29 December 2008


It's that time of year.  You know which one.  When we all start resolving to do things.  Making resolutions and such.  I've never liked making New Year's Resolutions, and the very few I ever did make I (as you can guess) never kept.  In fact, I have some troubles with resolve in general.  Always have.  Call it indecision.  Or apathy.  I don't know.  It's difficult for me to make absolute decisions and to stick with them.  I'm more than happy to go with the flow, live with the status quo.... for the most part, anyway.  Now and then I get into a place where something is just so off that I make a decision and stick to it, finally.  I may be at such a place right now.

It's been a tough few weeks on the personal front.  All things writing aside.  I'm fighting against a little despair monster that's nibbling at my fingertips, waiting for the right moment to take my whole hand and drag me under.  Trying to deal with a sadness and stress I haven't had to deal with in a long time, coupled with changes at work.  Sometimes when something else is going on in my head, the usual little things I'd normally put up with seem a whole lot bigger.  I can't figure if my job is asking more of me than I ever wanted to give, or if my family crisis is taking so much from me that there isn't much left to give - to work, to writing, to anything.  I can feel a familiar dark space creeping up on me.  A place I left a long time ago, but that pops up now and again in the form of an irrational bad mood that I at once recognize and rectify.  But I'm afraid if I give into the emotion - if I let go of my apathy and cool exterior - I'll slip too far, into more than a mood, into something not easily rectified.

I'm afraid I won't be able to comfort the one person who needs me because I can't handle my own emotions.

And while this home life battle is raging in my head, it's compounding on the difficulties of losing one job and having to start all over new.  Different people, different place.  Completely different atmosphere.  In a field I told myself two years ago I didn't want to continue in.  Yet here I am.  When I found out I was losing my job, the sheer panic of being unemployed and not being able to pay our bills launched me headfirst into this new position with a new company, but doing essentially the same thing.  Just in a bigger place, with a faster pace, and more demands.  Did I make the right choice?  I thought I wanted to write more, try to get published?  What am I doing here?  Can I handle this?  I've never been a quitter.  I want to keep my word.  In my interviews I said that although there'd be an adjustment period, there wouldn't be any problem.  I'm adaptable, I said.  I go with the flow.  That's always been true.  So why now is the flow threatening to drown me?  I can't figure if I'm unhappy just because I'm unhappy, or if I'm unhappy because this job and me just aren't a good fit. 

So I'm at that place where I want to scream and cry and pull my hair out and have someone else make the best decision for me, except no one can decide for me.  I'm at that place I get sometimes where I just have to resolve to do something.  Have to make the decision.  But it's so easy to do nothing.  Much easier than holding yourself accountable for anything. 

Like it or not, I have to keep the job for now.  Not much choice there.  Bills have to be paid.  And in my podunk little corner of the country, there aren't a lot of "hiring" signs.  At least not at places that will pay me what I need.  And without a driver's license, I'm even more limited.  So unless it becomes really unbearable, I'll be staying put for a bit.  But I can at least try to do something about the rest of my life.  So I need to get on track with a few things in 2009.  Once I find my resolve, I'll be using it to:

* Stop putting so much weight in other people's opinion.  Know my own strengths and my positive qualities as a person, and believe in them first, before anyone else.

* Take care of myself, phsyically, emotionally, psychologically, etc.

* Get that damned license!

* Write more often.  Write with purpose.  Write with passion. 

* Get tons of query letters out! 

* Never take one day with my family for granted.  Appreciate everything, and everyone, in my life while I still have them to appreciate.

* Be happy.  :-)

08 December 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Who Cares??

I can't seem to get above a once-a-month frequency in my posts lately. :-)  But here I am again.  Let's start with

The Bad - Cancer and Bankruptcy!

Yes, cancer.  Not me, thank goodness, but in my family.  Found out the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and it's been a tough couple weeks since then.  Literally the day after this diagnosis, I found out the company I work for had filed for bankruptcy.  Jobless by New Year's!  Fabulous.

The Good - Luck and Writing!

I caught a lucky break and just happened to be in the store last week when another store manager came by saying she needed to hire an Assistant.  I filled out the application and handed her my resume that afternoon, interviewed that evening, and again two days later with the District Manager.  Now I'm just waiting on all the background and reference checks and hopefully I'll have an offer this week!

Also, although I haven't been writing much the past two weeks, I HAVE started my erotica novel!  I've got a couple chapters down, a basic plot (which is what I was struggling with to begin with) and I'm having tons of fun with it.  To Call Home is still at a bit of a stalemate on Authonomy (ranked 169) but I haven't been plugging it much.  However, I've reached the #7 Talent Spotter ranking!  It's pretty cool.  Hopefully if I can crack the top 5 in that and get my face on the homepage, then I'll get a few more readers.

The Who Cares?? - Naysayers!

Continuing with the topic of writing, Nathan Bransford blogged about Authonomy!  I'm not saying 'who cares' to Nathan and his blog, of course!  I don't get to it terribly often, but I really enjoy his blog.  The 'who cares' is for some of the ridiculous commenters on that post.  People who've never even used Authonomy bashing it, people bashing it because they didn't have the success they seemed to think they deserved, or because they weren't comfortable with the "game" aspect of it.  Of course it's big on shameless self-promotion, but isn't querying the same thing?  By simply sending your query to agents, aren't you essentially saying "read me! publish me!  i'm fabulous!" ?  Authonomy is no different.  The comments on Nathan's blog were mixed good and bad - a few of us Authonomites managed to get in some good words.  But overall.... if you don't like it, that's fine.  No reason to call the rest of us who DO spend time there silly, and our writing trash.  Just hush and get on with your life and we'll do the same. 

12 November 2008

Snazzy Dialogue III: Using Dialogue to Differentiate Characters

Oh my gosh, it's been ages since I had a Snazzy Dialogue post!  I'll try to do better, I promise.  If you haven't make sure you read Part I, and Part II. Here's the next installment, and I hope it makes up for the huge amount of time I've been absent from the blog.

As I’m embarking on new writing projects and editing older ones, I continue to scrutinize my dialogue. The main characters in my current projects are very different women, and they all have different ways of speaking, which brought me to this current post about using dialogue to differentiate characters.

In my critique group, an old member had a few characters who were very similar in terms of race, class, socioeconomic background, education, etc. She was struggling with how to differentiate them, how to make each one unique from the other. One possible way, I think, is through dialogue.

One way to do this is through the content of the character’s dialogue, and using that to express the different personalities, desires, and goals of the characters. For example, having a character simply saying the things that make them different from other characters. However, you can run into the problems of using dialogue too much for exposition, and also being too obvious with the dialogue. What I want to discuss today is the more subtle way to differentiate characters simply by their manner of speaking.

For example, I have two characters in To Call Home who are similar in many ways. Charlotte and Lora are the same age, grew up together in the same town, both white females, similar socioeconomic standings, etc. But you can see the differences when they speak to each other. Charlotte has a tendency to avoid difficult questions through silence or circumlocution. Lora gets straight to the point, asking lots of questions and giving blunt answers. Here’s a small excerpt of an argument between the two girls.

