Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Day of the Year

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions--they're either stupid or unachievable over time (and by 'over time' I mean past January 15th) but it is beneficial to look back over the previous year, listing pros and cons, wins, failures, and draws, before starting the new one.

In 2013, I worked closely with an agent tweaking a story that didn't end up getting published, though I did learn a buttload in the process. I parted ways with that agent, though I did recently hear from her (she left the agency and wished me great luck with my writing in future). I finished one novel (my ghost story!) in the meantime and another during NaNoWriMo, which was an amazing process. I wrote a handful of short stories for submission in 2014 and, in the process, rekindled my love for writing shorties. Kiddo and I soaked the house in estrogen whilst my husband was deployed for the year (he'll be back in February! Finally!!) and had many good months of giggling, hilarity, movie reenactments, food craziness, shopping, etc. We got over a bad medical situation that befell my mother during the very last bit of 2012, so 2013 was instantly better once we shoved that behind us. I lost my little dog in April, which was awful, especially considering my husband's ongoing deployment. I traveled some, but not as much as I would have liked. I watched kiddo play her first season of varsity soccer, finish her freshmen year in high school, and start her sophomore year. I read at least 10 excellent books and many more that were very good, all the while dreaming about one day seeing my own novel on bookstore shelves. I can't say I learned much about myself this year that I didn't already know (I do spend hours each day locked inside my own head, so...) but I have noticed that with age comes increased comfort in my own skin. Progress, I suppose, especially for a woman. Aren't we born and socialized to hate ourselves? At least subconsciously? Anyway, fuck that. My skin is most comfortable and the inside of my head is a sanctuary unmatched by any place outside it. Oh, and let's not forget that, as this year comes to a close, an agent is actively considering the novel I sent queries out for in October. As good a way to end the year as any. I'd rather have a freshly signed publishing contract (or, better, a copy of my book sitting right in front of me), but I'll take what I can get.

As for the new year, I refuse to make resolutions. But I do hope for health and happiness for those I care about. I'd love to be published by this time next year, but that isn't really resolution material. I know what I need to do to give myself the best chance. So I'll do it. That's a promise, not a resolution. Bring it, 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I Need a Butterbeer

December has been a lazy month for blog posts, but busy for everything else. Lots of Christmas shopping, baking, running guests places, and editing (which I finished!). Yesterday, we went to Islands of Adventure and drank many a butterbeer in 85 degree weather. Today, shopping, lunch, and grocery shopping (and the last Walmart run before Xmas...hopefully). Nothing beats a Florida December: high 70's to early 80's. Just a few more days until Christmas and another week until 2014. Hard to believe. I'd hoped to review some short stories last week, but running our house guest (he'll be there for the next four months, so more like tenant, less like house guest) around every afternoon cut into my work time, turning an edit I thought would take a week and a half into one that took nearly three. Then came cleaning the house, making cookies, and packing for a two week holiday at the folks' house.

Walking around the Harry Potter area of Universal yesterday got me thinking. How amazing must it be (and, no, not just monetarily, though that's freaking awesome as well) to not only see your books made into great movies, but to walk around an entire park that brings life to the characters and places you tugged out of the ether? An author can only dream, I suppose, and as long as we do, such things are possible. I just want to get published, so it's hard to even consider what might come after, but I let myself dream a little while I sipped my butterbeer on the way to Hogwarts castle. I don't need to make a billion dollars off my writing, but wouldn't a movie be grand?! In the meantime, I need to find a decent recipe for butterbeer and pumpkin juice...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Importance of Being Snarky

I've been neck deep in an edit since the Tuesday before last. It's like falling into a well that you somehow keep making deeper. I have a love/hate relationship with editing--I hate it when it's going on and love it when it's over, HEY-O! Just joshing. I do like the process. It's just a bit tedious at times, especially when you're getting into the realm of 3rd and 4th edits. And with a guest in the house since Sunday, I've been out to lunch in the middle of every day which leads to sleepy editing in the late afternoon since I'm used to eating light when I work. Not fun. So, suffice to say, I haven't been as productive as I'd hoped. Still, I should finish the read through (which I started today after completing the final edit yesterday) by early next week at the latest. Then it's time to motor to Florida for the holidays. After that, just a few weeks until my husband comes back from overseas.

Does anyone actually follow writing advice that people post on Twitter? I always wonder, because some of the advice either seems a bit in your face or completely self-evident. Honestly, it ignites my inner smartass, which is always itching to come out swinging. Life outside my house is little more than a perpetual editing process that turns the snarkiness in my head into comments that are appropriate to use around others. So, there have been quite a few times that I've typed a reply to a 'helpful' writing tweet, only to erase it immediately. I find it's usually best to just keep my fucking mouth shut unless someone has directed a comment or question to me directly. Even then, an edited response is usually in order. To maintain my sanity, I mostly just giggle at the no shit, Sherlock variety of writing advice. Grammar is good stuff, reminders that editing is necessary, suggesting you not threaten an agent via query letter (wait to do this face-to-face)--yeah, no need to tweet about that. Now, tweeted advice from agents or legit established writers is another story, but a lot of it can still be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, here's my advice...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

So Lazy I Forgot to Blog

Things are about to change in the Adams household. As you know, it's just been me and the kiddo since my husband deployed. As soon as he left, we quickly got into our own groove, which is pretty damned strange if you stop to think about it--lots of playful screaming, laughing, loud music, and maniacal repetition of TV and movie quotes. My husband would hate it. Well, now we're going to put up a family friend for a few months while he goes through triple C (captain's career course for you non-military folks). He gets here tomorrow. I feel sorry for him. This house is awash in estrogen. Even the dog is a girl. But it will force us to get back to more normal ways of living (we'll never be completely normal, but who would want that anyway?) before the hubs gets home. That will save him a lot of eye rolling. But it also means I've had to rearrange the spare room and clean the house. Not my idea of weekend fun, but then I'd almost always rather be reading or writing.

Over the last week, I've been editing the story I finished in the fall. I figured it didn't make much sense to jump into another project with Christmas looming and primed to fall in an explosion of green and red. Once I return home from my parents' house after the holidays, I'll get going on a new novel. In the meantime, why not prepare this puppy for submission in case the agent who's reading the full MS I just shopped around doesn't  bite. I think I have a few other agents I need to hear from, but it never hurts to get the next submission ready. That means the dreaded query AND the dreaded synopsis. Double ugh.

