Monday, December 13, 2010

Tumblrbl?

Have you guys experimented with Tumblr at all? It's seems pretty cool. I'm setting up an account and giving it a go. It might be an easier way to blog... I'll keep you updated on my status :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lip Gloss & Lies needs work, a lot of work...

I was so proud of myself this weekend for actually sitting down and devoting my afternoon to writing. If felt so good and familiar to have laptop on, well my lap, kitty on my side, and doggie by my feet. With notes open, I got to work. And boy, do I have work to do.

This past March I finished my outline for the sequel and I was surprised by how much I had planned and already written. I had honestly forgotten that Lip Gloss & Lies was my NanoWriMo goal last year and I had written 15k in those first two weeks before realizing forging ahead without an outline wouldn't work for me.

But that's where the good warm fuzzy feeling ended.

You see, I really don't like my story outline. So much so that I'm thinking about changing the murder victim and murderess. Just the basics, you know? :) I managed to take the entire 38-page outline and summarize it down to three remaining plot points. And to be honest, they're minor plot points. The big guys are still yet to be determined--and I couldn't be happier. In writing this sequel I'm reminded of a couple of points I've learned along the way:

#1 Sequel or not, each novel should stand on its own.

#2 It's far easier to change an outline than to rewrite an entire novel. Even changing one scene screws up the rest (as it should. If you can delete/change an entire scene and it doesn't effect your story, you have a problem).

#3 Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I remember reading a part in "First Draft in 30 Days" (Karen Weisner) that you should set aside your outline for a month if not longer and then come back to it with fresh eyes. While I followed her other tips while writing Beauty Secrets, this was one I ignored. After having this experience with Lip Gloss & Lies, however, I've changed my mind. I've always been in too big of a rush to wait, you know? But I will follow her advice this time!

One things for sure, this publishing (and pregnancy) is going to teach me patience one way or another (or at least test it a time or two!). Happy writing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jumping on the writing train

I have the whole morning, actually most of the day, to myself. It is the perfect time to start writing. My only dilemma is what to write? Yes, it has been THAT long. I have two WIPs that I haven't touched in 6 months, plus two ideas I've roughly outlined, oh wait, make that three ideas.

What to do, what to do.

Well, as I've said before, my first love is cozies. I still have that sequel to Beauty Secrets to hash out--Lip Gloss & Lies--and I know what some believe about writing a sequel when the first hasn't sold, but if you remember, I'm done right now caring about being published. I'm writing for me.

Plus, figuring out a mystery is a guaranteed way to keep my mind busy from obsessing about this baby and bedrest (have you read about preterm labor statistics? Don't.)

So, looks like I've made up my mind. Off to Lip Gloss and Lies! Thanks for your help (you always know what to say, hehehe).

Friday, November 12, 2010

I miss you!


I started visiting some of my favorite blogs today (and if you're a follower of mine, I mean YOU!) and I realized how much I miss all of you.

You're so smart--do you know that? And witty and charming and you make me smile. Who couldn't use more smiling in their life? It's so good to know that when I disappear off the grid for a while you great people are still out there blogging away.

You're awesome.

So Thank You! No matter how much life tries to squish the writer out of me, she's still down in there banging to get out. Let's see if I can break her free!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Joys of Bedrest

Hey fellow Bloggers,

As you can tell from the title, I'm chilling out the next few weeks on bedrest. Last Wednesday I experienced a slight tear in my placenta, and saving you the gory details, it has since been suggested that I hang low and get plenty of rest. Luckily for me, I started a new job 2 weeks ago and they're very cool and supportive with me working from home. What's even cooler is that my job is in the technical publishing field and I'm up to my eyebrows in B2B social media plans.

So, I guess my point is that I've decided to make lemonade (you know, when life gives you lemons...) and I still consider myself blessed. While my writing has suffered the past 4 months, it doesn't take away from all that I accomplished in the previous year. I'm still a writer with great stories waiting to be told. I have landed an amazing job and I have a beautiful baby girl on the way (hoping she doesn't arrive too soon. I'm only 24 weeks!) Oh, and now I can completely avoid the holiday shopping rush and order everyone's presents online. See? It's all good. There really are some joys associated with bedrest :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm Ready to Have Fun!

Have you ever thought about why you started writing? As this blog reflects (and lack of recent posts), I’ve been dragging on the motivation front.

Well, I was thinking today about why I started writing in the first place. And guess what? I got excited. For the first time in months I felt compelled to even write a blog post. Why? Because I remembered that I started writing because it sounded like fun. Yes, FUN. No one starts a venture because it seems daunting. At least I don’t. I’m up for a challenge and all, but c’mon writing a novel? I had no idea how hard it would be to write my first novel, and then my second, and even contemplate a third. And it's a good thing too, because I probably never would have started a single one.

Here’s my thought: If I have any hope of returning to my writing with any success, I have to stop focusing on publishing and start having fun. I’ve lost that loving feeling and want it back. So I’m writing to have fun. To capture my own happiness. I know it's possible if I can turn off the logical part of my brain. That shouldn't be too hard (especially since I'm preggers. Logic left a long time ago).

So, what about you? Can you face the throes of publishing without it killing your creativity. Or are you like me and need to get back to the basics?

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's a girl!


Or so the ultrasound tech says! We'll have to wait to wait 20 more weeks to confirm, but I'm excited. (Heck, I'd be excited no matter what!!!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Looking for that Wow Factor. Can you Help?

I read a lot. I mean, what writer doesn't really? But you know what? Most of the books I've read lately are missing that Wow Factor. You know the feeling: you can't put the book down. Who cares what else is going on in the rest of the world. You must finish that book!

What gives?

So here's my challenge to you: what's the last book you've read that gave you that Wow Factor? Would you mind sharing it? Because I'm sick of reading so-so, a-okay novels.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Motivational Gun Posters


Okay, not getting political here (so if you hate guns, post your thoughts elsewhere); however, I did think some of these were funny...in a 2nd amendment sort of way. Enjoy.




Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baby Makes Three!

I have a confession, in addition to moving and job hunting, there's another reason why I've been neglecting this blog. I'm pregnant. Yep, the hubby and I are expecting our first baby on March 2nd. I wish I had a cool ultrasound picture to share with you all, but that comes in 2 more weeks at our 18 week appointment. Until then, isn't the picture of this baby adorable?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Checking In


Hello fellow Bloggers,

Just wanted to stop by and say "hi!" to all of you. I seem to be neglecting all of your wonderful blogs, but I PROMISE to get back with all of you. Soon. Like tomorrow.

And I really shouldn't feel too bad, it seems like a lot of you have been busy too!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I could use a NaNoWriMo


Couldn't you? I think once again this year NaNoWriMo will be perfect timing for me, as I'm currently outlining my WIP and researching away. Sometimes the camaraderie of writing with others really gets me motivated. I'm not big on the whole writer sit-ins, as I need solitude to write well, but the thought of thousands of others laboring away is quiet inspirational.

What about you? Any plans for NaNoWriMO?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dipping my toes in

It's no secret cozies are my favorite genre, but as a writer, sometimes we have to explore new waters if we're to expand our craft. My latest WIP is a testament to that fact. The title is tentatively Blackwater Baby and it seems to be a cross literary fiction/thriller work. It's outlined in a journalism-like fashion, but who knows if that will last. Like I said, it's a work in progress.