Lora put a hand on her shoulder. “What’s going on with you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean you’re freaking me out a little bit. I’m sorry if it makes me sound like a jerk, but you weren’t even this…crazy—” (she winced when she said it) “—right after your mom died. What’s going on now?”

Charlotte shrugged, exaggerating the movement of her shoulders and slumping her chin to her chest.

“I don’t know what I should tell you. What I can tell you.”

“It’s fucking me you’re talking to,” Lora whispered. “That shouldn’t even be a question in your mind.”

But it was. She couldn’t help it.

“I don’t have anything useful to say right now. I just don’t even know what words should be coming out of my mouth. But please don’t leave right now, okay? Please?”

The content of the dialogue isn’t as important as the manner in which the girls speak to each other. You can see Lora’s dominating personality in the way she asks questions plainly, and doesn’t hesitate to potentially insult her friend by calling her crazy. Charlotte, on the other hand, can’t give a simple answer to anything at this point. She talks a lot here, but doesn’t actually answer Lora’s questions. These two interact like this a lot, no matter what they’re talking about. And it’s much more interesting to see the conversations and relationships develop this way, instead of having Charlotte and Lora say the exact feelings behind the dialogue, which would read something like this:

“You were really depressed and confused after your mom died, but that was three and a half years ago. Why are you still being so immature and evasive?” Lora asked.

Charlotte stared at her. “Because I think I’ve fallen in love with Steven, who you don’t know is our new English teacher. Sorry I didn’t tell you about that sooner.”

“Your summer fling is our new teacher? Crazy! But what’s so bad about falling in love?”

“Since my dad was a rat bastard, I have it ingrained in my subconscious that all men will eventually hurt me.”

“Oh. Makes sense.”

Yeah, not very interesting. Maybe a little funny, but that’s not what we’re going for. We want subtlety.

Very briefly, since this post is getting quite long, I’ll mention a couple other things that go along with differentiating characters through dialogue. You can use speech impediments or catch phrases to make characters unique. You can use a style of speech - more formal, a lot of vernacular, etc. Charlotte doesn’t hesitate to say things like “Jesus!” or “Christ!” But there are other characters who wouldn’t say that. I know a lady from work who always says “How ’bout it?” in her thin, gravelly voice. It makes me laugh. It would make for a great catch phrase for just the right character. These are all just little ways we can use dialogue to add further depth and dimension to our characters.

17 October 2008

Rejection Time!

I sent out three e-mail queries yesterday.  Before I even got a chance to post my super-excited blog about it today, I got my first rejection!  It was just a simple form rejection, but don't worry, I'm not all torn up over it.  I pretty much expected it.  Even for writers way better than myself, it's a long and hard process.  I'm just excited to finally get into the game. 

Speaking of writers way better than me, my husband hates when I mention them haha.  He told me one of the most irritating things about me is when I downplay my talent, or rave on and on about other people's talent like they're so much better than me.  He loves me anyway, so of course he think's I'm just the best.  But I think he's been sneaking peeks at my manuscripts on the computer too.  Which is flattering, since I don't think anything I write is the kind of stuff he'd usually be interested in reading.  It's not that I think I'm no good....  I just think a little humility goes a long way.  No sense getting all big-headed and acting like an ass.  But just for my wonderful hubby, here's me in a rare moment of self-appreciation:

You know, sometimes I see it.  When a reader comments that something I wrote had exactly the impact I intended it to have, I see it.  During those times when I sit down to edit my manuscript and end up getting caught up in my own story all over again, I see it.  The flash of genius.  The Am I any good? meeting the Yes, I am.  I think I'm pretty talented, if I do say so myself.

Now c'mon, agents, do you see it too?

11 October 2008

Charlotte, Confessions, and Disney World

My my my!  It's been quite a while since my last post.  To Call Home is complete, as I already told you.  I've compiled a list of agents to query.  I've got a query letter ready.  I went to Disney World last week on vacation, and now that I'm back, I'll be sending out my first query this week!  I'm so excited to get my first rejection haha.  I hope I get more than a bunch of rejections, of course, but I'm realistic.  It takes better writers than me lots of time and lots of query letters to land an agent and a deal, so I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

During the two-hour plane ride to Orlando, I actually got a little bit of writing done on Confessions of a Non-Believer.  But even as I'm writing that one, I'm bombarded by scene ideas for my erotica novel, which as of yet has almost no plot, no working title, no nothing except a main character named Marisol.  But still, I'm even thinking Marisol's story could turn into a series.  Me, write an erotica series? haha.  Never thought I'd be able to say that with a straight face.

I think I might start writing the erotica one even as I'm working on Confessions.  I found that hard to do while finishing up To Call Home, but I think that was more to do with the fact that one is third person POV, past tense, and the other is first person POV, present tense (why, why, why am I writing first-person present when I've heard so many times that agents hate it??? haha).  But Confessions and Marisol's story will both be first person, one present and one past tense.  I think I can do it without too much difficulty.  Besides, Marisol won't quit giving me crazy ideas about who she wants to sleep with and where.....

But anyway, for your reading pleasure, To Call Home is posted on Authonomy in its entirety.  Confessions of a Non-Believer is still in progress, obviously, but the first 5 chapters are also on Authonomy.  Search for them by title, or search for me as J. Lea Lopez or live2write.

16 September 2008


Yesterday was my self-imposed deadline forgetting To Call Home (Charlotte) written.  And I did it!  I'm typing up the last two chapters as we speak.  Yes, even though I haven't finished typing, it's still done to me.  Since I still write the old fashioned way, with pen and paper, the typing part is really more of a revision process.  I'm pretty happy with the way I ended it, and I'm ecstatic that I can start querying soon, and start focusing on my other writing projects!

My query letter has seriously shaped up from my first pathetic attempt, and I think I can send this one out and not be embarrassed at it haha.  I have to get my agent list together and prioritize it, personalize my queries whenever possible, etc.  I'm going on vacation in a few weeks, so I might wait until I get back to send my first query letter.  I'd hate to get a response on, say, the first day of my vacation, and not know about it for a week!  I also don't want to be obsessing over it too much when I'm supposed to be having fun.

But anyway..... done done done done done!  I'm doing a little dance in my head right now.  I'm so excited!

04 September 2008

Good Times!

So I had a fabulous writing day today!  I finally got past the end of a scene that had me stuck for a while.  I don't even know why.  I knew exactly what had to happen, but for some reason I just couldn't write it.  But now it's written.  That, and the scene right after it.  And the whole chapter after that!  I'm getting so close I can taste it now.... I think I may be able to meet my September 15th deadline after all!  It all seems to be falling into place.

PLUS, Authonomy is now live!  That means that all of you - all four of you who read my blog - need to go over there, sign up, and search for my novel To Call Home.  Then add it to your bookshelf!  C'mon..... do it for me.  Pretty please?

I'm excited to see how things change or work out now that there will be an influx of new readers and/or writers.  We'll see.

