Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I said I would post my Top 10 writing experiences on New Year's Eve, but as it seems that most everyone is still on a blogcation, I will save it for Monday.

Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve and Day and I'll talk to you lovely writer folks in 2011! 




Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Did you survive Christmas?

Hello writer friends! I survived Christmas and if you're reading this, you did, too! Hooray!

I love Christmas, but it does seem to get more stressful every year. I hosted two Christmas meals for different sides of the family this year, and I found myself running around on Christmas Eve trying to find some silken tofu to make a chocolate tofu pie for my cousin who can't eat dairy... I didn't realize how early the stores were closing (has Walmart always closed at 7:45 on Christmas Eve?). My tofu search was unsuccessful, but luckily everything else turned out well.

This is what my husband got for the kids:



He's an Irish Setter. Since my husband and I both have a lot of Irish blood, we named him Murphy, a fine upstanding Irish name. We also both love the Dropkick Murphys, so his name is a double ode to Ireland.

Also, I received the Christmas Blog Award from Michael Di Gesu for my Be Jolly By Golly blog post. Thanks, Michael! Since I love Christmas, in the spirit of the season I am passing this along to all my followers who participated in the Be Jolly By Golly blogfest! Heck, even if you didn’t, but posted something awesome about Christmas and think it rocks, then I award it to you. I really loved reading everyone’s awesome holiday posts.

Also, thank you so much to everyone who commented on my Heifer post! On Thursday when I get paid, I will be making a donation of $1 for each comment I received on the post, and combined with my usual annual gift, I am going to purchase a Promise Gift Basket. This gift basket provides chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits to people in developing countries, and Heifer teaches them to use the animals to build a sustainable business. I was so excited to discover that Nate Bransford and other writers are involved with this organization that I am so passionate about! It was a great idea to do a comment charity fundraiser, and I think I will definitely make it an annual tradition!

On to writery topics, today I reviewed the Writer's Digest Top 10 writing articles of 2010. Two things from two different articles really popped out at me, so I thought I'd share. The first tip was from an article by Steven Goldsberry, an author. He said not to save the best for last - always start with your best. This seems really simple - a lot of you may be going, "well, duh." But this is actually one of the mistakes I addressed in my most recent rewrite. My best parts didn't occur until later in the book. Steven said the better you do at the beginning, the better you continue to do. So, it's not like you should write your best and then the rest can suck. But basically, start with amazing and the fire will continue to grow.

The other piece of advice was actually extremely relevant to me, right now, today. Because today I have been polishing up my novel, trying to add back in some word count after I axed twenty pages off my ending. Robert Lee Brewer, the editor of the Writer's Digest newsletters, said that writers often worry about the wrong details, like word count. He said that while some parameters apply, trying to pad to get to a certain number is often unnecessary. If a manuscript is perfect, don't pad just to get a higher number. Not that mine is perfect :~) but I realized I was trying to reach an arbitrary number when the story is complete as it is.

What great writing advice did you receive in 2010? Any exciting epiphanies or breakthroughs to share? I'd love to hear them. For my next post on New Year's Eve, I'll share my Top 10 writing experiences of 2010. TTFN!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Join me and Nathan Bransford and friends in fighting world hunger!

Okay, so I lied about not posting again before Christmas.  I've just seen that Nate Bransford is doing an awesome fundraiser on his blog for Heifer International, an organization I have been donating to for years!! 

Heifer gives different animals to people in developing countries around the world and teaches them to run a sustainable business with the animals.  For instance, you can donate honeybees to a farmer and Heifer will teach them how to beekeep and sell honey and wax.  They also require the recipients to share the offspring of their animals with others.  This organization rocks so hard!!

So, Nate and his wife are donating $1 for each comment on his blog post up to $1,000.  I can't do that much, but I'll do $1 for each comment made before 11 PM on Thursday the 23rd, up to $100.  So, please comment on this post to increase our gift to Heifer! 

Check out the Heifer website here.  Thanks for the awesome idea, Nate!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!

Happy holidays writer friends! I hope you have all had a good week. Mine has been a very busy week of holiday parties and many dashings about trying to get all of my shopping done.  Not quite finished, but hopefully I will be soon. 

So, this is my first blogfest! I am super excited. Thanks Jen and Melissa for the great idea. All of the participants were asked to provide a Christmas recipe and also pics of their Christmas tree. Check out Jen and Melissa's blogs to see the other cool participants!

I searched for some Christmas drink recipes, and couldn't find any that I really liked, though I did find some ridiculously awesome names.  Can I interest anyone in a Christmas Elf's Revenge, Sex Under the Christmas Tree, or Christmas Nipple?  I decided I wanted a red drink (of course) and I like fruity martini type things, and then I got really pie-in-the-sky and wondered if there was some cool drink out there named for writers.  Well, I didn't find one, so I made one up.  Here it is:

The Writer's Christmas Stress Reliever

Ingredients:

- 2 ounces Absolut Vanilla
- 2 ounces cherry syrup
- 2 ounces pomegranate juice
- Spritz of lime
- Fresh raspberries to garnish


Directions:


- Mix all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice
- Shake
- Pour into a fabulous martini glass
- Throw a bunch of raspberries in
- Drink and relax

Now, here are pics of my Christmas tree.  I must confess that these were from last year, but my camera has been on the fritz and I haven't taken pics yet this year. Thus, my beautiful Tangerine kitty is in this picture. He died earlier this year so we will miss him this Christmas. Mocha the very cooperative pony is also starring in my pics.







So, I also went a little OC on Google images last night because I wanted to find more cool pics to include. But, what's Christmas if things don't get a little over the top? To me, Christmas is about the magic. Not only is the whole Santa thing terrific and fantastical, but it's the one time of year when everyone really comes together and tries harder to get along and think of other people.  The whole season is infused with specialness. So, my pics are all about the wonder of the holidays. Starting with castles, naturally.

**Photos removed since peeps have been getting sued for posting photos on blogs**

 
I will not post again til after Christmas, but I will be visiting everyone's blogs!! Have a lovely and awesome holiday, blog friends! Drink lots of eggnog! Eat lots of yummy food! Give and gets lots of presents! Be thankful you can do all these things! Feel the magic!



Monday, December 13, 2010

Delicious vintage blog makeover!

Whilst perusing my fellow bloggers' sites this weekend I came across a cool template, which led me to ShabbyBlogs where they have all this amazing free stuff!  I love vintagey themed things, and they have it galore over there.  So, I chose a Christmas background for this month and I'm already trying to decide what I'll change it to in January.  They also have cool blinky buttons, which you'll see I've sprinkled liberally through my sidebar... the one at the top is actually a set of quotes I have up in my bedroom, so I was stoked to see it available for my blogging home.

Anyways, editing updates: I sort of finished my major rewrite last night.  By sort of I mean that I got all the way through to the end, connecting all of the new scenes I wrote so that everything is integrated with no gaping hole plots.  But one thing I realized I had to do was remove a lot of pages from the end - I had about a 45 page wrap up after the final climatic scene, and that just won't work.  So, I slashed ruthlessly down to 20 pages, which is still sort of a lot, but it works.  Now, I just want to go back and plump a little here and there earlier in the book to bring my word count back up.

