Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet & Greet

Gearing up to get an agent logoTwo of our contributors, Stacy and Triona, are participating in Deana Barnhart's Gearing Up to Get An Agent Blogfest! (She's wisely calling it GUTGAA for short.)

Stacy and Triona, along with our other blog contributors Jenn and Lauren, met at the Big Sur Writing Workshop in the spring of 2012. We became friends and critique partners, and then co-bloggers. We try to spotlight resources and information of interest to writers. Fun stuff like chocolate and knitting slips in from time to time, too!

Tell us about yourselves!
Stacy: I'm originally from Texas, but now live in the lovely town of San Francisco.  I'm a reader and writer of all things YA, currently shopping a YA Magical Realism manuscript and working on a YA Supernatural/Magical Realism Suspense Thingy. I have a secret love of puns (some say lowest form of humor, I say they're hilarious) and I love dark comedy movies (think Drop Dead Gorgeous or Freeway.)  Welcome to our blog and thanks to Deana Barnhart for throwing this little shindig!

Triona: I recently moved from southern California back to the Midwest. I love speculative fiction in all its forms, and my perfect story is equal parts sci-fi/fantasy, action, adventure, romance, humor, and suspense. Easy, right? I'm a Twitter newbie (@trionabmurphy) but a total addict already.

Where do you write?
Stacy: Mostly on my couch. Sometimes on planes when traveling for work or fun. Not very glamorous am I?  

Triona: At home or coffeeshops—probably about a 50/50 split. I find it easier to concentrate and tune out all the other things that should be getting done when I get out of the house. I also recently discovered that my local library of awesome has a lounge/workspace area, complete with vending and coffee machines. What could be a better place to write than one surrounded by books?

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
Stacy: A window! It actually has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog is rolling in right this very minute. Man, I love this city!

Triona: At home, my preferred writing space is just to the left of a huge picture window. So the first thing I see is morning glories. It's okay to be jealous :-)

Favorite time to write?
Stacy: I'm a night owl, so typically in the evenings. That said, I dream in stories, so some of my best ideas happen right when I first wake up.

Triona: Definitely evening. When I have everything done for the day, I can give writing my full attention. Before I moved, my husband and I used to frequent a coffeeshop that was open until 11 pm. We closed the place out many nights. Now that I live in the Midwest, it's a little harder to find places to write that stay open late, but I haven't given up looking!

Drink of choice while writing?
Stacy: Water. Wow, that sounds boring. But can't blame a girl for wanting to stay hydrated, right? Let's pretend I said something more interesting, like a margarita on the rocks with no salt, which happens to be my post-writing drink of choice.  Nom, nom, nom.

Triona: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. But I try to balance all that coffee with equal glasses of water so I don't get too dehydrated.
coffee love

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
Stacy: I'm a silence girl, but will sometimes put on my headphones and listen to classical music if it's noisy.

Triona: I love listening to music while writing! In coffeeshops especially, headphones and music are essential to tune out any conversations around me.

I have playlists I created in iTunes that are labeled things like "Sad Scenes" and "Action Scenes." Sometimes I pick an album that works for lots of different scenes. Some of my favorites are below: Radiohead's In Rainbows, Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News, and anything by Soul Coughing or Ben Folds Five.





What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
Stacy:  I had a dream about it. I saw this girl standing on a staircase, and I when I woke up I wanted to tell her story. I knew little bits and pieces about how she came to be standing on the stairs, and oddly knew exactly what the last sentence of her story would be. I barely slept that first week because I was so enthralled with her story.    

Triona: My current manuscript was inspired by an article I read in Popular Science last year. The author was talking about his plan to increase the human lifespan. To be honest, the science itself sounded a bit questionable—but it was interesting anyway! I started to wonder what society would be like if there was a drug that extended life by hundreds of years. When I thought of a truly horrible way they could be sourcing the drug, I knew I had a great idea for a novel.

What's your most valuable writing tip?
Stacy:  Stay positive and find good beta readers! Seriously, the best thing I've done for myself is to reach out to other writers for opinions, input and advice. I don't know what I would have done without all the fantastic beta and critique partners I've had this past year. I've also had the good fortune to read a lot of great manuscripts in the process.  

Triona: Keep writing and moving forward, no matter what happens. There are always going to be reasons why your novel might not get agented or sell, and many of them are beyond your control. Knowing when to move on to the next project is vital.

