Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Missed My Calling

I'm helping a friend by editing her master's thesis. And. I. Love. It. Not the thesis, per se, though modern day archaeology is very interesting and her thesis involves her work in Egypt for the past four years, so you know, that's cool and all. No, I love the editing.

There's a lot of work. Not all masters candidates have mastered the comma, that much I can tell you. But I just love the work. Why, why, why did I have to get all pragmatic and major in business? Why didn't I major in English or something? I would still probably be exactly where I am right now, doing the jobs that I'm doing, but I would have at least been able to dream that some day I could be an editor. If I never become published as an author, I would still love to work in the field, and my BA in Business Administration is probably not going to open those doors. Sigh.

But anyway, back to the editing. I've got the manuscript all marked up, adding commas here, deleting them there, changing words to preserve parallel structure, removing passive voiced statements, obliterating unnecessary words with a ruthless efficiency, yadda yadda yadda. She came up to sign out (we both work at the same place) and I showed her my progress, glowing with pride.

She says, "OK, that makes me really mad." My double take alerts her to the fact that I find her response less than thrilling, and she hastens to add "No, no, no! This is great. I'm really mad because I've *already paid* a professional editor over a thousand dollars to get it to this point."

My mouth drops open. Holy [insert your animal or bodily function of choice]. This has already been edited? By a professional? Who took her hard earned money? A THOUSAND DOLLARS? W?T?F? Seriously? How does one become a freelance editor and get paid to do absolutely nothing? Because sign me up - sort of. I want the freelance editor part, but I'd like to earn my dollars the old fashioned way, you know, by providing a valuable service. Unbelievable.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Official Kissing Day Blog Post

I didn't have time to write a new scene last night (see my facebook page for reason why), so here, without further ado, is a kissing scene from Blink, my completed YA novel. (And for you lurking agent types, Blink is a 96,000 word paranormal romance. My complete manuscript is available upon request!) :) ha ha ha ha

Sydnee inhaled sharply and turned to face Ryan for the first time in weeks.

What a difference two weeks in the past made, Sydnee thought. Ryan was sitting at the tiny table in the center of the cabin, where she and Kristen usually shared their breakfast. His posture was relaxed, and he leaned forward with his arms laid loosely on the table, his palms curled slightly inward. He was wearing a roomy cream colored shirt made of roughly woven linen, and a pair of cargo pants cutoff at the knees to make them into shorts. The edge was well frayed, indicated they had been worn that way for a while. Her eyes traveled up his body. His feet were bare, and his legs retained a light tan, but Sydnee was sure he would darken under more sunlight. She couldn’t see any obvious bandages under his shirt, so it looked like his ribs must be healing. Where his tracheotomy had been, there was just a small pinkish indentation instead of a hole. The deep scarred wounds around his throat had faded to thin white lines. Finally she reached his face, and their eyes met. Wordlessly, Ryan rose from the table and crossed to where she still stood frozen by the door.

He brushed his fingertips along her jaw, tracing a line from her ear to the hollow just below her chin. Gently, he cupped her face in his hands and tipped her mouth up to meet his own. When their lips touched, Sydnee felt an electric shock race down her body from the middle of her chest to the tips of her toes and back up again. She kissed him back, and it was the sweetest, most thrilling sensation she had ever experienced. In the space of only a few seconds, their kiss turned from utter sweetness to uncontrollable passion. His lips parted. Hers followed a millisecond later, and as his tongue slid into her mouth, his hands moved to the back of her head and entwined themselves in her damp bedraggled hair. Twisting the long heavy locks around his fingers, he drew her head back at an angle and began kissing her neck hungrily. His lips explored every inch of her slender neck down to her collarbone. He lifted and turned her slightly, still kissing her, and they stumbled to Sydnee’s raised sleeping platform at the far end of the room. Sydnee sank backward onto it when she felt her knees touch the pallet, and Ryan moved with her, his lips still not leaving her throat.

He propped himself up on his left arm and his right hand slid expertly under her wet tank top and up the right side of her body, his palm hot on her skin, his lips once again pressed urgently upon her own. Sydnee’s knees relaxed of their own accord, she had no control over herself. Ryan’s body settled between her legs and she moaned as she felt the full weight of him on top of her. This snapped him out of his blind passion, and he literally thrust himself away from her, launching himself into the air and landing several feet away, a crazed expression on his face, half lust, half abhorrence.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Water Balloon Fight is Over!

The characters in my WIP finally finished their seemingly interminable water balloon fight, and they did it (I think) on a very strong note.

It took me days (if not weeks) to write the scene and it felt like it was never going to end. I swear, I thought half the book must be that one scene and that it would drag on and on forever. But when I read back over it, it wasn't as bad as I thought it must surely be. The pacing felt quicker on a read through than I expected it to. I think I may keep most of it.

Usually I can pound out a few thousand words a night when I put my mind to it, but this middle grade novel is going much slower than that. I know what's going to happen and where the characters are ultimately going to end up and what they're going to do to get there, but my progress is much slower. I've mentioned it before, and I think it's because I have to be a lot more careful about what my characters say, how they act, and whether it is appropriate for a younger audience or not. My older YA characters can get away with a lot more and travel down some much stranger tangents than I'm allowing my MG characters to, and that's as it should be. It's just harder than I expected.

My kids are out of preschool and Mandarin class for the next 2 weeks. I don't know what we're going to do with ourselves. Bring on the glitter glue.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Very Quiet Over Here

I really have had very little to say the last few days. Got a couple of form rejections. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing to report. Making slow progress on the MG WIP. I'm hoping to write some tonight after a shower. Nothing like an 11PM shower to startle one awake and get the creative muse fired up.

The only thing I have even felt like writing lately was a pissy post about how much I disliked the Harry Potter 6 movie. I watched it on DVD the other night and was painfully reminded how much that film disappointed me. The 5th movie blew me away. It was by far the best movie in the franchise (and I was surprised, because it was one of my less favorite books in the series - though I like them all) but as a movie: SLAM. DUNK.

So I was thrilled that the same director was doing the 6th and I had high hopes and then it came out and I watched it and I was like W.....T......F. Ron's house burning down? Wha-huh? Harry and Ginny's big kiss? What a letdown. I know people have said those two actors have no charisma together, and that it's like watching someone kiss their sister, but that's not strong enough in my opinion. Kissing their lesbian sister? No. Even a dyed in the wool lesbian could work up more enthusiasm for Harry than Ginny did in that scene. I imagine that they did like 40 takes of that scene and finally someone leans into the director and whispers, "Just give it up. It's not happening." Everything felt really heavy-handed and boorish. And at the end, when Dumbledore dies? Totally not believable. And the thing with everyone pointing their glowing wands at the sky? OK, I get that they were driving away the dark mark with their show of unity or whatever, but hello. I'm not at a goddamn Rush concert.

OK. I told myself I wasn't going to do this. [chokes back sob]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Read this Blog and Enter this Contest!

Hi all,

Just read a guest blog from Joanna Stampfel-Volpe over here: It was really lovely. I like when agents remind us that they are people too. I swear, I'm not a crazy stalker. I'M NOT!!!

There's a contest involved too. If you post a comment with your favorite genres then you're entered to win a bunch of books and a query critique from Ms. Stampfel-Volpe herself. I hear she's an awesome critiquer, so this prize is kind of, um, awesome.

Go enter!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I was tagged by Travener. I don't know who to tag. If you want to fill this out, get on down with your bad self!

What's the last thing you wrote?
Words 3500-4500 in The Tooth Fairy's Assistant

What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
I believe I still have a copy of The Slug That Ate Manhattan. I think I wrote that in sixth grade.

Last thing:
See the first question.

Write poetry?
Not since junior high school.

Angsty poetry?

Favorite genre of writing?

Most annoying character you've ever created?
Becca in the first draft of The Reluctant Prophet

Best plot you've ever created?
Um, I'm going to go with the one in Blink. It's a great plot, but I think I need to shore up the writing.

Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
Time travelers fuck up in the past and next thing you know my characters are hurtling down the wrong side of the highway in America, cars flashing past them going the opposite direction. America's been under British rule for the last 300 years and America is a poor man's Ireland.

How often do you get writer's block?
I don't really get writers block, I get writers laziness.

Do you type or write by hand?

Do you save everything you write?
Yep, even the stuff I cut. I have a document called like "deleted snippets" or something like that. There could be gold in there for my next book people!!

Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abadoned it?
Not really.

What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
I can't choose a favorite. God, I have a few blog posts I have absolutely adored. I don't want to pick.

What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
I have no idea.

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Romance yes. Angsty teen drama no.

What's you favorite setting for your characters?
I like to have them in Washington, because that's what I know best.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three-ish, but mostly just one.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Not since primary school.

What are your five favorite words?
"I love you too Mommy."

What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Kristen from Blink.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?
All over the place. Friends, myself, weird stories I hear, etc.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No. I rarely ever remember my dreams, and when I do, they're the really weird ones. I haven't been able to incorporate a bunch of people with teabags instead of heads into my work. Though I have considered trying.

Do you favor happy endings?

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes. My grammer usually comes out correctly, except for my overuse/misplacement of the word "had." I also usually spell things correctly, and I notice when I don't. I'm constantly backspacing to fix problems like that. I can't just move forward and plan to fix it later. It will bug me hours afterwards. I still know it's there.

Does music help you write?
Absolutely not. Any type of background noise is a huge distraction.

Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
Her grey blue eyes glowed with pride at Alex’s words, and for a second I saw what she would look like if I thought she was pretty.

Word Count Climbing

I'm up to 4,500+ words on my middle grade WIP, after a most successful thousand word hour at work tonight. Gotta love those slow Sunday nights. I could have written more, but I get off at 11:30 and I really didn't want to be driving home any later than necessary. It was 34 degrees out when I left work and it was down to 20 by the time I got home. Who knows how cold it will actually get tonight, but I didn't need the roads any icier than they already were.

I'm really enjoying the way the story is shaping up, and I'm liking the writing process too. I'm realizing that I've learned a whole lot about showing versus telling, and it's coming out in this new book. I'm going to try to fix Blink, I really am, but I think it's way easier to just write it correctly the first time. The book is tentatively titled The Tooth Fairy's Assistant, but I think I will have to probably change the title, because it certainly does take the mystery out of the career path my main character is on. I've put my edgy YA novel on hold. That one's just too different, and I really am afraid of mixing voices. That would be BAD. Bad. Bad. Bad.

On the home front, I am sick, and sick of being sick. To that end, I tried a Neti pot for the first time last night. Honestly, it wasn't nearly as weird an experience as I expected it to be. I think I will try to make it a regular ritual. Two things to keep in mind: 1. You must not forget to keep your mouth open and breathe while Neti-potting. 2. You must not laugh hysterically (or allow your husband to laugh hysterically) while Neti-potting. It doesn't help at all.

