January 29, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop with other folks on this writing journey. Should you wish to join us, we encourage you to visit a few other WUW blogs each week, get to know some other writers, and spread some writerly love! Don't forget to leave the link to your post.

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we're using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING
WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO


Welcome, and thank you for joining us!


WHAT I'M READING

I pre-ordered a copy of Into the Still Blue, and as an Amazon Prime member I was hoping it would get here on release day or very shortly thereafter. Imagine my surprise when it showed up five whole days before its release! After a really crummy night's sleep, I spent the better part of Sunday lounging around with Perry and Roar. Well, not really...* All I will say is that it was such a great conclusion to one of my favourite series. After that, I picked up Phoebe North's YA sci-fi Starglass  and I'm really enjoying it so far.

WHAT I'M WRITING
Yeah...so. What a difference a week can make. This past week I picked up a book (a good one) and was a bit dismayed to discover oodles of similarities between it and my own WiP. Eek. Seriously, within the first 25 pages I had a bullet list of things that now need to change in my story. Why does it always feel like two steps forward, twenty steps back? So basically my WiP is going to have to morph into an entirely different story, which is a hugely daunting task. Needless to say, I've been giving it the side-eye. And while I've been doing that, I've also been brainstorming another story. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get the creative juices flowing. I spent big blocks of time over the course of two days researching, studying the phonology of words, jotting down notes. We'll see if it forms into some kind of usable idea. 


Drippy and puddle-y and
wonderfully spring-like.


WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

Really, really good books I've had the privilege to read over the past month. It makes me want to step up my game and write something truly awesome. With the exception of the past day or so, we've been having unseasonably warm weather. (Especially weird considering the wacky weather south of the border. It's like someone pulled a Freaky Friday switcheroo on us or something.) The thought of spring is always inspiring to me. I'm not off my rocker enough to think that winter is almost over (bahahahahaha...haha), but it does give me a boost that it's nowhere near as horrifically cold as it has a tendency to be here in Alberta in January.





WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

This past Saturday, as part of the pipe band I belong to, I attended our local Burns Supper to celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns (national poet of Scotland). I had to give a toast--the reply to the Toast to the Lassies--which was pretty nerve-racking for me. I have no issue getting up in front of a room full of teens to talk history or teach the essay, but a room full of adults? Tough. Crowd. The toast was supposed to roast the men, reference Robbie Burns, then wrap up with a toast to the laddies. I thought my speech was pretty decent, but it's a different story when you're staring at a room full of people. Needless to say, I'm really glad it's done. Next time I'm tempted to volunteer for something like this, someone please smack me with a spurtle.** 

Aside from that? Not much else worth mentioning.




SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU, FRIENDS?


* Though, that would be AWESOME.

** This is a spurtle.


58 comments:

  1. First of all, you need to send some of that springlike weather east because we're in the deep freeze again. I know, big shock for Saskatchewan. Our whole neighbourhood looks like a skating rink seeing as it thawed and then immediately took another plunge down to -30. So ready for winter to take a hike.

    Bah! That's so frustrating about your story. Sounds like it's time for another Skype session. I'm eager to hear about your musings on a new idea. I hope WON is salvageable, but that's cool that you're in brainstorming mode.

    You should have had some of the Pike's Kilt Lifter Ale before giving your toast. It would've boosted the confidence nicely, I'm thinking. I'm sure you did great. Gimme a shout & we'll talk soon!

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    1. It's snowing right now, so... (I think I scared off the nice weather.) Still, it could be -30C, so I'll take snow or -10C or whatever. Though, due to all the mild weather and melting that went on, it's now completely icey with the colder weather. I need frigging crampons to even navigate the sidewalks. Sometimes having a spell of nice weather is worse because you just *know* that there will be another cold snap (or ten), another blizzard (or twenty).

      Yeah, the story similarities have reached a point that I honestly don't think my story is salvageable. That might sound extreme, but seriously. It's bad. Many of the plot points and details are eerily similar. So much so, that I would have to pretty much write an entirely different story to feel okay about it again. Nothing like a new project to soften the blow...

