Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Never Enough

One of the things I hear amongst aspiring traditionally published authors is that all we can do is our best- that as long as we’re doing the maximum to try and obtain an agent and get that book deal, there’s really nothing more we can do.

But what is the maximum? And am I really doing it? I’ve tried to compile a checklist of stuff we’re ‘supposed’ to do.

Write. There’s writing of course. We’re told not to get stuck on one project but to try different realms, genres, style and to always keep moving and improving our craft. Does that mean we should be writing a book a year? A certain number of short stories? Poems?

Polish. We have to learn how to effectively revise.  Find critique partners and betas. Critique material for other people in order to hone a critical eye.  

Query. We can’t very well call ourselves a querying author if we aren’t sending out queries.  But how many queries? How often? If we take a break from querying, are we no longer a ‘querying’ author?

Blog. Having an online presence and author’s platform used to be a ‘must’ but now some authors and agents are saying it holds no sway and barely puts a dent in the promotion that needs to be done in order to have a successful book launch or career. But still, we’ve got to put our name out there and garner interest for our books and what we have to say.  Just in case.

Subscribe to Publisher’s Weekly.  To keep an eye on new trends- what’s selling and who’s buying. (I haven’t done this)

Enter pitch contests, first 250 word contests, first chapter contests, break-out novel contests. (Yeah. I haven’t done any of this in a really long time either.)

Self Publish. Because having a self-published book or series that is selling well is a way to garner attention and interest from the traditional publishing industry.

Get short stories or excerpts published in a magazine or an anthology of some sort. (I only have one short story. What can I say?  I’m long-winded. So does this mean I should sit down and write short stories in hopes of getting them accepted into an anthology? )

Go to writers conferences. (Never done this. I live too far away. And have you seen the prices?)

Anything I missed?  This already feels like a lot and I’m only doing about half of them (and those few alone suck a big part of my time and energy into the trying-to-get-published-vortex). Could I be doing more?  Probably. But for me, the maximum is giving your all in the areas you can. Truth is, you could be doing all these and it still might not be 'enough' to get published.

How many of these are you guys doing/have you done?

Do you ever feel like no matter how much you do, it’s never enough?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Go Jean, Go

So, like every year, I totally missed the Oscars since the show doesn’t start until around 2am my time.  I did wake up to facebook posts, though, about Jean Dujardin winning best actor? Wow.

I didn’t see ‘The Artist’ but my husband did.  I wish I could say he came home with lots of trendy existential artistic insights to relay. 

But, alas, high-society film critic my husband is not.  

In fact, the hub’s analysis consisted more of terms like ‘bored out of my mind’ and he admitted to falling asleep about a third of the way through. I guess the lack of sound, speech, or other stimulus was hard for my high-action film fan to take.

I think the French are proud of Jean, of course, but they’re also a little surprised.  I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but the French aren’t big on comedy.  Or rather, they enjoy dark comedies made fun by witty quips or completely off-the-wall situations all while the main character suffers from something like loss, depression, destitution, illness, blackmail, or all of the above. 

And somebody usually has to die, of course…it ain’t funny ‘till somebody dies.

Here, Jean Dujardin is, for all intents and purposes, a comedian- mostly known for a comic mini series and movies like ‘Brice de Nice’ where he interprets an intellectually-challenged beach bum or a ‘Naked Gun’ type character in OSS 007. Not exactly rolls the French hold in high regard. But all in all, I think the entire country is happy for him and proud to be represented in such a high profile award show.

Did you watch the Oscars?  Any moments I should look up on youtube? What was YOUR favorite movie pick of 2012?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Outright rejections: 15
Requests for full: 5
Rejections of full:  4
Soul-crushing rejection of an exclusive revise & resubmit that blocked off querying for six months: 1
No reply: 24

CRITIQUING PROJECTS:  I’m currently in the middle of critiquing one MG story (although I’ve never written or critiqued anything MG before:) and I have one regency short story I’m looking forward to critiquing before I’ll be open to taking on new projects from my fellow bloggers.

WRITING: After KISSING FOR COFFEE’s overhaul, I’m leaving that manuscript alone for awhile.  I’m currently outlining a new YA Romantic Comedy that I hope to begin writing before this two week vacation is over.  I’m also hoping to revamp FOSSEGRIM and start on the sequel (of a trilogy) – all designated for ebook publication at some point in the whenever-I-get-to-it.

REAL LIFE: As I’ve mentioned, the kiddies and I are on ‘vacation’ for two weeks and the hubs has Wednesdays and Thursdays off.  Which pretty much means my two weeks of indentured servitude has begun.  It would seem my husband and children are incapable of happiness without my constant presence and input.  I should be grateful, I suppose. But instead of spending the day lounging around and drinking coffee while basking in writerly bliss- I’ve now got three kids and one husband to keep occupied less they drive me up a wall.  Which brings me to my next point:

BLOGGING:  I will be sticking to my regular Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule despite the time constraints of the next two weeks and hopefully be able to dedicate an afternoon or two to visiting and commenting all the blogs I miss so much.  But again, I’m feeling much the blogging bum under the bridge.

How are all of you doing?  What are your querying/writing/real life/ blogging stats?

Monday, February 20, 2012


Since the kids and I have two weeks off from school (gotta love those French vacations) - I'm spending the afternoon deep cleaning my house. Not my favorite thing- but it must be done.  So, in light of today's activities, I decided to post a rerun about a syndrome I like to call dirtyhousewrititis:

The most obvious sign my wip has taken priority over everything else?  My house gets dirty.

Really dirty.

House cleaning is already one of those things I force myself to do on a daily basis because…if I don’t do it, who the hell else will?  But I feel like it’s something I should get a gold star for because it takes monumental willpower on my part to do the same mundane tasks every day, over and over again, without running out the door screaming, hailing a taxi and taking off on the next train to anywhere-where-I-don’t-have-to-clean (not that I’ve actually thought about doing this...much). 

 Unfortunately- there are no gold stars (or gold anything for that matter) for mothers who clean up after everyone, which definitely dampers my enthusiasm.

I have kids.  So  I figure it’s kind of like when you keep rabbits or gerbils.  You gotta keep the crap outta their cage or they’ll get sick and stinky.  Despite this, their bedroom seems to take on a life of its own.  When I’m wrapped up in a writing project, I stick to the bare minimum- cooking meals, cleaning up afterwards; dishes, floor sweeping, tables & counter wiping, and laundry.   Not to mention the whole child feeding, cleaning and changing that restarts the dreaded process in motion.

Now that wip is marinating, it’s like I woke up from a writing-induced haze and realized ‘Holy Crap.  My house is ridiculous!’.  So yesterday was spent digging out the girl’s room, uncluttering bookshelves and bureaus, mopping the floors, cleaning sinks and toilets and catching up on loads of laundry.

I didn’t get a gold star.  But I did order take-out sushi, which is more than enough compensation for me.

What falls to the wayside when you’re wrapped up in a wip?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blame It On The Alcohol

First off, I want to thank everyone for your comments and words of advice on Wednesday’s post. I’m slowly but surely getting back up on that horse. Even if I didn’t really write a drunk thank you letter to the agent, I did think about it, for like, a second.  But thankfully even tipsy Katie knew it wasn’t a good idea.

But it got me thinking about how some authors use alcohol to loosen up their characters. Take Posey, from Kristan Higgin’s ‘Until There Was You’. She’s always been shy. Too shy to ever spark up a conversation with her teen crush and major hottie Liam. Yet get a couple drinks into her and this is what happens:

“Nice dress,” Liam said, giving her a disdainful scan.
“Bite me,” Posey said.
His eyebrows rose in surprise. “Sorry?” he asked.
Oops. Maybe he wasn’t disdainful.  Maybe she was channelling or projecting or whatever that word was.
“Nothing.  How are you Liam?” He didn’t answer, engrossed in his phone. Ass.
She glanced at Liam, who was still checking his stupid phone.
“How are you, Cordelia?” he asked without looking up. And did he have to use that name?
“I have leprosy,” she said.
“Cool,” he murmured, his thumbs texting away. Posey rolled her eyes. Whee! The room spun.
“So, how do they treat leprosy these days?” Liam said, sliding his phone into his pocket, and Posey choked a little on her drink.

