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Archive for the ‘Getting Published’ Category

Even though resolutions are usually made before starting the year, I’m a bit late in writing them down.  I’ve been mulling them over long before the clock struck twelve, but my laziness has kept me from capturing them in word form.  I guess because then they are real and I should do something.  When I made my list last year, it was things to get done before the impending rapture.  Although none of last year’s predictions for Armageddon came true, we can still hold out this year to see if the Mayans knew what was goin’ down.  We’re in good shape though because they did pick December so we have plenty of time to get this resolution shit done.  Here we go.

1.)  Work with critique partners:

The elusive creature called a critique partner was something I’ve been in need of for quite some time.  I didn’t really know it at the beginning of 2011, but realized it when my finished novel didn’t bag the outcome I wanted.  I spent a lot of time wondering how I would find the perfect match.  They don’t have any internet matching sites for crit partners.  Well, okay they do, but it’s really hard.  Kinda like finding someone to shag.  You need to make sure they won’t laugh when they see you naked because it could scar you for life.  But I was fierce about sticking with it and put myself out there.  I’m pretty psyched about the two chicks I’ve hooked up with (sounds dirtier than it is) and I have high hopes my work will improve because of it.

2.)  Attend two concerts:

For the past three years, the goal has been to see one concert.  After making it to five shows last year, I decided to up the ante.  There is something about live shows that I love.  I’ve discovered I need them to continue my creative edge and therefore they must be on the list.  I still plan to call them research because in me somewhere there is a book about concerts I’m waiting to pull out.

3.)  Work with fondant:

With all the baking going on in my life, I’ve decided to expand my horizons.  That means I must break into the crazy world of fondant.  I already made one attempt in these first few weeks.  I learned I have a long way to go before Food Network’s Cake Challenge, but there may be some pretty cool creations out there using it.

My first fondant cake

4.)  Read 25 books:

I have seen blogs where people set the goal for 100 books in the year and I am in awe of those people.  I’ve started with a smaller number, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do more.  I have to admit, four years ago I was one of those people who said “I don’t really read.”  I was addicted to the television crack and it didn’t leave much room for anything else.  I read a Stephanie Plum here or a Sookie Stackhouse there, but I wasn’t committed to reading regularly.  In 2011, I realized if I wanted to write like good writers, I had to read more of them.  So I committed to books and saw how much they added to my life and writing.  This realization made it a “must” priority for this year.

5.)  Interview Mikel Jollett for the blog:

This may be my most lofty goal of the batch, but what the heck?  Sure, he may have amped up security after the last concert or put me on a do not call list after seeing what I did to him with bubble art.  Even if he fell upon this blog at some point and vowed never to give me any more fodder for this obsession, I’m going to try my damnedest to get some time for Q&A.  We may even have a contest for what questions to ask at some point in this year.  Be prepared like a Girl Scout, ya know?    What I learned from the tons of searches leading people to this blog when they are trying to find Mikel is people are interested in him as a writer.  Aren’t you ever curious if he has the same crushing doubt as all other writers?  I do.  Hopefully some time this year I’ll be able to ask.

6.)  Get an agent:

It’s no surprise to see this on the list.  You will see it on every resolution list until the year it actually happens.  There are days when I doubt it ever will, but then I pull out my favorite line I’ve ever read on someone’s blog “the only difference between a published author and a non published author is one gave up.”  I say it just about every day and in every situation where someone faces something difficult.  Anything is possible.  I wholly believe that with all my heart.

There are other things I hope to accomplish in this year, be a good mother, a fine wife, a hard worker, blah, blah, blah.  They aren’t annual resolutions because I commit to them daily.  Of course, progress will be tracked on here and I appreciate your support as I work towards the resolutions made.  There will be pictures, quotes, and updates to document the steps it takes to reach them.  And if it doesn’t happen this year, maybe they will carry over to the next.  Well, that’s counting on the fact those Mayans didn’t know what the hell they were talking about.

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Pulling Teeth

“I want to pull out all my teeth,” said my six year old daughter.

We have a bedtime ritual of laying together for fifteen uninterrupted minutes after a hectic day.  The conversation usually includes strange questions about death, the updates about how many girls are in her first grade class, or singing made up songs with strange rhymes.  This was the first of some kind of weird bodily harm.

