Image <- if i just bummed you out with this post, go immediately to Youtube and look up this guy

So that’s what I’m working with as I try to flesh out my first bad guy. I’m a little bit like Victor Frankenstein, stitching together influences from here and there to make a monster.  Let’s hope things turn out better for me than they did for Herr Doktor.

What I’m reading

The-Statistical-Probability-of-Love-at-First-Sight

what I’m listening to

lou NY albumRIP, Mr. Reed. As my friend Chris said, “The world just got a little less cool” with you gone.

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The Pride and Prep School Scavenger Hunt

Here’s your invitation to play a game, check out some great blogs, and win an autographed copy of the novellas and a $20-dollar gift card from Amazon!

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First, you’ll have to answer the questions below to find out what you’re looking for.  Then, once you know what objects will be hidden on participating blogs, you’ll have to  visit them (which, trust me, you would want to do anyway). Once you find them, report back here with the answers as comments (tell me what you found and where).

1.  On their first day as bio lab partners, what does Georgia tell Michael she will not be a part of?

2.  Jeremy invented a drink by this name, and he gave a lot of them to Georgia on New Year’s Eve.

3.  Georgia has a pet that likes to bite people a lot.  What is it?

4.  Leigh gets teased for dressing like a member of this “old order” sect that lives primarily in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

5. What literary character does Georgia want to do a class presentation about (though Michael thinks this is a lame idea)?

6. In Pride and Prep School, what does Georgia discover in the Endicott kitchen that makes her think she just might have been wrong about him all along?

7. Georgia, Trey, Michael, and Tori watch a movie about these creatures of the night until Michael can’t stand it any more.

8. In P&PS Michael runs into Georgia in a suburban drug store and is shocked to find her holding this.

9. Georgia is surprised to discover that Michael enjoys listening to the music of this Caribbean artist.

10.  Dave and Gary have a punk band; this animal is part of the name of the band.

Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll have to look for pictures of these items on these blogs:

 JC Emery:   http://jcemery.com/
The Things That Run Through My Mind: http://monicabsanz.blogspot.com/
Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight: http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com/
Team Elsker: http://stbende.blogspot.com/
Just Sayin’ : http://nazarea-andrews.blogspot.com/
Jessica: Brooks’ Let Me Tell You A Story: coffeelvnmom.blogspot.com
Adrianne James: http://adriannejames.com/ (Note: Adrianne, in keeping with the spirit of the scavenger hunt, has made you hunt for it.  But it’s there!)
JayCee DeLorenzo’s See JayceeJugggle
A Day in the Crazy Wonderful Beautiful Life: http://rachelbateman.com/
Louise Gornall:  http://bookishblurb.com/blog/

THE CONTEST IS OPEN TO US AND INTERNATIONAL READERS BETWEEN WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16TH, AND SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20TH AT 8:00 PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME. The winner will be chosen randomly from all correct entries and on Monday, October 21st and announced on this blog on Tuesday, October 22d.  Leave a comment with your answers to the questions and where you found them PLUS your email so I can send you your stuff!

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!

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You’ll Catch More Flies with Agave Nectar

Why Georgia’s a Vegan (and answers to other burning questions on my book birthday)

It is aliiiiiiive!

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And to celebrate the book’s birthday, I am answering reader questions. (Which I will happily do, any time, by the way).

Last week, a writer friend asked, “Why did you make Georgia a vegan? That’s such a hard diet to follow!” And I guess there is enough Georgia in me, despite my denials, because I thought for about half a second “It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle! It’s an ethical choice,” but I would never say that to anyone. It’s snotty and exemplifies why Georgia, despite her best intentions, is a pretty lousy spokesperson for veganism since she turns everyone off with her snarky dismissiveness. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, I want to tell her.  And if I did, she would say, “Honey is not vegan, moron. Try agave as a substitute.” images-2

Back to the question. As I told my friend, the short answer to why Georgia is a vegan is that I am one. Mostly. Unlike Georgia, I am not as hardcore and that used to make me feel guilty, like I was a disgrace to the cause or something. But in recent years, I have learned to let up a little. It is hard to find vegan food when you’re out and about, so I will, on occasion, eat a muffin or a scone or even a piece of cheese if I am about to turn into some un-funny version of the Snickers ad in which people are not themselves when they’re hungry.  Image There’s no score card at the end, as far as I know, and I am still saving animals with 95% of what I eat. I don’t know that Georgia would appreciate that yet, but she’s learning. She’ll get there.

