Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Hi All!  Sorry I've been absent, but I have a good excuse.  I have been writing like a maniac.   The dedicated writing time is working like magic.  Some days I'm able to pump out 3-6k words.  And, big news, I am almost done with my YA novel!  I am incredibly excited.  This book has been far easier to write than Tough Girl, and not just because the plot is less complicated.  This is my second novel and I learned a ton on Tough Girl and now I trust myself and my process.

This YA novel is the first in a series.  I hemmed and hawed about writing it because I have a ton of novels in my head and I always saw myself as more of a contemporary ficiton or science fiction writer, but then I realized how much fun I was having with the idea and the characters and I decided to just go for it.  If you've read my writing, then you know I spend a lot of time toiling in the darker side of human nature, so working on something that has some humor and joy was a relief (don't worry, people still die).

But now that I'm nearing the end of book one in Grape's story, I'm getting nervous about what to do next.  I self published Tough Girl because it's such an odd story that I didn't think a publisher would find it economically viable, but I HAD to write it.  With Grape, I'm not sure what I want to do.  I fear trying to find an agent because that can take years, and then once you have an agent there's no guarantee you'll get a book contract or that you'll get a contract with a major publisher.  I've seen it happen several times to friends of mine.  Not to mention that when I think of all the query letters I've written for plays over the years, I shudder.  Grueling is the first word that springs to mind.

Another option is to go with a small press publisher.  There are issues there as well.  I've been looking into a few small publishers and bringing up their titles on Amazon.  The majority of books I've researched have less reviews than Tough Girl and the Amazon ranking doesn't look too impressive, regardless of the publish date.   I know authors have to do marketing but I figured the publisher would at least line up reviews from book bloggers, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  It would be nice to have a publisher and to feel more legitimate, but is it worth it if they're not busting their tale to promote you?

In the next month or so I need to decide what path to take.  Do I query constantly until I find an agent willing to take me on?  Do I self publish and spend hours on marketing?  Or do I try a small publisher and hope for the best?  So much to think about.  I am open to ALL advice.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Hooked on Notebooks

I've changed my process over the years.  I used to do all my first drafts longhand.  This was back when laptops were first hitting the scene and carrying around a pen and notebook was just way easier than lugging around a computer.  I eventually had to give up longhand rough drafts for time and carpel tunnel's sake.  Now, I do all my notes, plotting, and preliminary work in notebooks and all my writing on my computer.

Why in this increasingly paperless age do I stick with pen and paper at all?  Part of it is tactile.  The pen flowing over the page makes me happy.  It's certainly not for clarity.  My handwriting is just atrocious (not an exaggeration).  It's actually difficult for me to read some of my notes due to the deranged nature of my penmanship.  I do love using the icons I've created over the years: huge arrows and asterisks to indicate important notes, sad faces when I've said something stupid.  My ability to take notes, mark up, and cross out (but note delete) info helps my brain sort out the wheat from the chaff. 

But the real reason why I use pen and paper is because it is a habit, and sometimes that's the most important thing to a writer.  Crutches, ones that don't hurt your creativity, productivity or health - I'm looking at you alcohol and junk food - can be a huge boost to a writer.  I LOVE hunching over a pad of paper and scribbling like a mad woman, preferably while sipping on coffee and listening to experimental music.  Does it help me?  I think so.  Writing is slower than typing and it forces my brain to slow down even when it wants to fly off the handle.  It gives me something physical I can flip through and something portable but not ever present.  And a notebook is a visual reminder on my desk that I need to get things done.  But even if it doesn't help me, I still love it and will continue to do it.  :) 

What habits do you hold on to?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Still Writing

Just a quick word to let you know that writing time is working out stupendously!  I'm already a third done with the second draft of the Grape Merriweather story, my YA novel.  I'm also plotting a new novel idea for a side project, because I totally need one of those.  :)

The only downside so far is that I haven't figured out when to blog or visit blogs just yet.  That is the next step in my writing world.  So, for now, this tiny post will have to suffice.  But hey, it means I'm that much closer to having the next novel done!

To all my bloggy friends, I will be back to visiting blogs by next week.  I am so incredibly sorry for my absence.   :)

Image by - One day, this will be me and all my novels!!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Road To Structure

The past year has been eventful and emotionally challenging.  My mother passed away, I left my job to better take care of myself and the hubby, and we bought our first house.  Those were just the major events, not to mention the million minor foibles and brilliant moments that make up our daily lives. My life has seen a lot of ups and downs recently and I've been trying to deal with them as well as I can.  For the most part, I've done a good job.  I have yet to collapse to the floor crying or go on a major spending spree, or eat my weight in Doritos (my long-time stress food).  I'm hovering around the stressed side of normal.  For me, that's a huge life victory.

The one thing that has suffered is my discipline.  I'm not the most talented person and lord knows I'm not the most business savvy, but the one thing I've always had going for me is my ability to work twice as hard as the next guy.  I am self-motivated and require little, if any, supervision.  I'm the type of gal that will set a writing time, sit down, and knock out a few thousand words.  But this past year, I have not been able to keep to a regular writing schedule and my work has suffered.