“Why do you want to do that?” I said.

“Because everyone else is losing all their baby teeth and I’m the only one left.”

“I’m sure there are others in your class who haven’t.”

“Marissa is the only other one and now she has a wiggly tooth.  Right here.”  Her finger crammed into her small mouth to point out the area of wiggle.  She pushed against hers and it’s solid as a rock.

“Don’t worry, it will happen.”

“I don’t like to be behind everyone else.”

“It’s not a race.”  This statement is a regular feature in my daughter’s life who is as competitive as her mother and has the same lack of patience.

“The dentist told Daddy last time that I’m behind and it’s going to be a long time.  I wish all the teeth in my mouth were gone.”

This statement is most ironic since I just finished paying a very large bill to have a slew of cavities filled.  There are hundreds of dollars stuffed into the crevices of her teeth which would have fallen out if we hadn’t done something.  This doesn’t even include all the additional mouth care purchased to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“You would look pretty funny with no teeth.  If you rush it by pulling them out before they’re ready, the adult ones won’t come in and you’ll be toothless for a long time.  You wouldn’t be able to chomp on carrots, nuts, or anything else hard.”

“That’s okay.  I like mashed potatoes,” she said quite content to a life of spuds.  I kissed her on the head, asked her stay my little girl a little longer, and not do anything reckless to knock out all her teeth.

Her story reminded me of my own impatience nagging the back of my mind with wanting to rush through the big edit on my current work in progress.  I listened to all the writerly advice and have given some time after finishing before diving back into the edit.  I mentally warn myself to take the time to reading and re-read before making any changes or sending to my shiny new critique partners.  My mantra “it’s going to take time” is a daily reminder no good will come if I rush it.  If I make a rash decision to start querying before the manuscript has matured, I’ll only end up looking foolish like a little girl with no teeth in her mouth.

As my daughter pointed out, this is made more difficult by seeing the toothless smiles of those around us.  It’s not that we’re jealous of them (okay, maybe a little jealous but still happy).  But we get fidgety about when it will be our turn.  She and I both understand others reaching their goals has no bearing on whether we do or not, but it’s a reminder of the possibility.  And hearing about the excitement of putting the envelope under your pillow to wait for a quarter to magically appear or the announcement of signing with an agent only makes it more torturous to have to wait.

I’ll try to be the adult here and remind both of us “it’s not a race.”  I know if we continue forward with what we’ve been doing, inevitably it will happen.  She will grow up, lose her baby teeth and be less of my little girl every day.  I will type on the computer, write stories, keep learning, and hope to have an agent announcement of my own one day.  It will be interesting to see who out of the two of us will reach her goal first.  And let us all hope I reach my goal before my daughter reaches a ripe old age where she has to be concerned about keeping the permanent ones.

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There are many consistent daydreams playing in my head throughout the day.  Sandwiched between Mikel Jollett asking me out for a beer to talk music and handing out $1000 dollars of lottery winnings randomly for good deeds done, is my dream of being a published author.  I’ve always known for the momentous accomplishment of having my name on a jacket cover, there would be a kick ass party.

Due to years of party planning, it’s required my release party have a theme.  When it was my first book about a girl who could tell when people were lying, the party revolved around a truth or dare theme.  Dirty secrets and crazy stunts throughout the night would leave guests naked in all sorts of ways.  It also involved taking place in my high school gymnasium, inviting back old boyfriends, and decorating the joint with a hint of “ha!” flare.  Although I’ve matured, gotten past my pettiness, and now understand everyone is a potential book buyer, my desire to have a theme mirroring the book is still in full effect.

While visiting Portland a couple nights ago for yet another business trip, I saw the perfect addition to my book release party.  In SPITE, the main character sings karaoke so I always wanted to have that entertainment at the party.  Is there anything more fun than watching people drink and pretend they are rock stars?  Who doesn’t love that?  At a club called Dante’s I saw the perfect way to do it—the only way to do it—using a live band!  With a real band as backup, you truly get to be a rock star one song at a time.  Instead of a prompter lighting up to help with timing through slurred words, there was a real drum beat with backup singers attempting to harmonize with the singer’s screeching.  My favorite part was a guy who stood off to the side with the main purpose of coming out to sing the words to help the lead get back on track if she was really tanking.  (And trust me, she was.) 