And that’s another reason I made her a vegan. It’s not a very Jane Austen trait to have in a character based on the heroine of Pride and Prejudice. (Although Lucy Briers, the actress who played Mary Bennett in the 1995 BBC version, is a vegan.)

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But Elizabeth Bennett was awfully sure she knew what was what and had more than a little bit of a self-righteous streak. So my “Lizzy”, Georgia, has her heart in the right place, and believes in veganism for all the right reasons, but she judges the eating habits of those around her a little too freely. And I can tell you from experience that being a veg*n (vegan or vegetarian) in a community of carnivores causes unintentional tension all the time. The daily decision about what or where to eat can devolve into a three-hour debate during which everyone just gets so tired they end up chewing on raw ramen noodles just to settle the whole thing. And if you think of veganism as being about more than what you choose to eat, but also about how you look at the relationship between people and animals, and even between people and other people, then you’ve got one character with a really disparate worldview from nearly everyone else around her –and especially, in Georgia’s case, very different from the conservative preppie let’s-hit-the-Cape-and-throw-a-lobster-into-the-pot view of her nemesis/love interest/lab partner, Michael.

A last reason Georgia’s a vegan? There are a lot of teenagers who are becoming vegans, either experimenting with it by cutting out meat and animal products, or who embrace the life wholeheartedly for its health benefits as well as for ethical reasons. I wanted to represent them.  And I don’t see a lot of vegans in popular culture, period, but certainly not in YA novels. Carolyn Mackler’s Vegan Virgin Valentine is the only one I can think of, and it disappointed me that for the main character, being vegan turned out to be a temporary fad, something she did in part to punish herself or to gain a sense of control over her life. I know that happens a lot in real life; I know plenty of fine people who sheepishly tell me, when they find out that I’m a vegan, that they tried it, they really tried.  And that’s okay. Again, there’s no score card being kept.  But I wanted to portray a young vegan whose choices were made very consciously, with reason and knowledge, and who has made those choices for life.  She just needs to lighten up about the fact that not everyone’s made the same choice – that’s part of what she has to learn.

In part three of the series, Pride and Prep School, Georgia teaches Michael to make stuffed shells with tofu ricotta

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as they both begin to recognize that seeing another point of view can be liberating and fun. And tasty. Check it out now at Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

And if you have any questions about the books or being a veg*n, send them my way! I’m not a proselyte like Georgia – I’m not out on the street corner preaching the gospel of animal-free eating.  But if you want to talk about it, I’m always happy to do that. And if you’re a teenager thinking about going vegan, then check out resources like the Vegetarian Resource Group, which has a great section on their site about Being Vegan and Vegetarian in High School, or PETA or PETA2, which also helps out parents who aren’t sure what they’re kids are getting into. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about great resources for recipes, and vegan teenagers can join TeenVGN on Twitter. They’re “fueled by compassion!”

Image   PETA’s sticker and Tshirts rock, and these wristbands are from TeenVGN Image

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Works (Not) Cited Part Two: Literary Influences on the WIP

WIP It Wednesday continues (though sometimes I worry that I should put less time into the blog about the work in progress and more on the work in progress itself).  Last week I posted about the research I’ve done so far (and I just picked up two great tarot books to add to the collection). But this week I’ll focus on the literary works that have influenced the work so far. I’m sure I’m not accounting for all of them because the unconscious is tricky like that 🙂 but here’s a good-faith effort to present the influences:

Some paranormal/fantasy YA that hasn’t influenced the book directly, but must have, somehow:

Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. I have to admit that I was a somewhat reluctant reader of fantasy, based on what I’ve read before, but once I started these series, I was hooked. Clare creates such strong, varied characters and the relationships between them are so complex and engrossing that I tend to forget the magical stuff going on at times with these Shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, Nephilim, and all. While my book will never be as complex as this series, I think I’m working on my own version of the genre Clare has mastered: the (sub)urban fantasy. I guess I have portals of sorts in my WIP and I admire the way Clare sort of explained how they work, or, at least where they came from through the combined expertise of a scientist/inventor and warlock. And for the record, I am Team Simon, though things are working out nicely as far as I am concerned for Clace. I’ll let you know in May 2014 if I make it to the release of the final book  without gnashing my teeth to little nubs in anticipation.

