A Tale of Questions, Answers, and Analysis
Hello, everyone! Hope you all had an awesome weekend and took a break from your query so you can get out of your writer cave, feel the sun on your face and go de-stress! Getting bombarded with criticism (constructive or no) can be stressful, and all of you guys deserve a pat on the back for putting your work out there to the public for review. Thank you again for being a part of my contest!
Miss Y.R. Jones was nice enough to take time out of her day to answer some questions for me. Without further ado, enjoy this interview with the winner:
1) Are you a pantser or a plotter?
You know, I was in denial for a long time about my Type A personality. I thought I could attempt my first ever MS writing on a whim – until it turned out garbage. So, I started writing as the true me—a plotter. It keeps me from rambling and creating scenes that don’t belong.
True dat! Plots are difficult things to control. I often wonder if other writers have as many issues with plotting as I do! It’s good to hear that I’m not alone.
2) Where did you get the idea for your novel?
Whew! (Breathe, Von) Let me see how I can make this short. I drew the idea of the MCs and the setting (college campus) from my first MS (based on events of my past). I truly believed a story was there; I just didn’t tell it well [at all] the first time. Then, I figured it needed a challenge (time travel), and the rest just came as I wrote new words.
3) How long did it take you to finish the first draft?
I’m almost done. 🙂 But it’s taken me almost a year. I have an annoying habit of line-editing as I write, which takes me longer to churn out a first draft than it should.
I am the same way! Do you feel like you can’t move on to another scene if the first one isn’t almost perfect? I’m so jealous of people who can pump out a whole novel in three months!
4) How do you handle writer’s block?
I wait it out; I often develop writer’s block because my brain needs the break. Eventually, something in my life will inspire me again. I often tell myself, “There is no rush.” So far, it works.
5) Are you published anywhere?
Not anymore (self-publishing project gone wrong :: bangs head on keyboard :: ).
It happens. 🙂
6) What are your three favorite books and why?
“The Color Purple” is my #1. I’ve read it quite a few times. It gives me everything I need in one book—emotion (from sadness and pain to joy and pride), voice, and historical imagery. I draw some inspiration from “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (and no, not because it’s about time travel…lol) and Audrey Niffenegger’s ability to make me feel, see, and love her [flawed] characters. Hm, I don’t have a 3rd favorite, but I must say I love Ann Patchett’s writing style and her talent to evoke emotion. (In case you have noticed, I have a thing for emotional books. lol)
Flawed characters are the best characters, I think. It makes them so much more real.
7) What’s next for you? Have you started the querying process?
I plan to finish my first draft by the end of the month with full editing to begin immediately after. I hope to begin querying this summer, but it depends on how satisfied I am with the final product. (Note: I’m never totally satisfied.)
8) How do you handle harsh criticism?
Well, I prove them wrong, of course. Just kidding. Once the sting of the criticism wears off, I consider the comments with an open mind. Most of the time, the comments are spot on, and I ALWAYS aim to correct and do better. (The query and first 250 entered into this contest were actually improved due to the critiques I received from my first contest.) It may take me a while to get there (I struggle with accepting someone else’s opinion of me; who doesn’t, right?), but eventually, it gets done.
That’s a great attitude!
9) What keeps you from giving up when you’re feeling discouraged?
My children. When they start to drive me bonkers, I’m reminded that I’m not doing this just for me. They look up to me, and being their hero, I refuse to let them down.
10) Do you have a “soundtrack” for your novel?
Absolutely. Poor Ed Sheeran (his “+” album) is tired of playing on repeat, but his lyrics and rhythms allow me to connect with my MS and its characters – instead of typing just to meet a word count.
11) How was your experience in this contest? Anything you’d like to say to the other contestants?
It’s been pleasant and educational. I was able to learn from the feedback I received as well as learn from what the participants had to say about the other entries; it taught me what also appealed to readers that I didn’t include in my own query/work. I actually found myself liking stories that I, before the contest, would’ve never gravitated towards in a bookstore. The contest granted me the chance to explore outside of my genre, my comfort zone. So, thank you!
To my fellow contestants, remember that there are so many different styles of writing and a wide range of creative plots that appeal to all types of readers. Don’t let the criticism discourage you and your story. The contest was about HOW you present that story, and we all want to present our best. Keep working. Do NOT give up. Believe it or not, we ALL won from this contest, and I congratulate you all!
Great advice, Yvonne! Thank you for sharing with us! I am looking forward to reading your first three chapters. Good luck to you in the editing and querying phase.
The winning query and first 250 words:
Within the cold walls of his institute, Dr. Vincent Douvrey dedicated years to his innovations but none to his devoted wife. He never said “I love you”, and until her fatal car accident, he had no desire to say “I’m sorry”. Guilt-ridden and eager to deliver that apology in person, and even more eager to receive his next accolade in science, Vincent attempts his most recent innovation—transitory time travel by liquid ingestion.
But the tonic doesn’t transport him to three years prior. Instead, he awakens almost fifteen years into the past in a University of South Florida dorm room with passé décor. Thanks to Lacunar amnesia, Vincent doesn’t remember any moment or anyone he befriended his first time as a college student. However, an even greater obstacle plagues him: how to return to the future.
Vincent turns to the campus library for guidance, but his research leads him to meet Carmen, a junior student who is not his wife. Carmen is immediately smitten by his Grenadian accent and unfamiliar charm and he by her stunning beauty and unselfishness. Their magnetic passion brews a sultry love affair. Meanwhile, the thirty-five-year old man she believes is twenty-one continues to seek a reverse transport solution.
However, Vincent’s hope of returning home to his acclaimed work dwindles, forcing him to relive his past while loving a woman he knows he doesn’t marry. But when he makes a shocking discovery as to Carmen’s true identity, Vincent hastens to find a way to return to his rightful decade to learn the truth about his repressed past and her role in his future.
LIKE YESTERDAY is commercial fiction and complete at 90,000 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dr. Douvrey possessed a keen talent to ignore. He ignored the resounding proclamation that time travel didn’t exist. He ignored his wife who loved him more than her nursing shoes worn to its last shred of rubber. He ignored his mother who told him that he wouldn’t succeed without her international clout. But this talent was often tested by his incompetent assistant of seven years, whom he observed from his chamber as she mixed and spilled chemicals onto his laminate lab table, incinerating it layer by layer. It was only the eleventh table he had to replace because of her; one more was sure to be tainted within the year. Dim smoke smothered her face, obstructing her view of the doctor’s narrowed eyes and furrowed brows. She owned a brilliant mind, but the doctor found it challenging each new day to ignore her fumbles, destructions, and blabbering. After four long breaths and a silent prayer for strength not to kill her, Dr. Douvrey turned his back towards the window and continued to shield himself within the glass room of toxic fumes, a poor attempt to escape her recurrent interferences and to maintain his state of being alone.
The chamber upheld its purpose of providing security and safety as well as being aesthetically pleasing to his eyes. Upon each entry of the room, the doctor often admired the stainless steel upon the ceiling and parts of the walls and the extensive counter space of which he performed all testing of his formulas.