A Day in the Life

So, I am not an author every day.  I have a full time job and a social life when I can swing it, so sometimes my author life gets pushed to the side.  But some days, a lot of author-y things happen.

Like today.  I got up early and submitted information to ten websites that promote free Kindle books (my next free days are coming up at the end of the month).  I plan on submitting to a lot more over the next two weeks and hopefully one (or two or three) will bite and actually feature my book.  Increased exposure leads to more downloads, which can lead to a higher ranking after the promo ends, which leads to more visibility, which *hopefully* will lead to more actual sales.

After the tedious task of filling out form after form for those websites, I headed over to a photographer to get my professional and official Author Headshot taken.  We had a lot of fun with different poses and backgrounds, even some props!  Don’t worry, though, nothing cheesy!  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  She said she should be able to get me the images to look over by next week and I’ll post the ones I like for you all to ooh and ahhh over.

From the headshot shoot, I went straight to work.  No author stuff there, but as I am not making enough money writing to support myself yet, it’s kinda author-y because my paychecks enable me to you know, eat and stuff, while I’m working on my next book!

And after I post this I’ll be leaving to meet with my critique group.  They are getting chapters 7 & 8 of The Maidening Ceremony.  I hope they are ready to just GUT it.  My first drafts are so terrible – I really depend on my critique groups (online and in person) to tell me what sucks and what is passable and what is actually pretty good.

When I get home, I’ll obsessively check my sales (AGAIN) on Amazon and CreateSpace and probably stop by the KDP forums to see if anything new and helpful has been posted.  And THEN, if it isn’t too late, I’ll either do some critiquing on TheNextBigWriter, or I’ll actually write!  Whew.

And that’s a day in the life of a new author.

Being an Adult?

Today I took down my Christmas tree.  It was my first real Christmas tree that was all mine- I picked out the ornaments and the lights, I decorated it, and every night I plugged in the lights and sat in it’s glow (usually while watching television and/or answering emails).  A friend actually bought the tree for me because I’d mentioned that I wanted a mini-tree to put up in the condo since I would be spending most of the month of December here.  She had my name for Secret Santa at work and showed up to our Christmas party on December 11th toting a 2  1/2′ tall live tree (that’s an estimate- I didn’t actually measure it).

Full disclosure- she did text me a day or two before the party to let me know she bought the tree so I didn’t end up buying one for myself and so I’d have time to get some ornaments for it.

I’m sorry for the bad picture, but it’s the only one I have.  I actually added some larger ornaments to the tree a couple days after this was taken, but I forgot to take another picture.

I decided I’d take the tree down today because it was getting very dry and I didn’t see the point in watering it again when I knew I’d have to take it down by the 30th anyways (the owners of the condo come home from their Christmas vacation on December 31st), plus the cleaning man is coming tomorrow and so I have to straighten things up as much as possible (I know, it’s completely ironic that I have to clean before the cleaning man comes, but so it goes- also, full disclosure, the owners of the condo pay the cleaning man, not me; I could never afford a cleaning man.  Or this condo).

As I was removing the brightly colored shatter-resistant (a very important feature when you live with 4 cats who like to swat at anything and everything) baubles from the tree, I got to thinking about how it really was my very first adult Christmas tree.  This is the third year I’ve pet-sat over the holidays and during the previous two years I didn’t even consider getting a tree.  I knew I’d be spending Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s and Christmas day at my parents, ant they both have trees, so why would I need one?  Especially when I’d be the only one looking at it and there’d be no gifts under it.

I think I’ve spent a good portion of my adult(?) life waiting.  Waiting for the right career.  Waiting for the husband and family that is surely inevitable.  Was I waiting to put up a Christmas tree until I had someone to enjoy it with?  Probably.  And that’s just stupid.  No one gets anywhere by standing still and waiting.

I think I was probably also waiting to go back to school until I had someone to support me through it.  Not financially.  I can take care of myself in that respect (well, I try and as I’m still eating and filling my car with gas and don’t have creditors hunting me down in the street, I feel like I’m succeeding).  No, I mean to support me as in give me the encouragement I need when I’m having a shitty day and want to say “screw it, I’ll never be a writer.”  Support me as in, drive me to campus/work when my car is broken down and needs to be in the shop for a couple of days.   Support me as in, just saying “Hey, you’re awesome and I love you.”  Well.  That support isn’t coming from outside sources, so I guess I’ll have to do that, too.  And I can do that.  Because I am awesome.

