Tracy Banghart

Tracy Banghart's books on Goodreads

Rebel Wing Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
reviews: 118
ratings: 199 (avg rating 4.18)

By Blood By Blood (By Blood, #1)
reviews: 50
ratings: 88 (avg rating 3.97)

Moon Child Moon Child (Prequel to By Blood)
reviews: 27
ratings: 49 (avg rating 3.86)

Storm Fall Storm Fall (Rebel Wing, #2)
reviews: 27
ratings: 41 (avg rating 4.22)

What the Sea Wants What the Sea Wants
reviews: 5
ratings: 20 (avg rating 3.10)

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    Entries in writing (28)


    Yay SCBWI!

    Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to attend a couple of really awesome SCBWI events. First, the SCBWI Carolinas fall conference.

    I heard the tenacious, talented Beth Revis speak about not giving up, revision, determination...and that first, INCREDIBLE chapter of her novel, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (the rest of it is damn good too!).


    Carrie Ryan was also there - and was also super nice! (Her books have such fantastic titles - I totally have title envy!)

    I got to spend some quality time with a new crit partner, Maggie, and meet some truly wonderful writer folks. It is always surprising and gratifying to me how friendly the industry professionals who attend these events are...they're so generous with their advice and time. There's a sense of community, comraderie...the only other place I've felt that is on Twitter, and it's even better in person. :-)

    The other event I attended was a writer's schmooze in Asheville, where I had the great pleasure of hearing Stephanie Perkins speak. She's the author of two of my very favorite books: ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and the newly released LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, and is an incredibly thoughtful, interesting person. And yes, I was a TOTAL fangirl and arrived with several copies of LOLA for her to sign (and okay, drove 2.5 hours to see her. Which was SOOO worth it, by the way!) :-)

    What struck me about both events was that it was nearly impossible to tell who was aspiring, who was successful...who had a book deal, or a book published, or a manuscript written, by their attitudes. EVERYONE was kind and friendly and supportive. There was no line between pubbed and unpubbed or big deal, modest deal. Everyone who attended these events - at least all the folks I talked to - were just genuinely excited about writing, about the community... and, in the case of last weekend, the GORGEOUS weather and general awesomeness of Asheville. 

    I love, love, LOVE the YA lit community. I've said this before and I'm SURE I'll say it again...but it's the best professional community I've ever belonged to, and I am thankful for every single writer, agent, editor, librarian, and bookseller who's a part of it.

    And everyone who's made ME feel a part of it.

    **  I am also VERY thankful to Stephanie and her husband Jarrod for introducing me to the deliciously chocolatey wonders of Asheville. Soooooo yummy! (MAJOR HOTSAUCE was also very grateful, when I arrived home with a piece of amazing chocolate cake just for him.) ;-)


    The Salon

    I love getting my hair done. The last time I had my natural haircolor was probably eighth grade; since then I've had blonde hair, red, hot pink streaks, blue streaks, green streaks that were supposed to be blue streaks....short hair, long hair, funky hair, classy name it. I love walking into the salon, with its scents of rosemary mint shampoo and flowery styling products. I'll sit down in the chair and look at myself in the mirror, trying to imagine who I'm about to become.

    The outside world falls away, time ceases to matter, and I'm cocooned in a place of warm golden light and beautiful things. Hours later I emerge, transformed.

    This is how I feel about revisions. When I'm really working - when the story has sucked me in - I go to a place outside of time, insulated in the smells and colors and sounds coming alive on the page. I am my main character, sharing her journey, and when I reach the end, blinking back into the light of "real" life, I realize...

    She is not the only one who has changed.

    In honor of her, and to celebrate one of my best friends' weddings this weekend...

    I am transformed! :-)





    Welcome to Revisionland

    I've learned a lot about myself as a writer over the past year. Well, two years, really...ever since I started writing seriously. But the learning has gone all bat-shit crazy recently. Which has been, I think (I hope!) a good thing.

    When I wrote my first novel, the hardest part was just sitting down to write every day. Getting SOMETHING down on the page. I didn't think so much about WHAT.