Speaking of the holidays, I'm right on track with everything and nearly finished shopping! I sent my husband's stuff out Friday and only have a few more things to buy. Christmas cards are done, the house is fully decorated, and Kiddo and I had our fun Xmas photo shoot (with costumes!). Next week, I'll get to start making cookies. And then I'll get to start eating them. That's the best part of every holiday for me: the eating. And Chex mix. That rocks too. I only make it once a year.

And Stephen King's on Twitter. Like, whoa.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Bearded Man Cometh

Today is the final day of both November and NaNoWriMo. I'm heading home tomorrow after a nice week spent in FL with my folks and have a crap ton of things to do in the coming week(s). If you sensed a list rapidly approaching on the horizon, then you were correct. Give yourself a hearty clap on the back and then buckle in for a numbered ride.
  1. I won't be good for much of anything tomorrow after driving 6.5+ hours to get home, but on Monday I need to put fall decorations away so I can dress the house up in all its Christmas finery. And there's a lot of it. I love the holiday, but GODDAMN is it a ton of work. Luckily, I scoured the house before I came down here, so I'll only have to dust before putting out decorations.
  2. Grocery shopping. We have no eggs, no fruit (how will I live!!), no milk (which means no coffee...again, how will I live!!), and no fresh veggies, as I either used them all before we left or brought them with me to FL.
  3. Finish Christmas shopping for my husband so I can get his presents in the mail at least two and a half weeks before they need to be there. Three, if I can manage it. I ordered a bunch of stuff online during Thanksgiving and Black Friday and most of it has shipped. He never provides that great of a list, so I'm mostly winging it. Also, he has to carry all this shit back with him or send it back before he returns in February, so it doesn't make much sense to send tons of stuff. Guess that new puppy will have to wait until next year...
  4. Get Christmas cards written out and sent. This will be done by the end of the week. I have the cards at home (I got about eight boxes last year at 90% off, so I'm set for a few years). I need stamps. So add a post office run to the list.
  5. Shoot our Christmas card photo. I usually do a lovely picture of the kiddo, but we have a better idea for this year. I have a very nice camera I got a few Christmases ago as well as a tripod and remote, so we're going to do something fun that will surprise (and hopefully amuse) our friends and family. I may post it on this blog if it turns out the way we want. But I need to get the appropriate wardrobe items, shoot the picture, and get it printed by the weekend so I can include it in our cards.
  6. Oh, right, I'm a writer, I should probably do some non-holiday stuff just to keep things consistent. I need to start editing the novel I finished in the fall, before NaNoWriMo. I'd like to have it ready for submission in the new year if I don't hear anything positive from the agent who requested the full MS and the few who are still ruminating over my last query letter. The novel needs a good final edit, and it's a productive way to spend the three weeks before I motor back down to FL to spend Christmas with my family.
  7. Edit the short stories I wrote in October and submit them to literary magazines. I had a lot of fun writing these. Hopefully, I can get some printed. I may even write a few new ones.
  8. Make a run to the library. I have three or four books waiting that I'd like to finish before Christmas break.
  9. Take Zoey to the vet. She needs her bordetella booster and 6 months of Trifexis. Should be a fun way to spend 300 dollars. Merry Christmas, Zoey!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Given the holiday combined with the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when hanging out with family, I thought, why not do a list of things for which I'm thankful? Here we go:
  1. My family. This goes without saying, but I'm saying it anyway. It always makes me happy to have the opportunity to hang out with my folks and my kiddo. Wish the husband was here too, but thanks to the wonders of technology, I've been able to chat with him a little even though he's deployed.
  2. My husband. Yes, he's part of my family, but he deserves his own number for several reasons. He's overseas fighting for freedom, bacon, and the American way. And he's also my biggest fan and strongest supporter. He believes in my writing and has suffered through many drafts, disappointments, and long, one-sided conversations about plots, characters, and agent woes. I couldn't have asked for better.
  3. My kiddo. Also part of my family, but she deserves her own number too. She's such a great kid (99.9% of the time, haha) that I often wonder just where in hell she came from. Then she gets snarky and I know she came right from me. Love that kiddo and can't imagine my life without her.
  4. My awesome friends. We're spread out all over the country, but still hang out online just about every day and get together whenever one of us is close. Writing is a lonely business (so is moving every two years when the Army tells us we have to), so it's always nice to see friends and family.
  5. Zoey. Yes, my mastiff, writing buddy, and secret keeper (she's damn good at this last one). Whenever I read whole sections of my WIP out loud, she manages to look super interested and she's quick with a hug. I spend more time with my dog than I do anyone else.
  6. The fact that everyone I care about is still here to celebrate Thanksgiving. We had a serious scare last year with my mom that we can all joke about now that it's 355 days safely behind us, but we weren't laughing last year. It really made me appreciate all the moments I spend with the people in my life who mean so much. You never know when your last moments together will be.
 On that slightly morbid note, I'll wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Enjoy that turkey and pumpkin pie!

Monday, November 25, 2013

To NaNo or Not to NaNo...Haters Gonna Hate

Seems to be a lot of negativity out there about NaNoWriMo, mostly from people not doing it. Lots of folks have a lot to say about how counter it is to the 'artistic process' or how it propagates focusing on 'incorrect' goals--i.e. quantity over quality, word count over plot formation and characterization, the discouragement of brainstorming and research during the writing process. I agree that participants shouldn't beat themselves black and blue over not reaching the magical 50 thousand word goal. It's a random number and some just won't make it, which is perfectly fine. I took part this year for the first time simply to shake up the way I normally write. I had just finished a project and thought, why not? I spent October doing my research and brainstorming and was ready to go come 1st November, or at least as ready as I was going to be. The words came better than I'd expected, but I'm also used to sitting in my home office anywhere between six to nine hours a day and working on various projects. For me, NaNoWriMo was a way to challenge myself to a higher level of productivity. And I wanted to see if I could get from concept to completion in a month.

