Cheryl Angst, Writer

Writer of strange tales – because no one ever accused me of being normal.

Plotting, Plotting, Plotting! July 12, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 1:57 pm
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Rather than spend my summer lazing about poolside, I am using my copious amounts of free time (ha, ha, ha – did I mention I have small children?) to start work on another project.

The textbook people are planning on getting in touch with me shortly, so my freedom is about to be cut perilously short. I must use the hours that remain to their maximum capacity because I don’t know how many (or how few) are left.

So,

Now I’m plotting.

You know what’s really cool? Having an agent to bounce ideas off, that’s what’s cool.

I wrote out these character sketches and a short pitch outlining a book I’d like to write and then I sent it to Brianne. I had some specific questions, but was mostly concerned with, “Should I write this, or is the idea so atrocious no one will ever want to pick it up?” And you know what was really awesome? She wrote back! (I was not surprised by this, as she is very good at communicating with me, but the whole novelty of having someone in the publishing field who will answer my newbie/weird questions still floors me sometimes.)

I would ask you to guess what her answer was, but I kind of spoiled it for you at the top of the post, so we’ll just move on as though we’re all squeeing together at the discovery that my agent likes my new idea. Ready? *SQUEE!*

Being me, I couldn’t just jump into writing (I am SOOOOO not a pantser) – no, I had to whip out a spreadsheet and map the whole thing out. And, ZOMG, I had so much fun! I would post a pic of my spreadsheet, but I don’t want to give away the surprise…

Aw, who am I kidding? Look what I made!

Here's what I'm currently working on

Plotting, Plotting, Plotting!

Don’t be too upset if you can’t decipher what’s written. For one, it’s all set-up and nothing exciting happens. Two, I just wanted to show off my pretty little columns and rows. This isn’t a full chapter-by-chapter outline, more like an event-to-event one. There are key elements that must happen in the story for it to play out the way I want, and I need to get them in order before I start writing.

I did something very similar with Nikko, but I used index cards (and then stupidly recycled them so I had nothing to refer to when I wanted to create this spreadsheet). Seeing as Nikko landed me an agent, I figure the system must not be too horribly flawed. ;)

I still have a few boxes to fill in, but I should be able to do that this afternoon, which means… Da-da-daaaaa! Tonight I will be writing!

A new book!

Writing!

A brand new, shiny book!

*happy dance* (Well, happy dance until such time as the textbook people come calling…) :(

C.

 

Wishes and Big Ol’ Fishes June 26, 2011

*Disclaimer: The tale I am about to recount is in no way meant to suggest Janet Reid possesses even the tiniest ounce of “nice,” “kind,” or even “soft-hearted” cartilage in her sharkly form. None whatsoever. NONE, you hear me?*

BEWARE THE SHARKLY ONE!

Okay, then. With that out of the way, let me begin.

You may recall I blogged yesterday about how I’d fared in one of literary agent, Janet Reid’s famous (infamous?) writing contests. If not, you really ought to go back and read that post before going any further here. What? You WANT to know the ending before reading the whole thing? You’re not one of those people who like spoilers, are you? (Because if you are, I so totally am too…)

Sorry, I digressed.

Anyway, tucked away at the bottom of my post was a little comment – well, more like a wish – where I projected my little writer-self into the future and hoped a day would come where the Shark would read one of my books and be so impressed she’d run a contest using words from text I’d written.

I have big hopes for Nikko. Brianne does too. My cheerleader’s arms are going to fall off with all her pom-pom waving. With all this support, I can’t help but believe Nikko is something special.

I was projecting into the future, imagining Ms. Reid reading and loving Nikko – a nice little stroll into fantasyland for me. Until…

Until…

Until I popped by wordpress to check my blog stats. I stared at the spike (not too huge, but noticeable) and said, “Hmm, I wonder what that’s all about?” I scrolled down to look over the search terms people had used to find me (I’m still not sure why anyone Googling debt consolidation, air conditioning, or parole violations would click on my blog, but that’s for another post).

The combination of search terms were all related, and, frankly, made almost as little sense as debt consolidation. And it’s not like these were one-offs… No, more than one person Googled the exact same terms!

“cheryl angst janet reid”

“janet reid & cheryl angst”

Really? Um, Google, why are people looking for Ms. Reid in connection with me?

Several people tried to see if Ms. Reid was the agent who sold The Firestorm Conspiracy (sorry folks, I did that one all on my lonesome long before I wrote the novel that caught my agent’s eye). (My agent is Brianne Mulligan at Movable Type Literary, btw.) (And she’s awesome.)

Sorry, another digression.

Anyway, I was perplexed by the sudden (and significant) number of people checking Ms. Reid and I out, so I wandered back to her blog to see if maybe she’d mentioned my earlier blog post, or accidentally re-posted her reaction to my vlog entry (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TB8ButGTaI) from a contest organized by literary agent, Kathleen Ortiz.

Nope.

She’d posted a new writing contest.

My jaw hit my keyboard. I think I may have snorted some flavoured water. I nearly toppled off my seat.