That's all for now!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Slow Progress

I wrote about 500 words tonight. I wanted to do more, but I had about 35 emails to answer for my work, and that took hours.

I'm having a lot of fun writing this middle grade novel, but I find myself doing a lot more deleting as I start to wander off on tangents that threaten to turn my novel on its side and make the subject matter more appropriate for YA. Yeah, bad things will happen in this book, but they have to be bad in a middle grade sort of way.

No one's going to offer my kids drugs. They're not going to be held at gunpoint by the cops for having a water balloon fight, and they're not going to run away and spend weeks sleeping on the beach. So basically, every time I start to put any of my life experiences into the book, I have to reel it back in. Yes, I'm going to have them in a gigantic water balloon fight, but it's NOT going to end the way it did in real life. It has to be nicer, more palatable. In a YA book, I could totally put in what happened to me and my friends, but in a middle grade book I might be able to use some portions of the experience, but definitely not the whole thing.

It's a much more delicate balance, and so even though I'm spending just as much time writing this one as I did my YA book, my word count is much lower at the end of the evening with this one because I have had to delete so much more.

That reminds me of a funny story. Earlier this year I went to a baby shower for a friend of mine, Shannon. She and I became friends long after the wild days of my youth. The party was held at a waterfront house in Kingston. Small world, one of my very old friends (Kelli) was also there at the shower. I had introduced Shannon and Kelli at some random point, and they had hit it off and so we were both invited to the shower. At one point Kelli and I were looking out the window, watching the ferry pull into the dock. The owner of the house was really nice and very cool, and she stopped by and talked to us for a couple of minutes. When she moved on Kelli turned to me and said, "You think we should tell her we used to sleep on her lawn?"

It was probably best that we kept that to ourselves.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yee Haw!

I worked on my MG novel tonight, and I'm up over 3,000 words. If I'm shooting for the low end of the suggested word range, then I'm more than 10% of the way there. I should have this baby wrapped up by middle of next week, tops.


Take that, you fabulous, form rejecting agents. Prepare to be queried by me MONTHLY. With a new work each time. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha [evil laughter fades as I climb stairs to my room, where I fall, exhausted and delirious, onto my bed]

Monday, November 30, 2009

No News on the Writing Front, Well, Maybe a Little

I always type my title first for my blog posts, and it was going to be titled No News on the Writing Front, but then I remembered something that was slightly newsworthy, so I tacked on a few more words.

It's funny, all my work starts with a title, EXCEPT for the novel I am shopping around right now. I never had a title for that one, until my best friend suggested it after being my first beta reader.

And that leads me to my tiny little item of note. I now have a THIRD work in progress. I came up with the title out of the blue a while ago, and now I can't stop building the story in my mind. So there you go. Two YA novels in progress, one very edgy, one edgy-ish, but not nearly as much as the first, and a middle grade novel. And all have titles, but very little else. The very edgy one is a title and a brief synopsis. The less edgy one has a title and 8,000 words. The middle grade novel has a title and 1,200 words. Can one actually write three different works at once without ending up with three crappy pieces of know? What do you think?

On the home front, I came home from work last night to find that my husband had decorated the house for the holidays. The bannisters had green ribbon and white lights wrapped around them all the way down, and red velvet bows here and there. Our living room has a nine foot tree all decked out in lights. It was absolutely beautiful. I was so pleased with my husband. He hit it out of the park again. He's really a lovely person. If it were all up to me, nothing would ever get decorated and we would live in a pit, I kid you not. But he's really motivated about most things, and I can always count on him to do things right. I'm really happy.

The girls were beside themselves when they saw the decorations. I told them we'd have to take them down after New Year's, but that we got to enjoy them for a month, and to thank Daddy when he gets home.

Something creepy: Four police officers were shot dead, ambush style, yesterday in a town south of Tacoma. The suspect was supposedly holed up in the Leschi neighborhood (a neighborhood I find myself in at least twice a week) but after an hours long standoff the cops found that he had escaped. When I got off work last night I was inordinately freaked out walking to my car. I felt like I was being watched the whole time, but there were other people walking to their cars so I just basically sprinted to mine and took off. Then I read about this story, and an update says the dude was spotted AT MY WORK this morning at 7:00 AM, and he GOT AWAY AGAIN. Apparently he was shot during his ambush of the cops and they think he's trying to get medical care. Here's what I would do if I was him: wait for someone in scrubs to come out to the parking garage alone, then snatch them and make them fix up my wounds, and then, you know, who knows what after that. I wonder if he was lurking around all night last night, waiting for an opportunity. So freaky. I bet I could write a book about that. But I won't. It's SO not my genre.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Making Progress on my WIP (Is that redundant?)

OK. First the big news. I have an ear infection. And the secret's out. Yes, I am four years old.

No, not really. But seriously! Since when do adults get ear infections? I just got a note on facebook from a friend who had one on July, and she's a little older than me, so I guess I don't feel so weird, but it's still odd. I've never had an ear infection in my life. Hurts like a son of a bitch. Now I feel extra sorry for little kids who get them. I guess they're not just a bunch of whiners. (Now that I'm one of them, we're not whiners, we're people in pain who need and deserve your sympathy, dontcha know.)

Now, on to my other news. I have finally begun making new progress on my Work In (supposedly) Progress, TRP. TRP stands for The Reluctant Prophet, but I call it TRP to be both mysterious and lazy.

I came to a standstill right around the beginning of November. I guess to protest NaNoWriMo. No, not really, but it did seem to coincide.

I had an epiphany. I didn't stop writing because I was so busy. I was busy, but that's never stopped me before. No, I came to a standstill because I didn't like my characters. The parents are total assholes (that hasn't changed) but the MC (a seventeen year old girl) had a serious chip on her shoulder about everyone else in the world except for her best friend, a girl who has up and run away. The only person in the book who had any redeeming qualities was the runaway girl, who we aren't *really* going to meet until midway through the book. Everyone that my MC (Becca) came in contact with was someone who desperatly needed to be punched. No one had anything nice to say. I was sick of them all.

Even though I knew that I was going to go back and edit the hell out of my first few chapters after I had completed my text, I had to do it now. I had to make major revisions just to get myself to like these people well enough to want to write more about them to see what happened to them. (I mean, I know in general what happens to them, but they were so repellant as people that I really didn't CARE to ever put it down on paper.)

I didn't mean for my MC to be so unsympathetic, but she just ended up that way after a few days of frantic keyboard pounding. I went back through, took the chip off her shoulder, gave her a couple of different people to talk to that gave her nice things to say - not just opportunities to fling barbs at people like a monkey with extra poo on his hands. I don't know if any of this will make the final edit either, but damn, I sure do like Becca a lot better now that she's not being all cunty. So now I do care what happens to her, so I guess I will write it.

I'm at about 8900 words. Far from where I wanted to be at this time, but further than I would be if I told The Reluctant Prophet to just go to hell.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Breathing and Apparently Stalking

So I got myself so worked up over whether the agent who requested materials from me on November 2nd was not interested because she hadn't replied back yet or not. Then I read somewhere else that she was an agent at the Backspace conference on November 5th and 6th.

Oh good! That's at least 2 days where she simply would not have had any time to read my partial.

So this is where I get all stalker-y. I start looking up other conferences that have occurred since I submitted my partial. Crimebake? Yep, she was there. OK. That knocks out November 13th, 14th, and 15th, and probably a day or so for travel and/or recuperation. So she's had my partial since I sent it on the 2nd - at 9 PM-ish my time, so she wouldn't have actually received it until the 3rd. So she maybe could have looked at it on the 3rd or 4th, but probably not.

If we're not including weekends, that means she has had 9 days that she could have possibly looked at my material. That's nothing. You would think that I would be satisfied. But no. Does anyone know of any other conferences that went on between Backspace and Crimebake? Can I check the agent list to see if my person was at any other conferences, giving her even less time to peruse my work and more reason for me to remain hopeful at this point? Ay yi yi I need a life.

Three agents have my partial. One of them is in this area and he only reps romance, so he is the last on my "excite-o-meter." In second place is a New Jersey agent. She would be tied for first place, but she has an old version of my first 3 chapters that includes way too much backstory, so I'm sure she's going to reject me anyway. It's simply not good enough. The agent in first position is in New York, and from everything I can find about her, she's absolutely fabulous. And she has the most up to date copy of my work, with all the lame old backstory trimmed from the text. So she gets first place. Not just because she is an awesome agent, but because she has the right version of my story as well. So she is my #1 most stalk-worthy.

Now. About those November conferences.....anyone? Anyone?

Where was I in June?

Still working on my MS, that's where. But that's when the agent that I'm currently most excited about apparently went on a signing FRENZY. I scrolled through Absolute Write (if you haven't heard of that website, go check them out RIGHT NOW) and she apparently signed at least 2 people and offered incredibly detailed feedback on countless other author's works during the months of May and June.

I queried her on Friday October 30th and got a request for a 30 page partial on November 2nd. I haven't heard anything since. Now, if this were June, I would have had my full requested on November 3rd and been signed on the 5th, with my manuscript sold at auction by the end of the month. (Not kidding, that happened to one person.) Or she would have rejected me, but speedily, and with great handwritten feedback.

But she seems to have slowed her pace. I can't say I blame her, that's freaky fast, and it looks like at least one of her clients is generating a lot of buzz - and therefore probably a lot of work - so I'm sure she's not got the kind of time that she used to have.

But, and I say this in my whiniest of voices - where was I???? Still writing the damn thing, that's where. I didn't finish it until the very end of July. Stupid work, keeping me so busy that I couldn't finish 2 months earlier. No, wait. I didn't find her until the end of October. Which means I found her name 3 months after I finished getting my text down. So I would have had to have finished in March. I probably coulda done that. Stupid work, keeping me so busy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm Not Sure if I'm Insane or Not

There is an agent who has had a partial - my first 3 chapters - for a little over a month. I've made a lot of changes since then, and it's a much better book now. I honestly believe that the agent would reject me based on the 3 chapters I sent her, and she's a really good agent and someone I would love to have represent me.

So after trolling around on the internet for a while, reading other people posting similar tales of woe, and the advice they received, I decided to email the agent with what was basically a mea culpa: the first 3 chapters I sent you sucked, but they're really good now. REALLY. THEY ARE. Can I resubmit?

Now. I wait. I hope that she doesn't hate me, or think I'm unprofessional, or whatever. But honestly, I think I had to do it. Otherwise what was I to do? Wait for the rejection that was sure to come and then tell her "oh, by the by, I changed a whole shitload of stuff a few months ago, want to read it again?"