A drunken interlude can allow an author to show a different side of their character's personality and essentially do something ‘out of character’ without actually being out of character. It can give an unexpected glimpse into who they are- not only to the reader but to the other characters in the book; creating or destroying relationships and often times advancing the plot. In short- if you're stuck and not sure what to do with your characters, get 'em all drunk in a room and see what happens!

I haven’t  gotten tipsy in a social setting in a really long time. But for the most part, I’d have to say I’m a happy drunk. Actually, I tend to think I’m a comedian and start making jokes left and right and laughing my arse off.  The only problem is, I think I’m hilarious. The other people there? Not so muchJ

So tell me peeps, imagine we’re all having a hypothetical party at Creepy’s place tonight. (It’s Friday after all!) What is your drink of choice and what aspect of your personality is most likely to come out? Are you a weepy drunk? Angry drunk? Stripper drunk? Happy drunk? Needy drunk?

Have a great weekend everybody!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


*Gasps*  Oh no.  It’s only been a few days since I resubmitted. This can’t be good. *clicks on email*

Dear Katie,

Thank you for allowing me to read your revised manuscript.

Okay. Harmless enough so far…




The ‘unfortunately’. - The link that severs the good from the bad.  The equivalent of an executioner’s axe in the writing world.  Shit shit shit shit shit shit…(this word seemed to repeat without cease in my mind for the remainder of the interlude)

I’m afraid the changes just weren’t enough to…

Oh SHIIIIIT! *clutches chest*.  Oh God. I’ve been hit. OUCH!  Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch!!!  This HURTS! *Takes deep breaths and moves on.*

I’m very sorry but at this point I can’t offer any more…

OH Noooooooo! *clutches stomach * I think I’m going to puke.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors…

*Mouth hangs open in grief, hands reaching towards the sky*  WHYYYYYYYYYY!!!?

*Buries face in hands and struggles to breath for a minute. Looks up between her fingers*

Oh God, it’s still there.

*closes email*

What do I do now?  Should I write back?  Maybe I should write back…*Looks at her hands and wonders why they don’t answer. Starts typing.*

Dear Agent,

I’d like to thank you for the time you took on my manuscript. I wish I could say more but I’m currently dying a slow, painful, bloody, emotional death…

…Watching my ripped-out heart beat outside my body

…And planning a video for youtube


Okay.  Maybe I shouldn’t write back. 

This is far too emotionally raw. I’ll just go have a drink, chill out, and watch some mindless television for a bit.

*FIVE drinks later*

Dear Agnet,

I thanks you for all your time and fantasmic feedback.  You da bom.  I juss wanna say I try SO HARD!  So. hard… You broke my heart, man. But in the words of the great, late, Whitney- I will always love you…………..SdvUIHILILILILILILILILILILILILILILILILN

*passes out, face down on the keyboard*

***side note: Yes, I did.  No, I didn’t.  And this is in NO way the real letter that I received (which was much more personal and kind) but you get the gist***

So, I’m going to continue to submit my manuscript elsewhere and I have other projects in the works which I’m focusing on. Despite the roller coaster of emotions, working with an agent was a fantastic experience.  Bottom line is, I’m still here.  A little more battered and blue in the self-esteem department but I’m still here. Sushi and wine are helping sooth the pain but I’m still not completely ‘over it’, of course.

What do you guys do to get over a really tough rejection?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest- Dumb Blonde Writing

Growing up, I always played the ‘dumb blonde’ to perfection. What can I say? I preferred to make people laugh, saying silly things to prove I didn’t take myself too seriously or be taken too seriously by others. Like any other kid, I just wanted to be liked.

And I was. But the ending result is that no one in my entourage ever did take me very seriously. Not my teachers or my friends or my friends’ parents. I was funny in a ditzy kind of way, goofy even- but definitely not someone you would ask to help you change a tire.