So far the research has been eye-opening. I feel I could take this novel a million different ways and I want to make sure I choose the right one. You know, find a way to tell the best story.

It's definitely deep--full of the dark human desires and raw emotions I tend to avoid in my writing, but I'm going to hold my breath and dive in. If it doesn't work, I've always got another cozy waiting to be written :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Once upon a time...


Stephanie started a new novel, and this novel, her third full-hearted attempt, finally granted her publishing dreams!!!

Okay, so that's what I'm hoping for anyway. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. I mean, something's gotta happen if you keep at it long enough, right? Life's not a fairytale (because if it was we'd all be published by now), but dreams do come true.

I'd like to believe it's the current state of industry that's making it so hard to break into the biz and not a sole reflection of my writing. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Focus on what you can control.

They say (philosophers and metaphysical folks) that life is about facing challenges and learning lessons. I'm not sure what lesson my trip down publishing lane is going to teach me, but I'm eager to find out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to our regualarly scheduled program

Hey guys, how ya doin'?

Well, I'm finally starting to get settled in Pittsburgh after moving here last week. What a mess. Moving is no fun.

But that's behind me.

Now it's time to get back to writing. I'm working on a new novel, it's a thriller (I think) and I can't wait to get finished with this outline. More to come soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Letting it go

A lot of people seem to be blogging and talking about a post titled "For Jessica" over at Finding Your Voice. And while I read this heartfelt story and offered up my prayers, the post that really seemed to speak to me was the second one titled "Avoiding creative burnout". Okay, I know it sounds completely shallow to prefer a technical approach to writing over a beautifully-written, dig-in-your-heart post, but that it's just that the creative burnout post really spoke to what's been on my mind lately.

Rejection? Haven't gotten much of that lately. (With my writing that is. Job hunting on the other hand...) It's really been mostly silent. I've had two partials out for about 4 months and another for 2 weeks. Still, I can't help but feel I'm headed in the wrong direction. How do you start another novel when you're still in love with your last one. I already created an original-concept, plot-driven story once that no one seems to be loving. What's to say the next time will be any different? And who and the heck can be creative with a negative attitude like that :)

The post's advice? To separate the act of creation from the act of publishing. The article goes on to tell you how to do this. Like:

"Keep more than one project going. Have new work you’re conceptualizing while you edit the old work and send out the older. Keep your focus on your work and not on the publishing business."

And:

"Don’t invest everything in one project. Especially these days. Times are tough in publishing. You can love your book but you also need to Let. It. Go. Maybe it will be published, maybe it won’t. Like a child, you do your best by it but beyond that, you don’t have a lot of say in how it turns out. Get to work on the next book."


Lot's of good advice here. I seriously think I need to bookmark this post and study it some more in the morning, when my optimism is at its peak and I'm ready to get back to work!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Your Genre

I got to thinking today about why I write in the genre that I do, I decided:

One, I write mostly cozies because I'm a scaredy cat. Cozies are just scary enough to keep me intrigued, but still able to sleep at night.

Two, I love solving a good mystery. The more twists and turns the better (as long as the reader can keep up and it all makes sense).

Three, because they're like the Utopian of genres. Bad things happen, but in the end everything is going to be okay because that's the way the world is. Every loose thread is tied up into a pretty little package. Justice is served.

Four, I love writing in themes. Beauty Secrets of course is a beauty-themed cozie, which means I get to talk about lipstick, style trends and murder all in the same book!

Fifth, not only do I love writing cozies, but I love reading them. I'm a firm believer that you should read what you write. If you don't, you won't know what's out there and what the current market trends are. You have to stay one step ahead in publishing (or try to) and knowing what's on the market is one way to do that.

So what about you? Why do you write the genre that you do?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hooked on Historicals

Up until 3 months ago, I'd never read a single historical novel, but now I can't seem to get enough of them. If makes sense, I love Jane Austen, so why wouldn't I love historicals?

So far I've read:

1. Golden Tulips (Rosalind Laker)
2. Dancing for Degas (Kathryn Wagner)
3. The Apothecary's Daughter (Julie Klassen)
4. To Dream of Snow (Rosalind Laker)

I'd love to read more. Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Synopsis--What do you think?

Hey guys and gals,

I thought I'd post my new synopsis out here for you all to take a look at. What do you think? Any feedback is appreciated.

Thanks!

Synopsis—Beauty Secrets


Every Beauty Secret representative knows two things: never come between a woman and her lipstick, and always keep your client’s secrets. Unfortunately Keira Diaz didn’t get that memo.

While making a beauty delivery to Marion Siebold’s house, Keira finds her client unconscious on the floor. The police arrive as Marion comes to and it’s revealed that Marion’s playboy husband, Roger, is missing.

The police are quick to dismiss the case, assuming Roger ran off with a girlfriend. Most of the town, including the police, are more concerned with finding a kidnapped little girl. That is, until Roger’s body is found.

Strangled by a pair of black nylons and with red lipstick smeared on his collar, Roger’s murder was set up to look like a crime of passion. Keira recognizes the shade of lipstick, Goodbye Kiss, from last fall’s line, but unlike the police, she’s not convinced a woman committed the murder.

Suddenly, Keira’s job goes from selling lipstick to solving murder.
Keira is safe until she uncovers the murderer's secrets. She was right—a woman didn’t murder Roger, his business partner did. Seth Perez couldn’t risk financial ruin if Roger’s corrupt practices became public. Embezzling funds from the notorious Vincent Delgado was bound to ruin them both.

The plan had initially been for Roger to fake his own death and run off with his girlfriend, leaving the insurance money to settle his debt. But when the plan fell through, Seth took matters into his own hands—killing Roger and then setting Delgado up to take the fall. Seth even made it appear that Delgado used Roger’s playboy reputation to set the murder up.

Keira puts the pieces together when she finds the Goodbye Kiss lipstick from the crime scene at Seth’s house. Mastering the art of female persuasion, Keira seduces Seth into confessing. Things get dicey when Seth takes Keira’s flattery too far. Not understanding the word “no,” Keira is forced to knock Seth out with more than a kiss. Thank heavens for crystal vases and women who aren't afraid to fight.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

#Fail

Yep, I totally failed my own genre challenge. Maybe I should've made it, "read a genre you haven't read before sometime this summer," because last week, it totally wasn't happening. I'm still committed to reading Steampunk though. I requested Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series from my library, so I'm at least off to a start.

Did anyone have better luck?

I'd like to say I'll have a chance to read this week, but I'd hate to be wrong again. My goal this week is actually to get some more editing done on BS. I have another partial request and I'd like to go through the MS one more time before sending it off. You know the feeling.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Genre Challenge--You in?


Confession: I've never read any steampunk. Nothing. Notta. No short story, novella, novel, zip zilch. And I think that's sad.

What about you?

Maybe you've read (or heck, even written) steampunk (Matt), but you've never read fantasy, YA, or romance.

Well, here's my challenge to you:

In the next week, read a genre that you've never read before and then come back here and blog about it. It doesn't have to be a whole novel, a short story will do. The point is to broaden your literary tastes. See what else is out there.

