Cuz We Write: The Remix

Writing Song of the Day: “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy

Taken from Forbes.com

This seems vaguely familiar, huh? Don’t adjust your blog roll…wait, is it even still called that?

Anyway, WE’RE BACK! And we’re all changed and new and shiny. We’re ready to get back into this blogging thing and keep you guys up-to-date on our lives because we know you care.

We’re so close to 2014 and with that in mind, we’ve been remixing our lives since last spring. How so? Well, if you really wanna know…

  • We left our former jobs! That’s right, we got out of the classroom and the school building. We’re both working on doctoral degrees (Pam full time at The College of William and Mary, Quita part time at Old Dominion University–shifting to The George Washington University) and Quita took a promotion to work in a school system’s administrative offices. 
  • We changed our eating habits–once again. All summer, and throughout the fall, we tried eating clean. It worked well at first (we both lost around 7-8 pounds) and then we gained all of that weight back. Something wasn’t clicking so we’ve gone back to a low carb lifestyle. So far, so good.
  • AND, did you see our new banner? Yeah, that was created by our second sistah from another mistah, Natalie Henry (recently featured The Huffington Posted for a Hunger Games themed wedding–ahhh!) and it’s perfect for our newly remixed minds.
  • Finally (and this is one we wanted to tell you about a month ago) we rewrote both of our very first novels for NaNoWriMo this year. Pam worked on a new version of WANTS to get to know her characters again and Quita revisited a novel set in the 1960s called CHASING MANSON (a novel adaptation of a screenplay we actually wrote together). 

Whew! That’s a lot of changes…Oh! And another big one–we moved for the SECOND time within four months. We just can’t stay settled. Who knows, in a few months we may be updating you all on more changes.

So there you have it. All of our changes. What have you remixed in your life lately?

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Here We Go Again!

Revising Song of the Day: “Again” by Janet Jackson


As you all may know (b/c you are our loving and loyal followers) Pam and I have completed manuscripts. Pam has just finished her fourth round of revisions for Wants, and I am still teaching myself how to revise In Limbo (my beta reader…Pam, is working her magic now!). It is almost too perfect that we set in on a revision session during the SCBWI Mid Atlantic conference this weekend.

Andrea Tompa of Candlewick Press led an incredibly helpful and in depth session on what you should do after you complete your first draft. Although Pam missed a small portion (because she was getting a one on one manuscript consultation with Emily Van Beek from Folio Jr. — a division of Folio Literary Management– go girl!), we still learned lots that we want to share with you.

So, do you feel like this b/c you don’t know how to revise/edit?

Don’t worry, we’ll help you out…
But we can’t tell it all (copyrighting and all that) so we’ll give you a brief synopsis in a few steps:

  1. Complete the first draft. (duh)
  2. Save the first draft as…well, first draft. Or you can use alphabets (my personal fave) for example, my first draft of In Limbo is called In LimboA. After Pam gives me feedback, I’ll open a new document and call that In LimboB.
  3. Put away the first draft for a while.
  4. Take it out of it’s hiding spot and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.
  5. Now while you look at your first draft consider the important questions that you learned in elementary school…who, what, where, when, why, and how.
  6. Ask yourself and make sure it is conveyed who your characters are, and why the reader should care about them, what is happening in your story, where and when is it happening, why does your character do what they do (what are the stakes) and finally how are you telling your story (what is the POV, do you have good voice, what tense)?
LAST STEP: Finally, complete a more thorough edit. Check your draft to make sure it is clear, consistent throughout, grammatically correct, straight to the point, and that all dialogue is believable, and not full of exposition.

With these steps, you no longer have an excuse. So, go…revise! I was inspired to go back to my first POS (piece of sh*t) Chasing Manson, after sitting through this session. I know it’ll inspire you 🙂

BTW, please feel free to share any of your revising techniques that may have been left off of this list.

Music Monday: Character’s Playlist Edition # 2

Writing Song of the Day: Blue’s Playlist (check it out below!)

