Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
You can read her post here.
The thing that got me thinking is WHY we blog, and what makes other blogs interesting or good reads. Are we doing it for ourselves? Other writers? Both?
I know for myself, I started blogging because I wanted to reach out to other writers and a) pal around, and b) help folks learn tips and tricks to getting an agent, and eventually, being published. I wanted to take everything I've been learning around the web, and discuss it with other writers and, ideally, create a writer community where knowledge could be pooled and friends made. Who said riding the Query Train couldn't be fun? ;)
For those of you who blog, why do you do it? Like Nicola said, are you giving back 60% and taking 40%, or is it all promotion? Then again, is it all giving and not enough promotion? Where is the line?
I want to open the floor up to you guys: Why do you blog, and what makes a good blog you want to read?
What kind of blogs are you attracted to, and why?
Friday, September 25, 2009
The fabulous Nicola Morgan, writer and blogger extraordinairre is having a party at her blog today to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Please stop on over to her blog: http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/.
It's one of my favorite publishing/writing blogs, so definitely stay a while and check out her posts!
In the meantime, though, join the party. You can promote your blog, recommend blogs that you love, rub elbows with interesting new people, and join in a group STORY that we're writing, one sentence at a time!
So far it involves agents and weremice. Enough said ;).
Also, if any of you are new and stopping by here, welcome!
There is coffee and cake on the table!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
In the show, there is a great character named Iroh who, like me, is a tea fanatic. I mean, the man is PASSIONATE about his tea.
While traveling in the woods, he sees a plant and stops to examine it. It looks just like a certain flower that makes a wonderful, aromatic tea. However, it also looks very similar to a flower that is, in fact, a horrible poison.
Hmmmm. Delectible tea, or deadly poison?
What he's really asking himself is--should I go for it? Are the consequences worth it if I'm wrong?
Okay, I'm sure by now some of you are saying "WHAT THE HELL, OLD MAN! Why is this even up for debate??!"
However, isn't this more than little bit like our writing lives? Come on ;). Don't lie.
Most normal people avoid rejection and criticism like it's a deadly poison. They go out of their way to not put their butts on the line, not be talked about, not be judged. Why? Because it's hideously uncomfortable and the consequences aren't worth it.
We're not satisfied until our work is out there before tons of agents and journalists, as well as our grandmas, pastors, and those bitchy girls that teased us in high school, ready to be judged until the cows come home.
AND to get to that point of Extreme Judgery Before the Masses, we put ourselves through cycle after cycle of painful, awkward rejection. Odds are, we won't even make it after all of our toil and suffering. But do we stop? No!
Obviously, there is something very wrong with us.
Why the heck do we do this to ourselves? Is being published just that good?
All true writers will say the same thing: YES!! It's worth it.
There is nothing else that can compare to the thrill of acceptance, of being published, and we can't stop wanting it even if we tried.
So, old uncle Iroh's suddenly doesn't seem so odd. I believe that's the heart of what it is to be a writer. Being so passionate about something that you're willing to be crazy-go-nuts to experience it, even if it means potential suffering.
I'm not going to tell you what happens in the show, just that Iroh drinks the tea.
What do you guys think?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'd like to stop and say CONGRATULATIONS!!! to my fella today.
This awesome Wednesday, my husband was promoted. He very much deserves it, and I am incredibly proud of the hard work he does to provide for our little family. I couldn't ask for a better guy :D.
He is an amazing steward of all that we've been blessed with, and a wonderful partner through this life.
Right now, needless to say, we are PARTYING!
I invite you right now, to give a SHOUT OUT to anyone you'd like to celebrate today! My shout out is the the Incredible Mr. Knight! Is there anyone you'd like to give thanks for?
Please, leave some love in the comments for anyone who needs a SHOUT OUT, or anyone who just needs a public pat on the back :).
Happy Wednesday, All!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I'm so close to finally being done w/ my WIP, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, that I've found every way under the sun to avoid actually working on it.
Yes, I am one efficient lady that way ;).
To be truthful, I did start polishing on it again last night and tonight, but I've been riding the Procrastination Train to Lazyville for the past several days.
So, without further ado, let me share some things I picked up along the way!
Top 10 Ways to Stop Writing:
10) Look up quotes on writing from famous authors! After all, how can you write if you're not properly "inspired?" Sure, they all give advice on putting your butt in the chair, but maybe if you keep checking you'll find something really useful!