Who knows, you might fall in love with reading all over again.

So, I ask you again: Are you in?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Revision Merry-Go-Round

As I readily edit Beauty Secrets for the umptenth time (minor edits, people. Characterization stuff. But if an agent has some suggestions, I'm all ears.) I realize that I'm not alone on this crazy quest for literary perfection. The editing process is cool when you can read the end results. As I've said before, the first draft is only the bones. It's the editing process that gives your work it's soul.

So, what about you?

How many times have you edited your current WIP?



Do you think this madness will ever end? :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Writing Rocks

I'd like to take a minute to say "I love writing!!!!" Seriously, it's the coolest thing ever. And, if I could get paid to do all of this--writing, editing, blogging, tweeting--everyday, life would be so sweet. I mean, life's already pretty good, but being paid to write and promote my fiction would be the cherry on top of my sundae. Me likey the hot fudge.

Even when life gets crazy with moving, job hunting and house packing, I still have my eye on the prize. Yes, the rubber has hit the road, and I'm not stopping.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This just in...

I'm writing again!

Hurray!!!!

Okay, thought I'd share. I have no idea what prompted my new motivation, but I'm loving it.

Talk soon.

<3,
Steph

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Snob

I'm not the only one, right? Do you ever start reading a book only to find yourself yelling at the author, "Show me, don't tell me!!!!!" Or roll your eyes at every plot hole, unrealistic character twist, or editorial error? (Okay, I let the editing errors generally go by. I used to be a textbook editor, I know how it goes.)

Since when did I become such a book snob?

Well, since I became obsessed with writing and polishing my own manuscripts. It's quite ridiculous. Who am I to critique a published author's work? They paid their dues. I should applaud their success. But, it doesn't always work that way.

I'd like to think subjectivity has something to do with it, but that's not always the case.

What about you? Are you a book snob?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hand me a match, would ya?

Have you ever felt like time is rushing by and there's nothing you can do to stop it? Lots going on in my little world.

As for a query update, I currently have 3 partials out and I'm eager to hear back from each and every one. It's always exciting to have an agent review your work. It's even more exciting when they ask for a full (fingers cross! Wait, I have talent. Why wouldn't they ask for a full. *Repeats positive pep talk*)

BUT, and that's a big but (not butt, I have been working out) when it comes to writing, I've been bad and haven't written nuttin' since March! (I know, what kind of writer am I?) My Muse went on spring break and I think she's still in Mexico, or wherever fairy-like creatures hang these days. I've got a couple story ideas floating around, but honestly, I'm having too much fun reading to write a lot. Seriously. I read a book a day. The library LOVES me. It's research people, research.

I'm on the cusp of writing, or so I tell myself, I just need that spark. Looks like I better go hunt down the lighter fluid...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jumpin' on the Bandwagon


I finally did it. Numerous people told me to read the Sookie Stackhouse novels, AKA TrueBlood, and after years of putting it off, I finally did. And guess what? I liked them. A lot.

Why did I wait so long to read them? Well, every now and then I like to thumb my nose at pop culture. You know, read the lesser known authors, ignore the masses.

What about you? Is there a book you took forever to read (for whatever reason) and then low and behold, you read it and liked it?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Doesn't that just grind your gears?


It can't just be me. Someone else has to have the same pet peeve. Last week the fifth and final book in the Garnet Lacey series came out and I ran out to B&N to buy it, but guess what, I couldn't find it.

But that's not my pet peeve.

It took some digging, and an employee helping to track it down, but eventually we did and to my horror, the book looked NOTHING like the rest in the series. Nothing. How can they change the final book? The layout/font/page design was exactly the same, but the cover wasn't. It's ugly. And not Garnet at all :(

Above are the first four books, the fifth one is below. See? They don't match. At all.

I've seen this before with one of Candace Havens' series, and I think in her case she switched publishers (or imprints). Now I'm just wondering what happened with Tate Hallaway's Garnet Lacey series. Does she care? Does she love the new cover? Did she have any say it???? Why oh why is it so different???? Looks like I have some research to do.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm back. I think...

In case you can't tell (and I haven't whined about it enough), I've been super freakin' busy (and yet I still feel like nothing's been accomplished).

Anywhooooo...

My brief re-entry into the real world has me treading back to the comforts of writing. Looking for a money-paying occupation has made me realize how much I really enjoy writing and all the baggage (I use that term lovingly) that comes with it. If only bills could be paid with good intentions (or I could hurry up and win the lottery already).

However, with the future uncertain (my crystal ball is broken) it looks like I'll have to find a way to balance fiction with reality--and no I'm not talking about writing a memoir a la Frey--but rather finding an 8-5 and still finding time to write. Which really isn't a enormous deal. I did it for YEARS. It's just the past 18 months that have really spoiled me.

So, wish me luck in my job hunt. At least the economy looks better in Pitt versus the lovely State of MI. See, I'm already thinking positive. Come on Karma, work your magic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's a Sun Thing


It's May so that means the sun is rising earlier and earlier and so am I. There's something about summertime and early morning writing sessions. Come winter my butt's not outta bed until 9 a.m. and then I spend my writing hours sitting on the dryer trying to stay warm. Sunshine is the key to my writing motivation--which has been seriously lacking given my current life's status (I'm sure I wasn't nearly as stressed in my former lives--lol).

So, what about you? Does your writing schedule/motivation change with the seasons? Or if not, what does cause it to change?

All I've got to say is "Let the SUN shine!!!!!"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How it's Made: Bowling Balls


Okay, so I'm still busy with LIFE, but thought you might enjoy this video from season 6 of the Science Channel's How It's Made series: Bowling Balls!

Who knew they were so complex?

Well, actually, I did. But maybe you don't, and you're intelligent and like to learn knew things (right?).

So, if unlike me, you have a spare 2 minutes and 26 seconds, check out this video.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Where in the world is...



I'm not as cool as Carmen Sandiego, but I feel just as busy right now.

Where have I been?

Selling my house (crazy, crazy, crazy), attending a communication conference in Cincinnati (I'm smart and sassy), looking for a job/house in Pittsburgh, oh and grading finals (I hate grading). I think all this craziness is payback for the time I spent obsessively writing last week. Apparently I can't ignore reality for ever.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Precious

I'm like Frodo lately (or would it be Gollum?) obsessed with my own One Ring.

In the words of Gollum:
We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.


Of course in my case, it's my WIP and it's not turning me into a hobbit, but a hermit, which all my writing tends to do. I'm good with that though.

So if you're wondering what I'm doing, I'm writing. Make that researching and writing--obsessively.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So True

Everything else seems easy compared to becoming published.

You wanna become a doctor? No problem. Go to school, take your boards, complete a residency, and voilà.

An architect? Even easier. Thanks to technology, you don't even have to know how to draw.

For almost every profession, you follow the steps (schooling, internships, training, etc.) and then you become who it is you set out to be.

This isn't a rant about how hard it is to become published, but rather the opposite, how easy everything else seems. After attempting (and hopefully obtaining) publication, I can do anything, become anyone I want to. How awesome is that? Pretty darn awesome if you ask me (and I did).

So, if you weren't trying to become a writer, who would you be trying to become?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Riddle


Okay, this is probably too easy for you smartypants, but I thought I'd try and challenge you anyway.