I'm querying my third novel in two years, and the only thing that's kept me from going stark raving mad is my practice of starting the next book while I query the current one. Each book has gotten better, both in concept and execution (and that's not just me talking. I've had more agent interest on this book than the previous two combined!). If this manuscript doesn't get me an agent—well, I have the next one all outlined and ready to go, and it's going to be awesome.

44 comments:

  1. Nice to meet you, girls! Love the writing tips--beta readers are sooo important, and beta-reading someone else's manuscript helps me see so many flaws in my own! :)

    Also, yeah, always write the next one. Even if your very first MS gets an agent, an editor, and sells a million copies, you're going to want the next one in the works before you sign a huge contract requiring you to write it by the end of the year. :)

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    1. Hey Robin! Great to meet you too! Were you at Writeon? You look familiar!

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  2. @Triona: Thanks for commenting on my blog! Your story sounds really interesting -- did you post on the WriteonCon forums? I seem to remember a story idea about a drug that extended life but if not maybe I'm mixing details. Good luck with GUTGAA!

    @Stacy: I love puns too. I wrote a story (now shelved) with a character who dished out a lot of puns; I still want to make a short story out of my failed novel experience because I loved the characters.

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    1. Thanks Steph! Yep, that was me in WriteOnCon (unless there was s/one else with a life-extending drug story that I didn't notice--hope not!).

      Good luck to you too!

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    2. Hi Steph! Great to meet another pun fan! Perhaps we can puntificate together during GUTGAA? (okay, even I will admit that one was BAD!)

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  3. Triona, your genre of fiction is right up my alley! Spec fic in all forms is really something I love. Best of luck in GUTGAA!

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    1. Thanks AG! I'm always on the hunt for the perfect book/movie/TV show that combines all those elements (the original Star Wars movies are the closest I've found). And good luck to you too!

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  4. Great to meet you both. I enjoyed going to Big Sur back in 2007. Such fun!

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    1. Ooh, an alum! I don't live in CA anymore, so it'll be tough to go again... but I still am going to seriously consider it for next year. SO helpful.

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  5. Such a great blog yall have here! And OMGosh! I'm inspired from reading Pop Sci ALL the time. I have lists of ideas from reading their articles.
    Great to meet you both and I sure wish I had a cup of that coffee in the pic right now. *swoon*

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    1. Yay for PopSci inspiration! And heck, I'm going to go get a cup of coffee right now. It won't be as nice as that one, but still...

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  6. Nice to meet you both! Is Big Sur the workshop run by the Andrea Brown agency? If so, one of my favorite former critique partners went to that last year. She loved it.

    @Triona - Have you see the movie Out of Time? The concept of your WIP reminds me of that movie. And I loved that movie, so I'd probably love your novel too! :)

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    1. Yep, that's the one! The AB ladies were awesome.

      And I haven't seen Out of Time--but did you mean In Time? That's the one with Justin Timberlake that came out last year. I have to tell you, I was devastated when I heard about it (I was already 1/2 way through my draft!), but my CP saw it and said there weren't many similarities besides the basic concept. So I breathed again and carried on :-)

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  7. Pleased to meet you and thanks for stopping by my blog. Love your blog name and banner. Good luck in GUTGAA!
    Kat (http://beyondthehourglassbridge.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/gearing-up-to-get-agent-blogfest-meet.html)

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  8. So fun you two are doing this -- and I love the story of all four of you meeting and becoming friends etc. Stacy, I have to say, I'm pretty envious of your dreaming your books and your view! Triona, what a great attitude! Except, I don't think you'll find a coffee shop open late in the Midwest...I'd buy a cool espresso machine.

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    1. Yeahhh.... I have a feeling you're right about the coffeeshops. I won't give up, though!

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  9. Nice to meet you Stacy and Triona. Stacy, I used to live in Burkburnett, Texas (went to two years of high school there). I love that your story revolves around a staircase. I think of that picture with all of the staircases that lead to nowhere. Triona, I remember how much interest you got with agents at writeoncon.com recently! Good luck with that MS. I look forward to hearing about your experience with agents. The idea of a life prolonging drug is really not that far fetched. I really hope to read your book in the future!
    -Jenna

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    1. Yes, the staircase to nowhere is exactly how I picture it! Never been to Burkburnett, but it sounds familiar. Where in TX is that located? I grew up in Carrollton, which is just north of Dallas. Great to meet you!