Speaking of makeovers, I've also decided I want to change the name of my novel, because I don't think it's snazzy enough.  I spent some time last night making a list of keywords for my book and some possible new titles.  I also wrote a brand new query letter in like five minutes, which is amazing for me (usually I agonize about it for several hours).  So, I guess I kind of did a total novel makeover, with lots of juicy new scenes, a new name and a new query.  I'm going to wait until after the holidays, and then it's round three of querying!

So, writer friends, how are your projects going?  Are you writing?  Editing?  Querying?  Waiting for your book to be published?  What are your writing resolutions for the new year?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter is here!

It is freezing in Florida.  So says the native Floridian who's never lived through a 'real' winter.  Seriously though, it makes me very unhappy when it doesn't get above 40 degrees in the middle of the day and in the morning when I have to feed my equine friends it is 20 degrees.  Yuck.  And we don't get any nifty snow or anything.  Those of you that have survived colder temperatures are welcome to chastise me :)

On to writerly stuff, I have received a delightful award from the super cool Joann Swanson!!  Thanks, Joann!  Joann is one of the Killer Chicks, and I haunt her personal blog and the Killer blog on an extremely frequent basis.  Both blogs have really great writerly topics and plus Joann's has ravens (or are they crows?) which I love.

So, award recipients are asked to share 7 things about themselves.  My last sharing was random stuff, so this time I decided to do a theme on my writing life.  Here goes:

1) I started writing at such an early age I can't remember, but it was roughly 5 or 6.  I wrote a poem about a white Christmas pony, which was specifically designed to manipulate my parents. It was unsuccessful.
2) The first novel I started writing was when I was about 12.  It was also about horses.  I never finished it.
3) The third (I think) novel I started writing was when I was about 14 or 15.  It was high fantasy, because I was big in my Tolkien/Tad Williams/Dragonlance phase.  It was pretty unoriginal but I got to about 150 pages I think. 
4) I started a bunch of other books and wrote a lot of random poems (one was about being pissed off at traffic and eating peaches in my car) while in my teens.
5) Life intervened!  I became a young mother and didn't do much writing as I spent my early twenties chasing after a very rambunctious and completely awesome kid who I'm proud to call my son.  He is almost nine now and reads 300 page middle grade novels.  Yes, I'm totally bragging.  He rocks.
6) My current WIP starting percolating in my brain a really long time ago.  Like 7 or 8 years.  I finally started writing it about 2 years ago, finished the first draft about 10 months ago, and have been editing and getting rejected by agents ever since.
7) I've started the second book in the series, as well as a couple other future projects which I switch to when I get bored or need a break from my main WIP.

I guess that was sort of a timeline really... anyhow, here are the new recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award - they all have lovely blogs which I encourage you to stalk:

Nomes at inkcrush
Lisa at Read, Write, Repeat
Maria at Read, Write, Romance
David at The Cosmic Laire
Ivy at The Happy Whisk
Writing Nut at Writing in a Nutshell
 
For those of you that didn't see my last post, I was in a tizzy about this really cool agent auction over at Miss Snark's First Victim.  People got to post their first 250 words and be critiqued by fellow writers and agents, and then the agents bid for pages, and it was super fun and informative.  Would anyone be interested in doing a similar thing here, posting your first 250 words and getting feedback from everybody?  Obviously there won't be any agents so it won't be as exciting, but I thought the feedback could be helpful.  Let me know your vote!
 
Finally, I just wanted to apologize ahead of time if I am not visiting everyone's blogs as much in the next couple weeks or so.  I have been insanely busy at work, and even though I met my deadline that I was sweating about last week, I am consistently finding myself in a zombie-like state upon arrival at home and probably will be like that until the end of the year since this is our busiest time. 
 
Stay warm writer friends!!  Use the mind numbing cold to drift on new planes of thought and have inspired feverish writing sessions!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh my gosh do you want to read something totally addictive?

I am at work right now taking a lunch break (crazy right?) and absolutely had to share the fun I was having... over at Miss Snark's First Victim, there is an auction going on between 13 agents over a number of book excerpts.  The chic that runs this blog had a contest for writers without agents to submit their first 250 pages and then the agents bid on them (how many pages they'll read).  Bidding started today and the competition is fierce!!  I read all of the submissions over the weekend, so it's really fascinating to see the ones that are getting battled over and the ones that aren't... I must say my favorite ones are getting crazy bids, though some that I didn't think were that great are too!  Super intriguing, check it out

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Exhaustion, Christmas and Writerly Stuff

Oh, what a week my blog-friends. I worked from 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday without taking a lunch break or anything... the good news is I made my deadline, though I was a total zombie. I actually left work at 4:50 on Friday, and it was like "Oh, daylight, and I'm leaving. Totally bizarre." I had a massive earache going on at the beginning of the week, too, so I survived on Tylenol and episodes of Weeds, which is my new favorite TV show. Not a lick of writing took place, which was a bummer.

So, this weekend I've been trying to recover. Yesterday was busy because I was running errands in town and then at the local winter festival with my son for a few hours. Today I did some major house cleaning because it had gotten completely OC, and then early this evening we dragged out all the Christmas stuff. Santa and his elves have officially laid siege on my house. It is now full of holiday goodness. However, while decorating I noticed the curious/evil gleam in Literary Kitty's eyes as she crouched by the Christmas village, quietly observing this strange ritual of the humans. Think: Jurassic Park when the velociraptors narrow their eyes as they watch their prey. Her eyes were gleaming with devious feline plans involving the torture and assassination of various Christmas ornaments and carefully wrapped gifts.

Now, I am going somewhere writerly with this, I promise. Earlier I was spritzing and vacuuming and washing dishes. Heck, I even contemplated mopping pretty seriously for about five minutes, but then decided to eat pie and write instead (it's the thought that counts, right?). I started thinking, getting ready to clean the house is like getting ready to start a writing project. Sometimes it seems too huge of a task, too overwhelming. There are a million things swirling about in my brain. So, for either task, I break it down into steps. When writing, I actually write down these steps, like a to-do list. For instance, when I was starting my most recent major edit, I did a little brainstorming about what I was going to change, and then ideas started popping and I felt overloaded. So I typed up a quick list of the new scenes I was going to write, and where I was going to work them in and how I was going to connect with or add to existing scenes.

Once I have my list, then I have to pick a place to start. For me, this isn't always a chronological progression through the story. Sometimes I'll go ahead and write those scenes that are clawing at the inside of my brain. Later I'll go back and write the connecting pieces. The important part for me is to make a decision, and then take action. I can’t let myself get overwhelmed by the whole ordeal, I just pick a room in the house/scene of the novel and go for it!

So, how do you guys go about starting projects? What keeps you from getting overwhelmed?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunny California Anyone?

To what do I refer?  World Fantasy Convention 2011!!!

October 27 - 30 in San Diego.  Guest writer, Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Coraline, lots of others).  In attendance, Charlaine Harris, author of the books that the HBO series True Blood is based off of.  And lots of other authors, publishers, agents, etc.  And also - me! 


