Monday, December 29, 2008

Returning From Holiday Land

I'm trying to get myself back into the swing of writing. I find it hard at this time of year because most of everyone I know (especially my husband) has a few weeks holiday off over Christmas and New Year so the laze-about vibe is hard to resist. Of course being that I work in my dad's shop that only closes on Christmas day and that's it for the whole year, I don't actually get any time off this year, I'm working right through.
As I said, I'm trying to get my head back into writing space. Besides the fact that apparently Cafrine and I are suppose to post the first blogisode of Atrophy on the 1st of January (oh my god, oh my god, what were we thinking?) I found out yesterday that Firebrand Lit are doing what they're calling the "holiday query" where you don't have to send anything other than your first chapter. I know, I know, I'm maybe probably not quite ready to do that. But it's a one off opportunity and I like taking risks (supposedly). I've had a few people read over the first chapter and have been working hard to get it into shape, so I'm just going to do it. Send it off and hope for the best. There's still some tweaking I'd like to do and luckily I've got until the 15th of January. Hence trying to get my head into Writer's Space so I can actually get some decent work done.
Song: Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

It's Christmas day, so I'm wishing everyone I know a merry Christmas and happy holidays (in case you're not christian.)
My daughter is asleep, we're just waiting for her to wake up so we can go and have Christmas lunch with our extended family.
So wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I hope you enjoy this special day, be thankful for the blessings in your life and say a little pray for the reason we all come together today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Starting Those Revisions

I made a small start on the revisions of the first 3 chapters yesterday. So far, so good (I hope!). It's not like I'm going to be doing any querying over the holidays, but I would like to try and be ready sometime in the next few months. I just have to keep a steady pace and try not to jump the gun (which I think I have a chronic problem with) and only re-query the agents when I have something that is as perfect as I can get it.
Although I told myself that I wanted to be published by the time I turned 27 (leaving me with just 8 months until that deadline now) I figure that even if I don't make the mark, I'm not doing too badly. The average time it takes an author to get published is 10 years and 2009 will be 8 years for me. Perhaps if I'm not published by 2012, I'll start getting worried.
Anyway, unfortunately I don't have time to stroll around on the Internet or do any writing this morning, I have things to do so I'd better get to them. Hopefully I'll find some time to do a little bit more revision later in the day. As long as I chip away at it regularly, eventually it'll be done.
On other topics, Nathan Bransford wrote a post about times of year it's not a good idea to query (which I thought might have been partly common sense) and Jessica over at Bookends wrote a blog about 'rules' when it comes to writing, namely, that there shouldn't be any!
In Atrophy news, if you've been over to the site you'll see the announcement that the pilot blogisode is due to be released on the 1st of January (no pressure!).
And that's about it today. Nothing terribly exciting.
Song: Somebody to Love by Queen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Missing Out

Clearly I don't need to find anything else to distract me on the Internet when I should be writing, but there must be so much great stuff out there I'm missing out on. Like The Guild for instance. I knew you could look up funny videos on YouTube and clips of your fav TV series, and I had a vague knowledge of the channels you could subscribe to, but I'd never explored it at any great length. And then Cafrine told me about The Guild. And of course now I'm hooked. And will possibly spend a lot more time on YouTube (just when I'd beaten the time-sucking vortex demon otherwise known as Facebook). Then the other day there was the website Cracked which featured a write up on the Twilight books and movies that was just hil-arious. Not to mention all of the other funny stuff on there.
Anyway, there was a lot of chatter on the web this morning about Borders bookstores making a deal with HarperStudios so that for a steeper discount, Borders will be buying the books on a non-returnable basis. Traditionally in bookstores, the store had the option of returning any unsold copies of for a full refund or credit. I don't understand much how it works beyond that, but it seems this led to a massive over-printing of copies, which in turn resulted in many books being pulped, and obviously this is just not environmentally friendly.
So now there is the worry for us unpublished authors that this will make the market even more competitive. That publishers and bookstores will be more cautious about taking chances on the unknown author.
Not to diminish people's fear, but I just can't worry about this. It seems every other month something is happening in this industry that makes the unpublished masses quake in their slippers (because apparently half of all writers out there sit around in their pj's all day since this job doesn't require us to go anywhere or get dressed). The economy. The agents only accepting query letters, the publishers not accepting any unsolicited mail, e-books available over the net, and now Borders experimenting with it's book-buying policy.
Instead of looking for reason as to why this industry is harder on us everyday, I'm just going to concentrate on my own writing and remember what many agents have said: "None of these things matter, if you've written a damn good book, you will sell it."
Song: Pumping on you Stereo by Supergrass

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Revision Time

I got my work back from Cafrine and was very happy with what she had to say. She brought up some very valid points and actually noticed several things that my Editorial Advisor (aka, my sister-in-law) had already mentioned. So that tells me those couple of things definitely need to be worked on. I've written/re-drafted 5 chapters and now I'm resisting the urge to continue on because I want to get at least the first 3 chapters up to scratch, as polished and flawless as possible so I can start re-querying agents.
Partly I'm hoping that some of the agents will remember my idea (not necessarily me!) and recognize through the re-write and revision work I've done on it that I would be a good client to have since I am willing to work so hard, do the re-writes, realize when somethings not working and be willing to change it.
Interestingly enough, out of all the projects I've ever worked on over the years, this SOAP series is the one I've stuck with the longest. I think in those past situations part of me realized that there was something about the overall concept that wasn't working, so I went to other things. With SOAP, its totally different. The concept is what's keeping me going. I know the idea is a great one (and in all truth, there's not really anything like it out in the market at the moment, I think that's why so many agents were initially interested) but there were obviously major issues with the actual body of work. Hopefully this re-write and early revisions will help me avoid those this time around.
In Atrophy related news, Part 1 of the Pilot Episode is almost finished. Obviously it will need a fair bit of revision and editing before it's aired as the first blogisode. However I feel we are definitely on track for our deadline. I'm just so thrilled to be doing this project. There is something about it that's very freeing, and I hope Atrophy has a nice, long, exciting life.
Song: Suzie Q by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Friday, December 12, 2008

