writing

#PimpMyBio: PitchWars 2017

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So, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the #PitchWars ring. July is the run-up to the contest opening in August, so I’m going to have some fun participating in all the Twitter hashtags and blog hops! (Like #PimpMyBio!)

About Me

I’m Averill. (@averillelisa on Twitter.) It’s pronounced like Avril Lavigne, but with three syllables instead of two. (Av-ER-ill, not Av-RIL) Don’t worry, a lot of people can’t hear the difference, either.

Like Avril Lavigne, I’m Canadian.

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I’m a twenty-eight year old with a day job and a writing addiction. By day, I work with numbers as a statistical analyst. I work in aviation, so it’s a lot of stuff about planes and air traffic controllers. I take all the operational data in the company and . . . Well, this is usually where people’s eyes glaze over.

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But writing! That I’ve been doing since before I even knew what it was. The very first thing I remember writing was Xena fan fiction before I knew fan fiction was a thing, or the internet existed in a way to share it. (Thank God for small miracles.)

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I’ve only been taking writing half-way seriously for the last four years or so, since I started the Ottawa Writer’s Circle. In those four years, I’ve written three books — one of them three times over — and am working on a fourth. All YA, all contemporary, though some are more romance-driven, and others more issue-driven. I’m excited about all of them.

Otherwise?

I read a lot. Here’s my bookshelf that holds all my favourite books:

Photo 2017-07-03, 18 25 05I love ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS so much, I have it in both official languages.

I take care of my cat, Tassy. Here she is being adorable.

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I’m a Tom Hanks superfan, enthusiastic hugger, and recent tea convert. I’m a proud Ravenpuff (don’t @ me) and I like to cook, bake, and swim. I love a good quote, and I have various ones all over my house. I live with mental illness, and that definitely influences my writing. I’m in school for my B.Ed. in Adult Education.

About My Book

TNR Novel Aesthetics
My novel aesthetic

It’s called THE NEW ROMANTICS. Here’s the pitch:

Perform on stage. Jump off a cliff. Get a tattoo. Joce Martin’s bucket list is what’s going to get her through her senior year after that disastrous kiss with pretty boy Mathieu Tremblay. Mat says she’s too uptight to be a normal teenager. She’s determined prove him wrong.

Mat Tremblay, on the other hand, is aggressively normal: popular, attractive, and a bit of a screw up. Reviving the tradition of the senior year prank, he streaks through the senior assembly during the principal’s speech. But unlike all the other times Mat’s screwed up, this time he’s not getting away with it so easily.

Mat’s parents, ever creative in their punishments, enlist Joce – their good-girl neighbour – as his chaperone for the year. For Joce, that’s a hard pass; their shared history is something she avoids at all costs. But Mat makes Joce an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll help her with her bucket list if she helps get his parents off his back. As they tackle the missteps and misadventures of senior year together, Mat can’t contain his feelings for Joce. But for Joce, getting lost in him again – and giving him another chance to bring her carefully constructed world crashing down – is scarier than anything on her bucket list.

It’s got the will-they-won’t-they tension of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and the adventures and secrets of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES.

This book came to me in fits and starts after listening to a Taylor Swift song. (It’s totally different from what I first envisioned, but the name stuck.)

It was supposed to be Joce’s story, but Mat quickly forced his way into POV-character-status. (My writing buddy helped me see that this was going to happen whether I liked it or not.)

I wanted to write a story about first friendship, first love, and where the two meet. Joce is pretty anxious and Mat is pretty feet-first into everything, and they have a lot to teach each other.

Ultimately, I wrote the first draft very quickly, but spent a year in revisions.

Why Me?

Well, hopefully because you love my book!

I’ve been querying this book since January. I’ve gotten a few partial/full requests from agents, but ultimately gotten the “like it, don’t love it” response. I’ve gotten some feedback, both from the requests and from a SCBWI conference, but it’s been pretty high-level.

I feel like I have something with THE NEW ROMANTICS, but I don’t know how to take it to the next level. That’s where I’d love for you to come in, tell me to burn it all down, and help me build it back up.

I’m pretty easy-going but a hard-worker, and love Joce and Mat like crazy. I want to make this book the best it can be, and I’m totally willing to put in the time and effort.

So, like, pick me?

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Check out the other #PimpMyBio participants here!