Well-stocked bar?  Check.  Buffet of great appetizers?  Check.  Lead on a rockin’ band?  Check. (Shannon, I’m lookin’ at you.)  I only have to take care of some last things; details like getting an agent, selling to a publisher, and actually getting to release.  Pffttt…how hard can that be? 

BTW, if you are an agent or know of an agent who would love attend this party, I just need one little favor first (as noted in the above.)  

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Ask me this question about the books I write and I’d give you an answer.  It would be specific down to the demographic.  Ask me the same question about this blog and you’d get my look shifting to the ceiling, biting my lower lip, and hemming and ha-ing.  This is the question Meredith Barnes posed and once again has stumped me.

This isn’t the first time Meredith put out this question.  In our Skype chat we discussed who social media is directed and how the audience will affect the content.  My first answer would be agents—I want an agent.  But if I were honest, I’d say “anyone who will read the damn thing…and think it’s funny.”  But, is that right?  Am I doing myself a disservice?  Will this get me to my goal of being a published author?

Asking these questions out loud strikes another blogged thought that comes up a lot – “This is a blog, not your diary.”  I disagree to some extent about that direction.  The blogs I enjoy most are the ones that shine with the author’s personality (something I try to show here.)  Does this mean my audience is random readers who happened upon this site?  Am I building a fan base or casually talking to friends?  Friends who would have bought my book because my name was on the spine.

Or is it a medium to get agents to my product?  To hope they like me enough to take a chance and offer representation?  There might need to be some refining; they strip away the glasses, smooth out my hair, wand some gloss across my lips and voila—a princess an author.  Don’t worry; I see the fantasy in my last sentence is limited to only happening in movies.  Writing is a business with hundreds of thousands of potentials.  Agents don’t have the time or energy to craft each hopeful.  I get that.  Still…do I have a special sparkle?  Unique snowflake?  I also know I’ve been fortunate enough to have an agent drive by my blog.  What did it do?  Skyrocket my hits.  Boost my confidence.  Put me on Cloud Nine.  Hey, I could get used to this.  But this doesn’t happen very often (if ever again.)  How do I bring them back? Should they drive the content on here even if they aren’t reading it?

Or is this all for me?  There is some truth to that, but I can eliminate myself as the target.  I do write journals, letters, tweets, and instant chat like crazy to fill the void in my life. 

Who is my audience?  Tell me who you are and why you return?  (Yes, even those of you who I brow beat regularly about reading the blog.)  I’d love to hear from you.  It will help with solving this riddle.

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It may seem a little harsh, but in the world of a struggling writer, it is truth.  A conversation with my husband tonight about Julie and Julia reminded me of my hate for Hollywood’s propaganda of the ease in which it takes to get published.

When I realized that I was going to have a completed work, I focused on getting it published.  I went to Stephanie Meyer’s website who gave a fairy tale account of a first time publisher.  I don’t know what deal she made with the devil, but it was a doozy!  Her first writing experience finished in three months.  Her query letter written, read, and picked up by an agent within six of her first thought put down on paper.  As all writers striving for publication know, this is unheard of.  Only to be followed up by getting the best publicist in the world who marketed millions of dollars of wares to a hungry frenzie of teens.  It was the perfect storm book publishing.

I finally got over my hate of Mrs. Meyers (well, maybe I recognize in that last paragraph that not all bad feelings are behind) I followed it up with a trip to the movie, Julie and Julia.  It depicts a struggling writer in a dead end job looking for something to fulfill her life.  She decides to fix Julia Child’s recipes and write a blog about it.  In the end, she is profiled in a newspaper article.  When she returns home that night, there are sixty-seven messages on her answering machine begging her for a book deal!  Sixty-seven!  OMG!  WTF?!?  No way.  I know everyone wants to capitalize on a popular thing, but are we suppose to believe sixty-seven different sources picked it up and offered her deals of the century?  That’s bullshit.

Hollywood has taken this approach with most of its depictions. In the climax, the struggling writer gets published because they believed in the work.  If this is the only criteria, I will have an agent by the end of the year.  And if that happens and my characters are made into Barbies, I will take this all back and tell Hollywood how appreciative I am.

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