      I really should have gotten into the sauce before delivering this toast. That would have made it easier. Also, more interesting. What a tough crowd! We should definitely Skype this week.

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  2. Oooh like Erin, I'm all curious about your brainstorming (and phonology of words?? :-)). Love your brainstorming notebook!
    And if you need any help with WON, don't hesitate :-)
    Glad you had a good reading spree. I still need to read UNDER THE NEVER SKY...but will soon. Hope you have a great day!

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    1. The brainstorming is still very much in its earliest stages. Also, a completely different idea than the one I mentioned to you recently lol. I'll touch base with you soon. As for WoN, I think it might be dead in the water. Or the Antarctic wilderness even. Bah.

      You definitely have to read UNDER THE NEVER SKY and the other books in the series. Perry and Roar are everything that is wonderful about YA book boys. ;-)

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  3. Haha and I'm already thinking Spring in 7 weeks! Even though I should know better. Northern England is not the best for weather either. I need to pick up Starglass. I need to add more Sci-Fi into my life.

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    1. I should totally know better. It's snowing now. So much for our spring-ish weather lol. STARGLASS is really good. It's kind of a cool take on the whole generation ship thing. :-)

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  4. That is so not what I pictured a spurtle to be ^^;

    I've had loads of ideas and then thought "nope, that sounds exactly like that other thing." Frustrating. Glad to hear you've got another idea brewing away :D

    Thank you for the Starglass reminder. I need to see if that's on Kindle ^_^

    Have a great week!

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    1. I actually have a spurtle sitting on the shelf behind me lol. (I bought it on our Scotland trip.) I think a person could do some serious damage with that thing! And not just to porridge.

      If it wasn't for that other idea brewing, I think I would officially lose my mind, maybe even give up on this writing thing. The WiP with similarities to another book is pretty much not salvageable now. I know people say some similarities is a normal thing, but this goes so far beyond "some". Ugh. Such is life, I guess. Hope you have a great week, Cole! And enjoy your cart when it gets there. ;-)

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  5. Hiya

    What a great post. :) I love the pictures. I have also added Starglass to my to read list. And I am also planning to read the Under the Never Sky series.

    Have a great week.

    Angel

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    1. Thanks, Angel! I really had to take a picture of the puddle, since that pretty well never happens here in January. You really should read the UNDER THE NEVER SKY series. It's so good! One of my all-time favourites. :-)

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  6. That Burn's Night even sounds fun! I couldn't have done the toast, eep. You're brave!

    About the similar book: I wouldn't decide to change you book entirely unless it's a) a HUGE (and I mean really, really popular) book and b) the execution is identical to your story. There's plenty of similar ideas out there, but as long as the execution differs it's usually not an issue.

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    1. It was totally fun, even if the toast part wasn't so much lol. I don't think I'll be doing that again anytime soon.

      On the similar book thing, I don't think there's any way to salvage this story. There are far too many details that are the same. Changing my story would basically require completely rewriting it, essentially coming up with an entirely different story. I suppose it's a bit more than similar, really. It's crazy how much is the same. Ah well. Thank goodness for new projects, right?

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  7. I hope the idea you're brainstorming morphs into a really fabulous story, Jaime. I've been there as far as discovering pubbed books with discouraging similarities to my own WiPs and it's definitely a downer. Hopefully you can figure out a way to make your WiP completely unique. Have a wonderful week, friend!

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    1. I really hope it morphs into some good, too. I'm really going to plan the heck out of this thing before plunging into writing. I don't think there is a way to salvage my WiP short of writing a completely different story. It's not just similar, it's so much the same on a number of key plot points/details that I can't see myself continuing to work on this thing. So, on to the next story, I guess! Hope you have a great week as well, Katy. :-)

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  8. Yeah, I wouldn't worry about trying to get rid of every similarity. If noticing something in a similar book makes you think of something that excites you, that makes you think "Well if I did *this* instead, that'd be so cool" then run with it! But you're allowed to have similar ideas to a published book, whether you knew about it beforehand or not.

