Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten

I haven't been forgetting to blog, I've just been insanely busy! I'm getting the book ready to release on Kindle and it's quite a process...but it's fun!

More updates to come very soon :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Back to The Grind!

So, I got out of the daily posting groove for awhile and I really did miss it! I actually wasn't writing very much at all during that time. I was working on another creative endeavor, which was fine, but there is something about being able to look back at the end of the day and see the pages you've written or visualize the progress you've made in the timeline of a story that is extremely rewarding.  I realized that no matter what I'm doing, I need to write every single day. Other things in my life suffer when I don't. It just helps me get into a better head space overall...so that's what I'm doing :)

A quick update on where things are at. I think that rejection from that agent bummed me out a little more than I was willing to admit...even to myself. That is another reason why I didn't write for a little while. It's not that I am giving up, I just got really disillusioned with the whole process...write a book and it sits on your computer getting rejection after rejection after rejection. So, I figured, what's the point in writing more?

The more I think about it, though, it would be so easy to just say "I would be really successful if I was already successful...." and that isn't the right way to go about this. Of course I would write a lot if I was a successful writer and people were paying me millions of dollars to write....but people don't just get careers like that handed to them (well, maybe some do, but they are few and far between). I hope to get to that point some day, and I don't even need to be making millions of dollars, but I would like to be a successful writer and be paid for my creativity...and I know what that means...I have to work for it. Nobody is going to hand this career to me, so I'm going to pound some pavement...I guess the metaphorical translation of that would be pounding the keyboard...or not :) Whatever, I'm going to go write!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm Back and I Posted A Video!

Sorry I haven't been blogging for the last week or so, I was bogged down with some other projects and such, but I'm BACK and I posted a proof of life video :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finally Posting a Poem :)

If you are new to reading the blog... I will post the warning again...my poems are dark (I'm not a depressed person, it's just freeing to tap into other people's emotions and utilize the full creative spectrum). So, you've been warned :) But this is one I wrote over the weekend because I had just read an article about a mental institution and I was wondering what the people inside of those places felt like. Enjoy!!




Pain and suffering pounce at the door
They ooze through your skin-- from the walls, from the floor

The stark monotony of the halls and the cells
Where “commitment” means shackles and not wedding bells

Locks and bars cannot prohibit
Malicious intent against oneself
And pharmaceutical drugs cannot inhibit
The soul’s regretful journey
Through its own cranial hell

They battle through life—
Every torturous breath
While freedom for them
Lives only in death

So these talking heads
Lay in hospital beds---
It’s not safe where they lie
It’s not safe where they hide…

Scared to be together, terrified of being alone,
They’ve nowhere to stay, but nowhere to go--
Nowhere to stay, but nowhere to go…

Saturday, November 26, 2011

ADD Isn't Working For Me

I think it's time to set a word count goal for myself again. 

I have so many projects going on right now, I need a tangible goal every week. That is what I did with my first book and it worked so amazingly well, I actually ended up exceeding the lofty goal week after week until the book was finished, but I needed that incentive. 

I want to be dedicating myself full-time to everything right now...my first book's release, my memoir, my new book and the other project I'm working on that will coincide with my memoir and I'm not actually giving anything the full attention it deserves. Since I don't have an agent, I do have to do everything myself and I'm not able to juts focus on little parts of each project, which is difficult. Many established writers can just focus on their writing or promotions. I have to do the proposal, writing, editing, cover designs, marketing packages and advertising, all on my own...which in this stage also includes researching and figuring out how that works in this industry. So, it's a lot of work...and don't get me wrong...I chose this path...I'm not complaining, I'm just wishing I had more hours in the day and more answers more quickly. But, when all is said and done, I will be glad I did it this way because I'll truly know my industry and my market...it's just hard right now :)

That being said, I don't mind being on the hamster wheel at all, I just need to pick a wheel and be on ONE of them instead of trying to be on four of them at the same time. I think perhaps I should finish the release of my first book, which might take another month or so and then work on either the memoir and accompanying package or move on to dedicate myself to the next fiction novel at that time. I also think the quality of my writing will be stronger if I am doing that because I do much better when I am really intensely focused on something.

I guess that is the plan :) Maybe today my blog did serve as sort of a journal! I am going to sign off right now and work on the final stages of prepping my novel for Kindle release (the research, the marketing, etc.) and I will keep you all updated on what the next phase will be...not sure if I feel more passionate about memoir or fiction after that, but I will let my heart decide when I am at that point...that's kind of the way of the writer, anyway! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cliches and Holidays

I'm not going to go too far into Thanksgiving because I am trying to keep this blog about writing and not about my day-to-day personal stuff, but I am still so excited about what a wonderful Thanksgiving I had, I just wanted to say that I hope you all had a day that was equally as beautiful, if not more.

It's funny because it's always easy to use holidays as milestones in our lives to think about where we were or what we were doing at that exact time the year prior or many years ago. At Thanksgiving last year, I remember telling everyone that I was almost finished writing a book. The funny thing is that as I was talking about it, I doubted in my own head whether I would ever actually finish writing it. In fact, I doubted my ability to write a novel all the way until I had finished my THIRD edit. It took that long for it to actually sink in that I had really done it. I kept thinking that after I turned each page, the rest of the pages would either be blank or not make sense or that something would be terribly wrong and that the book wouldn't actually be finished. 

Finally, after reading it three times and frankly, getting kind of sick of it, I finally accepted that I had written my first book :)

Anyway, so using last year as my gauge...to go from wondering whether or not I would ever even finish it and not knowing what I would do after that to where I am now is nothing short of a miracle for me. I've completed it, polished it and most importantly, I believe in it. I'm proud to send it to agents and publishers. I'm thrilled to tell people about it.  In fact, once you get me talking about it, it's hard for me to shut up about it (hard to believe from someone who was nicknamed "motormouth" that I would talk a lot about anything, I know). Last year, at Thanksgiving, I remember telling someone that my book was "nothing special" and that it was just "a regular fiction book that is ...I don't know...nothing really exciting...." In all fairness, that was before I wrote the awesome ending :) but it's just the fact that I wasn't willing to call myself a writer until now....which is a huge transformation (that will be part of my next book, or at least my memoir) and all of that is really exciting for me. 

When it comes down to it, the saying "what a difference a day makes" is certainly true...but the difference that three hundred and sixty five of them can make is pretty astounding!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Timely Words

It is strange, but I often get random song lyrics or just phrases (often quotes) in my head and while they seem random at first, they always apply to something I'm going through or need to hear at that point in my life. I'm not sure where they come from...maybe my subconscious, or maybe my conscious mind, I don't really know, but I will just be in the middle of something and in what feels like it came out of nowhere, I will hear the words loud and clear. Ironically, that is often how I write most of my best poetry as well. I just hear or even see the words as text in my head and I go write them down somewhere.

But yesterday, I had the experience where I heard lyrics and it was what I really needed to hear. It's kind of cool...it's almost like I have an internal therapist somewhere in there :) What won't come as much of a surprise, I'm sure, is that this and many of the other instances have been Stevie Nicks' lyrics. They aren't always, though. In fact, sometimes they are lyrics of songs I don't even like or quotes from people I don't even necessarily admire or respect, but I hear them when I need to hear them. It's a very strange phenomenon and I'm sort of flushing it out as I write it.

Often times, since I keep a journal, I will go and journal about the lyric/quote I heard/thought of and what it means to me at that point in my life. I didn't do that yesterday, but since I'm blogging now, I will just write it here...although I'm not going to elaborate on what it means because there is a fine line between what I will blog and what I keep in my journal (don't worry, I'm not keeping stuff from you guys, it's just that THAT stuff is going in the memoir!)

...anyway, the lyric was from Landslide and it was "Well I've been afraid of changin' cause I built my life around you..." and no, it's not about a relationship.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heard From The Agent...

Ok, so I promised I would update as soon as I got news on the exclusive I had with that agent....and I finally heard back today.

As of today, my status is....drum roll please....back on the market!

I guess if this were Facebook, I would have just gone from "It's complicated" to "single." :)

Am I mad? Not at all. Disappointed? Of course, I'm human.

What I am happy about, though is that someone took the time to read my work. Even more importantly, I know it actually was considered by an agent that I really like and respect, which in itself is an accomplishment. Plus, I trust and value her opinion, so it is not just "another rejection," it is something I take to heart and am really looking at what might need to be tweaked. I am honestly grateful for that opportunity and now I feel like I can't say that my book wasn't given fair consideration, because this agent did give it the attention that I was hoping someone would give it.