End of the Week

Oh dear, Nathan Bransford has just under 1300 entries for his first paragraph comp. The poor man must be wondering what he's got himself into.
Anyway, there was no writing on SOAP book 1 yesterday. I did do a quick re-read and fixed up some minor errors, but nothing of consequence. The writing I did was on Atrophy (yay!) and I'm just waiting for Cafrine to read what I've done and make comments and changes. I must say, I really am enjoying working on this project with her. Of course I like a challenge, and as long as I'm writing, I'm happy. Speaking of writing, there was an interesting article over at the NY Times (the link of which I totally stole from seeing it on another blog) about bailing out writers instead of the financial sector in the current economy. I thought it was amusing anyway.
I'm with the writers who said if they received enough money to support themselves for the next 10 years, they'd simply write more than they do at the moment. I also liked the quote in there from Graham Greene: “Are you prepared for the years of effort, ‘the long defeat of doing nothing well’? As the years pass writing will not become any easier, the daily effort will grow harder to endure, those ‘powers of observation’ will become enfeebled; you will be judged, when you reach your 40s, by performance and not by promise.”
I'm obviously not 40 yet, but there is so much about that statement that is already true.
Song: Rest In Pieces by Saliva

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Working Hard

Yesterday I added a cool 10,000 words to SOAP book 1. I'd like to say that I'm some kind of writing genius and I wrote the entire 10,000 words off the top of my head, but at least half, if not a little more, was imported from the old copy of SOAP book 1. There was a lot of information pertaining to the over all series that still fitted with what's happening in the re-write.
I'm going along a lot quicker than I envisaged. At this rate, I should have the manuscript complete again in another few weeks, especially considering I'm using the entire second half of the first draft. Now that I've at least got the first 3 chapters together, I'm going to start doing a hard edit, with a couple of people giving me some feedback. I told Cafrine to be 'brutally honest' and I can't wait to see what she has to say about it. Really, I think the only way I'm going to get this thing up to an agent's standard is for someone else to take it apart first.
So that's where I'm at; very happy with what I've got done so far.
And in Atrophy news, you'll be excited to hear that not only have we written more, but we've set ourselves a deadline for releasing part 1 of the pilot episode. I'm not going to say what it is, just in case it needs to be revised a bit further down the track, but it's out there and it is coming along. Soon enough there will actually be something to read. And now I have to go to work. Dammit.
Song: Song 2 by Blur

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chipping Away

Yesterday I wrote 700 after my daughter went to bed for the night but before NCIS started. And it reminded me why I have a No Writing After 6 O'clock rule. For one, it switches on my brain and then when I go to bed it takes me several hours to go to sleep, which drives me nuts. And secondly, I just can't write at that time of night. I am definitely a morning-writer. By the end of the day my brain is so clogged up with stuff that happened all day that it's next to impossible to get it to function on any sort of productive level.
Nathan Bransford has about 700 entries for his first paragraph comp, and I'd just like to know, how does 300-odd words qualify as a first paragraph? I know, I know, I shouldn't bitch about it, but seriously. 300 words is the first page, not an opening paragraph. Perhaps some sort of line should have been drawn in terms of wordcount. I don't envy him sifting through all those entries.
Song: No Rain by Blind Melon

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Writing To Speak Of

I haven't done any writing in the past few days and I'm starting to feel the itch. Yesterday I did a lot of gardening before heading over to a friend's house in the afternoon. The gardening was because in a few weeks we're having my daughter's birthday party and I'd like the backyard to look half decent if people are going to be sitting out there all day. The visiting was because my friend hadn't been well last week and I thought she might like the company, a little adult conversation, and another kid to play with hers. Interesting, I know.
Anyway, the point is that I'm not likely to get much writing done in the near future since I have a fair bit on my plate at the moment. Today I'm working, as I will be for the rest of the week. However I may just have to find a few minutes somewhere to fit some words in. Eventually the need to write something will overcome my perceived lack of time. Sometimes I really do think this whole writing biz is a bit like an addiction.
Oh, and I also entered the first paragraph comp Nathan Bransford is holding over at his blog. Wouldn't it just be like winning a million dollars to have someone like him give me a partial critique? The idea is bliss.
Song: One Headlight by the Wallflowers

