Monday, January 30, 2012

A Call for Crit Material

So, while I’m waiting for the idea of the century to strike-me-famous, and for some feedback from a couple betas before I finish revisions for ‘the agent’, I’ve got some creative energy to kill.

So I thought I’d make a call for crit material.  If anybody has a manuscript they’re sprucing up before submitting to agencies or publishing houses, I’d be happy to take a look.  My preferred genres are: Historical, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Supernatural, Chick lit, some Dystopian and anything that combines any or all of the above!

Feel free to post your pitches here if you’re interested in an extra pair of eyes for your MS.  I’ll be honest- the manuscripts I pick will probably have more to do with my mood than the quality of your pitches, so no worries- I am not an agent! You’re not being judged! Just give me straight-up what your current wip is about and take as many words as you want!

I’ll only be able to take on two or three for right now but I’ll be sure to come back to this post whenever I’m looking for material to critique in the weeks to come!

Hope you all had a great weekend!


Friday, January 27, 2012

If Buffy Were Bella

I’m in the mood for some friday morning funnies. I watched this video a long time ago when the first Twilight movie came out and I have to say -I’ve yet to find another video that portrays exactly what would have happened if Buffy had been in Bella’s place.  
Favorite lines-

Buffy: *wakes up startled to Edward in her bedroom. She sighs and rolls her eyes*-“Get out.”

Edward: “I like watching you sleep. It’s um, it’s kind of fascin...”

Buffy: “Get out or I will drop you out head first.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ready, Set, NO!

When you're ready to write, do you ever suck it up and start working on an old project just to have something to work on- hoping that inspiration eventually takes the reins and makes it into ‘the’ project?

Or do you brainstorm? Look for that ever-elusive ‘high concept’ that all the agents and editors rave about?

Ask a ouiji board for a story idea?

Meditate in a forest?

Get a tarot card reading?

Make up whacky dialogue for the strangers around you until something sticks?

I’m at a loss. It’s like I’m sitting in a Ferrari, raring to go, only to realise I’m outta a new town where I don’t know where to get gas. Or even what the best gas for my car is!  Oh my God, I’m STRANDED!!!!

 (...Aaand there’s today’s writing analogy, people. Oh, how I have missed those gratuitous writing analogies that always seem to go just a little. too. far.)

I’m ready to start another book. I’m ready to discover a whole new set of interesting characters and accompany them around the twists and turns of a whole new plot. I’m ready to get lost in a brand new setting, to spend hours tap-tapping away at my keyboard, lost in the powerful throws of creation! You know, that- ‘in my little world, I am GOD! -feeling?

I’m ready to get excited, seeing those word count numbers jump up by the thousands in a matter of days and weeks. And I miss how a new work-in-progress brings me back to the methods, set-backs, questions, and curiosities that always pop up while I’m emerged in a state of ‘writer’ – giving me material a’plenty to spew out into the blogoverse.

There’s just one problem.

I have no book idea.  Nothing. Nada. N...(Nope, I can’t think of another cool ‘N’ word that means the same thing.)

Sure, I’ve got a few old ideas in the closet, if I rummage around enough. But none of them have inspired me to take the next steps.

At the same time, I don’t want to just sit around, waiting for lightning to strike.

Any suggestions?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Adolescent Crush

A friend of mine posted this up on his facebook last week and, while I’m not sure I agree that ‘real men don’t cry’, I do see a significant change in what the epitome of manliness has become for adolescents these days.

While normal fifteen-year-old girls my age were crushing on Zack Morris or Pacey from Dawson’s Creek, I myself had a whole different criteria for crush-worthy so maybe I’m not the best person to comment on the subject.

First of all, my crushes were either dead or hit their hay-day about thirty years before I was born.  'Jailhouse Rock' gave me a glimpse into Elvis’s appeal and I still recommend every woman on the planet see this film at least once. (wow)

Marlon Brando in a ‘Streetcar Name Desire’?  Holy Crap! They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

Jim Morrison?

John Lennon?

Frank Sinatra?

All hotties in their own time.

But the point is, when I look back, my kind of crushes were sure of themselves, creative, and had a definite ‘edge’.

It seems like, with time, adolescent crushes have changed to reflect a darker, more emotional, tortured (skinny, pale) kind of soul.

Anyone else notice this?  Do you think teenager’s tastes have changed over the last twenty years and if so, why do you think this is?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Me and The Boys of Blogland

I’m happy to announce that February 13th, I’ll be co-hosting a most awesome endeavor with ‘Zee Boys of Blogland’- Alex J., Matt, and DL. (I’m feeling a little like the tomboy in the clubhouse with all this masculinity!:)

Together we bring you:
DL Hammon’s Origins Blogfest. 

The gist: On February 13th, all participants will answer a most vital question: When and how did you first become a writer? How did it all begin? What are your writing origins?

Sign up below, join in the fun and make some new friends! For more details please click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In an Agent's Shoes

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the manuscript we’ve so carefully crafted, re-read, re-written, re-thought, and spent so much time, love, effort, sweat, and tears on goes right from our loving embrace and...