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Jessica Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles.  My witches are different from Spotswood’s but I love what she has done with them, having them live in a somewhat recognizable past in which a religious right in charge has snuffed out witches and their practice – or so they think.  This feminist view of history and power makes the book especially appealing to me. Plus, I have a wild crush on Finn.  When I asked Spotswood via Twitter whether she would “give [him] a break” in the third and final installment, she tweeted that she would make me no promises. So , Dear Readers, I do not get results, but at least you know that I am out there in the trenches, fighting for you.

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I just finished April Genevieve Tucholke’s mesmerizing Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and while it’s not about witches, it certainly raises some intriguing questions about the nature and definition of evil. River has some formidable powers, and he’s (probably) not the Devil, but to what extent is he responsible for the havoc (murder, suicide, mayhem) he wreaks? And does Violet love him or hate him? How much of her love is the result of being taken in by River’s “glow”? Can you ever trust a guy with supernatural powers? I can’t wait to read the sequel and find out (I googled the date of the sequel as soon as I put down the book, too. Summer 2014).

DevilDeepBlueSea_FINAL_LR1 If my book turns out to be even 1/10 as good as these, I will be dancing from the rooftops of my town.

The YA novel that started this whole idea of a 400-year-old witch trapped in the body of a seventeen-year-old many years ago had to be Twilight.  I have to admit that I found the relationship between Bella and Edward more disturbing than enchanting. What I wanted to hear more about was what it was like to be stuck being a teenager forever. That idea entranced me, if only because if you had told me one day as I sat in high school, “This is it. This is where you will stay forever”, I would have run screaming down to the creek and tried to drown myself in it. I was captivated by the idea though Meyer did not explore much of the aching loneliness one would feel, fated to never grow older, to stay the same, in stasis, as everyone around you changed. I was intrigued by the logistics of how that would even work – how often would you have to move, exactly, from town to town before your neighbors noticed that you never, ever looked older.  Could you ever forge  relationship with anybody under those circumstances? I also, to be honest, wanted to present a view of love and sexuality that wasn’t as heavily weighted toward abstinence and the idea that the female is the threat to the male’s chastity and honor (go back and check some of the stuff Edward says to Bella about how she is the one threatening his control). That’s too sexist and last century for me.  But I’m not going to say anything more critical about Twilight because the world has done enough of that already. I’ll just say that despite my reservations expressed above, I wholeheartedly agree with agent Mary Kole’s assessment that the novel is, to paraphrase, 450-plus pages about longing. And that’s a pretty formidable thing.

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Non-YA influences

Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita gave me the idea of having a really creepy devilish guy who has had his hand in all the awful stuff that’s happened in history, from holocausts to revolutions to political assassinations to everyday persecutions.  And, if I were being truly honest here, I would have to give the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” some due credit because it’s based on the novel and I’ve heard that song a lot more than I’ve read Bulgakov’s book.  But you should, because it’s really good and because Daniel Radcliffe said he likes it, too. When Harry Potter endorses a book you go read it. I don’t have a big scary black cat in my book, though, because I live with one every day and I fear her wrath.

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Apparently Arthur Miller’s play has been used to torture New England high school students for years, but The Crucible is brilliant in presenting the witch hunt as metaphor. He was writing, of course, about the Salem Witch Trials on the surface but really about the HUAC/McCarthy trials of the 1950s and the insidious and very real ways in which a small group of frightened and bigoted people can turn a community into a lynch mob living in terror of being the next one accused. I present this idea in the book with a false murder accusation of a young man who looks like he’s up to no good and makes a very easy scapegoat for the religious right “Family First-ers” in my fictional town.  (I say fictional, but it’s based on a real place and the events are, unfortunately, not pure fiction).

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That’s a pretty long reading assignment, so I’ll stop now and let you get to your reading. Please tell me, in the comments or through Twitter or Facebook, any of the books you’ve loved and been influenced by, especially those dealing with magic, witches, or scapegoating.

Happy reading and writing, everyone!