Monday, December 8, 2008

Google Earth

I'd heard a lot about Google Earth, but hadn't actually taken a look for myself yet. While I was doing some more re-writing on SOAP book 1 the other day I suddenly realized something. With Google Earth, I could see exactly what anywhere in the world looked like and describe it for setting my scenes. This prospect was very exciting for me because I am firmly an armchair traveller. Oh, I've been almost all around Australia (with the Northern Territory and Western Australia being the only places I haven't been) but I'll admit I'm a total wuss. I don't want to go overseas for the simple fact that it just doesn't seem safe with all the terrorist attacks that have happened in the last eight or so years. I know, there's probably many arguments against my confounded logic, but I don't feel like I'm really missing anything by not going.
Anyway, so I downloaded Google Earth because I wanted to see what a particular bit of Indonesia looked like where my characters end up. This is where Google Earth becomes a very helpful tool. While I had my characters walking along a beach fringed by jungle with not a bit of civilization in sight, wouldn't you know the piece of coastline I'm talking about is populated with rows and rows of beach houses. So that stumped me, didn't it? I found a section of coast that would match what I was talking about and put my characters there instead. At least now I will be able to accurately describe the places I'm talking about and not just be making stuff up to suit the story. I much prefer my work to be researched and true to the facts. Although it could easily become another time waster while I map out a course for my characters (I already wasted at least an hour looking up our house, my family's shop, my sister's house, my in-law's house, the studios where Supernatural, Stargate and Smallville are shot, some famous streets in New York and LA, and the Great Wall of China. Random, I know.) I'll try to be disciplined about it. I managed to beat my Facebook addiction, otherwise known as the time-sucking vortex demon.
Anyhoo, instead of talking about how great I think Google Earth is as a writing aid, I should actually go do some writing!
Song: Tribute by Tenacious D

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crazy Writers

Update: Yesterday I only wrote 1200 words, but better than nothing! Hopefully I can keep this up until I've got the entire first half re-written.
I know I've posted about it before, but there's been some discussion at agent blogs and other places on the net about rejection letters and the way some people respond to them. Unfortunately many agencies now have the policy of no response means no. This really annoys me. I mean seriously, how do I know my email just didn't end up in the spam filter? Ok, I'm sure a lot of agents wish a majority of query letters would go to the spam filter, but for all the unprepared, ill-researched, egotistical query letters, there are those of us who have done our homework, are perfectly serious, and possibly have something worth reading.
It's certainly not getting any easier to attract an agent's attention, and those who feel the need to write abusive emails back to a rejection are just making it harder. Even a generic response is enough to elicit venom from writers these days. Partly, I can understand. I've felt the frustration, I've contemplated throwing my computer out the window. I've had the urge to scream "WHY? WHY? WHY?" I've even had to fight the temptation of emailing an agent and asking to please elaborate on why if they liked the idea, what was wrong with the actual manuscript.
I just keep reminding myself that this is how the industry works. It's my choice to pursue this career path and as a result I need to follow the rules. I keep being told by published writers that persistence is the key. Well, I've got all the persistence in the world. It could probably be redefined as stubbornness (as I mentioned the other day).
It's just unfortunate that the few who feel the need to tell an agent what an idiot they are for rejecting the next New York Times best-seller are having such an impact on the rest of us.
Song: Better by the Screaming Jets

Friday, December 5, 2008

Small Update

I don't have much to report this morning, just that I managed to write another 2,500 words throughout yesterday. It's not going too badly at the moment, but hopefully I'll be able to get some feedback soon to pick up on the things that already might need fixing. I think I've mostly avoided the information dumping problem. I often have this urge to over-explain things, but I think I've been avoiding the temptation.
Hopefully I'll get another few thousand words done today.
Song: What It's Like by Everlast

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time's a Wastin'

My daughter is asleep. I could be adding to the 3000 word start I made on the Re-Write the other day. But what am I doing? Email. Reading blogs. Procrastinating about Atrophy (which, you'll be excited to learn, we've actually made a start on. The pilot episode is on it's way, though don't expect anything posted until after Christmas. It's taken us a week to write one page). I'm writing this blog entry. These are the pitfalls of having the Internet.
I was over at Lynn's blog where she is getting to the final stages of her ms before sending out to agents. I wish her all the luck, because obviously we all know what a hard slog it is! I need some more discipline. I've got half a manuscript to re-write before editing. My prospects of sending out to agents won't be coming around until mid-next year I would guess. In fact, it'll probably be about time to enter the RWA STALI comp again by the time I get things in order. But I'm not thinking about that! One thing I've discovered about this business is that time literally has no meaning. A year is a blink in the publishing world. And you just have to learn to live with it or go find something else to do. Obviously I have learned to live with it, otherwise I wouldn't be here.
I think back to when I started out writing and it was inconceivable that seven (now almost eight) years down the track I still wouldn't be published. Now it wouldn't surprise me if I went yet another eight years with no agent or contract in sight (but God, I hope not!)
In other news I, along with several other lovely RWA ladies here in Victoria will be forming a new group. Excitement! I've always wanted a group of my very own. I'm really looking forward to the help they're going to provide in terms of the new half of SOAP book 1.
So that's where I'm at. Now I'm going to start writing and my daughter is sure to wake up!
Song: Crash by 12 Stones

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Beginning Again

The big Re-Write began yesterday, off to a cracking start of 3000 words. I mentioned in reply to a comment yesterday that I'm not technically re-writing the entire book. You see, as the manuscript was, it started off when my hero, a United States Air Force officer, crashes his fighter jet in Iraq. The first part of the book is a journey for my hero and heroine through Iraq, onto Turkey, then Cyprus, before ending up in Indonesia.
Too much? Probably, yes.
It was almost like two separate stories, which I was told a couple of times by a couple of different people. With the new plot, the book starts in Indonesia and stays in Indonesia. So really, I'm only going to be re-writing the first two hundred or so pages, which equates to about 50,000 words. I feel that the new initial plot now fits much, much better with where it all ends up. And obviously I am working hard to avoid the pitfalls of the last manuscript, which included the sins of 'showing, not telling,' information dumps, stating the obvious, and not giving the reader enough credit to work things out on their own. The hardest thing I'm finding is avoiding the information dumps. I feel like by not doing it the reader is missing out on something, when in reality, most of my information dumps are useless facts the reader doesn't need to know, like "she loved chocolate ice cream with raspberry sauce. Her mother used to make it for her when she was a child. Thinking about her mother brought back memories of spending hours in the kitchen, watching the sunlight stream in through the bright, happy, yellow curtains..." Ok, so it actually wasn't that maudlin, but it was probably about as useless.
This time around I'm going to be having people read and give me feedback as I go, so that I can try and fix major things and then not continue to do them. I swear, this time around its going to be THE ONE. I know, I know, I've said it before. But you can't even begin to imagine how determined I am. Actually, it probably comes closer to being stubborn to the point of ridiculousness. But no matter! Someway, somehow, I am going to carve my place out of this impossible piece of granite I've been given.
Song: Better Off At The Start by Sum 41 vs Coldplay (mashup)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Answer?

After spending the last couple of days thinking about it and once again considering the source and validity of comments made to me (thanks for your input after my last post, Lynn, that was also very helpful!) I have decided to go with the re-write. In all truth, I now have a much more concrete idea about how I want the entire series to go, so perhaps in re-writing that will come through much stronger. Also, I will obviously be trying to avoid the pitfalls of the last manuscript. Now all I need to do is come up with a different plot and I'll be set! Right now I don't have much, but I'm sure I'll come up with something soon. One way or another, I am going to sell this idea and these books!
Song: Aisles of White by the Butterfly Effect

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Big Re-Write Question

As you would realize if you're a regular reader of this blog, I've been considering what to (or perhaps not to) do to my manuscript, SOAP book 1. Until now I'd been going along with the plan that I would make some changes, including the much debated-upon Slight Setting Adjustment. However there have been many comments over time from many different sources that has lead me to The Big Re-Write Question. I believe I might have mentioned while talking about the Slight Setting Adjustment that it was suggested to me that a book set in a current conflict situation, such as Iraq, is always hard to sell.
I've also wondered for awhile if the emotional conflict between my hero and heroine was working well enough, feeling that some of it was a bit superficial and maybe cliched. The overall idea of SOAP is great. It's what everyone loves. It's what got all the agent's attention. But the actual manuscript is obviously not working. That's the sense I'm getting. So do I try to overhaul what's already there, or do I start again? Begin fresh. Keep the essence but do a whole new story?
Which is going to serve me better in the long run? Am I wanting to start again because on the surface that would be easier than fixing what I already have? Part of me doesn't want to start again because the thought of beginning a whole new manuscript is always daunting. Part of me feels like the issues I need to fix can't actually really be fixed at all, hence the need for a whole new story. Obviously I don't know which is the better option. One way or another, I need to decide and get to work!
Song: Gravity by Superjesus

Friday, November 28, 2008

Moving Forward

I sat down with the STALI judges' reports the other day and made some notes and another plan-of-action regarding my SOAP series. Yes, more planning! I've already put some elements into gear, like asking Cafrine to do some editing for me and requesting to join a critique group through RWA. It seems now that there is a lot of work to be done before I'm ready to contact agents again, but I feel that by this new path I may actually get over the line this time. Last go around I made it to the line but got stuck. Hopefully everything I do to the manuscript in the coming months will just make that little bit of difference.
In Atrophy related news, Cafrine and I have been talking about a pilot episode, but the issue of format still plagues us. I wanted to get away from the old novel-format and do something a little different, but finding something that works the way we want it to and is still reader-friendly has proven to be a challenge. But I know we'll work something out eventually.
Song: You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) by the Whitestripes

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Results

I got the results of the RWA STALI comp I entered and unhappily didn't do as well as I'd hoped. Interestingly enough, I did worse this year (a lot worse) than the previous year with the same manuscript. How is that possible? Does it mean that my attempts at editing are actually making my novel worse? The thought of that is seriously scary.
Apart from a few nuts and bolts issues, the overall opinion of the judges was that the whole idea was fantastic, that I might seriously have something here, I just need to improve a few things and I'll have something to go with. I think partly my score was a lot lower because while three of the judges scored me similar to last year, one judge was seriously harsh. Like seriously. Like her score was less than half of any of the other judges. And she had some harsh things to say about my work. I've tried not to think about that one too much. Maybe something about the idea or writing rubbed her the wrong way. Maybe she had PMT. Maybe she didn't really like the genre. I don't know, but for some reason she was seriously not impressed with it where the others generally were. So I'm back to the drawing board. I've decided to leave SOAP book 2 for my SRS manuscript for the time being and solely concentrate on really getting SOAP book 1 published. I've enlisted Cafrine's help because I need someone who can take the grammatical and punctual side of it apart for me.
Anyhoo, The Project, or I suppose I can call it Atrophy now, is still coming along. We're getting closer and closer to actually launching something. It's very exciting!
Song: Elegantly Wasted by INXS

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coming Soon to a Computer Screen Near You...

