Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nearing the Finish Line

Exciting news!  I am nearly done with the first book in the Grape Merriweather series.  Whoot whoot!!!

Not quite as exciting, I have to punch up the beginning and overhaul the ending.  I've been getting feedback from Betas and so far, they all agree: the story is good and fast-paced, but there are a few bumps that need smoothing out.  I am super happy because the finish line is in sight, but I'm worried that I'll lose steam.  When I was a runner and used to race, I always slowed down once I saw the finish line.  Something about the end looming in the distance took the wind out of my sails.  I'm the same way with writing.

The novel will be done by the new year.  I might have to drink ridiculous amounts of yummy coffee and bribe myself to do it (I'm looking at you, iPhone6), but it will happen.  And then I get to start querying agents.  FUN!!!!

How about you guys?  Any exciting news to share?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Announcement Time


I am incredibly happy to announce that my play, The Last Day, will be performed in Raleigh at Owl Tree Theater for the People in October of 2015.  It's been a long journey for this play to reach its first production.  I wrote it five years ago, roughly, and workshopped it with the DC Playwrights Forum.  The Last Day went on to win an Honorable Mention in the Ohio State University at Newark New Play Contest and it was the play that got me into the 2010 Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive, a wonderful experience.  Several theaters considered producing the play, but no production was ever forthcoming.
This is not uncommon for me.  I've written three full length plays and several one acts and ten minute plays.  My plays have been considered at The Public Theater and Steppenwolf among others.  I was a finalist for the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference.  I've been a bridesmaid several times, but never a bride.  So, how did I finally land my first production?  It's kind of a funny story, to me at least.
All the world's a stage, until you want a play produced, then only proper theaters are a stage.  Image by
Let me reiterate, I spent YEARS submitting my plays, writing queries, occasionally filling out forms or writing essays on why I thought my play would fit in well at a certain theater (please don't get me started on that experience).  I cannot tell you how many submissions I've done.  I've garnered many staged readings from that process, but no productions.

Then I switched to fiction for a while and left theater behind for a bit.  Transitioning to fiction took all my attention as the style is so incredibly different from theater.  Then we moved to Raleigh and in an attempt to meet people, I took up improv.  I quickly moved from taking classes to performing.  Nothing big, nothing fancy, but I like improv and it turns out I'm pretty okay at it.  The artistic director for Owl Tree saw me perform at Comedyworx, my home club, and asked if I would like to do a monologue at a showcase they were having as a fundraiser.  Of course I would!  I'll skip the weeks where I was so nervous that I utterly regretted my decision and move on to how much fun the actual monologue shows were; so much fun in fact that I've since enlisted in acting classes.  I loved the experience.  I started to feel more confident as the run progressed.  After the third or fourth performance, once I'd loosened up a bit from a walking bundle of nerves, I asked the artistic director if he would mind reading a play I had written.  He said sure.  So I sent it to him.  A few weeks later, he emailed to ask if they could produce it.  So, after years of grinding out submissions, queries, and practically begging for an opportunity,  I got my first production by casually mentioning I was a playwright.  That is how the world works, and it is a funny funny place.
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Oh Dear, I've Been Gone A While

UGH.  Let's start with that word.  Life is good but I had a few spells of crap between May and now.  Through it all, however, I have been writing!  I am editing the hell out of the Grape Merriweather book and will be sending it off to Betas soon.  :)  I fear the notes, comments but know it will only make the book better.

I'm also knee deep in a play right now.  I'm on draft four and will be getting comments soon.  Is it dark?  Oh hells yeah.

Other than that, I have tons of projects on the backburner.  I still want to do a short story blog but am unsure of how much time I have to commit to it.  I have plans for another play, another stand alone book and a science fiction series.  What I don't have is infinite time and patience.

While we're at it, I'm amazed by writers that can write for ten hour stretches.  I can manage six before I am utterly exhausted.  How do you guys do it?

Okay, I know this was quick and sloppy (stopping myself from making an inappropriate joke here) but I just wanted to assure you that I haven't fallen off a cliff.  I am around, I am writing, and I will have something to offer soon, I hope!

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.

Image by

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.

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