Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


8 Comments

Write what you know, or do a good fake-out

Write what you know. How often have you heard that advice?

Pfft. All. The. Time.

Which is all well and good if you’re writing about making chocolate chip cookies (not cheating, mind you, actually measuring the ingredients and mixing them together) or driving in a snowstorm, or checking out of a big-box store behind the person who is cleaning the pennies out of their little coin purse.

But what if:

  • You’ve never ridden a dragon.
  • You’ve never ridden a horse.
  • You’ve never fired a gun.
  • You’ve never seen the Grand Canyon.
  • You’ve never cast a spell of invisibility.
  • You’ve never changed into a wolf/tiger/bear/bird of prey/swan/vampire/gargoyle/(I could go on).
  • You’ve never lost a brother.
  • You’ve never been stalked.
  • Someone has never tried to kill you.

Granted, some things you can realistically do. Never fired a gun? Go to your local gun shop, gun range, or contact a sportsman’s club and ask for the experience. Never ridden a horse? I’m sure most horse owners wouldn’t mind helping you out, especially if you offer to muck out the stable or pay them in return.

Some of those experiences can be translated into others. Never ridden a dragon? How different do you suppose that is from riding a horse? Never seen the Grand Canyon? Um, okay, pictures or Google Earth don’t do it justice compared to seeing it in person, but you could probably give it a good go.

Sometimes you can find other people who have had an experience you want to write about. Talk to that person, get them to describe everything from physical sensations (including any tastes or smells) to emotional sensations.

Psst, it’s called research.

But what if you haven’t experienced something, and you don’t know anyone who has? What if it’s something you cannot experience, like, ever? Time-travel. Casting spells. Shape-shifting. Or maybe something you could experience but probably shouldn’t, like falling five stories from a building or driving a car off a cliff.

Remember all those hours of make-believe when you were a kid? You didn’t know it then, but you were practicing for the times when you need to pretend. Not just in real life, because face it, we’ve all been there with the fake genuine smile and feigned interest when your relative starts telling that story yet again.

We go into that pretend state when we write things that we really don’t know. The deeper we can imagine the experience, and the more we can extrapolate from what we have experienced first-hand, the more realistic our writing will be.

The character in my latest WIP lost her big brother. I’m the oldest in my family, so I never had a big brother, nor have I lost a sibling. How could I write about her grief and guilt?

I have lost a parent. I know grief. But guilt? Hmm. I’ve gone through guilt with other things, like not offering to help the young mother in church struggling to control her three kids after her husband died. I should’ve offered to hold the fussy baby so she could deal with her other two children.

Even though I’ve never experienced loss like my character, I can use what I do know. I can remember the grief and guilt and translate it into my character. Actors do the same sort of thing. Our goal as writers is to bring our readers through the same experience as our characters.

We fake it good.

It’s worth it. The better you can fake it, the deeper the reader is pulled into the character’s experience. That translates to a better reader experience, which ultimately translates to more readers, because they tell their friends how good the story is.

How do you know you’ve written a good fake-out? When a beta reader tells you you’ve nailed something the reader actually experienced. Or when you go to book clubs and the readers relay their own similar experiences (this happens a lot with Ceone Fenn and her book, To Reap the Finest Wheat).

Like actors, we need to “get into character”. Some writers actually take acting classes to help them learn to do just that. Guess what? It means more well-rounded characters and more realistic scenes.

Our goal is to suck the reader into the story so they don’t want to surface until the end. We want them to cry, gasp, laugh, and dance for joy with our characters. Use what you know to imagine what you haven’t experienced.

Make-believe. It does a writer good.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


28 Comments

Another step–with cheers!

There’s something about working toward a goal, whether it’s running a 5k, remodeling a room, practicing meditation, or traveling to the states you haven’t visited yet. Sometimes the road to get there is long and full of potholes and detours.

Sometimes you can actively move toward the goal, like training to run a marathon. Sometimes you prepare for a goal, like saving up for travel or remodeling.

In the writing world, it seems all these come into play. We practice writing. We train by reading about writing and taking classes on writing. We go to writing conferences. We practice some more. We ease into the hot spring with short stories or flash fiction, with entries into contests, with blog posts and guest posts.

We learn about the business, what it takes, the best paths to get to where we want to be. We read. A lot. We align ourselves with other writers, better writers, and writing teachers so we can improve beyond what we think we can do. We accept the challenge of becoming a published writer.

We fall down. We slip a few rungs backward. When you’re a writer, you get up, dust off your pen and notebook, and try again. We feel like we can’t move forward, that nothing we do seems to move us toward that elusive goal many of us seek: to be published.

And then, you see hope. A glimmer here, a shine there. You get partial requests for your manuscript. You place in a contest. You get personal rejections instead of form rejections. You get requests for the full manuscript.

Then you get a request for a revise and resubmit. It might come with specific feedback, or it might have general ideas of where you can take the story. Maybe the agent is open to discussing the feedback. You speak with the agent about where to take the story. You revise with the feedback you received in mind.

Then you resubmit. Sometimes a rejection follows, but sometimes you get more feedback about the story. Sometimes you have another phone discussion.

And then you receive the contract, the offer of representation for the story you created.

Another step closer to seeing your book in print.

I’m excited to announce I have signed with a literary agent to represent my mystery novel.

I have a literary agent.

OMG.

I know what happens next. I know that once I finish my latest revisions, I’ll need to work on stuff like a marketing plan, a cover blurb, and a bio. I’ll probably have to redo my synopsis. When a publisher picks it up, I’ll have more revisions, more planning, more to do.

This being an author stuff is a lot of work.

And I thought writing the book was tough. Actually, writing the draft isn’t so hard. It’s the revising that comes afterward that really takes work and up-close-and-personal time with the Muse.

The key, though, is persistence. You have to keep going, keep learning, keep reading, keep writing. Keep moving forward.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


13 Comments

Anatomy of a Mystery

Sounds like I know what I’m doing, doesn’t it?

Ha! Fooled you!

The idea for this post came as I drove to work this morning pondering again how to strengthen my revised outline for my next WIP. Right now, I’m writing mystery (as opposed to fantasy, my other main genre). In general, and specifically for mysteries, I’ve received guidance from my wonderful writing sisters.

You gals have no idea how much I appreciate your help!

There are a few things I’ve learned about writing, and writing mysteries in particular:

  • Deadlines. There should be some time limit the protagonists are up against, whether it’s a bodily threat or some other threat. It could be anything from the killer striking again to Uncle Buck getting full possession of the estate or the wedding that can’t be rescheduled.
  • Dead bodies. My very first draft of the WIP I’m now working on had no dead bodies. There were threats, and a deadline, but no dead guys/gals. Yeah–no. It’s like a prerequisite. If there’s no dead bodies, it’s less a full-out adult-level mystery and more Encyclopedia Brown or the Three Investigators. Enjoyed those stories, but I don’t write MG or YA, where dead bodies are discouraged (real life is violent enough). Even cozy mysteries have dead bodies.
  • Chapter Hooks. Remember that book you started and couldn’t put down? The one where you had to read just one more chapter? Then just one more? Then there’s only a couple chapters left. Then your alarm clock goes off and you realize you stayed up all night reading. I remember the first book where I really noticed that: Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Yes, it’s a fantasy, but I had to keep reading because at the end of (just about) every chapter there was a question I needed to find the answer to. So, especially with a mystery, the more chapters you can end with a question that lures the reader to keep going, the better.
  • Stakes. In the very first draft of the manuscript I recently completed, the plot involved the main character’s BFF from high school. My writing sisters straightened me out. “Best Friend” isn’t close enough to the main character. Family is better. The main character should be tied to the mystery through a family relation of some sort (at least in the first book of many, if there is more than one). Why? Because the main character has a greater stake in the outcome if it involves family. So, I adjusted. The main character is now tied to the mystery via her brother. This also allowed me to add the additional threat of putting suspicion on the main character, which also jacks up the stakes. The deeper the crime/mystery affects the main character (higher stakes) the more tension you can create, and the more the reader cares if the main character succeeds.
  • Twists. Wow, didn’t see that coming, did you? This kinda goes without saying. Red herrings, false accusations, and soft alibis all contribute to misdirection. In my opinion, Agatha Christie was a master at this. I could never figure out who did it until the culprit was revealed at the end, then I would trace back to find the little clues she dropped along the way. And it always seemed like the innocuous detail was the clincher. This isn’t limited to mysteries, either. I’m sure there are romances out there where the “other woman (or man)” is someone the protagonist least expects. Or fantasies where one of the biggest allies turns out to be a major enemy (LOTR: Saruman, anyone?)