This is the contest Janet Reid posted: http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/06/that-was-so-much-fun-lets-do-it-again.html

Yes, those words are from my book. She ran a contest about one of my books.

*Please refer back to the disclaimer at the top of this post before you get any ideas about the true nature of the Shark.*

Seriously, go re-read the disclaimer.

Finished?

Good. Now that we’re all in agreement that Janet Reid is to be feared AT ALL TIMES, I can wrap up this post:

Janet Reid, you are a rockstar. If I’m ever in New York (you know, to celebrate Nikko or some other, equally awesome book), I’d love to buy you a scotch. Heck, I’ll buy the whole bottle.

C.

 

Nikko v.2.0 Complete! May 1, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 9:35 pm
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Twenty-nine days and twenty-four thousand words later, a new version of Nikko’s Bond came into the world, polished and gleaming. I finished the latest draft on April 28th and spent the past three days polishing each chapter. I’d like to say it’s perfect, but we know nothing is ever error-free. Plus, I read through the manuscript less than twenty-four hours after writing it – not enough time to adequately separate myself from the words on the page.

Does this mean I think I’m sending Brianne an inferior product? No. The book is good – damn good – but it may contain a few inconsistencies that only time away from the text would permit me to catch. The plus side to this is by sending it to her, I’m getting another set of eyes on it, and hopefully between the two of us we’ll eliminate everything before she takes the manuscript out on submission.

Submission.

Can you believe it? The next phase of my writing journey is nearly here. While I’ve been re-working a 50,000-word MG into a 73,000-word YA, my agent has been drafting a plan for pitching my novel to editors.

So much of this journey has been about me making my way on my own (staunch cheeleaders and allies not withstanding) that it’s a little mind-boggling to envision my agent speaking (and emailing and phoning) passionately on my manuscript’s behalf. From this point on, I have another person in my corner when it comes to my writing career.

It’s a little frightening actually. For the first time since I decided to write a novel, I’m handing the lead over to someone else. At every other point in this journey I’ve had total control. I wrote what I wanted, queried who I wanted, and accepted the agent I wanted. Every success I had was mine to celebrate, and every setback was my responsibility.

I have total faith in my agent (if I didn’t, I would have been stupid to accept her offer), and I know she’ll keep me informed throughout the process – that’s not where the fear comes from. The fear is simply about letting go and letting someone else in. Before, if I failed I had no one to be disappointed in me other than me. Now, I have someone championing my book–putting her reputation on the line by vouching for me–and I find the prospect daunting. Self-doubt creeps in and I find myself wondering how I will ever live up to expectations.

(And now I can hear my cheerleader grinding her teeth and flexing her fingers in preparation for throttling me.)

Don’t worry, I’m not going to let my self-esteem spiral into the dumpster. This is my journey (my game, my rules, right?), and I’m going to love and learn from every step along the way. I guess I’m still struggling with the idea that I’m no longer walking the road alone.

C.

 

April Update April 22, 2011

I realised I haven’t been very forthcoming with my writing progress over the past several months. I’d love to say it was because I was working on some top secret project that I could only now reveal. Alas, it was simply because I was so focused on the writing I never considered telling you about it.

That, my dear readers, is about to change. Brace yourselves for a no-holds-barred update on where my writing career is at.

At the end of March the textbook people told me to hold off writing the teacher’s guide until they could get me the revisions for the student workbook. I was a little frustrated by this (I’d wondered about the wisdom of writing the teacher’s guide before the student book was set, but the contact only gave me two weeks between the two deadlines and I didn’t want to miss it). I’d hoped this contract would be fulfilled by late March so I could go back to writing fiction.

Given my forced waiting with the math stuff, I decided to finish my NaNoWriMo novel. I promised my cheerleader a sequel to The Firestorm Conspiracy, and I got 55,000 words into it during November, but December led to agents requesting Nikko and eventually the excitement around signing with Brianne Mulligan at Movable Type, so I never finished it.

Oooh, I also had to do several edits and proofs for Firestorm in order to get it ready for publication, and those took a tonne of time. Thankfully, I wasn’t also textbooking.

Life is funny sometimes. I was all excited about my ‘free’ time – I was going to finish my sequel and make my cheerleader ecstatic (or insane, depending on her reaction to the grand finale planned for the book), and then my agent sent me an email. She wanted to let me know she felt the sooner we got Nikko out the better – before all the publishers filled their YA dystopian quotas for the year.

I broke the news to my long-suffering cheerleader and set to work on revising Nikko with my eleven pages of editorial notes as a guideline. My goal was to increase the book’s length by about 20,000 words and change the ending, leaving the story more open to a romantic sequel (I’d left it open for further book[s], but I hadn’t planned on carrying a love triangle through, so that had to change).

I’ve been working steadily on Nikko for three weeks now, and I’ve added close to 13,000 words and four entirely new chapters. I’ve fleshed out one minor character into something of an antagonist, and I’ve gone far deeper into both my main characters’ pasts as well as the world building.

