What am I working on?
Right now I’m finishing up my second manuscript, a contemporary YA story that doesn’t yet have a title. I’ll share more about this MS after I finish it, but for now I’ll say it involves a girl dealing with the aftermath of an event that broke her close relationship with her mother, and a summer romance she hopes will make things better.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’d say my voice sets my work apart. Also, I strive to write stories about girls like me — black girls with diverse friends, whose race is part of their identity, but at the same time, isn’t a huge part of their day-to-day lives. I have to admit that I’m still grappling with how much to describe my characters in order to make their diversity obvious, but this is something I want to achieve.
Why do I write what I do?
I honestly can’t imagine writing anything other than contemporary YA right now. Maybe I’ll write a contemporary middle grade one day, but my brain just doesn’t think in other genres. Plus, I absolutely love reading contemporary YA. It fills my bookshelves and I get excited when I hear about another contemporary YA story to add to my list. My teenage years are still very fresh in my mind and I write to explore those emotions. I enjoy writing about real-life issues and challenges. I’m also drawn to light, funny stories and want to write more of those in the future. THE RIGHT EXPOSURE fits into that category, while my new WIP is more serious.
How does your writing process work?
I’m still trying to figure out what my process is. The process of writing my first manuscript was very different than that for my current one. With my first, THE RIGHT EXPOSURE, I outlined the whole thing from the start. I started writing it while in my MFA program, so I revised as I wrote, since I had to submit chapters every few weeks. I was getting feedback even before I finished the manuscript, so that influenced what I wrote next. After the program ended, I finished the manuscript using an outline, and then workshopped it with my critique group.
With my new WIP, I didn’t have as detailed an outline before starting — I only knew a few key plot points. I’ve been writing the rest by the seat of my pants, which I didn’t think I was capable of doing, but it turns out I am! I always thought I needed an outline to write, but I’m learning that there are benefits to just writing and seeing with the story takes you. I’m happy with the direction this story has taken, and I’m not sure I would have thought of some of these plot points in an outline ahead of time. I haven’t gotten any feedback on this manuscript yet, and don’t plan to until I finish my first draft and do a round of revisions on my own to clean it up.
I have no idea how I’ll write my next manuscript. Maybe that one will be different, too!
Next, I’m tagging two dear friends of mine. The first is Kathryn Holmes, who I’ve known since my MFA days and whose beautiful story THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND is debuting from Harper Collins next year. I read an early version and trust me, you are going to want a copy of this book. She describes her writing as lyrical, honest, and hopeful.
The second is Ellen Goodlett, who is one of my critique partners. I’ve read a few of her manuscripts and stories, and they are all fantastic. I have high hopes for her manuscript STRAY which made it far in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. She’s represented by Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary and describes her writing as OCD, nerdy and explosive.
Can’t wait to read about your processes next!
And now, a quick Spring Writing Bootcamp update. Last week I wrote 3983 words, and my WIP total is currently 42,171 words. It was a little less than in past weeks because I was busy with other things, but I’m still on track to finish this draft by the end of the month. I have less than 10K to go, which is super exciting. By this time next week, I hope to be very close to done. Go Team Mountaineers!