As I work on re-re-re-revising my WIP outline, I’m trying to keep all these things in mind so I can (hopefully) avoid yet another major plot revision.

Dead body? Yep. Died about 70 years ago, ruled accidental, but was it?

Deadline? Yep. My MC has a window in which to solve the mystery, and if she blows the deadline, she loses, like, a six-figure inheritance and a nice chunk of farmland with a house and everything.

Chapter hooks? That’ll come when I redo the draft. Again. Sigh.

Stakes? I’m trying to raise them as much as possible. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on them. It’s another instance of family being central to the mystery.

Twists? Ooo, I’ve got a lot of opportunities for misdirection. The trick will be to keep the misdirection believable without giving away too much too early.

And there you have it. And just because you aren’t writing mysteries doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. All of these (except the dead body) can be applied to almost any genre. You’ll also notice I left out conflict. That goes without saying. All stories need some sort of conflict, and if you’re a writer, you know that.

I’m almost done with my outline, and I’m aiming to start re-drafting this weekend. Besides, with the arctic cold and the snowstorm tomorrow, it’ll be perfect weather to stay inside and write. How about you?

 


12 Comments

Can’t Do It Alone, or How Betas Rock

I’m talking writing, here. Fiction writing, to be exact, though even non-fiction writing benefits from multiple sets of eyes reviewing everything from sentence structure to fact-checking. You write alone, but critique partners or groups are key in helping you build a solid story.

I’ve been working on my revise and resubmit for the past couple months, and sent my manuscript off to a few beta readers. I’ve gotten feedback from almost all of them now, which gave me the idea for this post.

Beta readers are like the tasting panel for your book. You’ve done the research, mixed and remixed and revised the recipe until you think it tastes pretty good. You’ve let other people sample the brew, maybe even worked in the kitchen with them, and they’ve offered suggestions and advice that improved the flavor, color, and texture of your creation.

Refining the recipe is a necessary step. You’ve done that, and you could release the new and improved product into the wild and wait for people to try it, and hopefully love it.

Better, though, to toss the finished recipe off to a test panel made up of people who just like a good-tasting product, and people who have discerning taste–maybe super-tasters–who can tell whether you used old seasonings, or if the cow that gave the milk grazed in a grassy pasture or munched on hay. The panel can tell you there’s too much nutmeg, not enough vanilla, or just enough cinnamon. They’re the ones who will recommend more marshmallows, or less chocolate, or melting the butter instead of softening it.

They’re the ones that help you make those last-minute tweaks before you submit your creation to the judges.

My beta readers ranged from a fellow writer (in a different genre) to a retired school administrator to a couple of mindful readers. By selecting different types of readers, you get a better picture of how the story might be received by an audience.

Feedback. It does a story good!

I’ve gotten detailed feedback from my betas–some more detailed than others, of course–all useful. All valuable. My betas noted things I totally missed, like lakes are frozen in the winter in MN (don’t ask 🙂 –total brain cramp on that one), and if you mention something significant early in the story that affects one of the main characters, that something should probably play a bigger role in the story later on.