Now I know I've been dropping hints about The Project for a week now without really saying anything. And annoyingly enough I'm still not going to say anything besides this which will give you a little bit more of an idea, but still really won't tell you anything. Sorry, I just don't want to put anything out there until we're ready to go. And I can't even give you a timeline. Maybe another month or so? Hopefully it will be worth it!
Song: You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC

Blog Fiction

I've been dong a bit of research on blog fiction lately, out of interest to see what's out there. I have to say I've been surprised by the scope of talent out there. While I always found webook uninspiring due to the volumes of (dare I say it) crap posted on there, it seems those who take the time and effort to set up their own blog fiction really have something going for them. I suppose you'd want to have some serious dedication and talent to devote the time to setting up and regularly posting fiction on a blog, while with webook its easy to just chuck up whatever you want, whenever you want.
My new devotion to this somewhat maligned format of publishing has been cemented by what I think is a golden find, the blog series Steal Tomorrow. I have to assume that the author is American, and it actually reminds me of a best-selling series we have here in Australia by John Marsden called Tomorrow, When the War Began. The concepts are a little similar, but the stories are vastly different. The author's execution of Steal Tomorrow is just brilliant (in my opinion) and I'll be following it closely from now on. I wish this author every success, and truly believe that she might really have something if she wanted to pursue more traditional means of publication.
That said, I have other work to do!
Song: Everybody Get Dangerous by Weezer

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Project Coming Along

Cafrine and I have made some good progress on The Project. Of course there's still a lot to do, but we've actually made a really good start. We have a loose plot and basic characters worked out, which is always exciting.
Consequently I haven't managed to do any more editing on SOAP book 1. It's also been over a week since I sat down and just did some good writing. Having so many things on the go at once is a little tricky, since now I don't know what I really want to work on this afternoon. Do I do some more editing? Do I add to the word totals of one of my works-in-progress or do I continue planning The Project?
I'm thinking I've already spent a fair bit of time on The Project in the last couple of days, so I'll take that off the list. Since I'm planning on entering SOAP book 1 in a comp which closes this Friday, I should probably actually work on editing it. I can always do some writing once the entry is all ready to go.
Looks like my mind is all made up then!
Song: Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon

As promised yesterday I'm going to post my thoughts on recently finishing SK's Acheron.
For those of you who've been living in a hole, or possibly under some sort of rock, Kenyon's Dark Hunter series has been hitting best seller's lists for several years now.
The story revolves around the Dark Hunters fighting a war against Daimons (who are a little like vampires but absorb people's souls, not their blood) and ever since that very first book there's been Acheron, the Dark Hunters' mysterious leader. Fans have been waiting for Acheron's book for a long, long time.
The first books were great. You couldn't put them down. But with every book came a new set of characters. There was the Were-Hunters, beings that were either born as animals and could change into humans (called the Katagaria) or beings that were born as humans and could change into animals (called the Arcadians). Then we wanted to know their stories, several of which Kenyon wrote. After that there were the Dream-Hunters, which I wasn't so keen to hear about given that there were already so many different factions. But I bought and read the first Dream Hunter book she wrote and for the first time I was disappointed. The book was a mere shadow of what she'd achieved in the past.
After that, several of the later Dark Hunter books took the same road, and I started feeling like (for me at least) Kenyon had lost something. I skipped a couple of books (which is totally unlike me when I love a series. I do plan on reading them one day, but I'm not going out of my way to get them) and then came Acheron. I knew I had to read it. How could I not? It was my sincere hope that by going back to the start, back to the source of all the Dark-Hunters, she would recapture that which made me love this series in the first place.
The book was set out in two parts. The first, about Acheron's life as a human. Or a god, as it turned out. It was tragic, it was sad, and I couldn't put it down. It compelled me to read and read and read, just like those first Dark Hunter books way back did. And then I came to the second part, set in the present day. I hated to see it, but it all fell apart. Once again, this story was only a shade of what she'd done previously. I wasn't compelled to keep reading it until my eyes fell out, it was quite easy to leave it for another time or do something else in the interim. Some of it (in my opinion, and mine only) didn't seem true to what we knew of Acheron in the other DH books. Some of it seemed to contrived. Some of it seemed to be obviously trying to tell us something we already knew and just kept at it and at it like we were being force-fed the information. I finished it so I would know what happened in the end, but I suppose it was nothing to what I'd expected.
I know that I'm being way harsh on Ms. Kenyon. That's the problem when you write something so brilliant, the next time you don't, you've got so far to fall. Adding to the fact that this book had been anticipated for years and years, there wasn't much room to move.
In saying that I sympathize with Kenyon (and I don't envy her position. Sure, I want to be an author, I want people to read my stories, but I hate the thought that one year I might write a book that everyone loves only to write one the following year that disappoints. Keeping a readership happy is an onerous task I imagine) I have to also say that I'm a little frustrated by her. To my knowledge (and please, someone correct me if I'm wrong) she has never finished a single series she's started writing, both as SK and writing as Kinley MacGregor. There was the MacAllister brothers, which I loved, never finished. There was the Brotherhood of the Sword, which has one of my favourite books ever, but never finished. I suppose she's going to write what she's contracted too write, what she wants to write (she is a best-selling author, so I guess she can do what she wants!) and what's going to sell the best. I'd just like once completed series, but it seems the DH books are likely to keep going and going. I just don't know if I will.
Song: I Don't Care by Fallout Boy

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Editing Still

Ok, so this title is just the last title backwards, but since it's still true, I think I'm allowed to use it. Yes, I have edited a whole 70 pages of my manuscript. It's slow going. It's driving me crazy. It makes me wish I had someone else to do it for me. It's the one thing about writing that I avoid until I can't avoid it any longer. Which to other people might seem stupid since editing is part of writing. I love the actual writing. I hate the going over and over and over it trying to decide which bits to change and how to change them or if I should have even changed it in the first place and maybe I should have left it like it was.
Anyway, I don't really want to keep thinking about it tonight. There's plenty to do tomorrow. Oh, and remind me to post about the fact that I just finished Sherrilyn Kenyon's Acheron. I really should be posting about the books I'm reading more often.
Song: Fall For You by Secondhand Serenade