Only 850 tickets available!  They haven't updated their attendance list for over a month, but it was already about a quarter full then.  Hope to see some blogging friends there!

P.S. - this concludes my blogging activities until the weekend as I am currently working 11 hours straight each day at work to meet a deadline.  TTFN!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving...

Okay, well I started writing this in the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving, but at about 2 am I gave up. All of my creative juices of the evening went into making a new blog titlebar picture or whatever you call it. I used pictures I've taken (well, one was taken by my husband) on different travels about the globe. Except for the sunset pic, that was from our front yard. Now that I've spent all the time making it, I can't decide whether I really like it or not, so if it comes down in a few days you'll know which side of the argument prevailed.

Anyways, I hope everyone had a lovely and delicious Thanksgiving. I did (my Tofurkey was scrumptious as usual). Speaking of giving thanks, I was honored and delighted to receive the Honest Scrap Award from Colene Murphy at The Journey! Thanks, Colene! I started out this blog with the intent of writing a completely honest account of my adventures in writing and trying to get an agent, and I'm glad that I'm doing my job. Colene's blog is super awesome. I haunt it with regularity. And if you need more reasons to visit, I put a link below to a hilarious Harry Potter interview she posted.  Check it out!

So, the award rules state that I am to share 10 things about myself. Here goes:

1) I like to talk about myself. I don't think I am overly narcissistic (for a writer), but I'm just an open book and like to share my stories (again, writer).
2) I live on five acres in the country with two horses, a pony, a dog and three cats, two children, and one husband. My neighbor has cows and a vineyard (interesting combo, right?).
3) My 'real' job (the full-time one that pays the bills) is for an educational non-profit corp. I'm a manager, and seriously hope I am not like Michael Scott in real life (like I was for Halloween).
4) None of my coworkers know how serious I am about writing. I amuse myself with the thought that it's my secret life.
5) I'm kind of like Garfield. I love food and sleeping. I don't cook much, but I like to eat the delicious things my husband makes, and could go nuts in Fresh Market or Whole Foods. I've never even been in a Whole Foods, but I am waiting for them to bring one to my city.
6) I used to bleach my hair blonde, and then accidently went pink for a weekend while I was changing to red, which lasted for a while, and then eventually I went back to my natural brown. Black hair has always been my favorite, but I've never been brave enough to go there.
7) I'm a major crier. I cry when I'm happy, sad, angry, or when something just makes me emotional (something beautiful, triumphant, sweet). Seeing other people cry makes me cry. Sometimes I really annoy myself with it.
8) One day, I'd like to become really involved in some sort of global project. I'm passionate about protecting the environment, and stopping animal cruelty, and women's rights. My degree in Sociology, while pretty much useless in my day job, added a lot of fuel to my save-the-world fire.
9) I am a certified equine sports massage therapist. When I was in my teens, I used to compete with my horses, and flew out to Colorado to learn how to massage them. I actually had quite a few paying clients at one point. I haven't done it in years, though I still get the occasional request.
10) When I was 15, I started working at this awesome cafe run by hippies and earned the nicknames 'Lex-Ann' and 'Lexicon'. I find the Lexicon one amusing since I am a writer and considered fitting that into my blog title, but then figured I wasn't really quite fantastic enough of a word smith to get away with it (I should be; but since we’re still being honest and stuff…).

So, now that you know 10 random things about me, I'd like to pass on this lovely award to five fellow bloggers that I think have honest and delightful blogs full of great writery stuff:

Lola Sharp at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
Jai Joshi at Jai Joshi's Tulsi Tree
Melissa at Through the Looking Glass
Donea Lea at Queen of Procrastination
Shallee McArthur at Life, the Universe, and Writing

Check out their blogs, they rock!

Now, as a bonus for everyone, here are a few things that caught my attention on my blogging adventures this week. The Rejectionist is having a New Year's Pre-Resolution Uncontest, and she also had a hilarious Harry Potter music video that had me LMAO. For more on Harry Potter, check out this interview on Colene's blog. More LMAO. And, to wrap things up on an educational note, here's a really good post on query letters by the ever-awesome Nate Bransford. A cool way to look at writing them if you are in the mood to revamp yours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Warning: Random and Sappy Blog Post Ahead

Hi, Writer Friends! As the week of Thanksgiving is now upon us, I am reflecting on all I am thankful for. And one of the things I have grown to love are my blog friends: you! Although I started my blog in June, I didn't really make an attempt to connect with other writers until about six weeks ago. In that short span of time, I've met so many awesome people. People that understand my hopes and my fears, my goals and the drive it takes to achieve them. I've met people that are at the beginning of the journey like me, polishing manuscripts and querying agents. Others already have agents and publishers and some even have books on the market. It's been so amazing becoming part of this community all around the world, and for that, I am very grateful. And just this weekend I surpassed 50 followers! Thank you everyone for stopping by my humble blog and reading what I have to say.

Now on to the random part. I saw HP and the Deathly Hallows today. Loved it! Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen it, let me just say that I thought it was the most emotionally powerful and beautifully shot film of them all. The scenery and details were gorgeous. I am glad they split it into two films, as I will be very sad the day I see the last movie.

In editing news, I have truly discovered the effect of tipping one little domino. I started by deciding that I needed to change the beginning of my book, and had decided to bring forward one of my favorite scenes from much later in the book. This scene had been the introduction of my most favorite character, or at least the one that speaks most clearly to me. Bringing him into the beginning meant needing more scenes with him throughout the book. It also meant eliminating the scene I originally had at the beginning, which I had meant to just move to another place, but it just didn't fit. So, in essence, what at first seemed a big change in the first 100 pages of the book has now changed the entire book drastically. I think I'll be working on it for quite a few weeks. But, I am loving the new direction it's gone and developing some characters that were minor before. So, I have to say with true honesty that I am thankful the agent who requested the partial rejected me and gave me feedback that urged me to make changes I had been stewing about for quite some time.

So, as Turkey Day approaches (or in the case of vegetarians like me Tofurkey Day), what are you thankful for as a writer? Did you receive honest advice, or words of encouragement, or had a mentor that has helped you out?

I will probably not post again until Friday or Saturday, so everyone have a fantastic holiday with safe travels if you are leaving town.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Shunning

Hi writer friends! Sorry I haven't posted anything fresh for a few days - I was busy on my major novel facelift and then three days ago our internet went down (again). I am using my work computer at the moment and hopefully the home service will be up again soon.

Since I've been completely obsessed with my edit process, my husband has been getting less attention than usual. We have a joke between ourselves, which some of you may have gathered if you read his comment on my last blog post. When one of us is pretty much ignoring the other to get some sort of project done, we tease each other about being shunned. We'll banter back and forth, like "I'm going out to the living room to shun you now" or "Take your time running errands because you know I'll just shun you if you’re home." Yeah, we're kind of weird.

Anyways, since I know many of you are enthralled in NaNo this month or other writery projects, I began to wonder how other writers handle the balancing act. I am blessed that my husband is supportive and understands my writing and puts up with his regular shunning. Me and hubby usually make up our 'us' time by watching Castle, Desperate Housewives or South Park (no laptops on laps to multi-task whilst watching).