01 September 2008

A Drop In The Pond

You know that saying... the whole ripple effect thing....  So I've always been way too sentimental for my own good, but part of me can't help but give praise where it's due. 

Have you ever had one of those people who influenced you in a big way, and you aren't sure how to thank or acknowledge them for it?  I've had lots.  But what makes me a sappy nerd is that I try to express that gratitude, one way or another.  I haven't stumbled across too many people like that in the past couple years, but now my inner nerd is telling me there's someone worthy of a huge THANK YOU.  (See, my self-deprecating nerd remarks are really my own defense mechanism against the potential embarrassment that can come from putting yourself out there like this--if I laugh at me first, it's not so bad if you laugh at me too.  Am I getting to analytic for you?  Apparently I do that.... but moving on....)

I heard from someone recently, someone I haven't heard from in a while.  I'd say an "old friend," but I don't know if he'd consider our association that.  I've never technically met the guy! haha.  We were in an online critique group with a few other people.  It was definitely good times.  Always good critiques and interesting discussions.  Unfortunately, it all came to a bitter and unexpected end, the group crumbled to bits, and I haven't heard from this person since.  I'll keep him anonymous, since he may well want to remain that way. 

I sure do miss that original group we had going, though.  We had a good mix of people of different ages, genders (only two different ones, as far as I know ;-P), backgrounds, writing in different genres.  Maybe because I was the baby of the group, I sometimes got that big-brother feeling about a couple of the guys in the group.  You know, that feeling that someone's looking out for you, trying to encourage you, show you your potential, etc. (and I mean this in a literary way, like a writing mentor might do).  And I, being the novice, ate up every word of encouragement and criticism.  Couldn't get enough.

If you've ever been in a writer's group, I'm willing to bet there was one or more people whose criticism you considered longer, harder, or just plain more than others, and whose praise just seemed to carry more weight than others.  Because this guy was such a talented writer in his own right, and because he was always so thorough and thoughtful in his critiques, his opinion just had a little more weight to it for me.  In fact, the only reason my giggling-like-a-pre-teen thoughts about writing erotica have evolved into something more serious is because this guy I've never met, but who I respect immensely as a writer, said an explicit sex scene I had written was actually good.  Bordering on erotica, he'd commented, but the good kind.  Erotica with a purpose.  I never thought those words would have impacted me this much, but they did.  To the point that I'm actually trying to write something like that, instead of having it happen accidentally.

That kind of encouragement was also a major influencing factor in some major revisions I did with To Call Home (Charlotte).  The story had to grow up a lot, so I made it happen.  And I did it without being embarrassed about the darker aspects (sexual and psychological) of the story that started to peek through.  And damn if I'm not prouder of the story now than I've ever been!  And more confident in my own ability, too.

Can I really pinpoint that one person, that one comment, that one moment, as the catalyst for all of this?  Maybe it's unrealistic.  Maybe my sentimental nerd is just grasping at coincidences, or making a mountain out of a molehill, or whatever.  But maybe not.  There are others from that group who also deserve a big thanks, but I'm still in contact with all of them and can do that any time (like perhaps in the Acknowledgements of my first pubished novel...perhaps?) 

Either way, I couldn't let a favor like that - a favor he probably didn't know he was doing for me - go unacknowledged.  So, if you're out there, still reading, you should definitely know who you are, and know that I'd love to continue the dialogue, if possible.  Or if not, just know that I owe you a HUGE thanks, and I wish you the best in the future!

31 August 2008

A New Look! A New Title!

One for the blog, the other for the book!  I just thought the blog needed a bit of a facelift, so here it is.  And Charlotte has always been a horrid title for a book, so I've come up with something better (with much help from my crit group!) and here it is.  Drumroll, please.....  To Call Home.  It has some duality to the meaning, which is nice.  And really, anything is better than Charlotte. 

Speaking of the book, I've got about two weeks to go 'til my extended deadline is here!  I wish I could say I'm done two weeks early, but..... oh well.  I haven't done much in the past two weeks, but I think I can still pull it out.  If I write like mad and stop reading so much.  I recently got a card for my local library and have been reading like a madwoman instead of writing.  I'm trying to do some research for my erotica project--mainly trying to find some good erotica to study!  I haven't had too much luck so far.  First, my library doesn't exactly have a huge selection of books classified as Erotic Fiction.  Second, there's a lot of crap out there, apparently.

I also managed to pick up a book or two that I've simply been wanting to read for a while now.  And most recently, I picked up two books by John Shelby Spong, a bishop in the Episcopal church.  I'd read excerpts from both of them while in college and was intrigued, so I figured I'd read them in full.  On top of that, they're both really good research tools for my other project, Confessions of a Non-Believer.  Spong's ideas really helped me to form my own spiritual beliefs into more concrete terms, and those ideas will be a big part of Bree's story in Confessions.  Write what you know, y'know??

So anyway, I actually have tomorrow off (Labor Day) which is completely unheard of when you're a member of management in the retail world.  Hopefully I'll leave the books (and the internet!) alone long enough to get some good writing done.  Fingers crossed!

09 August 2008

Random Updates

My deadline for Charlotte, unfortunately (though not really that surprisingly, ha!), will have to be moved. I think just another month should do it. So September 15th it is. That should be enough time to finish writing and polishing, and to get a good query together. I've been doing pretty well with writing all the new pieces. Of course, I've run into a scene or two that I hadn't planned for but that seemed like they should be there. And I've been doing some bigger revisions on the first half than I'd originally bargained for. All in all, it's just taking a bit longer than expected. My procrastination has actually been minimal. :-)

I'm very much itching to get on writing new projects, but I've got to finish this one first. It's hard to write more than one at a time, especially when everything about them is so different. But I've got so many ideas! Confessions of a Non-Believer is the one I'll dive into next. While working on the query for that one (I realized it's much easier to write the query before the book is done rather than after!) I realized that I needed to shift the focus a little bit. Once I realized that, my brain was absolutely flooded with new chapter and scene ideas. After Confessions, I plan to start my big erotica project. I don't have a title, but I'll probably refer to it for now as Marisol, after the main character. I'm super excited about this one too, because I have a lot of ideas that I'm pretty sure are very fresh and novel, not quite like a lot of what's out there now. (Not to be conceited or anything, haha. But if I don't have confidence in it, who will?)

I'll try not to let the blog fall by the wayside. It's been nearly a month since my last post, but I'll try to keep it up a little better.

Last, but definitely not least, here are a couple new websites that I've been looking into recently:

GoodReads, where you can create a list of books you've read, write reviews, create lists of books you want to read, and then share all this with your friends!

Miss Snark's First Victim, where they oh-so-wonderful Authoress has fun contests, and lots of readers offer valuable feedback.

And then finally, a big thanks to Jessica over at the BookEnds blog for addressing my questions about revealing explicit content in a query letter.

