Monday, May 5, 2014

My Writing Process--A Blog Tour

Sitting down to write this entry, I'm a little tempted to give a shout-out to my favorite book title ever (for its shlockiness and snickery brand of subconscious quasi-half-truth, not its literary merit): Chain Letter 2: The Ancient Evil. Not to say chain-blogs (i.e., blog tours) are bad, necessarily, they're just, well, time-consuming. As a newbie writer, however, I remember devouring posts like this one, trying to glean some insight into what the day-to-day lives of professional writers look like. Also, I get that it's tricky to convince fellow authors to participate (all of a sudden, the term blog hiatus seems to have entered the writerly lexicon with a vengeance), so I went ahead and said yes when a dear friend asked me to participate. That said, Sylvia Mendoza is an amazing author and journalist who writes everything from celebrity profile articles to international human-interest political pieces to spicy-hot romance novels. Quite the range, no? Check her stuff out--you'll be glad you did!

Anyway, the deal with this blog tour is to cover four questions, so let's get on with it, shall we?

(1) What am I working on?

Right now, I'm in the early stages of developing a new YA novel. I write under three different names, but I want this project to be under my *real* name, so I'm hoping it'll be a project my agent can shop and sell early next year. 

As a planner (NOT a pantser), I believe in outlining my projects extensively before beginning the actual writing. Working with my editors at Alloy Entertainment on If I Die Before I Wake reinforced this tendency, as they're story-structure gurus with a proven track record. Basically, working with them was like getting paid to earn an MFA, so I'm hoping to bring some of the skills I learned while writing for them to my next project.

(2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Wow--tough question. Um, I'm kind of a weirdo? So my written voice is accordingly kind of quirky and unique? I guess that's my best answer. Stories that are thematically more literary, I treat with a commercial approach, while commercial premises, I like to venture into literary territory with, blending the two camps so the reader (hopefully) gets lost in my characters' journeys, rather than noticing the language or plot devices.

(3) Why do I write what I do?

I love writing about teenagers in tough circumstances who make bad decisions. Those are the types of stories I enjoy reading, so those are the stories I want to write. Growing up, I made plenty of mistakes and wound up living through the consequences. Also, no one's family life is perfect, and I get that. Neat, tidy lives don't make for good storytelling, so the messier the better.

(4) How does your writing process work?

During development, I like to take about a month to ruminate over what I'm going to do and where I'm going to go with a story. Long hikes, road trips, hot showers, and plenty of time spent in the jacuzzi are all part of this process. Once I get my ideas, I start making notes, outlining, then drawing up character profiles. 

When I have my outline where I want it, I begin writing. Each day, I have a specific goal in mind. Before I start writing each day, however, I like to get some exercise. For some reason, I find that I think more clearly after breaking a sweat. The other thing I like to do before starting my daily work is journaling. I'm a big believer in morning pages (and artist's dates--go Julia Cameron!), as I believe that writing begets more writing, and it's a good idea to clear all the junk from my brain before trying to actually produce quality story material.

Once I finally get to it, in terms of story-writing time, I don't like to write for more than four hours per day. After that, my brain gets a little fried, so I find it's best to know my limits and plan accordingly. 

Word-count targets are helpful, too. Back when I first started writing, I was a busy stay-at-home mom of three kids (two of whom were still in diapers). The most I could manage was 500 words four times per week. That might not sound like much, but it adds up to 2000 words per week. Given enough weeks, that's enough to finish a full-length manuscript inside of a year. I write faster these days, but my kids are all teenagers now, so my best advice to new writers out there is to be kind to yourself, allowing for reality while still making writing time a priority.

Since the Writing Process Blog Tour is a tag-team effort, I'd like you to meet two of my good friends:

Originally from Tennessee, Dana Elmendorf now lives in Southern
California with her husband, two boys, and her tiny dog. She writes YA
contemporary romances with plenty of kissing. She's rep'd by Lauren MacLeod
at the Strothman Agency.

Cody Goodfellow is an author, composer, futurist raconteur, and unstoppable sex machine. His newest book is Repo Shark. Read his upcoming blog post here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Book Is Out!!!

Yeah, it's been awhile since I've blogged here. Basically, I've been trying to juggle writing, copyediting, and working at one of the indie bookstores here in San Diego (The Yellow Book Road). But here's the exciting news: the book I wrote for the Alloy Entertainment division of Warner Brothers is now available! I need to figure out how to add a link button in my blog sidebar, but here's a link to Alloy's website and here's a link to Amazon. It's also electronically available at Barnes and Noble, the iTunes bookstore, and on Kobo.