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Here's a Recycled Post

I've been really sick for days, so I'm pretty lethargic and have nothing interesting or exciting to talk about. But my blog is getting stale. So here is a repost, from a note I filled out on Facebook a few months ago.

25 Random things about me

1. It took me 10 years to finish my first 2 years of college and 2 years to finish the last 2.

2. When I was a kid my mom would sometimes pay me 5 cents an hour to stay completely quiet.

3. When I lived in Florida I had a wild lizard that lived in my room. Sometimes he would scamper across my legs when I would lay face down on my bed and totally freak me out. He/she ate any palmetto bugs (giant flying cockroaches) that dared to venture into my room. I found him dead one day while I was cleaning my room, his little claws curled around some empty squares in the latch hook kit I was working on at the time. Apparently he did his job too well. I screamed and screamed, and ran to sob to my mom. After she calmed me down, I asked if I could still have the 5 cents she was paying me to be quiet for that hour. She agreed.

4. When I was 12, my dad agreed to pay me 10 cents for every dandilion weed I pulled out of the yard. The first day, he owed me 60 bucks. By the time I finally got the yard weed free, he had reduced my wages to one cent for every ten weeds pulled, and I had still practically bankrupted him.

5. My hair color has been blonde, brown, black, yellow, green, red, blue, and purple.

6. I pierced my own belly button with a safety pin in 1990, way before piercing was available on every corner. My mom's comment to me was "Where is your brain? Is that in your navel too?"

7. When I was in second grade, I told my mom I wanted a mohawk for Halloween. She didn't know how to do one, so she tried to do it with Vaseline. It took weeks for the greasy stuff to completely wash out of my hair.

8. I'm not sure how old I was when I found out about Chapstick. It's entirely possible that it wasn't until I was an adult. As a kid, my mom sent me to school with a spoonful of Vaseline wrapped in a sandwich baggie. I was so embarrassed that I would hide it in my coat back in the little coat closet cubbie and only sneak back there to dip my finger into my spoon when the pain from my dry, cracked lips became unbearable.

9. My parents used to take long walks around the neighborhood and bring back all sorts of stuff they found. I still have Reeses Peanut Butter Cup t-shirts that they got with all the candy wrappers they found and redeemed. Almost all their spoons are mismatched, because at least once a week they would find an abandoned spoon that they would bring home and add to the silverware mix. It wasn't until I was much older that I realized that those spoons were probably discarded drug paraphenelia. I wonder if my parents ever figured that out, or if they thought people were just walking around, eating lots of yogurt or something.

10. Most of my old friends are on Myspace, while my new friends are on Facebook. Some are both places. The ones that are on both I am sure are going to be my friends forever.

11. When I die, I want my last words to be "You girls were the best thing that ever happened to me." Unfortunately, that would kind of imply that my daughters would watch me die, which I don't want them to have to do if they don't want to.

12. I only recently discovered that I like the band Journey, and have always liked them. It really made me reevaluate who I am, as a person.

13. I'm not a bad cook, and if I have a recipe, I'm actually quite good at it. I just hate doing it. Before my kids were born, I had made dinner for my husband less than 10 times...and we had been married more than 9 years. Now I cook all the time. My oldest daughter almost always says "Thank you Mommy making yummy dinner." That totally makes it worthwhile.

14. I'm terrified of bees, but not because I'm afraid of being stung. I have been stung, and it really doesn't hurt that bad. It's because they're so unpredictable. There's just no way to know what a bee is going to do. They can turn on a dime!

15. When I was 9 or so, I became deathly afraid of food, and refused to eat for several months. It got to the point where I became afraid of ingesting anything, including my own saliva, and I would spit constantly.

16. Sometimes I wrack my brain, trying to figure out if I have any other personalities living inside my head, that are doing things that I'm unaware of.

17. I wrote a full length novel when I was 15 but never attempted to get it published.

18. My favorite car I ever had was a 1990 Toyota Celica, but I got rid of it because it reminded me too much of somebody that I missed a lot.

19. I started smoking when I was 17 because my boyfriend at the time was going to break up with me because I was "too good." I didn't really feel like doing drugs, or becoming a big drinker, or stealing stuff, but I didn't want to break up with him, so I figured smoking would sully my image enough. We lasted 2 more months. My relationship with cigarettes lasted 10 years.

20. I violently hate commercials for mouthwash. I don't like people swishing their mouths at me and making googley eyes. Who does that when they're rinsing? Upon seeing a commercial like that, my gut clenches, and my instant reaction is go grip something tightly and rear back as though to throw it at the TV.

21. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from college. When I start my master's degree, I am tempted to intentionally do poorly in at least one early class, so that the pressure to achieve super duper grades is taken off the table right out of the gate. I like the idea, but I don't think I'm the type of person who can actually do that.

22. When I was in junior high, one of my teachers was too lazy to collect papers and grade them, so she had us exchange our papers and she'd call out the answers. We'd score each other's papers, then hand them back to the owner. Then she's call out our names and we'd say what our grade was (A, B, C, D, or F). If you announced you'd gotten an A, you were just *asking* to get beat up after school. I physically couldn't mark a wrong answer though, I just couldn't do it. I would get an A on the test, but when it came time to announce my grade, I would always say "C." My momma didn't raise no dummies.

23. Every activity I involve my daughters in has to pass one test: "Is this something I wish my parents had done for me?" If the answer is yes, I do it. I am 100% CERTAIN that when my daughters are adults, I will find out that there were all sorts of things they wanted to do that they felt deprived of.

24. I wish I had taken an interest in playing music the way my brother did when I was young. We were always entirely different people though (though we loved each other very much and got along great). When he was about 4 and I was 3, my mom asked us when we wanted to be when we grew up. My brother said he wanted to be a draw-er. I said I wanted to be a tracer. I think that says a lot about the people we were, and the people we are today. He's always been more of a creator, while I toe the line.

25. I felt really lucky that I didn't have to give birth the normal way. A lot of women feel that they're not complete without going through the act of childbirth. I think those women are crazy. I felt like I'd hit the jackpot when my babies both turned out to be breech. I had considered just asking my doctor if I could have a c-section with my first baby, but I really don't like requesting medical procedures. Turns out I didn't have to. I do wish we had known earlier about M though. I hate to think of her suffering in there.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's Get Interesting

There's something that I've come to realize recently. It's a bit embarrassing to admit. Every one of my chapters needs to be interesting in order for my book to be good.

Um, yeah. That sort of seems obvious, right? You would think.

But I guess its not. I had 2 chapters right at the very beginning of my book that weren't interesting at all. I should have figured this out when one of my first beta readers - an 18 year old girl - and a huge Twilight fan - put the book down after about 10 pages and said "I don't really like this style book." She couldn't put it into words any better than that. She shouldn't need to. I should have taken a good look at things then. Her mother (my best friend) had also read the book and said to her "No!! Keep reading! Once you get to chapter 3 you'll totally love it."

Once you get to chapter 3.

That should have been my second clue.

Something interesting needs to happen each and every chapter. Moving to a new town is not interesting enough. Moving to a new town, discovering that your new housemate is a drug dealer, and meeting a group of hot boys who speak a different language - that you just so happen to know...that's getting better. Also meeting your new best friend and finding out everyone in school thinks that you are someone you're not....perhaps we have a winner.

Your chapter cannot be "I went to school and I had a conversation with my mom and then I went to bed with my nerves on edge." It just can't. It will never be published. Now, if you went to school and your guidance counselor hit on you/told you you would never amount to anything/advised you to kill yourself before the zombies broke down the door and THEN you went home and had a conversation with your mother and she told you that she wasn't actually your mother, that you had been found in a grocery bag at Walmart and she had taken you in and your actual mother had been by that day looking for you and THEN you went to bed and you were really nervous because your window was standing wide open and there was a ladder pushed up against the outside of the house and hey...did the closet door just twitch? Now that's a chapter. Probably a pretty crappy one, unfortunately. You can't just throw everything and the kitchen sink in there. You've gotta make it believable too, and readable.

So I need to go through my manuscript once more, not just looking for the inevitable typo, or the loose plot thread that doesn't seem to go anywhere. No, this time, I need to make sure my chapters are interesting enough. In the big chapter towards the end, where Ryan tells Sydnee everything, is *everything* interesting enough? Because ultimately, it's just a conversation. A really, really long conversation that ends with them going to bed. And no, not together. So that's not the interesting part either. But I can't just have a crocodile poke his head in the door and snap off a character's leg or anything. I need to craft it. And maybe I don't need to do anything. His story's pretty intense. But......intense enough? I dunno. If something big HAPPENED, I would say so. But they talk. That's it. I think something needs to HAPPEN.

It's alarming how much of a revelation this is to me. Better now than never though.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Best Form Rejection I Ever Got

I've read so much bitching about form rejections - and I've done some of it myself. I thought I would post the best form rejection I ever received. It follows:

Dear Ms. X:
Thank you so much for sending this to me. I’m afraid it’s not right for me. I’m so sorry.
Best wishes,
Agent X

Seriously, it took me like, 3 seconds to read. So it's not right for her. *Not a problem.* Thank you Agent X for just letting me know. You let me know quickly, there was no sugar coating, and there was no false ass kissing to make me feel like a better person. I literally love this agent. I don't think she's right for me (and obviously she doesn't feel I'm right for her) but if I ever run into her in publishing circles, I'm going to have a wide smile on my face and a friendly wave for her.

Agents talk a lot about how busy they are, and how we need to make sure we don't waste their time. I once got a form rejection that was over 500 words long. It made me mad. Just say no. Two letters, problem solved. The agent who sent me the above email was about 1000 times classier than the gasbag with the over-inflated sense of her own importance in my life.

I guess that's the thing for me. Agents are busy, I get that. I'm busy too. I have two children. My oldest just turned 3. My youngest is 18 months. I'm married, and my husband likes my attention from time to time. I have two jobs. One is a flat 20 hours a week outside the home. The other is work from home, and it's supposed to be 20 hours a week, but it usually ends up being more like 30 or 35. I can't really complain. It's work from home, and it's legitimate. I have a 3000+ square foot house, which don't get me wrong, it's great, but it's a bitch to clean. I've always been the one who pays the bills, my husband, if left to his own devices, would forget all about it, so I have to keep track of that stuff. My youngest has weekly physical therapy for some developmental issues. I don't get to just play with my baby. Every opportunity for play is an opportunity for exercise and going through all the plans the physical therapist and I have devised for the week. My older daughter has to wear an eye patch for 2 hours a day, and believe me, that's not a fun task trying to keep that thing on. I have a critique group that I'm excited to be an active member of. They've helped me a lot. I hope I help them too. I have friends. I try to keep up with five of my best ones on a regular basis, but they forgive me when I can't. They're pretty damn great people. I also like to work on my own writing, and, when I have a chance, pursue agents.