So, pray tell: What do you do to appease the loved ones in your life? How does your spouse/bf/gf/friend(s) handle your writing obsessions? And, does anyone have a spouse/bf/gf that is also a writer?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good news and bad news

Usually I spit out the bad news first.  But this time, I have to tell you the good news in order for the bad news to make sense.  And there's some good news with the bad news, too... anyways, here it is:

I got my first partial request!  An agent asked for pages based on just my query letter.  I screamed and jumped up and down (which truly terrified the cat) and shrieked at my husband and hugged the dog and called my mom. 

The bad news is that the agent rejected me a day later.  She said she enjoyed the pages, that they were well-written and my story was interesting, but she didn't connect with my characters.  Talk about a roller coaster of emotion!  So, the good news about the bad news is that I finally got some feedback, and at least finally connected with a real live agent.  And, it's a step in the right direction, an important rite of passage.  I know most people get some rejections on partial requests before they finally land an agent.

So, I'm excited to have finally gotten further than a form rejection, and the agent's suggestion really confirmed for me some needed editing I had been contemplating for a while.  I love my prologue - it's very dramatic and fast-paced.  But the next fifty pages or so are my least favorite of the book.  And if I feel that way, it's unlikely an agent is going to get far enough to request more.  My goal at the beginning of the book was to build on the feeling of isolation of my MC - she's going through crazy stuff, there's no one to confide in, etc.  But what's missing is the juicy dialogue and characters that come into play later.  Therefore, I've undertaken a major edit, completely rewriting the first couple of chapters to bring forward some scenes and characters that initially were sitting further back in the book.  I also decided I need to play up the sassiness of my MC.  I wanted to portray her as very normal, so that when she discovers she's a witch it's that much more dramatic, but I have made her a bit too boring.

Progress!  Change!  Adventure!  I'll keep you guys posted on my voyage back into EditLand. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Chamberlynn Bloggies!!

Thanks so much to everyone who commented about awards etiquette. I really love having a community of fellow writing peeps. So, since no one seemed to think it was a big faux pas if I created my own award, and since I have this week off from work, I present without further ado, the Chamberlynn Bloggies!

I created the Magical Blog Award, for blogs which I find inspiring or insightful or pretty or addictive, or all of the above. There are no rules or strings attached to this award. You can pass it along if you wish, to as many people as you wish. We all like to feel the love!


I don’t have any cool graphics programs, so I made this in Microsoft Paint with photos I took. The pic was taken during my honeymoon.

Here are the recipients of the first Chamberlynn Bloggies:

Beth Sanderson at The Writing Spectacle
Lynda Young at WIP It
Abby Minard at Above Water
Melissa Cunningham at A Writer’s Reality
Colene Murphy at The Journey
Jennifer Hillier at Jennifer Hillier
Rachna Chhabria at Rachna’s Scriptorium
Jen Daiker at Unedited
Karen Amanda Hooper at Eternal Moonshine of a Daydreaming Mind

And, since I got several requests for this, here's a bonus/subject for laughter?  for everyone - me as Michael Scott for Halloween.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Staycation!!

I have the whole week off from my day job!  Haven't taken a full week since December, so I'm really stoked - not going anywhere, just staying home.  Today I did some shopping and bought Paranormalcy.  It was really good, and I finished all 335 pages.  Contented sigh.  I love a day lost in a book.

Yesterday I sent off some more queries... I'm at a total of 25 sent so far.  I've gotten 15 rejections and am awaiting response on the other 10.  According to Janet Reid, the Query Shark, if you don't get any bites with 25 submittals, you're doing something wrong.  This is fairly disconcerting to me, of course.  On the one hand, I respect the hell out of JR, but on the other hand I hear so many stories of people querying far more agents than that.  What do you guys think?  At what number do you concede it's time to regroup and try a new strategy?

Oh, and here's the nibble for the week:

As the man came closer, each footstep was like a clap of thunder. She could hear his breathing now, slow and steady, the opposite of hers. He was practically upon her now. Five feet. Two. One.

With a whoosh of air she felt the man glide past her and saw out of the corner of her eye a flash of moon pale skin not hidden by the dark cloak. She wondered if her face held a look of horror or of determination as she battled for self control. Something flew between them, like two lightning storms converging together in the same sky.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blogosphere etiquette

Happy weekend, writing friends!  It is finally getting cold here in Florida, and being a native of the sunshine state I am already wishing it was Spring so I could wear tank tops again... not that I won't be able to sneak in a few here and there throughout the winter.  I am regularly chastised by my friends from the north that it is actually not cold in Florida and I should quit my complaining, which I'm sure is a valid argument.

So, this week I've been thinking about how much I don't know about blogging.  I got my first blog award from the lovely Rachna of Rachna's Scriptorium and realized I didn't know the deal with awards and etiquette.  Before I get into all that, I'd like to say a big thank you to Rachna for giving me my first award.  Rachna is a fellow writer and always has delightful, knowledgeable and inspiring posts about writing.



Back to my dilemma - I did a great deal of Googling and wasn't having much luck finding rules on giving and receiving awards. I've seen some blog posts where accepting an award involves sharing things about yourself and then passing the award on to others, but then some don't seem to follow that same format. Then ironically enough I found some posts on the subject on Rachna's own blog, which was really helpful!

I still have a few questions though, so I'm asking for everyone's help.  Do you have to receive one in order to pass one on?  How do you know which blog awards you can use and which ones are copyrighted or whatever?  For instance, if you use Google images you can find a ton of awesome awards, but can you just pick one and use it?  And, can I design my own award to give to my writing peeps?

Any input anyone has would be awesome!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November!

I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween weekend! Mine was good. I discovered that when you are a woman, with a man’s wig on your head, and you’re trimming the wig with electric clippers, you know you’ve gone overboard for Halloween. I was Michael Scott of The Office at my office, for a department costume contest. I was actually sort of digging the tie.

Other news of the weekend – I continue to have internet issues which I am battling with CenturyLink about. Don’t you all love paying for services you don’t get? Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it continues working this time. Hmmmm, what else. I saved a lizard from an untimely feline demise. I realized that my two favorite sodas, Coke and Dr. Pepper, create an amazingly delicious concoction when mixed together.

I got a rejection today. Sigh. I wonder at what point I’m going to have a major writers identity crisis meltdown. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. But, until then, I’m just going to keep enjoying my favorite season. Can’t believe it’s November! I love, love, love the holidays! And I’m definitely thinking about all my new writer friends that are participating in NaNoWriMo. Good luck everyone!

Well fellow writers, that’s all I have for the moment… I’ve got lots of catching up to do on everyone’s blogs since I haven’t had internet for the last five days. Goodnight!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Saturday of Sunshine and Starbucks

I've been trying to stick to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday blog post schedule, but alas, my internet quit working Thursday night.  I had to spend 45 minutes on the phone last night with the internet provider trying to get them to fix it.  It would appear for the moment they have.

