Tag Archives: Abby Mumford

FWIS: How to be the In-Between Girl

4 Apr

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m collaborating on with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This month we’re doing a What Do You Really Want To Tell People month.

There’s a lot I want to tell people. If you follow me on twitter, you’ll see that’s really true. I chit chat about a lot of diverse things. But, when I thought about FWIS and being the ‘in-between girl’ I figured maybe I should write a little bit about what it’s like here in the middle. To be the In Between Girl.

When you first start writing, the goals are really tangible. Finish the first book. Edit the first book. Find critique partners and beta readers. Polish. Polish. Polish. Query. Query. Query.

And then, if you stay focused, keep polishing your craft, and work hard, you’ll sign with an agent who will then work with you.

But, no one tells you that’s often a weird place.

You’ve signed and you’re doing more revisions on a book that had felt done (they never are) and learning to put aside your own thoughts to work with someone new and then…when that is all set… your agent will start pitching you to editors.

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ve heard me say it: Always write like you’re going to sell tomorrow. You want as much of your work good-to-go as possible.

And that’s still (and always) right, but…

You knew there was a but, right?

For the first time, your work is out of your hands. You’re partnering with someone and part of the future rests on them. Sure, it’s someone you completely trust and have built a strong relationship with, but still.

It isn’t like when you’re writing and you can keep working on your ms until it’s just right.

It isn’t like when you’re getting feed back and implementing it until everything si smooth.

It isn’t like when you’re querying and ever rejection or R&R or request is something you have an action item for (send more, work out the notes, send the full).

There’s no action item during “waiting to hear” from your agent. Really. Trust me. As someone completely goal oriented, I’ve looked. There aren’t any.

But (of course, another but) there are things you should be doing.

You should be compartmentalizing or you’ll go crazy.

You should be writing the next thing or you’ll be dead in the water.

You should be building your brand and following the plan you built with your agent.

But most of all, you shouldn’t be waiting. Not only is waiting bad, bad, bad (and evil) it’s also exhausting.

You will never, ever find anything as exhausting as hitting the refresh button every five minutes and focusing on just one house or one editor or one plan.

It’s hard, but the In Between Girl needs to learn to put that all aside, trust her agent and forget she’s the IBG.  They say every step of the journey has it’s own struggles, but I’ll admit, this is my kryptonite. Not being able to act to move toward the goal right now is hard…. it’s more than hard.

And that’s why, all this waiting will have to be put in a box under the bed in the backroom of a deserted house on the other side of town. No matter where I am, I’ll keep working toward the next book, because that’s not only easier than waiting… It’s smarter.

So, don’t be the IBG… and ignore me if I occasionally cave and hit *refresh* when I go on submission.


UPDATE:  To everyone reading this and nodding along… I’m getting DMs and emails telling me they were surprised and happy to read this post. That they didn’t know anyone else was feeling this way. Let’s change this post to: YOU ARE NOT ALONE 🙂

FWIS: Inspiration… or You’ve Already Got the Ruby Slippers

7 Mar

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s something people look for everywhere. In music, movies, books, nature, other people…everywhere.  Whenever you own up to writing, one of the first questions people ask is, “Where do you get your inspiration?”

I’m going to say something sacrilegious: I don’t believe inspiration is the real question. I believe the question is, when, for that split second a beautiful thought flits through your mind, what do you do with it?

All around us are little stories waiting to take shape – or flight. We’re all constantly retelling situations, rehashing old arguments, replaying love stories gone wrong, pondering what would have happenes, upgrading our own lives through our imaginations.

There, there is where the inspiration is. Not in finding those things, but in grabbing them.

I’d challenge anyone who claims to never be inspired.

Do you dwell in your thoughts? Do you let yourself live in those flit moments to see where they’ll go? Marinate them?

Are you prepared for them when they come? Do you keep a notebook or other way to record those ideas on hand?

Do you go back to them? Not every idea flies the first time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t busy growing its wings.

Do you understand that every idea may not be the beginning or ending of a story? Maybe not even a turning point or the black moment. Sometimes it’s those beautiful, peaceful things we have to blink away that open us into a new world.

Do you take the time to play with ideas that can’t… or won’t… work? Sometimes the things we end up throwing away are the things we learn the most from. No writing is a waste. Every word written is a deeper skill built.

