Trying to Make My Way to the Rightside-Up
Stranger Things, beauty pageants, and what’s in a first line?
Sorry I’m late. Yesterday squeezed itself into a little ball, tied up so tight not even a minute could escape so I could write to you.
I have lots of little tidbits for you today, but not a lot of time to write, so I’m going to do a little rapid fire. Buckle up, because away we go!
News & Updates
I did a fun little webinar yesterday called First Line Frenzy. It was run by Reedsy, a community of writers, and here’s how it worked: Users would send in the first line of their novel, and an editor would discuss and edit that first line live for all 700+ viewers to see. They got 2,000 entries and only got to about 25 lines, but listening to the feedback was immensely helpful. I realized in listening that my main character doesn’t show her face in the first paragraph of the book. It’s a short paragraph. It would take someone a minute to read, maybe less. But to make the biggest impact on readers (and, let’s be honest, agents), it really helps to capture character, setting, and mood all in that one first line. Here’s a replay of the event for all my writer friends, if you’re interested. They didn’t do my line, but I have to tell you I don’t feel like I missed out at all.
On a side note, there were some entitled folks on that (free!) webinar, which you will notice in the comments. People begging them to get to their line, as if they only logged on to hear theirs (which ended up having a 1.25% chance of being selected) and didn’t listen to all the wonderful feedback so they could apply it to their own writing. I’ve got no patience for that mess. Turn on your listening ears, friends.
Speaking of first lines and agents, the course offerings for the September Festival of Writing in York, England, opened yesterday. The whole thing took me by surprise, as I didn’t see any advance notice and so wasn’t prepared. The courses were no big deal - there were plenty to choose from, and you can change your selections up through August or something.
But one huge thing I was looking forward to was the two agent 1-to-1 sessions that come with the package. I’m sure I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere that people have left York with a contract before, and there have been legends of bidding wars. So selecting just the right agents for these meetings is crucial. So, I threw all my kids at my husband yesterday morning and did some crash-course research. Good news: I got my first 2 choices, and I’m stoked about it!
At the Festival, there is also a contest called Friday Night Live, where authors read the opening of their stories live and there are winners and such. I entered last year and my story wasn’t chosen, but I think with just the right refinements, it could be a contender.
So that’s that. I’ve been doing my day job a lot this week, and working on some other freelancing things, so I haven’t done a lot of work on the book - but I expect to do so next week and throughout the summer.
Words to Enlighten
I listened to a podcast the other day as I was doing my grocery shopping (How else would I tolerate the supermarket?!) about the first Black Miss Ecuador.
Which made me happy for representation but also really disgusted that beauty pageants still exist, and ever existed in the first place.
Of course, there was also über racist fallout, with some Ecuadorians insisting a Black person couldn’t possibly represent the country. (“They’re going to think we’re all Black!” Oh, the horror. 🙄) Which also has me thinking about my town’s recent (and ongoing tbh) controversy about Pride, which involves the town’s refusal to raise a Pride flag and complaints from (hopefully a minuscule minority) of residents about Pride decorations placed in the center of town.
Seriously, what are people so afraid of?
Honestly, it’s that the people who have always seen themselves represented publicly - cis straight people, Christians, while people - are afraid that if society recognizes the existence other groups - never mind CELEBRATES them - they’re going to disappear.
We’re all here. We all deserve to see ourselves in our communities. Full stop.
But seriously, can we stop with the beauty pageants already? What a gross, misogynistic way to measure someone’s (and always a cis woman’s!) value.
Words to Entertain
Alright, last week I talked about Stranger Things, and last night we finished it. Or, at least, I thought we’d finished it. Here I was, thinking I was watching a series finale (one that, by the way, was the length of a feature freaking film) and when the screen faded to black and the credits rolled, it was right at the damn climax!
Turns out, there is not only a back half of Season 4, which will be released in July, but also there is another whole season to go!
So, ignoring my faulty information, the first half of the season turned out okay. It’s intriguing but not in the mysterious way of the first season or two. It’s gory for sure, though by the end of episode 7 I was a little desensitized to it (probably not a good thing). It was also just a little predictable. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and I’m looking out for foreshadowing and suspenseful elements, but I actually think it’s because the devices they used are kinda obvious.
Anyway, what do I know?
Look up. I bet there’s something up there you have thoughts about. Leave them in the comments so we can talk about it.