Resolute - 2016


I’m going to take a slightly different approach to my end of the year wrap up this time. I’ve decided to include my post from last year – with updates (in red) with what actually happened. I’m doing this in an effort to hold myself accountable to my goals.  Then I’ll tell you my plans (in blue) for 2016. Here goes.

 



Let’s face it, most of us don’t sit down and dream up these wild pledges to ourselves at the first of the year.  Instead, they get re-cycled from year to year or from points within the year.  At least that’s the way it is for me.  Changes I contemplate are either on-going struggles or transformations I’ve temporarily abandoned or neglected.  Shrink my body (Lose weight . . . eat healthier . . . exercise more) I lost 50 pounds in 2015. Of course some of it found its way back during the holidays, but I’m still much better off than I was in 2014. The plan is to lose those holiday pounds early next year and continue my healthy trend.  Expand my brain (read more . . . write more . . . take a class) I read 30 novels last year in both the YA and Adult categories, and wrote a new one (my fourth) myself. I continued to work with my critique group, which continues to offer its own share of successes. I plan on reading the same number of books again next year, which will include at least one to improve my craft, and inviting new blood into the critique group to foster more creative thinking.  Invigorate my being (be a better person . . . come out of my shell . . . strive to become more involved). I finally decided to stop fighting my nature (the shy introvert) and accept who I am…and more importantly…be comfortable with it.  If and when I do sell a book, the challenge will be to adapt to whatever I’m called upon to do in support of it. Goals are a necessary tool for change, and just because we don’t achieve them as often as we’d like is no reason to abandon them…or stop creating them.

 

I have seen my fair share of obstacles, but I’m resolute in the belief that 2015 will see one of my novels published (nope), or represented by an agent (YES!), one or the other.  I now have years of writing under my belt…multiple books and short stories in my repertoire…and I’m part of a wonderful CP group. My confidence is higher than ever. Now that I have an agent, my new goal is to see one of my books published.

 

And I’m going to continue to grow this blog. Can’t say that the blog grew any in 2015. I posted 109 times, which included participating in A-Z Challenge, WRiTE CLUB, and the Déjà vu Blogfest, but traffic was down considerably. I’ve taken a different tact here. The only way I can GROW the blog is to visit and contribute on other blogs – and I’ve realized I cannot do that and write as much as I need to at the same time. So instead of trying to expand my blog visibility, I’m simply attempting to remain relevant and not become an afterthought.  How do I do that?  Not by pulling in followers by offering contests or give-a-ways (although I’m not saying I’ll totally against that), but rather by being entertaining and having interesting things to say.  There are hundreds of aspiring author blogs out here, all documenting their own quest for publication, and if I can’t stand out amongst them then what hope can I have of achieving my own dream?

 

20156 starts Friday…but it is not the beginning.   

Deja Vu Post - The Call

Today starts the Deja Vu Blogfest -- where you re-post one of your previous blog entries from 2015. For me, it was pretty easy choosing which one gets to bask in the spotlight again. Enjoy - again. :) 



Anybody know Jeff Foxworthy?  If you like comedy and you haven’t heard of Jeff…look him up.  If your familiar with Jeff’s work, then you probably know his You might be a redneck if -- routine.  Well, here’s a literary version of that.  You might be a writer if…you know what the title of this post means.

That’s right…as of now I am represented by Sarah Negovetich of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. You heard me correctly…I have an agent!

Those that have known me for a while understand how long I have waited to post something like this.  I’ve congratulated more than a few writers in this blogosphere that have achieved this dream and read their stories of what it was like to finally get the “Call”, all the while putting myself in their shoes and imagining what it would be like to experience such a thing. Well…they’re my shoes now – and it feels GREAT! No more query letters...no more pitch wars...no more twitter contest.  YES!