I really wish she would have liked it, but that is a matter of personal preference. As I discussed in my post "From the Agents' Point of View," we all pick up books we don't like...and then we put them back down. That's the beauty of having such a wide selection of books to choose from. Plus, most of us aren't trained to read books with the keen eye that agents are. To be honest, I would hate to have their jobs--I know that as I hone my craft, I will look back on probably my first and second novels and see how much I needed to improve...and they have to read that stuff all day long, and then try to sell it.

I guess the fact that this particular agent didn't stay up all night turning the pages of my book could mean a number of things...but it might mean something so simple as her preferring not to read the style that I write in. After all, I will be the first to tell you, I am no Pat Conroy. I would actually say my writing style is more aligned with Sophie Kinsella's (Madeleine Wickham). While my topics go a lot deeper than hers do (no disrespect, she is one of my favorite authors), we have a similar voice--admittedly she is the Celine Dion and I am the American Idol contestant singing a Celine Dion song...but nevertheless. Not everyone can get into that. It's a little hyper-cerebral, but in a scatter-brained sort of way and has a lot of inner dialogue going on.

Wow...after reading that last paragraph back to myself, I guess my blogging style isn't much different than my novel-writing style, is it? :) Our writing doesn't stray much from our true selves, apparently, even if we do call it "fiction"....

Anyway, so those are the results, as promised. I am sorry that I am not posting with better news, but one of these days I will have good news and we will celebrate that together :) For now, I will keep moving forward...now that I am free to send to agents again, I have two or three that I am considering sending to...otherwise, it's off to the writer's conference and then if all else fails, the book will be on Kindle soon enough!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weeding Out

When I first started this blog, I promised myself that I would be 100% honest with everything that I put up here. That is why I have posted my rejection letters, that is why I have vented my frustrations or shared on the days that I am feeling more optimistic...and I will continue to do that.

So, in the spirit of honesty, I haven't written anything in almost two days. That goes for this blog, which I'm sure many of you have noticed, as well as my writing outside of the blog (my novels, poetry, memoir, etc.). I had a lot of thoughts swirling inside of my head with things I wanted to write, but I just didn't feel like writing, which is extremely unusual for me.

It's not that I don't know why, either.

Writing is a tough gig. I'm going to be honest about that, too. Sure there are some people who know the right people or who possibly get lucky...not that they're not good writers, but in this business, it seems that getting your stuff in front of the right people is 90% of the battle and writing is only the other 10%. For the rest of us, though, we have to keep writing new stuff and keep whoring ourselves out to any media outlet or literary connection we can find with the hope that the right pair of eyes will see it and like it. It isn't always fun...in fact, it never really is. The only fun part is the writing...the 10%...so in all truthfulness, 90% of being a writer really isn't very fun at all.

I suppose it's just about loving the other 10% THAT much where you are fulfilled enough by it to push through the rest-- the part that is the demeaning, ego-destroying, hope and dream-crushing process that is trying to get your writing recognized. In the end, I've realized that the ones who endure are those who are writing for the love of writing...and that like most other things, this might all just be a weeding out process.

That being the case, I'm in it for the long-haul...I write because I love to write...even if I have to do something on the side...even if it's another ten years before I get published or if my writing never gets recognized, I'm never going to stop writing because that will mean I've clamped the valve that flows from my soul.

What is the take-away from this blog? I'm not sure if I was convincing myself that it is ok to keep pushing through for what you love when the going gets tough or if I was writing it for someone else out there who might be in the same position and feeling the same way...or perhaps both.

So, to that person...if you're out there...Let's make a deal...Do what you love, and so will I :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No News Is...Just No News!

So, I've been keeping myself pretty busy lately, but every once in awhile, someone will ask me if I've heard back from the agent who has an exclusive on my book yet.

Of course, I will update right away when I do hear something. That being the case, the fact that I haven't posted anything about it is neither good nor bad, it simply just is :)

When I sent out my first round of queries awhile back, I waited on pins and needles after someone requested material. I was literally nauseous every time I saw an email from an agent because I was so worried about what they were going to say.

I can't say I don't know what has happened between then and now, because I do, but this time around is a completely different experience. I want it just as badly...if not more, but that desire is manifesting itself differently in terms of the energy.  The only way to really articulate it is to say that where before I had the nausea and anxiety, which were negative energy, now I am just excited and somehow strangely calm about all of it, which is a much more positive energy.

I believe that my book is going to land in the right hands and if this agent is reading it and liking it, that is wonderful!  If, on the other hand, she is reading it and not enjoying it, I doubt she'd be very excited about pitching it to publishers, first of all, and second of all, me getting nauseous about it isn't going to make her change her mind.

...and that is sort of where I'm at.  So...for those of you who had been asking if I'd heard back yet, there is your (long-winded) answer... BUT I promise you that I will post news as soon as I have any! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another New Video!

As promised, a new video...I never promised it would be exciting, though :)

A Purist...Or Just Antiquated?

As I juggle back and forth between writing poetry and book material, I've noticed a funny little quirk that I have (one of many).

When I write poetry, I absolutely have to write with pen and paper. When I write for a book, however, I absolutely have to write on the computer. I won't even brainstorm with traditional writing utensils.

It's very strange, but I actually get writer's block if I try to interchange those methods. On those rare instances when, somehow, I am able to force something out, it's noticeably sub par.

I haven't been able to figure out why this is...I don't know if it's because I actually have different writing styles when I write poetry versus when I write novels or if it's because I'm just plain crazy :) I'm leaning more toward the latter! Honestly, though, when I write poetry, it is not linear at all (no pun intended). I will write a line that I want to start the poem with and then go 2/3 of the way down the page and write a line that I want to appear midway through the poem and then go back up and write the beginning of the poem again and the whole thing ends up being a chaotic mess with chicken scratch ALL over the page--in the margins, in between lines, over and underneath words, but somehow it all makes sense to me.

It is that process, of being able to take the words from all over the place and fitting them together like a puzzle of abstract art where only I know what the final product is supposed to look like that I enjoy most. So, to be confined to the neat little lines and keystrokes on a computer screen just completely constipates my thought process when it comes to poetry.

For novels, on the other hand, I find comfort in that confinement. I feel like that keeps me on track. I have weekly word goals to meet and I can fit a certain number of words on each page--they are great little "mile markers" for me. I also feel like I'm always working toward my goal because there isn't any doodling going on (it's amazing how many times one can mindlessly write their name on a piece of paper when sitting there bored without even noticing), I'm not filling the pages with junk that I have to sift through later for the "good stuff" and I'm making sure that all of my time is being spent productively (which often means shutting down my internet connection because I often lack discipline). Regardless, it gets done :)

Case in point...here is a single page out of one of my poetry notebooks. Can you imagine a novel's worth (90-100,000 words) of this?!?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What Would Freud Say?

I've been reading a lot of my old poetry lately and writing a lot of new material...and I have to say, there is a definite theme to my writing...even to my novels, actually. I like to write dark stuff.

This is really puzzling to me because I'm a really happy person and I'll come right out and say it, I don't have anything "buried" in my past, so I can't figure out why I have this fascination with death, crimes, criminals, psychopaths, etc., but alas, I'm intrigued... and most of my material has some thread of that in there.

It's interesting because if someone were to find my creative writing (not my journals or anything) long after I'm gone, they would say I must have lived this dark existence, much like we think about Edgar Allen Poe (I'm on a Poe kick right now) and even many classical musicians who wrote tragically brilliant material, but did they really? Maybe they were just like me where they lived these perfectly normal lives and writing was their complete escape where what they wrote was completely antithetical to their own lives.

Maybe they weren't deeply disturbed or hiding anything at all...maybe that is something we fabricate in our own minds because we want them to be more exciting than they actually were?

Perhaps they were even better writers than we give them credit for because they WERE able to tap into those emotions without ever having experienced them.

All I know is that I would love to see what Freud would have had to say about my writing. Unless there is some past life that I'm unaware of, I couldn't have written a better childhood for myself and that goes all the way down to the very last detail, especially the "main characters," my family.

So, I'm not quite sure where this theme or fascination comes from, but I'm just acknowledging that it's definitely there in the stuff I produce and it is definitely making me think if perhaps we've been too quick to jump to conclusions about the personal lives of those who came before us based solely on their CREATIVE writing...

Monday, November 14, 2011

You Say Tomato....

I wanted to call this blog post "Tomato, tomato" as in Tomato, TomAto, that cute little phrase that distinguishes how two people call essentially the same thing two different things, but I couldn't write it without it just looking like I wrote "tomato" twice....so I had to use a different title :)

Anyway, I've been really distracted the past few days working on my autobiography...which is where the semantics come into play. As I was researching agents, I couldn't find hardly any agents that handled autobiographies.