9) Watch the show CASTLE! It's like, reasearch and stuff, because Nathan Fillion is playing a thriller writer working with the cops! Ooh, do writers really get paid that much? Whoa, nice place, Castle. You renting that from Stephen King? Wait a minute, why does he get supermodels for his book signing photo shoot... does that really happen?
8) Watch reality TV! It's the perfect way to develop characters, right, guys? After all, it's like a socialogical experiment gone horribly wrong with every new show you view!
7) Read publishing blogs! Not only are you procrastinating, but you're doing it alongside other writers and industry professionals. Plus, it's educational! BONUS!
6) Read the backs of all the books you own! What better way to not write your query than by studying how to do it the way the professionals do? Spend time studying the way they hook the reader and summarize their story without giving too much away. Lather, rinse, repeat!
5) Log onto Twitter! Oh, heck, it's networking, platform building, and fun times all rolled into one. Plus, you'll be kept busy with all that refreshing :). It's like exercise for your fingers as you procrastinate! (Sure, you say, typing a novel would be much better finger exercise. SHHHH! We can't hear you while we're procrastinating!)
4) Watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog! And then fantasize about how your platform would be so much better if you only a) were blogging in a musical, b) were in the Evil League of Evil, c) were wearing cool goggles while you blogged.
3) Read a book! You KNOW you want to. You have a whole stack by your bed just calling out to you. New books, old favorites, books you started but never finished. Where to begin?!
2) Browse Amazon for more books to read! After all, #3 can be a continual loop if only you order back up books far enough in advance. Reading reviews is also a great way to waste, I mean spend, time.
1) Write a Top 10 List on how to procrastinate! Uh oh.... I'd better get back to work!
Do YOU have a favorite writing-avoidance method? ;)
Monday, September 21, 2009
This round, the topic was chosen by the ever-thoughtful Michelle:
Do you choose WHAT you do because of WHO you are? Or is who you are determined by what you do?
Before me, the ever-charming Cole gave her answer. Go check it out! :)
This was an interesting question, and I had to sit and stew on it awhile before coming up with my answer. I very much believe that while God has a plan for us and gives us certain talents to work with, we make our own choices and are the ones who determine our own success. You can give a kid all the advantages in the world, but ultimately, it's up to them to use them.
However, I know for a fact that I've always been a writer.
When I was four or five before I could write properly, I'd lie on the living room floor drawing stories with my crayons. I'd make little books with dozens of pages, illustrating a story even though I couldn't write it out. There was a very exciting rip off of Peter Pan, a story with parachuting tarantulas, several where I was a mermaid and had mer-adventures... you get the picture ;).
The fact that I was determined to make books and tell stories at such a young age convinces me that I've always been this way. Weird, right?
I wrote short stories in elementary school and won some awards. I wrote through high school (and dabbled in horrible, whiny poetry.) I wrote throughout college. And here I am.
I am not myself because I randomly chose at some point to start writing. Writing chose me before I could even put words to paper.
So, what the heck does that mean?
Are we pre-determined to do certain things and can never re-define who or what we are?
I don't really think so.
I think we each are given talents and personality traits, and then are left to do with them what we may. Writing turned out to be my passion, but it's possible that it was because the two parts of me, personality and talent, mixed to create a life long pursuit. I chose it as much as it chose me.
I'm gifted in other areas, but I haven't chosen to pursue them like writing. They didn't feel like they were my destiny--what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. What I was meant to do.
Do you have a desiny? :)
I believe that we all do, but we have to choose it.
We have to decide whether or not we take the opportunities and gifts given us and do something with them.
Am I a born writer, or did writing change me?
I suppose my answer is BOTH :).
Now, next up is the ever-fabulous Kate! Don't miss her answer, coming up tomorrow!
What do you guys think about this question? Did the writing come first, or the writer?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
We've come to another Work in Progress Wednesday, but I'm afraid there's not a lot going on other than me slowly reading through LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, deleting a stray word here and there, moving commas around, and generally futzing about.
I feel like I'm playing the waiting game, but unfortunately while I am waiting for some fabulous critiques (I love you, beta reading friends!), I am also waiting on myself. I need to read faster, darn it! :P I'm my own slowest critique partner. Bad, me!