As for the naysayers, I get the distinct impression that some simply want to rain on the parade of those enjoying their NaNo experience (and, honestly, there will always be fuckers who just want to ruin good things for other people), but others seem worried that participants are taking things to an unhealthy extreme. I agree. Some are. If you don't make it to 50k, just be happy you got something out of the experience. Writing anything is a win. Period. If the challenge shook you up and got you excited to write something every day, all the better. Quantity is the first step on the road to quality. And we all work at different paces and in different ways. The important thing is to work. Lots of writers are forcing their asses into chairs and fingers onto keyboards every day for the first time ever. That's a beautiful thing. And just what the hell is 'the creative process' anyway? Isn't it different for everyone? For me, it mostly involves keeping my ass upstairs in the office where it belongs so I can write, even if I don't feel like it. Some days, I have to hold a knife to my throat just to keep going (and it's no easy feat typing with just the one hand). If NaNoWriMo helps get you into that productive groove, then more power to you. If it's not your bag, that's cool too, just don't devalue it for those getting what they want out of the process. There is no single 'right' way to complete a novel. Your way isn't the Correct way, fyi (note the capital C); it's simply the correct way for you (now note that little c). No reason to preach at those whose writing process allows for an experience like NaNoWriMo. Just keep on keeping on in your own way and let others do the same.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Things have happened over the last few days. Interesting things? Debatable, but we're doing a list anyway, so check it:
  1. I'm visiting my folks for the week of Thanksgiving. It's always strange to come home as an adult, hanging out in the house in which you were once a child (or teen, in my case; we did some wicked traveling while I was growing up--military brats, holla!), and seeing all the changes in town since the last time I visited. It is nice to be in Florida. So warm; like fall doesn't even exist. I'm rocking skirts again, which I haven't done in several weeks. We'll be here for Christmas too, since the hubs is deployed, so more toasty winter weather. Running should be fun on Monday morning. Bye bye 30 degree temperatures...until we meet again...
  2. I finished my novel for NaNoWriMo on the 20th, wrapping up at about 93k. I was able to push through the troublesome denouement by simply letting it come to the tips of my fingers as I chugged along. I have some serious edits to do, of course, but I'm twelve shades of pleased to have written 93 thousand words in twenty days. I love the story I ended up with too; I just need to polish it until it shines like crazy.
  3. Remember those query letters I sent out a few months ago? Well, I've received a torrent of rejections (comes with the territory, yes?), but that was to be expected. Not everyone recognizes genius when they see it. Ha! Anyway, to make the 20th even better than it already was (finishing a novel always makes me giddy), I got a response from an agent wanting to read my full manuscript after checking out the first 15 pages. I did a happy dance, then sent that shit. The agent emailed the next day and my stomach dropped. I thought, gee, that was a lightning fast rejection, but she was just letting me know she'd received my materials. Phew. I live to write another day.
  4. Today was Kiddo's birthday, so we did all the stuff she wanted to do: sunrise walk on the beach (actually, just my dad did this with her while my mom and I slept--I was wiped from the day before: early morning, driving until 10:30, and staying up until 1:30 decorating with streamers and signs for her bday)(not to mention I drove her to school for a drill meet last Saturday at 3:30 a.m., so, I wanted to sleep in), shopping, lunch, ice cream, hitting thrift stores, naps (these are the best!), and dinner at our fav. Mexican restaurant where the birthday girl/boy eats free. It was a very good day and fun to celebrate my kiddo, though I was the one who did all the work oh those many years ago. I guess I have Mother's Day, but labor was really painful. I demand another day.
  5. Started The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes today. From about page two, I was hooked. Can't wait to see if this feeling lasts throughout the life of the book. I hope so.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Dreaded Denouement

The second full week of NaNoWriMo went quite well. Here are the stats:
  • Total words written (11th to 17th November): 24,382
  • Started Monday morning with 50,757 and ended Sunday afternoon with 75,139
  • Averaged 3.4k words a day
So, I'm obviously not going to finish at 75k as I'd hoped, since I got past 80k today, but I am venturing into the final scenes, including the dreaded denouement. I'm still not 100% sure how my MC is going to get out of the trouble she's wandered into. Wandered, hell. She ran into that trouble at a full sprint. A girl after my own heart (if that heart hadn't just gorged on white chocolate M&Ms...this is why I run, people; my love of candy gives me no damned choice). Anyway, I do have the ending, so I can just work from both ends and figure out the middle as I go along. I need to brainstorm, but I was so sure I wouldn't get my 3k in today because of some computer issues (tried to rip CDs, but the computer wasn't recognizing the drive, so I spent well over an hour fiddling with it to no avail; after finishing my work for the day, I restarted it yet again and the drive magically worked. Yes, MAGICALLY, because I don't understand how computers work past, turn on, type, hope for best). So, perhaps some good old fashioned brainstorming tomorrow if I get stuck. If not, I'm rolling forward, come what motherfucking may. I'll fix the plot holes and ridiculousness in the second and third draft (and fourth).

I finished Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Such a great read. Still mulling through it in my head. Lots of extremely tangible characters. Painfully so, almost. After a few moments to mourn the end of that story, as I always do when I get a good one, I started Allegiant. Not sure if I'm loving it quite yet, though I am only 65 pages in. The shift from Tris to Tobias is bothering me because it doesn't seem like two separate POVs but rather one masquerading as two. I don't know. I may get over it. We'll see. I hope to finish before Friday, so I don't have to lug the book down to Florida. I plan to load five books onto the kindle for the break and get through at least three whilst visiting my folks. Maybe even four since the first draft of the NaNo novel will be behind me. But what to read? Oh, the choices...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Reading, Writing, Rocking Out

Week 2 of NaNoWriMo and I'm sitting pretty at 68,322 words. I have a moderately clear idea about the very end of the novel, but the second to last act, which will contain the resolution (or denouement, for my former AP English Language/Literature peeps) is still a bit of a mystery, so we'll see how that works out as the weekend's writing rolls along. Might need another brainstorming session after reading over my outline and notes. Kiddo has a drill meet tomorrow, which means I need to get her to school at 4 a.m. (not happy about this, btw), but it also means I'll have the day to write (after going back to bed for at least 2 hours upon returning home...maybe even 3). I'm really trying to lock up the end of the story before Thanksgiving break starts next Friday. I'd like to be free to read a few books and write some short stories while I'm visiting my folks. Just gotta keep plugging along.

In other non-NaNo related news, I recently got in touch with a few established writers (won't mention names, but they are both New York Times bestselling authors) via email. Funnily enough, my deployed husband is the one who drummed up the contacts for me. They visited his base overseas and he just happened to be in the DFAC (dining facility, for you non-military folks) when they came in to eat lunch. They sat at his table and talked about writing, publishing, and my twisty-turny writing career. At the end of the conversation, they both gave my husband their contact information and told him to tell me to get in touch. I jumped at the chance! Not sure what will come of this, but I'm happy to learn whatever I can from successful writers willing to offer advice.

This week, I'm reading Tell the Wolves I'm Home. It's great so far (I'm 74% in--can you tell I'm reading it on the kindle?): the characters, the threading of backstory into the present action, the dynamics of the main character's family. This is the second novel I've read in the last year that starts with the immediate death of a character that I end up wishing was alive throughout the rest of the book. I should finish it tomorrow and then I can finally start Allegiant. I read Divergent and Insurgent over the summer (yes, I'm a sucker for a good YA novel) and they were entertaining. Not earth-shatteringly good, but enjoyable enough that I sped through each book in about a day and a half. I haven't read any spoilers per se, but I do know many people aren't over the moon about the last book in this series. Guess I'll see how it goes.