All that to say, hey!  I finished my grad school applications!  Yay!  Lots of exclamation points, yay!!!!!!!!  I have this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’m not going to get in, but at the same time, I feel this wonderful sense of empowerment that I actually completed the applications and sent them in.  I’ll never get in without applying, after all.  And if I don’t get in, oh well.  I try again next year.  Or I take it as a sign and get serious about trying to find an agent for Twenty-Five (I know I say that a lot, but hey 2012 is almost here and I see it as an amazing new start.  Who knows what can happen?).

My friend, Jaclyn, wants to write a book, so we’ve made a pact that we are going to meet once a month for a couple of hours and just write.  We won’t talk or distract each other- we’ll be holding each other accountable and making sure that we are writing something.  I’ve really missed the community of writers I had back in my TNBW days, and maybe this will bring back some of the motivation I had then.  I’m really looking forward to it.  And Jaclyn- now that I’ve put this out into the internet/blogging universe, you know we actually have to do it.

Wow.  So this is the most I’ve written on this blog in a while and I hope it’s been worth your while to read, if I even have any readers left.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  This 27 1/2 year old envisions a fabulous 2012 and a lot more, “Hey, I’m an Adult!” moments ahead.  I’ll keep you posted…

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Angela Fristoe!

I decided that it was probably time to get this blog back on track, seeing as it started out as a blog about writing and has somewhere along the way veered into a blog about randomness.  So, I’ve asked a few of the writer friends I made two years ago on The Next Big Writer to whip up some guest blog posts for you to enjoy.  They are all embarking on the process of having their books published, either through self-publishing, or through a traditional publishing house and I applaud them for that!  They believe in themselves and their writing and they are putting it out there for the world to see and enjoy and that is not only impressive, it’s courageous.  My first guest blogger is Angela, who I knew for the longest time as “penang” or “Ang” in the TNBW forums and whom I’m happy to say is a talented writer and a great friend.  I asked her to talk a little about why she first “picked up a pen” to write and to give you a little information on her latest book, Songbird.  Here’s what she had to say:

Writing was never my number one passion. In fact, writing didn’t even come onto my top ten list until about six years ago. I’d always dreamed of being an artist, a flight attendant, or the next Diane Fossey or Jane Goodall. I ended up teaching. Then I read the Twilight series. Okay, so not the best example of amazing YA literature, but it did make me think I could do that. Until then I didn’t even know that Young Adult was a genre.

When I first started writing, I had no idea how to approach it, and honestly I still don’t. Every writer I talk to approaches it differently. For me this means sitting down at the computer and typing as it comes to me. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. My first novel is still under the revision process thanks to my unplanned approach.

Songbird is actually the second novel I wrote and most of it was done within a month during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Finishing Songbird, along with revising and editing, took a bit longer, but this story just flowed for me much better than my other novel. There was never a point where I sat down and didn’t feel the story come to me.

There are parts of Songbird that are so close to my heart. Some of the experiences, good and bad, that Dani goes through were inspired by things that either I’ve experienced, or people I know have lived through. At times it was hard to write because all I could see and feel were the real reactions and emotions.

Songbird is a story of death, loss, love, friendship and moving forward. Seventeen-year-old Dani is haunted by memories of her abusive parents and her murdered brother. Those memories constantly influence her choices and when her love for her best friend Reece is rejected, she struggles to find a way to put the past behind her for good. A struggle mad harder when a former foster brother reappears and brings back even more of the past.

Songbird is now available in paperback and all eBook formats at Amazon.com, B&N, and Smashwords.

You can learn more about Angela and her writing at her blog: Turning the Pages.

My Spot on the Shelf

I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last posted!  I’ve been busy, which is nothing unusual, and I just haven’t given much thought to writing the past two weeks.

I hate that.

But sometimes I don’t have control over everything in my life.  It kinda sucks, but it’s kinda okay too.  Okay because I’ve been working with a lot of wedding clients and I’ve been hanging out with some friends and, you know, actually having a life!

I thought about writing today, though.  First, at work, I had a minute or two of downtime here and there and I started created a family tree for my next project (A serial story about Family Dynamics- get ready for it!), then, I was in Barnes and Noble for a brief second and I couldn’t stop myself.  I went to the Fiction and Literature section and glanced at the titles.  I found my way to the H’s.  I found the spot where my book would be if I ever get published.

Is it weird that I do this?  Because this isn’t the first time I’ve looked for where my book belongs in a bookstore.  (And just for the record, I’d be to the left of Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond- in case you don’t know my awesome last name.)  It’s motivating to me.  The idea that maybe, possibly, someday I could walk in a bookstore and when I find that spot on the shelf my book will actually BE there.  It’s a pipe dream, I know.  But maybe.  Just possibly.

I got a review on TNBW the other day for my poem “Observations in Ten Minutes” in which the reader/reviewer asked if I’d ever thought of publishing my poetry.  Of course I have!  I’ve thought about it and dreamed about it.  But I haven’t really done much to make it happen.  I know I need to.  I need to send out queries and letters and let the publishing world know that I exist.  But when?  When’s the right time?  I don’t think I’m ready.  I want to be.  But I don’t think I am.

I read a few poems I wrote in high school last night.  Oh my God were they awful.  TERRIBLE.  I can’t believe I ever thought they were good (which, PS, I did).  What if I think the same thing about the stuff I’m writing now, the novel and short stories and poetry I’ve written over the last year and a half?  I want my best work out there.  I don’t want to put my name on something that isn’t perfect.

And therein lies another problem.  It will never be perfect.  Even books I LOVE have moments of terrible writing (Jane Austen being the obvious exception).  So do I take the chance now that someone will see the brilliance in my work (not that my work is brilliant by any means, but I think you know what I’m going for) and overlook the horridness?  Or do I spend another year or so editing and perfecting, making it better?  I feel like life is too short for that.  I need more time though!  I started a round of edits on Twenty-Five, but I think I only got through chapter 6 or so.  I’ve been so exhausted in the evenings and busy on the weekends, I haven’t gone back to it.

Okay, seriously Rach.  Enough whining.  Just do it!

It’s the only way you’ll ever get anywhere- you can’t move forward by standing still.

So I guess I’ll be getting off my ass now.

*****

****

***

**

*

And a little thing that makes me happy: Getting comments from People who read my blog! (HINT HINT!)

*

**

***

****

*****

Quick Update on the Trifecta of Milestones approaching:

This is my 92nd post.

I’ve had 4,895 views to date.

And there are 6 weeks and 4 days left until my One Year Blogiversary!

I Didn’t Win

TNBW’s 2010 Strongest Start Competition for the Romance Category.  It really doesn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.  Apparently Twenty-Five, the only book I’ve been able to actually finish, is a victim of first book syndrome.  It will never get anywhere because it just isn’t good.  I should put it in a drawer and work on other projects, but it’s so hard to get the characters out of my head.  Ben is the only character I have left who still talks to me- and that’s with 6 or 7 different projects that I’ve started.  Everyone else seems to have thrown in the towel, I think they want me to throw in the towel too.

I don’t want to.

But I’m worried I’m going to have to.

No, I won’t.

I don’t want to be a quitter. But what if this isn’t right?  What if I really do suck?  What if I’m not supposed to be a writer?

Do you enjoy it?

When I actually have time to do it, yes.

Then what makes you think you aren’t supposed to be a writer?

I suck.

Everyone sucks.

Touche.  But I mean, I suck at THIS.  I suck at writing.  I get told all the time that my stories aren’t original, no one seems to “get” what I’m trying to say.

You don’t suck.

Yes, I do.

I’m going to smack you.

You won’t be the first one who’s threatened to do that.

I’ll be the first one to follow through.

No, you won’t.  Because you are me.  And I never follow through on anything.

That’s not true!

Sure it is.  Look at me.  I graduated college Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Criminal Justice.  Have I EVER pursued a career in criminal justice?

You applied to law school.

But I didn’t go.

Do you regret that?

Sometimes.

Why?

Because then maybe I’d be doing something worth while.