It's been a lovely day so far.  I woke up early and went to a 5k run with my sister, and the morning was chilly and sunshiney gorgeous.  Then we went to Starbucks and I got a grande pumpkin latte, which led to an amazing caffeine high, which led to being productive with some yard work.  Now I'm ready to take a luscious afternoon nap.  So, here is your teaser for the week, from Chapter Two.  Have a great weekend!

She was abruptly aware of her senses as they came into sharp, diamond focus: images flashing into her peripheral vision, her ears picking up hundreds of distinct sounds, her skin tingling all over. Her heart quickened almost painfully and her throat went dry. All of this happened in a fraction of a second, her body reacting to some unknown threat.

Adding to her panic was the fact that she’d never experienced anything like it before. She had no idea why her body was reacting as it was, but she abruptly felt an uncontrollable urge to look behind her and see if anyone was following her. It was a completely irrational instinct since of course many people were behind her on the crowded street.

She turned her head, very slowly, to look behind her. Not knowing what she was looking for, her eyes scanned the crowd, skipping over each figure in less than a second. Her logical mind was absent as some sort of foreign intuition took over. Then her eyes rested on what she knew without a doubt was the source of her instinctual fear: about twenty feet back, a tall figure in a dark cloak strode swiftly in her direction.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lavender Sky

Happy Wednesday! Today I've been exercising my brain trying to think of something to post. Which kind of led me to thinking about how inspiration strikes us writers. For instance, today I was inspired by the sky, which was a perfect lavender color right before nightfall. Not too pink, not too blue, just the right shade of pale, smoky purple. And earlier in the day I started wondering about history and how funny it would be if someone just made up fictional characters or fictional events, and wrote all these stories that they passed off as real happenings, just to screw with people centuries later who read about it.

I also sometimes get ideas for my books from dreams. Yes, I do realize I sound like a Stephenie Meyer copycat - but it was happening to me way before she was dreaming of sparkly, muscular immortals (I know because I read one of her interviews. Or maybe more than one.). As for characters, those are easiest for me. They just kind of pop into my head fully formed - what they look like, their personality, everything. While sometimes I realize new things about them later on, for the most part they show up ready for action.

So, how you do get inspired? And what do you do when it happens (do you carry a notepad, tape recorder, etc)? Three cheers for inspiration!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Musings...duality...multi-colored glasses

Hello, fellow writers! Weekly update on rejections and other pertinent writing business: I’ve gotten a couple new form rejections. I’ve also sent out about five new queries. Just plugging away, trying to maintain my optimism. All of your lovely and insightful comments make me feel so much better!  Also, since I got some questions about me and my MC, I've added a couple pages to the blog which I hope you'll enjoy.

My musings of late… duality. As I was updating my blogger profile a couple weeks ago, I realized that in so many things I hold opposite opinions or preferences simultaneously. For instance, two of my very favorite movies – Under the Tuscan Sun and The Matrix. One a sappy chic flick, the other an intense action film. Music, too. On any given day on the drive to work, I might listen to Vivaldi and Green Day… Natalie Merchant and Linkin Park… Madonna and Dropkick Murphys. Even how I dress is eclectic – one day I might dress a little preppy and sophisticated, another I might wear khaki cut-offs and a hippy top. Ideas are often the same. I might feel one way about something, but at the same time have a very differing opinion.

So, is this just me, or is it a writer thing? I’ve kind of wondered if writers are more prone to seeing things through multi-colored glasses because we’re open-minded, out-of-the-box storytellers. We often put ourselves in the different perspectives of our characters, so are used to seeing things in lots of different ways all at once. Does anyone else experience this, too?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Nibble

Okay, so here's the snippet of the week, from Chapter One:

Compared to the noise of the street, the dark hush of the store was almost unsettling. The faint smell of old books, leather and silver polish tickled her nose. Wandering over to a set of marble bookends, she brushed her fingers over their cool surface. This place is deserted – maybe it’s closed after all, she reflected uneasily.

As the thought lingered in her mind, she noticed to her relief a spot of bright light coming from the back of the store. She moved towards it, passing by a row of tall wooden shelves holding hundreds of leather clad volumes. Eva took a couple off the shelf and flipped through them, then stopped to admire a case of vintage costume jewelry, arrayed like exotic birds and flowers captured in a terrarium. The low light made the colors look rich and deep, swimmable depths of sapphire, topaz and ruby.

Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daydreaming

So, writing friends, I thought I'd periodically have a daydream topic for us to all imagine we are famous writers and have awesome literary careers.  For this first foray into dreamland, I pose the following question: describe your book release party, in full grandiose/funky/artsy detail (pretend there's no budget).

Here goes mine.  So, first, I hire the Ace of Cakes to make some kind of super amazing and stupendous cake because A) they rock and B) it would be awesome to have my book talked about on TV.  Did anyone ever see the fabulous cake they made for the Ghost Girl book?  It was ridiculous. 

My book is about a witch, so I would have a very dark theme going on.  Black tablecloths and centerpieces with dark or dark purplish flowers.  Maybe a raven and moon motif... something sparkly to represent magic.  Of course wine and martinis.  And I'd tie the whole thing together as a charity fundraiser, maybe supporting the environment or troubled teen girls.  Live music, classical, as a nod to my MC.  But then after lots of wine something more upbeat.  I had the brilliant idea of having shirtless men passing hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, to represent the sexy shapeshifters in my book, but my husband just rolled his eyes. 

So, do tell - what's your ultimate book release party fantasy?  I can't wait to hear all the juicy details!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween, pumpkins, football - oh, and rejection


So, this weekend I got the quickest rejection thus far... this chic had some super powered form rejection skills.  I submitted a query late Friday night and when I got up Saturday morning, already turned down.  Now, granted, this agency only asked for a query letter and no sample pages, so she didn't have a lot to read.  But impressive for a Friday night.  Maybe they've created a robot that can automatically respond to queries... AI for agents.  He he he...

On a more happy note, Halloween is coming up. Don't you just love Halloween? I never end up getting a cool costume, but if I did, I'd be Hit Girl from the movie Kick Ass - eleven-year-old assassin with a foul mouth.

On other Halloween related topics, we bought our first pumpkin the other day... my son picked out a cool orange and white speckled one.  Also, yesterday I took him to his first football game and here's a secret - it was actually my first, too.  Living in a big university town it's kind of weird I've never been, but I could just never get at all interested in football.  After seeing the game, I'm still not interested in it, but I did have fun just being in the stadium surrounded by such excitement.   Phrases like 'line of scrimmage' flying about the crisp October air. 

Here are a couple pics I just took.  Enjoy!

Maximus

Friday, October 15, 2010

Teaser of the week

So, on FaceBook I started posting a little snippet of my novel once a week, just two or three sentences.  I figured I'd do the same here, but longer.  This is from my prologue.

She wore a pale blue skirt that just touched the back of her knees. His eyes traced the moon pale curve of her bare calves, down to her black stilettos, then back up to the raven hair cascading halfway down her back in loose curls. And although she was turned away from him, he knew her face – the full lips, thin nose and most of all the deep green eyes. Green like a highland meadow or a piece of lustrous sea glass.