But when I wrote, whether it was a creative writing piece or an essay on Aristotle’s Greek tragedy- I couldn’t hide the fact that, inside, I wasn’t really a space cadet. I loved to write.  I loved words and how you can get an idea across- prove a point, or completely change someone’s perspective with the perfect combination.  And whenever the occasion struck- I just let it rip; used vocabulary and turns of phrase I’d probably never spoken aloud. 

There were two occasions where I realized my writing let people glimpse a different side of me and, in some cases, alter the way they saw me altogether.

One was my senior year of high school.  Our English professor, Dr. Taylor, pulled me aside a few days before graduation.  I don’t think she had addressed more than a few words to me throughout the year.  She asked about my plans for college. Asked about the long-term boyfriend I was with at the time. And then she turned to me and said ‘I just wanted to tell you not to settle.  I’ve read your work. I know what you’re capable of and I think you could go very, very far.’

No other teacher had ever said that to me before.

The same thing happened in college, with the professor who accompanied my study abroad group to France. We’d become a big family, and I was often the class clown.  Which is why he was so surprised after reading a paper I did comparing the women’s movement in France and the United States that made him realize there ‘was more to me than meets the eye’.

Today, of course, I’ve mostly grown out of playing the dumb blonde.  It helps that French people don’t understand that kind of humor and might think I’m a little retarded if I’m not careful. But writing still taps into a part of who I am- one that doesn’t get to see the light of day as much as she should.  It lets me be my whole self, and I couldn’t imagine a life without it.

Thanks for reading my ‘origins’ story.  I look forward to reading yours! Be sure to check out more origins entries here:

Friday, February 10, 2012


Watching BACK TO THE FUTURE II, I couldn’t help but laugh at how the scenarists pictured 2015 with flying cars and outrageous electronic clothing. 

But then again, they did get some things right.

Like the robotic waiters.

Video chatting.

3D movies and television.

For a full list, check out this post.

Me, I’m still waiting for an honest-to-goodness hover board.

What kind of inventions did you think would be available in 2015?  What technology makes you stop and wonder at just how far we've come (despite not having hover crafts) ?

For me, the new ipads and iphones, the internet and video games like xbox kinect without contollers really make me feel like I'm living in a pretty interesting era.  

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pretty Woman

Last night I sat in front of the t.v. with a big bowl of popcorn and watched ‘the original’ romantic comedy.  Sure, it might have been dubbed over in French, and the t.v. might have been in our bedroom since my romantically-challenged husband kicked me and my chickflick out of the living room so he could watch something more manly...

But it was still pretty damn good.

Despite being a romcom made in 1990 (when shows like ‘Full House’ were at the height of their popularity) and with Disney having a hand in the production,- I’m still absolutely shocked at the utter lack of corniness in this movie.  You would think romantic comedy + the 90’s + Disney would  = corniness incarnate.

But no.  As fantastic as the plotline is, you believe every minute of it.

And I suddenly found myself wanting Julia Roberts's hair.

And wishing my husband could borrow Richard Gere’s bedroom eyes for one night. (okay, that sounded way better in my head. Now I’ve got a mental image of hubby-dear ripping out Gere’s eyes and presenting me with them like some kind of Viking trophy. Eew.)

What I didn’t envy was Julia’s unabashedly 80’s eyebrows.


I guess what I’m trying to say is- it’s a pretty ironic cycle, isn’t it?  How sometimes the originals make us want more of the same- More sappy romantic  comedies!  More Starwars movies! More blonde teeny-bopper popstars! More books about wolves and vampires and witches and wizards!

And yet, more often than not- you just can’t beat the original.

What are your favorite ‘originals’ ? 

Speaking of which- don’t forget to sign up the origins blogfest !

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Secret to Longevity

I didn’t get to see Madonna’s performance last night-or watch the Superbowl, for that matter because, well, I’m lame and live in France where the Superbowl doesn’t air until after midnight and had to work early this morning:(

I hope all of my fellow Americans enjoyed their buffalo wings and jello shots and yelling at the tv screen. *sniff* I swear- you don’t know whatchya got ‘till it’s gone… *wipes away a tear*

Instead of enjoying Superbowl festivities, I was curled up with the latest book from one of my favorite RomCom authors. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though her main characters are starting to meld together in my mind and share many of the same quirks and catch phrases- But the author didn’t fail to surprise me, make me laugh and even cry! (all great RomCom’s do, don’t they?)