15 July 2008

Check! Well.....almost

I'm working on my list, trying to check a few things off. I'm almost there with at least one, but not quite. The query is beginning to shape up, and it' hasn't been as horrible a process as I'd feared. Don't get me wrong, it totally sucks, but it's not as painful as I thought. :-) I've gotten some writing done, and I'm getting closer to the end. But there's still plenty more to go. And I'm starting to freak about my word count now.... It's really getting up there.

But let's see, what else? Erotica short story? Submitting to a magazine? Nope, nothing there yet. Haven't heard back yet, either. The novel's been taking up all my time, I haven't even given any thought to the short stories just yet. A Snazzy Dialogue post? Not there yet, either. I'm frustrated with dialogue right now (I feel like a lot of what I'm currently writing is too dialogue-heavy and is a little lacking in other good stuff) so maybe that's why. But I've got a month to get it all done.

One month and counting.

05 July 2008

Making Lists Keeps Me Accountable.... Yeah, Right!

I think I should probably do another post on Snazzy Dialogue, but I've been lazy lately. In every aspect of my life. Doesn't bode well for my Aug. 15 deadline, huh? I'm sure I'll make it though. I have a renewed sense of excitement about the story, mainly because a couple girls from work are so excited about it! They both want to read it. And I'm all about having as many test readers as I can. But just the fact that other people are as excited as I am about my stories just gives me a huge sense of validation that I hate to admit I need now and then.

Once Charlotte is finished, I can seriously get to work on Confessions of a Non-Believer (Bree and Luke's story). Plus, I can continue to dabble in the seedy and sexy world of erotica writing haha. It's been six weeks since I submitted my story and I haven't heard back from the magazine yet. Six more to go before I know it's definitely a 'no' from them. (Incidentally, I've only got about six weeks before my Charlotte deadline is here, so maybe one can keep my mind off the other till then.) I'm pretty sure I can write a couple stories better than the one I submitted, so I should do that and try again. I've just been so focused on Charlotte (or rather, so completely unfocused on my writing in general) that I haven't gotten around to it.

So here's my to-do list over the next six weeks:
  • Finish Charlotte
  • Write a killer query for Charlotte and send it!
  • Dive head-first into Confessions of a Non-Believer
  • Write at least one erotica short story and submit it somewhere
  • Write another installment of Snazzy Dialogue posts

Sounds like plenty to keep me busy! Oh wait..... I also have a "normal" job. Damn. It's gonna be a busy six weeks.

29 June 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

So I've been neglecting my blog posts a bit recently. I've been spending lots of time on Agent Query, helping lots of other people with their novels and not doing much work on mine. Oops! ha.

So something happened at my "normal" job about a week ago that made me think hard about what I'm doing with myself. And the honest truth is that I have no idea what I'm doing - why I'm working at a job where I love the people I work with but hate a lot of the actual job, and the pays not exactly spectacular; why I'm sitting around waiting for my husband's job to whisk me away to someplace better, even though there's no guarantee that will ever happen. And then I realized I'd be amazingly happy if I could sit at home and just write. Write and write, and read, and query, and hopefully get published. Of course we can't afford for me to do that just now. But who knows... maybe it won't be too long.

In the meantime, I have to use every spare moment I can grasp to really get serious about writing. To finish writing and revising Charlotte (I still need a better working title than that!) and get to work on the next one about Bree and Luke (which has the kick-ass working title of Confessions of a Non-Believer). I need to get a good query together for Charlotte. I need to send it to lots of agents. And I need to do it by August 15.

That's my self-imposed (and therefore liable to change), very ambitious deadline. August 15, 2008, I will send out my very first ever query letter.

So I'd better go get writing.

15 June 2008

It was a dark and ugly novel....

And I'm writing it! ha. This whole process of having my manuscript read and critiqued by others is turning very interesting. Early on, Young Adult and Chick Lit were two of the genres my readers tended to associate with the book, which is not where I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be more adult and commercial, and I tried to focus on that with my revisions. Most of that came sheerly from changing the language/style of writing, but then I started adding and changing plot elements to achieve my goal.

Now, a few months down the road, I've gone from lighthearted Chick Lit to what one reader has said is something dark and ugly. Dark! Really! Some writers might be offended if they received a comment like that. And believe me, it crossed my mind to react that way haha. But ultimately, there are two things I've realized as a result that make me not offended, but extremely satisfied.

1. You just can't please everyone all the time. Not gonna happen, and I don't plan on trying. An opinion is an opinion, and I can do with it what I like. Ignore it. Worry about it. Use it to inspire me. Let it get me down in the dumps. It's up to me. So I'm learning from this one, but it's essentially going in the trash bin without me losing any sleep over it because of number......

2. Someone is having a hard time with my story, and that's a good thing! I knew before I started writing it that it might cause some knee-jerk reactions. I realize now that the way I wrote the story the first time was with the intention of soothing the reader into believing it was okay. Charming them into seeing how what they thought was a cut-and-dry ethical issue had more subtle grey areas. But why the hell did I want to do that? I don't know, but I know I don't want to do that anymore.

There are moral issues in this story, sure. But why should I sugarcoat it? I need to be bolder, more assertive as a writer. I need to make my reader uncomfortable and hope they'll stay with me long enough to see the happy ending through. If I'm going to change their minds about something, I want them to make the change freely, after some real hard thinking. Not after I've watered it down enough to make it easy to swallow. And the reader I really want is the one that will stick it out to the end, not throw a hissy fit and point fingers at my morality because I've made them too uncomfortable for their own good.

And while I'm on it - I'm either crazy, or some people are just really uptight, because I don't see why anyone would get quite so worked up over what I've written anyway. It is just a book, after all. Fiction.

05 June 2008


Don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to this post, but here it finally is! I've found a great new resource called Authonomy. It's run by HarperCollins publishers and it's very cool! As an author, you can post as much or as little of your novel as you want. In order for others to be able to read your book, however, you have to have at least 10,000 words. This helps ensure that only serious authors post. If you've got 10k words, chances are you're pretty serious about writing and publishing. You can also post more than one novel if you want to. Other members read as much or as little of your book as they want, and then offer comments! You can read and comment on other people's books, too. Sounds cool, right? There's even more.

When you find something you like, you can add it to your watchlist. Or you can "back the book" by placing it on your virtual bookshelf. You have a limited number of spaces on your bookshelf, and other members can see which titles you put there, so this is a way for you to point out the best and the brightest, so to speak. And just imagine if lots of people put your title on their bookshelf! How awesome would that be?

And the interface is pretty rockin' too. When you want to read someone else's book, you don't have to clutter your hard drive with downloaded files or worry whether someone else is using the same word processing software you are. Once members upload their chapters to the Authonomy site, everything appears within the webpage! Simple as that.

Now, not to burst your bubble or anything, but Authonomy is only in its beta release. Membership is by invitation only. If you put your email in on the website, you can hopefully get a beta invite of your own soon enough! I'm SO glad I accepted my invitation because I've gotten several positive comments about my first nine chapters so far! I'm waiting to polish up a few more before I post those also. I definitely recommend this site to any serious writer looking to market themselves and their writing.

Now don't worry, Agent Query, I'm not leaving you! AQ and Authonomy are very different resources, and I love both for the different things they offer.