    Now, with my third novel, EVERYTHING is hard. I'm pretty sure that means I'm getting better. (That's what I tell myself, anyway.) When I was starting out and was less aware of all the choices I was making as I wrote, it was easy to make arbitrary decisions and roll with them, whether they were the right ones or not. Now, with a little more experience, I'm increasingly aware of the impact of each and every decision I make in my writing.

    To be honest, it's terrifying.

    Because, I've discovered two things.

    1) I am NOT the kind of writer who will sit back and work everything out FIRST, before writing. I learn by doing...which translates into learning by making mistakes. LOTS of mistakes.

    2) I am blessed - and cursed - with a very decisive authorial voice. Whether I'm committed to them or not, my choices generally feel very INTENTIONAL in my writing. The curse part of this, of course, is that if I HAVEN'T thought something through, and it's the WRONG can really turn off a reader (see below re: rewriting my main character)

    It shouldn't have shocked me to discover that I'm a learn by doing writer - after all, I'm a learn by doing PERSON (just ask MAJOR HOTSAUCE. It took dating him THREE TIMES over 8 years for me to FINALLY figure out that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. d'oh!). But it DID surprise me. I have critique partners and friends who write a novel, revise it once or twice, and it's sold! (YAY!! :-)) I kept thinking I was doing something wrong when it didn't work that way for me.

    But it's NOT about doing something wrong. It's about doing something DIFFERENTLY. Because no one writes a book - or lives her life - the same way. Over the past year, I have learned - by lots and LOTS of doing - the beauty of revisionland. I'm on draft #10 of my latest novel...and at least three of those versions were almost complete rewrites. With this story, I realized early on it was a big, complicated story, with many different possible ways to tell it. And I dove in, without considering the ramifications of many of my authorial decisions.

    As a result, in addressing one subplot, I went from a few chapters, to 17k, to three short vignettes, before I found the RIGHT way to tell that part of the story.

    And, as a result, I'm rewriting much of my main character, including her fundamental motivations. Yes, in draft 10.

    It's frustating, not getting it "right" the first time. Accepting that the revising part of writing this book has taken 8 times as long as the drafting part. I can't even think about all the words I've thrown onto the page just to cut a draft or two later.

    But it's also comforting, the revelation that THIS is the way I work. For better or worse, I'm a learn by doing writer. I can embrace this about myself, instead of fighting it by giving up on projects too soon. Yeah, I'm kinda hoping that as I get further into my career, I'll learn how to plan out some of my authorial choices a little better, but I also know what it feels like now, to have found a story WORTH this kind of work. And because I've done the work, I HAVE found the right way to tell the story. If, at draft 10, I can fall in love with my characters and my world all over again, surely an editor or two will. Surely these characters are worth loving.

    And when, someday, I DO get an editorial letter, I'll be ready. Cuz hey. Revising isn't scary. I know ALL ABOUT Revisionland. ;-)


    Are you the type of writer who works out all the kinks before you write? One or two drafts and you're done? Or are you a learn by doing...and doing...and doing kind of writer? What have YOU learned about yourself through the revision process?


    In It Together

    So, recently some members of my family have expressed concern over my "isolating" career choice. They worry that because I work from home I'm not getting enough social and professional interaction.

    Okay, yes. I'm not six. My family doesn't need to worry about whether I'm socialized or not.

    But the concern WAS something I found I wanted to address.

    Yes, when my husband was deployed, there were days, weeks even, when I felt lonely. When I missed having someone to go out to dinner with. Or to the movies with. I did these things with friends, but it wasn't quite the same. The thing is, this had a hell of a lot more to do with MAJOR HOTSAUCE being gone than it did my job. While MH was deployed, did I miss going into an office every day? Was I sad that I wasn't being forced to interact with people professionally every day, whether I felt like it or not?

    Short answer: NO.