I haven't done a list in awhile. How disappointing. I'll have to fix that with the next post. Right now, I can barely keep my eyes open...

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaNoWriMo: 50k in 10 Days

Time for a NaNo update. First up: stats.
  •  Total words written for the week (4th to 10 November): 23,092
  • Started on Monday morning with 27,665 words and ended Sunday night with 50,757
I think it's safe to say this was a great week of writing for me. Though my folks were visiting (they left this morning), I still managed to average about 3.2k words every day simply by working from about seven in the morning until around 10, which was great because it left me free to hang out with my family for the rest of the time without feeling like I wasn't working enough. And though I briefly entertained the idea of trying to finish 50k in under a week after the overly abundant word frenzy that was the first 48 hours of NaNoWriMo, I think the situation created by having my parents here (keeping my word count down with a limited amount of work each day) was very beneficial, as it didn't allow me to race too far forward in the story, stumbling into territory before I was really ready. I'm still moving quickly, but I can see the path ahead of me and I've added so much to my outline that will give the finished product dimension (whenever I actually have a finished product; I foresee many serious edits in my future). I'm still going to move steadily from this point on. I did a little over 3k today and want to see the same for the rest of this week and most of the next. I have an updated goal: a finished first draft of about 75k before I leave for my parents' house on the 22nd (or 23rd) for Thanksgiving. That way I can let it sit through the remainder of the holidays and start editing it in the new year. I think that's doable, as it feels like I'm about three quarters of the way through the novel. Keeping it slow will help with some other matters, like researching, which I need to do a ton of tomorrow (over the last 11 days, I've kept a list of things that need some help and there are many). But I love research, so the joke's on you...er, me. Someone.

In other developments, where the hell did the 70 degree weather go? I'm looking at low 30's, high 20's for the rest of the week during my morning runs. Meh! I foresee some fast mile splits...or me frozen facedown in a ditch. One of the two.

And, hey, anyone want to jump on the writing buddy train? Here's my NaNo info just in case: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/tess-martin-adams. If you hit me up, I'll hit you back.

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo Week 1: Kicking Butt, Making up Names, and Then Taking Them

One week down, three to go. Current word count: 43,575.

The NaNo adventure has been interesting so far, especially with my parents arriving for a visit last Saturday, but I've been able to get about 3k words every morning before hanging out with them for the rest of the day, so the word count has grown steadily throughout the week. I think somewhere around 75k is certainly doable before December 1st. I'm very pleased with the novel's progress so far. I know it will need some serious editing at the end of this Magical Mystery Tour, but the bare bones of the story look good (so far, knock on wood); skin and muscle can always be added, subtracted, and tweaked later. It's strange not editing thoroughly each day, but I've been sneaking little tastes at the beginning of my morning writing sessions, just to appease the inner editor so she will shut the hell up for the rest of day and let me drop rhymes (oh, yes, I went there, what?!). It'll be interesting to see how things go next week after my folks return to their Sunshine State abode and I'm back to writing all day again. I've been getting 3k done in about 3 hours this week. Not sure if I can (or should) maintain that pace for 9 hours. I'm not trying to write the 6th Song of Ice and Fire novel (although it would be nice if someone did)...

In other non-NaNoWriMo related news, I started reading Reality Boy by A.S. King. Not quite sure how I feel about it yet at about 90 pages in, but it's holding my interest, so we'll see. Sometimes a book takes time to grow on me. Other times, I fall right in. Same thing happens when I write too. Luckily for me, I fell right into the NaNo novel, although I still can't clearly visualize the ending. It'll come though. Always does. Just need the main character to show me the way.

End of weekend goal: break 50k. Yup, let's do this.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


So we're three days into the craziness that is NaNoWriMo.

My kiddo took off on a weekend trip on Friday morning, which left me free to write from about 8 o'clock...and boy, did I. My folks are visiting for this entire week and were scheduled to get in early Saturday evening, so I set a goal of trying for 5k on Friday and 5k on Saturday. A good day of writing for me is usually about 3 to 4k words, not including the editing I do on the stuff I wrote the day before. Well, I shattered that shit. Just destroyed my best, most hopeful expectations. I joined the word sprints on writeclub as soon as I sat down in the office and went from 8 a.m. to 7:30 at night without taking more than a 10 minute break. Then I had dinner. Then I got back to writing from 9 to just before midnight. Altogether, I created 15,329 lovely little words. Shocked, pleased, and completely exhausted, I collapsed into bed and snoozed until morning.

The next day, I had some chores to do first thing (making guest beds, taking care of the mastiff, cleaning the guest bathroom kiddo claimed to have already cleaned, but conveniently omitted the tub), but once those were out of the way, I parked it at the desk and jumped in on the very next word sprint. I was hoping to get another 5k words at least, but my parents left Florida two hours later than they planned, so I was actually able to add another 9,788 words, soaring past 25k right as they pulled into the driveway. My goal was to bank some words because of this visit and the Thanksgiving holiday, but I never imagined I'd get this much done in two days. I loved the focus the word sprints pulled out of me and think I'll start to write that way whenever I drop into a slump. I attribute the rest of the word count to the awesomely detailed outline I put together over the last month. It honestly felt a little like cheating. I just worked down my numbered plot points, making notes and tweaking things as I went along. I also gave up on the idea of editing what I wrote the following day pretty much immediately, as I wasn't about to take the time to edit 15k words in one sitting when I had so much other writing to get done.

I figure for the rest of the time my folks are here, I'd be happy with 2 to 3k a day, just so I can spend the rest of the time with them. Today, I got cooking around 7:30 (yay, daylight savings time!) and had about 2.6k done two hours later, so I called it quits and hung out with my parents for the rest of the day (though I did get some great ideas during the afternoon that I scribbled down). After the folks leave, I'll shoot for closer to 4k a day, as my novels are usually about 120k before I pare them down to a more manageable 90 to 100k. A first draft of about 75 to 80k by the end of November would work for me. Holy crap, am I going to have a buttload of editing to do at the end of this...

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Let the Freakout Begin!

So NaNoWriMo starts Friday. I'm honestly ready to go, or so I think, at least. Today, I printed the outline I've been working on all month (5 pages of 10pt font loveliness). My fingers are itching to type the first few lines of the story, but I'm forcing myself to wait until Friday. I won't be starting at midnight like some others, as I get up every weekday morning at 4:45 and so value my sleep. This particular Friday, the kiddo is taking off on her Model UN trip, so will need to be at the school around 6 a.m. This means I'll get up at 4 to run, walk the dogs, play taxi, then get home to start my NaNo novel. I just hope all the momentum that's been building over the last few weeks doesn't crap out on me once I can actually start writing.