If spring brings may flowers,what does the may flower bring?

There's actually two correct answers. One is easier than the other (IMO). Can you guess both?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If patience was a cocktail, it'd be two parts tequila, one part lime.

I don't think anyone is born with it, but some of us are definitely better at being patient than others. Patience is a virtue that extends far beyond the publishing industry, and yet I feel writers are forced to practice patience far more than most.

I'd like to believe that practicing patience gets easier the further down the publishing path you travel, but I'm not sure that's true (I'll have to let you know).

Seeing patience is as integral to writing as editing is, how do you practice it?

Here's a couple tips I've adapted to help me:

1.Don't check your email after 7:30 p.m. You can let an agent, writer, editor, critique partner, ect. wait twelve hours to hear back from you. There's more to life than electronic correspondence. As much as I think living in the nineteenth century would annoy me, the thought of waiting weeks between correspondence excites me. Handwritten letters with wax seals, horse-drawn deliveries, and precious moments of solitude to respond sound perfectly wonderful.

2. Believe in yourself. So you haven't heard a peep from the last batch of query letters you sent out, that's okay. Go back to writing. That's the part you love anyway, right? Remember that you have awesome stories to tell--unique one-of-a-kind tales that have spun your imagination and heart more ways than you really know. While you wait, write. You never know what work of yours will sell.

3. Read. A good book always makes me want to write and reminds me that if this author could did it, so can I. You're anything but alone on your journey to publication. Draw your patience from others.

4. If all else fails, have a cocktail (or two). An inebriated mind doesn't mind waiting as long as the cocktails are cold and the company is good. Oh happy day!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Writing


Imagination never grows up.

Determination will get you further than talent.

Patience makes success that much sweeter.

Dedication is the foundation for achieving your goals.

Emotions are what give us life.

Bravery gives you courage to face the unknown.

Dreams aren't just for sleeping anymore.

Confidence is the voice that encourages you to believe in yourself even when others don't.

Creativity flows through everyone--just not along the same river.

Optimism is human nature.

Happiness can be found everywhere if you only look.

That's my list. What have you learned from writing?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are You Querying Right Now?

I know I'm not alone on this one, but out of curiosity, how many of you are currently querying?

I love the rush when I send out a query. Each letter holds so much promise. And of course, being a writer, I let each scenario play out in my mind, dreaming up "How I Landed My Agent" and "Eek! The Contract's in the Mail!" posts. It'll be so exciting once I'm to the next stage. I'll have so much to share with you all!

If Karma was as good as a guarantee, I should be a rich princess soon, or at the very least, a published author.

zwani.com myspace graphic comments
Myspace Princess Diva Comments

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Awesome Quote

"There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published."
-- J.A. Konrath

I don't know what's cooler about this quote, the fact that it's true, or that a mystery writer said it. (Thanks for sending it to me Sheri!)

Where the rubber meets the road. I was thinking about this on my way to work this morning--perseverance.

Definition:

1. determined continuation with something: steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks.


I'm a believer that anything worth having is worth working for. I don't mind putting the work in. I never have. I'm past the stage of worrying about my pride. Right now, I just want my novel to be the best it can be. Send it off to boot camp and kick its tail!

It's go time. Are you ready?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Clean Your Manuscript

There's never a better time than springtime to clean up your manuscript. Here's a couple of tips to help you do that:

1. Delete useless words. For me, this includes: so, just, almost and that. It's terrible, but I use "just" a lot, which is why I search for the word within my MS and delete it all the time.

The other group of useless words have to do with character emotions. Try to delete words like: felt, heard and knew. It goes back to the whole "show don't tell" mantra writers try to live by. Instead of saying "I felt sick," say, "my stomach rolled and nausea came up with it." See, much more visual.

2. Speaking of visuals, look at your use of adjectives and of course adverbs. Adverbs are seen as a no-no. Why? Adverbs are lazy and you can write better than that. As for adjectives, try to make them appeal to the senses--all five of them: sight, taste, sound, smell, touch. The last two especially are very powerful, but rarely used in writing. Try to add a couple to your MS and see what you get.

3. Dialogue. I love writing dialogue. It's the one time when your characters' voices really get to shine. That doesn't mean it's always easy to write. Remember who's talking. I create a cheat sheet that lists character's favorite words. Basically, it's their vocabulary. For example: Keira says "awesome," "notta" and "helluva" throughout BEAUTY SECRETS. Whereas Mrs. Johnnie says "Sug'," "Honey girl," and "hot mess" more than once. Vocabulary ties in with characterization, and you can never have your characters seem too real.

I hope these spring cleaning tips help you polish your MS as much as they've helped me. Of course, if you've got some additional tips, I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Funny Ha,ha? OR Just Plain Sad

My Internet quit working again, this time on Thursday night. Having the whole high-speed-radio-antenna-thing, it happens. Only this time it didn't come back on the next day, or the next.

So, I finally got a hold of tech support today (of course they never called me back from Saturday) only to find out my account was turned off for overusing bandwidth. Yes, Speednet thinks I'm downloading massive amounts of porn, illegal music files and/or movies.

What was I actually doing? Obsessing over a major rewrite for BEAUTY SECRETS and researching agents into the wee-hours of the morning. Last week I clocked over 56 hours of writing in 4 days (that's an average of 14 hours a day). Not to mention the extra 22 hours I spent researching agents. I think I went a little mad, or to quote Alice in Wonderland:

Me: "Have I gone mad?"

Alice: "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are."

The rewrite was totally worth it, albeit scary at times, but worth it. I surprised myself with the ease at which I slashed words and poured forth new ones--changing plot points, characterization and clues. Wow, what a ride.

Then of course the conundrum I found myself in was, "Do I resend my partials to agents who already are reviewing them? Or do I wait to see what they say on the original partial I sent?"

Well, I went ahead and resubmitted a revised partial. Why? Well, here's what I was thinking: I don't want to be an imprudence, but I thought if the agent hasn't started reading my partial yet, it shouldn't be too much trouble to replace my revised partial with the original one. However, if the agent is too annoyed or busy to honor my request, then phooey on them. I'd rather have an agent pass on me because they're annoyed, then pass on the work itself.

What's the difference you ask?

In one case, you're passing on me because of my character. On the other, because of the writing. If you're going to pass on my writing, I'd rather have it be the most recent version. That way, when I see your rejection, I know it was the best I could do, and I won't always be wondering "what if?"

So, that's what I was doing the last week. Hopefully I'll have time this week to catch up with all of your blogs and jump back on to Twitterville. "See" you all soon!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Persnickety? Me?

You betcha.

Some publishing and agent sites recommend querying widely--to anyone and everyone in the business. But I don't agree with this. Why? Well, for starters, it's unprofessional and embarrassing.

"Dear agent, I'm querying you, well, because you're an agent. Isn't that enough?"

Um, no. The fact that you're an agent, even an awesome one, doesn't necessarily mean I want you to rep my book. Let's face it, the whole author-agent relationship is a big deal. This is the person who will represent you and that novel you've been obsessively writing.

Is it wrong to want a rock star agent? No, I don't think so.

Writing is a labor or love and after spending months and countless hours on a novel, I'm not about to hand it off to just anyone.