You think your life isn’t worth while?

Exactly.

Why not?

Why not?  Why not?  Because I’m stuck.  I work three jobs and I still can’t afford to live on my own.  I’m tired and grumpy all the time.  No guy has ever wanted to be with me and I truly believe no guy ever will.  Nothing I do makes any difference whatsoever.  My writing is crap, I don’t even know why I try.

Isn’t it true that more people tell you they like your writing than tell you they dislike it?

Technically, I suppose.

Technically, you suppose?  You are infuriating.  Why can’t you believe in yourself more?

Because there’s nothing to believe in.

Yes, there is.

No, there isn’t.

We’ve been here before.

And we’ll be back again.

Why did you enter the contest in the first place?

I was hoping to get some validation, I suppose.  Something quantifiable.  I’ve never won a single contest I’ve entered, writing or otherwise.  I just wanted to feel like I could do something right.  That I could be a winner.  I thought maybe Twenty-Five would have a shot.  I was wrong.

It made it to the finals.

The finals isn’t winning.

It’s closer than losing.

Well, aren’t you clever?

I like to think so.

Do you really think I can ever get anywhere with this?  Is there even a chance that someone out there will ever think that my writing is great, or at least good enough?

Yes.

Really?

Sometimes.

But not all the time?

Well, of course I have doubts.  I’m you.  You’re me.  You’re having this conversation with yourself, idiot.

I AM an idiot.

And you’d be hella boring if you weren’t one.

Thanks for that.

You’re welcome.

But a little thing that made me happy today:  My friend, Ang, DID win the Strongest Start Competition in the Romance Category.  Congratulations Ang!  You’re an amazing writer and I’m happy to call you a friend!

I’ve Been a Bad Blogger Lately

And I’m sorry.  I haven’t had much to say, honestly.  Life is busy and I haven’t been writing very much.  It makes me sad, but it’s also okay.  I’d love to work on The Death Effect, but the characters are being very quiet.  They don’t seem to want to speak to me.  And that’s okay, too.  Sometimes the mind just needs a bit of a break.

So I’ve been giving my brain a lot of rest.  I’ve been watching a lot of movies and just relaxing as much as possible.  It’s been very nice.  I wrote a poem a few days ago which I really liked.  I think right now my creativity is on the short-winded side, so I’m going to work my pen out with short stories and poetry.  If I write anything interesting, I’ll post it for you.

Some good news for you: my novel, Twenty-Five, is a finalist in The Next Big Writer‘s Strongest Start 2010 Competition in the Romance category!  There are six finalists in each category and there will be one winner and two runner-ups.  I’m sure I won’t win anything, but I almost didn’t enter, so being a finalist is pretty cool!

And a little thing that makes me happy: getting a random text message from one of my siblings with a quote from Mean Girls or Friends.

Where Dreams Come True… Part Three

Brooke had to work on Friday during the day, so I got to sleep in!  And when I did finally get up, I immediately put on my brand new bathing suit (P.S. I haven’t worn a bathing suit in over 4 years.  Luckily, it was not as traumatic as I expected because no one saw me in it except for Brooke and her roommate later in the day) and went out to the pool.

In Florida, everyone has a pool in their backyard.  Literally.

I got in the pool and swam around for about five minutes.  It was nice, but swimming alone really isn’t that much fun, so I got out and dried off by laying in the sun for a little bit.  Then the main event.  I spent the next three or four hours at my laptop, just typing and editing and not worrying at all about work life.  I was completely immersed in The Death Effect and the world of my imagination.  It was so peaceful, so nice, so incredibly relaxing.  I really needed it.

On Friday night Brooke, her boyfriend Danny, and I went to their stem church for Bible study of sorts.  I had a good time.  Their friends were welcoming, we had Papa John’s pizza (mmm… delicious.  I used to dislike it, but it has grown on me), and then discussed the idea of God’s plan and the goal of accepting God’s plan and living in the moment rather than living for the future.