The book I pitched that won Sarah over is titled MOVING FEAR.  It’s a YA Horror (although Sarah may reclassify it as YA Paranormal/Mystery). I'm savvy enough to realize that signing with Sarah is just another hurdle and seeing my manuscript in print isn't a sure thing yet -- but this is a validation that was sorely needed.  For the longest time I’ve felt like an unlicensed doctor, running around handing out medical advice to anyone who will listen. Now, by signing an agent it effectively slaps MD behind my name (albeit in small letters) and gives me a tiny bit of credibility. Not that obtaining an agent is the only way to earn standing -- if you sell a bunch of books, agent or not, that's good enough for me -- but you guys know what I'm talking about.

I’ve already thanked my CP’s, beta readers, query specialist, ego caressers, and morale boosters!  I even thanked the blogger whose innocuous Facebook post was the inspiration for the story.  A piece of each of them is in MOVING FEAR and my good news belongs to them well. But who I haven’t thanked yet is YOU. I’ll eventually detail my cringe-worthy path to where I am now, but for now let’s just say that in the beginning I was clueless – until I found the blogosphere.  The wealth of knowledge, experience, expertise, pointers, sage advice, industry norms, and morale support is endless. And more importantly, it is all offered with a smile and a pat on the back. I can honestly say that the writer I am today is in-part because of YOU…because the blogosphere is YOU. So thank you for everything you’ve done for me!

And one of the reasons for choosing Sarah as my agent – she writes a blog.

There are two people I feel compelled to single out with my gratitude today. Chris Fries and Julie Dao. I’ve known Chris since before I had a blog (on the writing forums) and Julie was one of my earliest CP’s. They both have been my most steadfast supporters…unwavering in their belief that today would come. They are two of my closest friends…and I’ve never met them. Thank you both so much!

In the weeks to come I’ll reveal the details of “the call” and the events that led up to it. At the same time I’ll be figuring out how things will need to be tweaked around here now that the trajectory of my writing career has been altered. Don’t worry…nothing major. If I do get a publishing deal I’ll resist any changes that might turn this into something more marketing-centric and focused on just selling books.

For those of you who are following this same dream…hang in there. My shoes will be yours one day! :)

The Deja Vu Blogfest - 2015



In 2011, 2012, and then again in 2014, I used a rather unique Blogfest to help me readjust to blogging after the turmoil of WRiTE CLUB. This year I’ve just finished up my fourth novel and I’m trying to do it again. I’m a hardy believer that if something works…stick with it…so here we go again.

One of my pet peeves about the way our blogosphere operates is that you can miss some really awesome posts if you’re away for a while. While WRiTE CLUB was going on I’ve probably missed hundreds of quality posts.  Anybody who participated in the A to Z Challenge in April certainly missed some truly outstanding posts because of the impossibility of trying to keep up while writing a post a day.  How about NaNo…anybody fall behind in their blog reading while that was going on? It’s really hard to rebound when things get like that, so what most people do is simply pick up with the latest post of the blogs they follow.  You know what that means?  You could have missed a post about the signing of an agent!  A book contract finalized…missed!  A cry for help...missed!  A birth announcement…missed!  Some other special event in a bloggers life…passed by!  I just shake my head when I think of all of the special posts I’ve missed this year.  And then there are the informative posts about the topics I’m dying to know more about, yep I probably missed some of those as well.

It’s for this reason that I came up with the Déjà vu Blogfest, and it’s become an annual event.  So I’d like to announce this years…. 



On December 18th thru 20th, anyone who decides to take part should re-post their favorite blog offering from earlier in the year, or one that you believe failed to receive the exposure it deserved. So please sign-up to participate with Mr. Linky below, then shout out to all of your blogging friends and encourage them to sign up as well.  Take the badge above and plaster it everywhere, blogging graffiti gone wild. Tweet about it (#dejavu2015) and post the picture on Instagram. Then on that weekend (December 18th-20th) as everyone hops from one blog to another, what they will be reading is the best of the best (as determined by you) from 2015.  The blogosphere will be chock full 2015 writing brilliance!  Encouragement, enlightenment, knowledge, bared souls, stimulation, hilarity, insecurities, success stories!  All on display…the very same day.  And it couldn't be any easier to take part...no writing necessary!