...straight into an agent’s never-ending slush pile.

 -Where we know it will sit in line with hundreds of other manuscripts and risk being avoided, skipped over, or skimmed through if the literary gods look not upon us and the circumstances aren’t in our favor.

It stinks. BUT, I have to say, these last few months— with ebook prices going down and the many many many authors coming out of the woodwork with promotions for their self-pubbed books, my kindle has definitely gotten a little crowded.

My expectations have also gotten higher.

And my attention span has gotten shorter.

And the number of books I actually read all the way through has diminished shamefully.

In the last few months alone I have started five different books and only gotten about a third of the way through four of them before becoming disappointed or disinterested. A year ago this would have been unheard of in katieland!

But it made me realize, if I get overwhelmed just logging through the lists of recently published books and have a hard time getting through stories I’ve paid money for, how hard must it be for an agent to find time and attention for all the pitches that pass through their inbox?

It’s true that agents and editors might let some good stuff slip through their fingers.

But in a perfect world, agents and editors must be pretty amazing creatures- with a love for words and a thirst for stories so profound that they’re able to give every single pitch their full attention and read through chapters of non-client books with a keen eye and an open mind.

I, in any case, would obviously make a pretty crummy slush reader. But it’s reassuring to think that, in a perfect world (I emphasize), the people reading slush are a lot more attentive, patient and open minded than myself.

Do you think YOU could deal with a slush pile objectively?

**I want to thank you all so much for your kind words, thoughts and prayers on Monday’s post. And a special thank you to those who have contacted me by email and shared their own heart-breaking stories. It’s going to be a tough time for awhile but I know I’m not alone in my experience or my grief and that my family and I will be okay so thank you.**

Monday, January 16, 2012

When Real Life is Worse Than Fiction

I knew a few seconds after the image came up on the screen that something was terribly wrong. At my ultrasound only nine days before, our bonus baby had been sucking his thumb and kicking around and his heartbeat was strong.

But this time, he was motionless and the little throbbing mass in his chest that lets us know everything is okay was nowhere to be found.  The doctor kept making the image larger, and searching and looking. She didn’t say a word.

She didn’t have to. 

After three years of normal, healthy ultrasounds, I knew the difference.

But finally I just asked, without much hope-

“Do you see the heartbeat?”.

“No, actually.”

She had her colleague, the woman who delivered my daughter Julie, come in and confirm. I made them call in my husband from the waiting room.

And so began one of the longest, most confusing, terrible days of my life.

I guess in a way, all the worst days start out normal. In retrospect, I almost pity that poor couple we were before the appointment; oblivious, tired, excited and worried about being late. We’d hoped this time the doctor might give us a clue as to the sex of the baby like she did when I was pregnant with our daughter at the 14 week appointment. Maybe we’d go out for a celebratory lunch afterwards.

Instead, I spent the afternoon in a hospital maternity waiting room, surrounded by pregnant women with live, healthy babies inside their round bellies and pictures of cuddly newborns all around. I couldn’t help thinking how ‘wrong’ it is to tell me my child is gone and then send me into the one place where it would feel like the biggest slap in the face.

 I didn’t belong there. No woman in my situation belongs there.

Needless to say, my husband and I chose to wait out in the hallway after awhile.

-Friday’s events are going to take awhile to come to terms with but we’re doing okay. My girls took it a lot better than I expected, which was a relief. I think I was more worried about their reaction than my own. The hardships still aren’t quite over- I’m going in for the medical intervention tomorrow and perhaps we’ll soon have some answers that will help us grieve. I want to thank you all for allowing me to express myself here, as you always have. The friendship and support of this community means the world to me.

I won’t be changing my normal blogging schedule or anything else that brings harmony to my life.

This experience has changed enough as it is.

Thank you,


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Don't Know Any Writers Who Only Blog About Writing

My friend Sheri Larson tagged a blogpost that I know caused some controversy over the summer, but hadn't read until recently.  Basically, the post suggests that blogging about writing will only exclude, bore, or deflect potential followers.

Now, I’m part of a community of blogging writers that continues to grow every single day and so far, in all my internet travels, I have yet to meet a writer who blogs ONLY about writing in the technical sense.  Being a writer in general can open you up to so much more about the world than just the intricacies of the written language.

Sure, writing might be a major theme in most of the blogs I read- but that doesn’t stop them from relating it to film, culture, social media, books, clothes, cleaning, cooking, housekeeping, travelling, or child-rearing!  But off-the-beaten-path posts are also frequent, often well thought-out, and welcome!

You see, what I think the original poster forgets is that writers, as a group, are chuck full of imagination. They can write an informative post that contains philosophy, techniques, or deconstruction of writing without it feeling like a post about writing at all.  

I, for one never get sick of reading ‘writing posts’-given in new and inventive ways that never cease to teach me or give me new perspective.  And I will always stay true to what this blog is about.