Oh don't worry, I'm not that naive. I know my approach isn't the most practical, but it's the way I'm wired. I also know that signing with a rock star agent doesn't guarantee me more than a sense of accomplishment. I'm not shying away from hard work either. I expect a rock star agent to demand more from my writing, and I know my work will be better for it. Publishing isn't my end goal, but really the beginning.

There's a saying that attitude determines aptitude. If that's the case, you better look out because my confidence is soaring.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cuckoo Cuckoo

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm still having a blast (read: dreading) querying. While no offers for representation yet, I still have a couple of partials and fulls out, and I've had some excellent agent advice (read: they passed, but said nice things).

With all of that, I've spent the last week diving into BEAUTY SECRETS changing the plot, characterization, and even writing style. But get this, it's better than before! (Duh, of course it is. Why would I spend 50 hours rewriting crap?)

I set a personal goal to obtain an agent (yes, obtain. Preferably through normal, respectful means. Read: harassment is optional) by my birthday, which BTW is April 27th. Now, I made that goal in December when fresh with optimism (read: denial) I felt it was totally realistic. Now? Well, it might not be realistic, but I don't care. It's still my goal. (I won't even tell you about my world peace one.)

So that's what I'm up to. Lala Land has never been more inviting. Stop on by if you get a chance. The positivity has never been more appealing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sleep Writing

Does anyone else do this? I should really call it dream writing. I will dream about writing an entire chapter or two, know every single detail, and then wake up and Poof! it disappears.

Talk about disappointing.

I used to do this when I was little, too. I'd dream that I finished an assignment, or took a test, only to wake up and find out I still had to do it. Rats!

And then other times I'm not writing, but rather I'm reading. I have a tendency to read before going to bed and when a story's on my mind, it doesn't let go. I'll spend an entire night dreaming about reading the book. Boy, does my mind have some crazy plot twists! That's actually what happened last night. I've been reading Norah Roberts' Sign of Seven trilogy (I won't get into my lit review here :), so of course I dreamed of demons, guardians and Coca-Cola in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. What a night.

Has this ever happened to you? I kinda think it's fun--not the most restful sleep, but it sure is entertaining.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Call Me Sherlock

Whether you do it at the beginning or throughout, you can't write a novel without completing some research. I'll admit, sometimes the mere thought of researching a topic turns me off from writing the story. Like most writers, story ideas hit me all the time, but very few of them stick after an initial mental outline. Do I really want to research 16th century pirates? Chinese politics of the 1800s? Studying abroad in South Korea? No, not really.

But sometimes the answer to my question is yes, which is why I currently have two novels outlined, and why I spent last Saturday shooting at the gun range. In my opinion, there's nothing better than first-hand experience when it comes to research. (Side note: I tried to have the same mindset yesterday while changing out a toilet, but no dice. Toilets are dirty, and I'm not planning on writing about one anytime soon.)

As for researching my novels, I'm not about to sit in on an autopsy or anything like that, but I have talked to a detective or two, and one of my husband's friends has a degree in mortuary science and is always willing to answer my morbid questions. I couldn't write murder mysteries (even if they are cozies) without these folks. And thank goodness for the Internet! I use it for so much research. Just yesterday I researched the specs of a Bell 427 helicopter, the distance from Savannah, GA to Meadowbrook, AL, and the recipe for a moisturizing mud mask (did I mention they were beauty cozies?). In the future I hope to take part in conference or two to learn even more. Moving to PA and being closer to the east coast should help, geographically at least.

Okay, back to research for me. Can any of you tell I'm excited to be writing again?

Friday, March 5, 2010

First Drafts & Fabulous Friday

Okay, I know that today's blog post is generally reserved for my recap of the best publishing blog posts of the week, but before we get there I just wanted to drop a little note about first drafts, and that is, don't be haters people. Love your first drafts. Sure they're unruly, but that's nothing that a good edit can't solve. Remember, first drafts are the bones of your story. The soul in born out of the revision process. So edit, edit, edit, grow, grow, grow and voilà! your story will be beautiful.

Okay, and now for the fabulous Friday posts... um, actually there's only one this week and it is Eric's post "Having What it Takes" from his blog Pimp My Novel. According to Eric, he believes that all writers must have discipline, a desire to learn and improve, skill and luck in order to succeed (or at the very least, to set oneself up for success) in this industry. What do you think? Is Eric right? Or is there something else writers need in order to succeed?

For me, I'd add support. I need the support of my husband, friends and family in order to keep writing. At times when the negativity mounts too high, it's nice to have someone rooting for me in my corner. A little bit of positivity from the right person goes a long way.

What about you? What would you add to the list?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Temptation & Commitment


Who doesn't have more than one story idea bouncing around in their head? Heck, we wouldn't have to worry about Sexy New Ideas (SNIs) lurking around the corner if we didn't. But what do we do with these luring ideas? Surely you don't want to forget such a tempting new prospect. You could be like me and break up with your current WIP, but trust me, another SNI will be waiting for you and no one wants to be an idea whore.

So what do you do? Here's what I do. I write down every single idea, character and scene the SNI reveals to me and store it on a folder on my laptop. Sure, it'll keep flirting with me from time to time, but as long as I get it's number and take it out on a date every now and then, it'll stick around.

As for your current WIP, you need to stay focused in order to stay committed. Luckily for us, Writer's Digest wrote a recent article on this very topic, "How to Organize Your Story Ideas." Here's a roundup of the article:

1. Establish a Calm Centered Mind: "Make your workspace your sanctuary. Keep office hours. Close the door if you can. If you can’t, put on earphones and listen to music. Writing is a meditation on life. You need to feel alone in the world so that you can be objective about it."

2. Study Your Breed: "Every book, just like every breed, brings with it a certain set of natural expectations. Historical romance must address history. Mysteries must have some level of, well, mystery. Literary books are usually not plot-focused.

Understanding the “breed” of your book is the first step in bringing your novel to the page. Once you create a clearly defined set of expectations, you can train yourself to stay within them—and soon you’ll be able to sit, roll over and fetch with the best of them."

3. Train Your Focus: "Once you have your framework in place, you’ll need to be ruthless. Everything in a story must work to tell the tale... You’ll probably start out pursuing more ideas than you have room for in your story, but when it comes time to write, it’s important to remember that you can’t try to stuff things in just because you like them."

4. Walk Your Inner Dog: "Don’t worry about failing. Be fearless about taming your best ideas, and about tossing out those that don’t fit your model. Choose paths that illuminate your own unique take on the world. Once you’re in the habit of walking your inner dog, you never know where it might lead you."

I'm giving these ideas a go for my current WIP to see how they play out. Like Mr. Miyagi said, "Focus Daniel son." I'll take the master's advice, and see how far it gets me. Don't worry WIP, I won't leave you!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened Yesterday

And no, it wasn't that my Internet finally came back on (that happened this morning--grumble, grumble, grumble). This Eureka! Moment happened at Barnes & Noble. I was chit chatting with my gal pal, Sheri, when suddenly the books on the shelves started talking to me (metaphorically of course. I haven't gone that cuckoo yet.). I knew them personally--the authors who wrote them and their publishing journeys. It was all Grease Lightning and I felt like a total insider.