I was a little stumped.

I've seen hundreds of books about people's lives all over Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Certainly they were books written about that individual's lives, about themselves, which, as I learned in school were called autobiographies...but they were nowhere to be found. Then I remembered another word that I've been hearing a lot lately....memoir. So, I looked for agents that handled "memoirs" and I hit the jackpot! Apparently, most of those books that I've seen, although they could be technically be defined as autobiographies are now called "memoirs."

It seems that the term "autobiography" is now reserved for either the famous or infamous. So, if you have an interesting story to tell, go ahead and write your memoir, but it seems you have to be recruited or selected to write your own autobiography, which is strange.

Here is a sample list of some "authors" of recent autobiographies:
*Dolly Parton
*Donny Osmond
*Bette Midler
*Jenny McCarthy
*Shannon Doherty
*Eminem

Memoirs, on the other hand, are written by people who have been through something interesting, experienced something interesting or just have a story to tell. In short, it seems to be less about what is on the cover and more about what is on the pages.

Also, a memoir is often about a transient time in someone's life (a struggle, an experience, a transition, etc.) where an autobiography often spans one person's entire life....

So, to correct myself, being as I'm not famous (and fortunately not infamous either) and while I would like to think my whole life has been interesting, the world might not agree entirely. Therefore, I am working on my "memoir," NOT my autobiography :)

Although, I still think every day is a chance to write another new and exciting page in our own autobiography, whether it ever gets published or not!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Video Up Today!

Sorry it took so long...not much news on the writing front, but I promised I'd do a video every week :)

POE-try

Well, since I wrote that Edgar Allen Poe post last night, I've been obsessing about poetry. I've been reading through old poems that I wrote ages ago, I've been writing new ones and I've been looking through old notebooks with half-written poems that I never finished.

Poetry was what really made me fall in love with writing. In fact, I didn't start really committing myself to writing novels until I decided I probably couldn't make a career out of writing poetry. Although, even my first novel is threaded with poetry. That is actually the linchpin in the book. The whole plot swings along a pendulum of poetry and depending on what the mysterious poet is doing in the book, the plot adjusts accordingly...and that is all I can say because the agent still has an exclusive for another few weeks, so I'll leave it at that for that book, but in short, I love poetry.

As I was writing my first book, I actually wrote it around the poetry. The reader doesn't even really notice the poems in there, they kind of seem like an afterthought...an important afterthought, but as I was writing it, I wrote the poems before I wrote the chapters...and then the plot formed around that. I think I might make that my little trademark because I do love writing poetry so much, I can't imagine just writing novels and falling away from the poetry aspect of writing.

Wouldn't that be cool? To always write books with some sort of poetic aspect laced through, where the reader might not even know they're reading poetry?

Again, hats off to my idol Stevie Nicks for incorporating the most beautiful poetic prose into some of the most wonderful songs the billboard charts have ever seen and people who ordinarily wouldn't have, enjoyed poetry without even knowing it.

I'm considering posting some of my poetry up here, but for some reason, that's a big step for me :) Not even my blog entries, which in their own way are a form of journaling are as cathartic as my poetry...those are about as personal as it gets...but the good thing is that most of them are pretty cryptic. I learned from the best!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Raven and Me....er...The Raven and I?

Just as I predicted, I was up all night writing.

Writing through the night always feels a little Edgar Allen Poe-ish to me. For some reason, though, when it rains, that feeling is overwhelming. I love it! I feel like I've plunked myself right into The Raven.

I remember the first time I heard The Raven. I was in elementary school and we were sitting in a little assembly room. They read it to us as some sort of "culture" thing to broaden our horizons, I guess...I don't really know the logic behind it, I was about 6-- all I cared about at the time was that it didn't cut into recess (it didn't).

That was one of the first times I realized that I had a special relationship with the written word. After our teacher, or whoever was reading it (sorry person who read it, I'm sure you're a great person, but I don't remember who you were) was finished, everyone said how stupid it was. They all ran around on the playground shouting "nevermore" and I remember being haunted by it for days. I remember thinking in my head that I wanted to be just like that guy who could FEEL stuff like that.

I wanted to know his secret.

To be honest, I didn't even know what the heck most of it meant, but I knew it was heavy and the things I did pick up on were powerful. I had this crystal clear vision in my head of what his "chamber" looked like and of what he felt like sitting in there with this bird taunting him, unleashing his own private hell on himself. I didn't know anything about anything at that age--I didn't know about wars or bombs, evil or hate, money or poverty, or even love or heartbreak, but I knew what that man was feeling when he wrote that poem simply because I felt it in my soul when I heard his words and that changed me forever. That made me want to be a writer. I wanted to do that to touch people that profoundly.

That was when I started writing poetry...and I have never stopped.

Will I ever touch people in the way that Edgar Allen Poe did?

It's a lofty goal...but the way I'll keep trying because I am the kind of person who never says never....more :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rain and Writing

It's not very common that it rains where I live, but today happens to be one of those days.

Most people say that when it rains, they just want to curl up with a good book. It's not that I don't understand that sentiment...I do, especially if I happen to have my bookmark lodged between something that has Dean Koontz or Dennis Lehane's name on the cover. What I have a stronger inclination toward, though, especially when it rains, is to curl up WITHOUT a good book and walk away with the promise of one. In short, I LOVE writing when it rains. In fact, at this time last year, it rained like crazy and my book really took shape. I remember locking myself in my room for days at a time, sometimes just staying in my pajamas and slippers, listening to the rain outside and pounding away furiously at the keyboard as if I was one of those mad genius concert pianists.

The great thing is that for the past week, I had kind of hit a lull in my writing and as much as I don't really like the rain (I'm more of a heat person), it was exactly what I needed to kick myself into high gear and get back on track.

Will I sleep tonight? Probably not, but that is exciting to me. I will stay up and observe the lives of the characters I've created as they go through another day in the world I've created around them.

That's the coolest thing about writing...it's almost as if you get to read those "choose your own adventure" books as often as you want to (remember those from the 90's?) Since those were my favorite books as a kid, it's no wonder I get a thrill even out of writing the chapters that I simply delete or throw away. I just get to go back and choose a new adventure for my characters :) How lucky am I?

...What ever happened to those books, anyway?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mind Jell-o

It has been so hard to throw myself back into "work mode" since my sister's engagement (I'm probably ALMOST as excited as she is) but I need to! I haven't been doing as much writing as I usually do and I haven't been reading either, which inspires me to write. Plus, I didn't do a Youtube video this week!

I promise to get my act together in the next few days!

I don't like taking any breaks from writing because as I've blogged about before, a one, two or three day break can turn into that number's equivalent in months or years. I know it sounds like the slippery slope way of thinking, but in my case, it is often true--especially when it comes to workouts, but those are another story :)

So I am forcing myself to sit down and write tonight...even if it's taking the suggestion that one of the people who commented on a previous post said and just writing 500 words on something, I am going to do it. If I come up with anything interesting, I will post the results on here. I just need to get back in writing mode.

Although, for my loyal readers, I think I've only missed one day of blogging and I even blogged that I wouldn't be posting that day, so technically I (hope I) haven't let you guys down :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Researching E-Books

I've been doing a lot of research on e-books the past few days and I'm really starting to get comfortable with the idea. I actually set some firm deadlines for myself and if this agent decides to pass (I'm still hoping she doesn't)...please don't pass, agent, if you're reading this!!!!! ...and if I don't get picked up by another agent that I'm comfortable with in the interim between the end of this exclusive and the writer's conference, I've decided I'm going to go the e-book route. 

I've been trying to get this book published for over a year now and call it vanity, call it whatever you like, but I really think that once people read it, they will like it. Every time I have explained to someone the concept of the book, they go crazy. It's completely unique and I think it will blow people's minds. I think it's book club material, honestly. Is it the best book in the world? I'm confident, but I'm not crazy....I know there are better books out there, but I also think I have a good concept and strong characters and that people will enjoy reading it if I just put it out there and give them a chance...but I'll never know if it just sits in a file folder as a word document on my computer. 

I promised myself that I would try EVERY possible avenue to get my writing out there...and I'm going to fulfill that promise...So, if all else fails, I will be publishing an e-book in early Spring...stay tuned :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Minor Technicality

Sometimes I forget that whoever is running this whole operation--be it God, the Divinity, Mother Nature, your own higher power, whatever you believe in--definitely has a sense of humor. Either that, or this omnipotent being really has it out for me. I prefer to believe the former.