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

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Hello everyone!

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It’s been a little while since my last update, and a lot has happened. Life is full of surprises! I’m starting a new job in two weeks. It’s a temporary assignment, but I’m excited to get experience in another department. Also, I’m officially going back to school in September to get my Bachelor of Education in Adult Education. So, yay!

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But, as with most things in life, things are going to change. So, while I’m excited, I’m also nervous.

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I’m still trying to figure out what it all means and how to slot writing into learning a new job and going back to school. It’s definitely going to be an adjustment. Eep!

But you’re here for writing news, right?

I attended SCBWI Canada East’s conference in Montréal last weekend. It was great. My favourite part was hanging with my awesome writing buddy, but also the workshops were pretty enjoyable. I think I got a lot out of it, but mostly I got a break from the tire-fire of my life, and I’m still feeling much better for it afterwards.

Thing is, Awesome Writing Buddy brainstormed IT GIVES A LOVELY LIGHT with me, and we may have solved the problem? But I’m also working on THE SCARS WE BEAR. Can I get two drafts of a book completed before September? I GUESS WE’LL SEE!

eye of the tiger(This gif is for two of my writing buddies, but for different reasons.)

I’m also still querying THE NEW ROMANTICS. I’m behind on sending queries out but I’ve had some pretty good response with several requests for partials or fulls. No “yeses” yet. I’m getting a lot of, “Like it, don’t love it” responses. Kind of a bummer, but I’m hoping someone will love it! If not, I have some irons in the fire and I’ll be back in the trenches again with a new project next year. I hope.

So, that’s it! I’m going to spend the summer neck deep in writing projects (hopefully) to prepare for school starting in the fall. Then, who knows? Life is full of surprises.

Thanks for reading. ❤

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Overdue Update

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Hello readers.

Welcome to my long overdue update!

Things have been crazy around here. Between my day job, running the OWC, health junk and my own writing and social life, I feel like I’ve barely had time to breathe.

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But big, big changes are happening in my personal life right now. I did something that was so, so hard but also a very long time coming, and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I finally feel like the future might actually be pretty bright.

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But that’s not what you guys are here for. You’re here for writing news! (Right?)

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I reread a few of my most recent blog posts and even I’m confused as to what I’m working on! You poor readers and my dancing from project to project. So, here’s an update on the projects I’ve mentioned.

THE NEW ROMANTICS
Querying! I’ve had a few requests so far for the book, which is very exciting! No offers of representation (yet) but I’ve received some very enlightening feedback. I said I’d send out ten queries a month and I did that for January and February. Then, I got some feedback from a full request that confirmed a deep, dark fear of mine. So, I spent March trying to fix it. Now, I’m back at it, having already sent out four queries in April.

THE SCARS WE BEAR a.k.a. The Intern Story
Drafting! Over the past month or two, this is the book I’ve settled into writing and I’ve just crossed the 25K word count mark, plus about 5K in my This Comes Later file. I’m really excited about this one, guys. I feel like this is the book I need to write right now with all the junk going on in my life.

IT GIVES A LOVELY LIGHT
I don’t know! I started rewriting this book at the same time as writing THE SCARS WE BEAR and I’m about 35K into it. But, I can’t figure it out. The character motivation, the stakes, the climax. Nothing is working. So, it’s not officially shelved, but waiting for that one missing piece to fall into place.

A SOFT PLACE TO LAND a.k.a. The Rugby Story
Shelved! This book was the other book I was debating writing and the one I thought I would finish this year. However, THE SCARS WE BEAR won. I will write this someday, but not today.

ALL OF THIS EVERYTHING a.k.a. #NaNoWriMo2016 a.k.a. UNTITLED in other blog posts
Shelved! Forever! This is a terrible book. It’s just so bad. I hate the whole thing. I thought it was the book I needed to get out of me, but it just came out in shambles. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday, but for now, I’m not even thinking about it.

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Got all that?

My next challenge, beyond finding six more agents to query in April, is to read more. I’m still on track with my Goodreads challenge of 35 books this year, but it’s been almost two months since I finished a novel. (Have you read SCYTHE? So good!)

What’s up with you guys? Life good? Good.

Thanks for reading. ❤

bye15

Goodbye, 2016

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I haven’t written a post in a while. So, here I am, first day of 2017, thinking about the last year in reading and writing while watching When Harry Met Sally.