First I saw Jennifer Stanley's new release Stirring Up Strife and I immediately thought about her guest blog post at BookEnds. Her post, Take a Risk--Stay True to Your Voice, reminded us to "Forget what you think people are looking for and write your story." It's totally easy to get caught up in publishing trends, but in the end "you don’t want to ride a trend; you want to start one."Amen girlie.

Then I spotted Jennifer Hubbard's The Secret Year and was all excited to check out the author's debut. After following Jennifer's tweets and Nathan Bransford's blog posts on the subject, I already knew so much about the novel and its history, which made seeing it sitting on the bookshelf even more special. It's awesome to follow an author throughout the publication process. Congrats Jennifer!

And what book was next to Jennifer's? Liar written by Justine Larbalestier. For those who don't know, there was a little controversy last July regarding the book's US cover. The protagonist, Micah, is described as "black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short." So what did the US cover look like? Of course it featured a white girl with long brown hair. Yeah, not sure what the publisher was thinking exactly, but after an uproar, the cover was eventually remedied (that's the revised cover to the left). You can check out Justine's post on the subject here if you want.

The coolest part about all of this, is now more than ever I feel like I'm a part of this industry, or at least I know a thing or two about it. And I really have all of you, my fellow Bloggers, to thank for this. I've learned so much in the past year and it keeps getting better. So THANK YOU. I can't wait to continue to share my journey with you.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fabulous Friday Posts

To continue the tradition (okay, so I just started this last week, but still), I give you this week's Fabulous Friday posts! In my opinion, these are the creme de la crema of this week's blogosphere.

As always, let me know if I missed anything super awesome and I'll happily direct my readers' attention to it.

The first one was written by Kate Douglas over at BookEnds, LLC. Kate's first mass market paranormal romance, DemonFire, hit shelves on Tuesday and she was kind enough to share her wild ride with Jessica Faust's readers. She also talked about the ins and outs of growing her career with Jessica, and it was all very informative. Thanks Kate for the post!

The next is Mathew Delman's post from Monday titled "Ignoring Style Guides" Why? Because I agree with Matt that we should all "write in a way that's pleasing to the ear." Oh, and also because as someone who also has a degree in technical communication, I can relate to the pain that memorizing style guides can inflict. What about you?

Which brings me to Diana Paz's blog post about story ideas (okay, not the best transition, but hey, give me a break, it's Friday). Man do I have a LOT of story ideas. Sometimes (like now), it's hard for me to focus on only one. I agree completely with Diana not all stories have "what it takes' to go the distance." (That's a quote within a quote, BTW. Not plural possessive takes :) Anywhoooo... It takes a little bit of time (okay a lot of time), but I can usually tell after attempting the first outline if this story, or better yet, if I have what it takes to make the story bloom into a beautiful novel.

And lastly, congratulations to Void for getting married last week--Hurray and congrats! Pop by his blog and fill him in on all your awesomeness from this past week.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back to Basics

The last few hours have brought a refreshing sense of self and accomplishment for me. Sometimes I think too much, as the previous post and past two weeks have proven. Right now I'm taking my writing back to the basics and remembering what I love about it. We all have things we love about writing and being a writer. Of course there are times when the prospects of being published become killjoys, but the good times outweigh the bad any day. I'd rather be a writer than anything else. Period.

So now it's time to write. I've added some more characterization to Keira today and this afternoon I'm back to developing my new WIP, which, dare I say it, borders on literary fiction. Actually, there's no border about it. It is literary fiction. Eeep! I said it!!! Gasp.

Okay, back to work.

Generation Y? I Don't Think So. (And Other Randomness)

I think I was born in the wrong generation. While I love the internet and technology, I really could do without it all. Crazy I know. For a girl who studies the effects of technology on identity and development, you'd think I would freak without the technology component, but no, not really.

This is something I've been thinking about lately. Really getting back to the basics of what I love about life. I love family. To paraphrase Charlotte Lucas (Pride & Prejudice) "It's such a pleasure in keeping my own home." And while working also gives me pleasure, it's not on the same level.

I may only be 27, but I've already worked in industry for 8 years. I bought my first home at 19, I obtained a BA and an MA by 26, I wrote two novels in the last 18 months, and truthfully, I'm currently bored with it all.

This is the part where I wish life was simpler. Not that it was ever easy, but if this were 1848 I'd be considered quiet accomplished! Okay, maybe I need to quit reading so much Jane Austen, but right now I'm in a bit of a funk, waiting to hear back on a few submissions, trying to find a new job and house in Pittsburgh, and really trying to make smart decisions.

I've also lately felt that writing hasn't been fun. When you make it a business and surround your whole day with writing and trying to get published, it can be extremely exhausting. For a solid year now, and I'm talking each and every day, I've been trying to get published and I've devoted a good chunk of time each day to pursuing this endeavor. It was inevitable that I would become burnt out, and that's what I am right now, burnt out. I want to get back to having fun with writing and not be so obsessed with the whole publishing part, but I'm not sure how to do that. I'd like to think it's a switch I can flick off, but I don't think it's that easy. Hmmm....

So that friends, is currently what's on my mind. Instead of continuing this whiny post, I'm gonna get out my notebook and jot down a couple of ideas, maybe even a short story, and hope that the passion I have for the pen will soon return. As for the rest of life? Well, that can just wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And Now, Please Direct Your Attention To:

Okay, so I'm a little frazzled with trying to write and teach today. With that being said, I'd like to take the time to direct your attention to a couple of blog posts that I've loved this week.

First up is Rachelle Gardner's post "Where the Rubber Meets the road." Talk about a pep talk. I'm crediting this post with getting me out of my writing funk and starting a new novel. My favorite part is where she wrote :

"Those hard moments, the ones when you wonder why you're doing it, the moments when you think you want to give up... those are where the rubber meets the road. Those moments are when you prove to yourself who you are and what you're made of."

All very good, inspiring stuff!

The next is from Frankie Writes, a hilarious and oh so true post that the lovely Melanie directed me to yesterday titled "SNIS: Sexy New Idea Syndrome." Frankie writes:

"The next thing you know, you're thinking about the SNI, you're planning sub plots, naming your future characters together, shopping for titles and before you know it....you've completely forgotten about your original WIP! It's just lying there, helpless in a word document, crying and wondering why you didn't open it up that night to edit."

This post had me cracking up the entire time. Thanks again Melanie for sharing. I swear, I won't leave my new WIP for a SNI. I know we've only just begun, but I'm all about commitment (two completed novels in 18 months attest to that).

And the last post I'd like to direct your attention to isn't really only a post, but a new blog titled "Holly and Molly's Writing Blog." Holly's been a follower of mine pretty much since the beginning, and I can't wait to read more on her new blog. Awesome job ladies!

Okay, now I must go back to teaching. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend (I can say that, my weekend officially begins in 8 hours!!!!!).

Oh, I'd also like to add, if you've loved someone else's blog post this past week, I'd love to hear about it. Direct me to it in the comment section. Maybe we could start an award--the best blog post of the week. Whatcha think?





Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me.

Ouch.

No, I'm not talking about The Bachelor, but rather my current WIP, Infinity = Me. I still love the title, but I'm not feeling the story. I haven't touched it in weeks! Sad, I know. Honestly, I haven't even re-read what I wrote a couple months ago. Hmmm...what does that mean? What would you do?

Here's what I'm doing: I'm abandoning it for now to start on a new novel, one that my Muse seems to like. I'm not going to fight with her anymore. If she wants a new novel then a new novel she'll get (gosh she's bossy!).

I'm sure I'll go back to Infinity = Me someday (it's a story that I do want to tell), but right now I have another story brewing and I want to get started on it. It's sad breaking up with a story, but it's something I feel I must do. I'm so mean. Two days after Valentine's Day and all. Talk about being harsh.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Characterization

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Characterization is what gives our stories life. It turns make belief into reality, or a sense of it anyway. It's what makes our characters human, relatable.

Sometimes characterization comes to us naturally. Mrs. Johnnie and Philip, characters in BEAUTY SECRETS, were super easy to write. As soon as I created them, they started talking. Unfortunately, Keira, my protagonist, hasn't come to my so easily. And it's crazy really. After writing 400 pages from her perspective, I still don't feel like I know her completely. Isn't that weird?

What's your take on characterization? Does it come to you naturally? Or have you ever had a character that takes a little while (in my case 1 1/2 books) before you start to really know them?

BEAUTY SECRETS is doing well in terms of agent requests (yes, that's plural and I'm stoked), but that's not stopping me from re-evaluating my characterization. If anything, I'm only making the story better, right? And we should never be afraid to do that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Humor


My Dad forwarded these rhymes to me and I thought you would all get a kick out of them.

1. My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
marrying you has screwed up my life.

2. I see your face when I am dreaming,
that's why I always wake up screaming.

3. Kind, intelligent, loving and hot:
this describes everything you are not.

4. Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty, and so is your head.

5. I want to feel your sweet embrace,
But don't take that paper bag off of your face.

6. My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way.

And my favorite:

7. What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Riddle Time!

Seeing you all loved the last riddle, here's another one for you to ponder:

What English word retains the same pronunciation, even after you take away four of its five letters?

Post your guesses in the comments below. I'll try and come up with a fabulous prize for the winner.

Good luck!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting to Know You: "Genre/WIP Check"

Back in the good old days when AOL chat rooms were all the rage (and thus where I spent my free time after school) you used to see the phrase "age/sex check" pop up every ten seconds. Of course I'd gladly type "13/f" into the box and hit enter, quickly scanning the other entries in the process--you know, maybe there was a 15/m in the room :)

Okay, okay, so the guy was probably really 40, but that's not the point of this post. The point is that I've gathered a few more followers lately, just like new friends joining a chat room, and I'd love to know what you're all working on, or if you're not a writer, what genre you love to read (well heck, even if you are a writer, I'd still love to know your favorite genre to read).

I'll go first.

Favorite genre to write: Mystery, preferably cozies (nothing too scary)

Current WIP: Infinity = Me (YA), although lately it's lost that loving feeling and I'm itching to get back to writing a cozy.

Favorite genre to read: Cozies of course, but second place is a tie amongst YA, paranormal mysteries and literary fiction.

Okay, that's me. Now what about you?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Are You Great At?


I'm good at lots of things--writing, crocheting, quilting, cooking, painting (rooms that is)--but there's only one thing I can think of that I'm great at, and that's being loyal.

According to the zodiac, I'm a Taurus which means I'm strong-willed (read: stubborn), hardworking and loyal. Couple this with my Chinese zodiac, the dog, and well, you've got a friend for life.

I pride myself in being loyal to my family and friends. If I say I'm going to do something, then by darn it, I'm doing it--no matter what! (That's the stubborn part.) Of course this means that I have little respect for those who say one thing an do another. And if you're a backstabber, well then that's a whole other case you don't even wanna know about :)

So that's me my friend, loyal for life. What about you? What are you GREAT at?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Riddle Me This

How about a riddle to start of the week? Put your thinking caps on and riddle me this:

I am the beginning of sorrow, and the end of sickness. You cannot express happiness without me, yet I am in the midst of crosses. I am always in risk, yet never in danger. You may find me in the sun, but I am never out of darkness.


What am I?

Go ahead, post your answers in the comment section. Good Luck!

Oh, did I mention a $15 B&N gift card is up for grabs to the first person who answers the riddle correctly? Well, it is!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Like a Fox

Thursday mornings are rough. I teach a 9 a.m. class and boy do hate getting up early. It's not just getting up, but it's getting up, beautifying myself and being ready to wow the masses before the Early Show has even ended.

(What's that she said? Stephanie doesn't like getting up early? Stephanie Damore, the girl that used to write every morning at 5 a.m. before work. That girl?)

Yes, that girl. You see, after leaving industry last year, I've adapted to my new writing schedule, which means no need for sunrise writing sessions.

Yep, it all comes back to adaptation. As writers, we have to adapt to our environment--figuring out when we can write and making the most out of our time.

Writing schedules aren't the only way writers adapt. What about switching genres? Or adding on a pen name? And who can forget all the e-publishing business (what's going to happen to publishing?!?).

Well folks, here's my forecast. It's going to adapt. It is adapting. Publishing, agents, writers--we're all adapting to make this industry work. We're like the arctic fox--built to withstand the elements. Heck, if our furry friends can adapt in a subzero climate, then we've got this publishing business nailed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hello My Name Is

Bios. I don't like reading them (they always sound so awkward) and I definitely don't like writing them. Why? Well, I'm complex; people are complex. How are you supposed to summarize yourself in three paragraphs?

The answer? You're not.

The way I look at it, bios are situation specific. My bio for grad school isn't the same as the one for my blog or my future book flap. The thing I struggle with is deciding what part of me I want my bio to reflect--a task that isn't easy.

So while I type up my current bio I leave this question up to you: What's your take on bios? Love 'em? Hate 'e? Don't care? Until I can say "Google me. You'll find everything you want to know," it looks like I'll be writing them. Wait, unless I create my own Wikipedia page...now there's an idea =)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who Do You Write For?

Yourself? Your fans?

Check out the poll I have going on the side and please let me know. Comments explaining your thoughts would be awesome too. What can I say? I'm curious.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Heart of a Critic

This past weekend I was relaxing and watching Ratatouille (Read: Disney movie featuring rats, culinary feats and CHEESE!) when the food critic's (Anton Ego) monologue really hit home. Now of course he's talking about chefs and critic's reviews of them, but of course this totally relates to us writers and the agents and critics we face throughout our careers.

What do you think? Here's the monologue:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends...In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

I think Anton Ego is right. The world can be unkind to new talent--chefs, writers, actors, musicians, artists--we all face the same daunting task of trying to "make it." And yet, at the end of the day, no matter what anyone says, you know in your heart you've created something worthwhile, meaningful. You don't need a publishing contract or five-star review to designate your work's value.

Now, not everyone will become a great writer, but a great writer can come from anywhere. At the heart of fiction credentials don't matter. What matters is that you write, hone your craft and keep pursuing your dreams.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Is It

No, not Michael Jackson's movie. This my friends, is my 100th post. Who would've thought when I started this blog last July it would have made it this far? Well, I'm psyched that it has.

So, without further ado, here's a look at where it all began. Um, well, not the first post, but the second. You know, back when my mom and bff were my two followers...