So, yesterday I posted about how I was SO happy about leaving the corporate world and pursuing my passion. I was feeling really great about that...and I still am, because I LOVE to write. All day I was kind of on this high about writing and the thought of never having to sit in a cubicle again. It felt amazing! I pictured what my life was going to look like now that I had truly committed to this and removed the "corporate" option from my game plan. It was bliss...no matter what I was doing, I knew I'd be happy and more fulfilled. I was on Cloud Nine!

...and then...

The Universe flipped me the giant bird!!!!!!! I got home yesterday evening and checked the mail and I got hit with a monster credit card bill. To make matters worse, it was one of those one-two punches where I also got a bunch of annual bills (car registration, insurance, etc.) in the mail along with that. So, all of a sudden I feel like I'm being robbed at gunpoint every time I open an envelope.

In short, corporate jobs pay the bills MUCH better than writing does, that's for sure! But I'm not ready to give up just yet. That being said, I have set a more firm deadline for myself where if I don't get a book deal by a certain time, I'm going to publish my stuff as e-books and just go that route...and maybe pick up little (non-corporate) side jobs while I do that.

I suppose everything has trade-offs, but having been on both sides of the equation, I still don't believe that a great paycheck feels better than the feeling of fulfilling your dreams.

For the people who have been able to do both, hopefully I'll join you someday :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pursuing Your Passion

It's funny, I was at a party this weekend (the party that ended up being my sister's engagement party) and I had always kind of been quiet at parties. I never wanted people to ask me what I did for a living because I wasn't happy about it (I was originally heading to law school and then I was a corporate analyst). I either avoided the question altogether or answered very abruptly and changed the subject whenever I was asked because I felt like I spent enough time doing that stuff during the week, I didn't want to waste another second of my free time, the time that I should be enjoying myself, talking about something that made me so miserable.

I had even kind of flip-flopped the past few years being afraid to really commit myself to writing or my creative side in general, being worried that if it didn't work out, I still needed to cling on to that corporate, cubicle-dwelling part of myself just as a safety net. I even kept my "business wardrobe" hidden away in boxes because if I "didn't get a book deal" I thought I would need it.

So answering the "what do you do?" question was always something I dreaded. I almost wanted to tell people  that I was writing, but had the cubicle "plan B" in my back pocket just in case, so I wouldn't lose their respect...because I had some fallacy that it was contingent upon that.

Well, now that I'm finally doing something that I love, writing, I find that I love answering that question and I actually get more respect when I just end the sentence there..."I'm writing and I love every second of it!"

I look forward to the question now.  In fact, sometimes it's all I want to talk about :) At one point during the party, I was talking to this sweet girl that my sister works with and I said in my head "ok, SHUT UP about the writing, already!!" --which was probably some rudimentary form of mind reading because I guarantee she was thinking the same thing, but she was too nice to say anything :)

It was so neat, though, because I even found other people at the party who were similar to me. Honestly, I had always kind of had trouble finding my "niche" of friends because the people I was "supposed" to be hanging out with (the other corporate people) I just never really fit in with. So, I would try to hang out with them and it just never really felt right.

Now that I'm finally pursuing what does feel right, though, I'm gravitating more toward people who are similar to me. In fact, I met the coolest person at the party who does make-up for a living and she was the most fun, outgoing person ever. I kept thinking "why haven't I been hanging out with people like her all these years?"

I guess it's because I've been denying that part of myself even to myself this whole time. I've been trying to be the corporate, left-brained person and trying to fit "that" stereotype and not letting myself be the more creative/artistic person that I am who surrounds themselves with people who are more right-brained...who, as it turns out, I get along with REALLY well :)

Not that there is anything wrong with people in the corporate world, it's just not for me. As it turns out, I'm "one of those creative people" :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No Blog Today

I sat down and tried to blog a few times today, but my mind was racing and I just couldn't do it. My sister's boyfriend was planning to propose this evening and it's been all I have been able to think about for the past 72 hours. Today, it was even harder to contain my excitement and I was so desperate not to let anything slip, I didn't want to go on Facebook, Twitter or even blog. I didn't want anyone texting me, emailing me, calling me or doing anything that would require me to explain what I was doing tonight because I wanted to tell everyone SO badly and couldn't...so, instead, I basically fell off the grid for a few days. In fact, I even ignored my sister for a little while when I found out because I can't keep secrets from her and I didn't know how to handle it. My brilliant solution was to stay away from her...but being as we talk every few hours, I realized quickly that wasn't going to work, so I had to battle my way through that one!

Now that it's done, though, I can finally jump on here and explain my absence...and talk to everyone again!

....and oh yeah, she said yes! :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

The More I Write...

Ironically (or maybe not), that sentence ends exactly the same way it begins. The more I write....the more I write!

When I'm really heavy into writing a novel, whether it is forced or just flowing really well, the pace will naturally pick up more quickly. My weekly word counts (I will talk more about those in another post) will go through the roof. It is not unusual for me during those times to double, or even triple, my self-imposed quotas, which are not lackadaisical by any means. Also, when I am making more time to write, even if the focus is elsewhere, I will find myself taking other times to sit down and write more poetry, short stories, ideas for other books, anything, really.

It's not that I'm feeling extra creative during those times...in fact, it's often the opposite. Sometimes the fact that I'm writing more means that I'm not feeling creative and have literally forced myself to sit down with a pen and paper or in front of the computer for a certain amount of time and write because I know that if I don't, days, weeks, or even months will pass before I write something substantial again. Truth be told, the goldmine might not be what comes from one of those forced writing sessions--I have had it happen, but it's rare--it is just that it keeps my brain in writing mode and it breaks through that wall of avoidance that I'm building up so that I can sit down naturally to write either later in the day, or maybe the next day and then every day after that, whereas if I would have avoided it as I wanted to in that moment, my creativity would have stagnated.

I look at writing as sort of panning for gold in one's own brain. Sometimes you get all of your tools and you sift and sift and sift and nothing. Sometimes you write hundreds of pages and there is one tiny nugget in there, but it's there and it's beautiful. Other times, you  have a day where you mine just a little bit and you have these solid, gorgeous pieces that you didn't have to work very hard at all for. But the point is that you have to go in there and continue to pan because there is a lot of sand and other junk that has to be sifted through. You're not going to get the gold every time and that stuff HAS to be cleaned out. So every time I write, even if it is muck and sand and dirt, I appreciate that because it hopefully changes the ratio of junk to gold of what is left up there and maybe next time I go panning, I will strike it rich!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Good" Traffic?

Living in California and driving the 405 on a regular basis, "traffic" is a term I never thought I'd hear with a positive spin...but WOW...I cannot believe how many hits the site got after the Stevie Nicks post! I can't take credit for that one, though. There are a lot of Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac fans and they are amazing people who did a great job about spreading the word about that post, so thank you again to all of them.

It's funny because I never really realized the power of the little keywords at the bottom of the posts until I put "Stevie Nicks" in there and then all of a sudden, WHAM, as opposed to what I felt like driving home from LA yesterday, a lot of extra traffic out of nowhere was actually a good thing :)

I guess now I know why marketers use the keywords they use and why I get emails and pop up ads for such things that...well, don't apply to me. They know what people are searching for, apparently. Don't worry, I'm not going to put any irrelevant words in my blogs or keyword boxes...I'm not going to sell my soul for site traffic, I'm doing this blog to chronicle my journey and for nothing else. I want people to read my writing, but only those who genuinely want to read it, not people who I tricked into coming to the site. So, if you're here and you're reading it and enjoying it, thank you for being here :) If you somehow got here by accident...it wasn't any genius marketing tactic I devised, I promise, so clear your cookies and search history, but if you like what you see, bookmark the site and stay for awhile!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stephanie Lynn Nicks

...or better known as Stevie Nicks.

If you didn't know who I was talking about before, I bet you do now.

She is known for many things, most notably, a rock and roll icon. Many musicians even cite her as being their inspiration in terms of voice or style, so how can it be that me, who has zero musical ability whatsoever (for any of you who have heard me sing or play an instrument, you know there is solid empirical evidence to support that statement) has been unwavering in my insistence for over 10 years that Stevie has been my inspiration to write?

I was sixteen years old when I was first introduced to her music...in fact, her career had arguably hit its peak before I was even born...although she's still going pretty strong even now. But what did this woman have to offer that nobody else did?

Rhetorical brilliance, that is what.

The only way I can come close to even vaguely capturing the essence of what Stevie does is by saying she is a Michelangelo with words. She takes pain and makes it beautiful "Rock on gold dust woman, take your silver spoon and dig your grave..." [Gold Dust Woman], she takes struggle and turns it into something verbally aesthetic "...well I've been afraid of changing 'cause I've built my life around you..." [Landslide], she even makes heartbreak hauntingly alluring "I know I could have loved you but you would not let me...I'll follow you down 'til the sound of my voice will haunt you. You will never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you..." [Silver Springs]. But the best part about Stevie Nicks, believe it or not, isn't her beautiful voice because it does convey all of those emotions and really make you feel what she is singing. She has an incredible gift for doing that. What she is even more gifted at, however, is writing those words. Stevie doesn't walk into the studio or on stage and sing what someone else wrote. She isn't an actress with a good voice. She is a writer, through and through.

In fact, I believe that is what makes her performances so much more compelling. But even when other people are singing Stevie's songs...even when Dixie Chicks are singing Landslide (which I thought was well done) or Lindsay Lohan is mangling a cover of Edge of Seventeen, Stevie's words are still there, the message is still there. Brilliant writing shines through, no matter what.

Stevie is a masterful artist with words. When I am struggling or get stuck, I just sit and listen to her music or read through her lyrics and I'm always inspired. Truth be told, she's inspired me in more ways than one. My most precious thing in my life, my dog, Bella Donna, is named after her first solo album. In fact, there is a little bit of her in everything that I write. I feel like that helps me raise the bar every time I put pen to paper. You can't read Stevie's stuff and follow it with something terrible of your own. It's like playing baseball and going up to bat behind the person who just hit a grand slam and striking out. It simply isn't an option. So many times, I have been reading through her lyrics and thought to myself "if only I could have written something HALF as good as that..." The crazy thing is that she kept surpassing even her own best and making it look easy...and still is.

Is it crazy that as a novelist, my absolute idol in the writing world isn't a novelist at all? Perhaps, but being as I started as a poet, I suppose that explains some of it. As for the rest, go read some of Stevie's lyrics and then try to find ANYTHING in the literary world that weaves words together more beautifully :)

"Once in a million years a lady like her rises...." [Rhiannon]

Writing and...Chocolate Cake?

Writing a book is a funny thing. It sounds so easy, yet when you actually sit down to do it, it's really not very easy at all. 

I thought it was going to be a very simple task. I thought, "I have plenty to say, I'm creative and I've always been a good writer...or at least everyone (teachers, etc.) always told me so. This should be a piece of cake." Well, if it was a piece of cake, it was one of those giant pieces of cake that you see on TV (for those of you who know the slices of cake at Claim Jumper, think of it as one of those) where it seems delicious at first and then you realize you have too much of a good thing and even though it's all good and enjoyable, you're not sure you'll be able to finish it because it actually becomes too difficult. Imagine that...eating cake becoming an impossible task?

That's what it starts to feel like, though. Think of it this way. You have a HUGE piece of chocolate cake...I'm talking enormous... and you're sitting there and you  have to finish it all. Well, maybe about halfway through, you get full, or you wish you could eat vanilla instead. That's what happens when you're writing. You have good characters, a good plot, a good story going and then a few months in, you might get stuck, you get bored with them or you think of something else that is pulling at you MUCH stronger and it doesn't fit into the current storyline, yet you can't just abandon the one you're working on for fear that the two will get tangled or one will become contaminated with hints of the other...so you're stuck. 

Is writing still the greatest thing in the world? In my opinion, there is probably no other way I'd rather be spending my time....so don't get me wrong...in fact, as much as I love food (I'm Italian, it's in my DNA), I'd even pick writing over eating, so that says a lot about it. I'm just saying that everyone hits that wall where you're devouring something you love and it is such a huge task that it actually becomes so tedious, you wonder how that piece of chocolate cake could have ever looked inviting in the first place. 

For those of you who are chocolate fans. This is what it feels like when you sit down to write a book..imagine putting this in front of yourself and not being able to stray until you finish the whole thing. It seems like a good idea....at first :)


Monday, October 31, 2011

Young Adult Fiction?

I've been giving this subject a lot of thought lately.

As I go through the "wish lists" of agents, where they state in their profiles what exactly they are looking for, the amount of agents looking for YA fiction is pretty overwhelming. I suppose this could probably be attributed to the Harry Potter and Twilight crazes, but if that's what they're looking for, I'd guess that is what is selling. I'm sure the agents have their finger on the pulse of the market. So, I'm leaning toward marketing the current book I'm writing as YA fiction.

While I'm writing it, there have been things I've had to do to not cross over into commercial fiction, but as a larger concept, I think there is a pretty fine line between YA and "adult" fiction anymore. Perhaps the vocabulary is a bit understated in YA fiction, and maybe there are A FEW subjects that aren't broached...but even in those categories, I think the current generation of YA readers needs to be given more credit.

It's not that vampires and wizards aren't entertaining, but what is to say that a book can't be YA fiction if it covers pregnancy, marriage, sex, drugs, alcohol or anything of the sort? I know a lot has changed since I was a teenager, but it seems that these days, people in that age group probably know more about those things than even their parents do. Albeit, we all thought we did at that point in our lives, but for the first time ever, it might actually be true.

I've been shocked lately as I've watched episodes of True Life and Teen Mom on MTV as I watch what these "teenagers" have to endure before they are even old enough to take a sip of alcohol. Many of them have children, have been in rehab and have endured things some people in their 50's and 60's know nothing about. So, perhaps, they COULD relate to more mature subjects and we just aren't feeding them what they need. I don't see many YA books that address those issues, even on a fictional level.

Perhaps at this point, the only subjects that would be "off limits" in YA books are those which they might not find interesting, such as college being as they haven't reached that point in their lives, or politics since it's unusual to be into politics before one can actually vote, but as for the rest, I think they should have the option to read stories about the things that are affecting their lives the same way that adults do.

I think that genre is undergoing an evolution...or at least its readers are, which makes it an exciting time to be a writer, especially one who is looking to enter that particular arena.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween and My First "Book"

With Halloween approaching quickly (it was just summer--how did that happen?), I was thinking about the first "book" I ever wrote :)

I always had a passion for writing...I used to write poetry even as a very young child...in fact, I wrote some poems that were so intense, I think my parents might have wondered what the heck was going on in that little head of mine. Often, I would watch Jerry Springer and being so young that I actually believed the storylines, and so sensitive that I felt bad for the people, I would often write poems about the pain I thought they were feeling... had the scenarios been real...and I was like seven :)

So anyway, my first book was around that same time. Technically, I guess I could say that means I've been a novel writer for over twenty years...nevermind, that makes me feel old! I'll go with when I wrote my first REAL novel, which was two years ago...there, that feels much better.

I was SO proud of my little book, though. I actually illustrated it, too, which I'm happy to highlight...even if prospective agents or publishers are reading this is NOT my strong point. I drew a little witch and I think there was a dog/dinosaur looking thing that popped up on every few pages, but the story was mainly about the witch, so by about the fifteenth page, I had that drawing nailed. I actually remember most of the story, but....and I'm sorry if the suspense becomes too much...I'm going to try to dig it up because my Mother is Italian, so something tells me it's still in a drawer somewhere :)

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I've always known what I wanted to do...it just took me awhile to get the courage to finally commit to going down that path and not looking back. If I do find this story and post it, you will also see that I had passion at a young age, but I wasn't necessarily a prodigy...let's just say if I post this story, it will be for the same reason I posted that disaster of a rejection letter...to make you smile and for no other reason :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Special Surprise...Preview of a New Book

So, I've been working on another book and I thought I'd share part of it on here. I'm really excited about it and the plot has some very exciting twists and turns. I haven't done any editing yet, so bear with me :) But here is a sneak peak...