Hey, aces! It’s that time again- the start of a new work week and time for some MUSIC!!! Why are we so happy this Monday, you ask? We have six, count them, SIX, days left of work until we are free for some summer fun. Woot, woot!

So, we’re moving on to a new character’s playlist. If you missed last Monday’s post: Gavin’s Playlist (from Pam’s completed manuscript, Wants) check it out here.

This time we are discussing a character from Quita’s completed manuscript, Chasing Manson. The manuscript came from a screenplay that we collaborated on. In our heads, we thought that the main character would look like Josh Hartnett (another one of Quita’s husbands-to-be) take a moment to revel in all of his sexy handsomeness:
Moment up! The main character in CM is 18 yo Blue Hudson. Blue is a listless high school graduate who becomes obsessed with Charlie Manson and the Family. The novel is set in 1972, therefore musical research had to be done. Music from the late 60’s and early 70’s were used to help shape this character.
Blue loves music and narrates sometimes with song lyrics- also the chapter and section titles in CM are all named after popular songs during the 60/70’s.

If Blue were to make a playlist it would look something like this:

  1. Yellow Submarine- The Beatles
  2. Somebody to Love- Jefferson Airplane
  3. Happiness is a Warm Gun- The Beatles
  4. Hit the Road Jack- Ray Charles
  5. Witchy Woman- The Eagles
  6. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction- The Rolling Stones
  7. Riders on the Storm- The Doors
  8. Never Learn Not to Love- The Beach Boys
  9. Bad Moon Rising- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  10. Come Together- The Beatles

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Once again, leave us a comment about one of your very own characters- whether it be for a completed manuscript or a WIP and tell us what kind of music he/she would have on their playlist.

** Feel free to scroll back up to look at that GORGEOUS HAWT Josh Hartnett one more time. Whoo!**

RTW: It Ain’t Happenin’ Cap’n!

REMINDER!! You have until 12 am tonight to enter our swaggerific contest! Click here for the deets 🙂

Brainstorming song of the day: “Hold On”- En Vogue

Our aces over at YA Highway have done it again with a thought-provoking Road Trip Wednesday question. They want to know: when do you know when a project is going to work, and when it’s not?

Well, let us start with the when it’s not, because that is so much more fun! A couple of years ago, we read the Twilight series, and the Sookie Stackhouse series and we thought- HEY! We can do that! So, we concocted an idea about African American (AA) vampires that live amongst humans on reservations (a la Native Americans). Our protagonist was a badass AA chick who was going to fall in love with an AA man who was *gasp* human. Of course, drama would ensue because, OF COURSE, vampires and humans are forbidden to be together.
DISCLAIMER- THIS WAS WHAT WE GOT IN GOOGLE FOR *AFRICAN AMERICAN VAMPIRES*- HOWEVER, OUR IDEA WAS NOTHING LIKE BLADE 🙂

How did we know it wasn’t going to work?

  • It was too forced.
  • We weren’t in love with the idea to begin with.
  • We didn’t really flesh out all the details- basically we were just jumping on the bandwagon.
  • If you don’t find yourself thinking about your characters and what they would do/think/say in any given situation- then the project is probably not going to work.
  • If you aren’t completely fall on your face, head over heels, slap your mamma in love with your initial idea- then it ain’t gonna work!

** But don’t fret-we have a new KILLER idea for a collaboration novel. Boo yah!**

So, how do you know your project is going to work?

  • When you can’t wait to brainstorm what might happen to your characters next (whether it be through an outline like Pam did for her completed manuscript Wants, or whether it be through scribbled notes on an index card, in a notebook, and on your laptop somewhere like Quita did for her completed manuscript Chasing Manson).
  • When you can watch TV/listen to the radio/watch a movie and compare things that happen to what happens in your novel.
  • When you find yourself thinking, “that’s something (insert character name’s here) would say!”
  • When you want to flesh out your idea- i.e. bounce it off of others and see what they think.
  • When you can figure out the genre that your novel belongs in
  • When you can write a query letter that kicks ass!
  • And finally, when you want to…well…slap your mamma because you think your idea is that unique, interesting, and inventive.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones