Published Author Forum Video

I attended a Published Author’s Forum at Greater Fort Worth Writers Group back in March 2016. Here is the video clip of my portion. I had a lot of fun sharing my journey and interacting with other writers. There’s some useful pieces of advice for those of you who are interested in writing and trying to start your own journeys. If you want more information, come join one of our meetings, or send me a message on my Contact Me page. Enjoy!

Click here

4:22 long

 

Sweets and Sours

I have some interesting news, potentially awesome. But I don’t want to jinx it. As soon as I have more info, I’ll share it.fingers crossed

But it’s been a good few weeks as far as writing goes. In a business full of rejection, and the lovely habits of swallowing those rejections week after week, it’s good to know my story and voice has reached a few people.

A few people who are veterans in this business.

But I can’t let this get to my head. I must get back to writing. As often as I can, with the lovely trials and challenges of every day life.

For those of who who’ve asked, the family situation I alluded to earlier this year has still not been resolved. But we’re closer. One way or another, I’ll make it happen and we’ll be the better for it. Even if I must set some things aside, and change a few goals, I can do it. And I know my writing will be there waiting, no matter where we are.

 

Query Status: Eternal State of Waiting

Audrey’s Promise (Contemporary Romance)

Queries Sent: 10 (and 2 contest entries) to mostly agencies

Rejections: 5 (all form letters)

Partial Requests: 1 (Synopsis sent to agent, and since rejected)

Full Requests: 2 (both from Publishers, still pending)

I’m doing it the smart way. I send out 3-4 at a time and wait for responses. If I need to tweak my query letter or pitch, I do (with the help of great friends!) and submit to 4 or 5 more. If I don’t get nibbles, then I know I need to revamp the letter again. Querytracker.net is a great place to help me keep track of all this. As well as the ones I want to query, but need to wait or do more research. Meanwhile, I keep entering contests online. We’ll see where this goes!

Improving Every Day…

As much as query rejections get me down, my husband reminded me to step back and look at where I started in my writing ‘career’ a few years ago. And honestly- not to jam on my own piano like Sir Elton John or anything- but I’m freakin’ proud of myself.

A few years ago, I had no other friends or connections in the writing industry, my bookshelf was practically empty (except for college textbooks I wanted to hang on to- yeah, I was that sad!), and a half-completed story in an obscure file on my computer that I’d started in my teens.

Now I have 3 ½ completed manuscripts on my computer, a half a dozen short stories, 80 blog posts, a writer’s conference under my belt, three full bookshelves (and several drawers full of books), and a whole group of writer friends who UNDERSTAND ALL OF THIS and WHY IT’S SUCH A BIG DEAL!

But not only that, my writing has grown so much, just in the last 2 years alone. Trust me- any writer who is brave enough to go back and read what they wrote when they first started in this business will tell you how much they cringed. Some may have even crawled under the table afterwards. Or started a bonfire and roasted marshmallows over them.

I know a lot of this improvement is directly related to the awesome partners I have in my critique group. Some of it’s from reading other books (both in and out of the genre I write), but mostly my critique buddies. And I’m not talking about the kind of critique partners who tell me ‘good job. Keep going.’ I mean the ones who are honest. Who push me to do better. Call me out on the crap, the lazy descriptions, the evil adverbs, the passive sentences or the unrealistic characters or scenarios. And what’s more, put up with me.

When I email them chapters to read through, or vent about something, or ask stupid questions (contrary to belief, those exist), they’re still my friends afterwards and will still read my work. Likewise, they’re still my friend when I rip their chapters to shreds (because I’m trying to make their work better, too. I promise- I’m not out to be a witch just for grins.)

Cheers

So I raise my rum-and-coke to you, my friends. Thank you.

I’ll keep improving every day, with every manuscript that’s still stuck in my subconscious, it’ll get easier and easier to swallow rejection until that one moment where I get ‘the call.’

Then my thanks will be more than just a rum-and-coke toast, but an acknowledgements page.

And a signed copy. 🙂

Query Time and Tax Season

It’s that time in my career again… Queryville.  Which inevitably conjoins with Reject-o-season. Much like tax season. It’s painful. ‘But necessary.’

Thanks to some help from dear friends, I had a query letter and synopsis written up fairly quickly and sent out to an agent whom I’ve followed for years. And after a glorious week of anticipation, tax season showed up.

It hurt. I won’t lie, my hopes were built up on this one. I thought it was a perfect fit for them and this manuscript felt better than any of my others. But I have to be grateful I received a response at all. Many people don’t hear anything back when rejected.

But that means I simply have to query out to the masses as I did before. Semi-slowly. Four or five at a time and wait for a few weeks. Which means I need to bust out querytracker.net again and rifle through all the profiles and submission guidelines.

But at this point, I think I’ll take Queryville and Reject-o-season over the horrible season called Presidential Election campaigns. Publishing is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed school girl compared to the upcoming attacks of the political Olympics.

Thick Skin For Hire

Every writer, particularly published authors, know that the publishing industry requires a thick skin for anyone who dares enter their dominion.

I thought I had a fairly thick skin before I even started querying my first manuscript.

*insert cackle laughter here*

Now, I know I don’t have nearly as thick of skin as I should, but I definitely have grown a few dragon scales to protect my vulnerable side over the last two years.

I think joining a kick-as* critique group has definitely helped. Also following editors and agents blogs/twitter/facebook and reading their responses to people’s queries also has helped.

I received my first round of major revision suggestions from my critique partners this past weekend and have let their thoughts percolate in my brain. I’m so glad I’ve grown thicker skin. Because now, I actually want that kind of advice. I need to know where they got lost in the story, what didn’t work for them, and realize its not that I suck and should give up writing. They are not flaws in my personality and I’ve dared exposed the weak points in my inner psyche. It’s areas of the story and characters in which I need to fix.

Or perhaps we’re thinking of it backwards. It’s not that people need to grow thicker skin, or regenerate thicker bone. It’s that we need to shed the vulnerable self-conscious layer of invisible shields we humans use as a self-defense mechanisms.

Get rid of your insecurities. Get rid of ridiculous thoughts that whatever suggestions others say is a ding in your personality, or interpretation of ‘they don’t like me.’

Shed everything down the most base level, where we can actually improve on the inconsistencies in our writing. That’s when we’ll notice the biggest difference on our writing style/skills.

So throw your skin out the window and let the air rejuvenate your writing. Completely open yourself up to improvement.

All right, manuscript. Get ready for rejuvenation. Dive in!

Chomping at the Bit for Critiques

Critiques are probably the most terrifying part of a writer’s life. They can be brutal and heart ripping, like someone saying your baby is ugly and should never have been born. Defensive natures kick in and you feel like lashing off someone’s head with a butter knife.

But I’m weird. I already have a beautiful son that no one would dare say is ugly. And even if they did, I wouldn’t care. I know my son is beautiful. But as far as my manuscript goes, I’m chomping at the bit for critiques. Because I’m sure it’s a bit ugly. Parts of it are probably downright Medusa-like.

I finished the first draft of my manuscript several weeks ago and sent it out to my critique partners, writing groups, and even submitted the first chapter to a few contests. I’ve heard back from a few, but I’m really waiting for responses from others that I know I want to hear. In a way, I want them to be brutal. I need them to be brutal. If I’m doing something wrong, I need to know about it. How else am I going to learn and get better at my craft?

My biggest weakness is waiting. Patience. I don’t have much of it. Apparently to be a writer in this new and evolving industry, you need at least some of it. I probably look like a bull-dog with a smashed face gnawing on the leftover dog bone from last year as I struggle with the last remaining ounces of patience I have left.

Sure, I have others things to do while I wait. I’ve already plotted the next book, written a few blogs, worked on the newsletter for my writers group, and not to mention throw in there take care of my son, house, family, and organize his birthday party. But I really want to start completing the revisions on my manuscript. Because I want to send out query letters by January. I know the revisions will take time- they always do. But they need to be done! And how can I do them without my precious critiques?

Well, I’ve done my ranting for the day. I’m off to go wait some more.

Romance Manuscript Woes – Final Swan Song

Another bird portrait. The white swan from Aub...