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    1. If it was a matter of a few things that were sort of the same, I'd simply do some tweaking and try not to worry about it. The issue here is that major (and minor) plot points are *so* much the same (eerily so), and there are so many of them that I'd basically have to write an entirely different story to feel okay about it. So, I'm embracing the new story idea and running with it instead. Maybe at some point I'll figure out a way to redeem the trouble WiP, but for now I think it's time to step away.

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  9. Jaime, I hate to hear the news about your WiP, but the brainstorming-new-idea news is great! Whether you rewrite your WiP or you write a new book, or you write the new book and then rewrite the WiP, it sounds like forward motion. I hold my breath any time I see anything that I think might potentially remind me or someone else of my WiPs or my book or whatever. I think we've all been in a similar position. Like they say, there are no new ideas...Enjoy your unseasonably warm weather. Winter has been incredibly schizophrenic in Texas, but that's not unusual.

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    1. I've encountered similarities to my WiP in the past, but this one is just way too much the same in big and small ways. I honestly couldn't believe how many things were the same. Changing it at this point would require essentially writing an entirely different story, which I'm not sure I'm prepared to do. So, I'm just running with this new story idea and seeing where it leads. (It's fantasy, BTW.) I'm sort of excited about the possibilities. ;-)

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    2. Yay fantasy! I encourage this fantasy novel writing!

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  10. So sorry to here about your WIP. On the positive side, maybe it's good that you're reading an excellent published book that's similar because it means your ideas are fabulous? Trying to be glass half-full here. Good luck with the brainstorming and revisions. Also, I'm jealous of your puddles. Can you take these freezing temperatures back?

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    1. Blogger just ate my response. Stupid Blogger.
      That's definitely a glass half-full way of looking at it. ;-) I think it's time I moved on to another idea, because fixing this one (ie. essentially writing a whole other story) has reached a whole new level of frustrating. New ideas are fun, so I'm just going to embrace this and hope it gets me writing regularly again. (More glass half-full sentiment there. :D) I think this could be good!

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  11. I am so impressed with your toast (public speaking = not my thing)! I bet it was fantastic. Good luck with your brainstorming and I hope you get some great ideas on your WIP, too--and enjoy that spring-ish weather! (I'll be hiding under blankets from the current round of Polar Vortex.)

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    1. I've realized that my ability to public speak is tied to circumstances. If it's something I feel confident about (a presentation, teaching, etc.) then I'm okay, but when it's something that I'm supposed to be semi-funny, off-the-cuff, whatever, I'm rubbish at it. Bleh. I won't be repeating that whole toast thing again anytime soon. O_o

      I think I'm going to run with the brainstorming/new WiP idea now. The other story is more or less dead in the water, so there's not much point pouring my energy into it. Besides, new projects are fun! And exciting! Right? ;-)

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  12. Yuck, been there with the similar story thing. But it actually sparked a ton of ideas and I loved the direction my WIP took when I started changing it around.

    Enjoy the warmer weather :)

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    1. This story has changed so much, taken so many new directions, that I'm kind of weary of the whole thing. I think it's time to move on to another project. If I come back to this one down the road, great, but for now it's just sucking away the enjoyment I once had in writing. But new ideas are fun, so this is a good thing! I'm already thoroughly enjoying myself. :-)

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  13. Best wishes on your WIP. I have been reading lots of fairy tale retellings scared stiff that they will be to much like mine.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. I think I'm moving on to the new project now and leaving this one alone for now or for good. I'm not sure which. At this point it feels more worthwhile to pour my energy into something new, so I'm going to run with that and see where it takes me. It's kind of exciting!

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  14. Oh, I hate when that happens. Once, I gave up on a manuscript I was revising because I found just too many similarities. If I wanted it to work, I would have to write the whole thing again, and change A LOT of stuff. So I put it in a drawer and worked on other manuscripts. Maybe someday I'll get back to it, but for now I can't think of a way to change/fix it.
    Hope you can rework yours, and not abandon it!

    On the other hand, YAY for new ideas!

