All Posts Tagged With: "goals"

That Depends A Good Deal On Where You Want To Get To

cats can be real douche canoes sometimes, even if they're right

I do this every year.  I make a list of things that I want to achieve and I feel like I hit some, ignore others, and feel a bit adrift by the time December 31 passes.

I find myself unmotivated at times.  I have a few reasons for this, that I think I have used as excuses in the past but I need to deal with them, work with them, and move past them if I want to be successful moving forward.

I tend to write very quickly.  I can write 1000 words in 20 minutes, for example, if I sit down and actually write.  Because of this, I have a tendency to put writing off, knowing that I can pound out some words quickly later.

The problem with this is that I can WRITE the words but that’s not the end of it.  They need edited and polished and the first draft is never (well, not usually) the BEST draft for me.  My words need more work, and I tend to ignore that fact so that I can sit on the couch with Bear, reading fic or books or whatever while I watch TV.  (Yes, I can multitask but only with things that don’t get me anywhere, as opposed to stuff that could move my writing career forward.  *sigh*)

I also struggle with… not depression, I don’t think, but melancholy.  Maybe it is a mild form of depression, but I allow it, from time to time, to convince me that I should stay on the couch or in bed or wherever, reading and not creating.  I don’t know what I’m melancholy about.  I think I allow myself to be intimidated by other authors I’ve read, in the sense that their writing is so good or well-constructed that I don’t think I could ever match their skill, etc. so why bother trying.

Which is a bunch of crap.  I like my writing when I read it, and I know that others enjoy it as well.  I have a voice that is recognizable, according to some of my more regular readers, which means that I have reached a certain level in my career, where I have a voice, I just need to use it and polish it.  And I’m not doing that as often as I need to.

Continued

Doctor Livingstone, I presume?

Oh, MAN.  It has been a long time since I’ve posted.  I don’t even know, you guys.  It feels like I’ve been lost in the jungle and I’ve just been “discovered” in the jungle by Mr. Stanley

First and foremost, I have relocated.  I was in Los Angeles, and now I am back in the Midwest, in the Detroit Metro region.

It was quite an adventure.  My company was bought out and the new owners decided they didn’t want or need an office in LA.  They let us all go but gave us all nice severance, which was nice.  Bear and I decided that it was time to move back home, to Michigan.

I ended up getting hired by a pretty awesome company in Detroit but they wanted me to start ASAP.  I put together a move in very little time- I was technically hired on August 14th and I start on September 4th.  I planned and executed a cross country move in two weeks.

TWO WEEKS.

This was AFTER our trip to the Outer Banks to help celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary.  60 YEARS, y’all.  That is quite an achievement and I was so happy and honored that I could join them in their celebration.

It was also a reminder of how long I’ve been with Bear, myself.  My grandparents took us all on a family cruise for their 50th anniversary 10 years ago and I was dating Bear at the time.  He wasn’t able to go with us, as we weren’t married yet.  I do distinctly recall being told that if he “put a ring on it” he could come a long.  Funny thing, it was pre-Single Ladies and it was from my super conservative, not particularly pop culture savvy aunt, which makes the comment even funnier to me.

ANYWHO.

I’ve been trying to get back into the groove of a Midwest winter and a new job, which has been fun.  I say that with only a LITTLE bit of sarcasm.  I’ve also had to get used to not attending my regular RWA meetings- EVA, LARA, and OCC!  I miss all you guys!!!

I did find a great chapter here in the area and have been attending somewhat regularly- Greater Detroit RWA.  At the Christmas dinner, I won a full manuscript read from an e-publisher that I am SUPER excited about, mostly because they sell m/m romances, which is the book I am working on right now and I think that I could have a real shot at publication once I submit to this editor. 

I’m trying to set my timeline for this- when do I want to have it completed by and then when do I want it submitted by.  Based on my production over the past month, I’m not sure what the best time frame is for me.

I wanted to do a 2012 year-end run down before I jump on what I want to accomplish in 2013, so here we go!

1) Final Word Count for 2012:  135,483

This is a pretty great word count.

Except.

I had signed up for the Get Your Words Out challenge AGAIN this year and had pledged 350,000 words again, in an attempt to hit that bar at least once.

Didn’t happen.  It should have, which is upsetting.  I could whine and complain that I was losing my job, moving cross country, blah blah blah, but those would be excuses.  Lots of people do a lot more under a lot worse conditions, so I have to stop giving myself outs for stuff like this.