I finished the latest short story today, which was great. I'll see if I can knock out another one before Friday. I'd like to start submitting to magazines as soon as NaNoWriMo's over, which means a butt-load of editing work first, as all these stories are 1st drafts. And if I haven't had any positive responses from my last round of submissions, I'll prep the second novel I wrote in the last year and get it ready to go out to agents in mid December. I may also schedule some time for staring desolately into the abyss or sinking into a black pit of despair, but no more than a day, and then back to work.

Halloween on Thursday! One of my favorite holidays. I'm not dressing up (much to the kiddo's disappointment; one year we went as Mario and Luigi), but I will wear a Jack Skellington t-shirt with matching earrings, not to mention my house has been decorated for weeks and we have pumpkins to carve tomorrow. And Zoey the mastiff is going as a witch (the opposite of her actual personality). Pictures to follow...

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Idea Machine

Whenever I tell people I'm a writer, they either frown and wonder when exactly I plan to grow up, or ask where I get my ideas. They're invariably disappointed with the answer that they come from everywhere (and sometimes nowhere). But, sincerely, they do. If pressed, I can break it down by sources. Hey, let's do that now! With a list! Ideas come from:
  1. Interesting news stories- truth is stranger than fiction, right?
  2. Running- this may sound strange, but I often get snippets of ideas and whole gorgeous sentences whilst running my 4.5 miles every morning. I also get them when I take my mastiff on her 2 mile walk after my run. I have to go over them a few times in my head so I'll remember them and then quickly scribble them into a notebook once I get home.
  3. Other books- okay, I don't mean plagiarism or copycatting (plagiarism's younger, but still douchey brother), but I've left a reading of many books with grand ideas that were triggered by that story. Oftentimes, these ideas have little or nothing to do with what I just read, but the act of reading seems to leave my mind extra fertile.
  4. The ether- I'm only halfway joking here. Did you ever notice that when artists talk about the origins of their art, it always makes them sound like flakes? Not sure why, but it ALWAYS does. I guess the process involves a certain level of pretense that comes from spending so much time in one's head (see how flaky that sounds?!).
  5. Good old fashioned brainstorming- I normally have at least a general impression of a story before I do this, but just sitting down for awhile and taking notes helps to flesh out an idea better than anything else. I then type up these ideas into a workable outline and start writing. No magic involved, just elbow grease.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall: The Writer's Season

This morning I actually had to bust out a long sleeve t-shirt to go running. It was a brisk 47 degrees and didn't get much warmer than the upper sixties all day. Overcast and gloomy out, it felt great to huddle in the writer's cave with a steaming mug of coffee and tap away on the computer. I worked on three different short stories today. Two I reworked/rewrote from older versions (some parts were simply awful, but all that unpleasantness has been fixed) and am pretty happy with the results. The last one is brand new and promising so far (only about a thousand words in). I'll pick up where I left off tomorrow after I proof the other two stories. Not an especially exciting day, but a productive one.

I'm really enjoying writing these shorties, especially after so much time focusing on novel length projects. It feels a little like I'm getting away with something, to be honest. I just dip into a story and then dip out again. The five I've completed in the last week have ranged from 700 to 9,000 words. It is sometimes difficult to keep the more detailed descriptions out of a short and not delve too deeply into characterization (there just isn't time), but it's a great feeling to write something fresh without committing myself to at least 100k words. I hope to finish at least three more shorties before NaNoWriMo starts next Friday and all hell breaks loose.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Best Laid Plans of Mice and (Wo)men

Haven't had a list in awhile, so here we go. What's new in the life of Tess since the last post? So glad you asked!
  1. My trip for the beginning of November was canceled, which really sucks. I was going to see my husband, who was coming back to the states for a series of meetings, but thanks to the shutdown, his unit isn't able to bring the same amount of people to that conference. So, that's a nonrefundable plane ticket down the tubes. Urgh. I could've lived without this news. I haven't seen my guy since May. Ho hum.
  2. Silver lining to the abovementioned crap cloud: one of my favorite bands is coming to Charlotte on 6th November. It coincided with my trip before, but now it seems my schedule is suddenly wiiiiiide open. Haven't quite made up my mind about going.
  3. I finished another short story, which is great. I've been pretty productive lately. Hopefully, I didn't just jinx it...
  4. No positive word on agents (yet, right?). Another bummer, but I have quite a few I still haven't heard from.
  5. NaNoPrep is going swimmingly. At least! I can't wait for November to start. Kiddo will be away that weekend for a Model UN trip (the team leaves super early on the 1st), so I should really get a great head start to the challenge.
  6. I got The Wolves of Midwinter! I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Anne Rice. Her tendency towards verbosity and over the top description sometimes gives me a rage headache, but the woman can spin a yarn. And werewolves?! Yes, thank you. But first I have to finish The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
See how exciting my life is? Yep, that's how I keep you coming back for more. What are my weekend plans, you ask? Well, kiddo has a drill meet all day tomorrow, so I should get a ton of work done. Unfortunately, I also have to get her to the school at 5 a.m. and we live about 20 minutes away. Curses. She'd better remember these sacrifices later when I need top notch nursing home care...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hullo, Monday

Today was just the way I like it: productive. I finished the short story I started last week (the first in years!) and am pretty pleased with it. The story took on a life of its own at the end, which is also just the way I like it. I start the car, then let the characters drive...

After I finished that little number, I went over the outline for my NaNoWriMo story. It's really filling in nicely. Almost too nicely, to be honest (never trust a seemingly perfect idea; that was in the New Testament, wasn't it?). I joked earlier that at the rate I'm going, by the time November starts, I'll be writing the story Mad Libs style. I worked out another nugget before lunch that just might lead to a possible ending. We'll see how the main character feels about it at the halfway point. She has the deciding vote (yes, she).

After NaNoPrep, I started another short story--one of the ideas I researched and did some outlining for over the summer. I foresaw it as part of an eventual collection, though they might take some time to write, as I only have ideas for four out of eight of them. In the meantime, I'll just try to sell 'em as I pen 'em. This one in particular is exciting because it features zombies (or at least a zombie) and that's a first for me. I've done ghosts, vampires, freaky people of all kinds, but no folks of the reanimated persuasion. So, that's exciting. I'm nearly 3k in and I can't wait to see how it works out. This one I have outlined from beginning to end, but I'm still excited.