    The truth is, if I'd had one those kinds of jobs (especially my last job, as a tech writer, which was SOUL KILLING) things would have been a LOT worse. If you have to be away from the person you love, do you want to be showing up in an office every day (Some of which, I might add, don't allow you to instant message your deployed spouse, even though it's the only time he's available.)? Or do you want to be doing something that makes you heart and soul happy?

    Since I started writing full time - since I started discussing the trials and tribulations of the writing life on forums like Absolute Write and connecting with authors, editors, librarians, and agents on Twitter - I have NEVER felt alone the way I did in an office, surrounded by people who JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND.

    It wasn't their fault. I didn't have day jobs with other writers, with people who cared about books or reading or wanted to discuss for hours the state of publishing or what ebooks mean for the future of the industry. (Sadly. I'm sure THOSE kinds of office jobs are AWESOME.)

    Now, I do have that kind of job. Now, because of the wonder of the internet, I can be in my house and at the same time connected with a whole world of soul sisters, kindred spirits, mentors, friends. I can have a discussion about character development or commiserate about how brutal this business is, or celebrate fantastic news.

    I am NEVER alone if I don't want to be.

    In all those "real" jobs where I showed up to an office everyday and exchanged pleasantries with my coworkers, it was always surface streets. Now, some of those coworkers became close friends because we DID share a love of books and an interest in the industry (or an interest in really, really tasty food). But for the most part, going into an office everyday made me feel MORE isolated. And worse, sitting at a computer all day NOT writing wore me out enough that when I got home, I COULDN't write.

    Even on my worst day as a full-time writer....even when I'm crying and snotty and scared shitless I'm never going to make it in this business, even when I HATE that my husband is supporting me financially and my little feminist heart rebels at the thought that I'm bringing in NO bacon whatsoever at the moment....even then, I'm still happier than I have ever been in any other job I've ever had.

    I'm chasing a dream I've had since I was five years old.

    I'm creating SOMETHING out of NOTHING every single day.

    I'm meeting - if only online - some of the most interesting, generous, talented, and inspiring people I've ever known.

    So no. I don't feel isolated by my career choice. I don't feel like I need more socialization. What I feel is really, really lucky that I have this opportunity. That I get to spend long, quiet, uninterrupted days with all the varied, interesting characters and worlds my mind can imagine...and with the varied, interesting writers, agents, librarians, and editors who make the "real" world infinitely more beautiful and fun to be a part of.

    Thanks Shari, Mandy, Susanne, Cory, Jennifer, and all you lovely folks on Twitter and AW. You're the best "coworkers" ever. :-)

    Btw, this post was further inspired by Mandy's post on basically the same topic, which reminded me just how frustrated I get when the "you're isolating yourself" argument comes up. Thanks Mandy!


    Back to "Real" Life

    It's been a crazy summer. There's no other way to say it.

    MAJOR HOTSAUCE came home from Iraq. We found a house and moved to North Carolina in a matter of weeks. Then, after a few days to unpack and see family, we drove to northern Ontario for a two-week vacation. And, to my initial disappointment, Shattered Veil moved back to revisionland. I've had time to get excited about this new step for my "baby", and have even started a new project.

    This summer was the first time I went more than a month or so without actively working on a manuscript. And it's been almost a year since my last first draft. Needless to say, the new manuscript is slow going. But even a few hundred words a day feels like an accomplishment. It was hard, this time, diving into something new. Taking that leap of faith.

    There's the writing itself, which is painful and wonderful and hard work and incredibly rewarding in and of itself...just the act of watching a story unfurl in black and white on the screen is gratifying like no other job I've ever had. But the quest for publication - that's a separate beast. One that has not been kind to me. Rejection and disappointment can make it nearly impossible to continue. It can make finding that sweet spot of creation, that excitement in a new story or a new character feel hopeless, useless instead.

    But it always comes back to the writing. The storytelling. The act of putting one word forward and then the next until you're running, euphoric.

    The only way to ensure you won't be successful in this industry is to stop writing.

    It's nice to know there's one area in life where my stubbornness is a gift. Shiny new idea, here I come!