What are your opinions?  Do you think writers who blog about writing are doing themselves a disservice? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Copyediting for Dummies

I recently downloaded ‘Copyediting and Proofreading for Dummies.’ (Yes, I am that desperate.) And while most of the book is geared towards people who are looking for a career as a copyeditor, (SO not my case at the moment) there are already two major findings that have stuck out in my mind.

First, apparently every publishing house has their own style guide—a guide to the house’s policies on grammar, punctuation and the rules of writing. I did NOT know this!  How could I not know this?  Looking up punctuation usage (hyphens anyone?) or spelling/grammar/capitalization rules on the internet can sometimes deliver confusing results. It would be nice to have ONE tried-and-true rule book I could go by.  It looks like Random House has published one so I’m going to check into it.

Secondly- the author of CAPFD goes into the publishing process in great detail- naming all the possible people who could be working on your book before a contract is even proposed.

Here's the breakdown: An agent sends the manuscript to the acquisitions editor. If the acquisitions editor likes it, they might work with the author to prepare the book for acceptance by the publishing house. (aka revisions)

Then the manuscript goes to an internal editorial committee or board.  The acquisitions editor makes a case for the book. If the board agrees, the book might be pushed on to a second internal/external group who dissect the work and decide if it’s ideal for their house list.

If they give the book the thumbs up, the acquisitions editor brings it back to the author who revises it according to the board’s wishes in order to prepare a final proposal.

They finally offer a contract.

The editor and author begin further revisions.

The book goes from the acquisitions editor to a managing editor who chooses a production editor—who begins the process of creating a print-ready book.

The production editor gives it to a copyeditor and a designer.

When the copyeditor is done it goes back to the acquisitions editor and author for further revisions.

Conclusion— If I’m expecting to ever make it as a published author, learning to look at my work subjectively and make real (as opposed to tweaking, rereading, adjusting, pruning, adding a little of this here- a little of that there) in depth, intelligent revisions that follow and effectively incorporate professional feedback is a must.  Nobody is going to do it for me–no matter what step of the game I’m at. And it’s definitely, in my case, a skill that is being learned and honed over time.

I can’t imagine how hard it must be for authors that finally make it to that stage in the game and are confronted with having to change, re-write and resubmit their manuscript upteen times before the house makes it to a final product. Preeessuuure.

Of course, we’d all love to be there:)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

My New Year’s Resolution this year isn’t to get an agent.

Or a book deal.

Or even get to published in any shape, way, or form.

This year’s resolution is to simply stay in the game.

I will not stop writing.

I will not stop blogging.

I will not stop making connections.

I will not stop querying.

I will not stop critiquing.

I will not stop learning and improving my craft in any way I can.

I will not stop. 

Because this is what writers do.

Real writers- the ones that eventually make it onto your bookshelves or into your kindle are there because they did. not. stop.

THAT is my goal this year.  No matter what happens- for the next twelve months- January to December, I will keep doing what I’m doing.

Because through the deception, the small victories, the heartache, the difficulties, hair-pulling revisions and personal matters knocking down your door- sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to just. keep. swimming.

Even swimming in place is something to be proud of:)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When Writing Becomes...Work

Up until now there were very few occasions where writing felt like honest drudge work.  The first draft is always a thrill for me- getting to know my characters and being surprised at the twists and turns as my story takes on a life of its own.

The first, second, third and fourth round revisions aren’t so bad.  I’m still passionate about the story and focused on making it the best it can be.

I love receiving feedback, weighing my options and finding solutions to obvious problems.
In short, the ‘honeymoon phase’ pushes me through until I have something ready to pitch to agents.

But eventually, if you read enough blogs written by published writers- they all say the same thing.  At some point, writing becomes honest to goodness WORK.

Finding that perfect balance, after testing and tweaking things a million times (but it still isn’t quite right) becomes about as fun as solving a really hard math problem.

The honeymoon period is totally over.  The passion is gone and your manuscript feels like it’s put on 100 pounds and started vegging out in front of the TV.  It doesn’t speak to you anymore.  So it’s up to you to carry both sides of the conversation.

On one hand, you think the relationship might be over for good- after all, how can you possibly work like a mad-woman on something you’re no longer passionate about?

But then I realized, as the words no longer tugged at my emotions- that they became just words.  Easier to remove.  Easier to identify as flowing or not.  And even more easy to replace with something better. 

When you’ve spent enough time with your characters and finally take a step back, they become more transparent.  You made them the way they are.  You can change them. They aren’t set in stone.  You could have written them differently from the beginning.

Yes it’s work.  Yes, it’s not fun. But sometimes the ‘real work’ is the best and most gratifying work you’ll ever do.

What makes you drudge through revisions when the magic is gone?  Do you find it’s harder or easier to make effective changes when you are officially sick of your own words?  How do you stay motivated?

***PS-I have MISSED you guys so much!  I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and it’s great to be back after my two week hiatus!  Can’t wait to catch up!***


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