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Side note: I miss Carrie Fisher already.

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2016 was an up and down year, but was a mostly good year in reading and writing. I set a challenge to read thirty books in 2016, and I ended up reading 32. I wanted to read less YA this year, but failed miserably at that. I think I read more than 32 books with my rereads, but just didn’t track them. (I reread books a lot. A lot.)

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My favourite reads of 2016 were: Emmy & Oliver, Graffiti Moon, Station Eleven and Fans of the Impossible Life.

My least favourite reads were: Love Letters to the Dead, A Little Folly, I’m Glad About You and The Love that Split the World.

I reread a few, like Anna and the French Kiss and Landline.

So, that’s reading. On to writing.

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I finished the zero draft of THE NEW ROMANTICS at the end of 2015. So, I spent most of this year revising and editing that book. I’m on Draft Seven now. I’ve tentatively started querying it, and I’ve received one request, but mostly rejections. I think the first pages still need work, so I’m concentrating on that. Still, I’d like to seriously query TNR early in 2017.

I spent a lot of time bouncing between writing projects this year, so I was drafting on several projects at the same time. That didn’t work for me and I got very little done on any one project. Then, November came along and I decided to do NaNoWriMo. And I won!

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I did NaNo using a book I was already about 13K words into, so, all-in-all, I came out of #NaNoWriMo2016 with a 63K zero draft of ALL OF THIS EVERYTHING. (You can look on My Projects page to see what it’s about.) I’ve barely looked at the draft since I wrote it. I’m pretty convinced it’s terrible and not at all what I actually wanted to write, but I think that about all my zero drafts.

What’s next? I’ve read over IT GIVES A LOVELY LIGHT a lot these last few months and made a lot of notes. I might be ready to give that one another go. Today I’ve been drafting A SOFT PLACE TO LAND, code name The Rugby Story, and am enjoying that one a lot.

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For 2017, I’m making goals for things I can control, as much as I’d like it to be the year I get an agent or a book deal. So, here goes.

Reading-wise, I joined the 2017 Reading Challenge to read 35 books.

Writing-wise, I have two:

  1. I’d like to get another book written. A zero draft of either a new IT GIVES A LOVELY LIGHT or A SOFT PLACE TO LAND. Right now, I’m liking the latter better, but the former is still pulling at my mind strings.
  2. Once THE NEW ROMANTICS is ready, I’d like to send out ten queries a month. I may modify this one, as I’m not sure how well that’ll work, but I’m going to try it.

So, that’s it! That’s 2016. I wish everyone a 2017 where they receive all the amazing things they deserve. Happy New Year! ❤

2017

On Nerves and Being Ready

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It’s been about three months since I’ve posted anything on this blog. To be honest, I’ve been having mixed feelings about having a blog. I feel very nervous, exposed, and frankly silly. It’s scary to have people read it. And lately, I’ve been a bit of a mess.

mess

However! I am just returning to life after two weeks of vacation. It was fantastic. Really relaxing, refreshing, and just helped me get my head back on straight. During it, I didn’t do much writing or editing, but I’ve let myself off the hook for that. I needed the time and it worked wonders.

relax

In book news, I’m getting to quite an exciting time. In about six weeks, I’m planning on being ready to start querying THE NEW ROMANTICS to agents. I also have the opportunity to send it to an editor before the end of October, hence the timeline. I have some changes I have to make in the next week or two, then it’s polish, polish, polish. I have a great beta reader helping me out, plus a buddy helping me get my query letter up to snuff.

happy-dance

I’ve been posting snippets from my book on Twitter, too. Here’s my favourite line I wrote recently, during revisions:

Still, I’m nervous. I’m not convinced I’m ready. I’m not sure I’ll ever actually be ready. I know rejections are going to come – everyone gets them – but it’s still putting this thing that I made out into the world and asking people to like it. Scary!

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But, as everyone worth anything has said some variation of, if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting the rest of your life. (Daniel Handler and Hugh Laurie come to mind.)

I took this blog down for a while because I was nervous what agents will think if they come looking for me. I’m worried about what my Twitter looks like, too. I’m generally anxious about everything to do with querying and being online and being a writer. But, a conversation with a great writing buddy of mine who recently started her own blog (Hi, Joy!) encouraged me to put it up again.

