FANGIRL FRIDAY: Seeing the Good in the Bad Batch

I’ve quite enjoyed the animated offerings from a galaxy far, far, away. That it expands on the live action universe I’ve grown up with, is a comfort, as the world awaits the upcoming series and movies in and around the Star Wars franchise. Today, I share my non-spoilery love about Star Wars: The Clone Wars spin-off series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

A show about a group of clone rejects, misfits, non-conformists who like to color outside the lines but get things done for the greater good, despite how others see and treat them? I’m in.

Clone Force 99, also known as the Bad Batch. Most of these clones have genetic mutations. Hunter has enhanced senses. Tech, with his heightened intelligence, is the groups IT department. Echo, who joined the squad more recently, doesn’t have genetic mutations but has augmented cybernetics from the result of experimentation while held captive. Crosshair’s sharp eyesight makes him an excellent sniper. Wrecker, and his amped up strength, lives up to his name as a wrecking machine. He loves hand to droid combat.

I was about to start the series, now seven episodes in, when I realized I needed to finish Clone Wars first. Despite the final season taunting me for a while on Disney+, I dragged my feet because I knew it would be the end of a series I’d grown to love. Naturally, by the time I finished the twelve episodes, it was bittersweet. I liked the storylines, but it left me wanting more. Good thing I already had this next series lined up that continued in the same story and timeline as Clone Wars. I still miss the characters from Clone Wars. I hope to see some character crossovers, where applicable, of course. Fans familiar with what happens in the original Star Wars trilogy already know the fate of several of the characters from the series. Still, it’s fun to explore the what-ifs.

Again, non-spoilery, so I’m going to wait at least until the first season has passed before going into more detail, but I already enjoy the character dynamics. It’s easy to laugh and yell along with this rowdy bunch. There are some interesting new characters we get to meet, as well. Interesting, not necessarily ones I’d like to hang out with. I’m sticking with Clone Force 99. The great writing makes you care about these guys.

If you haven’t binge watched these shows yet, I highly recommend them.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Read All About It

Not to be confused with the show I watched as a kid, “Read All About It,” which, I believe they need to bring back beyond the world of YouTube. I’m not asking for a reboot. I want all the camp and outdated special effects of the original show. I know there are people out there who pine for the shows of yesteryear, fromage, and all.

Apologies for the brief nostalgic detour. Today’s post is about reading for more than just pleasure or edification. I learned of a new reading challenge that is right up my alley in the “two birds, one stone” department.

Over the last few months, I’ve been using the Reedsy blog and their YouTube channel as writing resources. A few days ago, I received an email announcing their inaugural reading challenge and had a look. Clearly, there are many parts of the Reedsy umbrella I have yet to discover.

Speaking of, they host the reading challenge on the aptly named Reedsy Discovery platform. Since I’m already doing a reading challenge, I could have shrugged this one off, but it intrigued me to learn that they’re working together with Room to Read, a non-profit organization aimed at helping children in need develop literary skills through structured reading habits.

I rated the books I’ve read, so far, in the Goodreads challenge, but I’d put off the actual reviews and said I’d get around to them when my schedule let up. With this challenge, however, for every review I post on Discovery during the month of June, Reedsy will donate $5 to the charity, up to $10K USD. The email didn’t specify if that’s for the entire challenge or per person, but since I don’t think I could review close to 2000 books this month (unless I somehow go through every book I’ve ever read in my life!?) it’s probably the overall cap.

Considering how many people are already part of the Reedsy community, somehow, I already know that we can reach the $10K goal. I think it’s a great way to read up a storm for my benefit, while helping other people, too.

If you haven’t started a reading challenge yet, or even if you just read for fun, consider posting your reviews to help this charity. I’ll do more research into the Discovery platform and will share what I’ve learned about it in an upcoming post. Until then, I’m going to continue reading, with the extra motivation being my participation in contributing to a worthy cause.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FRIDAY FX: BETA Look it Over

A beta reader can help you polish your manuscript and get you that much closer to seeing your brain child on a bookshelf. It’s great to have multiple beta readers because reading, as an art form, is subjective, and you’d want to cover all your bases to spot and correct every typo and wonky phrase.