In other news, I finished Dr. Sleep yesterday. No spoilers, but, dear god, what a beautiful book. I don't even have the time to express my undying love for Stephen King. He always leaves me wanting more...

Friday, October 11, 2013

November's Tomorrow, Right?

As I reported earlier, I now have my idea for NaNoWriMo. I spent the week fleshing out the story and getting to know my characters and setting. So far, so good. I have about three quarters of the action figured out (maybe even a little more) and am actually quite anxious to just get started. I don't expect to get much further on the outline. I never know how stories are going to end until the last minute. Flaky as it sounds, the characters decide that. At a certain point in the story, the ending just falls into my lap. And, boy, do I love the feeling that comes with a new story: the excitement, the promise, the sense that I can make just about anything happen that sounds good to me (now, selling it is another matter, am I right?). It's the closest I've come to pure joy since becoming an adult. Absolute, unmuddled happiness is the realm of children, I think, but creation gets me close. I just wish I could start writing NOW...but that would be cheating. Meh.

Now I just need to put my writing time to good use before November 1st gets here. And I think I know just what to do: short stories. I have a few ideas written down in one of my many notebooks. I've focused on novels for the last few years and think it might be time to go back to my roots (especially now that the Nobel is on the table for ladies writing shorts, right? Ha!). I used to write tons of short stories (I thought they were easier at the time; now, not so much), even worked three of them into novel length projects. But it might be fun to try to sell some (fun probably equals rejection letters,but hey, gotta deflate my big head somehow). I have a few I wrote in college that I might try to rework if they're even worth salvaging. I also started one yesterday, so we'll see how that develops. Okay, back to work.

Bonus: I'm set up in Starbucks today (Friday, remember?) and thanks to this new 'La Boulange' thing they have going (French for 'pretentious')(just joshing, Starbucks, you know I love ya) they've been passing out free samples all morning. Score! Okay, back to work for real now...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Short, but Sweet

So, I did get those nasty submissions out this weekend. Took me awhile since I blast a ton out at a time (I am the reigning queen of simultaneous submissions), but they are out. Already got some rejections too. Shocker! Meh, it's the nature of the business. And each 'no' gets me closer to a 'yes'. In happier news, I did have an agent request the first 5 pages of the novel after reading the query. Yay! I hate query writing so much, but I actually liked this one quite a bit, which is rare. Even the synopsis didn't reek of suck.

As for NaNoWriMo prep, I got to do a little today (as well as research, my one true love!) and settled on two separate ideas to explore. But then I had to go get the kiddo from school for an early-ish appointment. Whilst in the car and during the appointment, I came up with an even better idea, one I think will be great. I just need to spend some time doing some research (!yay!), then develop characters (which I have germinating in the old noggin), then work on a loose outline (tight outline would be even better, but you've heard the one about beggars and choosers). Can't wait to get into the office tomorrow morning and get started. I'm a huge prep nerd. Nothing I love more than researching, filling notebooks with ideas (you should see how awesome my handwriting is...and how many notebooks I have), and writing up outlines--I do it for every story. I foresee a productive day tomorrow...

Friday, October 4, 2013

A List for this Fine Fall Friday (alliteration,10pts)

It's way past time for another list, wouldn't you agree? This one is about plans/goals for the upcoming (hopefully productive) weekend:

  1. With kiddo away at camp until Sunday afternoon, I'm going to get all submissions out to agents. If they only work via snail mail, I'll have them prepped for Monday (already bought the extra stamps for SASEs)
  2. Decorate for Halloween. Yes, I really do this. I have two large Rubbermaid containers bursting with fall decorations. I go all out, people. This means I need to completely clean the house so I can pack away our regular decor (not to be seen again until the new year when I put away the Christmas crap) and put the fun stuff out. I love the holiday season, which starts for us on 1st October and ends on 6th January. Yeah, we're that family. Normally, I have the decorations out on the 1st, but I wanted to finish my edit.
  3. Wash the dog before the weather gets too cold. Hard to wash a 150 pound animal indoors. Suffice to say, she doesn't get washed in the winter. Although, we're going to Florida this winter break, so she will get bathed down there. Hooray!
  4. Start some notes/outlines for my NaNoWriMo story and get in some serious NaNoprep.
  5. Clean bathrooms. Should be fun.
  6. Perhaps go on a bike ride. By 'bike', I mean 'motorcycle'. Yes, I ride...when I remember. My husband and I go all the time, but he is currently out of country, so there you have it.
  7. Start and finish Dr. Sleep. With all the crazy editing, reading for pleasure has fallen by the wayside (though I did read about 40 books over the summer...). I will rectify that this weekend. Without the kiddo around, I won't watch much TV...until Lockup comes on in the evening. Love that damned show.
  8. Print the new month's coupons. Another thing that fell by the wayside. I'm 4 days late. Damned edits.
  9. Eat bacon and eggs for dinner. A rare delicacy, as kiddo hates breakfast for dinner. Sometimes I wonder if we're actually related to one another. She also dislikes cake. Suspicious. I've already reported her to the NSA.

For Those About To Rock!

Usually a blog post in the middle of the day indicates that I am slacking big time, but not today! I'm sitting in Starbucks (as I do every Friday), having just finished the read thru of the novel I've been prepping for submission over the last two weeks. Final size, you ask? 101k words. That's down from a shade under 128k. Yeah, talk about cutting through some bullshit. I'm very pleased with how sharp the story seems without so much unnecessary description bogging it down. I'm also (shockingly) pleased with the shape of my query letter and synopsis. I wrote them one right after the other, mostly just to get it over with. Cannot emphasize enough how much I hate the query letter and its annoying big bro, the synopsis. The submission process itself is a bit of a bummer (mass rejection, anyone? Bueller?), but a necessary bummer. So, I've thickened my skin and am ready to go...again. I submit to tons of agents at a time (apparently this is a no-no, but whatev), so the process is actually pretty time consuming. It's shaping up to be a fun weekend (that was sarcasm, Sheldon).

In NaNoWriMo related news, I totally had an idea brewing (kickass I'm sure), which I neglected to write down, so now it's lost. Curses. I'm usually better about writing stuff like that down. Unless I can't (i.e. whilst running or dog walking; a surprising number of ideas/sentences occur to me when I am furthest from home and the soothing comfort of a notebook). Well, perhaps it will come back. I do have a backup idea, so we'll see. I think I'll spend October hovering between the novel in progress, and a group of short stories I outlined and started a few weeks ago. I used to write short stories all the time, so I'd like to get back to that and try selling some. The group I've outlined are creating some pretty interesting shapes in my head. Time will tell if I can get those shapes onto the page without messing them up too much.