I'm busy too. If you are not going to give me any valuable feedback, then form reject me. Form reject me in the classiest way possible, like the agent I quoted above. Don't waste my time either.

I didn't mean for this to sound as bitchy as it got towards the end. But that's what happened. I guess it's just my voice.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Query Seems to be in the Zone

I think I am done revising my query letter. I got another request for a partial tonight (he wants it mailed snail mail, so it will go out Monday). That's 3 partial requests and a "no response yet" from the last small batch of queries I sent out. I'm feeling pretty darn good about that. Either I've had a run of extraordinary good luck, or my query letter can't get any better. Probably both. Either way, I'm happy with where my query letter is at.

Now. The first 3 chapters. Are they perfect? Are they going to force the agent to sit up, take notice, and ask me for my full? Let's hope so. I have a great crit group and I've taken a lot of their advice. I love track changes, because I can accept the changes of the first person who edits my work, then copy and paste the changed chapter right into my full text of the manuscript. After that it gets tricky. When the second person edits I have to go through the edited version and my version and compare changes and make them by hand if I want to keep them. (If I accepted the changes and then copied and pasted into my document, I would lose all the changes the first person helped make.)

Hmmm...Tina...any ideas???

If I DO get a request for a full, what will I do then? My crit group has found all the hads in my first few chapters...but I've got a total of 18 in my book!!! Maybe if any of us get a full request, we can make it top priority to get our lucky member's book critiqued asap??? Again, just thinking out loud. Maybe I should email these thoughts to my crit group rather than blog about them. But I have blogspot open, not yahoo groups, so there you go. Sorry folks!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't Dream It

I seem to be completely out of touch with reality these days. Not in a “tinfoil hat wearing” sense, just in the “unable to mentally connect with the rest of the world” kind of way.

Case in point: The girls and I sat in the car today because we got to Mandarin class early. We were there at 5:10, and class on Tuesday doesn't start until 5:30. So we dawdled, I didn't want to walk in during the middle of someone else's class. Finally at about 5:20 I decided that we could go on in, it wouldn't be too early. When we went in, our class was already in progress. Has anyone else figured out why? Because today is FRIDAY. FRIDAY. And class starts at 5:00 on Fridays. Sheesh.

Usually my problem is I don’t care what the date is, or what month it is. I care what day it is. Is it Wednesday? OK, then I’m working at 1:00... Is it Friday? OK, then we have Mandarin class at 5. Is it Sunday? Great. Work again. Is it Tuesday? Wonderful! Sydnee will be here soon. What month is it? What's the date? Bah! Who cares?

I’ve been working some on my next book. That’s coming along OK. I meant to do 1K words a night. Ha. I'm at about 8K right now, and have been for ages. I've been active with my crit group, which I think is more important right now. I sketched the sequel to Blink. I can’t help myself. Even if no one wants to publish book 1, I think I will write book 2 anyway, as the story is so stuck in my head. It simply has to come out, whether anyone prints it and binds it or not.

I’m just glad I tried. When I worked at K2 about a billion years ago, there was a guy that people talked about from time to time. He had worked at the factory and always said “you know, I’m going to write a book someday.” Well, he did. His name was Frank Peretti, and his first novel “This Present Darkness” became a phenomena, he’s still a popular author today. Not my style stuff, but whatever, doesn’t matter. The thing is, like everyone else in the factory, he said he was going to do something, something more than just make skis. Unlike almost everyone else, he actually did it. I want to be one of the ones that actually does it. Whatever “it” is. Frank became kind of a cult hero among the factory folk, not because he became rich and famous and all that, but because instead of just saying “someday I’m going to XXX” he said it AND did it. Good for you, Frank. I hope someday people will say the same thing about me. Good for you. Good for you for not dreaming it. Good for you for BEING IT.

You Had Me at Had

I love my crit group.

I am a "hadder." Had, had been, had said, had had had. I also overuse "really," "just," and "though." Along with others, I'm sure.

They are literally invisible to me. When I'm reading my own work, I don't even see them. But my crit group is finding them, and taking them out, and it sounds so much better when they're gone!!!

My beginning is also A LOT stronger now. I actually have hopes that I'm going to get requests for fulls based on my partial now.


Monday, November 2, 2009

One Step Forward, One Step Back

At least its not one step forward, two steps back. I got a request for a partial today and a rejection of a partial.

The rejection was the first partial I ever submitted. To be honest, my manuscript was kind of crappy back then (not that I knew that at the time) and I'm not surprised it was rejected. It took forever, but this agent is notoriously slow.

But the partial request cheered me up. She asked for 30 pages and a 2 page synopsis, so I'll be zapping that off shortly. As soon as I whittle my synopsis down from 3.5 pages to 2. Seriously, a 3.5 page synopsis is ridiculous, but I can't seem to control myself sometimes. Most people request the synop be pasted into an email so I haven't worried about how long it is, but this person wants it as an attached word document, so she'll know how many pages it is instantly. I'm trying to convince myself that I'm not allowed to go to .9 margins all the way around or times new roman 11 font. I'm such a cheater. I have to do this the right way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Music & Memory

I am so old and boring that I almost always listen to the news/talk station when I'm in the car. There's traffic every ten minutes on the fours, people! You really can't argue with that.

But this morning I took my husband's car to the dentist and he had left the station on 107.7. I think it's the alternative rock station. It was when it first started up, when I was young. Maybe now its the oldies station. I don't know. They were playing Man in the Box by Alice In Chains when I first flicked the radio on and I hadn't heard that song in SO MANY years. I'd forgotten how cool that band was for their first few albums.

I saw them live only once. It was at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in the pavilion area. It was five bucks. There were maybe 40 people there. I remember thinking they were okay, then being shocked months later (literally, it was only a few months, maybe a year) when they hit it BIG. I guess their record label had them out touring constantly playing any place they could find, trying to drum up a following. Well, mission accomplished.

The next song up was an *awesome* cover of Boyz in the Hood (originally by Eazy E...or was it N.W.A.? Maybe it was NWA and Eazy E remixed it for Eazy Duz It. Oh who knows. Wikipedia. Wikipedia would know) by a band called Dynamite Hack. It was a soft rock style treatment of what was one of the hardest of the hardcore rap songs at the time it was released. This cover was so intentionally bland, and the words were so violent...the juxtaposition of the melody with the message was really wild. I'm losing track of myself as I write. That sentence probably didn't make much sense. I started it at about 4:20 (420, hah!! OMG I'm fifteen) and picked it back up just now post flow-meeting. So why was I listening to hardcore rap as a teenage girl? I hope no one saw me, I must have looked pretty stupid. It was really awesome stuff though...totally different. My dad didn't like it. He listened to a lot of rap when he was younger. He was the only white guy in an all black national guard regiment back in the 60s so he had a lot of friends that were black, at a time when that wasn't the norm. Isn't that sad and weird that so recently things were so segregated? But anyway, his friends took rap VERY seriously. At parties people would rap and everyone knew the songs and they rarely changed, but when someone did change a line they would either be cheered on or booed down, and that's how the music evolved. At least, according to him. I'm not claiming that because my dad was the token white guy in his unit as a nod to desegregation that he's like, an expert on all things black culture. But according to dad, the guys in the 60s would have hated gangsta rap. But in the mid-80s, I liked it. But I moved on, and that brings me to the song that was up next on the radio.

Smells Like Teen Spirit, by Nirvana. Oh my gosh. That song brings back so many memories for me, but mostly it brings back the feeling of being young and free and wild. I have so many stories wrapped up in that fact, in one of my scenes in Blink, one girl shouts to my main character, as she is almost crushed in the hallway "It sucks for girls!" That was what a girl shouted to me when I nearly got crushed at a Nirvana show at the Melody Ballroom in Portland way back about a billion years ago. They were opening for Dinosaur Jr. I had pushed my way up to the front, finally making it up to the black iron waist high rails when some dudes in front of me smelled pot and decided tracking down where that was coming from was much preferred to staying right up front at the show. I lasted all of half a song before I wordlessly signaled a big giant beefy guy to lift me up and toss me back over the crowd so that I would not die. I seriously thought I was going to die. My friend Sandy got the shit beat out of her at that show. She's the one who was in the Smells Like Teen Spirit video. You can see her for like a split second, she's one of the kids in the bleachers rocking out.

It makes me think how small Washington used to be. That was back before the grunge explosion changed our music scene. It was before Microsoft gave jobs to I don't know how many thousands of people. Back when there was a billboard in Seattle that said "Will the last person to leave Seattle please turn out the lights?" It really was a small community. Everyone who was of a certain age at that time has their own Kurt Cobain story. I have several. My best is when he stumbled into me at a Melvins show in Olympia and vomited on my shoes. No, I did NOT save them. He wasn't that famous at the time. I don't think anyone could be famous enough for me to save their vomit though. That's just disgusting.

My brother gave me a tape that his friend Jerome had smuggled out of Sub Pop, where he worked. It was a rough set of songs that Nirvana had recorded, and I was all over it. My copy of Bleach was on its last legs. I loved those songs so much, I listened to it all spring and summer. The songs were amazing. When I first heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio in 1991 I literally screamed, I couldn't believe that song was being played on the air. It was a different version than the one I had, but it was instantly recognizable. Then Nevermind came out, and nothing was ever the same really. Those songs on that bootleg tape were awesome though. I liked most of them better than what eventually made it to the recording. There was one song that was never issued that I know of. It was my favorite song ever. It was incredible. I have no idea what it was called, because bootleg tapes have no names. I have listened to Nirvana boxed sets with "previously unreleased!!!" all over the labels and have still never heard the song. Someone stole my tape from me though, and my brother's copy is long gone. I haven't heard that song in almost 20 years, but I still ache for it sometimes.

My husband is acquainted with Krist Novoselic, the former bassist, for reasons wholly unassociated with music. I've met with him a couple of times, and of course told him what a profound effect his band's music had on me as a teenager. He was very nice about it, but I got the feeling that he was probably tired of hearing that from people. I overheard someone ask him what his favorite Nirvana song was, and he kind of sighed and said "I guess Smells Like Teen Spirit. It bought my house." Then he totally changed the subject and turned away. I have been tempted, very tempted to ask him if he has any old studio recordings from the time they were laying down tracks at SubPop for what eventually was released as Nevermind (I think on Geffen records maybe?) But I never have. Who wants to admit that they were in possession of a stolen bootleg copy of someone's work like that? Did I steal it myself? No. Did I love it dearly? Yes. Would that matter to him? Probably not. I can't imagine, as a writer, if someone said to me "Oh my god, my brother's friend was over at your house, and he printed out your novel Blink and gave it to my brother, who gave it to me, and I read if over and over and I really loved it, but my copy's gone. I was really excited when you were published, but the book had totally changed, and I liked it better before. Do you still have an old copy, dated around about July 2009 that you could email me? I'd love to read it again." Yeah. When I put it that way, that's really fucking lame. I'm glad I haven't mentioned it.

