Wednesday, October 31, 2007
And I'm done. As of yesterday at lunch, I had 15,062 words. I not only met my goal, but I managed to do it with two days to spare - and with a cold! So I know I can do this.
My goal for the month of October was a minimum of 50 pages of new stuff. I met that goal and blew it away with close to a hundred.
According to my one friend, I'm not setting my goals high enough. According to her, the purpose of a goal is not to meet it so much as to strive for it. I look at it differently. Yes, a goal should challenge one, but it should be achievable. By setting unrealistic goals - ones that not only challenge but overwhelm - we are setting ourselves up for defeat. And the writing profession is rough enough on one's ego and psyche without adding constant defeat that you do to yourself. So I disagree with my friend. I believe it is more important to set goals that do make you work a little harder, dig a little deeper, go a little farther, but they should be still attainable.
Yes, on occasion, life steps in and throws up roadblocks. And for those times, you shrug and say "better luck next time." But don't do that every month. Allow yourself the small celebrations that come with finishing a project on time. If your goal this month was 50 pages, as mine was, and you met that goal with time to spare, as I did, enjoy the moment. But for next month, look at your schedule. Be realistic. Can you still do 50 pages? Can you possibly add five more? Or with the upcoming holidays and everything, do you stay where you are?
When you set a goal, take into consideration all the stressors that life throws at you. Okay, you can't think of everything. Kids get sick. Accidents happen. Life happens. But looking at a normal schedule, what can you set your goals at? If all you can manage is 100 words a day, that is a good goal to aim for. If you can mange more, good! Go for it. But don't beat yourself up if you don't make it. Set a goal you can be happy with. Make it a little challenging. Strive for a little more each month. And soon, you'll be doing more than you realize and celebrating your victory.
Happy New Year to those who are of the Celtic/Druid frame of mind
Birthdays: John Evelyn, John Keats, Dick Francis
Tips and Teasers: An evil being is chasing you but you might be able to escape if you can come up with a good disguise. What costume would you wear? What if it's not Halloween, how would you disguise yourself then? And how would you escape?
Thought for the day: "Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Lewis Carroll
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Birthdays: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Adelaide Anne Procter, Ezra Pound, Michael Winner
Tips and Teasers: Follow up on yesterday's teaser by talking about how the invention your best friend created has changed your relationship with him or her. Write a dialogue between the two of you about it. Or write a scene twice -- once from your POV and once from your friend's.
Thought for the day: "No matter how big or soft or warm your bed is, you still have to get out of it." - Grace Slick
Monday, October 29, 2007
Anyway, I've been working on this short story - 15K words - that's due by Thursday. I've got 11K so only 4K to go. But it's been a struggle. I wrote the story and was coming to the end with all the problems tied up - at only 8K. What to do? Where to go? How to beef it up without making it all fluff? So I called one of my bootsquad friends - actually, the woman who is spearheading this project - and talked to her. She helped me brainstorm a bit and I managed to get eight pages done last night.
Sometimes when you're stuck, talking the story over with someone else can really help you out. They might see tangents you hadn't thought of, ways to go that are different - and better - than where you were going. It's a little like taking a trip. You look at a road map and plot out your route, then you hit a detour but there are no arrows telling you which way to go. You can continue wandering around, maybe finding the right road. So you stop in a small town and start asking directions. You might get some good ones - and you might not. The choice of which road you take is up to you. But at least now you're headed some place.
In the meantime, enjoy the ride. Sometimes those detours turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to us.
Birthdays: Jean Giraudox, Fredric Brown, Bill Maudin, David Remnick, James Boswell, Guillermo Valencia, Henry Green
Tips and Teasers: Your best friend has invented something that would change the world forever. What has s/he invented? Would it change the world for the better? Or the worse? What do you do?
Thought for the day: "Finally, one just has to shut up, sit down, and write." - Natalie Goldberg
Friday, October 26, 2007
So what did I reflect upon? I focused on the past year. In this past year, I have had three books accepted for publication by Cerridwen Press, two of which are now available, the third to be out in January. I've also written two others, two novella's, done sixteen reviews, multiple articles for various newsletters, and blogged nearly every day - if not here, then as a guest on others. I've also taken on the financial responsibilities of PASIC, an on-line RWA chapter where I was elected treasurer. In addition, I've attended eight local RWA chapter meetings, nearly as many off-the-cuff small group meetings, a four day writer's retreat and a weekend conference. I've taken eight on-line courses in the craft, business and mental stress of writing. And I've critiqued so many things for friends, I know their writing almost better than I know my own. I've participated in lists, promotions, and groups in order to get my name out there and get people to buy my books.
So what does this all mean? That it's been a full year in terms of writing. Oh, yes, there was a lot of other non-writing stuff going on as well, but this is a writing column after all. :)
I look at the year past and I use that to set my goals for the coming year. There will be more writing, more promoting, more meetings, conferences and workshops. But there will also be more organization and attention to priorities. Being new at the publishing game meant I went into some things with my eyes, if not closed, definitely not wide open. I've made mistakes - some costly ones - over the past year that will not be repeated. I've learned and grown, both as a writer and as a business person. And any time you can say that, it's good.
In setting goals, they should be quantifiable and attainable. I mean, I can say I want to win the Pulitzer Prize. That is a lofty goal. BUT, I also know, realistically, that is never going to happen. They don't award the Pulitzer for the kind of writing I do. But they do award the Quill. And with Nora Roberts' recent win, that is a possibility - a distant one, but still... ;)
But I'm talking goals a little more realistic here. Like finish the two books I'm currently working on. Edit them and the three others I have done and submit them. And write at least two more. Review a minimum of one book a month. Two would be better. Participate in more on-line promotions. Attend a retreat, meetings, and at least one conference next year. Propose workshops for the conferences and present them.
In other words, do what I did this past year, only better. And that's what reflection is all about. Using the past to improve the future.
Birthdays: Andre Bely, Sorley MacLean, Jan Wolkers, Pat Conroy, Trevor Joyce, Andrew Motion
Teaser: What are your goals for the next week? Month? Year? Are they pie in the sky? Or attainable? Where do you see yourself at your next birthday?
Thought for the day: "Live your life and forget your age." Norman Vincent Peale
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I'm Nean, the daughter-in-law that you'll hear about from time to time. Mother of the grandson. Wife of Jeff. Someday we'll discuss the erroneous mother-in-law stigma, but not today.
See I've been reading books to review of late. Being mom to a hyperactive near-four-year-old keeps me insanely busy, but I love Vicky for tossing me stuff on a regular basis to exercise my writing and critiquing muscles. The two most recent books she tossed were fantasies. They've got me pondering the difference between good and bad fantasy. Yep, you've guessed it; I got one of each!
I tend to prefer the type of fantasy that exists alongside our world, stuff that could conceivably happen in the world that I live in with just a bit of imagination. This is why I like to watch television shows like Joss Whedon's Buffy or Angel, X-Files, and (in current television) Reaper and Pushing Daisies. These are what I refer to as "realistic fantasy". I don't always understand everything that is going on, but I understand the day to day stuff, because I relate to it.
I have a lot of respect for an author that can create an entirely new world convincingly and take me into it in a such a way that I don't even realize I've left my own until I put the book down.
So, how do you do it?
- Creating a special language is a great way to create some dimension in your world. However, you DON'T use it so often in your book that your reader has to use a glossary to get through the paragraph; even with the glossary in one of the books I'm currently reviewing (which is, incidentally, about 20% of the printed pages and subdivided by category -- people, places, things, etc.) I have a hard time understanding what is going on. I don't have time in my life to sit there and "research" the fantasy world that I'm trying to escape to for a few brief minutes.
- Keep chapters short or break them up into sections. At the height of the action, it may be necessary to make them a little bit longer because there is more going on. For the most part in today's society, though, reading time is scarce. So, you have to create short sections that are readable in just a few minutes. Not only does this allow your reader to break the story up into manageable "sessions", but for people like me, it means I don't have to go back and reread several pages to catch up on where I was when I'm interrupted midstream (and allowing me a bit more time to actually escape into your world).
I'm sure there are other suggestions for this, but those are the two huge ones that matter to me. Right now, this is getting long, the preschooler is demanding attention, and I've got two reviews to write and a pile of housework that may or may not get done! Anyone want to recommend a good fantasy escape?
Maybe Jeff and/or Vicky will weigh in on the topic. Thanks for letting me ramble.
Oh... And happy birthday to the best mother-in-law in the world!
Birthdays: Vicky Burkholder, John Berryman, Anne Tyler
Tips and Teasers: Create a parallel universe. What would the main difference be between our world and the new one? How would you get there? Would you know that you were in a new place immediately because of the large differences or would the subtle difference require more time to notice?
Thought for the day: "While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put." - Anne Tyler
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The rest of Monday.
By the time I sat down with my drawing pad to sketch out the comic, it was gone. I had one single (ironic) panel left in my head: An annoyed Jane, staring numbly at a sheet of paper. I couldn't remember why she was staring at the paper, why she was annoyed, or even who else was involved in the scene, prior to and/or after the numb shot.
I eventually recalled the situation and the punchline and everything else, but it served as a bit of a warning to me, which I will now pass on to you. While your mind may have hit upon the greatest bit of prose or poetry since Moses discovered cuneiform, don't depend on your memory to keep it intact until you get a chance to write it down; write it down now! I'm planning on getting a little sketchpad for myself that I can carry on my person relatively constantly to prevent further lapses like this. I'd recommend the same to anyone else who's livelihood (whether financially or emotionally) depends on writing!
Birthdays: Sarah Josepha Hale, Brenda Ueland, Moss Hart, Bob Kane, Denise Levertov, Adrian Mitchell, Paula Gunn Allen
Tips and Teasers: The main character of your story has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. How would your character's closest friend react to this news? Or how would they describe the protagonist to the police while filing a missing person report? How would the antagonist do those things?
Thought for the day: "Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people." - Adrian Mitchell
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Yep, a romance writer took top prize.
Most people look down or romance books - usually because they haven't read a one - or they read one that completely turned them off to the genre. That's because they didn't read the right one for them.
Let me give you some facts (taken from the RWA site).
- Approximately 6,400 romance titles were released in 2006.
- Romance fiction outsold every market category in 2006, with the exception of religion/inspirational.
- 26.4% of all books sold are romance.
- Romance fiction: $1.37 billion in estimated revenue for 2006
Religion/inspirational: $1.68 billion
Science fiction/fantasy: $495 million
Classic literary fiction: $448
Mystery: $422 million
Graphic novels: $128 million
RWA - aka Romance Writers of America - is the largest writer's organization in the world. It is also one of the few that takes unpublished writers into its ranks and helps and encourages them to become professionals.
Most people have preconceived notions about romance books - that they're either namby pamby torch books about a man and a woman and an unknown baby, or they're "bodice rippers" that touch on porn.
Sorry. Those misconceptions went out with the 70's. Today's romance books range in heat from the sweet (they don't even kiss until the end) to the hot (and yes, some do classify erotica as porn). They also take in every sub-genre you can think of. There are contemporary (takes place in the here and now), futuristic, fantasy, paranormal, historical, inspirational, and young adult. The heat level varies within each genre as well. The one thing all these have in common is the story about the relationship between the hero and heroine.
Note, I said "the relationship". The stories are not about the sex. They are about the emotions. And with almost all of the sub-genre's, there is an unwritten rule that by the end of the story, the two main characters have to be involved in a committed relationship. How they get there is as varied as the 9000+ romance writers out there.
When I said someone who disses romance has probably never read one, or never read one they liked, I meant that. In conversations where someone is putting down the genre, you ask them what they've read and they admit to never having read one. How can you discuss something intelligently without knowing the subject? Okay, I know, people do that all the time. But... I am a dyed in the wool romance reader - and writer. BUT there are genre's I will not read because I don't like them. And I've tried. You can look at my bookshelves to know I've tried. There isn't a sub-genre I haven't read. But I've settled into the paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic ones because that's what I like the most. I also like a good historical. I'm not so hot on contemporary series - but that is a personal like/dislike. I have read some I enjoyed. And I've read some paranormals I hated. Like anything else, there is variety within the genre.
But with Nora Roberts' win, we've finally made the top of the list. Here's to you, Nora. And to all the romance writers out there. We've finally arrived.
Birthdays: Robert Bridges, Emily Kimbrough, Michael Crichton
Tips and Teasers: It is the middle of the night and the phone rings. The voice on the other end says: "You won't get away with it. I'll see that you pay." There is a scream and a loud crack and the line goes dead. Caller ID is "unavailable". What, if anything, do you do? Did you deserve the call? Why?
Thought for the day: "Most writers enjoy only two brief periods of happiness. First when what seems a glorious idea comes flashing into mind and, secondly, when a last page has been written and you have not yet had time to consider how much better it all ought to have been." – J.B. Priestley
Sunday, October 21, 2007
For instance, vocal cord. I was taught it is "cord" and not "chord" because it is named for their long stringy appearance, like a cord or string. Okay, I can see where some people would get "chord" - because of a musical tone that they emit, but it's not what I learned.
The same with free rein. I was taught that this refers back to our horse riding days when a horse was given its head - or free rein - to wander where it wanted. The rider was not in control, therefore the reins were free. But now the powers that be are saying it can also refer to a type of government where the monarch is free to do whatever he or she pleases - free reign.
It's very confusing to me, both as a writer and as a former editor. If I had seen these words with their new spellings, I would have told the author to change them. Now, though it feels VERY wrong to me, I have to accept these as proper terms.
And there are so many more like this. I know a viable language is always changing and growing, but it seems to me that in these instances, we are creating more confusion for an already confusing language. English is one of the most difficult languages to learn, mostly because of our odd spellings and pronunciations. And now they're adding more confusion to the mix.
Ah well, one has to adapt and grow, correct? Though I may not agree with them, I will learn these new ways. That way, when my grandson comes to me for help with his spelling tests, I'll be able to say - which correct spelling does your teacher favor and can you give me a definition or derivation of the word? Poor child. Poor us.
It does make reading and writing a challenge.
Birthdays: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alphonse Lamartine, Ursula LeGuin
Tips and Teasers: If you could have three wishes, what would they be? Why?
Thought for the day: "Write while the heat is in you.... The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience." - Henry David Thoreau
Thursday, October 18, 2007
What you aren't told and learn on the run is how much everything else costs. These days, if you're going to be published, you have to have a website. That's a must. And yes, there are free websites available and you can learn to do the coding yourself or pick a generic template and go with that. But if you want anything special - a website that says "you", then you have to put some money into it. Either by spending the time (and time is money!) to learn special coding or buying software to help you or hiring someone to do the work for you. This can get really expensive. Plus there's the updates - again, depending on how technical you are, you can do your own (which takes a lot of time) or hire someone to do it for you (which takes a lot of money).
But the expenditures don't end there. Say your book gets picked up and published. Now you have to get into promotions. That means an outlay for bookmarks, trailers (if you do them), post cards, brochures, give aways, prizes for contests, all the little things that make others look at your book or your website. And advertising - not all publishers, in fact, very few, pay for ads in magazines. Sometimes you can get in with a group and co-op the ad, but it still gets expensive. And this can all add up to megabucks.
Then there's the expense of time - time to blog, to go to other's blogs and promote yourself, time to spend on other websites and forums and lists to "get your name out there."
And don't forget education - on-line classes to take so you can improve your skills and conferences and workshops where you either take or teach classes.
All of this adds up to a huge expenditure in time and money. My first year as a published author has been one of education. An expensive education, but one in which I learned some valuable lessons. I am learning what is worth spending money on and what isn't (I won't bother with magazine ads again - they're not worth that expense, but conferences where you teach are, are are bookmarks and postcards.). I'm also learning to budget my time. All this on-line stuff takes a lot of time - so when do you find time to write?
This past year has been an interesting one for me. And many lessons have been learned - some the hard way. So now when my next book comes out, I'll have a better idea what to do and what not to do. I'm sure I'll still make mistakes, but at least I'm learning. :)
Birthdays: Heinrich von Kleist, Thomas L. Peacock, H.L. Davis, Wendy Wasserstein, Terry McMillan
Tips and Teasers: As a reader, what makes you pick up a book and buy it? As a writer, what would you do to promote your book?
Thought for the day: "The story begins when things change. The adventure begins when things go wrong." – Dennis McKiernan
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I'm happy to say I've found the path and am well on my way out of the forest. I'm still behind on two projects, but have managed to finish several and even have enough time to relax a little. It's a very good feeling.
So how did I do it? I made a list of what I needed to do and deadlines (if any) for each task. Then I tackled them in one hour increments. One job at a time. I picked a project and worked on it for one hour. Then I took a break - walked around, got some tea, whatever I needed to do to relax just a little. Then I went on to another project for one hour. Period. No more, no less. And it's working.
The theory - at least, my theory - is, you can do anything for an hour. Okay, so maybe an hour doesn't work for you. What about thirty minutes? Or fifteen minutes. The trick is, you have to give that project your undivided attention for whatever span of time you choose. Set a timer if you have to. At the end of your chosen time, stop. Then go on to the next project. One hour works for me because I find I can get a lot done in an hour. Fifteen minute increments just aren't quite enough - but some people do very well with smaller time periods. For me, it takes that long just to "get into" what I'm doing.
Anyway, the one hour time management system must work for me because I am seeing light at the end of that path. And that's a good feeling.
The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, you might want to try it.
Birthdays: Jupiter Hammon, Georg Buchner, Elinor Glyn, Arthur Miller, Lerone Bennett, Jr.
Tips and Teasers: How a person deals with other is a main indication of character. How does your hero or heroine - or villain - deal with children or the elderly? Or anyone not considered his or her equal?
Thought for the day: "Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money." – Louis Untermeyer
Monday, October 15, 2007
But his byline was there, therefore he is published.
Is there a difference between being a writer and being an author? According to my dictionary, an author is one who makes or originates something; creator. The writer of a book, article, etc. A writer is one who writes, especially as a business or occupation (author, journalist, etc.).
So I guess I would have to say Jeff is an author since he creates skits, plays and Zoidland, but he earns his living doing statistical analysis. I, on the other hand, am a writer since I'm doing this as a business. It is all I do. Thank goodness my hubby supports me so I can do this, but I have no other outside income.
But those are the technicalities. What makes a writer or an author is the desire to write. Some would call it a need or a drive to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and jot down our stories, articles, skits or ideas. For many of us the drive is so strong we can't "not" write. It is that certain undefined something within that calls to us. We may fight it. We may find other creative outlets, but the spark is still there, waiting below the surface to emerge when we least expect it.
To be a writer or an author is a great calling. History has shown us that the written word has the power to change the ways of the world. The written word endures all and calls to us.
So whether writer or author, the passion is there to create. My advice is listen to the muse when she calls. There is nothing better than having someone read what you have written and say "This is good!" (or interesting or whatever adjective gives you warm fuzzies).
Birthdays: Virgil, Robert Herrick, Helen Hunt Jackson, P.G. Wodehouse, C.P. Snow, John Galbraith, Mario Puzo, Evan Hunter, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
Tips and Teasers: It’s time for your twentieth high school reunion. When someone asks you
Thought for the day: "I would write of the universal, not the provincial, in human nature.... I would write of characters, not of characteristics." - Ellen Glasgow
what you’ve been doing, what will you tell them?
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I'm tempted to start off by saying, "I am not a writer." Why do I say that? Well, I don't really have anything published, and I'm sure that I'm not alone in that among the people who read this blog.
But does that necessarily mean that I'm not a writer? Does publication a writer make? I answer a resounding, "Heck, no!" I may not be an author, particularly in the "successful" idea of the term, but I'm certainly a writer. I write and draw a weekly comic strip, which Mom has mentioned on more than one occasion. I write and/or edit sketches that I and others perform at my church. At my office, my services as "wordsmith" to assist in drafting official memos and reports are widely used. Through these actions, not only is my local reputation as a writer secured, but I also succeed in amusing and/or educating the people around me with my writing.
Sure, I may never see my name on a bestseller list or Amazon.com's Top Ten, but I'll continue writing in one form or another for most of the rest of my life. And my friends and family will (hopefully) continue to enjoy reading what I write. If that's not being a successful writer, I don't know what is.
Birthdays: e.e. cummings, Jeannine Burkholder
Tips and Teasers: Your main character is deathly allergic to something in a location that is needed to complete the quest. What is the allergy? How can he or she get around it?
Thought for the day: You cannot avoid paradise. You can only avoid seeing it. --Charlotte Joko Beck
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Once each month, our town has what they call "Second Friday" - an evening where the businesses stay open until at least 9 p.m. and there are bands or singers at different establishments and other entertainments. Each month something different is offered as a "theme" of sorts. Last night was mostly for the kids as they could color their own trick or treat bags and shops had little treats for them. Think of it like a street fair, but they don't close off traffic. Yes, it's a little hazardous, but drivers are careful and the crowds are pretty good about sticking to the sidewalks. It's an evening of fun and neighbors.
Our town is a wonderful place to walk. The two main streets are lined with eclectic little shops that sell a wide variety of craft or unusual items you can't get at a regular "department" store. I love wandering into a little hole-in-the-wall place and finding something unique for my friends or family - or just for myself. And food? Wow. There is a bakery, a small restaurant that specializes in organic foods - and chocolate, a "tea room" when you want to feel old-fashioned elegant, a historic hotel with a large patio for dining, pizza places, sandwich places, ice cream shops, and even a bicycle vendor who sells authentic Italian gelato out of his cart.
Even though I've only lived here two years, I love this town and everything here. And there's so much fodder for stories - like the bicycle vendor. Or the duo who were singing at the bakery last night - an odd couple for sure, but very good singers - or even the historic hotel. From what I understand, if you go downstairs to the men's room, you are greeted by the sight of a female (mannequin!) in a bubble bath! :)
So many interesting tidbits that will someday find their ways into a story or two. I can't wait. :)
Teaser: write three scenes using the mannequin in the bubble bath - the first as a murder mystery, the second as a science fiction or paranormal, the third as a romance.
Thought for today: "Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them." Russell H. Conwell
Thursday, October 11, 2007
And if you get a chance check out his cartoon, www.zoidland.com. You'll be glad you did.
Birthdays: Steen Steensen Blicher, Francois Mauriac, Elmore Leonard
Tips and Teasers: Your character is digging a hole in her backyard to plant a tree – and she digs up a skeleton. What happens next?
Thought for the day: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter - Bible: New Testament Revelation 1:19
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Then there is the third one. I haven't had this much work since college - and maybe not then. But it is so worth it. The class is for deep editing and is run by Margie Lawson. If you get a chance to take any of her classes, do so! She is not only an excellent teacher, but he depth of knowledge is amazing. I just wish I wasn't so far behind so I could participate more, but the lessons are there for me to read and work through on my own. And I am. The class is difficult only in that there is so much to learn. But so very worth the effort.
Taking a class, whether in person or on-line is a good way to keep your skills fresh and up-to-date. No matter how long you've been writing, there's always something new to learn or just refresh. Check some of them out. Oh - but buyer beware. Like anything else in this world, check out the class with others who have either taken it or who know of the instructor. The class is only as good as the teacher. I've taken some that weren't worth the money and others for free that I'd have paid big cash for. Get recommendations from others before jumping in. But if you find the good ones - you'll be glad you did.
Birthdays: Aleksis Kivi, Ivo Andri’c, Harold Pinter
Tips and Teasers: Daylight Savings Time ends this month. What will you do with the extra hour? Why not write a paragraph either for or against DST. Be clear, concise and persuasive. When done, why not send it to your local newspaper or state representative?
Thought for the day: "To write weekly, to write daily, to write shortly, to write for busy people catching trains in the morning or for tired people coming home in the evening, is a heartbreaking task for men who know good writing from bad. They do it, but instinctively draw out of harm’s way anything precious that might be damaged by contact with the public, or anything sharp that might irritate its skin." - Virginia Woolf
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I knew you could.
I planned on blogging on Sunday when I got back from the conference.
I planned on blogging yesterday when I got finished catching up on everything.
You'll note I did neither.
The conference in New Jersey is a wonderful experience, especially if you are also a volunteer, as I was. After a long drive, my two friends and I arrived at the hotel around lunch, but the room wasn't ready yet. So we went to sign in to the conference. And ran into my first glitch. I was assigned an agent who had already nixed my manuscript. So I got in line to get my appointment switched to another one - which fortunately, I could at that early stage.
Then I looked at my volunteer assignments - second glitch. I was scheduled for three different things all at the same time. Join that line up and get things straightened out. Then the call came that the room was ready. Yay! Signed in and hauled our gear up to the fourth floor and ate lunch (which the three of us had packed, thank goodness.). Opened our conference packs and figured out what workshops we were going to go to. And were off and running.
After two really good workshops, I met with my friends to go to dinner. At that time (5 p.m.), the only thing open in the hotel was the bar and it was full. We got a look at the restaurant menu - and decided our budgets didn't include food at this establishment, so we went for a walk. There was a KFC right next door so that became dinner. Unfortunately for me, I haven't eaten at a fast food joint in years. I ordered three chicken strips - and they came out with a plate half full of them! Now most people wouldn't complain about the amount of food there - but you have to realize that due to health problems for my husband, meat has been a rare commodity in my house for several years. And high sodium fried food is a definite no-no. Well, I enjoyed the treat, but paid for it later.
Later was the awards ceremony and the dessert reception. I will say the hotel knows how to put out a dessert reception. Oh my. The goodies. Cakes, tortes, petit fours, cannolli, and two chocolate fountains - one in white, the other dark. And fresh fruit to dip in. Just about any dessert you could imagine. So tempting. So decadent.
And I couldn't eat any of it - thanks to my earlier indulgence.
The next day, we had workshops and agent/editor appointments and so much else. Wonderful speakers - very uplifting and inspiring. I got to meet a lot of people whose names I know but had never met in person.
My appointment wasn't the best as the agent was looking mostly for erotica writers. But she did ask for a partial. So we'll see what happens.
Although there were high points and low points, like there is with anything like this, overall, it was a good conference.
But I am so far behind on other things now. I'm going to spend the next few days doing nothing but catch up. You take two or three days off and look what happens! :) But there's always next year!
Birthdays: James Whitcomb Riley, Leroi Jones, Thomas Keneally, Leon Trotsky
Tips and Teasers: Finish this scene using the following: spider web, crystal ball, CD disk. – I followed the map found in my grandfather's trunk…
Thought for the day: "Nobody can write the life of a man but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him." – Samuel Johnson
Birthdays: John Hay, Frank Herbert, John Cowper Powys, Faith Ringgold, R.L. Stine
Tips and Teasers: A plotter is someone who roughs out the entire story before writing. A pantster is someone who just sits down and writes without knowing where it's going. Which are you? Why?
Thought for the day: "You are always going back and forth between the outline and the writing, bringing them closer together, or just throwing out the outline and making a new one." – Annie Dillard
Birthdays: Jill Conway, John Lennon
Tips and Teasers: Finish the following: I don't know what made me look out the window at that particular moment, but I did. Unfortunately.
Thought for the day: We write from aspiration and antagonism, as well as from experience. We paint those qualities which we do not possess – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thursday, October 04, 2007
My husband and I were talking last night about the conference. He asked me if I was looking forward to it. My answer? Yes and no. I am looking forward to being there, meeting friends I've never met, attending the workshops. I am NOT looking forward to the travel, the food, the noise and crowds. To say I don't travel well would be an understatement, but I"m going with friends so that will be fun.
So for those of you who enjoy them, here are the tips for the next three days. See you on Sunday. :)
Birthdays: Edward Stratemayer, Damon Runyon, Jackie Collins, Anne Rice
Tips and Teasers: Finish this scene, using: tree, panda, coral, clock – I crept down the stairs, not expecting what I saw….
Thought for the day: To write it, it took three months; to conceive it three minutes; to collect the data in it—all my life. - F. Scott Fitzgerald referring to his novel This Side of Paradise.
Birthdays: Johnathan Edwards, Denis Diderot, John A. Symonds, Frederic Morton, Vaclav Havel
Tips and Teasers: Write a paragraph or scene without using the word "the". Need more of a challenge? Don't use the letter "e" either. Good luck!