As the writer, you’re too close to the story to see these types of details. Someone who has never read the story has a better chance of seeing those bits and pieces that could make or break a reader’s enjoyment of the work. Beta readers are a resource all writers should utilize, but especially writers of longer works. There’s more opportunity in longer pieces to miss things, leave holes, or overdo bits.

Finding good beta readers might be tough, and might alienate you from those friends for a long time, but people like teachers, fellow writers, and avid readers (of something more than graphic novels or Harlequin romances) can point out what works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved.

I have a couple weeks to revise my WIP before I send it off. Then cross my fingers that the agent will like my changes.

To my beta readers: THANK  YOU!! *applause* *fireworks* You provided me with valuable feedback and great suggestions. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you spending the time not only reading my story, but writing up your notes for me.

Write on!

 


10 Comments

The Paranormal Bar & Grille – Virtual Book Tour

October starts out warm and sunny, but this is the month when everything changes. Mornings grow frosty, leaves change colors, and the breeze takes on a bite.

Summer dies.

It’s a time for harvest celebrations. A boy loans a girl his coat. She snuggles a little closer and takes his hand. A riot of autumn splendor accompanies the farmer’s market where they stroll.

But the vibrancy of daylight doesn’t compare to the darkness of night. Is that chill on your neck the breeze or something else?

You walk a tad faster and look over your shoulder. The trees creak when the wind whips through their branches—at least, you hope that noise came from the undulating bows.

You check under the bed and inside the closet before climbing under the covers. Sleep doesn’t come easy. The old house groans its complaints, and the night magnifies every innocuous noise until terror paralyzes you—because you know nefarious things go bump in the night.

Welcome to the Paranormal Bar & Grille Blog Tour

…where you can rub elbows with everyone from a gargoyle or vampire, to a creature from urban legend, to the ghosts from realms of myth. Step up to the bar, grab a booth. You never know what’s on the menu, or if you might end up there yourself.

Sound like your kind of hangout? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’re a group of five authors who love nothing more than to trigger the chill that crawls up your back, the nervous glance tossed over your shoulder. We invite you to discover outstanding books and check out our awesome tour prizes.

Enter our $30 Rafflecopter giveaway here, then visit our blog StoryEmpire.com to participate in a scavenger hunt. Fifteen prizes are up for grabs on Story Empire, three from each author. You have the opportunity for 10 Amazon gift cards ranging in value from $15 to $10, plus ebooks from the participating authors.

Just be careful of what the bartender serves you. That heady brew may not be a beer, and witches can’t be trusted to provide effective antidotes.

 


Supernatural Suspense/Mystery

Date Published: April 26, 2016
Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Underground

 “Masterful, bone-chilling fiction…one intense thriller. A Thousand Yesteryears will keep you guessing, gasping and turning the pages for more.” —New York Times bestselling author Kevin O’Brien

 Behind a legend lies the truth…

As a child, Eve Parrish lost her father and her best friend, Maggie Flynn, in a tragic bridge collapse. Fifteen years later, she returns to Point Pleasant to settle her deceased aunt’s estate. Though much has changed about the once thriving river community, the ghost of tragedy still weighs heavily on the town, as do rumors and sightings of the Mothman, a local legend. When Eve uncovers startling information about her aunt’s death, that legend is in danger of becoming all too real…

Caden Flynn is one of the few lucky survivors of the bridge collapse, but blames himself for coercing his younger sister out that night. He’s carried that guilt for fifteen years, unaware of darker currents haunting the town. It isn’t long before Eve’s arrival unravels an old secret—one that places her and Caden in the crosshairs of a deadly killer…

Purchase Links


Mae Clair has been chasing myth, monsters and folklore through research and reading since she was a child. In 2013 and 2015, she journeyed to West Virginia to learn more about the legendary Mothman, a creature who factors into her latest release.

Mae pens tales of mystery and suspense with a touch of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and numbers cats, history and exploring old graveyards among her passions.  Look for Mae on her website at MaeClair.net

Contact Information

Twitter (@MaeClair1)



Mystery/Thriller

Date Published: November 2014

“Readers who like to curl up during the long winter evenings and feel the delicious chill of fear running up and down their spines need only turn to The Glade to have all their expectations fulfilled. The Glade is a horror story in the mould of Stephen King, and rendered the more so by its faint echoes of Pet Cemetery and the even stronger resonance of the pervasive malignancy of It.”—Review by Brian O’Hare

This gripping, edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller will have you thinking twice about booking that idyllic cottage in the country. Nothing in this woodland paradise within the Forest of Dean is what it seems.

The Wenstrops have it all: health, wealth, and happiness. Until everything falls apart. Helen gets arrested for murder, and yet is either unable or unwilling to give a defence. During her detention, vital evidence goes missing and tensions run high.

Meanwhile, in the woods, malignant forces gather power.

This sensational second novel by acclaimed author Harmony Kent will have you alternately laughing, crying, and gripping the edge of your seat as this roller-coaster ride of a plot unfolds. It will keep you guessing through its many twists and turns, and hijack your attention right up until you turn the final page. This book has it all: murder, intrigue, the supernatural, a broken marriage, a love affair, courage against impossible odds, suspense, and high drama.

“Expertly written, the book keeps you guessing at every turn. What can I say? You really have to read this book … if you’re brave enough!”—Review by Fantasy Queen

The Glade is an IndieB.R.A.G.Medallion honoree, and an Official Selection for the New Apple Book Awards 2015.

Purchase Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GNQVPOK – nav-subnav

Harmony Kent is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour and quirky neighbours and refuses to admit to her age.

If you catch her at work, you’ll see that she also offers editing, proof reading, manuscript appraisal, and beta reading services. Not to mention being passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

Contact Links

Website: www.harmonykent.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarmonyKentOnline
Twitter: @harmony_kent 
Blog: www.harmonykent.co.uk/Dissonance
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/HarmonyK
 


Paranormal/Young Adult
Date Published: March 13, 2015

There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, survive the wilderness, and face an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves strong elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

Purchase Links

North American Continent http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UPH6BNS
Rest of the world http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UQNDT2C

 

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Contact Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColdhandBoyack
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Virgilante
Blog: http://www.coldhandboyack.wordpress.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack
 
 
 


Paranormal Romance

Date Published: April 2, 2016

A cold stone heart breaks more easily than it beats. Than it loves.

Damien was a loyal warrior, killed in battle in 1203. Because of his true heart, he was given the option to pass on to his eternal reward or exist in another state of being as a protector… until the time came when he could resume living the life he’d been cheated of.

A soldier by nature, he chose the latter. And he waited centuries—as a gargoyle—growing increasingly bitter about his choice. Then he sees her.

Rina is a hard worker and loyal friend. She just has the worst luck. One night, after saving her best friend from a violent assault, she finds herself at the attacker’s mercy. Then out of nowhere, a savior comes and rescues her.

With only an angel to guide him, Damien must make the right choices to win Rina’s heart, or be forever damned as a grotesque mockery of the guardian he once was.

 Purchase Links

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B01DSCTGCE
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/STlovesetinstone

Staci Troilo has always loved fiction, ever since her parents read her fairy tales when she was little. Today, her interests are much more eclectic. She loves getting lost in sci-fi battles, fantasy realms, horror worlds, suspenseful intrigues, and romantic entanglements.

As goes her reading, so goes her writing. She can’t pick a single genre to focus on, so she doesn’t even try. She’s proud to say she’s a multi-genre author.

When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with family and friends, possibly cooking for them, or maybe enjoying an afternoon in the pool. To learn more about her, visit her website or connect with her on social media.