I completely live for the future.  I wish I didn’t.  And I’m trying harder not to.  That’s partly what this blog is for.  It’s why I switched jobs in January.  And it’s why I write for me and haven’t really been freaking out about the fact that I haven’t had time to search for an agent.  But the truth is, I’ve always waited for that future moment when my life “will start.”  You know what I mean.  That time when I’m in the career I want, in love with the man I want, happy with the family I want, out of the debt I have now.  It’s always ahead of me.  I’m always stretching my hand out trying to grasp it, inevitably falling short.

But my trip to Orlando was living in the moment.  Not caring how it would affect my bank account, only caring how it would affect my happiness NOW.  And I’m so happy I went.

Saturday, I repeated Friday morning/afternoon- working a lot on The Death Effect, but not really working on it.  I read through everything I have written so far, edited a few things, and made sure it was up-to-date on TNBW.  Again, a completely relaxing, no-obligations day.  I loved it.

Saturday night- we went to Disney…

My first glimpse of Disney through the rain and the windows!

Starting with Action…

When I was workshopping Twenty-Five on TNBW, several reviewers told me I needed to delete the opening scene and jump straight into the action.  So many reviewers in fact, that eventually I broke down and listened to them.  And I didn’t have second doubts about following that advice until I got my rejection from Scott Eagan.  He said that there was a lack of character development.  I wondered at the time if my character development suffered because I deleted the opening scene.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately.  I’ve read 13 books since the start of the year.  And not a single one of them starts off going straight into the action.  Granted, one is Jane Austen and no books from the early nineteenth century started with action (at least none that I’ve read), but the other 12 are all late twentieth or twenty-first century.  So….  My thoughts on that are that maybe I don’t need to start with action immediately.  Maybe that’s just a rule they throw out in writing workshops and on agent blogs because it sounds great in theory and because books that do it well, do it great.  But it doesn’t make sense for my romance novel which is based around the characters and not around what happens.

I took a couple days and re-read my MS.  Again.  And I really noticed the lack of character development at the beginning.  I was shocked, honestly.  I never thought that was a problem I had.  I assumed the biggest problem with Twenty-Five was that the plot wasn’t unique enough, which is still a problem when it comes to writing the query, but I actually think it kinda works for this book.  Anyways, my point was, it looks like you can’t listen to everything reviewers say.  Now, I’m not stupid or vapid or naive enough to believe that if I add that scene back in it’s going to magically fix my character development problem.  The opening scene is going to need a lot of editing and the action scene is going to need a lot of editing to make it work with the opening.  It’s going to be a lot of work.  But I believe in this book.  And I know I’ve said that a million times.  But I do.  So I’m going to do the work and I’m actually kind of excited about it.  It kind of makes me sick at the same time, but I’m going to focus on the excitement.

Getting Back in the Swing of Things, Writing Things, That Is

I’ve decided to stop p***y-footing around.  And I use the asterisks because I hate that word, but I can’t deny that that is exactly what I’ve been doing with my writing lately.  It is time for me to really try to get an agent.  No more feeling sorry for myself because query writing sucks (which it does, btw).

For the rest of this month, if I’m not working on wedding stuff or actually at work, I’m going to be revising Twenty-Five again, working on my query letter, and researching new agents to query.  A friend of mine from TNBW thinks I have a good shot with British agents, so I’m going to add a bunch to my list.  I’m not giving up on getting an agent for Twenty-Five until I’ve exhausted every single possible agent out there.

Beginning in May I’ll be sending out all of those queries, and since sending out queries really doesn’t take that much time, I’ll be devoting the rest of my free time to writing.  Because I need to finish The Death Effect.  Anytime I read portions of TDE, I love it, but I very rarely work on it.  I’m going to finish it.  I am determined that Twenty-Five will not be a fluke, I will finish another book!  I will, I will, I will!

Your job, my lovely readers, is to hold me accountable.  I am really going to need your help.  If I haven’t posted in a couple of days, leave me a comment or send me an email asking for an update- even if you don’t care for an update.  I need motivation, I need goals and deadlines.  My goal is to have sent at least 50 query letters by the end of May and at least 60k words of TDE.  Since I’ve already sent 18 query letters that means I have to send 32 letters, and since TDE is already at 28,535 words, I only have to write 31,465 words.  Now if I can just forget that it took me five months to write the 28k words I already have, then maybe that 31k won’t seem so daunting…

Think positively, Rach.  You can do it.  You can do it.