I Am Commercial Fiction

And I'm not talking about my writing either. Nope, I'm talking about me. I'm commercial fiction all the way. You see, I like to think that I appeal to a broad audience. I try to at least. People are fascinating, from all walks of life. It's nice to be able to converse with everyone ranging from brain surgeons to homeless folks. Everyone has a good story. You don't need to have credentials or a house to be able to tell it.

I guess sometimes I'd like to be literary fiction, but I don't always fit in with the "intellectually adventurous audience." But you know what, I'm okay with that.

I think my writing reflects that too. At least BEAUTY SECRETS does. You don't have to be a literary fiction socialite to get it. To me that's important. Maybe someday I'll tackle a literary novel, but for now, good ol' fashioned whodunits are what you're going to get from me. Who doesn't like a good mystery anyway?

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Love Food

Reading everyone's Happy Posts have led to me realize that us writers really love food, especially CHEESE! and SUGAR!!!

This of course got me to thinking about my own writer diet, which is very unhealthy, but oh so enjoyable. For example, I eat chocolate ice cream while querying agents. It takes the sting out of rejection and makes the process slightly enjoyable. Edy's Double Churn Chocolate is my fav.

Second example, Nerds always make the day taste sweeter. I totally love crunching on the sugary candy while editing. Writing not so much, as inevitably a few are bound to drop into the keyboard and put a funk in my day. My currently handicapped space bar can attest to that.

And who could forget frosting? I have yet to meet a flavor I did not like.

Thank heavens for gym memberships and willpower. After all, we can't eat too much, right? I mean, we all have to look hot for our book tours and pub photos!

Okay, so what about you? Any favorite foods that I missed out on? Care to share your foodie obsession?

Cheers to you--I'm off to scope out the fridge...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

C'Mon Get Happy

A big thank you to Stephanie Thornton of Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel for awarding me the über-delicious Happy 101 award. Cupcakes and an award? Count me in.

First up, the rules (which are pretty simple). I'm supposed to list 10 things that make me happy and then pass the award on to 10 recipients. See? Simple.

Here I go.

1. Love. I am a romantic mushy girlie girl when it comes to the big L word. Love makes me very, very happy.

2. Up North. In Michigan, going up north is like going to a party--all your friends will be there. Even in the winter time people trek up north to go sledding and ice fishing, which is exactly what I'm doing this weekend. I can't wait!

3. Gardening. Strawberries, daisies, tomatoes and roses--I plant them all. I love nature and nurturing its growth.

4. Reading. Technically writing makes me happy too, but reading is SO much easier. I absolutely love getting lost in other people's stories and thinking about the characters hours after I've put the book down. Super cool.

5. Quiet mornings. Morning like today when I have the house to myself, a hot cup of cocoa, and a fully-charged laptop. Look out world, Stephanie Damore is out to tackle you.

6. Quilting. I love making quilts, especially baby ones. They're always super cute and friends love receiving them as gifts. Quilting also serves as another creative outlet when I'm drained from writing, but still wanna create something awesome.

7. Ice cream. YUM! I never liked chocolate ice cream much, but now it's my favorite flavor. Just yesterday I dug into a bowl of Edy's double churned chocolate while querying for BEAUTY SECRETS. Ice cream and querying, now there's a winning combination.

8. Blogging. Blogging really makes me happy. I love reading what you all have to say and having a place to express my personality every single day. Aren't blogs wonderful?

9. Cleaning. I might be on my own on this one, but I really like having a clean house. Now, I'm not saying my house is clean all the time, but it makes me happy when it is. I feel so productive after making my house shine.

10. Adventure. Whether it's traveling around the country or just trying a new restaurant, being adventurous makes me happy. Life's an adventure, live it!

Okay, now the 10 blogs that make me happy are as follows: (Oh, and sorry if you've already received this award, but you make me happy, so you get to receive it again!)

1. Laura Martone, Laura's Simple Pleasures
2. Shannon O'Donnell, Book Dreaming
3. Rayna Reads, Breaking into Publishing, One Day at a Time
4. Jennifer J. Bennett
5. Voidwalker, Into the Void
6. Wendy Sparrow, Where Ladybugs Roar
7. Diana Paz, Writing Roller Coasters
8. DebraLSchubert, Write On Target
9. Matthew Delman, Free the Princess
10. Lynnette Labelle, Chatterbox Chit Chat

Okay people, pass the happiness on!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Yes folks, today is the one year anniversary of me being a full time writer. How do I know? Because my unemployment checks have run out :)

On a positive note, this past year has taught me so much--not just about myself, but about the publishing industry and what it truly means to be a writer. I have all of you to thank for that, so THANK YOU!

What's in store for me this next year? Well, for starters I'm still querying BEAUTY SECRETS and looking for that perfect agent to take it on. I'm also busy writing INFINITY = ME and plan to have a solid first draft hammered out by April.

What else?

I'd love to get back to work on LIP GLOSS & LIES. I have 15k written, but put that project on hold to wait and see if an agent nabs BS first. Priorities people, priorities.

And who knows what else I'll come up with this year. I've been kicking around a middle grade novel concept for a while, and it seems I'm always writing YA, so we'll see.

What about you? Any writing goals for the next year, or heck, even the next couple of months?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Writing Is A Way Of Being

During my ho-hums earlier this week, I stopped by B&N and as luck would have it (or divine intervention), I stumbled across this book--THE CONSTANT ART OF BEING A WRITER by N.M. Kelby.

Boy, does this girl get it!

In Chapter 1: Embracing the Profession, she writes:

"Surviving as a writer is a constant art. You balance your desire to work, which is often overwhelming, and your work, which is often consuming, with your desire t have a full life with the people you love.This isn't easy."

YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!

Kelby goes on to say:
"Writing is not a profession--it's a way of being."

AMEN.

As I continued through the book, I realized that I wasn't crazy. Actually, I was quiet normal as writers come by.

Scratch that.

If I wasn't a writer, I'd be classified as cuckoo, but because I'm a writer, I'm normal. Get it?

Anyway, Kelby's book brought a sense of peace to my mind. Everything that I'm thinking and doing, dreaming and pursuing, are all normal in the world of writers. Woo hoo!

If you want to read more about THE CONSTANT ART OF BEING A WRITER, check out Kelby's website, or better yet, buy the book.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Riding The Wave

The new year always brings a fresh wave of introspection for me, and this year is no exception. What are my goals exactly? And how can I accomplish them?

Becoming a published author isn't a goal I can accomplish on my own (rats!), and sometimes it drives me crazy how much of the process is left up to luck. The path isn't linear, and to me, that's frustrating. Of course, not making any money at it is frustrating too (that is after all why I teach).

Are the sacrifices worth it? What do you sacrifice for your dreams?

If I look in the mirror, this is what I see:

A smart 27 year old with an unknown future who's totally in love with her husband; blessed with the bestest friend, goofiest sister and most loving mother in the whole world; and someone who refuses to settle for the ordinary in life.

Is that enough?

Maybe I should add something about being insatiable too? :)

Yesterday I stumbled across this quote and I absolutely love it:

"When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme." --Jiminy Cricket

I'm going to really try and take these words to heart and see what happens. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted!