Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Writer's Angst

I've been thinking way too much about what to post from what not to post. So this one is just off the top of my head.

Working with mortals can be painfully frustrating. That's the way I feel some days - and yes, I'm putting myself up on that superhero pedestal. It's rough going from on high - but damn - I think I'm explaining myself clearly and all of a sudden, it turns out I'm not. So it's time to step down, right? Okay, that didn't make much sense, but it was essentially a rant about my workday, not about my writing, and this blog is about the 'other' me. The one that is writer girl, and yes, I should have a cape!

I think I may have lost a few brain cells. I volunteered to judge a writing contest - don't ask me why. Like I have time to do this sort of thing, but already I'm hooked! It's really a serious responsibility. No just plowing through. These writers have sweated blood and tears over these manuscripts - whether they are brilliant stories is not even the point. It's about the seriousness of effort. I know I'd want whoever reads my contest submission to take a deep breath, and just do the best job they can do in judging my baby. Right? So that's what I'm going to do. Just hope the rest of the entries in my inbox are as interesting as the first one I pulled out.

Separate topic. I was re-reading my synopsis for the un-named publishing house that requested it, and I HATE it. Talk about convoluted! It reads the way I think - okay, that's quite the statement:) lol!

Minutes later...I decided to go back and read it again. I was like it couldn't have been that bad. And I was right, it's decent. It was damn decent. I'm not mad at all. But I've got to remember to be more careful when I choose to re-read stuff I've sent to editors and/or agents.  A lot can happen from one day to the next. I think it's the way the mind punishes writers for daring to indulge in a lifestyle where you attempt to be a writer.  In other words, the inner id is telling you, you should be doing something more meaningful with your life than writing about vampires falling love? Well, let's make this clear - my manuscript is not about vampires falling in love. It happens, but it's also about a woman falling apart, in fact crumbling into a million pieces and finding her way back to sanity. Just so happens she's a vampire. But even vampires have bad days, you know?

Well, this rambling post has helped me with a few things that have been floating around in my mind. It feels good to get them out.

But for writers who might happen upon this blog - tips for today? When you re-read something you've sent to an editor or an agent - make certain you are wide awake and sober.

Note: All photos were taken by Denny S. Bryce, and are her property.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Marlene Contest

I've realized that when it comes to my writing, I can be a coward. And by the way, that is so not like me in other aspects of my life. But when it comes to my manuscripts, it's true. I hesitate, over-think, pause, procrastinate, you name it, I do it. Not so much with the writing of the story (okay, maybe that, too), but when it comes to following up with editors and agents? I'm like a frozen lake of nerves. It's been six weeks since I sent the near-future story synopsis and the first 40 pages to the editor who requested it at RWA this past summer, and only a month since the agent checked in with me, saying she'd read it after the holidays (Labor Day). Neither one of them has written and said send me the rest of the manuscript, and happily (so far) no one has said, darling, please don't write us again. So I sit and I dream, and I wonder...

Okay, enough of that hooey - it just makes me nervous putting my thoughts about this aspect of the writing world to paper (or computer). To add to my insanity though, I've decided I will participate in the 2010 Marlene Awards. Deadline is December 15 (or submissions open that day and close January 15). I'm shooting for the 15th of December - because, it will be better if I don't give myself too much wiggle room. I don't want to mess around and submit too late to be considered. I'm a deadline fanatic, and might as well go with the first deadline to make sure, right?

For the Marlene Awards, I will be polishing up one of my other WIPs (not the near-future vampire story set in DC and Las Vegas I sent to the editor and agent. No, this one is an urban fantasy (okay, I've just got to have the urban fantasy thing going) set in Chicago during modern times. It's sexy (I think), it's dark, the main character is broken, but hopelessly brilliant and heroic. The heroine is stubborn, sexy, and has no clue about the world of magic, wizards, or demons. And it's set in the world of police work (actually, the FBI). There's a serial killer, portal jumper, witches, vampires, you name it, and it's all set in the snow-covered, frozen tundra of my x-hometown - Chicago!

Challenge though. I'm thinking I have to change the occupation of my heroine (it's already 40,000 words long, and should end up around 80,000). Her being a reporter is just striking me as trite. She could be a bartender - very easy for me to recall from my early days in Chicago. Or, she could be a restaurant owner. I like the idea of her being a business owner (like moi in my real life). I can bring in all of the joys and stresses of running a business, too busy to have a healthy relationship, stressed out over staff, customers, deadlines, taxes, etc.