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So here I am. I’m practicing putting things out into the world and asking you to like them. I’m not ready. It’s hard. But I’m trying.

Thanks for reading. ❤

bye14

Juggling Projects and My “Big Book”

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So, my writing week is behind me and I’ve returned from my work trip to Newfoundland.

(Look! I saw icebergs! And really steep cliffs!)

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My writing performance was pretty dismal. I didn’t work on THE SCARS WE BEAR. Instead, I worked on editing THE NEW ROMANTICS to get it beta reader ready. Which I did, so it’s not all useless. I’ve sent it off the three people. So now we wait.

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Also, I attended an online webinar hosted by P.S. Literary Agent Carly Watters. (She has a great blog you should check out.) Carly talked about how, for a debut author in the 21st century, you need your debut to be your Big Book. The best thing you’ve ever written. Not just a good book, but a great one.

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So. What’s my Big Book? Is it really THE NEW ROMANTICS, a contemporary romance reminiscent of a beach read? Or, IT GIVES A LOVELY LIGHT, which needs a tonne of work? Is it THE SCARS WE BEAR, which hasn’t been written. Something else?

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I have a secret to tell you: I have two “third books”. The third book I’ve referred to in earlier posts is not THE SCARS WE BEAR. It’s another book, also one that I’ve always wanted to write, also one that I’m terrified of. It is nameless. Both deal with similar themes, but at different stages in one’s life. UNTITLED’s MC is fifteen, in high school and living with her parents. THE SCARS WE BEAR’s MC is nineteen, doing an internship, on her own for the first time.

I shelved UNTITLED because I couldn’t think of a way to end it happily. (I have ideas now.) It trends younger than I usually write. It’s going to deal with some really heavy stuff. It’s got mental illness, first love, body issues, family issues. It will be deeply personal, which is terrifying. But I’m also kind of in love with it.

THE SCARS WE BEAR would be a little lighter, though it deals with heavy topics, too. It’s more in the age range I like to write. I’m excited about writing about someone’s first time on their own, dealing with first loves while falling for a second, how to deal with mental illness while not necessarily being in the throes of it. I feel like I could write it well.

So you see my dilemma.

writing is the hardest thing ever

Anyway, my point is, I’m not sure where to go from here. Obviously, wait until my beta readers get through THE NEW ROMANTICS, but in the meantime? I guess I have to see which project gets me the most excited. I don’t know which one that is yet, or if it won’t change week-to-week. Still, I want to write three hundred words a day. It just might not be on one project. (Ugh.)

Well, thanks for reading! If you have any advice, I’d be happy to hear it in the comments.

bye13

On Fear

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Hey dudes,

It’s been a super long time and I feel like I owe you a blog entry.

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So, those of you that know me know I have an anxiety disorder. It’s gotten loads better over the years through a lot of hard work and the occasional medication. I haven’t had a panic attack since I lived in my Ottawa apartment about five years ago. I can go out and, like, be with people. Honestly, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

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That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. My body may not enter flight or fight mode over not being able to find a hair brush anymore (long story), but I still get very, very nervous over silly things.

Like my third book.

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After two previous books of varying quality, I’m finally sitting down to write the book I’ve always wanted to write. And that’s a lot of pressure. I need to get it right, you know? So I’m terrified. What if I’m not a good enough writer to pull this off yet? What if no one wants to read what I have to say? WHAT IF IT’S TERRIBLE?!

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I know, I know. Just write it. Get it down. You can’t edit a blank page and all that jazz. All my advice to other writers just spins through my head. I’m doing the best I can. I tried outlining and plotting, but I can’t. Looks like I’m a pantser and I’m just going to have to get this first draft written. I have a goal to write 300 words a day, just like I did for IT GIVES A LOVELY LIGHT, and this will get me a 70K first draft by the end of the year.

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I use this great calendar by Karen Kavett and you should go check it out. I have the week of the May 24 weekend off to do writerly things. I have my second book, THE NEW ROMANTICS, out to my alpha reader so I can’t touch that until she gets around to it. So I’ll be heads down, writing THE SCARS WE BEAR.

Did I mention I’m terrified?

Me, two weeks from now:
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Thanks for reading, folks. I won’t be doing a live blog of my week off this time, but I’ll post some updates, if y’all at interested. Follow me on the Twitter!

Talk soon ❤

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