Only twenty feet separated them now. He moved forward with calm assuredness, closing the distance. Ten feet. He could smell her now, her soft fragrance of blossoming jasmine tingeing the air. Five feet. Reaching out a thin hand, his fingertips touched one perfect obsidian curl. Taking a deep, focused breath, he called on the dark magic that would end her existence, not only her body but her soul as well. His only regret was she had no idea what was about to hit her.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Begin the Begin

For any of you R.E.M. fans out there, you'll recognize my title as the name of one of their songs.  I was listening to it yesterday, and I really felt like it was meaningful for where I am right now.  I'm at the beginning of the beginning.  No matter what path I go down with my first book, I'm at the beginning.  The plan is for that beginning to be getting an agent and getting published and starting a kick butt career.  Of course, there are a multitude of other options, too, which I won't get too bogged down about now.  Maybe later - ha!

I got another rejection today, but I'm still feeling pretty good.  I suppose I might start to panic a bit if I get through the remaining 15 or so on my list, but for the moment I'm cool.  It only takes one person to like my work.  I don't need all of the New York agents to get in a hot cat fight over my novel, though of course I've fantasized about it.  Snicker.

Anywho, on a personal note my son rode his bike for the first time yesterday without training wheels, and it was a very exciting day.  He'd fallen down quite a bit in the few times we'd practiced before and seemed no closer to discovering his balance than he was when he started, then all of the sudden he had it.  Super neat.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Random Thursday

Not much new to share, other than I sent out a couple more queries last night. And I got lots of compliments on my not-quite-black Purple Rain nail polish at work today, especially since I rarely paint my nails.

I've added some links to my website and the blog... as I distract myself from waiting to hear back from agents I'll undoubtedly scour some more writing sites and keep adding to it.

Last but not least, I thought I'd upload a few pics that I've taken recently, because my blog seems to lack nice pictures. Sometime soon I'll have to start playing around with creating a book trailer for Eternal Memory and can post some of the pics I'm considering using. Fun!



The first hydrangeas I've grown (my favorite flower)


Literary Kitty, the purring prima donna known as Aislinn



Live Oak tree - being from the South, I'm obsessed with them

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Query Crazy

So, this weekend I fired off four new queries, and did some rather exhausting research on Writer's Market to come up with a list of another fifteen agents to begin querying next. Oh, the fun. I've already gotten one rejection... but, the good thing about that is it doesn't feel quite so devastating as the first few. I can handle it calmly without feeling really personally put out.

So, today I promised to do nothing pertaining to my book other than write this post. I took my time doing normal stuff like make dinner, read the mail, help my son with his book report. Now I'm about to take a bubble bath and read Alice in Wonderland (which I picked up the other day; never read the whole book), maybe drink some wine, and then paint my toenails. Good night!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mission completed!

I did it! I made it through the major edit I was working on, otherwise known as avoiding querying and thus rejection! I was lying in bed, completely unable to go to sleep, so I decided to go online and look at Anthropologie and all the pretty furniture I can't buy, and then I realized I should post an update to my weekend challenge!

I realize that was a very long sentence... I'm a little too hyped right now for 9 minutes to midnight when I have to wake up at 6:30. Anyways, I am very excited. I was also working on my query letter, which I'm going to let marinate for a few days. But this weekend, I query the world!

Oh, I've also added some links to good writers resources, which I'll undoubtedly be adding to when it’s not 9 minutes to midnight on a Sunday. One that I may have mentioned before is Query Shark, which I absolutely love and spent several weeks stalking and reading every post ever written on the site. I think my query letter and my book have greatly improved from reading it.

So, cheers to late night enthusiasm and optimistic hopes of publishing success!

Friday, September 24, 2010

This weekend

So, I'm down to 58 pages for my final edit (final, ha ha - well, at least for now). I guess I should say hopefully my last major edit before I get an agent, and then a publisher. 58 pages until I once again put myself forth for a chance to be ignored and rejected. Writers are masochists, eh? I've probably said that before, but it deserves to be said again.

Anywho, I am going to try and get those last pages done this weekend. That's an awful lot for me to accomplish in one weekend, especially considering I have plans tomorrow. But I'm in the last stretch, so I'm hoping the light at the end of the tunnel will help me finish.

On another note, the traffic to my website has increased over the last couple of months, which is cool. One day in the near future I will have exciting news to post there!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Long overdue blog post

So, I have been very remiss in my blogging lately. Nothing terribly exciting to report - I've just been going through another major set of edits before I begin querying agents again. Adding more inner dialogue for my main character, tightening up the flow (removing extra words, awkward phrasing, etc). I'm about two thirds of the way through.

Hopefully within a couple weeks I'll be back at work contacting agents... it's so nerve-wracking. While I'm editing I think about all the parts that I love so much, and how awesome I think the book is, but as soon as I send out sample pages I think how dreadful it is... alas, the craziness in a writers head.

So, this next go round I'm going to work on finding my Zen place when I query agents, and having a little faith. And I'll have my trusty blog to look back at when I get published and am asked how it all began.

Friday, August 20, 2010

For funsies - query from my main character's POV

It started the day I was followed on the street by a man in a dark cloak – cheesy sounding in the extreme, I’m aware. And actually, it all began the day before, I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I was a corporate climber, living a normal life in NYC, planning a wedding to the perfect guy. I tried to tell myself the cloaked guy wasn’t following me – after all, why would I be of interest? But after I started having crazy visions, talking to ghosts, and breaking things with my mind, I couldn’t really avoid it any longer – my life had taken a serious detour into oncoming magical traffic.

Admitting I’m a witch was probably the most major shift in consciousness of my life. Discovering I’ve lived countless lifetimes is even more mind blowing. Finding out an immortal being has hunted and killed me in most of those lives and now found me in this one? Icing on the cake.

Oh, and I forgot something really important – I’m in love with the man in my past life memories (no, not the one who kills me, good lord!). Just when I think things can’t get worse, he shows up. Which should make things better, right? Yeah, if only he remembered who I was.

So now I’ve broken up with my fiancĂ©, fled the city, ticked off a pack of shape shifters, made out with their leader (which is so not like me), befriended a teen witch who was my sister in a past life, all while trying to figure out how to escape the inevitable murder that’s ended all of my recent existences. Why am I such a delectable target? When I figure it out I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Can't believe it's almost August

This month has flown by... good grief. Still haven't heard back from the third agent of the three I submitted to at the beginning of the month. Submitted to a couple new ones over the last week. Finally got around to doing some more edits to book one over the weekend on the drive to Jacksonville (I wasn't the one driving of course).

Truthfully, I'm already totally over waiting for responses and get rejected. I know, I know, it's only been six weeks or so since I started this madness but there it is, plain honesty. Of course, life's plain honesty, at least as it regards to writers, is that I may spend years trying to get an agent. A dreary thought.

The thing that really sucks about waiting on the two agents I recently submitted to is that they state that if they don't like your work, they just won't respond. But neither of them list how long you might typically wait if you are going to get a response... so should I give up hope after 1 week, or 2 or 8? It's a little frazzling. I have no idea if no response yet means no, or not yet.

