Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hanging Out With Writers That Write

Currently Reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

The February RWR aririved in Friday's mail. One little tidbit in an article caught my eye. Paraphrasing the tidbit--don't join a group because the time or place is convenient; join because the other members are serious about writing.

I think by serious the author meant, do the people you hang with have goals or do they treat get-togethers as a social hour?

I've learned the hard way the difference can make or break your own career.

Currently, I hang out with three fabulous ladies. (It'd be four if Faye would pack up and move her butt to Texas.) And while we had a marvelous martini lunch not long ago, that occsaion was the exception because we were celebrating Christie's completion of her tenth book to be published. In fact, I'm the only one in the group who isn't published in fiction, even though I write a column for a local law enforcement magazine.

And that's the point. Each woman's goal is not just to be published, but to have a career. Christie's the only one who's been able to give up the day job and write novels full time so far. But Teri, Jody and I are doggedly pursuing that same dream.

Having true comrades on that type of journey makes reaching that damn star seem possible.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

To Series Or Not To Series

Currently Reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

This subject's come up a couple of times on the BookEnds, LLC, blog in the last few months. A young lady was getting conflicting advice about whether or not to write the second book in her propsed series.

I commented that the desire for series was cyclical, but if she's excited about her story and she's learning her craft to go ahead and write it. One other gal agreed. The next anonymous commenter believed writing thte sequel was a total waste of time if she can't sell the first book, and if she wanted to be happy, she needed a new hobby.

There's three issues here:

1) Like everything else in the publishing business, the wants/needs of a publishing house change. Twenty years ago, everyone and their mother was writing triloges. Ten years ago, you couldn't sell one even with Ed McMahon standing next to you with a giant check. Now, guess what everyone wants?

2) Anonymous missed the point I tried to make. Is she moving forward and improving her craft or is she spinning her wheels? If she's still making the same mistakes in Book #2 that she made in Book #1, she's not doing herself any favors. Is Book #1 a stand alone novel, or does it leave too many plot threads dangling to the point it's obvious Book #1 is really Act 1?

3) Most important of all, how does she feel about writing about the same characters for years, if Book #1 does sell?

These are all issues to consider before hitting the keys on your computer.

The Agony of Rejection, The Ecstasy of a Request

Currently Reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

You know you've got something in your manuscript and/or your query when the responses from agents and editors (and crit partners and beta readers) is an equal mix of "Holy shit! I've got to read this!" and "WTF were you thinking when you wrote this?"

(Okay, I'm paraphrasing a teensy bit. Every agent and editor I've dealt with has been superbly professional.)

I've found over the *ahem* time I've been writing there's a graduated system to responses when querying your baby.

1) You're insane and I'm blocking your e-mail
2) Please go back to school.
3) Join a writer's organization
4) Get a clue about POV/pacing/plotting, etc.
5) It's nice but meh
6) Holy Shit/WTF
7) I love it but the buying committee said no
8) Please sign here

Heck, I'm pleased just to reach Stage 6. Now, if I can skip Stage 7 and hit Stage 8. . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lack of Individuality

I spend a lot of time at a certain bookstore because writing in their cafe' inspires me to get my books on their shelves. It's also a good place for a little eavesdropping, getting the feel of the public.

The biggest complaint I've been hearing lately is the sameness in the new books coming out. No variety, no surprises, nothing. The same old, same old formula.

(Before anyone thinks I'm repeating my own discontent about literary fiction I aired at Boxing the Octopus recently, the last three complaints overheard all dealt with the surfeit of vampire romance novels.)

I don't think the problem's with publishing per se. The lack of indivuality permeates our entire culture. Every one wears the same clothes, eats the same things, uses the same products. Our public school system is now designed to produce obedient little drones, convenient for the gray cubicle corporate life. In a word, blah. And if anyone steps out of line, well then, we have a pill to fix that.

Ironically, some of the best literature (or at least my favorites) came about during the greatest upheaval in society. But was the literature created because of the social change or a result of it? GK asked me that question when we discussed Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in the course of events leading up to the Civil War.

Does social change make a difference in creativity? I'd love to hear some opinions.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Tax Man Cometh

Currently Reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

Total word count for yesterday - 1,108

Warning: The following cannot be construed as legal advice.

Tax season is closing in on us. If you're persuing a writing career like me, those business deductions add up, but the trick is treating your writing career LIKE A BUSINESS!

That means keep accurate records. Because of various business ventures, DH and I have a fabulous accountant named Ed. I understand not everyone can cough up the moola for an accountant, but that doesn't mean you can't keep your ducks lined up. We use Quicken, an easy to use and affordable software package.

Label your receipts and keep them in a safe place. Better yet, scan them and keep the digital info off site, like a safe deposit box.

Keep a log of pitches, queries and submissions. I have an Excel spreadsheet for each novel, showing who has queries, partials or fulls, the date I sent them, the date of the response, and what the response was.

Little things like this will avoid major trouble with the IRS.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Back in the Saddle, Part 2

Currently Reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

New queries go out this week, one per day. The first went out last night.

Today I wrote 1000 words, trying to complete the first draft of ZW. Depending on if the manscript takes a weird turn during the climax, I have about 8-9,000 words to go.

As a reward, I just savored a Lindor Dark Chocolate Raspberry truffle. Ahhh, I love the taste of accomplishments.

No matter how small.

P.S. Target carries Lindor truffles - $3.29 per bag (tax may be applicable in your area).

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Favorites

First of all, a lot of bloggers are listing the music they're listening to as they write their blog. Since this a blog by a writer, for a writer, about writers, let's try a different tack:

Currently reading: Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

I've been reading Carrie & Friends blog--Genreality--for some time now. Some great folks and lots of smart advice about the publishing world. I finally waded through my TBR pile to reach Kitty and the Midnight Hour, devoured it over Christmas weekend, and promptly started buying the rest of the series. Kitty and her compatriots will be given to DH next. A former DJ himself, he's gotten a kick out of the parts I've read to him.

It's always so much fun to find new characters to love!

(It doesn't mean I don't love you, Sam. Yes, I know one of my goals for 2009 was to finish ZW. But Sam, honey, you already star in ZL and it's on submission. No, I haven't lost interest, but sometimes I need a little 'me' time. I'm not saying we need a break!)

Damn wip characters are so demanding. . .

Thursday, January 21, 2010

50 First Dates

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's 50 First Dates is one of DH's favorite movies. (Ironically, The Wedding Singer is one of mine.) I picked up a copy in a certain store's $5 bin, and we watched it during our date night. (Stupid FTC regulation compliance notice.)

Yes, I know 50 First Dates was a decent hit. Yes, I know most critics thought it was sappy, stupid and/or gross. Yes, I know the medical experts say there's no such thing as Goldfield Syndrome. But the movie strikes a chord with DH and me.

Why? Because Henry and Lucy's situation reminds us of several elderly relatives, one spouse watching the other deteriorate under the effects of some medical condition, ususally Alzheimer's. Can one person's memory of the love he or she shared with the significant other be enough when the significant other can't remember? I think it can.

I just pray it's a very long before I have to put my belief to the test.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Still Watching Over Us

I remember the night, watchingWalter Cronkite on the evening news. He cried when he said Rev. King had been shot. I was too young to understand why people hated those whose skin was different. All I knew was my favorite uncle studied to become a minister, just like Rev. King. All I could think was would they shoot my uncle too.

When I asked my mom why anyone would want to kill a minister, she had no words.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Anger Management

Why is it women in our society aren't allowed to get angry?

Seriously. Kids driving you crazy? You're a bad mother. See an injustice? You must sympathize with the perpetrator's horrible childhood. Screwed over? You must have deserved it.

A few years ago I wrote a short story where the heroine's mad about her co-worker/boyfriend dumping her and stealing credit for her project in one swoop. At the time, I was in a critique group with a guy and two gals. The guy commented that every woman he knew would blame themselves for the break-up. I looked at the other two women and asked if they've ever been angry over getting dumped.

(Insert crickets chirping.)

Maybe it's the difference in the type of women I hang out with compared to this gentleman and the other two ladies. My best friend was pissed as hell when she caught her boyfriend in bed with his ex-girlfriend two days after he'd asked my friend to marry him. And she laid the blame solely where it should have rested--the guy.

On another blog, a different slant on female anger came up. One of the commentators made a good point. (The following is paraphrased.) All humans fear feminine rage because we don't want to tick off the person we rely on for food and shelter.

In other words--I brought you into this world. I can take you out.

Any one else have a theory?

Oops! and Yea!

Okay. I had the intent to blog consistantly. It disappeared under the mash of semi-bureaucratic end-of-last-year/beginning-of-new-year red tape. If I could make a voodoo doll out of a quasi-government agency, I would. Or maybe I will. I know your name, Mark in Customer Service. I know your name. (Insert evil Margaret Hamilton cackle.)

On the plus side, I took a calculated risk and submitted the gigantic application for a university writing fellowship. I don't have a M.A. in Literature, but darn it, I'm actually earning money writing non-fiction right now. My fingers are crossed the judges will consider real world experience when they look at my application.

Then again, maybe I should skip the whole writing thing and set up a voodoo doll shop. (That's Mark in Customer Service you hear screaming. . .)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On the Road Again...

Got a few pages done today. Yea!

The only real problem is the climax wall. Whenever I start writing the climatic finale, I hesitate. I really don't want the ride to be over. These characters are so much fun I don't want them to leave.


Thank Djehuti for sequels. . .

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back in the Saddle

2010 is still a little infant new year, and I'm trying to get back into the writing groove.

I'd so looked forward to December. Homeschooling for the fall semester would be done, and I'd planned to use the extra time to get a first draft done. I was so close--only 10K to go!

Alas, between judging a contest, proofing a crit partner's manuscript, day job getting bumped from part-time to full-time thanks to extended hours (can't complain about the extra money though!), emergency dog sitting for a writing buddy, and a godawful cold that I'm finally shaking, the glorious holiday month ran away, laughing at my ambitions.

On Sunday, DH, ever the encouraging husband, asked, "So when are you sending more queries out? And when are you going to finish ZW? I want to find out what happens next." (He just finished Lilith Saintcrow's latest Jill Kismet book, Flesh Circus. Can you tell he's bored?)

So, I'm inching forward on ZW. Hey, 100 words so far this week is a start! The question becomes how much more can I get done before the chocolate martini party on Friday at classy Christie Craig's house to celebrate the completion of her 10th book?