Wow. This post sure did ramble.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

They're Round, They're Black, They're Made From Grapes

I just had the oddest conversation in the hospital cafeteria where I tried to ask a person for raisins. English is not his first language. He had no idea what a raisin was.

So I tried a different tack. "You know, they're round, they're black...they're made from grapes?" No go. As a substitute, I decided beets would work (I was making a salad and I wanted something a little bit sweet, and the salad bar was very thin on delicious toppings, so I was asking the attendant for a little more variety.)

Me: "Do you have any beets?"
Him: "Beets?"
Me: "You know...they're red, they're sliced, there's a lot of juice."
Him, eyes lighting up: "Beets! Yes!"
Me: "That's a tomato."

I didn't end up with raisins or beets, but it did get me thinking. It must be SO hard to function in a society where you don't speak much of the language. I speak Chinese (Mandarin) but god forbid I'm ever in China and someone asks me where the raisins are because I don't know the Chinese word for raisins any more than this person knew the English word for raisins. You want some grapes? Fine, your zi pu ta is right over there. Apples? Hong ping gua coming right up. Carrots? Get your hua loa ba right here. Zucchini? Uh....uh....nope. Don't know that one. But it's chong hua luisa due le? (long and green, right?) Fantastic. Here's your huang gua. (cucumber, oops.)

It must take so much courage to drop everything and go live in a country where you don't understand a lot of what people are saying. Or if you do understand, you can't communicate that back. That happens to me sometimes. Depending on what I'm talking about in Chinese, sometimes I can't find the right words. Also, I constantly say "I'm sorry" when I mean to say "You're welcome." I'm not sure why I have such a difficult time with that, but I do it constantly, saying due bu chi instead of bu cu chi. I am so horrible at pinyan. It's pronounced dway-boo-chee and boo-coo-chee, but I don't know how to spell it at all. Oh well. Not like anyone really cares, it just bothers me because I know it's not spelled right but I don't know how to do it.

Anyway! Occasionally I hear these people saying things like "Fucking XXX's, coming over here and taking our jobs" and I just want to smack those people. Repeatedly. My good friend's husband is from Mexico and he hears that all the time. He's a dishwasher. Really? You'd like to wash dishes for 7 dollars an hour and try to pay rent in this city? Be my guest, asshole.

If I were to move to China I could probably get a pretty good job since I speak English and Chinese. But what if I only spoke English? That's probably a bad example. English is one of those languages that opens a lot of doors. What if I moved to China and all I spoke was Amharic? Would I be able to get along half as well as the people in this country? Probably not. I'm not that sturdy.

But anyway. I have to go take report, it's time for me to actually start working. Adios, zai jian, sayonara, and goodbye!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Authors Have it Pretty Easy

As I was sitting in the dentist's chair this morning, listening to the soft rock station piping through the building, I was struck by a thought.

These songwriters and musicians are telling us a story. They're trying to get us to think, to feel, maybe to laugh or cry. And many times, they are successful. They have to do this in about 4 minutes, using maybe 100 words. We authors get about 80,000 words and hours of our reader's time. Sure, we don't get to use instruments (unless we publish an audio book and then, could probably try setting your work to music but that seems like a lot of trouble).

So really, we have it easy. Tons of words to grab our reader, lots of time to establish a relationship with them. So don't you feel better about things? You're welcome.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Work Work Work

I was called in to work an overtime shift tonight, one of my coworkers is sick. I never call in sick. It's just not my style. But I'm happy to work her shift as long as I can get a babysitter (and wonderful S. said yes!!) We seriously need the money. M was mad at me though. She really doesn't like changes in her routine. Mommy doesn't work on Mondays, dammit! (Spelling incorrect, but allowed because it is for VOICE.)

M asked me why I had to go in to work. I said it was because my coworker was sick. She asked why. I said it was because my coworker hadn't washed her hands good enough, and then she stuck her fingers in her mouth. Is that true? Hmmm...maybe, maybe not. I suppose it could be. But maybe it will convince M to stop sticking her entire hand in her mouth. She's pretty darn good at washing her hands, her preschool teacher comments on it routinely, so I know we're doing something right. But your hands just can't be clean enough if you stick the whole thing in there 40 or 50 times a day. Perhaps this will stop that habit. Nothing else seems to be doing the trick.

I critiqued a chapter in my new crit group, and it was really fun. It helped me to realize things about my own manuscript that maybe I need to change. Passive versus active, verbs versus gerunds, showing versus telling. I loved the dialogue in the chapter. I am a dialogue person though. Some people are description people. Stephen King is a big description person, and I do enjoy his work, but I think I would probably be happy with a book that was entirely dialogue. I probably wouldn't even notice. I hear Asimov moves his stories with mostly dialogue, but I don't know, I've only read one book by him, and it was co-authored with someone I don't remember who. I could google it, but I really don't care enough. The book was called Nightfall though, I remember that, and while it wasn't like the best book I ever read or anything, the story still totally sticks with me, I remember all the major plot points. I can't remember if it was dialogue driven or not.

So when I'm critiquing, I think I am going to be inclined to cut cut cut descriptions and ask for more dialogue. I wonder if that's just a personal preference though. I guess with everything you have to take a grain of salt. One of my chapters was critiqued, and I loved my feedback, I can't wait to start doing some revisions!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Added a Picture

I finally added a picture of myself. I have like, no pictures of me that are current. It's like I threw away all my cameras in 1994 or something. That was the best one that I could find. I was tired of feeling so anonymous. No, that's not the right word. Anonymous, schlepotamas. I don't really care about that.

I guess without a picture of some sort I felt...temporary. I wanted to feel more permanent. So there you go. I'll try to dig one up that does not involve me being tackled by munchkins, but that may be a difficult propisition. I am a jungle gym. Perhaps tomorrow, you will be greeted by a photo of Delta Burke. Or Ron Jeremy. Or both! Together!!

Just over 5K words total on TRP, my WIP. I love acronyms. WIP is going to require some SEEEERIOUS editing if I really do plan on keeping up this pace, but as my husband said earlier: "At least you'll have something to edit." How sage.

Friday, October 16, 2009

We Finally Had a Nice Day Today

I absolutely refused to let my older daughter's screaming and yelling get to me today, and when I ignored it and/or just talked calmly to her she de-escalated pretty quickly.

I wrote last night and am up over 2K words in my WIP. I know that's not a huge number, but its really exciting for me, since I have been so bogged down in the agent search. I basically stopped writing while I was researching agents, and even though I had a ton of ideas I did nothing to pursue them.

I'm going to try to write 1000 words every night, exhausted or not, and not worry so much about agents and crap like that. I've got a full and 2 partials out there, and I'll see what happens. I'm tired of obsessing over it. I still check my emails all the time to see about responses, but I'm not spending every available minute researching more agents or tweaking my query letter or reading agent blogs etc. etc. etc.

I feel good about this.

The girls and I had a lovely day. M and A made each other laugh all afternoon. M kept asking what A's favorite number was, and A would answer "Guy." This cracked M up. (A's 18 months old and doesn't quite get the whole favorite number concept, but she does get the idea of making her sister laugh.) A also made me laugh today by changing the words to the alphabet song. She sings the whole thing, you know, A B C D E F G... When she gets to the end, she goes W, X, Y and Mommy! I laughed so much that she won't sing it any other way now.

Two things I said to the girls today. To M: "I'm sorry, I can't control the rotation of the earth." She wanted to know why it was dark outside, and once I told her why it was dark, she wanted me to fix it. To A: "You can't get poopy on a song." This was after I told her she couldn't hold her doll while I changed her diaper. I said we could sing a song instead. She protested and wanted to know why she could get a song but not her doll. That was my response.

I'm watching Family Guy right now. I freaking love that show.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Contest Mania!!!

Thank you to Tina Lynn for posting the link to the Bransford contest. I follow his blog, but I don't check it every day. I would have hated to miss that one. I loves me a good contest. I also loves me a bad contest. I'll enter anything. Seriously.

I entered my first paragraph from my WIP, as the instructions stated. This is not my completed manuscript that I am currently shopping around to agents, it's my WIP that I'm referring to as TRP. (Any one want to start a small, lame contest with guesses about what that might stand for? Best guess gets...I don't know...hmmm. How about best guess must also be accompanied by best prize demand. And I am the sole judge. Demands considered unreasonable will be null and void.)

So anyway! Here is that first paragraph. My husband didn't like it. He knows what the book is ultimately about, and he said that it didn't hint towards the plot of the novel. He's basically right, but I have my reasons for starting the novel this way. I don't know precisely what they are at this point, but that's the way I've started the novel, so clearly I have reasons, however obscure they may be, even to myself. Without further ado, the first paragraph:

Becca had always wanted to be wild like Joey, but it never seemed to work out for her. Joey could do just about anything and get away with it. She was the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. She mowed down guys and never looked back. The only time Becca had tried a one night stand, all she’d gotten out of it was a pregnancy scare when the condom broke. Joey could drink any guy under the table and walk away unscathed. The night Becca had finally allowed herself to get stinking, filthy drunk, she’d managed to get her foot caught in the seatbelt when she tried to climb out of the back of Frank’s two door Chevy Nova. She’d been dragged for half a block before anyone had noticed. She did not need the third time to be the charm. When Joey left, it just about killed her. But she didn’t go with her. She wasn’t wild. It wasn’t in her DNA and she was painfully aware of that. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go. She just knew that she wouldn’t have survived it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So I Guess I Wasn't Done

Two things, and then I will totally shut up.

1. I just officiated an argument between two people speaking Chinese. One of the two arguing was an American male who learned his Chinese in an unknown fashion. The other person is an older woman who moved here from China about 10 years ago. They were disagreeing on the proper way to say something in Chinese. Lulu was trying to say it was cold out, and Sean kept telling her she was using the wrong word. Finally I intervened. "Sean," I said. Lulu is from China. You're not. I'm going to go with her on this one." Sheesh.