Sign up below and start looking through those old posts!  :)



The Squint Test


This is an edited version of a previous post that I thought was appropriate right now as I celebrate finishing my first draft of my 4th novel. I hope you enjoy it…again.

Our Christmas tree went up this weekend. YAY! We usually wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but with Turkey Day being a week later this year, we weren’t willing to sacrifice the extra time without it.

As I was making my zombie lurch from the bed to the coffee pot early Sunday morning, I paused and admired our behemoth twelve-foot centerpiece tree.  Even in the dark, unlit, it was a vision of holiday warmth that filled my heart with pride & joy.  Truly an impressive sight.  In the back of my mind I heard it whispering to me (it was 4:30 in the AM after all), begging me to flip the switch and let it become what it was created to be.  So before I did anything else I sent currents of electricity through the miles of intertwined wire and awakened the hundreds of slumbering crystals.  The tree came to life with an explosion of twinkling lights and reflective shimmers, all shapes and sizes, lifting the corners of my mouth along with my spirits.

When the coffee was brewed and the morning paper retrieved, I settled down at my desk to finish off the last couple chapters of my latest manuscript. Whenever I wasn't staring at the monitor or pounding on the keyboard, I'd find myself turned around staring at the tree, taking in its awesomeness.  Of course my affinity for analogies led me right where I needed to go.

Putting up a Christmas Tree (especially an artificial one) is not unlike writing a novel. First there's the frame, then adding on the branches and filling out the foliage needles, and finally layering in all of the various adornments that makes the tree truly yours.  But the most important part of the whole process is when you give your tree that all important squint test.  You know what I'm talking about, right? When you step back and narrow your eyes, allowing them to go out of focus, so you can see where the dead spots are.  This is a crucial step in tree decorating…and with writing as well. There are other things to consider as well. Is it top heavy…or bottom heavy…or balanced correctly? Does it project enough of a presence, without overpowering the room? Is there a spot or two that unduly draw the eye?      

The squint test is where a lot of tree decorators…and writers…turn to others for help. That’s because we’re just too close to the material to be able to see those glaring issues.  Experience gained from many years of practicing the craft can help us become better skilled at spotting those voids, but often-times distance is the next best club to pull out of your golf bag.

What about you? Do you perform a squint test on your tree/writing?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The Push



Crunch time!

When I was writing the first draft for my three previous books there came a point when I felt absolutely compelled to finish. I’m talking about an overwhelming, OCD equivalent compulsion to – as Larry the Cable Guy would say – “Git R’ Done!” It was almost as if I was pregnant and I began having contractions. My mind…and body…were telling me “This baby is ready to be born and I don’t care what else is happening…we’re going to do this!”

The current book I’m working on is no different. The big push actually started last week when I found myself waking up in the wee hours of the morning (3AM) and couldn’t go back to sleep because my mind was racing. You can guess about what. So I gave in and sat myself down in front of my laptop and got to work. Then four hours later I’d take a shower and go to my real work.  This has been going on for two weeks and I anticipate I’ll bring this baby home in another two. It’s not really surprising that this has become my pattern because the type of books I write tend to build towards a climatic end. As the tension builds in my book and the pace increases to match it…so do my writing habits.

There are a LOT of writers who are experiencing a different sort of PUSH this month, and those are the NaNoWriMo contestants. For the uninitiated, that stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place every November. As it states on the website, NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. Many writers use NaNo as a way to springboard them out of complacency, others use it for the structure and accountability it provides, and some just enjoy the camaraderie of the shared experience. Whatever the reason, NaNo has become a writing world staple. Myself, I’ve never participated in NaNo. It’s not my cup of tea and my normal writing style isn’t that regimented.

That is unless I’m about to birth a book. :)
 

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