24 May 2008

Facing Down the Fear

Note: This is completely unrelated to writing or being a writer, except that I'm choosing to write about it. :-)

When I was in high school, about 14-15 years old, I had two friends who died in separate car accidents. Shortly afterward, I somehow managed to convince my parents to let me go to a Halloween party with my best friend who I rarely got to hang out with because my parents really disliked him. (Bad influence and all that. You know how it goes.) He's a few months older than me and had just gotten his license. He was driving his dad's brand new car. I'm sure you can see where this is going..... We ended up getting into an accident. The car flipped over into a ditch. It was one of those accidents where you crawl out of the car with little more than some cuts, look back at the car, and think No way should I be alive right now, much less conscious and standing upright. But we all walked away with only minor injuries. Nevertheless, after the accident I found that I got nervous riding with people I'd always felt were safe drivers. My parents even. A little too fast, a little too close to the line, or that car next to us....

So a few months later, everyone around me is getting permits and licenses and cars. In Maryland, where I grew up, you have to take Driver's Ed, but they don't offer it in school. You have to pay upwards of $300 out of your pocket for the class. I decided I'd wait til I was 18, then just take the test and be done with it. Well as I and my peers were all turning 16, they changed the law so that all first-time drivers, regardless of age, had to take driver's ed. Not having the money was a convenient excuse for not getting my license. In reality, I didn't want it. Had absolutely zero desire for it. A 16-year-old kid who doesn't want to drive? Yes. That was me.

I managed through high school without a license. I got rides from friends or my parents. I wasn't really a social butterfly anyway, so it didn't much affect me. Then I went away to college in Western Pennsylvania. Didn't need a car there, either. As a student, I was able to ride the bus around town for free. The public transportation there was surprisingly good. I met my now-husband when I was a freshman in college, and he became my personal chauffeur. He never complained (too loudly, ha). When I graduated, we moved to Maryland again (Towson, to be exact). So if I wanted to drive, I'd have to take driver's ed. Again, the money and time were a convenient excuse not to. We lived within walking distance of where I worked, and most of my coworkers offered rides at night anyway. So that's the story of how I came to be 25 years old without a driver's license.

Now we're back in Pennsylvania, where you aren't required to take driver's ed. And I'm pretty much out of excuses. Last week I went for my learner's permit. The written test was easy peasy. Finished in less than five minutes and they handed me a piece of paper that says I can drive if I'm accompanied by another licensed driver 21 years of age or older. I thought the driving part would be easy, too. I already know the rules of the road. I know all the common sense things you need to know. Now it's all mechanics from here on out. How bad could it possibly be? I tried everything I could think of to psych myself up for learning to drive. My husband's taken me driving twice so far. To be honest.... not my cup of tea.

The fear is still there, even after all these years. The responsibility of wielding such a massive machine is overwhelming. It doesn't feel natural. It feels all wrong, like I'm not meant to do it. I feel like I can't possibly control the behemoth (okay, it's only a little Kia Spectra, but it feels huge when I'm behind the wheel) at 10mph (which has been my limit so far) much less 60mph on the highway. Maybe if I hadn't lost two friends in car accidents at such a crucial time.... Maybe if I hadn't been in an accident myself around that same time.... But I never really remember feeling any burning desire to drive even before all those things. Maybe it's just not for everyone.

You never think that you'll look back on your life when someone asks what one of the most difficult things you ever had to do was and say Learning to drive. But I think I will. When it's all over and done with, I think this will be one of the worst demons I have to face.

I'm not sure too many people really grasp the way I feel about this. Even my husband. I think he thought it was mostly excuses, or laziness, or something else. Until he took me driving in the parking lot for the first time. It was a mental health ordeal for me to even put the car in gear. It's hard. It shouldn't be hard. It's scary. It shouldn't be scary.

Facing down this fear isn't like conquering my fear of roller coasters (which I did with the help of my husband, because he makes me feel safe, which points only to a good outcome with him teaching me to drive). Logic helped me through that one. I looked up the specs for some of the roller coasters at Kennywood Park (near Pittsburgh) and found info on the speed of the coasters, the total length of time the rides lasted, the tallest drop, etc. I picked the ones I was willing to ride based on those logical numbers. 70 mph is the max speed? Well hell, I've been in cars going faster than that, why not a coaster? Right? That was my thinking. And with my supportive husband with me, I took the plunge. I've gotten much braver in my choice of coasters, and I love them now. Why can't driving be like that?

It isn't. Not for me. There are no happy statistics that can assuage my fears. No logical anything that can chase my nervousness away when I sit behind the wheel. Even with my husband sitting right next to me, it's intimidating. Maybe it's a huge flaw in my character - maybe I just run from responsibility in general. I suppose it's possible. But this is a different kind of responsibility. We're talking about life and death. Two years ago, a friend of my husband's was riding his bike and was hit and killed by a drunk driver. He left a wife and young son behind. Now I don't drink, so I'll never be a drunk driver. But I will be a driver. And drunk or not, a car is still a lethal weapon. I could kill someone. Or myself.

Even if I do everything exactly right, never speed, never drive recklessly, notice every environmental hazard that could potentially cause an accident, obey all laws and traffic signals.... I could do every damn thing within in my power, do it right, and have the utmost confidence in my own skill, and it's still no guarantee. None. I can't control every other driver on the road. It scares the shit out of me. I don't know if I'm willing to relinquish that much control over my life. You might be thinking, But it's not that severe. Driving down the street or across the state isn't akin to handing someone a gun and a blindfold and telling them to shoot an apple off your head. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm right. All I know is that it feels that serious to me.

We'll see how it goes. But it's been eating me up all week. I feel scared and nervous over something millions of people do every day. And then I feel inadequate because I can't be as relaxed as everyone else about it. I thought writing it out might help. I don't know if it has. I just needed to get it off my chest.

21 May 2008

Snazzy Dialogue II: Dialogue Tags

(Read Part I here)

Before I get into the main part of this post, I wanted to mention an only-slightly-related dialogue issue. Literary Agent Nathan Bransford had a contest for Preposterously Magnificent Dialogue on his blog. For the hell of it, I entered. (Wasn't a finalist, and now that I think of it I don't think I selected my strongest bit of dialogue.) You could submit up to 250 words of dialogue and the intermittent action. Obviously, I wanted something with more dialogue than not, since it was a dialogue contest. So I went searching through Charlotte to see what bits of dialogue I liked enough that I would pick from for my entry.

It was then that I realized that I have quite a bit of intermittent/supporting action. It's not too often that I have more than three lines of dialogue without some action in between. And really, my dialogue, while not necessarily scarce, is fairly limited. And much of what's said in dialogue is directly related to the intermittent action in such a way that the dialogue may be misunderstood or not have the same impact should the action be pared down or cut. Is this good? Bad? Or is it just.... the way it is? I'm not sure. But I've decided for now that it's good, at least for me. If you think about it, in our real conversations, how much importance do you give to what is actually said compared to the tone of voice in which it's said, or the hand gestures and facial expressions of the person saying it? It's all pretty closely intertwined and can say a lot more than the words themselves.