Of course now comes the wondering, is my book really good enough? Should I totally rewrite it? Should I start another series altogether? The doubt creeps in and it's a hard pill to swallow. But, luckily perseverance is my thing... really hoping I don't have to stick it out for that long...

Friday, July 16, 2010

R-------n

Do I need to fill in the blanks above? Nah, I think you can figure it out. Of the three queries I sent out, I've gotten two rejections this week. One was a nice form letter and one was a condescending form letter. Fun times. I'm still waiting on the other, hoping and praying. If that one is a rejection too, I'm on to round three of agents.

However, I'm rockin and rollin on book two, full steam ahead. Haven't quite gotten motivated enough to go back to editing book one again. I'll get there soon enough...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

Since I have no new writing news (alas, my fantasy of having an agent ask to read more of my book on my birthday seems unlikely unless it happens in the next 82 minutes), I will share about what I did today. I got to sleep late, then I wrote on my second book for a few minutes, having done a lot of research on Paris last night and therefore having dreamt about it all night. Then I went to a very tasty lunch with my husband, kids, sister and mom, ending with a coconut cream bomb cake - need I say more? I guess I'll just say super yum... then my husband and I went shopping and I got an awesome new pair of jeans and some shoes. Then I came home, took a late afternoon nap, got up, talked to my BFF in Colorado, and now I'm about to write on my book some more. Oh, and there was a gorgeous sunset, which had that awesome effect where it seems to leak into the air and make everything seem yellow... I love that.

Sooo... tomorrow I have another day off from work and I'll definitely spend a good deal of it writing. Just getting past that pesky first chapter that can be oh so tricky.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oh, the infernal waiting

Have I ever mentioned that patience is just really not my thing? Which, when one is in the situation that I am now in is a really unfortunate thing. And goodness knows how long I'll be waiting to hear about the query I sent in the mail!

I know I am committing the ultimate writers sin by lacking patience to hear back from an agent (so I certainly hope none are reading this post). I of course know how ridiculously busy they are, so I completely understand (my not so sneaky caveat in the extremely rare chance that one is).

The positive side of things is that I've started on my second book. Yay!! I decided to give myself a break from endless editing and just allow myself to have some fun - what a concept.

P.S. 7 days until my birthday!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back on the market

I think I've mentioned before how querying an agent is a lot like telling someone you have a crush on them. There's some definite soul baring in putting forth your work, wondering if they'll love it. And because I've done the supposed right thing and researched not only the agencies I'm submitting to, but decided on a specific agent to query, I get to feeling like I sort of know them a bit. At least their preferences when it comes to writing. After my sad rejection by the first agent I queried, my metaphor was apt as well... I did some introspection, stepped back and worked on my book until I felt I was good and ready to put myself out there again.

So, you might gather by my prattling that I've once again submitted my work for representation. This time I've submitted to three agents (well, at this exact moment two because I need a new ink cartridge to submit to the third). I've put myself out there once again, another fish in the vast sea of writers. And now I wait, the metaphorical words out of my mouth, to see if one of them says that they feel the same way. There is the glimmer of hope, the fear of rejection, all the lovely drama that rides on the query. And of course we can't forget the obsessive email checking...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July!

My birthday is in July, so I am a big fan of this month. Also because of fireworks, the beach, lemonade, balmy evenings, and other such summery awesomeness. July is also the month I vow I will submit to more agents!! I have been really hung up on my synopsis trying to get it right. And I've been so busy at my real job that I haven't had a lot of energy to work on it.

But this month is the month for round two! For one thing, one of the agents I am submitting to is only accepting new queries until the 31st. Secondly, I want to get moving! My cat has just hopped up onto the bed to purr her approval of my idea. Hopefully my birth month will give me some luck!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Queries, synopses and sample chapters, oh my!

They are fierce beasts, the query letter, the synopsis, and the sample chapter... some agents want just the query letter, some want a query and a synopsis (and you must determine whether they want a short or long synopsis) and some want all three. Some want one sample chapter and some want 50 pages. Each letter must be compelling and customized to the particular agent you are querying... oh the joys!

Though, I'll give it this, it is a nice break from raw editing... maybe I could write a new novel based on the dreadful land of Neverending Edit, in which you must battle the Sinister Synopsis and the Chilling Chapter, and travel on a Quest of Queries. Anybody up for an adventure?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Marathons

So, I was reading my Writer's Market newsletter today, and it was using running metaphors for novel writing. It said that writing your first draft is like a half marathon, and editing is another half marathon. I'm so there, baby!

Interestingly enough, I have recently started running, literally, to get in my exercise (although also interestingly enough, my metaphorical half marathon has replaced by actual running the last few weeks). So, although in real life I have not come anywhere close to running 13.1 miles (though I would one day like to), I've done some shorter competitions, so I can totally get into this visualization. At the start you feel super hyped, like you have enough energy to fly. Then after you've actually been running awhile, you get to the "why did I think this sounded like fun?" But then once you know you're at least half way done, you can start the pep talk, bringing yourself to the finish line - "the worst part's over, just a bit further."

So, while I'm in the doldrums of editing, I've got to keep in mind that I've already done the first half marathon, and I think I'm even more than half way done with the second. And while we're still on running metaphors, I definitely got a second wind last night and did some really great edits. Still feeling pretty pumped. Keep it up!


Me finishing up a recent race...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Editland

After a few days fighting a cold, I'm back in editland. I've gotten some very helpful comments from family and internet friends... don't getting bogged down in descriptions, don't be cliche, show don't tell, add more inner dialogue from the heroine. All good stuff. I've revamped the prologue and made it flow much better, and now I'm working on cleaning up the first few chapters so I can submit to more agents. I'm getting anxious to put myself out there again - fighting the impulse to submit before I've polished it up some more, but not wanting to over edit, and get caught in a cycle of never being satisfied... fun times!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back from vacation

I refer to vacation from the internet and an actual vacation. I wish I could say that the actual vacation was longer than the internet vacation, but not so. We finally have high speed internet here in my country abode, but there were a few days between disconnecting the old ISP and getting hooked up on the new one... during which my internet addiction became scarily apparent.

Anyhow, my actual vacation was just two days down at the beach during which I thoroughly edited the prologue of Eternal Memory. Of course, I also lounged on the beach and soaked up the sun, the salt air, and a mango margarita. Returning home was not so pleasant, especially because the air conditioning in the house broke and I had a quite sleepless night. However, all is restored now, internet, AC and soon my brain (after I get some sleep).

The next few days will involve editing, editing and more editing! Then I will be submitting to more agents. So, prepare for another stint of obsessive introspection and the tiring out of my gmail account...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The P Word

Ah, the P word. I refer, of course, to procrastination, the quintessential writer's habit. Why work on editing one's novel when you can haunt writing websites and do everything to do with your book except writing it. Oh, the glory of it.

You see, if I edit my book, then I'll have to submit it to more agents, which is both an exciting and terrifying thought (since I'm sharing my true feelings on this blog). I have wild dreams of having someone make me an offer of representation, and how utterly thrilling it would be. I simultaneously am sure that I will fail, since so many good writers get rejected by hundreds of agents, year after year. Even good books by good writers.