                As the final preparations were being made, the executioner became increasingly nervous.  He felt as if he were the one awaiting his own death rather than that of Prisoner #6602.  Although hidden behind a black cloak, he felt naked in front of the crowd of witnesses.  The cloak was something they always wore so that neither the chosen witnesses, the prisoner, nor any media reporters could identify the executioner.  Only he, the warden and his accomplices knew his identity. 
None of the others had the luxury of anonymity.  A four by eight foot window framed their faces and entire bodies for the viewing crowd.  In addition, their credentials were worn in a plastic pouch on their sleeves and their full names were embroidered above their breast pocket.  It didn’t matter, though.  They had nothing to hide.  Nobody cared who buckled the final straps or who checked the pulse, or lack thereof, after the fact.  It was the one who pushed the button who needed to be concealed.  Hence, the executioner’s cloak.
 They were accompanied by other prison officials who were not part of the plan, which was going to make things much more difficult, but not impossible.  The first time they had tried this, it failed.  There were too many variables and they hadn’t planned carefully enough.  Fortunately, only they knew that they had failed.  To everyone else, including the warden and viewing group, everything went according to plan.  This time, though, they were ready.
                Only the executioner and his accomplices were aware of the plan. They were paid off well enough so the executioner knew they would all keep their mouths shut.  Prisoner #6602 himself didn’t even know about the plan, and they wanted it that way.  While it might seem safe to confide in an inmate on death row who is mere minutes away from being executed, the executioner and his accomplices knew otherwise.  They couldn’t take a chance of having this plot be exposed.  They had worked too hard, for too long, on perfecting the procedure and the plan.  They simply couldn’t risk it.  Not even for the person they were risking it all because of.
                The clock was ticking loudly, painfully loud, as it drew closer to midnight.  They always carried out the sentences at midnight.  The executioner knew he couldn’t linger in the chamber.  He did one last quick check to make sure his accomplices had done as they were supposed to do.  He looked over at the EKG machine.  He discreetly checked for the white dot on the back to ensure it was the right machine. 
                It was.   
He made his way to the anteroom, the room behind the chamber where the lethal cocktails were stored and administered from.  He checked for the white dot on the bottom of the IV solutions.  He pretended to merely be examining each bag for holes or other impurities so those around him wouldn’t know what he was doing.  They seemed to be oblivious to his actions anyway. 
                During executions, everyone was always in sort of a zombie-like state.  The prison staff, the witnesses, the execution team, even the condemned was generally quiet and reflective during the preparations.  Nobody was particularly thrilled about the fact that a life was about to be ended or that they were about to participate in a murder of sorts.  After all, the death certificate did state murder as the cause of death. 
Some members of the team had religious or moral objections to the procedure, yet they carried them out as mandated in the capacity of their job function.  They presumably made peace with it privately.  The handful of those who were happy to be carrying out the execution didn’t show it.  They couldn’t.  The mood in the room was solemn, the witnesses were silent by order and the air was made thick by the impending death.  Showing exuberance during a time like that would have likely resulted in some sort of repercussions either by the other witnesses or prison officials. 
Surprisingly, even the family members of the victims were almost always quiet and buttoned up during the procedure.  The executioner presumed this was more because of the reason they were there than the fact that they were actually mournful over the death of the convicted.  After all, this whole event was taking place because they themselves had lost someone they loved.  They had been profoundly hurt in a life-altering way by the events leading up to this.  There was certainly no joy in that.         Closure, perhaps, but joy? Doubtful.
The time was drawing closer.  The warden assembled the team and quickly briefed them.
“Gentlemen,” he said.  “I presume all final preparations have commenced.”
He looked to the prison officials responsible for handling those tasks, the executioner’s accomplices, and they nodded.  The executioner worried that they nodded a little too emphatically, which worried him.  Fortunately, the warden didn’t take notice of it.  He wondered if his mind was playing tricks on him.  He was all too aware of the phenomenon that occurred when someone was doing something wrong, and that feeling they got where it seemed as if their every movement was being displayed on a giant theater screen with their secrets in big red letters on a marquee below for all to see.  He had to trust that nobody who wasn’t supposed to be was privy to his plan.  He had to maintain the calm, collected fa├žade that he was crumbling to pieces behind.
“The condemned refused his last meal and is being escorted to us as we speak,” the warden continued, completely devoid of emotion. 
The executioner presumed that the warden was one of those who enjoyed putting prisoners to death, yet tried to hide this fact from the rest of the staff.  He envisioned him toasting every execution with a flute of champagne when he was in the privacy of his own home.  Tonight, he would likely do the same.
“Wilson, will you please make the final call to ensure that a stay has not been granted?” the warden demanded.
“Yes, sir,” Officer Wilson responded as he picked up the phone.
He spoke quietly into the receiver, reading the prisoner’s information from an index card that he held in his hand.  He hung up the phone seconds later.
“No stay, sir,” he said to the warden.
“Very well then, does anybody have any questions before we proceed?” the warden asked.
It was a rhetorical question.  They had all done this many times, it was just standard procedure to ask if anybody had questions.  Not once in the executioner’s career had he ever seen any of the prison officials ask anything during that time.
“All right, then, let’s move. We’ve got a job to do.” The warden said.
Everyone scrambled to their respective positions as he gave the last order.  The executioner had his eye on the staff members who went out the side door to meet the escorts and strap Prisoner #6602 to the gurney. 
They were not in on the plan.  They didn’t need to be. 
Before he took his place in the anteroom, the executioner purposely brushed shoulders with one of his accomplices.
                “Everything’s set, right?” the executioner asked.
“I think so,” the accomplice replied.
“You think?” the executioner whispered from under the cloak.
“As much as it can be, we didn’t have much time and there were eyes all over us,” the accomplice responded.
“What about the coroner, and the morgue?” the executioner asked.
“All set,” the accomplice replied.
“If he dies, you die, got it?” the executioner demanded.
“Got it,” the accomplice gulped as he forced the words out of a tightening throat.
The executioner took his place in the anteroom and waited for the condemned to be brought in.  A few seconds later, the gurney was wheeled in.  The wheels squealed loudly and the executioner damned the sound.  If they were wheeling someone to their death, couldn’t they at least do so on a gurney that didn’t scream across every single inch of the floor as it crossed? 
The executioner could not see Prisoner #6602’s face.  He had seen it many times before, though.  Without seeing him today, the executioner could sense his fear.  That was good, he had not been tipped off about the plan. 
When the gurney squealed into its place in the center of the room, IVs were inserted into the man’s arm, one into each.  After they were securely fastened in place, the viewing curtains which had been closed while he was wheeled in were now re-opened.
“Any last words, statements, or testimony?” the warden asked the prisoner.
They didn’t waste any time.  Once the gurney was brought in, the process was started immediately.  In fact, the IV lines were already flowing with saline when the question was asked.  Prisoner #6602 likely didn’t even know how much time he had to spit out his last words. 
“Radcliffe. Darren Radcliffe,” the prisoner simply said.
That was not Prisoner #6602’s name.  Nobody knew who ‘Darren Radcliffe’ was or what the he meant when he muttered the name. 
“Darren Radcliffe?” the warden asked.
“Yes,” the prisoner muttered.
“Care to elaborate?” the warden asked coldly.
“No, sir,” Prisoner #6602 said confidently.
“All right, then.  If you have no further words, the intercom to the viewing audience will be disabled and the process will begin.”
The prisoner acknowledged with a slight head nod.  He seemed to be at peace with what was about to take place. 
The warden exited the chamber and appeared in the anteroom.  He tapped the executioner on the shoulder and said, “It’s time, start the sequence.” 
He was referring to the sequence of IVs that would deliver the ‘lethal’ part of the lethal injection.  The executioner pushed the buttons that corresponded to each of the IV solutions.  One by one, he pressed a stiff, shaking finger down on the buttons, praying that the plan would work.
The process was relatively uneventful.  Prisoner #6602 kept his eyes closed the whole time and there wasn’t any spectacle of sorts to be seen.  After about fifteen minutes, the accomplice went over to the heart rate monitor and checked it.  He gestured for the physician to come over and declare a time of death.  The physician nodded at the other accomplice as he did this.  He put his hand on the wrist of Prisoner #6602 and gestured for the intercom to be turned back on.
“Time of death, 12:17 a.m.,” he said with his hand still on the wrist of the condemned.
The executioner put his hand to his own pocket.  His fingers cupped the small device and wanted desperately to pull it out and look at it.  When he was sure he wasn’t being watched, he removed it from his pocket and kept it tucked in the palm of his hand as he glanced at it.  His stomach almost leapt through his throat as he read the tiny display.
Heart rate, sixty-two beats per minute. 
The plan had worked.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Good News!

Well, I guess this is why you select the agents you're going to query very carefully!

As I mentioned, I was extremely picky about who I queried this time. My "more is better" approach that I took when I queried in the past just led to more rejection letters from agents who didn't handle the type of book I wrote, which just wasted my time and theirs. So this time around, I really devoted a LOT of time to playing cupid with my book. I did exhaustive research on agents, I made a preliminary list of those that MIGHT be a good fit, which was about 50 agents and then I did more research still on those 50 agents and ended up cutting that number in half. This was a significant departure from the over 200 I sent out last time, but from a tactical standpoint, I think it was more effective.