But on to the main post topic of dialogue tags. My above tangent really is related because I'm going to suggest that instead of the usual dialogue tags (he said, she said, he asked, told, yelled, etc.) you can use some bit of action instead. If you write "It's freezing in here." Johnny hugged himself and rubbed his hands over his arms. then we'll know that it was Johnny who said it's freezing. It can get really repetitive reading "said" all the time. And it's not necessarily better to use every alternative to it, either. Commanded, growled, purred, shouted, uttered, announced, exclaimed, cried, replied, disclosed, mumbled, stated...... Really, by trying to come up with a clever synonym for "said" EVERY time you use a dialogue tag, you just end up making your writing appear immature and not very clever. ALSO, please try to avoid this:

"Give it to me now," he said angrily.
"But it's mine!" she shouted loudly. "You can't have it!"

Adverbs are NEVER the answer. You're telling the reader everything and showing them nothing. (yeah, that old adage....) Now I know I've probably broken this rule of mine far too many times to count. That doesn't mean it was good. And you definitely shouldn't do it. There are instances where a nicely placed adverb can be brilliant, but don't overdo it.

In addition to avoiding repetition and giving you a way to show rather than tell, action can do a lot for your scene in tandem with your dialogue. It can potentially change the meaning of the words. It can alter the mood of the scene, the pacing, it can ease or create tension. Let's look at the following exchange between Charlotte and Steven the morning after they're passionately reunited :

“I have bacon?” he asked.
“No. Your refrigerator was pathetic. I had to steal your car and a twenty from your wallet so I could make breakfast,” she said.
“And just how do you plan on paying me back?” he asked mischievously.
“The bacon’s going to burn,” she said when he unbuttoned her pants.
“Let it.”
“We’ve got all day for that,” she said, grinning.
“All day?” he asked.
“Well, most of it. My plane doesn’t leave until six.”
“Stay,” he implored her.
“Steven, I can’t,” she insisted.
“I know. But I had to ask anyway.”
“I’m glad you want me to, though,” she said. “Now put a shirt on and sit down. Breakfast is almost ready.”

Eh. It's just okay. Nothing spectacular. All dialogue. No pacing. Not much on the descriptive or emotional side. There's no action from either character to help us understand how they each feel during this scene. Not to mention it sucks to read "he said," "she insisted," "she said" every other sentence. Let's see what some supporting action can do for us:

“I have bacon?” he asked, coming up behind her.
“No. Your refrigerator was pathetic. I had to steal your car and a twenty from your wallet so I could make breakfast.”
“And just how do you plan on paying me back?” He put his arms around her waist and kissed the back of her neck. Her hair was still damp from the shower and he could smell his shampoo, his soap. She still wore his T-shirt, though she’d put on her own jeans. She’d never been more sexy.
“The bacon’s going to burn,” she said when he unbuttoned her pants.
“Let it.”
She squealed as he slid his hand down between her legs, but she managed to wriggle out of his arms.
“We’ve got all day for that,” she said, grinning.
“All day?”
She looked away, turned back to the stove. “Well, most of it. My plane doesn’t leave until six.”
“Stay.” They’d just found their way back to each other and she was leaving already.
“Steven, I can’t.”
“I know. But I had to ask anyway.”
“I’m glad you want me to, though.” She turned around and kissed him. “Now put a shirt on and sit down. Breakfast is almost ready.”

Not to toot my own horn (well okay, maybe a little) but I think the second version is much better. (This isn't what I submitted for Nathan's contest, BTW, but I think this would've been better than what I did submit.) When Steven puts his arms around Charlotte and reacts to the scent of her, we can sense the sexual tension. And then it's not nearly so shocking when he puts his hand down her pants! And the fact that she "squeals" shows her playfulness and willingness to participate. Otherwise the scene could come across as super creepy. There's some tension of the non-sexual variety when she turns away from him before mentioning her plane leaving at six. So now we know that she's leaving, and that seems sad because they appear to be having fun. This min-scene ends hopefully, though, when she turns around and kisses him.

And thus ends this very long post. :-)

Read Part III here.

14 May 2008

And the Excitement is Mounting.....

.... and it is directly related to my last post. But not in that way! C'mon, get your mind out of the gutter. :-P

My excitement is mounting because I finally dove in and wrote a short story, and I know exactly the magazine I want to submit it to. I'm pretty happy with the story, I think. Needs a little tweaking (ha! my erotica story needs tweaking!) but I'm relying on a few good folks on Agent Query to help me out with that. These girls will read just about anything. Gotta love 'em for it.

I'm nervous, too, of course. And I haven't even submitted the thing yet. Sheesh. And I want to get my novel published? I'll probably puke just sending out my first query!

So once I get all my critiques back from my AQ group, I don't think it'll take me more than a few days to revise anything that needs to be polished up. And the magazine has an online submission form, so I'll be able to copy, paste, and send, then wait! Hopefully not too long, but up to 12 weeks. Fingers crossed!

04 May 2008

Time To Steam Things Up

So guess what revelation came upon me last night?

I think I should try writing erotica.

Really. Contrary to this post and this post, I think it could work out really well for me. Here's my logic (because there IS logic behind this seemingly bizarre decision):

I wrote a scene for my book that someone told me was verging on erotica, but in a good way. I was surprised at the time, but didn't think anything of it. But now that I've thought more about it, maybe I could write erotica. It makes sense on many levels. First, I should always be trying to push my boundaries as a writer. I should be reading and writing as many different types of things as I can. It can only make me better at my craft. And nothing is further from my comfort zone than writing erotic fiction.

Second, I've already be complimented on an erotic scene. So I should be able to write more, right? I must have at least some scintilla of talent there. This ties very closely to the third level of logic: there's so much BAD erotica out there, that if I really do have an iota of talent I should be able to get a short story or poem or two published somewhere, be it a print mag or an online zine.

Fourth, and most important, if I can get a couple things published in reputable mags, whether it's erotica or not, that can only help when it finally comes time for me to start querying for my novel.

Now all that's left is the courage to start. :-) We'll see how it goes.

02 May 2008

.....and the other shoe falls

As much as I love Agent Query Connect, it is not without its pitfalls. The critique group I belonged to has broken up, and though a few of us from the group have created a new one, we've lost one of the members I respected most. The specifics are unclear and upsetting, but I'm seriously disappointed in.... well, in a lot of things.

Let me speak for myself.

As a writer, the things I write are very personal to me. I put a lot of myself into every story I write. When I receive criticism regarding my writing (even the most well-intentioned and accurate criticism), it's very easy to take it all personally. It's easy to look for the personal faults or flaws in the person doing the critiquing. It's easy to go on the attack.

What's difficult is sorting through the words for the facts. For the valid points. What's hard is acknowledging that what I've written is by no means perfect. Realizing that someone else's criticism is not a reflection on my character as a human being, only a reflection of their opinion about what I've written. And though it should be easy, the hardest part can be realizing that even the criticism that seems unfair or harsh is mine to take or to leave, to do with what I will; I don't have to let it get to me.