It’s such a common occurrence to miss the teeniest details, such as a missing comma, writing to instead of too (or vice versa) when you’ve read and reread your work dozens of times. Beta readers can also help offer suggestions for all the times you repeated a word or phrase. They can also help you tighten up your sentences and clear up any concepts that get lost in translation.

Fresh eyes will allow others to let you know what you’ve missed and also provide insight on readability from their perspective. It’s essential to know if what you want to share with your audience effectively and accurately reaches them as intended.

This month I resumed my beta reader duties and I already have a few beta reading requests lined up for next month. Aside from building a powerful network of fellow writers, it’s also given me an opportunity to read with a writer’s mindset. Taking a break from my work to read someone else’s has allowed my brain to reset and to be more receptive to seeing where to improve aspects of their story that I might not notice right away in my manuscript.

With any skill, practice is important in order to improve and expand your knowledge base. While helping others with their writing, I’m also helping my own. You see the patterns that work and those to avoid. Reciprocity is wonderful. Everyone improves their skill set and is closer to their publication goals.

Do you like to beta read for others? What have you learned from your beta readers? I know they’re invaluable as they are essentially my focus group for a potential audience and it’s always a good thing to have your story double and triple checked so that you’re putting your best work forward and showcasing your talent in the best way possible.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Whatcha Readin’?

I love to read. It’s shocking how little I read throughout the first lockdown, but that’s another story altogether. My earliest memories of the joys of reading were how these tomes served as portals to other worlds. Some slightly different from our own, while others were far beyond our expectations. That was the beauty and power of a good book. You could be everywhere at once, learn new things, travel to the farthest reaches of existence. Reading expanded my imagination and immersing myself in these worlds at such a young age set the foundation of my desire to become a writer.

I’d previously mentioned how Goodreads is a wonderful community for book lovers to come together to discuss and recommend a wide variety of books to each other. When I went to update my Goodreads account for that post, I saw I was late to the party for a 2021 Reading Challenge. I braved the storm and entered with a more modest number and challenged myself to read 30 books this year. Some have set one book a week, or more. Kudos to them. I’m just getting back into the groove of reading for pleasure and wanted to set a realistic goal for myself. Turns out, I’d already read five books over the last couple months, so I’m well underway. When I get the chance, I will share those book reviews both here and on my Goodreads account.

I have three books currently on deck. As with the others, they’re all MG or YA books because I’ve been reading in the genres I’m writing. Yes, I write across genres, but these are the stories that my current WIP tackles. I will hopefully expand to other genres this summer.

In the lovely Twitterverse, I stumbled across this awesome author’s thread with a slew of Asian books (author and/or characters) that they’ve read and recommended. You know how they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover? Well, these covers were certainly enticing, and I now have a small army of books to add to my endless TBR pile. I’m excited to tuck in.

What is everyone reading these days? Do you have a particular medium of choice? E-reader, tablet, laptop, traditional hardbound or paperback? Because of storage limitations, I’ve been resorting to digital reading, courtesy of my local library. Remember those magical places? However, there’s something to be said about the tactile experience while reading an actual book. My dream home includes a vast library with those rolling ladders to reach the higher shelves–and yes, there will be shelves a-plenty. (I went online to search for an appropriate picture to illustrate my exact specifications and naturally, I went down an architectural and interior design rabbit hole that went on for much longer than intended.)

Where do you like to read? Do you have a particular spot in the house? Outside the house? Garden, park bench, beneath your favorite tree? Now that the weather is letting up, I look forward to getting out more to explore new places where I can sit quietly and, you know, explore new places through the pages of a book.

Happy reading!

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

WRITERLY WEDNESDAY: When Your Book is Having an Identity Crisis

Did you play the game Guess Who? when you were a kid? There were these pictures of people’s faces and each player had a set of multiple faces on their board. Each player would ask questions to describe the character they have in front of them. All questions needed to be answered with yes or no. Were they brunette? Did they have freckles? Did they have brown eyes? Players would continue to ask these questions until they could make an educated guess if they think they knew the exact picture the other player had. Seemed like a simple premise.