How do I know? Because one of the agents that I REALLY had my hopes set on just got back to me. When I say I was eyeing this agent, I mean, I got butterflies when I saw her reply in my inbox. When I talked in an earlier blog about their being a "perfect fit" in terms of an agent for my manuscript, this is what I meant. Anyway, I'll cut to the chase...she expressed an interest and wanted to see more. She also requested an exclusive, which means that now any agents that come back to me and ask me for sample chapters, etc. I will have to be the one saying no to them because my manuscript is in exactly the hands I want it to be in right now :)

Strange, yet amazing turn of events! I will keep you posted!

Happy Friday!!!

Reading Two Books

Since I posted that blog about having trouble reading, I tried forcing myself to read again and I FINALLY found a book that I'm enjoying! In fact, I'm reading two books! Maybe just getting that off my chest actually helped me clear the path in my mind and I'm able to enjoy reading again. Whatever it is, I'm really happy because I missed reading SO much.

The first book I'm reading is an older book by Jodi Picoult called The Pact. What a brilliant writer she is! This book was my breakthrough book. I probably went through three dozen books before I was able to read this book. I read a chapter of one book, a chapter of another and couldn't sink my teeth into anything. I tried different authors, every different genre I could find and nothing struck me. I actually picked this book because I had heard of Jodi Picoult and I thought the spine was eye-catching (yes, my literary friends, this is often my criteria for selecting reading material when I'm in a pinch).

Well, next thing I knew, I was 100 pages into the book and it is now 24 hours later and I think I will be finishing it today. In fact, that is part of the reason why I didn't blog yesterday...I had my head buried in this book! For anybody who is looking for absolutely amazing writing, pick up one of Jodi's books (Sing You Home, House Rules, My Sister's Keeper, Nineteen Minutes--the list goes on!)

The other book I'm reading is a non-fiction book called Zero Limits by Joe Vitale and Ihaleakala Hew Len, PhD. That one was recommended to me and I'm SO glad it was because it's truly enlightening. I had never heard of Dr. Hew Len or Ho'oponopono before this week, but all I have to say is wow :)

So, that's all I have for today. I've actually been doing more reading than I have been writing, but reading has always helped me become a better writer and both of these books are definitely helping me grow as a writer in their own respective ways.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Perspective...The Agent's Point of View

I'll admit it, I've been kind of bummed these past few days because I've been working so hard sending out queries and so far, I've only received rejection letters. So, I was complaining a little bit (ok, a lot) yesterday. It's really incredible, though, how when your mind is open to it, something someone says can take everything you're thinking and turn it on its head.

I was saying how frustrating it is when these agents read my query letter or even my sample chapters and write back with a rejection letter basically telling me my work is not good enough because I feel like they're not giving me a fair chance. I've even blogged about this same concept. Maybe that is what they're saying...but guess what, not a SINGLE rejection letter has said that--not in so many words, not in so few words, not in any kind of cryptic innuendo... nothing of the sort. It was a conclusion I jumped to in this "me vs. them" mindset I was in.

In fact, they might think my work is really great...they might have just been rushing out of the office...they might just be only looking for "Twilight-like" books right now, they might have an assistant reading their stuff and have told them to ONLY bring them stuff that is vampire-esque, which my book is not. Looking at it from that perspective, a rejection letter does not say anything about the quality of my writing. Timing= yes; subject matter= perhaps; market= possibly; quality= no!

It might not even be any of those things. They might just not feel like it's THE BOOK for them and this point in their lives (the subject matter is a bit heavy and controversial)...and that's ok, too. In fact, my favorite author is Sophie Kinsella. I have read every single one of her books, except for one. I don't know why, but the one book of hers, I have picked up and tried to read three times and I am just not identifying with it. Is she a bad writer? Far from it. Do I love her work? Already said I do. But if I was an agent and had received a query letter or sample chapters from that particular book, I might have passed as well...and I might have missed out on something amazing.

The fact of the matter, though, is that a lot of people probably did pass on Sophie Kinsella (Madeleine Wickham as people know her in England), but someone didn't and now hundreds of thousands of people get to read her work. So, I'm hoping that my work will resonate with that one special agent at the right time and my stuff, too, will get out there when it is meant to.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Reading and Writing

It is a very weird phenomenon, but ever since I started writing my own books, I am having trouble really enjoying reading. I have always been a writer and this never happened to me when I wrote 100-page research papers, magazine articles or poetry, but for some reason writing books makes reading them a very strange experience....well, for me, anyway.

The odd thing is that part of what makes me a writer is my love for reading, so it kind of took away something in that respect, because I truly can't enjoy it right now, but I trust that somewhere down the road I'll be able to.

Maybe it's a subconscious thing where I'm wondering what these people did that made agents see their work as worthy of being published and not mine. I won't lie...I've read a lot of books by a lot of great writers...writers that I could never dream to match in talent or creativity...but you know what? I've also read a lot of books by a lot of authors who aren't as talented as I am, either. So, I think part of me is trying to figure that out as I read instead of just escaping into the stories like I used to.

I guess it's like anything else...people say that once they start working in an industry they love, it kind of takes the enjoyment out of it because what they used to view as entertainment becomes something that is viewed in terms of logistics and moving parts. The brain sees it differently...almost overnight.

The good thing is that I still love the act of writing just as much as I always did, so if I have to sacrifice the joy I got from reading a little bit, well, I'm ok with that :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

One Book, Two Book, Thre..Ebook....

I had an idea yesterday. I'm thinking that with this next novel I'm working on, I might just release it as an ebook and skip all of this querying business. I keep hearing that the industry is headed in the digital direction anyway and people seem to be doing really well with ebooks, so I think it's worth a shot. I might even do it with the book I'm shopping right now, but since I have all of the letters written and out to agents and publishers, I'm going to wait on it. I'm not completely used to the whole idea yet and I have so much of my heart and soul into that book, I really dreamed of seeing it in print. So for that particular project, I need to give it a little more time to marinate (I figure after the writer's conference, I'll make a final decision for that manuscript).

As far as the current manuscript, though, I am less emotionally attached to it because I'm still in the process of writing it, so I don't have a "vision" for the one yet. If I decide now that I want it to be an ebook and that it will never be in a bookstore, I think I could reconcile that idea emotionally. Besides, if people are receptive to this one, maybe I will feel even better about putting my first project out there, but it's just my baby...for that matter, it's my first born and I'm being super protective of it, so yes, I'm coddling it a bit. I want it in black and white, protected by a spine, binding and a hardback cover...but I guess this could be a good learning experience for me.

Wow, that makes me feel old...am I really the person who isn't ready to move into the digital age?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stephen King Got Rejected, Too...

I have to admit, I'm getting kind of tired of hearing that. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me "Stephen King got rejected dozens of times..." or "Look at all of the people who rejected the Harry Potter lady (J.K. Rowling)," I'd be living in my dream mansion on Maui already.

It's not that those things aren't true. Stephen King did get rejected a lot (Carrie supposedly got 30 rejections)...and yes, J.K. Rowling did get turned down initially, too. Even Lady Gaga got dropped by her first record label. But for every one of them, there are hundreds of people like me who are still in that period of getting rejected wondering if we'll ever come out on the other side. Wondering if we, too, will be able to tell people to hang in there because it's all worth it in the end.

I'll be honest, this period can't go by fast enough...and it's dragging on for what seems like forever. Stephen King and Lady Gaga (by their own admission) did a lot of drugs while they were working their way up...now I know why...this period of people telling you you're not good enough, when you know that you are, is REALLY frustrating!

Part of me thinks that for every Stephen King and Lady Gaga, there are thousands of others who just kept getting rejected. In fact, I've met a few of them. They are the 45 year old waitress at the diner who is STILL trying to break into the (fill in the blank) industry, the homeless guy who sits on the pier in Santa Monica who believes that his big break is just around the corner. The question is...how long do you let yourself keep getting rejected before you become this guy?



Don't get me wrong, I love "General Larry Platt" and every rejection letter adds fuel to my fire...in fact, for every rejection letter I get, I send out TWO new queries, but it's just annoying that one agent won't really take the time to read my stuff unless it comes with a referral. It basically seems like unless you have an "in" in the publishing industry, nobody really cares how good your writing is...and if you DO have an "in" the same is true, your stuff gets read and published regardless.

For example, I never hear stories about how many times Snooki or the Kardashian sisters got rejected when they woke up one morning and decided they felt like writing a book...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Starting a Book...

Someone actually asked me today how you actually START writing a book. They wanted to know if it's just a spontaneous thing that you just decide to sit down and do or if it's something that you plan a time for and execute at that precise moment.

I guess the process is different for anyone, but for my first book, I had a few false starts. The first one, though, was the funniest.