However, I've procrastinated about as much as I can. I've spent the last ten days completely living in net land, working to get exposure. Now it's time to perform the dreaded task of editing and put myself over the coals again. Because not only am I anxious to move on with Eternal Memory, but I really want to start on the second book in the series. It's been simmering in my head for months now, and it's dying to come out. So, I must say farewell to the P word. Chow!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Getting out on the town

On Saturday I attended a publishing workshop at the main branch of the library. It was put on by our local writer's association and featured three local publishers who discussed current trends in publishing. One of the things they discussed was the rise of e-books and e-readers like the Kindle and the flood of new material this is creating in the market. Last year the most new books were introduced ever - about one million. They also talked about internet marketing for writers, such as blogs, websites, good ole Facebook, LinkedIn, and other fun stuff.

One thing that really fascinated me is book trailers. People are now creating trailers, like movie trailers, for their books! This is such an awesome idea! I really want to make one now for Eternal Memory. So, the question is, what kind of stuff do I use? Apparently they range from simple still pictures with words and music to actual video clips. I'll have to research the software required to make something like this. It's a really neat idea, and what's cool is that with the internet, there are so many creative ways to publicize your book. And that's pretty inspiring.

By the way, Eternal Memory has been number one the last two days on the weekly most popular books list at authonomy.com!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Authonomy

My latest web obsession... authonomy.com! This is a really neat website created by HarperCollins, the international publishing company to revolutionize the seeking of fresh talent. Basically, you upload at least 10,000 words of your manuscript and then other users vote on your book to help you rise up the ranks. Each month, the top five books get picked for a review by the editorial board at HC, and potentially publication. I've discovered that like many things, it's not just about being good, but also about networking. A lot of people will vote for your book in hopes that you'll return the favor.

Anyways, since I joined on Memorial Day, Eternal Memory has moved up past about 6,000 books in rank, and I'm currently sitting in the 700s. On the weekly chart for most popular books that week, Eternal Memory was sitting at number 2 earlier!! Very exciting. Since I don't have as much time to network as some of the other people, I'm not sure that I'll keep my rank, but it's fun nonetheless. More importantly, I've gotten some good, honest feedback which I can use to improve my pitch and first few chapters. So, I'm having a blast getting feedback and a little exposure. Way to go HC for the cool and very modern idea!

More pics from NY

I meant to put these up yesterday but my computer was being super slow...



A beautiful view of the mountains from a viewing tower near Woodstock which we reached after a two mile uphill hike...



The lovely Harmony House...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New York


Last year for my birthday in July, my husband and I went to New York to research my novel (and for fun). Many elements of my stories (certain places, characters, plots) just kind of present themselves to me. For some reason, I always knew that Eternal Memory was to be set in New York, both in NYC and the Catskills. I even tried to talk myself out of it, thinking New York City was too overdone and cliched, but such inspirations just can't be easily supplanted.

So, we spent the day in the city, which was fabulous and I admit I fell in love with it, though I was not planning on it (for the same reasons of it being sort of the usual cliche response to NYC). Then we drove up to the mountains, first visiting some family and then on to a gorgeous bed and breakfast near Woodstock. To my great surprise and delight, I discovered that one of the owners was named Eva, like the main character in my book. Further, she had beautiful long, black, curly hair like my heroine! If there was ever a sign from the powers that be, this certainly seemed to be one. It was pretty surreal. We had an awesome stay with Eva and Jacquie at Harmony House, and on the morning of my birthday, I had perhaps the best breakfast of my life. Sitting on a large deck among the trees, it was so picturesque and peaceful I could have stayed there forever.

The really interesting part is, I discovered while exploring the area that Upstate New York actually has quite a vibrant community of Wiccans and witchcraft, which is a main theme of my book. The whole trip left me reeling from the synchronicity of having picked New York as the setting, completely without knowing that it actually was just perfect for my novel. Intuition is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Potato chips and fruit

So, it ends up I didn't have long to suffer in the waiting game with the agent I submitted to. Alas, I was rejected. Email queries are a double edged sword that way; you don't have long to wait whether it be a good response or a bad. I am grateful I got a response at all, because a lot of agents these days accept email queries, but don't respond at all if they don't like your work. While I wasn't provided any feedback, it was a very polite decline.

I must say that after I read the email there were some tears, followed my Ruffles and french onion dip, followed by a couple strawberries and an orange. Yes, I always eat weird combinations of food like a pregnant lady. I didn't get much in the way of sleep either, while wallowing in a pity party and thinking bitterly of my optimistic post of the day before. This was all very late last night mind you, so now that a new day is here my previous post doesn't seem quite so mocking and is still a source of some hope. I've been getting some good feedback on www.authonomy.com, so I'm going to do some more editing (groan) and push on.

So, today I salute potato chips and fruit, and I'm headed off to hopefully get a better sleep.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Funny memories

So, while mowing the lawn yesterday (yes, I'm one of those people), I suddenly remembered something that made me laugh out loud (although the atrocious sounds of the lawnmower covered the sound). When I was about eight or ten years old, I used to get Ranger Rick, a kids magazine about nature and conservatism. Each issue had a fictional story with forest animals, along with educational articles. Anyways, I decided at one point to write a story about saving sea creatures that live in tidepools. I went so far as to type it up and send it in. And so it was that I received my first rejection letter, the bane of probably every writer in existence.

Looking back, I find it hilarious that I was so into not only writing, but getting published at such a young age. It was one of those memories that I had nearly forgotten, but it was oddly inspiring, though they turned me down. If I can be so persistent at that age, and still love to write a couple decades later, that means something, right? I did end up getting some magazine articles published a few years ago, so at least I have had a small taste of not getting rejected. Here's to perseverance and fulfilling life long dreams!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Adventures in internet marketing

So, to say I have become net obsessed in the last couple of days might be the biggest understatement in the history of understatements... I have created a website, created this blog, created a Facebook page for Eternal Memory, created a LinkedIn profile and joined lots of groups for writers and urban fantasy (the genre for my book). This has all distracted me from checking my email a hundred times a day to see if the agent has responded yet. I'm rather proud of myself, I only checked it about five times yesterday :) It's been really exciting to get feedback on the website and have people become fans of Eternal Memory on Facebook. The internet really is an amazing thing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

So the journey begins...

Actually, this is no where near the beginning of the journey. The real journey started around ten years ago when the idea for Eternal Memory started percolating in my head. It wasn't until a couple years ago that I actually started writing it. The writing is actually not so bad. It's the editing, the researching, more editing, and finally the scary step when you actually move forward with sharing your work with the world. It is the beginning of that journey to which I refer, and I have just taken the first step.

After months of researching agents and how to query them, I've picked a few to query in the hopes that I can get representation. At this moment, I've actually just queried one agent, and am awaiting a response. That was about fifty hours and seventeen minutes ago. If my knowing that doesn't tell you what a nerve wracking experience this is, just ask my husband, who must suffer through my whining.

So now, I wait. I know from researching the industry that many writers suffer months and even years of rejection (in which case this will be a very long and melancholy blog). Will I get an agent? Will I fail, utterly and completely? Time will tell, and so will my blog.