What I’m re-reading:

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what I’m reading:

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What I’m listening to:

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Twenty-first Century Celtic Twilight

WIP IT WEDNESDAY (September 18, 2013)

Sometimes, when I finally get the chance to write, I am just too exhausted to do anything productive. So I read, rationalizing that what I read just might inspire some writing. And it’s not just a rationalization. It often does.

My WIP, A Time of Shadows,  is about a four-hundred–year-old Scottish witch trapped in the body of a seventeen-year-old high school student in modern day Colorado. I’ve been reading lots of Scottish folk tale and fairy tales in addition to witch trial histories, and yesterday I turned to William Butler Yeats’ 1907 The Celtic Twilight for inspiration.

images-4 (I’ve always enjoyed Yeats’ poetry and have wanted to read this for awhile, if only to atone for the fact that since moving to Massachusetts nine years ago, I started mentally pronouncing the “C” in “Celtic” with an “S”-sound. I blame my neighbors and this guy Unknown-4)

 

Yeats’ book has lots of great stories about Irish legends and persistent beliefs in the fairy folk and elves and all sorts of other creatures that in the early twentieth century people in other parts of the world considered quaint, if not barbaric, anachronisms. But most interesting to me was his assessment of the difference between Scottish and Irish folk beliefs. He felt sorry for the dour Scots who took no pleasure in their magical beasties, writing

In Scotland you are too theological, too gloomy.

You have made even the Devil religious. . . You have

discovered the faeries to be pagan and wicked. You

would like to have them all up before the magistrate.

Scots, he claimed, looked at the other world with terror, and so saw terrible things in it  (seal women, for example, who bit off men’s heads, called kelpies, and equally dire  water horses). The Irish, meanwhile,  looked at the other world with wonder and so saw beauty. Both groups of Celts have always had “water-goblins” and “water-monsters”, he wrote, but the Irish “turn all their doings to favour and to prettiness, or hopelessly humorize the creatures.” In other words, magic and the otherworldly don’t freak them out. They embrace them.images-5

I’m in no position to judge the character of either people. But I find intriguing for the purposes of my book the idea that when we look at the Other and are fearful, we project fearsomeness onto the Other; when we look at the Other with wonder and acceptance, we see beauty and potential connection. In my WIP, I began with the idea of looking at historic witch hunts as examples of groups of people demonizing other groups out of fear (which led to hatred ad misogyny). As the ideas of the novel progressed, I began to write about the ways we do that in our present-day world, demonizing groups of people due to their beliefs, race, social class, and sexual orientation. While the book remains a sort of “suburban fantasy romance”, it’s also about social problems such as these. Though I swear it’s not preachy. I hate preachy. Rather, I hope that as Yeats urged the Scots, it urges us to not make “the Darkness our enemy” but instead “exchange civilities with the world beyond.” Accept, if not embrace, the Other.

Whether Yeats was correct or not about the Scots of the early twentieth century, I have to say that in my very limited experience, they’ve certainly developed a sense of humor (or commerce?) about their beasties in the twenty-first century. Just visit Nessieland, as I did, a tourist spot on the shores of Loch Ness with more papier mache models of pleisosaur-like creatures than you will find anywhere else.

images-6 Here are my kids, descendants of nineteenth-century Scottish immigrants, returned to the motherland to enjoy the campy good time at Nessieland:

wcuomlrm0lyrIf Yeats would accuse these two of humorlessness, then I’d have to contact him through a Ouija board and tell him a thing or two. (And he’d have been in support of Oujia board communication. No worries there.)

Until next week, happy reading and writing, everyone! And stay safe and dry, all of you in Northern Colorado!

What I’m reading

 WB Yeats, The Celtic Twilight

Unknown-5 and

Unknown-6 (I’m running out of Cassandra Clare!)

What I’m listening to 

Unknown-7 Pearl Jam’s “The Fixer”.

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Teaser Tuesday: The “What’s in the Closet?” Contest

PRIDE AND PREP SCHOOL, the third installment in the SNARK AND CIRCUMSTANCE series, releases next month.

For those of you who have been with Snark from the beginning, I’ll be posting little teases to get you ready. And if you’re new to the world of Snark, I’ll get you caught up and, hopefully, ready  Image  to buy a ticket for the ride.

Snark and Circumstance is a YA contemporary version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In a previous post, I gave a brief overview of the parallels between the two texts so far. (But if you’re no Austen fan, fear not — the series of novellas stands on its own, too).

(If you are an Austen fan, then here’s a little something extra for you:

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One of the most vivid parts of P&P for me was Elizabeth Bennett’s visit to Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s grand estate, because I could imagine how excruciating it would be to be caught by the owner taking a tour of his beautiful home and grounds, especially if you were now at least a little bit in love with that man but were pretty sure that while he had once “esteemed” you, he was pretty sick of all your snarky crap.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if he showed up after stumbling out of a lake looking like this Image but in actuality I’d probably be even more mortified if that happened.

In PRIDE AND PREP SCHOOL, Georgia agrees to accompany her mom on a tour of historic homes because (1) she is dying to find out more about Michael (she’s crushing pretty hard now) and (2) she’s sure Michael won’t be there. So she decides to do a little snooping:

Suddenly a force greater than my common sense—which, I’ll admit, has been pretty faulty lately, propels me—and I find myself creeping up the long staircase to the forbidden second floor. 

         I need to see Michael’s room. 

          I need to find out if he is a secret slob, or if there’s even more interesting evidence of whom he is up there.  I’m not expecting to find anything big, like a literal skeleton in his closet.  But I am going to find it, whatever it is. And I will know once and for all who he is.

      I make it to the landing when I hear a burst of barking below me and I freeze.

      Someone has let a dog in. 

      Which means that some member of the Endicott family is actually in the house.

      Which means that one of Michael’s parents is about to catch me snooping.

You’ll have to read to see what happens, but I can tell you that what she discovers there is a pretty shocking.

I won’t say what, exactly, but here are some shocking things you could find while snooping around your crush’s house:

Image  Mrs. Bates

Image fishnet tight in his size

or evidence of devil worship.

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So what do YOU think Georgia finds in Michael’s house? (Hint: It is way nicer than any of these creepy things). The most entertaining guess wins a copy of PRIDE AND PREP SCHOOL!

Leave a comment here, on my Facebook page, or tweet me at s_wardrop. Good luck, good snark, and good reading.

What I’m reading now:

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Twitter chats: why I’m a believer

Thanks to #Indiechat on Twitter and the advice of Alicia Kat Vancil of Kat Girl Studio. If you haven’t checked out any of the YA and NA writing chats on Twitter, you should! Here are some highlights from this week alone:

  • On Tuesday, @KatGirl_Studio hosted #indiechat and discussed the best features and look for your author blog, an essential part of your “brand” and author platform. Image
  • On Wednesday, #YAlitchat, hosted by @GeorgiaMcBride, talked about all kinds of relevant and interesting stuff, like what to Tweet as a writer to build your fan base (hints: don’t just push your book, know your readers, and tweet fun stuff about yourself. I need to do more of the latter, as soon as I get some fun stuff to Tweet ;)) Image
  • And tonight, #K8chat, hosted by Kate Tilton will be talking book boyfriends!Image

There are usually so many excited and informative participants that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the feed but it is so worth it. On Tuesday I learned how to add a link to follow me on Pinterest and about Feedly last night. If you don’t get into the mix in the allotted chat hour, most hosts stick around for awhile after to take questions when it’s less frantic. And if you don’t want to tweet a comment or a question, just lurk and you’ll learn something. But if you do participate, you’ll find yourself with new friends and followers among your present (or future) colleagues.

Chats are usually scheduled for 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. You can see the “transcript” a record of what was said, any time by searching for the term as a hashtag (ie #YAlitchat). And if you do tweet a comment or question, don’t forget to hashtag after the comment or it will get lost in the general conversation on Twitter.

I was a reluctant Tweep myself. I couldn’t imagine tweeting my mundane daily activities. “Made a cup of tea.” Who the frack cares? Unless I “made a cup of tea and fed it to Johnny Depp”, maybe. But aside from the aforementioned awesomeness of the chats, Twitter has also connected me with other writers, now friends, that I would never have met otherwise. We review and promote each other’s books, commiserate, and cheer each other on. And on an isolated day of writing, check in for a moment’s break with the hashtag #amwriting and you will know you’re not alone.

So check out #k8chat tonight and chat with me at @s_wardrop. As my Twitter profile says, I retweet like a boss! Got to go. There are 68 new tweets to check since I started this post.

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