Thought for the day: When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it … and it is all one – M.F.K. Fisher
Birthdays: Caroline Gordon, Thor Heyerdahl
Tips and Teasers: Write a paragraph where every sentence starts with a different letter of the alphabet. Extra credit if you keep them in sequence. Double credit if you can combine yesterday's challenge with this one.
Thought for the day: "Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. ...If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy." – Nikki Giovanni
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Actually, I've heard other people say this as well - people whose work I admire. They have problems with editing their own stuff too. I guess it's because we're too close to the subject. We see the words we want to see and not what is actually there. And that' okay, up to a point. If we want to sell our work, we have to make it as good as it can possibly be. Thus, the workshop.
The first assignment was to take one paragraph and make changes to make it better. So, here's a copy of mine. Tell me what you think. The first one is the original. The second is the revised one. Do you have a better one? Let me know what it is.
Aiden Ravanaugh rode into the village he’d been searching for in the late afternoon of a chilly early autumn day. The recent rains turned the path to a quagmire but there was no way to move off it as the forest crowded close on both sides. He patted his horse on the neck. "Not much longer, Thunder."
Rain dripped off Aiden’s cloak, off his saddle, off his horse’s mane and tail. The crowding trees forced them into the quagmire that was supposed to be a road. He patted the horse, trying to impart some comfort that he didn’t feel. “Not much longer, Thunder.” I hope.
Progress - 17 pages last night
Birthdays: Gore Vidal, James Herriot, Thomas Wolfe, Mikhail Lermontov
Tips and Teasers: Using all five senses, describe something you have been to like a concert, movie, meeting, etc.
Thought for the day: To write a novel may be pure pleasure. To live a novel presents certain difficulties. As for reading a novel, I do my best to get out of it. - Karl Kraus
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Can you say "overextended"? I knew you could.
All right, so I took on a bit more than I should have right now. And maybe I'm running a little behind on some things. But there's an old saying that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Well, I'm that person. And I'm getting everything done. I've got books to review, a conference to get ready for, manuscripts to write and submit and do promos for, others to critique, two on-line classes I'm currently taking, and the family stuff. (and for my d-i-l - we had this conversation - family comes first. Period.) :) Oh, and we're supposed to be on vacation this week. Oh well.
The biggest hassle right now is actually due to me taking on the treasurer job of one of my writer's groups and the fact that the bank they deal with doesn't want to recognize me as treasurer with out notarized letters or someone physically coming to the bank with me - and since we are scattered around the nation, that's not possible. While I admire their attention to detail and security, it is problematical in the extreme. How do you take care of this issue when the members of the board live in different states?
But it's all good. The writing is going well. The family is being tended to. The chores are getting done. And we may even get away for a day or so.
Here are three day's worth of tips/teasers/birthdays/etc.
Birthdays: Michael Innes (J.I. M. Stewart), Truman Capote, Elie Wiesel
Tips and Teasers: You're going to a Renaissance Faire. Do you go in costume or as a regular person? If in costume, what does it look like and what kind of character are you portraying? Royalty? Or a serving wench? Have fun with this one.
Thought for the day: I know some very good writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or even can stand her" - Anne Lamott
Birthdays: Sergey Aksakov, Louis Untermeyer, Daniel Boorstin, Faith Baldwin
Tips and Teasers: The first week of October is "Get Organized Week." Make a list of things you need to organize in order to make your writing life flow better. Pick one and do it.
Thought for the day: "Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan." - Tom Landry
Birthdays: Wallace Stevens, Graham Greene
Tips and Teasers: The weather is turning cooler, there’s a nip in the air. This is the time of year for football games, apple cider and scary monsters lurking in the shadows. In the manor of Shelley (Frankenstein), you have to create a new monster – but one with a streak of nice. What does your monster look like? What is his or her quirk? What happens when s/he follows the nice streak instead of the nasty?
Thought for the day: "I will write, as in the past, simply for the pleasure of writing, for myself alone, with no thought of money or fame. Apollo at least will be grateful to me, and perhaps at last I will produce something beautiful—for all things make way before the unceasing striving of an energetic sentiment." - Gustave Flaubert