In the meantime, I thought I'd share this video I found on YouTube while procrastinating today. Enjoy!
Also, I'd love to hear about your projects!
How are your weeks going, and what all have you been working on?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
This round, the lovely Kate started us off by asking the following question:
"What writing rules/advice - whether it was a matter of cannot or will not - have you broken?"
The awesome Cole answered this question before me, so please go check her response out as well :).
Well, well, well.
Rule breaking. How to begin?
I've always been a Follower of Rules mostly because I want to make sure I do things right the first time. I'm impatient and something of a perfectionist, so I'm eager to be the best right out of the gate. What better way to do this than to learn and follow the rules, right?
However, there is a second part of me that is also a little weird. I'm a creative person, so I have that streak in me that reads a rule and says "Ooh, but wouldn't this other thing work much better here? Aren 't these more like 'guidelines' anyway?" Sometimes I itch to break the mold and stand out by doing so.
So how do we walk the line between being Rule Followers and Rule Breakers? What path is the right path? IS there a right path?
I think there is.
I'm a big believer in one big guideline: You Have to Know the Rules to Break Them.
There is nothing worse than a sloppy rule-breaker. You know the kind I'm talking about. The folks who think they're rebellious when they're really just making up their own words and writing novels from the POV of a ball of earwax.
Let's take a little quiz!
You know you're a sloppy rule-breaker if you break writing rules for the following reasons:
1) Spelling is hard. Who needz it? Wat do all dese red lines in Wurd mean anywayz??
2) Grammar are hard. Grammer is reaaaal hard, right guys? Why do need I it?
3) Sentence construction. And, punctuation are: hard. It totally doesn't have any--impact on the "sentence" anyway. Whatever
4) Any other writing rule is too hard to learn and therefore dumb.
You have to know what you're doing before you can be unique!
After all, you're not unique if you don't know what the status quo looks like.
A good example of this would be Pablo Picasso. The dude started a whole new movement and rocked the world with his experimentations in cubism. Go, Picasso!
However, he didn't just randomly draw squares on the paper because he couldn't do it the "right way." Pablo knew how to follow the rules and paint like the pros of the day--but he chose to rebel!
For example, look at this painting from his Blue Period on the left.
This woman is very realistically painted--Picasso has obviously mastered his craft. You're a stud, Picasso!
Oh, wait! What's this??
In one of his later, more experimental works to the right he's definitely breaking some rules.
Isn't it crazy that this is the same guy?
Picasso's proficiency and creativity combined are what made him the genius that he was.
Sometimes I think people use "rule-breaking" as an excuse to stop learning or trying to improve.
However, those who've taken the time to learn the norm and excel at it, can do whatever the heck they want, and sometimes change the world :).
Rule-breaking must be purposeful.
Going back over my manuscript in my revising/editing stages I knew the rules. Show don't tell. No adverbs ending in -ly. Fragment sentences are naughty. However, I left a few of these things in. Heck, I even have a prologue.
The thing is, I double and triple checked each one of these "rule-breaking" instances to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons. It had to add to the tension, enhance character development, or create something beautiful that moved the story forward. Sometimes breaking the rules enhances what you already have and makes you stand out. In my book, I hope I've accomplished this.
However, my point is that I did it carefully. I made sure each instance counted or it was cut.
Rule breaking must be purposeful. It must never call to question whether or not you're professional or that you're working to master your craft.
So, break away, guys! Go nuts! Break a few rules well, and stand apart from the crowd.
Just remember that there has to be a combination of proficiency AND rebellion to make your work truly shine.
How do you all break rules in your work? Do you agree with me? Disagree?
I'd love to hear from you!
(Photos courtest of www.Artchive.com)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Well, let me tell you a little secret I learned today.
Come on, don't be shy... Lean in as I whisper it in your ear....
IT'S ALL TRUUUUUE!!!!
I knew it!
The Rejectionist said so today on her blog. And take it from me: The Rejectionist never lies.
So, quickly Everyone! Grab your manuscripts and head for the hills! The only way to overthrow publishing's agent-driven, literature-crushing, tear-fed war machine is by living in a commune and distributing our manuscripts to one another hand scratched upon leaves and bound with forest vines. I've thought this through, and it seems like a solid way to stick it to The Man.