So, stop looking at the clouds and the stars and the moon and the sea and the flowers and wherever else it is that you look for your inspiration. Just like Dorothy found out, it was in you all along. Grab your gentle-mental butterfly net and grasp them as they flit by.


FWIS: 2012 The Year We Kick-Butt

4 Jan

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view!


So, here we go! Goals from the in-between writer 🙂

I’ve had throw-downs with other trainers (yup, if you don’t follow me, part of my job and certifications is around time/space/life management and coaching) about “goals that are our of our hands” OR “things we have no control over” — so I’d like to start there and build.

We often say things like, Well, I have no control over if an agent or editor wants to rep/buy my book.

I’m going to challenge that (you knew I would, right? *grin*)

You may have “no control” (challenge in a few….) over getting a deal, but you completely have control over  NOT getting a deal. Buy not writing, polishing, editing, revising, querying, submitting, etc… you will definitely NOT get a deal.

So, here’s the challenge… you may not be able to control the TIMING of your deal, but what can you control to get there.

  • Honing your craft by writing, writing, writing
  • Honing your craft by reading, reading, reading,
  • Honing your craft by seeing projects through to the bitter end (you won’t get better at every step unless you’re DOING every step)
  • Having products to send out by writing, writing, writing – More than one. Do not (and this is just my opinion, but I feel pretty strongly about it) live for one book.
  • Raising the level of your wips by learning, studying, writing and reading

If you’re doing those, over and over again, will you get someone to eventually want you? I’m thinking that’s a pretty big probably.

See that fourth one? My agent contract came from a book I was working on the side to keep moving forward, keep learning, have something in the slot and try another genre. YES I love my first book (I’m still playing with it WHEN I HAVE TIME) but, knowing that I wasn’t growing (or having anything to sell myself with) kept me moving forward.

Every time someone asked me for my one piece of advice (and they asked a lot when I finalled in the GH (maybe that one piece of advice should be, have one piece of advice to give.)) I always said, Write like you’re going to have a deal tomorrow.

Meaning: have something else to offer, give yourself buffer space by having a “backlist”, learn your writing styles and strengths and weaknesses, be ready to step into that crazy world…and that means writing a lot.

So, with all that, will you get an agent – Yes. I honestly believe that. If you’re not just talking the talk, but working and putting everything into the time you can find (and working to find that time) I believe that you’ll improve your writing, storytelling and crafting to the point that you’ll get an agent — unless you write something that’s super niche and no one can sell you (which is, of course, also a choice…so, yes, you make that NOT decision with that as well).

With all that said, on to my goals 🙂

  1. I will revise the 3 books I’m working for the Laird
  2. I will rewrite & polish the 2 books I have in Disaster Drafts for the Laird
  3. I will discuss with said Laird the 2 books and game plan first to make sure I’m doing what’s best for Team Publish Bria
  4. I will Disaster Draft at least one more book
  5. I will get that darn website up (check back 12/31/12 probably…you know, if the world doesn’t end)
  6. I will continue work on the Secret Project you guys hear so much about…and yet hear nothing about *evil laughter*
  7. I will force Abby to plan the YA Retreat 🙂 (Ok, I’ll help, but yeah… *sucks her in*)
  8. I will go to a class/museum/historic site for fun and to learn something new once a quarter #nerdygirl
  9. I will continue to workout at least three times a week so I don’t get Writer’s Bottom
  10. SELL!

I also have some fun or personal things on my 2012 list.

  1. Get a great new apartment
  2. Get a Full-time permanent job (ditch the contract/consult lifestyle)
  3. Take sign-language lessons (I’ve only been wanting to do this since high school)
  4. Stay on track with my savings and 401k
  5. Be soda free except for “special occasions” 😉
  6. Find a new church

I know. It looks like a lot when you write it out like that — and, Yes, if I get that deal everything gets tossed and we reevaluate what needs to be done in what order. That’s so vital. Being able to reprioritize.

But, as the writer in-between, I believe that these are the things I need to do to get it done this year.

Feel free to point and laugh, judge or cheer me on as we go *hopes for the cheering*

May we all have a 2012 filled with blessings, love, hope, peace, and inspiration.

FWIS: Growing Your Story

7 Dec

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m doing with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view!

So, growing my story….

No matter who you talk to, each writer is going to grow her story differently. Even if you found two people who were 100% plotters, they’re still going to go about it in different ways. That’s one of the beauties of writing – there are very few “wrongs” out there (although, I’m sure we’ve all felt like we’ve hit one or two along the way!).