I had just left a corporate job (I have a thing for timing, the economy basically bit the dust the day I gave my 2 weeks' notice), but I had decided I was going to pursue this writing thing anyway because this what I had always wanted to do. So, there I was...alone in my apartment on a weeknight with nowhere to be the next morning and I was sitting on Facebook (of all the wild ways to celebrate my first night of freedom). I hadn't actually ever used Facebook...it wasn't new, I just hadn't used it yet, so I was tinkering around on there trying to see what it was all about. Now, mind you, I had just recently watched the movie The Secret about putting positive things out there and that supposedly making them come back to you and blah blah blah. So this whole constellation of things is going on and I see the feature where I can post a "status update." I had seen people do this, but I hadn't done one. I figured I might as well, so I pound at the keys and I have my first status update. "Jeanette is.....writing a novel." Click. Post.

Ok, so then I'm sitting there thinking. "Shoot, now I really have to start writing something." I hadn't been on Facebook long, but I wasn't stupid...I knew that posting something on your status update that you weren't actually doing was committing a social felony, so I got to it. I lit a bunch of candles, I turned out the lights, I turned on some soft music, I curled up on the sofa with a blank notebook and my favorite pen in my lap and I sat there. For two hours straight, I just sat there.

Finally, I forced myself to write something...anything...because the million man march begins with the first step, or whatever, right? So, I literally started writing "My name is...my children are x, y and z. My husband is..." and this is how I was "introducing" my main character. It was pitiful. I knew it was pitiful, but I didn't know how to write a book and I wasn't going to let that stop me. So I wrote this ridiculous half-outline, half-story thing that I slapped "Chapter 1" at the top of and went to sleep (I blew out the candles, don't worry).

I was furious. How was I going to be a writer when THAT was my best attempt at writing?

There were a few other false starts after that and I hate to say that some of them weren't much better. In fact, I saved them and have looked back at them...not a single word of those pages would make my roughest rough draft at this point, but that is how I learned. If I would have just forced a Chapter 2 to follow that Chapter 1 on the Facebook night, who knows what kind of horrible book I would have ended up writing? Or if I would have ended up writing one at all? Something tells me I would have abandoned ship on that project relatively quickly. Instead, though, I knew when to be that person you see in cartoons and on the movies and have the crumpled wastebasket overflowing with crumpled papers and you still pull out another one and start over again. Except that the modern day version looks a little bit more like this...


The point is that we don't always nail it the first time, but we learn something from every single effort.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finally Posted a Youtube Video

I promise the others will be more exciting and informative, this was just an introduction :)
ANovelWriter on YouTube

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's That Time Again...

With new query letters, of course, come new rejection letters.

Now, in all fairness, most agents have a pretty decent form letter (see my previous blog about those if you're wondering what they are). There are also the select few agents (or their assistants) who actually take the time to write nice, personalized letters and believe it or not, there is something gratifying about receiving those letters. I got two today...and yes, I know...they are still rejections, but at least I know the agent actually took the time to read my letter and really felt my book wasn't a fit for them instead of...well, the one I'm posting today.

First of all, some of these (fiction-so we're talking finished novels here) agents write back and say they receive hundreds of query letters a day. The irony of the one I posted below is that this particular agent wrote back in thirteen minutes and said the very same thing--so maybe she didn't get quite so many on that day :) Really, though? I mean, how many people have written complete novels and are querying these agents? Sometimes in the same letter, they will say that the industry is in the worst state its ever been (great thing to tell an aspiring author) and things are extremely slow, yet they're absolutely incapacitated because of the amount of query letters they are receiving. Which is it? Are you riding the 2005/2006 housing bubble where everyone wants a piece of the action or did it already burst and you can't give away your foreclosure? It can't be both ways...

The other thing is that aside from the people who I've been introduced to BECAUSE I'm a writer, I've only organically met one other writer (who happens to be my friend's son and I hope the agents pay attention when they get his letter because his book is the needle in their supposed haystack). So if all of these hundreds of thousands of writers with finished novels are out there and they're writing query letters and bombarding the agents with them every day, who are these people and more importantly, where are they? I want to meet them.

In fact, I might have just single-handedly solved this whole debacle! The finished books are out there, the agents are just so overwhelmed by query letters, they don't have time to actually read any of them--ergo everyone gets a form rejection and the publishing industry is tanking. Hmm...maybe I should be a literary agent instead...just kidding!

Anyway, that basically covers the form rejection letters, but this one is a special "gem" and I felt the need to share it. It is probably the best I've received so far.

So, without further adieu, here it is...My comments are in red. Enjoy!

Note: While I do have a sense of humor, I'm not a mean person, so I did block out their name and email address (and mine, too, while I was at it) for the sake of privacy. I apologize for the small writing, that was as big as I could make it since I just did a screenshot with my comments on it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing Conference

Since I'm literally trying everything this time around, I signed up for a writer's conference. I'm not sure what to think of it being as I've never been to one, but I've heard good things...especially about this particular conference.

I'm going to go all out at this thing. I'm buying all of the extra one-on-one time with the agents that I can get my hands on, I'm going to network like crazy and I'm going to tell anyone who will listen about my blog and more importantly, my book.

As the conference gets closer, I will post more about it and I will definitely post during and after it, but as of right now, I just signed up and I'm still not sure whether I made a wise investment or not (because it was definitely an investment--those things aren't cheap!)

I was going to go to one last year and that is actually one of the main reasons that I didn't...I didn't see the need to spend the money, so maybe I was a penny wise and a pound foolish, who knows? Maybe I would have been a famous author by now if I would have just spent the money at this time last year. Just kidding :)

But NOT going certainly didn't do anything to launch my writing career into the stratosphere, so this year is a new opportunity.

I'm actually glad that I didn't go last year, though (closet optimist strikes again). I am much more confident this year. A lot has happened between then and now. First things first, I edited the HELL out of my book. Five major edits/rewrites that included over 15,000 changes (I didn't count, but Microsoft word kept track and since I'm a computer nerd, I thought it was fun to constantly compare the documents), I added chapters, I took chapters out, I even changed the title. So at this point, I am very comfortable handing it to an agent, editor, publisher, whoever and walking away knowing I gave them my absolute best work. I have also grown a lot as an individual and as a writer and I actually feel READY for this one. So...whatever... I'm going and hopefully I'll get something out of it.

Ironically, one writer I talked to landed his agent in the airport shuttle on the way home from his conference--and he's doing very well now...so that still counts as a conference success story....kind of :)

If nothing else, I just bought the most expensive "Hi! My name is..." badge that I'll ever purchase...

Another Quick Thing

While I have time...I'm going to be introducing her on my YouTube as well, but as much as I love writing...the one thing I love even more is my co-writer, my muse...Bella :)

This is how we wrote our first book...

One Good Thing....

The one good thing about query letters (who knew there was something?) is that I procrastinate so much when I'm doing them and my mind wanders to such an extent that I'm exponentially more creative during that time. My brain feels so stifled during the whole process that I create pretty amazing things as little sidebars when I step away from the letter writing process.

So...the good news is that late last night, when I finally stepped away from writing and sending out letters, I had a chance to clear my head. And when I did, the first and last chapters for my next book as well as the plot arc and main character's internal struggle just materialized in my head. It literally happened in a matter of minutes, but I know this is what it's going to be...in fact, I have 2/3 of another book written, but I feel so strongly about this one that I'm going go shelf that one for the time being (I might even post the first chapter of that one on here because it's kind of a cool short story in and of itself). I just need to write this story.

This one came to me like my first book came to me. I was sitting at lunch with a friend and it just popped into my head the same way and I went home and wrote and wrote the entire thing straight through in a matter of a few months. I'm ready to write this one the same way.

In that respect, I guess that was one redeeming quality about this whole query process...a very peripheral one, but I'm still happy :)

Busy Sending Queries

So...the last few days have been filled with sending out query letters (which, as I've mentioned, I absolutely LOVE...or....not so much). 

I definitely realized that sending out a blast to every agent I could find the first time around was probably a mistake. This time, I'm really researching the agents I want to send to and making sure they seem like a good fit for my book. Whether they agree or not is a different story, but at least I know I'm targeting a more specific audience this time around. I think the first time, I just thought the more people who see it, the better chances I have...and what I realized is that this isn't American Idol where someone is just going to fall in love with what you're doing and say that you're not exactly what they're looking for, but they'll give you a chance anyway because they like you. If they say they're looking for young adult fiction and you send them commercial fiction, you can pretty much expect the Simon Cowell response.

Oh well, I tried. You live and you learn.

So, this time, if I get any Simon Cowells, maybe they're just having a bad day because I sent them what they said they were looking for :)