Hearing about Madonna’s performance made me think about longevity. You always hear that when agents sign you on, they want to know you have more than one book in you- more than one idea.  They wanna know you have what it takes to sustain a career in the ever-changing market place.

I have to admit, when dealing with an author who has published several books in the same genre, it’s hard not to compare the book you’re reading with their past work.

I know that there have been some romance authors who I enjoyed up until the third or fourth book and then my interest wavered.  I felt like I was reading the same story over and over again- given in different settings with different characters.  Thus the dangers of using ‘a formula’.

And it made me wonder- how to authors like Meg Cabot and…um...uh…(nope, she’ s the only example I can think of right now just because she’s written so many different books, in various genres and each one of them is SO unique. But please feel free to give me any other examples that come to mind) are able to make it in today’s market?

Is it their name (already established in a specific genre) that gives them the freedom to jump genres and explore ideas that really ‘speak’ to them?  Are they setting the trends?  Or following them? – (like, does their agent or editor say ‘Hey!  There’s a demand for middle grade books about man-eating smurfs!  How ‘bout you write it?’ )

Or is it a little of both?

What do you think plays a roll in an author’s long-term success?

Friday, February 3, 2012

National Crêpe Eating Day

It’s been awhile since I did a Friday Morning Follower’s Bloffee and since yesterday was national Crêpe-Eating day in France (Yes. They actually have a whole holiday devoted to the consumation of crêpes. They even give it a fancy name- the Chandeleur) I thought today would be a good day to start your usual blogging off with some good ol’ fashioned bloffee and crêpes. Banana-nutella is my personal favorite.

For any newbies- here’s the gist:

All you have to do to participate is 1.  Comment. 
2. Tell me what you’ve brought for morning bloffee.  (Today I’ve started out with a pot of coffee and crêpes, of course.) 
3. Click on someone you don’t know in the comments section and check out their blog!  Voila- a new friend and potential follower connection has been made!

I want to thank you all for your encouraging comments on Wednesday’s slightly dramatic, possibly hormone-induced post.  I have yet to ‘hit send’- I’m going through my manuscript one last time. (And let me just say, I’m SO glad I decided to do that. Hello typos. Where hast thou been hiding these last few months?)

Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time for visiting or commenting this week.  Tell me- what did you guys blog about this week?  Did I miss anything big?

Enjoy the spread and hot bloffee!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Well, I’ve finished up the very last touches on the revisions for the agent and I’m pretty sure it’s ready to be sent off.

And yet, I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it.

I’m terrified.

The truth is, once I ‘hit send’- that’s it.  The agent probably won’t get back to me about it for awhile but once she does, it could very well be the end of a fantastic experience.

Or the beginning of a new one.

I’ve been disappointed before. Very disappointed.-So disappointed that I’ve actually had to ask myself the question:

 ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

I know I’ve said that just staying in the game is an accomplishment but sometimes— after three years, four manuscripts, and countless rejections- it just doesn’t feel like enough.

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never ever make it- no matter what I do, how hard I try, or how many years I give this. 

So what’s the point?  Why keep doing this to myself? Would anyone really care if I just dropped out of the running? Or went with self publishing like so many frustrated writers are doing now a’days?

This moment is the closest I’ve ever come to that next step. The closest I’ve ever come to achieving my dream.

And once I ‘hit send’ the ball is no longer in my court. No control over what happens next.  And sometimes I hate that fact - that I can keep writing, and keep trying to do better, but in the end, it’s not only up to me whether or not I become a traditionally published author.

It’s up to fate, and to a multitude of individuals that I have yet to meet.

I almost feel like when I ‘hit send’, I’ll be giving up in some way.  Because I’m just not sure I’ll be able to bounce back from this one like I did with the others, you guys.  If a detailed rejection on a full could have me questioning my place here- what’s going to happen if I fail when things count the most?

Ever feel like self doubt and fear is keeping you from moving forward?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...