Contact Links

Website: http://stacitroilo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorstacitroilo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stacitroilo
Blog: http://stacitroilo.com/blog
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/stacitroilo
Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/staci_troilo
 

 

Paranormal YA
Date Published: October 18, 2015

My name is Zoe Tempest. Just let me say, I had no intention of becoming a vampire hunter. My world revolved around the trendiest clothes, the boy of the week and shopping. My parents were well-off and indulgent. I was the center of their universe. I’m afraid I took that for granted. My life was as close to perfect as a seventeen year old can get. I had everything. Then my parents were murdered and my world came crashing down.

After their funeral, I went to live with my uncle Julian Kilmer. That’s when everything changed. In a manner more terrifying than anything I could have imagined.

Purchase Links
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nkjfqmc 

Sandra writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her  porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee or a latte and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.



Contact Links
Website: http://www.sandracox1.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SandraCox.Author/
Twitter: @ Sandra_Cox
Blog: https://www.sandracox.blogspot.com
 


9 Comments

Another Step Closer

The old storyteller tradition isn’t around much anymore. We’ve evolved from villages gathering around a communal fire and listening to stories of history and gods to putting those stories and so many more on real or electronic paper and letting people from far outside our community share them.

This writing life is a long one. It can be ponderous at times, fraught with perils such as Doubt, Writer’s Block, and Lack of Inspiration.

Every hazard, though, can be overcome by sheer determination. Some call it stubbornness. Some call it not knowing when to quit. Some call it persistence.

I like the last one. Reminds me of the story Hank Phillippe Ryan told at the Writers’ Institute this past spring, the one about how her editor loved her story, but the board shot it down. She rewrote it, and it did sell. Same with Stephen King, how he tossed one of his first manuscripts when no one was interested in it, and his wife rescued it and told him to keep going.

It’s tough, though, to keep going when you feel like you’ve done so much work, learned so much about the craft, followed the advice of the heavyweights like Donald Maass and Anne Lamott and Stephen King, spent years polishing and honing and editing and writing. You belong to writers’ groups, have a critique partner or three, even go to writing conferences once or twice a year.

And nothing happens. Crickets. Queries sent into cyberspace fall into a cyber black hole. Live pitches to agents fail to garner material requests. Contest entries and pitch parties are nothing more than distractions. (confession time: not my experience. I’ve gotten more positive results than that.)

So you take your precious manuscript, the one you’ve sweated and worried over, the one you’ve edited to within an inch of its life, and chuck it into a dark, dusty corner of that desk you never use. You look at the shelf of writing books, and wonder how many knickknacks those same shelves could hold. Maybe you could fit your entire state bird plate collection on them. Or remove the shelves and hang your grandmother’s memory quilt on the wall. That should cover it.

I think most writers have been there. Maybe not to the reject-all-writing level, but we’ve wondered, more often than not it sometimes seems, why the hell we subject ourselves to this torture. I mean, if a kid loves football, plays throughout elementary and middle school, takes private lessons, and never gets picked for the varsity team even though he always tries out, he’s wasted all that time, energy, and money. He may as well put that energy into something more achievable, like fishing.

The thing with writers, though, is we can’t stop. If we stop writing, we go a little insane. All those stories in our heads just build and build until our head explodes and all those stories get splattered over everything in sight.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Persistence. Some writers are blessed/cursed with it. It’s not that we don’t know when to give up, it’s that we can’t give up.

Each small success is another step closer. Finish a short story? One step. Send the story out? Another step. Actually get it published? A big step. Finish a whole novel? Another step. And we continue on our journey. A short story writer’s goal might be inclusion in an anthology or publication in a widely-read periodical. A novel writer’s goal is to get that novel into the hands of readers, onto the shelves at Barnes and Noble, maybe even onto the racks at Walmart or Target.

So many steps to get there. Some writers are fortunate enough to get there faster than others, but persistence is the key. And persistence does pay off. See, if you got this far, you’re persistent 😀

I am fortunate to know many wonderful writers. It’s amazing how small the writing community seems, yet so far-ranging and encouraging. One of my writing friends mentioned a pitch contest I’d never heard of, so I figured, what the heck. I’d already tossed in for Pitch Wars and missed, but I did get some good feedback.

So, I did PitMad this week and the pitch contest my friend told me about. And I got positive responses from multiple agents.

Another step closer.

I got an R&R request from another agent, along with a lot of good feedback.

Another step closer.

I’m going to get there. Step by step.


10 Comments

Of Night Furies and Doubt

I sit at my desk in my writing office, fighting to keep my eyes open. Ever have those days, the ones when you can’t keep your eyes open for some reason? I lean my head back and stare at the ceiling. As I watch, the boring suspended ceiling tiles turn into a mosaic that reminds me of looking through tree leaves to the sky.

nightfury1A growl outside the office, then a high-pitched whine and sharp BOOM! Then an angry voice touched with an Australian accent. The door to my office opens, and I catch the tail end of the rant. “… I don’t fecking care if you can take down a bewilderbeast. I will kick your sorry ass to World’s End and back.” My Muse closes the door behind him and brushes at a charred hole on the shoulder of his rugby jersey.

“Bloody fecking dragon. This is one of my favorite shirts.” He glares at me. “Why the hell is your conscience a Night Fury? What’s wrong with a cricket?”

“Did you see my writer’s doubt out there?”

“No.”

“That’s why.” Besides, I love dragons. Always have, especially Anne McCaffery’s Pernese ones. And Temeraire (Naomi Novak). And …

“Judging by the amount of writing you’ve gotten done, I say it’s not doing a very good job keeping Doubt away.” He heads toward a small chest of drawers in a corner of the  office, pulls out a purple jersey with an NFL tag on it, then peels off his rugby shirt.

Oh. My. Sigh. I drink in the view of well-toned masculine scenery before he pulls the Vikings jersey on. He meets my eyes with his. “Not that I mind your appreciation, but you need to focus, love.” He tosses the rugby shirt into the trash can beside my desk.

“I’ve gotten the first chapter revised.”

He crosses his arms on his fine chest. “It’s been a week. You haven’t been outside in the garden because of the mosquito swarms, you’ve been home every night, so why have you only done one chapter? You should be through the first quarter of the book by now.”

Something dark flits past.

My Muse snaps his hand out like a snake striking.

An unearthly screech is choked out by his fist around something that reminds me of a Dementor without the whole Edvard Munch Scream thing going on. He shakes it. “This is the deal, Doubt. You leave my writer alone, or I’ll lock you up with her conscience in a tiny, blast-proof room. Then we’ll see how long you last. Got it?”

The thing sticks out its tongue and makes a raspberry sound, then dissipates into a vapor trail that exits through the window.

“It’ll be back.” I lean back to stare at my leafy canopy mosaic.

“Not for a while, love.” His face appears in my field of view. The lines on his forehead and his frown don’t bode well for me. “Get to work.”

I want to. I’m stuck in the rut Doubt dug. I did, however, have a break-through with my first chapter revision. “I’m letting my revision rest.”

He sits on the corner of my desk. “You are procrastinating and you know it. Send the revision to your mentor and let her review it. You need to dig into the rest. Start from the end and work forward. Start from the beginning and work back. Hell, start from the middle and work one direction, I don’t care. You’ve got a pitch party coming up next week.”

“My son’s home this weekend.”

“Your point? He’s only an hour away, and only been at school for a couple weeks. It’s a holiday weekend; you have an extra day to write. Use it.” A fedora appears on his head along with a curled bullwhip in his hand. I can almost hear the theme from Indiana Jones playing in the background. “I’m canceling my pub crawl with Mr. E this weekend so I can stay on your ass.”

Gulp.

Okay, time to buckle down. On the great news front, one of my writing sisters just got a contract for her third MG book, my blogging friend’s latest is selling well, and to top it off, my writing mentor and her writing partner are now listed in the IMDb. Their script is in pre-production. Lots of great stuff happening.

I’ll get there. I know I will. Patience, persistence, and continuing to hone this craft will get me there.

And chocolate.

And craft beer.

And dragons. 😀