I believe that under no circumstances is it acceptable to attack a person's viewpoints or ideas, beliefs, profession, integrity, etc. because I don't like the criticism they've offered me in a constructive setting. It is certainly never acceptable to attack a person publicly, by name, on a personal level, after that person has tried to diffuse the situation. EVEN IF I feel my points are valid and justified. EVEN IF I feel my sources are trustworthy. EVEN IF I feel the personal attack is somehow relevant to the original issue - a critique of my writing that I didn't like.

It's just not acceptable. It's unfortunate. It's childish. It doesn't solve anybody's problems. As a writer who seeks always to be truthful, fair, original, and always pushing the boundaries of my knowledge, I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I wish others would do the same.

I've not done any of the things I stated above, nor do I know for sure that anyone has. Like I said, the specifics are unclear and upsetting. I suspect it has much to do with fragile egoes and petty politics. But I hope we've all learned our lesson.

22 April 2008

Why I Love AQC

I'm in a private critique group on Agent Query Connect and I love it. As serious as we all our about our writing and about giving each other constructive feedback, we still manage to keep it fun. Some of our crazy little tidbits:

Addismac writes: "The craft I'm on right now is a boat that's adrift, directionless and windless. My life preserver is this group. " AND "This writing thing has me whimpering like a new born puppy taken from his mommy, its eyes not open and squirming away in the wrong direction. "

Thrownbones writes: "Oh, and I burn a lamb in a sacrifice, before I start a new book. Weird, huh?" (funny guy!)

Elana writes: "I also wrote a totally lame MG novel about elves. No one will ever see it. Ev-er."

And when Robb posed the question of why we (writers) so often write ourselves into corners, this is the countdown we came up with:

  • Reason #10: everything else is on TV. (hkelley)
  • Reason #9: "it's a balls-on thrill ride, writing yourself into a corner, because we all know how great it feels when we figure the way out. That "oh YEAH!" moment. It's kind of like "the thrill of the chase" (thrownbones)
  • Reason #8: "Writing wouldn't be nearly as fun in a round room, now would it? Rather write myself into corners than in circles....I think?" (me)
  • Reason #7: Medication has become unaffordable. (robb58)
  • Reason #6: someone has to keep the theory alive that the earth really is flat. (addismac)
  • Reason #5: Sleep is overrated. So is making dinner... (elanajohnson)
  • Reason #4: because robb would make an awful math teacher. (thrownbones, after robb goofed on the numbering of our list)
  • Reason #3: because actually following an outline would be so BORING. (hkelley)
  • Reason #2: because werds iz funz. (thrownbones)
  • Reason #1: Because writers are all just a little "touched" in the head and although we write ourselves into that corner and can clearly see the door there, or the window, or the jackhammer that could tear the whole room down, it is the words that own us, not logic, and they demand that we never take the easy way out. (me)

15 April 2008

Park Reflections

The first really great day of the season. And not just short-sleeves-no-coat warm, but flip-flops-and-shorts warm. By 6pm, the sun is mostly obscured by a thin veil of white, but the majority of the sky is still bright blue.

It still seems strange to have so many more hours of daylight, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself after work. It seems a shame to waste the light by sitting in front of the television screen or computer monitor.

The park is buzzing today. Voices of a cheerleading group in the amphitheater. The clack-skritch-clack of roller hockey. Since NHL playoffs have just begun, I imagine the boys are imitating their heroes - perhaps Ovechkin in pursuit of Lord Stanley's Cup. There's the distant smack of softballs into gloves as a group of kids learn to wind up and pitch underhand. I can't hear them from where I am, but a school group is holding a tennis match across the way, and a group of younger kids is learning the basics of flag football.

Even the gnats and other tiny-winged things - plentiful around my bench in front of the freshly mulched bushes - are not so bad. They're a nice change from the nearly insectless winter which, to tell the truth, wasn't horrible either. We never did get a big snow, and at this point I've given up hope. Even after some of the crazy winters recently passed, I have no doubts that mid-April is beyond the likely window of blizzard opportunity. Now I'm left waiting patiently for the true warmth of summer, when I can retire my coat to the closet for a few months.

Not yet, though. Tomorrow's supposed to be cold.

08 April 2008

Battling the Demons

So I've been workshopping chapters from my manuscript with a critique group on the Agent Query site. I've gotten tons of feedback, some positive, some negative. A big negative being the "immaturity" of the MC and the overall voice. Not to mention some plausibility snags related to that. Ouch, right?

Right. But I'm afraid I've let it all go to my head a little too much. I keep dwelling on the negative critiques, despite the positive ones. I'm beating myself up. Trying to change too much. Over analyzing every word. I've almost convinced myself that the whole manuscript - all 76,000 words of it - should be tossed in the garbage can. Not that I'd ever do that, though, because I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to my writing, haha.

So instead, I'm going to take a short break from the AQ site and just get back to the story, really get in the mindset I need to be in to make it shine. I need to find my confidence again, my critical eye, my love of Charlotte (the MC in the book) and her story. I just need to get that back and stop telling myself I'm not good enough.

A little tangent (that is definitely helping with my confidence some): I've networked with another writer on AQ and he wants me to be his editor! He's got a great manuscript, from what he's already posted on the site, and I was flattered and thrilled when he asked me, of all people, to be his editor. Even though I've never edited anything (professionally, that is) in my life. But he saw something in my critiques that made him think we'd be a good author-editor fit. And I think he's right. This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in quite a while. Getting paid to read? How much better does it get?

And I think I'll end this depressing blog on that happy note. Yay for me!

23 March 2008

Snazzy Dialogue I: Catch-22

I was recently complimented on the dialogue in the opening chapter of my novel. I was stunned! Dialogue is a big deal for me. I fret over it all the time. But I'm apparently doing something right! So I thought I'd compile some of the things I keep in mind when writing dialogue.

"Hey bro. What's up?"
"Nothing really. You?"
"You know. More of the same."
"Yeah dude. I know."

Not terribly exciting, is it? But I bet you've had - or overheard - this very conversation, dozens of times. That doesn't mean you need to write it in your story.

Dialogue needs to be meaningful. It needs to be real. But it can't be real. Get my drift? I don't care how many times you scream "But I've heard dozens of people talk like that!" Just because people have long conversations about their bowel movements or their cousin's husband's predilection for online porn, doesn't mean your characters should.

Dialogue should tell us something about the character speaking it. It should illuminate the situation. It should create tension or assuage it, clarify a problem or confuse it, whatever the goal of the scene-at-large, the dialogue should work in tandem with the rest.

Throw in something unexpected. Have a character lie. Have them be painfully honest. Have them misunderstand what another character says and respond accordingly. Don't be boring!

Let's think about that and revisit the above conversation:

"Hey bro. What's up?"
"Cut the shit. How much you need to borrow this time?"
"Dude, a grand should cover me. Blackjack table got me this time."
"Yeah, more of the same."