2. I met a friend of a friend today. He owns a company that produces radio jingles in Europe. Radio jingles. How cool. That's something I've always been interested in doing, since my singing career pretty much petered out in the 90s with ONE backing vocal on ONE record. Whatever. So anyway, besides the fact this this guy seems pretty cool, he also does something I'm really interested in pursuing at some point, so I'd like to make sure this is a contact that remains fresh. But I'm wracking my brain all day trying to figure out why he looks *so* familiar. Uh...just figured it out. Back in the 90s, I slept with his younger brother. And oh yeah, for good measure, the drummer in one of his bands too. Compared to my friends, I was SOOOOOO far from slutty. But I hung out with girls who had competitions to see who could sleep with the most boys in a single summer. One summer the results were Jen: 46, Lauren: 42, Mel: 33. Kelli and I refused to play. Mel was crushed. She always thought of herself as prettier than Lauren. Dear god. Like its about looks, at that point. Man. Is it any surprise that the only one I'm still friends with is Kelli?

But I digress. I never thought of myself as slutty (formerly, obviously. I've been married and monogamous for more than a decade). But the other day I was talking with a coworker and I said something along the lines of "You know when you accidentally sleep with someone..." She stopped me right there. "Accidentally sleep with someone?" she says incredulously. "Yeah," I say. "You know, when you never thought in a million years that you would ever sleep with *that person* but then you start drinking a bit, and the music gets louder, and suddenly the next thing you know...." Brenda just looks at me and then bursts out laughing, like I'm kidding. Uhhhh.....

Now this. How weird. I don't think this guy will remember me. I look a lot different after 10 years and two kids. I only remember him because both he and his brother are very distinctive looking. I don't even know if his brother is still alive. Everyone was kind of wild back then. Not everybody made it, and I didn't keep track of very many of them, once I grew up.

So maybe I was sluttier than I thought. Perhaps hanging out with serious pass around girls allowed me to overlook my own shortcomings in that area. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just a couple of incidents that have cropped up very close together. Hmm. The jury is out on this one. I think for good.

Probably My Final Post of the Evening

Because I just don't have anything else to say about the last few days.

Last night, I wrote. It wasn't outlining, or sketching, or character development, or anything. I just wrote. And I'm pretty sure it was crap. But I don't really care. I wrote.

I realized something about myself as a writer. My books are always crap for the first 1 or 2 chapters. That's because I haven't "met" my characters yet. My character is still me, and whatever I happen to be feeling in the moment, told in the context of whatever plot I have come up with.

I have to get beyond the first couple of chapters before I find my voice. I have to wait to get to know my characters. Once I'm into chapter 3, I'm hitting my stride, and I know my character well enough to write her as though she is another person, not me being cool or me being petty or me being interesting or me being something that I'm not, because I've never traveled through time or been a high school cheerleader or overdosed on heroin or done any one of a number of different things that one of my characters might do.

After I get to know my character, once voice develops, it's there, and I don't forget it. So what I have to remember to do is go back and rewrite my first few chapters in the voice that I developed over the course of the book. Only then will it be an acceptable piece of writing.

This is what discouraged me so much in the past. The fact that I knew I could write, but everything I wrote was such total garbage when I read it 2 or 3 days after writing it. Now I have finally matured enough as a writer to know how to get beyond those first few disappointing pages, and how to recover from it and move forward.

I wish I had learned that before I sent out massive partials to a few people, but oh well. Maybe they'll somehow get to chapter 3 and realize that there really is something there.

I wrote about 1,000 words in my WIP, which I'll call TRP. I'm going to try to reign myself in and not write more than about 80,000 words this time. I can write 10K words on a good night. If I buckle down, could I possibly be done in 80 days? If some dude can travel around the world that fast, you'd think I could write a nice YA in that amount of time.

Which reminds me, when I was younger I totally wanted to set off on an adventure called "Around the World on 80 Bucks." My older brother talked me out of it. I didn't expect him to be the sensible one. I guess he never fails to surprise me. He spent most of his life on hard core drugs; now he's a college math professor. Sometimes people do reel themselves back in. But anyway! I think its too late for adventures of that variety for me, but maybe I could turn that into a story when TRP is done.......

Her Tastes are Just a Bit More Eclectic

I always play my children kids music. The wildest I've ever gotten with them is ABBA. Not because I believe in censorship or anything. It just never occurred to me that they might like something else. Kids music is kids music for a reason, right?

So I come downstairs yesterday morning, I've got the baby on my hip, and I round the corner to the kitchen to see my three year old standing on a chair at the kitchen island with her daddy, helping him cook, and totally rocking out to "All Wound Up" by the Circle Jerks. She's bouncing her little knees and shaking her little booty like I've never seen. Laurie Berkener's got nothing on Keith Morris. Nothing.

Apparently the spouse had the music on shuffle, because the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were up next, followed by So Fresh So Clean by Outkast. M loved it all. Usually when I have music on she asks me to turn it off within a few songs. I guess I just wasn't playing what she wanted to hear. Ai yi yi.

Cue the Dead Milkmen: Just you and me, eating fudge banana swirl, just you and me punk rock girl.

Last Night's Dream

I have several topics I wish to blog on today. Rather than lump them all into one incoherent mess (a la my first novel) I will separate them into distinct and meaningful blog posts.

Last night I had the strangest dream. It was funny, but the more I think about it, the more I start to psychoanalyze and wonder what exactly this dream tells me about myself and what's going on in my life.

In the dream, my coworker Tim called in sick. I'm at Sam's Club, getting gas, and I see Tim sitting in his car, obviously healthy as a horse. I go over to say hi, and he freaks out, terrified that I'm going to turn him in to our boss for playing hooky. I tell him not to worry about it, I'm not going to narc him off, but the entire time I'm talking to him, I'm wondering why he's so concerned about getting in trouble at work when there is a SEVERED FOOT sitting right on his passenger seat, which he seems to be blithley ignoring. Or is he completely unaware of it? Impossible to tell. I wonder where the dream would have gone, had it not been for my oldest waking up just then needing her sheets changed because she had peed the bed.

So for most of the day I have laughed to myself about this dream, but then I got to wondering. Maybe Tim is me. Maybe I'm trying to tell myself that I'm all worried about silly, nothing little problems when there is a severed foot type of problem staring me right in the face that I'm refusing to acknowledge. I'm just not sure what it is.

Maybe this: my older daughter and I have been fighting a lot lately. For the last 3 days, we've been unable to be nice to each other at all. This is a really really bad thing, because she is 3 years old and I am (supposedly) a grown up. I should be able to act like one. But she has been screaming and whining incessantly about nothing since Thursday. I have no idea what happened. It's like she just woke up Thursday morning and decided she hated me. She's not treating anyone else like this, just me. What happened? Is this the severed foot that I refuse to notice? Should I know why she's so pissed at me and I can't admit it to myself? Or is the fact that I can't seem to let her behavior roll off my back the problem? She's THREE people. That's how they act sometimes, right? But 72 hours straight of screaming, crying, whining, and general sullenness directed towards me alone has me exhausted. What did I do?

Or maybe this: I hate one of my jobs. I hate it so much. I want to quit so badly, but I can't because we need the money. Maybe that's the severed foot. I'm killing myself with this second job but there's no way out. We have zero room in our budget for cutting expenses. We have no entertainment budget, so we can't cut that. I guess I could take my oldest out of preschool to free up $195 dollars a month, but what could I do with that money to make life better? Nothing. It's best use is sending her to preschool. It's not like $195 bucks in my pocket would enable me to quit that job. My husband's being promoted sometime this year. He's been promised the promotion since like March, it's just really slow coming through. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping desperately that it will be enough money to replace one of my jobs, but seriously, his raise would have to be like 25K for that to be the case, and I just don't see that happening, even in my most deliriously hopeful moments.

Sigh. I have other candidates to fill the position of severed foot: my writing, my pursuit of an agent, the many responsibilites I have that I don't have time for, my lack of sleep, the friends I never see anymore, the master's degree I'd like to get but have no time for, etc. etc. etc. I would think on it more, but I have a meeting to run in 5 minutes, so I've got to get going.

I'll be careful while I'm walking. Maybe my dream wasn't metaphorical at all. Perhaps I should literally be concerned about losing a foot. Never hurts to cover all your bases people.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Cooked Something!

I'm not very domestic. I never have been. Every once in a while I wish I was the type of person who wanted to be a very good cook. Note I do not wish to be a very good cook. I wish to be the type of person who might aspire to being a very good cook. Sometimes. Not very often.

Anyway! I have things that I do with my girls that prevent me from getting home some nights until about 7:00. Normal dinner time is 6:30, so this is a problem. Enter, the crockpot! My husband had the brilliant idea to buy a crockpot cookbook and I currently have ham in dijon mustard glaze and sweet potatoes bubbling away on low. They'll be done right about the time we all roll home. (The spouse gets off work around 6:00, Seattle traffic is a nightmare, so sometimes he's home even later than we are.)

This will probably be the best thing I've ever cooked, if the spoonful of mustard sauce that I licked is any indication.

Screw my work in progress. I'm dropping everything to write a cozy mystery centered around tonight's dinner. I'll call it the Mystery of the Missing Sanity. See ya on the bestseller lists, suckers!

Crappiest "Nice" Rejection Ever

So I just got a rejection in my inbox. Big deal, happens every few days. But this one struck me as different. It was supposed to be nice. It went on, and on, and on, but it wasn't personalized. It's not like it was constructive feedback. It was just the agent listening to herself talk. Here's the part that got me:

"Thank you for sharing your work with me. I know that writing a book is a time-consuming and emotional process, so I appreciate the effort you have expended to reach this point in your publishing journey. Alas, I must reject what you have been kind enough to submit. I only add a handful of new writers to my client roster each year, so I search for a unique voice, finely-honed writing skills, stellar world building talent, characters that jump off the page and a story that pulls me in from the first word and doesn't let go. I know that's a lot to ask for, but..."

Here's where I get irritated. Because you know where my mind goes? It goes to "I know that's a lot to ask for. I'd accept even three out of five of those criteria, but your crappy book has none of those things, loser." I doubt that's what she meant, but please verbose agent. Consider your audience. (And sidebar: OMG, did she actually use the word "Alas"? Seriously?)

As Janet Reid would say, here's where I stop reading. Form rejection of your rejection. And I'm not bitter. Not at all. I just don't like to hear people go on and on and on about nothing while they're rejecting me. Just say no. I can take it.

I'm so over this whole agent acquisition thing. I'm just going to send out a new query whenever I get rejected by someone but otherwise focus on the writing of my next WIP. I made a nice dent in it last night, and I'm so excited to be writing again, not obsessing over who I'm ultimately going to hire as an agent. You know, assuming I ever have someone who wants to be a candidate for the job.

For Noelia

A mi mono le gusta la lechuga, planchadia y sin una sol aruga, se la come con sal y con LIMON!!!!!

Besos y abrazos

Te amo

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Wish My Boss Was a Little More Reasonable

Just a quick post tonight, because I think I'm going to take some actual time to write.

I have 2 jobs, as you have probably surmised by this point. Because I have mentioned it like 20 times in my previous posts.

One of the jobs is totally reasonable. I work outside the home 20 hours a week (two 10 hour shifts). It doesn't even suck being away from the kids/family. To be honest, some days I dance out the door I'm so ready to go relate to some adults. My spouse is home one day that I work, and we have a babysitter/nanny come the other day...and that day my spouse works from home, so he's there in case of emergencies. I love that job.

It's the other one that's freakin killing me. I work from home "20" hours per week. That job really pays the bills (well, not really. My husband's job pays the bills. My job pays for groceries and diapers). The outside the home job "pays" as much, but since we have to spring for childcare ($150 per week) I only end up bringing home half as much as I do from my work at home job.

But note above where I say I work "20" hours per week. Add another 20 or 30, and you're getting close to how many hours I actually work for that company. I have worked for them since July 2008. Since July 2008 I have worked every single day, 7 days per week, except for 4 days off that I took to go to the PNWA conference in late July/early August of 2009, and 4 sick days I took about 3 weeks ago when I was literally falling apart. (When I took those 4 "vacation" days, I returned to all of the work that came in over those 4 days, waiting for me to do it. I had been promised that someone else in the organization would keep up with the incoming inquiries while I was away. Didn't happen. So instead of 4 days off, I had 4 days deferred. It took me over a week of 6-7 hour nights to catch up.)

I start working when the kids go to bed about 8:00 and work until midnight or 1 AM. After that, if I have any energy, I write. I haven't written much lately. My energy is just about out. On the days that I work outside the house I start my work from home when I get home from that job, which is at about midnight. I am so goddamn tired.

Anyway. I have a set of tasks that are mine to complete. When I am done with those tasks, I am supposedly done. My employers expect those tasks to take about 20 hours a week. If I am faster than that, then good for me. In theory. My boss keeps peppering me with new projects. "Can you just do this one thing for me?" Um, sure. I guess. I guess it's not a big deal. Next email is "Thanks! Now that you've done that, could you please email these 40 people with a personal reminder to blah blah blah." Wha-huh? This happens nightly.

What part of 20 hours do you not understand people? I don't work for goddamn FREE. Oh wait. Yes, it appears I do, because I continue to do the work. I really need the job. My spouse may make the house and the car payments, but we do need to eat.

Tonight will be different though. It's midnight, the girls went to bed by 7:56 PM and I've been working since then and I am DONE. No more of your stupid projects. I'm writing for an hour and then I'm going to bed. Adi-fucking-os

Got Another Response

I got a response from another agent that I queried recently. These 10 hour shifts at work really put a cramp in my email checking...her email came in at 10:33 this morning and I just got it (after getting home and working on my 2nd job for an hour). It's 1:01 AM now.

Anyway! The agent replied with a recommendation that I contact a different agent at another agency. I've read this this is a really good type of email to receive, you know, agent thinks it sounds promising but not quite her thing, how about you drop my friend XXX a line.

So I'm thrilled. And I've emailed the agent she recommended, stating twice (once in the subject line and once in the body) that so and so from XXX agency said I should write to you because you "know the category."

Now, even though I have a pounding headache and I'm pretty sure I have a fever (we'll find out soon enough, when I finally have time to take my temp), I will still sleep pretty good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I Hope the Editor Never Gets Back to Me (Unless it's a Yes)

So as you know, earlier this year an editor from an actual reputable publisher asked for a copy of my full. She seemed very excited about it, and she even emailed me to let me know she had received it.

Though I know that it was ridiculous to do so, I have been checking my email literally 4 times a day to see if she has responded to me again. It's been a little over 2 months at this point, and I was starting to become kind of depressed. Even though I know 2 months is no time at all in the publishing industry, to me it has felt like an eternity and with every day that passed it was just one more day that no answer was, in my mind, a "No" answer.

But then I decided to get off my ass and send a few more queries, beyond the ones that I sent at the beginning of August. And this time, in my query letter, I am able to include the line "In addition, I have submitted my full manuscript to XXX at XXX press, at her request."

I sent out a number of queries without that line, even after I had submitted my manuscript to the editor, because it didn't occur to me that it would be appropriate for me to mention someone else's interest in my letter to an agent. It's not like I have some close personal relationship with this editor, and I didn't want to appear to name drop or make myself seem all 5 minutes away from getting a deal or something. But I've been reading more and more agent blogs and the posts I saw about this very issue were along the lines of "For god's sake, if you have an editor interested in your work, let us know you idiot." So I began including that line in my queries.

The queries that I sent that did not have that line were universally form rejected, sometimes within minutes of sending. The queries that I have sent since including that line have resulted in one request for a partial and no rejections...still waiting for responses, which is way better than being form rejected within 15 minutes. Seriously, this happened.

So, I have come to the conclusion that having this tidbit of information in my query letter prevents people from form rejecting me the instant they read my query. Those form rejections may come later, but for now, the barbarians are being held at the gate by one simple sentence. So that is why I hope the editor takes all the time in the world reading my manuscript. Seriously. Read at your leisure. Either way, I win. You either like it and you want to buy it, or you don't like it and by the time you tell me that a year from now, I have an agent because you were at one time interested in my work. So take your time. Take all the time you need!!!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rules! Rules! Rules!!! I love rules!!!

I've been spending the day alternately:

1. Working
2. Writing entries for the #GhostsOfBelfast contest on Twitter
3. Coming up with movie mash-ups for the Moonrat contest

It's this last one that I have been thinking about the most. I love refreshing my browser to see all the new entries. I started submitting mine one at a time, as soon as I thought of them, rather than compiling a list, because everyone else's entries were so hysterical that I didn't want anyone else to preempt my vision.

I am unsure of the proper format. Can you just mash titles together at any point, like I did with my first entry How Stella Got the Passion of the Christ? How Stella Got Her Groove Back is the full title of the first part of my mash-up, but it worked better (obviously) to do what I did. I think this is the least proper form of the mash-up, because it takes a lot less thought to come up with these, and you would probably never see them on a marquee this way.

So the next option is to make each mash-up share one word. It must be the last word in title #1 and the first word in title #2, such as my entry Bring It On Golden Pond, a combination of Bring It On and On Golden Pond. But again, would this be the most likely movie marquee combination? No. Our first example by Moonrat was Twelve Monkeys Waiting to Exhale. That is two complete titles, when read together. Going by my previous format, the title would have been Twelve Monkeys to Exhale or something like that, where the first title was Twelve Monkeys and the second title was Monkeys to Exhale. So I believe this form of contest entry, while enjoyable, also does not meet the necessary criteria.

So I have come up with what I believe are my masterpieces, in what I believe is the correct form:

Back to the Future Of Human Bondage
You Got Served My Dinner With Andre
Run Lola Run Scream Godzilla (Three in one!!)
What's the Worst That Could Happen? Love Actually

and, my personal favorite:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre It Could Happen to You

I laughed so hard over that one I cried. I tried to explain why I was literally in tears to a passing nurse. It lost so much in the translation. I guess you had to be there.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm All A-Twitter

I've finally broken down and joined Twitter. I resisted for so long, but finally I was dragged in by the #GhostsofBelfast contest. Of course it was a contest. I'll bend over backwards in order to be judged. Probably why I got into this whole writing racket in the first place.

I've submitted two entries so far. The task is to write a ghost story in 124 characters or less. Here are my entries so far:

1. The man stood outside. My wife’s in there. I nodded and entered. The restroom was deserted. His footsteps echoed behind me.

[I wish I could have added quotes around "My wife's in there." but I didn't have enough characters. By the way folks, that's a true story. I'll have to write a post about it sometime. That was definitley one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me.]

2. She was in animal control. He controlled animals. No one muzzled his bitch. "Get her boys!" he barked. The pack descended.

[That one is fictional, and is supposed to be funny. I snickered. But then again, I usually do.]

My Odds are How Slim?

I subscribe to Kim Lionetti's Twitter feed, one of the agents who recently requested my partial. I just saw this:

First day back queries: 30% women's fiction, 50% YA (almost all paranormal), 10% romance, 10% thriller.

Mine is a paranormal YA. Eek. I'm up against fully half of her queries. Lucky for me I rite gud.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Wahoo and a BooHoo!

Wahoo! I got a request for a partial today from an agent with a well-respected agency. Synopsis and first 3 chapters requested, 12 hours after sending my query! Yay!!!!

BooHoo! I got rejected by the third person I elevator pitched to at the PNWA conference. (I had already guessed as much.) The rejection was VERY NICE, and obviously personalized (she referenced my character's name and listed some plot points) and gave me some really nice constructive criticism which I will be using as I go forward. So maybe it's not a boo-hoo. I had already assumed it was a no BUT I got the best kind of no possible. A personal no with feedback.

So it's been a good day.

Well, except for my 3 year old's blood draw. God forbid we ever have to do that again. You try sticking a needle in a toddler's vein and see how well it goes. That poor little girl. She's been through way too much lately. I hope her results are normal. She's had a temperature right around 100 for at least 6 months. I've taken her to the doctor repeatedly and they finally agreed that some blood work should be done. They think it's just her normal body temperature and that some people just run hotter like that, but I'm not comfortable with that as an answer. Run the blood work, see what science tells us, and then we can talk. Please, please, please let her just run hot.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Think I May Flee the Country

And head to Canada, for the Surrey International Writer's Conference! Didn't I just post about wanting a respectable, reputable conference in Washington State ASAP? Well, Surrey B.C. works just fine, distance-wise.

It's crossing the border that will be the sticky widget. I don't have a passport, and I don't have my enhanced driver's license (people in Washington state can get those and they'll allow you to cross the Canadian border like a passport would. I bet other border states offer those too, but I don't know).

I miss the days when I could (and did) flit up to Canada on a whim, crossing the border with wild abandon. That's how I saw Eek-a-Mouse (and got the biggest contact high EVER when my friend and I were invited backstage -actually downstage, I guess, the backstage area was a basement.). Nobody smokes pot like a Jamacian reggae band. I mean NOBODY. Vancouver is also where I saw my first ever actual live prostitutes, and learned that when the prettiest girl on the block is holding an umbrella even though its not raining, then that means she's a dude. (And yes, she was better looking than nearly every actual female prostitute out there in Gastown.) I had some fun times in Canada in my teens and early twenties. I haven't been in ages though. My spouse and I have never been, and we've been married 11 years. We've talked about going to the aquarium up there with the girls, we hear its amazing, but its never been a serious enough discussion to actually do anything about getting the right post-September 11th travel documents.