I’ve talked a lot about my process over the couple years I’ve been blogging here and at the Purple Hearts, but that’s not really what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the story itself.

One of the huge turning points for me my first year of writing was getting to study under the absolutely amazing Jenny Crusie at one of the Low Country Master Classes with four other women. It was intense, eye-opening and boundary pushing.

And Jenny managed to not push me off the balcony when tool after tool didn’t work for me. I realized I needed to stop trying to use tools ahead of time to create my story. Tools were for cleaning up my writing.

For me, the story is something that’s in me already. It’s living there like a long forgotten memory, buried under all the daily to-do’s and more urgent or frequently discussed memories. It’s like the thing you have in the back of your mind and haven’t thought of in years, and then one day…


Something triggers that memory.

We’ve all had this happen. Someone says something a particular way or we catch a whiff of a scent that brings us back. Maybe it’s an old song that never gets played or even a piece of clothing that reminds us of a place and time. But there it is, that long forgotten memory drifting to the front of your brain.

Once it’s there, it starts to dig in, popping up in the strangest places throughout the day.

Picture my life as a dinner party (I know, aren’t I fabulous) where somehow this memory from wayyyyy back gets mentioned.

One tiny part opens up to another tiny part and the more we talk about it (think about it) the more the memory becomes fleshed out… Things that would be tiny details in writing are just bits and pieces. Right now, my characters are reminding me of that night they went skinny-dipping and the clay-mud bottom of the pond oozed between her toes holding her in place as much as her fear or embarrassment would have.

Then I mull that, as I remember that night, it grows and builds till I’m dreaming about it like I do my own memories. One small thing leads into another, Oh yeah! I remember that. Once it takes hold, there are dreams that push the story along as I rush to keep up each day writing it out. It never feel like thinking… I know this sounds odd. It feels like remembering. It’s real and vivid and feels like it couldn’t have happened any other way.

When I get to the end, very occasionally I have another Oh, yeah! moment  – Just like I would after leaving the dinner party.

And then, it’s all there – the big picture, the quirky little things that would have only been remembered by my character, the bits and pieces of maturity that distance can bring —– It may look like a mess because it’s written in a crazed race of 9-12 days, but it’s all there. The guts.


The rest, as I keep telling myself (and anyone else who will listen) is in the edits.

When Blogging is…

17 Oct

If you follow me on twitter (@briaquinlan) you know I hang with two lovely lasses: Abby Mumford and Jessica Corra. Both rock. Seriously. Go follow them. I’ll wait.

Ok, welcome back.

Now, if you spent any time at all checking them out (aren’t they hot?) you know they both have blogs. Not only do they both have blogs, but they both have really good blogs. Reading their blogs made me wish for something.

It just took me a little while to figure out what that wish was.

Then I realized. Sadly, it wasn’t pretty.

Abby’s blog is about those first steps — those wonderful moments as  you realize things about writing and crafting and editing and reading and all the wonderful first discoveries.

Jessica’s blog has a lot to do with what’s it like as you grow into a published writer. Her first book comes out in about a year, and there’s a lot of new discoveries happening for her.

Me? I’m in the middle. The shine, as they say, is off the apple.

Don’t get me wrong, I love love love writing. I’m currently in school getting a Copyediting Cert to freshen up my undergrad Creative Writing minor but at the same time, I’m missing writing horrible. The only thing keeping me going is knowing that three months is a small amount of time to only get to squeeze writing in between work, commuting, homework and school. In a few months it will be all about the writing again.

But, at the same time, I’ve done all the blogs about first discovery. I’ve moved into the new realm of  now-I-have-an-agent-and-stuff-out-in-the-world.

There is, of course, a joy in this. But I do wonder how many of us find our blogs (and maybe ourselves) a little adrift in this new spectrum of the world.

People warn you about so many things getting out there and getting started. They warn you about all the stuff to be aware of when a deal is on the table and prepping for release.

Who talks about that in-between time.

I hesitate to call it a “waiting period” because, to be honest, I know my wait to get to this point even was not much. I know getting an agent in 1.5 years and having 2 books done, 1 a Golden Heart finalist, 1 getting polished and 1 more waiting for it’s turn to be attacked is a lot of writing at this point.

And, you know that I’ll tell everyone one thing over and over again. There is no waiting in writing.

There is always another project to be worked. So, where does that leave the blog?

I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out together… Look, a new discovery!