Hope you like it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Baring Your Soul, Damn the Consequences

The best writing tells the truth. While we all know this instinctively, implementation of the concept is easier said than done when it comes to touchy subjects. That said, I wrote about a very personal matter in my Dear Teen Me guest blog entry, which is slated to to be published December 4, and I really hope my friends, family, and the public in general won't judge me too harshly for what I had to say (not to mention my editor!).

While I've heard the old adage that even bad publicity is good publicity, garnering the type of publicity steeped in controversy was honestly not my intent. I love the concept the Dear Teen Me project stands behind, and I took it to heart, writing about a difficult time in my life during which I desperately wished someone would have given me some insight.

Anyway, I've read a lot of the Dear Teen Me entries, but certainly not all of them, so there's a good chance another author has written about my topic of choice before, as it's certainly not a unique situation. Whatever the case, my hope is that by sharing my experience, I can lend some perspective to girls out there in the world facing similar decisions.

With that in mind, all I can say to readers of my post is, Godspeed--I hope we can still be friends.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Need a Copy Editor?

As those of you following my blog already know, I'm getting divorced. Sad tales of woe aside, here's the skinny: although I used to work in the publishing industry doing editorial production, the fifteen-year gap in my résumé (due to staying home full-time with my kids, one of whom has special needs) apparently isn't too cool in today's competitive job market.

That said, I've been taking freelance copyediting work. Recent clients include Richter Watkins and Chris Marie Green. I charge the going New York rate for my services ($25/hour) and tend to provide a quick turnaround on projects.

Interested? If so, email me a 1000-word writing sample in MS Word so I can use Track Changes to show you the type of work I do, as well as give you a time estimate on how many hours your manuscript will likely take me to complete. My address is araburklund [at] gmail dot com.

Looking forward to meeting you!

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's That Time of Year Again

With all the stuff going on in my life (revisions, moving, the divorce, etc.), I'm shocked that the SCBWI national conference is already next weekend. Trying to be thrifty, I'll be driving up to Los Angeles from San Diego *before* traffic Friday morning, then spending only two hotel nights. What that means, however, is that my weekend will be action-packed, with hardly any time to take a breath, let alone get some sleep. But I'll worry about that later. Let the fun begin!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Sometimes in life, there comes a time when one must look like a grown-up. For me, going through a divorce and subsequent child-custody dispute, now is that time. Anyway, so if I just met you and you decide to do a little checking out of my blog? Yeah, that's right--take a look at my driver's license next time you see me, because I haven't always sported the soccer-mom-with-blonde-highlights look I'm donning at the moment. In fact (shock of all shocks to the people who know me best), I might even grow out my hair!!! Because whatever it takes to win me more time with my kids, I'm there, no matter how superficial that might sound.

That said, I'm afraid I've been neglecting the blogging/tweeting/facebooking efforts as of late. Along with being on deadline for my e-book's second draft, I've been taking crime-fiction copyediting gigs on the side. Truly, the CE jobs have been made of awesome, as Richter Watkins' work reminds me a bit of Carl Hiaasen's. Basically, it's been great getting paid to be entertained.

Once the deadline is met, I'll be back in the blogosphere more regularly. Until then, happy reading elsewhere!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Letting Go and Moving On

Today should have been my 21st wedding anniversary. Instead, I'm anxiously awaiting a settlement conference date to finalize the details of our divorce. Since I'm the one who initiated the process, I can't complain, but it's still sad to think about, all too easy to dwell on.

Along with the divorce, and the unfortunate accompanying tangle of emotions, comes a concurrent break with a couple of forlorn what-ifs (cryptic enough for ya?).  Supposedly, it takes 21 days to break a habit. My question regarding that oft-spouted tidbit of conventional wisdom: even if it's something that's been plaguing you for over 24 years? We'll see. My guess is, replacing the habit with a more positive outlet for the needs involved will be the only way to cure myself of this seemingly unending cycle rooted in futility and rejection.

Anyway, it's time to call up my newly single friends (surprisingly, there's a wave of us) and get out there. Along with posting some better pictures of myself on the dating websites so people don't just see my round face and assume I'm chunky. Because this should be fun, right?

Oy vey.