Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mr. V Takes Five

I've been tagged by SpookyCyn.

The rules: Each participant shares five little-known facts about themselves. Those tagged are asked to do the same as well as reiterate this guideline. All select five folks to be tagged and list their names. (Leave a comment letting them know that you've tagged them and that they may see your blog as an example.)

1) I'm a twin. Unfortunately for Momma V, she didn't find this out until ONE DAY before Coltrane Jenkins and I were born. We were originally going to be named after our father, but being that they didn't think Larry No. 1 and Larry No. 2 would work, we went without names for three days until they could think of something suitable. Of course, now that I look back on my adolescence, I wonder if Larry No. 2 would have been a kinder name.

2) I tested a home pregnancy test. In preparation for my upcoming novel, I decided to buy a few home pregnancy kits. Luckily for me, I had never seen one up close and personal before. Anyway, I bought a few, and decided to test them out. And I'm glad to say, I'm not pregnant. (There's actually a lot more to this story that I'll have to post one day - including the pitfalls of buying HPTs from Target while simultaneously buying two bottles of red wine, having a wife find an HPT underneath her husband's sink, and having "performance anxiety" while trying to administer the test.)

3) I've broken both of my ankles. But not at the same time. I broke the left ankle trying to jump off a flight of stairs in front of the girls' dorm while at a summer program at FAMU. I broke the second ankle while playing volleyball. (For all of you 16 year-old guys out there, take note: leaping off a flight of stairs does NOT impress girls.)

4) I was the valedictorian of my high school class. Actually, I was the co-valedictorian of my high school class. The other valedictorian...the aforementioned Coltrane Jenkins.

5) I was a huge computer role-playing gamer back in the late 80's - early 90's. My game of choice - Space Quest. The game (and it's many sequels) chronicled the heroics of Roger Wilco, your average, everyday, world-saving janitor. I also placed a lot of Ultima games. This alone probably explains my abundance of geekiness.

Who I'm tagging: Carrie Jones, Christi Lenzi, Lisa Schroeder, Paula Chase Hyman, and Coltrane Jenkins.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ta Da!

Pop the champagne! Drop the confetti! I am happy to report that I have finally finished the first draft of my latest novel.

Actually, first draft is a little misleading. It's more like the first complete draft of the novel. My process is really pretty complicated. First, I spend a few weeks outlining a novel. I mainly try to identify the big pieces of the novel, and I try to capture any dialog that might work well in certain parts. I also want to make sure I have enough content to actually justify a novel. I tend to go through a lot of drafts of my outlines, and I eventually end up picking two or three that I really like. I don't automatically know exactly what I want to write - I usually have a main theme I want to touch on, but everything else is up for grabs. I tend to over-populate my manuscript with problems at this phase as well.

After I finish my outlines, I spend a month or so really working on the first three chapters. A lot of my outlines bite the dust before I even finish one chapter. Eventually, a writable novel rises to the top. I really believe that the first three chapters should tell you everything you need to know about the novel - who the main characters are, what the main problem is, the tone and voice of a novel, etc.

Next, I begin writing the book. Now, this isn't planned, but what usually happens is that I write about half of the book, before I get a huge epiphany and start over again. If I'm lucky, like I was in this case, I'm able to use a lot of the material that I created before. If I'm unlucky (like with Rhombus) I have to almost start from scratch. I also redo my outline, and at this point, most of the over-the-top problems are eliminated.

Then, it's a mad dash to the finish line as I frantically write the novel. This is probably the most exciting time for me, because it's when everything is fresh and new and exciting. I tend to write a lot of dialog first, and then fill it in with narrative later.

I'm now at the point where I've combined all my individual chapters into one large Word file. This is where I begin the true editing process.

I wish I could tell you guys more about the manuscript (codename: Righteous), but it just isn't at that point yet. Mrs. V hasn't even read this manuscript yet, and my agent has only seen the first three chapters. But, to be fair, I will share this about the novel:

1) It's contemporary fiction.
2) It's the closest thing to a love story that I've ever written.
3) It has a lot to do with religion.
4) My main characters' names are Joshua and Madeline.
5) It has less cursing than Rhombus (at least, for now).

Speaking of Rhombus, I'm almost finished with the next round of edits on the manuscript. They were virtually painless this go around, and in the next round (if there even is a next round), I expect them to be very minor. Stay tuned to the website over the next couple of months. I hope to have more content about Rhombus there by March.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

MLK Day

Happy MLK Day everyone. Unfortunately, because of the weather here in Austin, most of the local MLK day activities have been cancelled. So although I can't actively celebrate on today, I can reflect on the impact that Dr. King had on America. I encourage others to do likewise.

A few links:

Cynsations has a good post on the Eighteenth National African-America Read In, sponsored by the Black Caucus of NTCE and NTCE.

Fuse Number 8 asks the question: Why is no one discussing the Coretta Scott King Awards?

The King Center honors the legcay of Dr. King.

Build the Dream discusses the efforts to build the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, DC. (Note - I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, one of the major contributors of the memorial project. Dr. King was initiated into the fraternity while a graduate student at Brown University in 1952).

Check out more info on MLK Day at Yahoo news.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Printz Dream

I had the Printz Dream again. The dream where I get a call in January, informing me of my selection as the Printz Award winner. My dream self is confused, because even in my dreams I know that I shouldn't be winning the award. But my dream self isn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and therefore accepts the award anyway.

In the Printz dream, I give an awe-inspiring speech the ALA summer conference. I thank my parents, who are seating at a table directly in front of me. I thank SCBWI and my critique group. I thank every librarian I have ever known. I even thank Judy Blume and Walter Dean Myers for setting me on the path to reading and writing. And of course, I thank Mrs. V for all of her support.

I know it's a dream. Even my dream self knows it's a dream. But when that alarm clock goes off at 5:00 in the morning, sometimes a dream is all I have to get me out of bed.

Here's to a Happy New Year. I hope all of your dreams, even the impossible ones, come true.

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