The emotional ups and downs and the major life changes are the biggest reason why.  You see, I'm easy to knock into a fog.  My brain loves to obsess over the nuances of life to the point where I sometimes can't be left alone without stimulation (TV, audiobooks, etc) or my brain will just run the same events over and over and over until I am in a panicked state or just a really really bad mood.  This can enhance the situational stress by a high degree.  My tendency when I get stressed out is to give up and watch television.  It's a relatively harmless stress response, better than when I used to binge eat and far better than becoming an alcoholic or engaging in risky behaviors. 

However, things feel as if they are finally settling down.  I'm beginning to feel like my old self.  Setting giant goals for myself is easy, it's easy for anyone to do.  It's the daily work to reach those goals which is difficult.

So, with a certain amount of pride, I wish to report that I have FINALLY set a writing schedule for myself.  This will be the first time I've had true writing hours since I left my job.  It feels good.  I know there will be days where I'll blow off work to hang with friends or to watch a movie, and that's okay.  As long as I hit my schedule 80% of the time, I'm pretty happy.

It's nice that things are finally getting back to normal.  Knock on wood.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Moonless Release and A Trip

Sorry for the absence.  The hubby and I were in Florida visiting family last week.  I had my tablet but no time to write or visit blogs.  I did, however, have time to meet this handsome devil:
I wanted to cuddle with his sooooooo bad but I feared he might kill me with his very sharp talons!
It's good to be home, and writing again.  It's also nice to sleep in my own bed and clean my own house, wait, maybe not that last thing.
Also, today is Crystal Collier's Moonless Paperback release.  YAY Crystal!!!!! 

To celebrate, Crystal asked her fellow bloggers who they would beg their parents to set them up with if they had to have an arranged marriage.
Let's start by saying, excellent question.  Let's assume, for the sake of interesting answers, that I have not met my husband in this world.  If I had to pick anyone real or imaginary besides the hubby, then I would choose Mr. Darcy, just kidding, I think Darcy's kind of a tool bag.  I would actually choose The Fool from Christopher Moore's The Fool.  Everyone needs a good laugh and he seems like a good sport, not to mention he speaks Perfect F@#$ing French.  Also in contention was Captain Ahab, but mostly because that relationship would come with great freedom as he would be out stalking a whale most of the time.

Book Details:

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night. Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they’re echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights. Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Link to Amazon

Meet Crystal

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It's a Writing Blitz!

In an effort to make sure that I am completely and utterly busy for the next year or two, I have decided to write rough drafts of several projects and then finish them slowly over time.  So far, I have two novels, five short stories (with fifteen more in the queue) and am almost done with the rough draft of a play.  These are exciting times, indeed.

See, rough drafts don't take me too long.  I write fast with the understanding that the first draft is just fodder for the finished story.  I then spend a lot of time fixing the story (replotting, sketching scenes, jotting down dialogue) before even attempting a second draft.  Then I hone that piece until it is completed.

This is my first time taking the multi-project approach.

The Pros so far:

1. It gives my mind lots of options to focus on and, so far, has made my imagination more fertile.
2. I don't have a lot of down time.  Normally, I have to take a week or two between drafts to focus and I usually fill the time with reading and/or a bit of light short story work.  Now, I'm always busy.
3. I am not stressing over what comes next.  Both novels I'm working on are the first in a series, as are the short stories, and I have at least two stand alone projects on the backburner.
4. Somehow, this isn't really overwhelming, just invigorating.

The Cons:

1. It's new and I am adjusing to having multiple stories going at once.  This isn't bad, but there are some inevitable growing pains.
2. I fear the moment when I get obsessed with one story and the others fall away, only in the sense that I fear the passion for the other projects might not come back.  This is a mild, "Did I leave the stove on" feeling and not and all out panic attack.

So far, those are the only cons.  I have to say, I'm pretty excited and, if I don't have a meltdown, I think I may prefer to work this way from now on.

Image by j4p4n.  When you type "excited" into Open Clip Art, this is what comes up.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Meet Terence Kuch!

Sorry my internet lovelies, I did not mean to go a whole weak without posting.  Unfortunately, my husband fell ill over New Year's weekend and I quickly followed suit.  Nothing rings in the New Year like a stomach bug!  On the positive side, free toxin flush!

Now, on to Terence.  Terence and I met when I joined the Arlington Writers Meetup Group.  If you live in the DC area, I would highly recommend checking out this group. When I joined, Terence had already been a member for years.  A prolific writer, he's had roughly 1 billion stories published.  That's not really accurate, but I believe the total is over 100.

Terence's fiction tends towards the dark and twisty, so you can see why we get along!  Don't take my word for it, check out his microficiton page Memorable Fancies, the site where he publishes 50-500 word short stories daily.  You can also find his published novels here.

Image of Terence Kuch
Terence's Bio:

Terence Kuch’s fiction and other writing has been published in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, and Thailand, including Commonweal, Diagram, Dissent, Hobble Creek Review, New Scientist, New York magazine, North American Review, Penguin Review, Poetry Motel, Slant, Slow Trains, Stray Branch, Thema, Timber Creek Review, Washington Post Book World, Washington Post Magazine, and others. His work has been praised by the New York Times and Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Pimmit Hills, Virginia, with a wife and several opinionated cats.


In Libby news, my short story "The Victory Rule" was featured on a new short story blog started by fellow writer, Emily E.  You can check out the story for free at Internet Troubadours.


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