I'll bring snacks for when the Revolution comes :).
After all, no one likes to revolt on an empty stomach.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
I can't stop reading CATCHING FIRE because it's consuming my delicous brain meats like a ravenous zombie. You know... figuratively speaking...
So, without further ado, here are some of the things I've learned this week:
1) CATCHING FIRE is consuming my delicous brain meats. I can't stop reading it, and going to work for 8 hours and not reading it is a horrible, horrible torture. Please, bring on the bamboo under the fingernails! As long as I can read while you do it, I'm good!
2) My husband is crazy. But in a GREAT way! Yesterday he informed that he bought a birthday present for himself. Then he dropped a huge stack of mythology books on me and beamed. He bought me books to help me with my writing... as a birthday present to himself. Apparently making me happy and smarter brings him joy :). Seriously, what kind of a twisted freak gets joy from the happiness of others??? I have a nagging suspicion that I don't deserve him. And I think I like it.
3) I love Avatar the Last Airbender! I know the show looks like cheesy anime. I know it was on Nickelodeon and I am a growned up person and shouldn't be watching Nick cartoons. BUT IT'S AWESOME. It's one of my favorite shows of all time now. If you at all enjoy fantasy, you'll enjoy Avatar.
4) It's impossible for me to do my own work when I have a good book waiting to be read (See point #1.) I think this is a lesson for the future. If I have edits to do, I must save the good book for after I'm done as a reward.
How were your weeks? Anything juicy that you've learned about yourselves? :D
Now, off to read CATCHING FIRE and drink some Chardonnay. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Well, now I ask you: What would you like on your blog? (And you can't say pepperoni and cheese!)
There are publishing blogs and writer blogs, aspiring author blogs and agent blogs. Where does that leave us here at Writer In Progress?
When I first created this blog, my hope was for it to be a place where writers could come to get a handle on the process of writing a novel, querying an agent, and basically share publishing tips, tricks, and resources.
I just realized I've been blogging for six months now (HOORAY!), and wanted to check in with you: What is it that you'd love to see more of on this blog?
Publishing news? Book reviews? Writing tips/tricks? Me ranting about revising my novel (hopefully this will change to "working on my new novel" soon)? Links and author resources?
You tell me :). You guys are the reason I started blogging in the first place!
I'd also like to thank you all, both my loyal readers and my new followers. Your comments and contributions are what make this blog a joy! Thank you for your input and for hanging out with me on a daily and weekly basis.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I hope you all had fantastic Labor Day weekends and did much relaxing!
As some of you may have noticed, I unplugged as much as possible over the past four days because it was my husband's birthday weekend as well. YAY! We sat around, him playing video games until his eyes bled and me reading beside him and getting him beers (this was my present to him.) So the good news is that I'm not dead. I was just relaxing with my family, something we all need now and again.
I didn't get much done last week because of all the leisure, so now it's ON for the next few days! I'm at the point where I'm waiting on some fabulous critique buddies to get back to me, and am rereading my manuscript to see if it flows as a book and is ready to see the light of day.
It's almost query time! I'm very excited and also really nervous :). It's all in a good way. I feel very ready for whatever comes my way.
How were your weeks and weekends? Any exciting progress to report?
P.S. I just got CATCHING FIRE (the sequel to THE HUNGER GAMES) in the mail and am dancing with barely repressed glee. It's like Christmas! No one ruin it for me, or I'll have to take you out, Katniss-style! *runs off and starts reading*
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Until then, here are some writer jokes to tide you over:
A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside.
“What happened, honey?” the man asks.
“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is--”
“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”
How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.
A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.
She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"
"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."
Have a happy Tuesday! ;)
(Jokes courtesy of http://www19.homepage.villanova.edu/karyn.hollis/prof_academic/Courses/common_files/jokes_about_writing.htm)
Friday, September 4, 2009
Here are some simple ways this holiday weekend that you can harness your qi (chee) and prepare to deal with that dastardly foe, Rejection.
I call these techniques REJECTION-FU! *wacha!* (karate chops a rejection letter)
Step 1: Clear your mind.
Before you begin querying your latest book, it's crucial that you give yourself some stuff to keep busy with, otherwise you'll be refreshing your email until your fingers bleed.
Start gardening. Throw yourself into your work. Take your kids to the zoo. Or, best of all write another book!