Image via Wikipedia

I had to sit on this thought for the last week. I didn’t want to make any rash decisions on this, considering that I’ve worked five years (off and on) on my first manuscript. But last weekend I received another rejection on my full manuscript submission to a literary agent. I appreciated her thoughts on my work, and that she actually spent the time to personalize her rejection, inform why it didn’t work for her and gave me specific examples on what didn’t jive.

But it still hurt. A lot. No one likes to hear their first baby (granted, just a piece of literature) is unliked. The unpopular manuscript in class. But as I sit back and reread her rejection email over and over like a deranged mother, I realize it has a lot in common with another personalized rejection letter I received a few months ago from another agent. Both reference issues with voice and style (in one form or another). And any writer, or aspiring writer can tell you that’s not something that can be fixed overnight. Not even over a weekend or month. It can take some writers years to develop their voice. And that thought crushed my motivation.

After spending five years on my first manuscript, and now I’m halfway through my second story, having to spend MORE years trying to develop my style and voice before acquiring an agent is the epitome of frustrating. So I’ve stewed over this for the last week, discussed it with my husband and perused the blog tours for more insight. And I believe I’ve come to a heart-breaking decision.

I need to shove my first baby in a drawer and let it alone. It has sung its final swan song.

Maybe down the road when I’m more experienced and have a more developed voice I can go back and rewrite it *gasping and sobbing at the thought of starting from a blank slate*.  Maybe I’ll have a better chance with this second story I’m writing. I’m not too far into this manuscript that I can’t go back and fix some things relating to my voice.

I’m not being overly dramatic in my decision. Just two rejection notices and I give up on it? Absolutely not. This is after probably 40 rejections on this thing over the years (between publishers and agencies). I’ve given this manuscript a good run. The story is great, the plot is well-developed and I really like the characters. It was all about voice. Probably just sheer lack of experience in putting words onto a page. And that’s what hurts the most. That’s what a writer does. Puts words on a page. And if I’m having the biggest problems with that aspect, then what does that say about me as a writer?

My motto has always been to keep writing forward. And I will. But it’s been a little harder this week. After all, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. And if I’m practicing bad writing, that’s exactly what I’ll be: a bad writer. And I don’t handle failure well.

So here I go: keep pushing forward, no matter how much muck and sludge I have to plow through. Keep writing forward.

Day in the Life of an Aspiring Author

Querying and submitting to agents is a long, arduous, and nerve-wracking process.  I finished my first manuscript (contemporary romantic suspense) a few months ago after years of writing, and another year of revising, editing, cutting, splicing, and crying.  (Emotions run rampant around these pieces of my soul on paper).

Then I started the massive undertaking of finding a literary agent.  I’ve read so many self-help books and tips on publishing that I believe I have the basics down.  Now its down to the nitty-gritty in getting my query letter noticed among the thousand of queries agents read every day.

Most agents aren’t looking for new authors to sign right now.  “Our agency is currently occupied by catering to our current list of clients.  Please check back with us next year.”  I’ve read this tag line on so many agency websites.

For those agents who are considering signing new talent, the competition is brutal!

I’ve sent out 45 queries over the last several months, and have received back 15 rejections.  However, I did receive one agent’s interest, and he asked for my first 3 chapters.  I was physched! Made my Thanksgiving complete!  After a month, I received a devastating blow- another rejection from my most promising prospect.

Granted, this industry requires an extremely thick layer of skin.  But that was hard to swallow.  I appreciated that he responded with a few tidbits as to why he passed on my baby- excuse me, manuscript.  I’ll try to learn from them.  But really the only way I can keep moving forward is just to keep writing.  Not only that, but keep writing what I love.

I’m looking forward to my first Writer’s Conference in February.  I hear that is an excellent way to learn, network, and potentially find at least an intro to an agent.  Its intimidating, but I’m anxious for it.

Needless to say, I also entered a bajillion contests over the last few months as well.  I’m waiting to hear back from several.  Including 1 contest in which I won a consolation prize of a critique of my first chapter.  That was back in October and I’m still waiting.  But that’s normal for this industry.

Pain, anguish, and infinite waiting is normal for this industry.