Just fyi, my spacebar sucks. I had to take the ole laptop to the shop this week because the spacebar got sticky and would just add extra spaces whenever the hell it wanted, which was pretty much every time. I write several hours a day, so can't afford to let go of the computer for an entire day or, worse, days. But I had to have this fixed before NaNoWriMo. The local computer guy we use was extremely helpful and fixed it for five bucks. Well, now it's too stiff, so I have to press hard to get it to work. I usually type about 90 wpm (at 90 percent accuracy too; fear me!), now it feels like I'm typing in slow motion. Ho hum. These first world problems are a real buzz kill, huh? Urgh. Okay, enough bitching.

Monday, September 30, 2013

To Be or Not to Be...a Recluse

Whelp, new week, new post. I spent my weekend working on my super fun edit. I even worked on Saturday, people (gasp!). Or, should I say, person, since I only know of 1 confirmed reader of this enchanting blog. I find it hard to work all weekend, since the husband is deployed and it's just me and the kiddo (and my ginormo dog). She's in school from 7:30 a.m. until sports end at around 6, so I get hours to work every weekday and feel I should use Saturday for quality time (you know, creating toasty memories that will last a lifetime). I work every Sunday morning at Starbucks from about 8 to 12 and the kiddo comes with me and just does her homework. After that, she goes to model UN practice from 2 to 4, which gives me a little more time to write. So, that works out. This last Saturday, she had a school activity which meant a little under four hours of editing work for me at nearby bookstore. Friday was a banner editing day too, as I worked all day, then the kiddo went out to a movie with friends that evening, so I parked it at Panera and edited until she was finished.

This weekend should be productive too, as the kiddo's taking off to a weekend camp. I won't miss her quite as much if I dive headlong into work and stay busy until she gets back. The edit should be finished tomorrow (6 pages left; 354 pages and 104k words!), then a quick read through, and prep time for the dreaded synopsis and query letter (ugh)--at least those are already written; they just need polishing. I should be submitting to agents by the end of the week, which rocks. Crossing fingers that this truly will be the last time. After that, I'll go back to the novel in progress, which is hovering around 30k. It has an outline and most of the plot line figured out, so bonus. Not sure if I can finish it before NaNoWriMo starts, but I can try.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I need to get busy figuring out just what the hell I'm going to write about. I'm never at a loss for crazy ideas, but what could work for me in a month? I have a long range project I've been outlining and researching for over a year, but I don't think that's the best one to start. It will be a lot longer than 50k words. I think it's best to go with a fresh idea.

In other NaNoWriMo related news, I'm wondering if I should attend the 'pre-noveling adventure' this Sunday. Kiddo still won't be back, so I could go. I'll have to think on that. As a rule, I'm most comfortable writing from the comfort of my writer's cave (working hard on my status as recluse), but connecting with other writers on twitter has been cool. Imagine doing it in real life! The horror!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Little Better All the Time (It Can't Get Much Worse)...

This most recent edit has brought a few crucial things about my own writing into sharp focus for me. I thank my (former?) agent for this, who worked with me through three serious edits on another story. She pointed out that I have a nasty tendency to repeat things and overdo it on excess description. At first, I thought this was somewhat bogus, but then realized she was right on. I thought it was because this was an older story that I rewrote several years later, but now I'm editing a story I wrote more recently (last year) and I notice the same kinds of problems. I like words, I like description, and when I write, I often come up with three or four different ways to say the same thing, so it's hard to decide which one to keep in the story. Back when I used to hand write my stories, if I couldn't decide between two or three words, I included all of them and just separated them with a bold line. Apparently, I still do this without realizing it, only in a slightly different way. I've noticed that I craft two or three sentences in a paragraph or a page that express the same basic ideas. They're all awesome (if I do say so myself, haha), but repetitive. And I do it a lot. Perhaps there's a support group. Hello, my name is Tess, and I can't shut the hell up, even in writing. I need help...

Maybe I haven't fully expressed how out of hand this tendency has gotten. When I started editing the current novel, it was around 127k words and 415 double spaced pages. Way too long. I'm currently on page 256 and have cut 50 pages and 19 thousand words worth of repetitive crap and unnecessary description. And I'm not done yet. Like I said, I have a problem. But, isn't the first step admitting it? Now I just need to go through the other novels I have waiting for edits/reworking (see! I'm doing it again!). I'll go slowly, though. I wouldn't want to overload on too much excitement all at once...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Subject's the Thing

Things I like to write about (er, things about which I like to write):
  1. Vampires (the non-sparkly variety, mind you)- fell in love with these guys as a kid and stayed that way thanks to the Vampire Chronicles. I'm still trying to write an original vampire story. Might have one in the works. Time will tell.
  2. Magic in all its forms- this is pretty self-explanatory. I often find myself writing fantasy and magical realism.
  3. Mental illness- not sure why, but I love researching and writing about all the strange things that can go wrong in the human brain.
  4. Mythical creatures (from all cultures)- it's fun to research this too. If you can't tell, I love research. Once I start, it's hard to stop.
  5. Bad guys- only I like the challenge of trying to make them into characters you can feel sorry for, even though they're horrible people. This doesn't always work out.
  6. Wicked dreams that end up meaning something- these are just fun.
  7. Little guy vs. the Establishment- so many ways to do this and I've only picked one so far.
I find it very difficult to keep to one subject/genre. I prefer to dabble...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Month, One Novel

Well, I've decided: I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. Seems like a fun challenge, an exercise that will shake up the normal way I get stories written. Currently, I'm waist deep in a final edit on one story and have another project on the side that's hovering around 30,000 words. The edit should be completed before next week, and there's a slim chance I'll have the other story wrapped up before NaNoWriMo starts. Either way, I'm going to start a brand new story on 1st November. I have a few ideas percolating, so will start some note taking sooner rather than later...well, after the edit is finished. I want to start with a zero word count, despite the handful of stories I have idling on my hard drive (ranging from 500 to 7k words). Should be an interesting ride, considering I have a trip planned from the 4th to the 8th of November, as well as a visit to Florida the week of Thanksgiving. I don't usually work when family visits or when I take trips out of town (past note scribbling and messing around with new story ideas), so I'll have to make some adjustments...