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  10. Hey ladies!! Triona! I've loved getting to know another kindred knitterly and writerly spirit! And Stacy, you live in the best city on Earth! I grew up in San Francisco, and all of my stories/inspirations are set in the City. :)

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    1. I haven't done an SF setting yet, but one day I will have to. What a great place to focus a story. Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. So you also write at nights? I AGREE WITH YOUR TASTES. Night owls FTW!

    Also, have fun at GUTGAA!

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  12. @Triona Thank you for commenting on my blog. You are awesome! I love your advice. It's very true and something we should all remind ourselves of while sending out queries.

    @Stacy A southern girl! Yay! Your inspiration for your book is haunting. I've had dreams before and just had to write them down. Even if they never go anywhere, I have to write them.

    Great meeting you both! Have fun at GUTGAA & good luck in the agent hunt!

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    1. Yay for the south! Where are you from?

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  13. Great to meet you two! Aren't conferences awesome? I met my two writing buddies at one as well. I've been looking for an out-of-state conference to attend next year, I'll have to check out the Big Sur Writing Workshop.

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    1. Definitely check it out! I thought it was incredibly helpful and really wish I'd attended a conference like this with my first manuscript.

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  14. When I'm writing in a public place, music always helps me keep focused. Mostly because it keeps away the other distractions. Even at home, I prefer music over silence.

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  15. Hello, glad to meet you. You sound like a great team. We have some things in common, which is always good. But, I'm on the other side of the USA. I'll be following you gals on your blog.

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    1. Great to meet you too! Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to seeing you around the blog hop!

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  16. Triona--So the writing in coffee shops work for you, not too many distractions? I kind of want to try that writing space, if only because I think it's super posh, ha!

    Stacy--I WISH I dreamed in stories! Well, in good stories. ;)

    Nice to meet you both!

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    1. Hi Charlie! Yep, the coffeeshops work for me--but I always bring headphones. If it's fairly quiet there, I can just go with the background noise of coffee being made and people talking... but if it gets loud and distracting, the headphones are a MUST.

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  17. Wow, that’s so cool how you both do the blog. And easy way to tell your answers apart! Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks! It always helps to have a blogging buddy. :-) look forward to seeing you around the blog hop!

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  18. Nice to meet both of you! Both pieces of advice are very wise, but I love Triona's... I think that's a really good way to stay sane, and I'll definitely be using that tip! Good luck to you both!

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  19. Nice to meet you. I really enjoyed both of your writing advice. Good luck with GUTGAA. Stop by and say hello if you get the chance. http://anjeasandro.blogspot.com/

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  20. Hi Stacy
    I enjoyed finding out a lot more than I expected from you and your writing partners. I hope you find many quiet evening to help you with your writing.

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  21. You both are so different. It is kind of cool :) Stacey--I agree GOOD betas are a MUST! I couldn't write without them. Triona--Querying for 2 years takes some serious determination! I'm impressed :)

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    1. Aw, thanks... sometimes it feels more like stupidity than determination, but hopefully you're right, lol.

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  22. Saying hello from GUTGAA...Nice to meet you ladies! I attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop last year- it was a great experience.

    Stacy, where in SF are you based now? SF is my hometown.

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    1. Hi Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by! I am in Telegraph Hill. Do you still live in SF?

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  23. Are you from Texas? I have a t-shirt from Texas and every time I wear it, I get comments and sort of make new friends.

    http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2012/09/deana-barnharts-gearing-up-to-get-agent.html

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  24. Hi Stacy!! I didn't even realize this was you on here (I've been following this blog for awhile)

    You are the third person I've read about today who got inspired by a dream. Too cool. Anyway, you know I love your book!! Did you hear any news from anyone on it yet?

    I just started a new blog on Wed! I got inspired by all the awesome blogs on GUTGAA. :) Make sure you stop by, okay? I'm in desperate need of followers. haha. Talk to you soon...

    P.S. A couple years ago, did you submit a manuscript to a website called Chimera Critiques for critique?

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    1. Hi Tamara! Too funny that you already follow - small word. What is your blog called?

      Didn't submit Chimera Critiques - perhaps my even twin? :-)

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