But even more fun, it will be a single title and feature a twisted romance, sex, violence, (did I say that already?). Bottom line there will be nothing within the realm of routine. And why do I feel I can do this? Well, there are just so many damn books out there that do whatever they want. My latest find is Chelsea Cain:)...She's on my friend's list on Facebook - way too excited about that. You've just got to check out her books. I'm reading her first one in the 'beautiful killer' series now, Heart Sick. Visit her website, and buy. Her first book was a memoir written in 1994 or so. I'm so jealous. I wish I'd started getting serious about writing earlier in life, or at least when I started five years ago, I wish I'd learned enough to actually be more aggressive about getting published. That bug just hit me, and it's because of Rebecca Walker. She's my writing coach. I participated in her writing workshop in Maui this past June, and can I just say I fell in love with Maui, her wisdom (yes, I have a girl crush), and generally, the energy she shares so easily with others. Go to her website, and just hang out, and if you're in San Francisco in March 2010 (or  Maui in December 2009) - sign up for her workshop, okay? Just do it!

Alright, it's like 3 AM on the east coast, and I need to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow work-wise, and writing wise. I will finish polishing Chapter Six (can you believe it's taken me three weeks to write it?).  But it's okay. Not mad about it. The next  ten chapters are actually written, but need a decent amount of re-working. But I know what needs to happen, and the two new chapters I've been working on for the past several weeks will make those chapters so much easier to clean up.

I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to finish those chapters in three weeks. I realize it might be dicey for me to finish polishing before November 1, but I've got to give it a real try. Who knows? The editor may email me tomorrow and ask for the entire manuscript, right? (hopeful is not always bad).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Do You Think About Writing Contests?

I'm about to dive face first into the writing contest maze. I have enough material - I've got two 50,000 plus manuscripts just waiting to get out there, and I"m officially still on the 'unpublished' writer list, and I also guess I'm not so much ready to go e-books only. Nothing against them - I just have a thing for a couple of publishers - namely St. Martin's and Kensington and a wee bit of AVON and Harlequin Kimani - anyway, I'm just exploring the possibilities.

I haven't heard from the publisher I submitted to the last day of July. This week I will write and just see what's taking them so long to let me know whatever it is they want me to know (my guess is no thanks, but I'd like to get some feedback).

As for contests, just so you know in case you're interested in submitting ... in the RWA DC chapter we have the Marlene Contest and you can also check out Poets and Writers. These contests are a way (at least in my mind) of getting another beat on your writing without spending a fortune. I'm still working with my writing coach (although I'm almost afraid to check in with her because I don't feel I have enough new material to share) - but I've got to get over that hesitation/fear. I paid and I've got to be less fearful about this entire writing process (so unlike how I am in the business world! It's somewhat annoying frankly).

Anyway, it's Saturday night. I'm watching Fringe (got he DVD and am checking it out - first season). I'm also about to settle in and read some more of The Lost Symbol - the new book by Dan Brown (loving it so far). Set in DC, what's not to love.

Photos are taken by me. The first on a beach in Southern California a few years back, and this one in Paris, two years ago.

I'll be taking more photos of my town soon. Just because there's a lot to see and know in the D of C:)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Week's DSB (that's me!) Nominees for Best First Paragraph - Book Category!
Visit Ms. Cain's website. It's excellent. Her book is in the running for my personal two thumbs up! (hehehe, this best selling author will certainly hold my recognition of her first paragraph sacred, I'm sure:)!

Yesterday was the second day in row I woke up, got out of bed and took an hour-long walk. The weather was great, seasonably DC-like for September, maybe 82 degrees at 8 a.m. So it wasn't as brisk of a walk as I'd planned - but it did help me do a couple of things I plan on turning into a ritual.

It gave me time to give my imagination free reign and what did I get? Plot bunnies! Tons of them, but one in particular that I will be working up for November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It's a killer.

So I'd better have my POS (piece of shit, aka, borrowed phrase from Nora Roberts' presentation during RWA national conference), or WIP for the rest of us-DONE! The plan is to finish polishing the manuscript before the end of October. Then I'll be free to get started on a new project. Can hardly wait! And it's not because I'm seriously hating the book I'm working on now - no, that's not it. But since June, I believe I've learned more about who I am as a writer than in all of the five years I've been dabbling with writing. So I'm definitely ready to start a project armed with this new knowledge.

But okay, since we aren't quite ready for all of that hoopla, I wanted to begin a little thing I'll be doing for the next few weeks or months, or as long as it interests me...since I'm obsessed with books (not always reading all of them, but just the idea of how people approach their craft, and what ends up between the published page), I've been searching through books and have found quite a few that are deserving of special recognition - right here in my blog! This week's nominees for best first paragraph are established best selling authors - sure - but even they can't just get over on a weak first paragraph - you know? So above I like Ms. Cain's opening graph - quite a bit, so gets to go head-to -head against (drum roll, please!), Mr. Dan Brown! (and OMG have you visited this man's website? I have corporate clients who haven't invested as much...)...

I totally enjoyed the first chapter. So this one will get read:)!



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