What about when you’re writing a story? Do you know what kind of story you’re writing? Do you know the audience you’re writing it for? What happens when you’re confronted with such questions that challenge the identity of the story you thought you knew?

I mean, come on. It’s your story. It started as an idea in your head and blossomed into what you hope is a beautifully crafted work of art.

What happens when you think you know what you know but discover you’re not sure if what you know is what the reader needs to know, you know? Ain’t so simple now, eh?

This is the current challenge I’m facing with the revised draft of a manuscript (formerly known as the MG Fantasy) that I so brazenly believed I could whip into shape in a couple of weeks to shove off for querying.

Well, shove off is right. Right off a cliff. I’m certainly grateful I asked the questions and had those questions give me pause. It wouldn’t do anyone any good if I were to toss this manuscript into the sea, as is, and hope a literary agent somewhere in the big blue yonder would bite.

I’ve certainly made progress in this work in progress, but it begs the question, how do I proceed with what I’ve learned? Well, there are many avenues to explore, as I touched upon in my Camp NaNo Week Two Roundup.

I’ve since connected with MG/YA author, Michelle Schusterman, who had a similar issue with her manuscript when she ran it by a critique partner. What she believed to be an MG book was actually YA and thus, the author had to rewrite the entire story with this in mind.

So what is the difference between MG and YA?

In her presentation on “The Magic of Middle Grade” on reedsy, Schusterman was told this distinction between the two categories: “it isn’t about the physical age of your protagonist. It’s about their emotional age. A Middle Grade protagonist is discovering how they fit into the world. A Young Adult protagonist is discovering how they can change and affect the world.” 

You can watch the reedsy video here and check out Michelle’s YouTube channel here to learn more about the writing life of an author from draft to publication.

When it came to my WIP, the various feedback received included:

  • MG stories shouldn’t have adult POVs because children don’t want to read what the adults are doing/thinking. They want the kids to be the focus of the story.
  • You should only have X amount of POV shifts, and only written in a particular sequence.
  • Make sure you have recent comps when querying.

Then, I also heard the following:

  • Why wouldn’t you want adult POVs in the story? MG kids are the perfect age where they eavesdrop on what the adults are talking about, especially if they try to keep the kids out of the conversation.
  • The POV character should have a character arc and stakes that move the story forward. You can have over two POVCs, but they need to deserve their chapter. Don’t just give them one because you like the character.
  • Recent comps are nice when querying, even if you do a combo with a show or film. However, they’re not a deal breaker. A literary agent is interested in a strong query and synopsis that appeals to them.

I can take any, all, or none of the feedback shared. The goal would be to take these elements and analyze how they would best serve my story. Right now, I’m leaning towards MG Urban Fantasy because I feel that the MC’s age works in how I want to tell the story. I have considered experimenting with scenes and aging the MC. This could serve as a workaround if I were to change the POV to a single character (his) and not include some adult POVs that were necessary in my original draft because they involved those adults in scenes needed to move the plot forward.

What I have, at the moment, is a draft that has a mix of POV shifts. Some, I agree, can merge into other existing POV chapters and admittedly, I thought it would interest the reader to have scenes from those characters’ perspectives. However, if they’re only going to have one or two chapters in an entire book, then it’s unnecessary for them to take the reins of a chapter. Other than that, there’s no particular sequence of who’s POV comes next. Each POV follows the organic progression of the story.

While it’s a great compliment to be told I’m a visual writer, it also worked against me, in this case, because I wrote this cinematically. In a movie, you can easily switch to a scene that doesn’t have the MC (who is a child) and the story still makes sense. However, in literature, there are a lot more conventions to keep track of to ensure I immerse the reader in a solid story.

All this is before I’ve even begun working in the possible Asian Folklore into the narrative. I just might table that for another story idea and focus on polishing this draft even further. Maybe when it’s gone through more beta reads, other writers will tell me if that other layer is even necessary for this story.

For now the revising continues. No one ever said writing was easy, but so far, it definitely hasn’t been boring either. We write on!

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.