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    1. Yes! You get exactly where I'm coming from here! It's not just a matter of a few *sort of* similar things, it's spot on, almost identical, eerily similar things. And far too many of them. When it gets to the point that you'd have to re-write the entire story, why not just spend the time on a new story altogether? I might come back to this, like you say, but for now, my time is better spent on something else. Thank you for understanding! And "YAY for new ideas" is right!

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  15. Don't let that other book get you down. I'm sure your take is unique, and I say keep going. By the time you get it done and through revisions, it's bound to be different enough from that other book. Couldn't it be a good sign that you are onto something marketable?

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    1. Sadly, this isn't a case of a few similar ideas, it's essentially the entire story with crazy details that are almost exactly the same. I've never encountered this before, so it's kind of shocking. I really don't think there's a way to make it unique enough from the other book. Instead, I'm going to pour my energy into a new project I can feel excited about. That's a good thing, I think. :-)

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  16. Oh, I hate finding similarities to a WIP in a book! What a mojo killer. Hopefully any changes you have to make will only make your WIP more awesome, though :)

    It's really warm over here, too! Well…I say warm. It hasn't been freezing, is all. Not that we get winter like you do, but I'm still waiting for the three days of snow we get every year that plunges the whole country into panic (you would mock us, I'm sure!)

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    1. It's definitely a mojo killer. Also, a story killer. There's no way I can think of to salvage this story, and that's not just me being frustrated/bummed. Ah well. On to new ideas! I'm actually pretty excited about that side of things. :-)

      I had to laugh about what you said about the weather elsewhere and the panic that ensues. Haha! You're so right. We're totally mocking everyone else. ;-) Here's hoping you guys don't get those three days of snow!

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  17. There are a lot of very similar books in this world, what makes the stories unique is how they are told. You are the one telling your story, and you'll figure out how to make this book your own. Don't let another great writer with a similar vision get you down. I hope you have a great week.

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    1. I don't think there's a way to tell this story in a way that is unique enough from the other, so I'm just moving on to another story. There's similar and then there's almost spot on identical in way too many ways. Ah well. I'm actually excited about new ideas and running with them! :-)

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  18. That's tough when you find a book that's done what you're trying to do. I'm assuming you picked up the book since it was related to themes you were writing about? That's good research. Think if you weren't actively reading in your genre and you spent more and more hours on this, sent it out, only to hear "that's been done before." Now you can change details to put your own spin on them.

    I can't believe you are standing in a puddle in that picture. Chicago has some rough winters but we are not used to subzero for days at a time! Ours temperature hit -15 degrees F and schools were cancelled. I got another day to work from home. Further up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, they do get those temps more regularly, but not us. Crazy polar vortex!

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    1. You're so right, Stephanie. As much as it *really* bothers me that it's so much the same, I can consider it a dodged bullet in the end. I would so much rather pour my energy into something new and unique than try to "sell" something that has been done and done well. So on to new ideas! I'm actually excited about it, not gonna lie. :-)

      It's snowing right now, but still not all that crazy. We'll get our fair share of cold snaps and blizzard in what remains of the (million months of) winter, so I'll take the mild temps when we get them! Hope it warms up down there.

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  19. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to read Into The Still Blue, anxiously awaiting for my copy. It is said that everything's been done before (in regards to writing), and it can be frustrating when someone has the same idea before we do. I've had this happen and it can suck, but I'm glad you're not giving up on this story and will continue to make the idea your own. And books are incredibly inspiring, glad you've read so many great ones lately. I can't imagine having to give a toast in front of so many people, but I'm sure you rocked it!

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    1. INTO THE STILL BLUE is so, so good! It's worth the wait. Trust me. :-)
      I know that everything has been done before when it comes to writing, but this is an instance of *way* too similar. Like, spot on the same when it comes to key plot points and details. There's a point when you really can't tweak a story anymore before you have to essentially turn it into an entirely different story. Not sure I'm prepared to do that, so I'll just move on to a new project. I'm excited about that!

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  20. That's rough about your work in progress, its happened to me too. It's a bit demoralizing, BUT the good news is that you were on the right track to publication! See how I looked on the bright side? Haha, it sounds like your taking it in stride. ;)

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    1. That's definitely the bright side. And then there's the fact that I've been tossed up whether I should continue revising this story or move on to something different. I guess I have my answer, right? While I'm bothered (obviously), it's an opportunity to come up with something new and hopefully unique. That's exciting!

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  21. Authors worst nightmare= finding an already published book with too many similarities to your own WIP. Eeeek! And since I suck so terribly at massive rewrites, this is doubly frightening to me.

    I'm sure your toast was awesome. Plus, hopefully most folks were a tad drunk by the time so it was even better. Our little "band" is going to be giving it's first ever performance and I'm thinking of buying the whole bar a bunch of drinks just so they don't notice if I screw up. (That's my cunning plan anyway.)

    I. LOVE. YOUR. BOOTS. (boot envy)

    Hope your week continues to be spring-y, puddle-y and warm. :)

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    1. It is the absolute worst. I've already done a massive rewrite and was prepared to do more ripping apart and rewriting, but this just blows that right out of the water. There will be no rewriting this thing again *any time* soon. It stinks, but it just gives me the push I needed to move on to something else at least for the time being.

      I think toasts are best delivered at least partly drunk and the whole situation only gets better if everyone else is at least partly drunk as well. I'm not sure what the level of insobriety was that night. I'm hoping it was high lol.

      I love the boots too, but I wish I'd ordered them slightly smaller. They seem a little big to me. Ah well. They're comfy and plaid, so that's cool. Hope your writing retreat is going well!

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  22. I find myself very attentive to novels that might bear any similarity to my completed unpublished works, or ideas I have that I'm really excited about. So far, no-one seems to have done anything too similar to my work to give me cause for concern. But the longer I remain unpublished, the more opportunity there is. And it's a tough call. How similar is too similar? After all, there are only so many plots in the world. I hope you don't feel like you have to change too much. Often, it's not the ideas themselves that make a book stand out, but how the author executed those ideas. There's nothing original in the component parts of the light bulb (carbon, glass, etc.). Edison's genius was in how he put them together.

    I'm glad we could take the snow off your hands for a while, Jaime. You guys deserve a break. Enjoy the sun! :)

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    1. I'm actually thinking of doing a blog post about that very topic, Colin: How Similar Is Too Similar. I know there are no unique ideas, but in a market that is getting increasingly more difficult to break into (especially in sci-fi), you don't want to bring something to the table that feels unoriginal or too much like something else. Plus, it just bugs *me* that my story feels like the poor man's [insert too similar story]. I think it's the cue I needed to just move on, which isn't a bad thing. Really. I think your WiP is totally safe, because that's a wonderfully unique idea you have. :-)

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  23. Yeah...we are NOT having spring weather here. School was closed yesterday just because it was too COLD. No snow coming down, bright sunny day...just too cold.

    I guess I only vaguely realized that the Veronica Rossi series was wrapping up. Guess it's time to round those books up--the first one was really good but it feels like I read it AGES ago (I think after she was part of the very first event I ever went to at Books of Wonder! I was there for Tahereh Mafi and Lauren Oliver, but also discovered Veronica Rossi's books and also Anna Carey's.)

    Seriously: there is room in the world for WoN and Other Book. There is. I'm speaking as a reader, not just as your CP. I've read them both and they both rocked my world.

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    1. We're back to snowy and chilly again here too. Though, we're so used to it up here that things don't grind to a screeching halt when it happens. I imagine Buffalo is much the same as here that way. Still, extreme cold sucks. It has to get below -30C here before they start cancelling school, which is just terrible.

      You should definitely finish reading Veronic Rossi's series. It's so good! And the books just get better and better, which doesn't often happen, sadly. It's so nice to have read two series (this and Rae Carson's) that finished off so, so well.

      While I definitely appreciate the support and encouragement (seriously, it's *awesome*), I think it might be time to set WoN aside for a while. At least until I can approach it without wanting to punch it lol. I have some good ideas to change it up, but I think I need more now after reading Other Book. So I'll just let it ruminate while I brainstorm something new and hopefully unique. I'll keep you posted all around! :-)

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  24. Hi! I didn't know you were in a pipe band! That's awesome. :)

    I haven't done a WUW post in a while, so it's nice to come back here and read everyone's comments. I'll probably have to spend tomorrow catching up on all the posts, though.