Anyway, on the one hand, I am pleased with what I was able to accomplish.  On the other, I am disappointed with myself that I didn’t even break the 200,000 mark.

2) National Novel Writing Month final word count:  50,075

I made my NaNo word count just after midnight on the 30th.  It felt GOOD.

Especially because I was teaching a class on NaNoWriMo at the time.  I had offered to teach the class for OCC back in 2011 and they got me on the schedule for 2012.  I had a small but amazing class of ladies that pushed each other (and me) to meet that 50K goal and to keep writing every day.  It was an amazing experience and I am hoping to teach the same class this year, although I think that OCC already has something scheduled for the month.

If you are an RWA chapter that is interested in a NaNo class/group for your chapter, let me know!  I’d love to work with you!

Anyway, I met my 50K goal and I think I got a lot out of the experience.

I was working on my “Farmer and the Medic” m/m romance story (so I was breaking the rules by working on a project I had already started- so sue me) and managed to figure out a lot of things about my plot and about my characters.

I think I have a better feel for Xander than I did before, and Jake (as always) comes right off the page.  I think I need to work on Xander some more to make him really pop and feel just as real and fully realized as Jake does, but I’m happier than I was.  I also think that I have the voices down a little better for most of my characters, which feels great, too.

I have roughly 175 pages written in total, which I am working on editing into individual chapters.  I think I can get this pounded out over the next few months and should be able to submit my manuscript to the e-publisher that I won the full read from, and we’ll see what kind of feedback I get from her.

 

So, that’s my end of the year wrap up.  How did the rest of you do?

“If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Dan Poynter

I’ve discussed this before, I think, but I know that I have a real problem finishing projects. Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a number of blog posts from other people talking about why that might be the case.

One of the things that I think might apply to me is that I try to write stories before they’re ready.

What does that mean?

For me, it means that I get an idea that I think is pretty great. I get all excited about it and I want to start writing right away. But some story ideas need to percolate for a while. They need to simmer and stew and get all the flavors flowing before they should be eaten, er, I mean written. And I think that I jump the gun. So instead of flavorful, tasty stew, I get kind of runny meat water with undercooked veggies.

Not good.

So, one of my writing resolutions for the new year is to try and let the ideas sit for a bit. Especially the new ideas that I get in the shower, or in the car, or while riding in the elevator at work.

One of the other issues that I think I have is that I get bored. Why? It’s my story- can’t I skip the boring parts?

The problem here is that I think I need the boring parts. I’ve convinced myself that I need certain scenes to tell my story and when I try to write them, I get bogged down in the minutia of the scene. I get stuck with all the little details that just don’t get me excited and I stop wanting to write them.

Which should tell me, if I were willing to listen, that those scenes are boring. If I don’t want to write them, who in the hell wants to read them? I convinced myself a long time ago that I was a plotter and that I needed to plot out every story, get all my scenes lined up, and stick to the plan. But I think I forget to give myself room for change. I don’t have a contingency plan, in essence, which is a problem, because I need to learn to not be so fenced in by what I think I need so that I keep myself from doing what I really need.

Which leads me to another problem. I think I have unreasonable expectations for myself. I have unreasonable expectations about how quickly I should be writing, how quickly the pages should be flowing, and how easy it all should be coming to me, especially if I have outlined the thing out.

The problem with that expectation is that writing doesn’t work that way. I’ve had long discussions recently with a good writing buddy of mine about how writing works and we’ve both debunked the myth of the muse. No one is whispering the story into your ear. There isn’t a separate entity speaking to you, telling you what to write. All those little bursts of genius that blast out onto the page as you write come from you, even if you don’t realize it at the time.

Your brain has been pondering this story that you’re telling and it’s been knocking things around for you while you wash dishes, watch the latest episode of Castle, or even sleep. Your brain is trying to work out the problems that are keeping you from getting the words on the page, like a background program running on a computer, and when your brain thinks it has it figured out, it will push the solution to the forefront of your mind.

It’s not an external force, it’s an internal force. I think it’s a bit of a crutch to blame writer’s block on something like “the muse taking a break” or “the ladies in the basement stepping out for a smoke.” I think that’s cheating and it’s not taking agency of your own work and your own writing.

However, once you do take ownership of your brain and accept that the words coming through your fingers to the page are your own, then you have to accept both the failures and the successes. Sometimes they are both hard to deal with.

Back to my expectations, I tend to write very quickly once I sit down and actually do it. I can pound out 1000 works in less than 30 minutes and have done so many, many times. My brain, then, expects that from me and I allow myself to take breaks when I shouldn’t because I tell myself that when I do sit down to write, I’ll hammer out 4-5k in one sitting and be done with it.

How often do you think that’s happened for me recently?

In the past three months, it has happened ONCE. That’s right, ONCE.

I signed up for the Get Your Words Out challenge, pledging 350k for the year. I have yet to hit 100k. For all my talk about being able to pound out the words, clearly I haven’t done it.

Yet again, I don’t have a submission to the Golden Heart. I don’t have a finished submission for the editor who asked for one, and the only writing that I’ve come close to completing is fan fiction.

Clearly, I am my own worst enemy here.

I think I’ve done a lot of talking about what I’m going to do. How I’m going to fix myself. And I’ve tried things for a few days but I have to be honest. I am just as much EPIC FAIL as a writer today as I was a year ago. Possibly even more so.

Which leads me to my next problem. I have too many ideas and too many projects started. When one gets hard and the writing becomes real work, my brain wants to jump tracks and start working on something different. Maybe that’s what I should be doing. Maybe, if the words are flowing, I should just let them and get it all out on the page.

Maybe my fighting to stick to one thing is part of what’s hurting me. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe my writing ADD is keeping me from completing a project by not allowing me to maintain focus.

All I know is that I want to be a professional, published author, and to do that I need to get something done. That something needs to be a project that I can sell to someone, anyone, and it needs to be well written, the correct word count, and in my own voice.

I need to stop biting off more than I can chew and be more realistic about what I will do, not just what I am capable of actually accomplishing.

As we wind down 2011 and get into resolution season, I need to be honest and fair to myself and set some goals that I will actually achieve this year so I can start to re-build my confidence, as well as start to get myself to the point where I can consider myself a professional. That may be harder than I’d like to believe it is.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury

A few things:

 1) I was in Beverly Hills a while back, to see the doctor, I had to park in one of the public parking structures.  As I was pulling out in The Falcon (my Jeep), I passed Michael T. Weiss in his car.  He was making a turn, and he slowed down to do so, so I got a great view of his face.  He still looks good, which was awesome.  I LOVED him on The Pretender and it makes me sad that he’s been playing bad guys recently.

And not too long after I saw the guy, he shows up on Burn Notice!  It was great to see Michael T. Weiss and Jeffrey Donovan together again.  I was inspired to look up the show and see just how many episodes Donovan was in, as Kyle, Jared’s messed up brother.  I was shocked to see that it was only three TOTAL episodes!  He must have been mentioned more than that, for him to have been as pervasive in my memory as he is.  Or he was just that awesome.

 

2) A friend forwarded me an e-mail about this writing program called Skyword.  Skyword hooks writers up with different websites that are looking for content and they pay you based on hit counts for each article that you write.

I applied to write for gather.com and I was chosen to write for the news and political channels of the site.  I’m really enjoying it- I pick my own topics, do my own research and then submit my articles to be published on the site.  They have editors that read for content and they do edit articles as needed, which is a great service. 

I’ve already started to make money, although it’s a very small amount at this point.  But cash is cash, and it spends.  This is the first time I have ever been paid for my work.  Woo!

If you are interested in writing for the same program, check it out here.

Some of my currently posted articles are here:

a) Black Valedictorian Forced to Share Honor with White Student

b) Married Lesbian Couple Save 40 Teens from Norway Killing Spree

c) Murder of Gay Student Ends in Mistrial

d) After 66 Years, Nazi Secretary Reveals All

e) New Jersey Bullying Legislation Hits Hard

f) West Memphis 3 Released After 18 Years

 

3) Keep Calm and Finish Your Damn Book

Beth and Deb linked me to this post, via twitter, and it hit so many buttons for me, it isn’t even funny.

First, I love the art.  It reminds me of Hyperbole and a Half, which is awesome, and the actual content just really speaks to me. 

I mean, I am that person.  I freak out about all the people that are better/wittier/funnier/darker than I am and that have great books out there, getting read and possibly sold by a major publisher.

In fandom, I always get sad when my stories don’t get the kinds of comments that other stories do, some that aren’t as good as mine but get a billionty more comments.  And I wonder if people just don’t like me, like you do.  Or if I’m that uncool kid that people just put up with because it’s the internets and you can’t really kick people out until they become REALLY creepy or crazy or dangerous.  Am I that girl that you went to school with that had the terrible hair and smelled like peas? 

And then I wonder if it IS, in fact, the content of my work that just isn’t getting the response that I want.  If my stories are okay but not good, even if they aren’t BAD.

As an aside, I had a story that was due for a fannish challenge and I knew that I had to get it done, as it was for someone else and I would be gifted with a story of my own.  You never want to be that asshat that DOESN’T meet the deadline, okay?  And I thought I had a good story but I asked an amazing friend to beta read the thing for me.  She’s totally awesome and totally honest and she didn’t like it.  Like, at all.  So I had to break it down and really try to find what the story was I was actually trying to tell.  In the end, I had a much better story that I actually really loved.  I still did not get the kinds of comments that I was expected, based on the fandom and the characters involved.  My ego is ridiculous, okay?  I get that.  But man, I just wish I could write a story that not only connected with ME but connected with everyone else.

And that’s what I think this post is really about.  I question my worth as a writer based on the feedback from other people (or the distinct lack thereof).  I also question my worth based on my own comparison of my work/blog/twitter/facebook to that of other people, just like the blog talks about.  I psych myself out, creating all this doubt that doesn’t need to be there. 

What is the answer here?  The answer is just write the damn book.  Just tell the story the way I want to tell it, the way that I see it in my head, and just get it on the page.  Don’t worry about what other people will think about that paragraph or that character turn.  Don’t get caught up in all the peripheral stuff, like blogs and twitter and stuff.  Just focus on the work.  Because in the end, that’s all you have to stand on and it will have to be enough.  Make sure that the focus is on the work and just get it done.

That’s what I’m taking away from the post.

 

4) Speaking of Keep Calm and Finish Your Damn Book…

I’m trying to get my edits done on The Drake submission so I can send it out.  I’m struggling with too much information.  I’ve been thinking about the problems with the story and how to fix them for months and now that I need to actually sit down and pound out the fixes, I’ve got almost too much information pouring into my brain.

I need to rework the synopsis- crap, I have one, that I can just edit.  Maybe.  Or maybe it would be better to just start from scratch.  Ack!

Add to that, I need to update my first three chapters to incorporate the changes that I am making in the synopsis.  Let’s be clear- the changes are important, if only because they will help make the story not suck.

I feel both empowered, mostly because when I do have ideas hit me, they are pretty good and I am making a lot of fixes, but also like my hands and feet are tied.  When I sit down to actually type out the new words, I freeze up and I don’t know why.

Am I intimated by the amount of work this will require?  Am I afraid of getting it wrong?  I have no idea, I just know that I need to get my act together and get these pages out so that I don’t miss out on this opportunity.

 

5) My Kindle.

I love my Kindle.  I take it with me almost everywhere and I can read anything I want without anyone commenting on the cover, because I don’t have a cover.  I also am saving myself a ton of paper and ink costs by putting fanfic on my Kindle instead of printing it out to read away from the computer.

In fact, fanfic is what I use the Kindle for more than anything else.

Since my husband has been out of work for 1 year and 9 months (aside:  he was recently hired to work for a great place here in LA and starts on 9/15.  Another post to follow regarding this!) one of the things we’ve cut out is the book buying.  Granted, I do get amazon.com gift cards and can use those but I am pretty picky about what I pick up, because I know that my budget is so limited.  So, I’ve been very slow to add actual published novels to my device.  I have a lot of free stuff and a lot of samples of what amazon.com has available, but not a lot of purchases.  To be very clear, I do not pirate e-books.  It never does, as they say, to shit where you eat.

But the fanfic?  Oh, HELL yeah.  Lots of it.  And I’ve been collecting some of my favorite stories for re-reads and getting all the long Big Bang stories downloaded so I can read them at lunch, at work.  It’s the perfect little device for the avid reader of all types.

If you think you are interested in a Kindle but are concerned about the various format issues, be sure to download the program Calibre. 

Calibre is a FREE program that will help you manage your various e-books, files, etc.  Calibre can also convert files to other formats for better reading.  For example, I have a number of pdf files that I have converted to Kindle format (modi).  I have also purchased e-books from non-amazon.com sites that only offer pdf or epub formats and have converted those to Kindle as well, using Calibre.  I love it.  

And for all you fanfic readers out there, if you get your fix from An Archive of Our Own (AO3), you can download works in all e-book formats, including Kindle, so you won’t need to convert, just click and save.  Just another reason that the site is so amazing.

 

6) My short story.

I had submitted a story to an anthology and it was not accepted by that anthology.  Which is okay.  Not everything is for everyone.

But I submitted the piece to my crit group and it didn’t get that great of a response from them, either.

So, that is a sign that the stupid thing needs a lot of work.  On the plus side, now that I’m not writing it to fit into specific parameters, I can increase the word count and make positive changes without worrying if I am working outside the theme of the anthology.

The downside is that my husband really liked the story.  He was my beta reader and he was the one that suggested the current ending.  Apparently, my crit partners felt like it wasn’t a complete story, instead of an ending the implied additional action after the story was technically over.  That is not good.

I’m wondering if their reaction to it is based on reading preference.  They prefer the romance genre, that demands a HEA, and the husband prefers to read sci-fi and fantasy stories, that can be ambiguous and possibly sad or tragic.  That’s a different audience and one story would create very different reactions from both types of readers.

I am not discounting any feedback on this one- I am taking everything into account, including that it’s currently in present tense but it might work better in past tense.  This is something worth exploring.  I do have some experience in changing the tense, as I did with First Lady and the Dead Presidents.

I need to make the ending really pop, so that even if I don’t write in all the action that I thought I was implying before, than at least the reader would have a better understanding of what actions was supposed to be happening, as opposed to thinking that the story wasn’t even complete.  *sigh*

A lot of work, but worth it.  I love the characters, I love the world, and I want to see this in print somewhere other than my computer screen.  My plan, after I take it apart and rebuild her, is to send it to one of the guys that rejected the story from the anthology and see what they think about it after the overhaul.  If he’s willing. 

I will report back as things happen!

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean

I signed up for the Get Your Words Out challenge on LiveJournal again this year.  I talked about that here, earlier this year.

I made the choice to go with the INSANE goal (that’s what they call it there, just FYI) of 350,000 words in one year.  I did the same thing last year and missed it by a mile but it was fun giving it a try.

I think this year, I planned more rolling in to the year but I have been less effective and less productive in my writing.  I think there are a number of reasons for this but the reality of the situation is that I have not put in the writing time to be on track to meet my goal.

On the left side of this page, you can see my progress meters.  I set goals for each month and for the year, and I have yet to meet a monthly goal even ONCE.  Which is a bit disheartening.

This month, I set the goal as the number of words I would need to write to catch up to where I should be, had I been on track for the previous 7 months.  This may seem self-defeating but what I wanted to do was to see how big of a chunk I could take out of that massive number if I just kept at it.  I may not get to the top of the mountain, but how far did I climb before I had to stop?

I am currently only at 13% of my annual goal, so I need to get moving.  I would love to hit 50% of that goal by the end of September, if not before, so I’m trying to figure out what kind of plan I would need to enact to hit that bar.

Next month, EVA is running their annual “Beat Janet” contest.  The goal is to write more words than published author (and EVA member) Janet Tronstad.  The person who beats her by the most words wins a prize.  I think I will set a more reasonable word count goal for my sidebar in September, with the hope that the drive to both beat Janet and that stupid bar will get me really revved up and writing.

This past week has been great.  I met up with one of my FAVORITE fanfic writers ever, in person, and was inspired to write just by sheer proximity to her brilliance.  I attended both the monthly OCC meeting and the annual EVA retreat at Monrovia Canyon Park.  Both events got my writing brain really working hard (my husband swears he can smell the smoke!).

On top of all that, I am working hard to finish my edits for my submission to an editor and my Apocalyptothon story was due on 08/13, with any and all final edits due by 08/20.  I’ve been pounding out the words on so many different things.

And you might be saying, but Alison?  Can you really be effective if you are bouncing from project to project?

Continued

If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again. – Groucho Marx

Australian Aborigines say that the big stories—the stories worth telling and retelling, the ones in which you may find the meaning of your life—are forever stalking the right teller, sniffing and tracking like predators hunting their prey in the bush. —Robert Moss, Dreamgates

I had an editor request pages from me this weekend, after a pitch.  I am very excited at the prospect of submitting and getting a response, good or bad, from a professional.

I started off pitching my current WIP, First Lady and the Dead Presidents, but that project is not in the traditional mold of romance.  It’s more chick lit/women’s fiction, which wasn’t what the editor was looking for right now.  FLatDP is a first person story, which I don’t usually even like to read, much less write myself, but I’ve got a story that my brain is convinced that I need to write so I am.  And it isn’t this editor’s thing, at least right now, but it could be LATER.

So I threw out The Drake, a wild pitch that I hoped would connect and it totally did!  She was interested in the world, the fact that Jack is a shape shifter, and that it’s written as a traditional romance (third person, balance POV with hero and heroine, etc.).

The only problem here is that I haven’t looked at The Drake in over a year.  When I left the story, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end but there were a number of story points that I wasn’t thrilled with.  I’m hoping that I can figure out how to fix those bits so that I can get out a revised synopsis and the first three chapters that were requested, in a timely manner. 

She asked to have them in July, so I think I have a good stretch of time in which to polish and correct.  And all I really need is for her to want to read the whole thing, right? 

After the OCC meeting this weekend, I am under the impression that every book that gets purchased has editing done.  Nothing goes out on the shelf without at least a little nipping and tucking (or implants) here or there.  What they’re looking for is a solid voice and a story that shines, even if it needs a little buff and polish.

That’s not to say that I’m not planning to make this the best synopsis and three pages she’s ever seen.  No, I understand that.  What I really need to remind myself of here is that there is room to maneuver and that I shouldn’t worry myself sick over the whole thing.

My plan for the next week is to re-read the entire manuscript and try to spot the weakest points.  There is a “highlight and flag” method that my girl Christy Finn has used in the past that I need to get more info on, so I can determine where I’m strong, where I’m weak and where I need to shore up the walls to survive the hurricane.

Once I’ve got that done, I’m going to pull out Carol Hughes’ “Deep Story” class notes and really dive in there.  I think that could really help me re-lay the foundation of The Drake and make sure that I have a strong enough world and characters to support the kind of story that I’m telling.

I’ve really been thinking about my plot and I think some of the problems that I was having when I left the story before have been worked out in my head.  I was playing around with the idea of my hero and heroine as soul mates tied together through time, which is something that has come out in my fan fiction in the past as well.  I think its part of my story, so I’m not surprised to see it come up here.

When I say “my story”, I’m referring to the basic story that every storyteller tells.  Steven Spielberg’s stories are about fathers and sons.  JAWS, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, the Indiana Jones series, Schindler’s List, even Jurassic Park- they’re all about the relationships (or lack thereof) between fathers and their sons. 

Tom Cruise, if you break down his roles to their simplest form, tells the same story from movie to movie as well.  He plays the talented man who has to prove that he deserves his place in the world.  Top Gun, Far and Away, The Firm, even Magnolia has him fighting to prove to someone other than himself that he deserves what he has.  And maybe that’s a part of it- outwardly he’s trying to prove to others that he has earned his place but really, it’s all about him proving it to himself. 

It’s something about us, as individual people that comes out in the tales that we spin and weaves its way through everything we put down on the page.  We all have something that has shaped us as people and we try to work that out in our art/craft. 

I think the idea of soul mates, of being destined to be with someone, is something that comes out in my work.  I might be wrong- I’m a notoriously bad judge of my own work- but I think that’s at least part of my story.  The rest of my story, I think that’s better saved for a different post but I can already tell that The Drake has the potential to really get all of my stories out and on the page in one text.

I’m excited to see what this editor has to say and the prospect of selling to her and her publishing house is just an amazing opportunity.  Here’s to not screwing it up.

Long Time Gone (no, I ain’t hoed a row since I don’t know when)

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in and sadly, not much has happened for me in the writing world in terms of production.  I am horribly, horribly behind on my word count for the year.

1) Get Your Words Out/Word Count

I am current participating in a program called Get Your Words Out .  You sign up at the end of the year and you pledge a certain number of words for the year.  Every month you log your production and they keep a running tally for you.

There isn’t a prize, much like NaNoWriMo, other than the satisfaction that you have met a goal that you set for yourself.

I set a goal of 350,000 for the year.  As you can see from the wordcount bars on the left, I am not even close to hitting my goal.  I am so far behind that it almost seems crazy stupid to assume that I will ever catch up.

For the month of May, I should be hitting 145,834 words.  As you can see, I am currently at 16,810.  I need to write 129,024 words this month to get caught up. 

This is a bit… crazypants.  But I am putting that as my goal in the wordcount bar anyway.  Because why not?  Why not set a crazy goal?  WHAT HAPPENS IF I ACTUALLY HIT IT?!?!?!?!  Could you imagine how AWESOME that would be?  So, yeah, going for it.

2) 80k in 80 Days.

In related news, I’ve decided to jump in to this additional challenge.  The goal is to write 1000 words a day, for 80 days, and complete an entire novel.  It’s a little less intense than NaNoWriMo  but still accomplishes the same goal- a completed manuscript.  Check out the website- they have articles from writes, encouraging and supporting participants and you can track your word count there in the comments section.  Not as organized as NaNo but I don’t think it’s nearly (hah!) as big of an event. 

I like all the focus on writing that we’re seeing these days.  More and more people are trying to learn the craft and hone their skills.

I know that there are authors out there, esp. published ones, that don’t like all the NaNo-type stuff.  They feel that it takes something away from all the hard work that they do.  But I have to confess, I think that if you can finish a 50k novel in one month, that you’ve shown some pretty serious dedication and hard work, no matter how good or bad the resulting text actually is.

Especially in literary circles, there is this level of pretention, this air of mystery surrounding the writing of a book.  Only super, special people should be authors.  They have special abilities and a different air about them and not just ANYONE can do it.

Which is a bunch of bullshit. 

Yes, it is true.  There are some people who have serious writing skills and anything they put down on paper is pure gold.  Others have to work much hard, polishing and editing to eventually get a product that is good and solid, that people will want to buy and read.  Others are terrible and no matter how much editing they do, a turd is still a turd.  I admit to all of that.

But how does anyone know who has the talent or not, until people start writing?  And who says that only certain people should give it a try? 

And let’s be honest- even when they write shitty books, there are people out there who NEED to write to work out their issues on the page.  I know that I have worked out a lot of things by torturing or killing people on the page.  And I have felt better.  Going abck and looking at the work with years of distance, I can admit that those pages were pretty  bad but at least I was able to get through that tough time and made it to the other side.

That’s worth A LOT  and I can’t stand the idea that some asshole would try to dissuade people from writing because “that’s just not how it’s done”.

Haters to the left, y’all.  TO THE LEFT.

3) Submissions. 

I actually submitted, for the first time ever, to a publisher/magazine.  Now, if you are a long time reader you know that there was a contest that I completed where my manuscript was submitted to an editor.  Well, I have never heard ANYTHING back regarding this and, to be honest and frank, I am SO GLAD. 

My ms was kind of terrible, including the 13 PAGE sex scene that I had written.  I have NO DESIRE to hear how terrible that editor thought it was.

But I was hoping to at least receive some kind of acknowledgement from the editor so that I could officially join RWA’s PRO group.  Basically, that’s for people who have submitted a full length work, whether it was sold or not.

At this point, while I did send off that ms, I am still not PRO.  And I have stopped counting that submission as a submission because a) no response and b) I hate the story.

Now, the submissions that I made in April will not count for PRO.  Why am I mentioning them?  Because they are the first pieces that I really feel that I can stand behind and not be embarrassed that I wrote them.

They’re two short stories of mine, both less than 1000 words, both weird and kind of creepy.  Bear says that one of them is more poem than short story and that once he figured that out, it was so much easier to read.  Not sure what that meant, for sure, but I’ll take it.  He liked both stories, which was a relief.  My greatest fear is that my husband will not like my work.  Weird, huh?  But so far, so good.

I am waiting to hear back from the magazine I subbed to.  They have a turn around average of 27 days but their cut off for their next issue was May 1st.  So, I’m hoping to hear back from them soon.  *fingers crossed*

And that’s where we stand, friends.  Expect a few posts in the near future on both avoiding Mary Sue’s in your won work and a listing of great writing podcasts that you should check out.

Until then, peace.

Never Say Never But Just Say No

My biggest problem is that I can’t say no. I want to do everything. I want to say yes to everything and be involved with it all.

I want people to like me. It’s almost a compulsion, this need of mine to have people tell me that I’m great, that I did a good job. That I am fulfilling (my destiny) their expectations.

I love writing stories and posting them on my LiveJournal because I know (hope) that I will get comments on my writing. I hope that someone will love my work so much that they have to gush about my interpretation of character or my turn of phrase.

This need to be liked (loved) leads me to overfilling my dance card and leaving me little time for myself. For my own writing.

I am a very active member of the Romance Writers of America- three local chapters at the moment, all of which I volunteer with. I am a board member for one. This takes up way more time than anyone wants to admit to you when you first get involved.

They tell you that it won’t be much, just a few hours of your time but it morphs into something bigger than you every imagined and suddenly those hours that you had planned to devote to your novel are spent folding renewal forms or creating spreadsheets for online classes. And you get it all done but you look back and you wonder just where your day went and why your word count on that novel hasn’t even MOVED.

But the thing is, when you get involved, people like you. They learn your name (in their e-mail inboxes) and they learn your face (from all those meetings) and suddenly, you’re part of the group. You are included as one of the cool kids.

Which is exactly what you wanted.

So you keep saying yes.

Continued

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If I really considered myself a writer, I wouldn’t be writing screenplays. I’d be writing novels. – Q. Tarantino

A good friend of mine, Shak, from Inspire the Grind, shot me an e-mail at the beginning of the month, freaking out over a discovery that she had made.

Apparently, Quentin Tarantino wrote Reservoir Dogs in 3.5 weeks.  Which is pretty amazing and actually explains a lot about that particular story.

Another friend wrote it off as not being that big of a deal, that Tarantino had probably been working on the story for a while but hadn’t officially sat down to write it out.  Which may or may not be true.  For me, that doesn’t change the enormity of the act of completely a feature length screenplay in 3.5 weeks. 

On the one hand, if you’ve been thinking about a story for a long time and just finally get the chance to get it down on paper, then it might not take you very long.  On the other hand, getting an idea and trying to work it out on paper as you go tends to take a lot longer.

Anyway, Shak’s idea is that we should try the same thing this month, along with a third friend, Bright.  Complete a manuscript, either a screenplay or a novella, in the same amount of time.  We’ll get together and share manuscripts and have dinner at the end of the time period.  Celebrate the work that we’ve done.

I think it’s a really fun idea and I’m totally on board.  Especially if there is wine involved.  (YAY WINE!)

Here’s my issue:  what am I going to write?

I would love to finish one of my screenplays.  I only have 10 pages of the 1814/battle of New Orleans screenplay that I was really getting in to in 2006.  I have The Highwayman, which is in dire need of a re-write so I can start shopping it around.  I have a dark (and when I say dark, I mean DARK) fantasy script that would be fun to complete, as well as a screenplay version of my Oren/Calla story that I’ve been working on for 15 years.  Plus, you know, the modern version of Robin Hood. 

Tl:dr – Lots of scripts available in my queue to work on. 

But I’ve been focusing on novels/prose in an attempt to get a romance novel published.  I’ve spent a lot of time working on that end of the writing spectrum.  I started my gay farmer story (and I’ve changed Alex to Xander, which feels better on the page for me) and think that this is one that could get some attention with an e-pub sooner rather than later.

I need to work on my novel edits to try to make The Drake something that might get sold/published.  I have Moving Bodies and First Lady and the Dead Presidents.  And, you know, the werewolf story. 

A lot of novels/novellas in the queue.  (The queue is very, very long.)

Do I shift focus from novel writing back to screenwriting, especially since this is a Tarantino challenge OR do I keep rolling with a novel type deal?

A script has less pages and less words than a novel but they can be much harder to write **because** you are limited in your page and word count.  Novels can go on for hundreds of pages (see: Stephen King) with florid prose and amazing description.  Scripts don’t let you get into the internal lives of your characters- the only things you can put on that page are things that can be shown on screen.  That makes it hella tough to do.  My point here is that just because it’s shorter, doesn’t make it easier to do.

This biggest issue here is that I need to finish SOMETHING this month.  I have a hard time getting things done.  I start something and then get distracted and end up with a pile of half completed projects that aren’t going anywhere.  It’s frustrating for me as the writer but also for Bear, who just wants me to get something done so I can start submitting and hopefully get published (and paid for my work).

So, whatever I decide to go with, I HAVE to finish by June 30th.

Here’s the question that I keep bringing up- do I go with something that I would enjoy writing more, even if my chances of selling it are next to none OR do I try to finish something that I might be able to shop around after a polish/edit in July?

Will post my decision in a few days, after I take a long, hard look at what’s in front of me.  What I do know for sure right now is that I need to get on it or I won’t be able to finish by the deadline.

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Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. – Douglas Adams

I tried to spend yesterday- a holiday from work- working on The Manuscript.  It was both a win and a fail for me.

Finny and I decided to write together.  She stayed with a friend in LA so we could get started bright and early in the morning.  Which we did.  We chose a Barnes & Noble on Pico, here in LA, to work at because there was free parking and a cafe.

This  should have been my first clue that there was a problem.

Continued