Do something to keep yourself off the streets (or off Gmail as the case may be.)
Step 2: Be Realistic.
Tell yourself the truth. You are not going to send a query off, and five minutes later receive a call from an enraptured agent begging you to be their client.
These things take time. Tons of time. Eons worth of time. And that's normal! That's okay :).
Let yourself have realistic expectations. That way, whatever happens, at least you're not going to be nutty about it.
Step 3: Batten Down the Hatches.
The winds are blowin', and there's a crap storm on the way!
Everyone says a great percentage for querying is if 10% of your queries lead to a request for a partial. After that, the statistics only get worse. And here's the real kicker: even if you send out 50 GREAT queries, your 5 partial requests could all come at the same time after 45 rejections in a row. Don't let it get you down!
Shit's gonna happen. You have to be prepared for it, and ready to weather the storm.
Step 4: Know Your Allies.
Have you ever told a family member or a friend that you're trying to get a literary agent and get published only to hear them say "Huh, well good for you. But you know, you can always self publish if it doesn't happen." Well intentioned? Sure! Encouraging? Not so much.
Find one or two people who really believe in you and cling to them like a crazed spider monkey.
For me, it's my husband and some of my fabulous online buddies (I love you guys!!) For others, it's a mom, a co-worker, an imaginary friend--whatever works!
The point is, everyone needs someone to believe in them. There is going to be a point when you don't believe in yourself, and having someone there to take the edge off your Crazy is invaluable.
Hell, I believe in you!
Step 4: Believe in Yourself!
You have a reason for doing what you do. It's your calling, your gift, your life's ambition. And dammit, you've worked hard to get here. This is your time! Go kick some ass!
Even if it doesn't happen this round, if you're determined enough and take every opportunity to learn, you will be a success!
Remember what your goals are and why you love to write. You're doing something few people ever set out to do! You've finished a novel you're proud of, and that is an INCREDIBLE accomplishment in and of itself.
Remember: the stats may be ridiculous as far as how many people query and how many get published, but 99.99% of great, determined writers get published.
The stats aren't against you if you're the cream that rises to the top :). Everyone else is just looking up and wondering what happened.
So, go forth and karate chop your rejections in the face!
It only takes one YES to get an agent. It just takes the courage and the stamina to wait for it to happen.
How do you deal with rejection?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and tips!
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
This week, I've been kickin' ass and takin' names!
I've edited my novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, fixed my ending scene, sent my ending scene off to my fabulous crit buddy, fixed my ending scene again, and re-edited parts that I'd changed.
Now, I'm rereading it (again) to make sure everything's together as a story and catching any last little edits, while my husband and another crit buddy check it out one last time.
I vowed to take it slowly and make sure it's as perfect as I can possibly make it before sending it out... and the beautiful thing is, I think I'm really close. After my last last edit, someone will have to slap it out of my hands so I can let it go and send it out into the world.
Of course, there's still a lot to be done :), so I'm not patting myself on the back just yet.
How are your weeks going? Any progress? Setbacks? Successes?
I'd love to hear about your projects!
May everyone have a blessed week.
Now, enough blog reading. Go kick some ass!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Today is the release date for THE HOLLOW, the debut of Jessica Verday Querytracker.net's first ever success story!
When I first saw this picture on Jessica's blog of her staring longingly at her own books in an actual bookstore, all I could think about what how AWESOME it would be when I'm published to get a giant stack of my novels and roll around in it like Scrooge McDuck.
As you can see from this picture (taken straight from my brain), my books have "sparkly magic" on the cover, because I recently read that "sparkly magic" takes the cake for #1 Image on Fantasy Book Covers These Days.
Also, apparently I've become some kind of banker for pirates, because otherwise I'm not sure where all the gold came from. Even in my fantasies, I have no illusions of becoming rich as an author.
Anyway, I learned today that rolling around in piles of my own bound novel cackling with merriment and tossing them up into the air until they rain painfully down upon my face and chest...is my Writer Fantasy.
(Also notice that when I'm rolling in said book pile, my hair doesn't get messed up. It's my fantasy, so I do what I want!)
Any bizarre writer fantasies you'd like to get off your chests?
Oh, come on ;). Be honest. This is a safe place!
Also, anything you guys want to know about me? I'm feeling Truthful this Tuesday, so lay it on me!