    I wouldn't worry about a book being too similar to yours...after all, the same tropes and stories and plot points come up a lot. Maybe you're just seeing your story in someone else's because you're so familiar with it. Best wishes on your revisions, though. :)

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    1. Well, I'm a member and have been practising with the pipe band, but I still haven't performed with them publicly yet. The goal is St. Patrick's Day for our annual pub crawl. It's lots of fun!

      So happy to have you back again, Laura! It does take a bit of time to get around to the different posts, that's for sure. As for the too similar story, I think the similarities are too great to pursue this right now. I'm setting it aside and working on a new idea (!), and maybe at some point I'll come back to this one when I have a better idea how to approach the changes that need to happen. :-)

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    2. Sooo, my sleep-deprived brain hit "sign out" instead of "publish" on my first comment. *ahem*

      I hope you get the inspiration needed to change your story, so that you don't have to throw it out completely. :) Not knowing the details, I can't advise, but I wish you all the best!

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  25. I know it's upsetting that you are changing your manuscript, but you are still getting work done. It's way better to change it now, than to get rejection letter after rejection letter and not know why! You might not need to change anything if you think your book can hold it's own. Whatever you decide I'm glad to hear you're making progress.

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    1. While I'm setting aside too-similar-WiP you're totally right that I'm still getting work done. I may be brainstorming a new story idea, but that's still working on writing, so that's a good thing. I had already queried this (too similar) story and was changing it based on an R&R I received, but I definitely would rather know that my story is too much like another person's before continuing to query. I just don't want it to be the poor man's version of that other story. There's similar and then there's *too* similar. In my opinion, my story falls in the latter camp. But I'm seeing this as an opportunity to move on to something else, which I've been wanting to do anyway! :-)

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  26. Oh man, I hate it when that happens! When I pick up a book that's even a little similar to something I wrote or that I might write it's kind of deflating. You shouldn't feel bad though, You know that old saying that it's all been done before? It's pretty much true. I think if you gave two people the same concept, they'd each do it a lot different.

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    1. While it's definitely true that it's all been done before, I think sometimes a story can be *too* similar to something else. I think that's the case with my story. I'm setting it aside until I know how to properly make changes, but for now I'm excited about working on something new! :-)

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  27. Oh no, I'm so sorry that your book idea is too similar to a published book. That's the worst. I'm glad you're brainstorming another story to keep your creative juices flowing.

    I'm behind on the series (I've only read the first book) but I'm looking forward to catching up and eventually reading INTO THE STILL BLUE. It's good to know it concludes well.

    Congrats on getting through what sounds like an intimidating speech! I'm impressed, and I'm sure you did a great job.

    Have a good week!

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    1. While having a too similar story kind of stinks, I'm seeing it as an opportunity to work on something new. It's definitely a great way to keep the creative juices flowing and to actually get excited about writing again. That's a good thing!

      Definitely finish reading the Veronica Rossi series. The series just gets better and better. One of my all-time favourites! Well, and it's always nice to read through a series when all of the books are out already. Have a wonderful week, Ghenet! :-)

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  28. I know the experience you're going through with your WIP. That happened with the first incarnation of my WIP. I wrote it, and then started seeing similarities in all kinds of really popular YA and MG books. It was a bummer. I retooled, retooled, and retooled, and now my WIP is a much, much, much stronger story. Good luck!! I'm jealous of all the reading you've been doing. And I'm with you--spring is so inspiring and awesome.
    Have a good week!

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  29. I recently did some public speaking lately that stressed me out more than I wanted it to. I've done a lot of musical performance and dance, and even some acting, but this was a very formal event and I hadn't been in front of that many people for a while. I think it was good for me, though. :) Wishing you a happy and story-filled rest of your week!

    Oh, and HOW is it possible that Canada has *puddles* while south of the border we are freezing in places we didn't know we could freeze?! *shakes head at Canada*

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