Monday, March 8, 2010

WIP update, Contests, Upcoming Events & a Ballads-inspired ballad

I know, I know, I've been terrible at this whole blogging thing lately. Hopefully I'll get back on my usual three to four posts a week schedule soon. I've been working extra shifts at the bar, trying to work on two books at once, fight seasonal depression and a major case of distraction, so yeah...

But I just handed in the third version of a partial and synopsis that I've been working on for over a year. While the major themes have remained the same--grief and Greek Mythology--the story has evolved a lot over that time thanks to extensive talks with my agent and consultation with my critique partners and lots of brainstorming, reading, and research on my part. Every book has a new process and I tend to forget how long it actually takes me to formulate an idea. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone came together slowly over three years or so. A crappy early version of what would become Ballads of Suburbia had to be written, abandoned for five years until I sorted out the way it should work. Though I have a lot of ideas, I'm not the kind of writer where lightning strikes and I know the whole story or even have a strong idea of the whole arc that will definitely work. If there are those kinds of writers out there, well I kind of hate you. I hope one day lightning will strike that way for me.

Regardless, I think the story is finally right. I'm extremely excited about it. My agent is excited about it. In a couple weeks, she'll give me some final edits and then it will go out the door. In the meantime, I tackle another idea that I've been toying with for even longer, probably since fall of 2007. My bartender book. I've got a phone date tomorrow and hope to get it on track then.

Anyway so that is what I have been up to. Focusing all of my creative thoughts on those projects has drained me so I haven't been blogging much. But I did write a couple of blogs in other places that I hope you will enjoy reading... Oh and they come with contests if that helps to bribe you...

One of my group blogs, Teen Fiction Cafe, is celebrating its three year anniversary through Saturday March 13. Every day since March 1, one of my TFC sisters has posted a blog about the challenges and triumphs they faced in their writing careers over the past three years. Most of them are giving out prizes too. So you will want to go to TFC, read all the blogs and enter all the contests. I posted my blog entry on Saturday. It was kind of perfect timing because three years ago on that day I *almost* sold my first book... but I didn't. I was in a scary place, about to give up on my dreams, battling the demons of self-doubt that aren't too unlike the ones I'm battling now trying to *stay* published. Anyway it is here. You may find it interesting or you may just want to enter the contest to win your choice of either of my books.

Then, yesterday on Read This Book! I wrote about the YA novels that have left a lasting impression on me, the one that influenced me most as a writer (Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block) and the one that has inspired me most recently (Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly) and you can enter to win Ballads of Suburbia. So check that out here.

I also have a string of events coming up... Events that I probably should have publicized a bit more, but I'm doing it now so please please please come if you can.

This Saturday, March 13 from 10 to 4, I'm taking part in the Litworks Festival in Harwood Heights, IL. I'm leading free (for teens, $5 for adults) writing workshops about music and writing and speaking on a panel with other fabulous writers including Simone Elkeles, James Kennedy, Daniel Kraus, Barry Lyga, Adam Selzer, Terry Trueman, and Jake Wizner. All the info is here.

Then Sunday afternoon I leave for my former home of Madison, Wisconsin to visit friends and do an event. On Tuesday, March 16 at 6:30, I'll be reading at A Room of One's Own bookstore in Madison. I hope to see my Wisconsin fans and friends out in force. All the details are here.

And on Friday the 19th, I'll be back home in Chicago, reading at one of my favorite bars in the city, Smart Bar as part of my favorite literary event, Story Week. That event starts at 7:00 and is 21+. Here there be more info.

So that is it until April, when I have a hometown event in Oak Park, and then I'll be in NYC at the end of May. I'll announce dates for that as soon as I have all of the info. I decided against doing a Seattle event while I'm out there. Partly because I only heard from one person interested in attending, partly because my favorite bookstore out there (Bailey Coy) has closed, but mainly because I need a vacation. Like a real one with no business obligations whatsoever.

Lastly I wanted to share with you something that seriously made my day. One of my readers, Stephen Kent, sent me a tweet (tweeted to me? using twitter and tweet as verbs still stumps me) that he'd posted a bunch of his songs on myspace including one inspired by my book Ballads of Suburbia. I cannot tell you how much things like this mean to me. Letters and messages from readers always make my day. And the fact that my art inspired more art.... wow. That's all I can say. And the song is really really good and gives me chills. The mood reminds me of the acoustic Alice in Chains stuff though obviously Stephen has his own voice/style. You should listen to it on MySpace here. The Ballads inspired song is called "No Shelter" (though it just appears as Shelter on the playlist.) Enjoy! And if Ballads or IWBYJR inspires you to create art, please do send me links like this. It makes me very happy. And until my Seattle trip/spring's arrival I need all the happy I can get :)


Carrie said...

You just have to hold on, and remember you're living the dream. You're a writer and you're awesome. :)

John K said...

I'm jealous, you get to go
everywhere. Th next trip I have planned is a hypothetical honeymoon in a couple of years if getting married works out and I'm not eating the dust out of milk flavor straws. (True story.)

Advice to a twice published author from an unpublished writer whose work exists primarily in the form of illegible notebooks: Find something that can get you going on a tangent then try writing exactly what your thinking as you think it, I think it works especially well when you have a dark sense of humor.

Another thing that helps that i'm not sure if you can do, but if you have the ability, try putting yourself in a different place with your mind (Yes, I know I sound high.) For example, instead of actually being in whatever place your at, try fooling yourself into thinking that your in your story. Play out the scenarios in your mind over and over again. Sometimes I accidentally start talking to myself. It's weird, but it helps me.

Another thing would be to write a short story based on the events in a song. Like for example, I you could turn Bad Scene Everyones Fault into a four page short story. (I call that one.)

I get the lightening strikes thing with short stories. I guess that's because you only have one scene to work with, so you can get to your point quicker or whatever...

Not that I really know anything about this kind of shit (Unpublished + no finished stories + an inability to change any of my work to please someone else = someone whose probably going to spend his writing career on the internet.

I'm excited about your new story because it seems like a huge departure from Ballads and Joey Ramone, but still with your style. (Kinda like early Salinger vs Late Salinger.) I haven't had a chance to read your new short story and past 5+ blogs due to lack of everything required of one to read screen text and leave obnoxiously long comments. I should probably get on that quick, but I'll forgo the long comments because this one is probably as irritating as 5+ normal long comments.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks Carrie, you are sweet to say that I'm awesome :)

Lol, John, I guess it's all in perspective I'm jealous of my world traveling friends who get to go outside of the US. And thanks for sharing your tips :) Long comments are totally fine :)

robby (once upon a book blog) said...

If you keep working on these books, and if you really believe in them, they will sell. And then I will read them. And I will love them, I'm sure of it.
Good luck. :]

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks Robby :)

Peter said...

You really are a good writer. I know someday you will be more successful than you are now. Try effective credit paper