I’ll be honest, it’s hard. My brain does mental gymnastics every time I sit down and tackle a new element. I’m always saying, “Let’s see, how can I…” and then I’m gone – lost in a universe of my own creating. I love it. I love, love, love it. I wanted to get the revisions done by the end of the month, but as I’m only half way through the original version I think I’ll need more than the week remaining.

During a moment of procrastination I decided to submit a short story to a couple of magazines. I’m not expecting a reply for at least four more weeks, but I will let you know as soon as I hear anything.

I am expecting the revision request from the textbook people to arrive sometime next week. As this is something I am under contract for (and they’ve paid me a third of the agreed upon amount), I will have to set Nikko aside to work on them. Hopefully they won’t be too time-consuming and I’ll be able to get back to Nikko shortly thereafter.

On top of all this, I am also planning a launch party for The Firestorm Conspiracy. I can’t believe it will be available to the general public in just over three weeks. My first novel. Published. People other than my husband and mother buying something I made.

*SQUEE*

Phew, I told you this would be quite the update. You may relax now, it’s pretty much over. At the risk of becoming boring or tedious, I will endeavour to update you more often.

C.

 

Hello, Blog February 27, 2011

Hmm…

*wipes dust off blog*

*coughs*

Ah, there you are.

Let’s see, what’s happened in the eternity since I last posted?

Well, I had an awesome conversation with two amazing agents (Brianne Mulligan and Jason Ashlock) about building a strong foundation for my career, I finished the final round of line edits on The Firestorm Conspiracy, I got a book cover, I received the final draft of my manuscript, I witnessed an ebook from an epublisher make the NYT Best Sellers list (followed this week by a self-published ebook), I made plans for a book launch party, I learned how to turn my tweets into a newspaper, and I helped my children make bird feeders out of empty paper towel rolls, peanut butter, and bird seed.

So really, not much happened and you can see why I’ve been so silent. ;-)

Oh! My entry in the Bad Austen contest is still in the top five and there’s only one day left! That’s exciting. I could have been blogging about that…

Did I mention that I posted the first 250 words of a novel I’m toying around with over on Miss Snark’s First Victim’s page? I got some great feedback and encouragement – if you’ve never entered any of her crit sessions, you really should reconsider as it’s an incredbily supportive environment in which to get honest, constructive reactions to your writing.

I’m still plugging away on the math textbook. I finished the student portion a little over a week ago, and now I’m working through the teachers’ guide. Apparently a few of the publisher’s deadlines have slipped in other areas, so I have more time to finish the guide if I need it – which is a relief as I also have thirty NaNoWriMo YWP novels to grade and edit as well as thirty report cards to write.

I am looking forward to finishing up on the math project so I can return my focus to fiction. My agent said she’d send me her notes on Nikko at the end of the month (and in case you hadn’t noticed, the end of the month is almost here!), and I am itching to dive back into the manuscript. I’ve been working on a synopsis for a potential sequel too…

How about you? What have you been up to during my radio silence?

C.

 

Tomorrow Will Be Awesome February 16, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 8:52 pm
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I get to wake up at 5:45 tomorrow, and it will be grand!

No, I haven’t lost my marbles. I still abhor mornings. However, tomorrow morning is special. Don’t run to check your calendars; National Sandwich Appreciation Day isn’t until November 3rd. No, tomorrow will be awesome because I get to talk on the phone with my agent again.

I’m still in the stage of the author-agent relationship where exchanging simple emails is cause for great joy and the occasional happy dance across the room. So, imagine how exciting the prospect of a phone call is. And, as if this weren’t enough, not only are Brianne and I going to chat, but Jason Ashlock (the founder and senior agent at Movable Type)  is going to join the conversation.

I’ve never really felt isolated as a writer – or at least never felt it to a degree where I felt the need to lament about it – but it’s startling how giddy I feel to be included and welcomed into the publishing world by these professionals. It’s like I’ve found the home I didn’t know I was searching for.

Now I just have to make sure my shoes are polished and my hair is combed so I can make the best impression possible. After all, no one likes a rude houseguest. ;-)

If I survive the early morning, I’ll be sure to pop back and tell you how things went!

C.

 

Agent Interviewed – Brianne Mulligan February 11, 2011

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 4:27 pm
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Krista over at Mother. Write. (Repeat) posted an interview with Brianne Mulligan today.

http://motherwrite.blogspot.com/2011/02/interactive-interview-with-agent.html

I’m linking to this post because not only is Brianne my agent (*squee*), but the interview is phenomenal. Brianne’s answers to the questions are thoughtful and detailed. She also popped back to the blog several times throughout the day to answer questions posted in the comments section, so while the interview itself covered some great material, there’s a tonne of bonus stuff down below too!

And, to my great surprise and excitement, there was a moment of *squee* in the comments for me when she described one of her clients’ books… ;-)

Go and check the interview out for yourselves – Brianne is an awesome agent, and Krista runs a really neat blog.

C.

 

 
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