See? At least now we know a little bit about what's going on. We can see distinct personalities int he speakers. There's connotation to the remark "more of the same."

Now get out there and write some great dialogue!

Read Part II here.

27 February 2008

Query Pains

So I finally took a stab at writing a query letter for my novel. Didn't work out so well. I posted the letter in forum over on Agent Query Connect (my new favorite website) and got some good feedback.

Good in the sense that it helped me see what was all wrong with it.

Writing a decent query is harder than I expected! At least for this particular manuscript. This one was written mostly by the seat of my pants, with very little planning or outlining. I just started a new book, but this idea was much more thought out in advance, with several pages of notes on what I wanted to happen, etc. And I pretty much wrote a basic hook and summary (the important parts of the query!) before I even started writing the book itself. So maybe the query letter for that one will be easier.

But back to my first manuscript. I've finally let it be for a bit since I've started working on something new. Maybe another couple weeks and I'll go back with fresh eyes to revise and edit. Then I'll set my sights on the query letter once again. After that....

Well, who knows. I may be sending letters to agents by April. :-)

02 February 2008


I'm trying, I really am! But I keep finding myself re-reading and doing some small editing on my novel manuscript. I said I was going to leave it alone for a little bit, to gain some new perspective before I go and do the major editing/revisions. I found this great website called Agent Query with an awesome searchable database of literary agents. I found about seven I want to look into further. I know my manuscript is in no condition to go out just yet, so before I start querying I think I'm going to look into a few of the books each agent has sold to get a feel for the kind of writer they represent. Then I'll have a better idea of where I want to send queries when the novel's ready!

I do actually have some ideas that are finally taking shape in my head. I think I might be ready to start writing something else, or at least mapping a few things out, so that should keep me busy (and away from my novel draft for now!) for a little bit.

So anyway, all you writers out there need to visit Agent Query's website. And while you're there, join AQ Connect!

25 January 2008

Draft 1: done!

So I finished the first draft of my novel! Now it needs to rest for a little bit. I kept tinkering with it for the first few days after I finished it, but I know it needs to hide in a dark hole for a week or two or three before I dive back in and start the tedious process of revision. I'm too close to it right now to see all that needs to be done with it.

I've started asking around to my friends to see if I can get any readers. I've got two willing participants so far. I know, friends and family generally aren't the best critics (they tend to be less critical than I'd like) but I think I can still get some really good feedback from these two. I think I want to find out if there's any kind of writer's group or something that meets locally. Maybe I could get some feedback that way too. Of course, that will be somewhat dependent on how close/far it is, since I have yet to get my license. That's next on my list of things to accomplish in the very near future. (Yes, yes, I'm going to be 25 next month and I've still never gotten a license.....but that's a completely different blog altogether!)

Now it's on to work on some other ideas floating around in my head.

18 January 2008

The End Comes First?

So I've written the end of my novel. Which is all well and good, except I haven't written the part that comes before it yet. Strangely enough, I feel really good about this. I've been working on this manuscript for a little while, and it's been getting longer, and I didn't quite know exactly how it would end for a while. Then the other day, somewhere out of the blue, I decided what needed to happen, and how it needed to happen at the very end. So I sat in front of the computer and started typing away. It was only about 10 single-spaced pages that I wrote for the ending (I guess it'll be the last chapter? I don't think it would be an epilogue, but we'll see.) And as soon as it was done, it was like I was suddenly free to get going on the rest.

I've been a little stuck with it. Mostly doing some revising and tinkering with it lately, but I just started writing with a real flow again, now that I know exactly where it's going. I usually like for things to sort of 'finish themselves' when they're 'ready,' but writing the ending before I've actually finished seems to have worked for me this time. Sometimes knowing your limits is good. And it really shouldn't be long now before the rest comes together!

Then it's on to major revisions......*sigh* I knew it would happen eventually. Revising is my least favorite part (although I've been getting better at it) of writing. I tend to get really attached to what I've written, even if I know, deep down, that it's not the best I can do. But I'm still afraid to hit that delete button, in case I decide that I wanted that word, that paragraph, that page back. So I tend to copy and paste into a new document and revise there, so I still have the original copy. Which can get crazy when I have Novel1, Novel2, Novel2a or whatever saved on the computer. Oh well. Maybe I'll clean up my method someday. Just not today.

06 January 2008

Who is Atticus F. Blakely?

So I'm enjoying the writing books I purchased. I tried out the exercise I posted last time, with some great results! I'm feeling more inspired already, and the creativity is starting to flow a little more freely! This is something that came to me spontaneously in the shower. ha ha. I think it's the beginning of something. Short story? Novel? Who knows. But I think I can have fun with this one. Here's what I've got so far:

His name was Atticus. Yes, exactly like that other Atticus you’re thinking of. Thought it was more to do with his mother’s (crazy old bat that she was) unnatural obsession with Gregory Peck and less to do with a love of classic novels (because Lord knows she scarcely read a thing that didn’t have an evil bat-baby on the cover and a dozen ads for psychics inside) that he came to be named Atticus F. Blakely. And if you need more than one guess at what the F stands for, you might have more in common with A.B.’s eccentric mother than you ought to admit.

That’s what everyone calls him, by the way, A.B. No one ever called him Atticus if he could help it. It was embarrassing! If he had been blessed with the velvety voice and dashing good looks of Peck’s on-screen alter ego, that would be one thing. It might even bee amusing then, or flattering, when someone called him Atticus. Alas, he did not live in a black and white movie, but in modern-day Baltimore, and his voice was far from velvety. Especially when he sang along (if sing is indeed the correct verb for what he did) with his favorite Earth Crisis album. If you’ve no idea who they are, A.B. would probably say that’s unfortunate. I’d say you’re pretty normal.

See, he’s a punk rock misfit of sorts. Though you might never guess it if you met him in his work clothes. The long-sleeved white shirt concealed another sleeve - one of intricate and colorful tattoos on his left arm. (If you ask nicely, he’d probably tell you the story behind each one.) Only a tiny patch of bleached mohawk at the nape of his neck was visible under the black cap his uncle made him wear. It made him look like a chauffeur. The cap. Not the mohawk, of course. Even the barbell that pierced the top of his ear in two places wasn’t enough to give away his true personality. No, in his somber dichromatic uniform, he seemed as plain as you or I.

On the day this story begins, A.B. had just finished seeing old Mrs. Porter off. He talked to her as he drove - idle chitchat, mostly. But as he left her, he asked her, if there was such a place as Heaven, to say hello to his mother when she got there. He was fairly certain that’s where Mrs. Porter would end up, if it existed (because what could old ladies possibly do to end up in Hell?) And strange though his mother had been, he felt sure she had been good enough to earn a spot there, too.

My goodness, that is an odd expression you’ve twisted your face into! Is it something I said?

Well, perhaps A.B. did inherit some of his mother’s quirkiness, but when you consider his line of work, it really isn’t so bizarre that he should converse with a dead woman!

Oh, didn’t I mention it? No, I suppose I didn’t.

Well, it so happens that our friend A.B. drives a hearse.