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Shift from Hobby to Job

Once you're an adult, it's hard to justify spending a ton of time doing something that doesn't pay the bills, take care of your kid, or clean up your house. We all have to bring home a paycheck and kids never stop needing us (always wanting to eat and be driven to school, jeez!), so how do you find the time to write when you want to make the move from writing as a hobby to writing as a job? I've been writing seriously since middle school, but it's always come after what I deemed more important things (schoolwork, work in general, housework, things my daughter wants/needs/HASTOHAVE!). After college, I managed to write a novel every year, year and a half, mostly in my free time and *gasp* mostly sitting on the living room couch. Editing was a bitch with all the distractions of family and daily life. Even writing was hard, as I put everything else ahead of it (bringing home dollars, laundry, grocery shopping, watching TV, volunteering at my daughter's school, etc.).

Well, I finally gave myself an ultimatum: either I start treating writing like a job, or I give it up and agree to 9 to 5 it from here on out. This was the kick in the ass I needed. I began spending four to six hours writing at the library Monday through Friday. It opened at 9, so I could get housework and exercise done beforehand, and then leave straight from the library to pick up my daughter from school. This worked really well for several months. Then I landed my agent. To celebrate, I bought a nice new desk (on sale) and chair, and set up an office upstairs. Now that I was used to writing at least 4 hours a day, I figured I could trust myself to work at home. This was last September. Since then, barring holidays and times relatives are visiting, I work from about 7 in the morning until at least 3 in the afternoon, though now that my daughter is in high school, she's busy after class until 6 every day, which means I work until 5. Since beginning this more structured schedule, I've managed to finish a novel every three to four months, which is crazy fast considering it used to take well over a year. It helps to have the support of my awesome husband and my mastiff writing buddy (Zoey literally hangs out with me all day in the office). Now I just need some of my books on shelves available for purchase!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Promise, I'm Not a Creep...I'm Just a Writer

Spent the day out and about today (Greek Festival, lunch, kicking around downtown, then a stop by the grocery store--Saturday is the only day I don't write), and realized I have a strange habit: chronic eavesdropping. I'm always on the lookout for things that will work in stories, and writing realistic dialogue is essential. So, I often find myself listening in to random people's conversations just to hear how they interact with each other (I do love to play the omniscient narrator--uh, Freudian slip: I initially typed omnipotent), especially when I have specific characters that I want to flesh out. For example, I had a three year old minor character in one novel, but my daughter's 14 going on 35, so I can barely remember what she sounded like at exactly three and listening to other little kids helped immensely. I just like to listen to the way people speak to one another, but I realize this can seem creepy, especially in those dangling, awkward seconds before I notice I've been made...

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Face to Go with the Name

In case you were wondering, this is Zoey:

It's impossible to say no to this face...

My Status as 'Hoverer'

So, what's a hoverer? A hoverer is a person on the cusp. A person close, but no cigar. In a word: me. I thought I'd be published way before 30, but here I am 33 and still no creds. But, I think I'm closer than I've ever been. Here's why (yes! An excuse for a list!):
  1. I wrote a novel in college as part of my thesis, but wasn't especially happy with it, so I wrote another one and reached out to agents. No success there. Instead of sticking around to rework/edit that novel, I just went on to another project. When I finished, I reached out to agents again. Once more, no success. This process repeated itself two more times with two additional novels before my crazily supportive husband suggested a change.
  2. As I've stated, I am fantastically cheap, so my husband had to look up editing services, contact the editor (Lou Aronica from the Fiction Studio, who was great!), force me to talk to him, and then force me to spend the money to work with him. Prior to this, I'd just moved from project to project, as I figured agents weren't interested in the book I'd pitched, so I should start something new, which was great for sheer volume of material, but not so great when it came to moving forward with a single project. Working with Lou helped me in so many ways. I didn't end up selling the book he worked on with me (the 1st book in a projected 4 book series), but I used what I learned to go back and edit (more like rewrite) two of the remaining three books I'd written over the years. I then decided to type up a query letter for the 1st novel and shoot it out to agents.
  3. I got an agent! Success! Euphoria! This was the goal, right? I thought my days of writing query letters and buying agent guides were long over. I pictured a fabulous career in letters, my books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, New York Times Bestsellers' List, etc. Well, it didn't work out like that. I worked with Jenn (won't give her last name for privacy's sake, not that I have any readers yet, ha!) for the year I was under contract, going through a serious edit/rewrite three times (third time WAS NOT a charm, though I do like the story better after all the fixes)(Funnily enough, the working title of the novel was 'Star-crossed'--I yucked it up after crawling out of my pit o' despair), only to end up with a finished project she didn't feel comfortable taking to publishers. Too dark. Story of my life! And while I was bummed, I also realized how much the process forced me to grow as an author. Not to mention, I finished two novels in between edits of the story I had going with Jenn. Two good novels, imho.
  4. So, yes, I broke down and bought a 2014 guide to literary agents and wrote another dreaded query letter and synopsis for one of the novels I wrote last year. Now I'm ready to submit to new agents. Again. Keeping fingers and toes crossed that it works out a little better this time. If not, I know the way back to the drawing board...

Hello There...

In this first post, I think it only proper to introduce myself. How, you might ask? By making a list, of course.

1. I love lists. So, if you hate them, perhaps this is not the ideal blog for you. I won't always write in list form, but the borderline OCD part of my head loves to see that kind of order. I have a list APP on my phone (well used) and a notebook in my purse to make additional lists (something could happen to my phone, after all).
2. I have an English Mastiff named Zoey. Weird, I know: an English dog with a French name, but there you go. She suffers from a strange form of body dysmorphia: while close to 150 pounds, she seems to believe she is a much smaller, much more helpless animal, perhaps around 10 pounds. This causes both hilarity and annoyance.
3. I've been writing since elementary school when I used to regularly annoy my parents with constant stories that were probably awful (none have survived, so I suppose that speaks to their horridness, but, really Mom, you didn't even save one?). This hobby took a turn for the serious when my 7th grade English teacher assigned the class a 'long' writing assignment: a story that had to be at least ten pages in length. While the other students cursed their rotten luck, I wrote an entire novel in pink and purple ink a la RL Stine, whom I adored at the time (I do still have this, though I will burn it the instant I sense death is near). The rest is history.
4. I love food. What more to say on this topic? If it's good, I want at least two.
5. I run...a lot. Started as a kid, continued in high school (the only sport I could do, to be honest), and still do it because it's cheaper than joining a gym.
6. I'm a world-class cheapskate. I coupon, surf the sale/clearance racks, lie in wait until the things I want drop in price by at least 50%. My husband has tempered this impulse a little, but not enough to override all the lessons I learned at my father's knee.
7. I studied philosophy in school, so excuse the occasional cogito ergo sum business.
8. I am both a military brat and a military spouse, so I've moved around a lot and am not quite finished. After about 2 years in one place, my feet get itchy and I'm ready for someplace new.

That seems good for now. Back to editing. Ho hum.