My husband used to have a passport (he lived in Iceland for a few years, and was quite the globetrotter when he was in his twenties) but he forgot that it was expiring and failed to renew it, so now he practically has to start over - his process won't be as difficult as mine, having already had a passport, but it's still a pain in the ass that he doesn't have time for, considering we have no international travel planned for the foreseeable future.

But now this conference has come up and I really really really want to go. To get an enhanced driver's license, I need several things: 1. a copy of my birth certificate. Ordered. From the east coast. I paid for fast shipping. We'll see how long it actually takes. 2. A copy of my marriage certificate, since the name on my birth cert and my current name differ. Got it. 3. My SSN. Got it. 4. A utility bill with my name on it. Might have it. We just moved to the new location in July, and I honestly don't know whose name the utilities are in. I think the gas is in my name but everthing else is in my husband's. When we moved this last time I was really really busy with life stuff, so the husband took care of all the little things regarding the move. The gas just had to be switched to a new address, it was the same company we had in Seattle, so I think it remained in my name, but I'm pretty sure all the rest of it is in his.

So anyway! I will probably have all the materials I need within about 2 weeks. So then I have to drag my ass to one of 14 offices statewide that actually issue enhanced drivers licenses to apply. I have to go first thing in the morning, because there are a limited number of appointments, and they are only available on a first come/first served basis. Then, the actual license takes a week and a half or so to issue. So if I am lucky, I will be able to legally cross the border by the date of the conference.

If I am not legally able to do so by that time, perhaps I will smuggle myself in by hiding in the back of a Jamaican reggae band's van under a heavy curtain of pot smoke. "Do you have anything to declare?" they will ask. "No. No we do not," they will answer.

Good News

My friend came through her cancer surgery very well. The doctor said the mass was about the size of a tennis ball, so it was very large, but it doesn't look like it spread to any other areas of the body.

The surgery itself took longer than normal, because my friend is in really good shape. Apparently with this type of surgery when you're really physically fit the surgery takes more time because you don't have a lot of fat to give the surgeon more wiggle room. It does mean that her recovery will be quicker and will probably have fewer complications.

Yay!! Now, let's all cross our fingers to ward off nosocomial infections, and we should be home free!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I've Been Speaking Too Much Chinese Lately

I wrote an email earlier today to The Rejecter asking a very serious question. (To me, at least. It's one of those things that I really want to know, yet am afraid to ask anyone but an anonymous person.)

However, in the subject line, I used the phrase "Is, or is it not?" IN ENGLISH. I wasn't even thinking. I read back over my email later and I thought, hmm. Could have written it better, but the kids were yelling at me so oh well I guess it could have been worse. Then I saw the subject line. IS OR IS IT NOT???? Who am I? Goddamn Hamlet?

But in Chinese, you say hua bu hau all the time. Please excuse my horrible pinyang. I neither read nor write characters or pinyang. I can only understand the language verbally. Give me a book in Chinese, I'm useless. Sit me down at a mahjongg table and I'm your girl. (Don't get me wrong. A Chinese person could still talk circles around me. But I'm probably the only blond haired blue eyed girl there who can eavesdrop on the Chinese ladies talking shit about the other people walking Greenlake.) But you never know! Maybe there's a large, secret group of us and we don't know about each other yet. Ooh! What a nice idea for a novel. Wait. Done that.

So anyway. I really would like a serious answer from The Rejecter to my question, but would I answer an email from someone with "Is or is it not?" in the subject line? Is her first thought going to be "Oh! I bet she was thinking in Chinese and writing in English!" Um, sure. Sure it is. No, it's going to be "What a fucking freak."


Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Want More Writers Conferences

Back at the end of July I went to the PNWA summer conference. I met with one agent in a one on one 10 minute pitch session, and I met with one editor in a six on one half hour pitch session. I also elevator pitched to three other agents.

Of those meetings I have had the following results: The agents I elevator pitched to said "fine, send me something. I have been rejected by two of them (one form, one very nicely. Both took weeks to reject me) The third agent I elevator pitched to asked for a 10 page partial and I haven't heard back from her. The agent that I met with in the 10 minute one on one requested a 100 page partial. I am waiting to hear from her. The editor request my full. I will now recount the meeting with the editor:

The scene: a packed conference room. Five nervous would-be authors sit around a table with a pleasant but detached looking blond woman. She's the only one not sweating bullets. The seventh chair at the table sits empty. The sixth author failed to show. Idiot! We all think. Can one of us do our pitch twice?

Our editor says hello, introduces herself. She's with St. Martins Press, an actual respected publisher, not some crappy vanity place. We all swallow the lumps in our throats. She turns to the woman on her left and indicates that she go ahead and give it her best shot. She begins "My fantasy novel XXX begins..." and she finishes her pitch. Editor looks at her kindly and says "I'm sorry, but fantasy is not one of my genres. Thank you for coming." The author, tears in her eyes, says "can you give me some feedback?" Editor: "I'm sorry, I really can't. It's not one of my genres, any feedback from me would be useless." Author stands up and walks away. I understand, but wish she could have pulled it together and stayed. It just looked kind of tacky. The next person goes. Editor: "It doesn't sound like its for me." The third person goes. Editor: "It sounds like a fantasy." Author: "Well it mostly is, but there's a lot of romance in it. Maybe you could call it a romance." Editor looks slightly pained. Author argues his point more. He really really goes for it, and I have to applaud his persistence. Apparently the editor does too, because she says "Fine. Send me something." Hooray!!! The next person goes. She's this smarmy (I assume smarmy is derived from school-marmy, so the word is really spot on to describe this person) overly-fake-friendly person that I met earlier in the conference. You know, all of her compliments are back-handed, everything she says screams "I am clearly better than you! Be thrilled that I am speaking to you!" She begins, in her long-winded way, finally getting around to the fact that her novel is middle grade fiction. The editor stops her there. "I'm sorry, that's not one of my genres. I'm afraid I'm not the editor for you." She turns and looks at me. "Yes?" I am so nervous at this point, but I begin. She looks resigned. I'm three words in when school marm interrupts me. "Can you at least listen to my pitch and give me some feedback?" she says in her nasty way. The editor looks at me, I realize for my yes or no. I have, after all, started my pitch. Crap. Do I give in to my inner bitch and say "fuck you, this is my time" or do I act graciously and rise above it all? I choose the latter, but it's hard. School marm launches into her very lengthy pitch, while I try not to look pissed. When she is finally done, editor says "I'm sorry. Middle grade is just not my genre. I don't have any feedback for you." She turns to me: "Go ahead." I say "I'm kind of nervous at this point. Would it be okay if I just read my pitch?" This may have worked out for me after all. I'm a much better writer than I am a speaker. I'm a competent speaker, but let me reiterate for you: I AM A MUCH BETTER WRITER THAN I AM A SPEAKER. She says sure. Yes! I get to read something I wrote, rather than just babble excitedly!!! I begin reading. She looks bored. I glance up from time to time. It is as though the editor is connected to a dimmer switch. She brightens a little more each time I look up. At the end, she looks positively excited. She asks me "Does it have a strong opening?" I say yes and describe the opening a bit. We discuss my title for a few; the pros and cons. Hasn't there been a successful book with that title recently? Yes, I say, but it's nonfiction, and it has a long subtitle. My target audience won't be confused. She looks at me point blank. "Is it good?" I don't get cutesy. I don't say "Well *I* think it is." I don't say "I certainly hope so." I don't say "Why don't you be the judge?" I say: "Yes." She says "Time travel is huge right now. Send it to me. Send it to me right now." Then she turns to the next person. I can barely register what's going on, but I realize that she shoots him down almost immediately. I am a-twitter with excitement.

I mail it to her on Monday morning. I send it regular first class mail. No express mail. I don't want to seem like a freak. I do pay for delivery confirmation. Not signature confirmation. I'm not an idiot. I get real busy for a couple of days with the kids. On Wednesday I send her an email letting her know it's on its way. She emails me back on Thursday saying "You too! I got the ms and it's on top of my To Read stack. Thanks!" (The "you too" was in response to my telling her it was a real pleasure to meet her - which it was. At this point, its probably the best thing that happened to me all year.) That was on August 6th. I'm starting to hear crickets. They're not loud, but they are intimidating. Yes, I put a SASE in with my manuscript, but not knowing the postal rules, I had it metered. Now I know that probably won't work, since she's in New York and I'm on the west coast. Fab. Why couldn't the postal worker tell me to buy stamps in the amount of 15 bucks or whatever it was? I would have done that. The postal worker should have known that it wouldn't work, I told her it was an SASE. Bitch. So I probably won't get the manuscript back if the response is a no. I really really really want to hear what she has to say. In the interim weeks from the time I mailed her, I have thought of a much better way to open the novel, and I've determined that there was one entire scene (almost a chapter) that could and should be deleted. What if she hates my opening 2 paragraphs, and she thinks the book was really promising until chapter 13 and then I blew it? Man, I could drive myself crazy over this.

So the two people I'm most excited about, the two people who have the most of my work (the agent with the 100 page partial and the editor with the full) have not gotten back to me yet. I take this a good thing, when I'm thinking rationally. It means they're still reading it. In between all the other things they have to do, in snatches of time, they're reading it. I have not been rejected yet.

In contrast, I have been almost immediately rejected by nearly everyone else I have sent a query to...some within minutes of zapping it off. Most within at least one day. Does my query really suck that bad? I've revised it again and will send some more queries shortly. I've also submitted my query to Query Shark. Even though Janet Reid has already shot me down (very, very quickly) I revised my letter and submitted it to her Query Shark blog. Perhaps she will recognize it, perhaps not. Maybe I'll get some good feedback, maybe not. We'll see.

But finally, I am arriving at the meaning behind the title of my blog post. The people I met in person are still viable options. They wanted to see my stuff. The elevator pitches have met with a 66% reject rate and a 34% unknown (let's face it, it's probably a rejection), but they took several weeks to reject me, not several hours. I think they at least read what I sent. The longer I spoke with a person, the more they wanted to see from me. And I haven't heard back yet, which I think is promising. (I won't think it's promising anymore once I get a rejection, but for now, let me cling to that.) I want more opportunities to speak to people in person. I want more writer's conferences. Good ones. Not some place where I sit around with a paintbrush in one hand and everyone wears saris. I want a business-like, lets make a deal environment like I got at PNWA. And I want it now. Could someone please organize another conference RIGHT NOW in Washington State so that I can go get a fix?