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Still Editing

I'm really supposed to be editing SOAP book 1 right now, but just thought I'd do a quick post since it's been a few days. Not much has happened, though I have discussed my new opening scene with my Editorial Advisor and she was quite impressed. Apparently now it 'just works' so well when the other one was always just a bit off. So I'm glad that's going better. Now I just need to get this editing done so I can send it off the the RWA Emerald comp.
In other news, The Project is still being worked on in my little slices of spare time. We're still in the middle of trying to smooth out the kinks of the actual idea before we get to work on the project itself. We just want to make sure we're doing it the best way possible. I'm still really excited about it and can't wait to get it off the ground.
Right, well I think I've avoided editing long enough. Better get to it!
Song: What Goes Around Comes Around by JT

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tough Going

The work on SOAP book 1 is coming along nicely. In the end I did decide to go with the Slight Setting Adjustment I'd been talking about in my previous blog. So far I've done a hard edit on the first two chapters and am starting on the third. It's slow going and it's hard since I'm trying to be brutally honest with myself, but hopefully by the end of it I'll have a much better manuscript to the send off to the RWA Emerald comp (which is for unpublished authors and is designed to mimic the submissions process to a publishing house) and also I'll be able to re-query some agents in the new year. Which interestingly enough will bring me almost full circle, a year since I sent out the first query letters about SOAP. Seriously, time looses all meaning when it comes to this industry. I can't believe it's been a year since I started querying SOAP. And it's been about a year and a half since I first entered it in a comp. And it's probably been a good three years almost since I first came up with the concept. Who knows how much longer it'll be before I actually get this baby published? Hopefully not too long, but then I'm always hoping that, aren't I?
Anyhoo, with all this editing taking up my time it means I haven't had a chance to do any writing. I might have to rectify that in the near future, put the editing aside temporarily before it drives me crazy and just do some good old fashioned pen to paper. Or keyboard to screen I suppose you would say in this day and age.
Also, work on The Project is coming along. Slowly at this stage since it only really began yesterday and we're (yes, I say we because it is a joint project with Cafrine. See? All the time there are new little clues) still trying to sort out what exactly we're doing. And possibly why, because maybe we're a little bit crazy to be doing what we're doing, but hopefully it'll all be in good fun and success.
Song: All These Thing That I Have Done by The Killers

Friday, November 14, 2008

Re-start

It's done! I've actually entirely rewritten the opening scene for SOAP book 1. I didn't know what I was going to do, had no idea where I was going to go, how I was going to make it relevant to what comes later in the book. But I was determined. So I just sat down and looked at my keyboard. Then an image came to me. It was my heroine standing in the middle of a street at night, with someone standing behind her holding a gun to the back of her neck. So I started off describing what I was seeing and just like that the scene was written. And it ties in so well with what comes later. I'm very impressed with myself. It turned out to be much easier than I thought it was going to be.
Now I'm considering whether to do the other major change I'd been thinking about. The Slight Setting Adjustment as I've been calling it. I'm still torn about this one, so I think I'll keep mulling over it for a while.
Anyhoo, I'm very excited today because as of this morning I might possibly have a new project in the works. Something I've never done before. Something interesting and challenging. I'm not going to say anything else about it because there's a lot of work to be done before it's anything concrete, but I'm just saying its out there, it could be big and I can't wait to get started.
Song: What A Man's Gotta Do - Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Starting Over

I have definitely decided that I want to write a new opening scene to SOAP book 1 and get rid of the one there currently, but I have a small problem with this. I've been thinking and thinking and thinking and can't come up with a new opening scene. Usually I might have a few ideas, but I won't feel they're right, which will then usually lead me to the right idea. But this time I have nothing. Just a big, open, empty space in my brain where the ideas are supposed to be. Maybe I should consult my editorial advisor. Ok, I don't actually have an editorial advisor, but my sister-in-law is the next best thing. I can't imagine having a better critique partner. She always tells it straight. If there's something she doesn't like, then I'll know about it.
So I'm off to do some brainstorming or something. Meanwhile, My Harlequin manuscript has slowed down a bit, I haven't had as much time to work on it this week. But I'll get there!
Song: He Got Game - Public Enemy

Thursday, November 6, 2008

...And That's The End of Your Career

People just don't realize how destructive the Internet can be. Actually, to put it in perspective, people have a tendency towards self-destructive or stupid behaviour, so it's not really the Internet's fault. But these days it's more than likely to end up on the Internet for the entire world to see and before you know it your life is never going to be the same. A prime example of this is a story I saw this week of a professional cheerleader in America who had a few too many drinks (presumably), did something extremely stupid and after the photos were put on Facebook, she lost her job and pretty much her entire career. And just like that, the life she had planned out will never be.
Anyway, in other news I received another rejection this morning. I'm not so worried about it this time around, as obviously I have a few proposals and competition entries out at the moment. But apart from that, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about SOAP book 1 and am now preparing to do some major overhaul before re-querying some of the agents who were interested the first time around. This won't be an overnight thing. I imagine I won't be ready to do any re-querying until sometime into the new year.
There's a handful of things that have been on my mind and as the results of these current proposals and competitions come in, I have decided to go ahead and change them. For instance, the very first scene. It's good, I like it, but I've been asking myself for a long while: "is it necessary? What is the point of it really?" And I'm afraid the answer could be that it has no point, other than a way of introducing my heroine. Which obviously means its not working successfully in terms of the overall story. The other thing on my mind is part of the setting. I don't mind telling you that part of the book is set in Iraq. One of the lovely ladies on the RWA e-loop (who is a published author and would know more about what goes on in the publishing world than I, obviously) suggested that this may be a contributing factor in not being able to sell the manuscript because often it is hard to sell a book set in places in the world where there is current conflict. Of course, my story partly hinges on the fact that there is conflict in that part of the world at the moment, but I beginning to think I could make a minor setting adjustment without taking away from the story as it is. In fact, it might even be better.
In doing this I am going to be up for a bit of revision research, but that's ok because it's partly why I love being an author; the excuse to spend hours studying topics I otherwise wouldn't have a reason to.
So that's where I'm at today. I have a fair bit of work ahead of me, but oddly enough I am looking forward to it. Apparently I'm a sucker for punishment.
Song: Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobyn

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Supernatural - Yellow Fever aka Dean Is Not A Dick

This week's ep of SN has once again left us with more questions than answers. The plot revolved around Dean contracting Ghost Sickness, which made him become anxious, paranoid and then live (or re-live in Dean's case) his worst fears. Meanwhile, Sammy, and later on Bobby, were running around trying to take out the ghost that had caused it before Dean's heart gave out - literally.
First and foremost it was interesting to get a sneak peak of Dean's vulnerable side, even though some of it was beyond ridiculous, but hilarious. It was good to see this facet of Dean's personality since usually Sam is the emotional one while Dean was always the stoic one, with the whole "I'm fine" mantra, even when he was falling apart.
There was an "I quit" speech he did that was absolutely brilliant, had me in stitches. I think some of it went: "You know, normal people run away from scary things. But you know what we do? We go looking for them, we hunt them. I mean, who does that? I'll tell you who does that. Crazy people. We're crazy, Sam." and then there was something else chucked in the middle about a truck-stop waitress with a weird rash.

It was unsurprising in the end to find Dean's greatest fear was Lilith and returning to hell. But the really interesting part of this episode was raised when Dean and Sam were talking about why certain people contracted the ghost sickness. Sam theory was that they were all dicks and then this was never refuted. In actual fact, it was my opinion that these people got the Ghost Sickness because they all had a secret relating to the particular ghost's death. So why did Dean get it when he's clearly not a dick and didn't know anything about the ghost's death? It was revealed during the climax when Dean asked Lilith "why me" and her response was "you know why, listen to your heart."

Unfortunately many of the fans didn't get this. Obviously they were too busy drooling over Jensen Ackles to see the big fat clues the writers put in there, and after the episode aired, lots of people got on the net infuriated over the fact that it was implicated that Dean is a dick. So Erik Kripke had to release a statement to the media ensuring the numerous frothing-at-the-mouth fans that Dean is not a dick and it was never intended to seem that way. So in reality, Dean has some big dark secret about being in hell, never mind the fact that he remembers being there and told Sam and bobby he didn't.

Now I'm dying to know what the big secret is. Apparently it's going to be revealed during episode 10, so I have four weeks to sit here and wait to see what it could be. It just keeps getting better. I guess the writers and creators must be doing something right if they're forced to answer crazy fandom rantings.

Song: Where Have You Been? by Reel Big Fish

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Beginning

It's always so easy at the start. There' so much potential. You have so many ideas. The characters and their relationships are new and exciting. You think you'll get this done in no time and have another workable manuscript to sell. But then you hit the slump and suddenly things aren't so rosy anymore.
My Silhouette Romantic Suspense manuscript is coming along beautifully at the moment. Its not going to be as long as the manuscripts I usually work on, so I have this vision that I'll therefore finish it much more quickly and soon have something to send off to SRS. Of course, I think it's going to be that way, but it never turns out like that. Eventually I hit a slump and then what was great fun becomes a slog and that's where the whole persistence thing comes in.
Contrary to my statement about leaving SOAP book 2 on hold, I've actually found that I haven't been able to. I did a tiny bit of work on it this minoring before I started on the SRS manuscript. Its probably a good thing. Working on two at once will hopefully keep me fresh and I'll find it easier to keep writing. When one's not working, I'll be able to concentrate on the other for the time being. Besides, I have this fear that SOAP book 2 is going to be shortlisted with the RWA STALI comp I entered as opposed to SOAP book 1 and then when the editor at Berkeley reads it she'll request the full and I won't have it to give to her (eeek!). If that happens, I'll probably have a coronary. One; because they actually requested my work, and two; because I'll have to work day and night to suddenly finish SOAP book 2. If only there was someway to get it out of my head without having to actually sit down and manually type (I'm seriously beginning to wonder if I'm not getting RSI). Like there was some computer where you could just attach electrodes to your head and think about it and then presto! It's there on the screen. That would be so helpful and in turn so very lazy.
Anyway, I should get back to writing and stop thinking about brain-sucking technology that would actually probably be really dangerous.
Song: Bullet With Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins

Friday, October 31, 2008

Amending the Plan

I didn't manage to reach my target for Book In A Week last week. I fell about 1500 words short because I got called into work early Sunday morning (I know, the travesty of having to work on a Sunday!) Otherwise I would have easily made it. I suppose it just ended up being one of those weeks.
In other news I've amended my getting-published-plan (yes, I have a plan that I do these things by). Actually, I suppose I haven't amended it so much as extended it. I hadn't thought much beyond this round of proposals/letters/competition entries, so I had known for a while I needed to work out what I was going to do next, plus I was starting to feel some burn-out on my SOAP project.
Since the whole writing-for-Harlequin idea occurred to me, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about it. And then a few weeks ago there was some discussion on the RWA e-loop about Harlequin changing their submissions process over to email.
Now I've never read a single thing with the Harlequin/Silhouette/Mills and Boons imprint on it. The closet I've come is reading a MIRA imprint, but of course that's not category romance, it's their single title imprint. So I went out and had a look at some bookstores, Big W and Kmart to see what was on the shelves. I ended up buying a couple of different imprints: Intrigue, Suspense, and a new one, Passionate Protectors. After reading them, I realized they're actually not that different to what I'm already doing with my SOAP series. Of course, I wouldn't be able to sell my SOAP series to them, it's too long. But I've had an idea floating around in my head for a while that I've been wanting to write, and like I said, I've started feeling some serious burn-out coming on from working on my SOAP series. I think the best thing to do right now would be to concentrate on something else for a little while.
I won't be entirely putting my SOAP series away, just not writing anything new. As you know, I'm about half way through the second book, but I'm going to put that on hold. While I'm writing the manuscript for Harlequin, I'm going to continue editing SOAP book one, and enter it in a few different competitions. But, I've decided that if I don't get anywhere with any of the current agents/competitions, I'm going to take it off the market and do some major tweaking and then probably start all over again. While all this is going on I plan to (hopefully) quickly write and submit to either Harlequin Suspense or Silhouette Romantic Suspense. I think I'm leaning towards SRS at the moment, because from their writing guidelines its probably closest to what I like to write.
So overall, I'm feeling re-energized and refreshed. I like getting to a point in my journey when a new path opens up and I feel that once again I am getting closer to my 'yes.' It will happen. I'm just too determined for it not to. And from most everything I've read, persistence is one of the biggest keys. I will succeed where others will not because I'm just so stubborn that I refuse to give up.
Song: Greg! The Stop Sign! by TISM

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Almost Finished

Today is the second last day of BIAW and I have to admit it's been a real challenge this time around. I guess that's the point of it though, isn't it? Yesterday I wrote 1432 words before my daughter woke up, 68 short of my intended 1500. It's so close that I can't exactly complain about it. With my total tally for the week so far it leaves me with 1668 words to do each day. I'd like to think I might get a bit more done and make it over my target, but I think just getting there will be a big enough achievement this week.
Song: Better by the Screaming Jets

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another BIAW Update

Although I spent most of yesterday not home, I wrote 1223 words late yesterday afternoon. Of course it would be much easier to sit down and write lots and lots of words if I wasn't writing around my daughter sleeping. I can't imagine how I'm ever going to find time to write when we have more than one!
I'm not too worried about this week's remaining BIAW tally, like I said, I should be able to leave my daughter with my hubby and get lots done this weekend.
There was discussion on the RWA e-loop about Harlequin Mills and Boons accepting email queries, which I went and had a look at. The only imprint I'd be interested in at the moment would be MIRA, but they're apparently only opened to agented submissions. Of course there are always stories about writers who totally ignore when an agent/publisher say they're not accepting submissions and sent one along anyway, resulting in them being published.
Not for the first time I'm wondering whether or not I should branch out and have a go at the Mills and Boon category romances. Of course first I'd want to read a few so I know what I'm doing, but I guess my thinking is that it'd be one more option for publication. And I feel I could adjust my writing to suit that style. Although when I think I'm going to find the time to do this is a whole other matter.
Well, better get started on today's word count. I'm hoping to make it to at least 1500.
Song: Resolve by the Foo Fighters

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BIAW Wednesday

I'm happy to report that yesterday's Book In A Week tally was vastly improved. I managed to write 2413 words, bringing me to just over 4000 words, which is almost 50% of my target. Through the RWAus e-loop, I also heard about another competition I'm going to enter. It's similar to the RWA STALI comp I've entered. The final judge is an editor from MIRA books, so if I can make it into the short list it's yet another opportunity to have my work seen by an editor at a major publishing house.
I also had a discussion with my husband about joining Romance Writers of America. I've always intended to become a member, but it's not exactly cheap. And damn, I just realized I should have joined when the Aussie dollar was worth almost as much as the American dollar. Now I think it's back down to 60 cents or something. Anyway, if I joined them I'd also be able to enter their competitions. Every little bit helps.
Song: O Yeah by End of Fashion

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Slowing Down

Just a quick post for a BIAW update for yesterday. That couple of hours I thought I'd have free yesterday afternoon turned into half an hour, so I didn't get much done. I wrote about 700 words which was 200 down on the previous day. At this rate I'm not going to get anywhere near my target of 10,000 words. Luckily I'm fairly sure we don't have much on this weekend, so I'm envisioning spending all day Saturday and Sunday writing. Bliss!
Song: Hero of The Day by Metallica

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BIAW Monday & Supernatural - Metamorphosis

I've had a bit of a slow start to BIAW. I only wrote 900 words, which is 600 short of my daily average I need to reach if I'm going to make my target. I admit, I probably could have easily made the daily target, if I hadn't got distracted looking at houses for sale on the Internet. Luckily I know I'm going to have a couple of free hours later in the afternoon, so I should get a good number written then to make up for it. Meanwhile I still didn't get that scene finished I was talking about yesterday. I added about a page (or 250 words) to it, but I just can't get it to work. At least this time the tactic of moving onto the next scene worked fine. And today I'm just going to continue that way. Maybe I can't write that other scene because something about it isn't working. I'll eventually go back and work out what, but for now I just want to get some words onto the page.
Supernatural was great again last night. After being left hanging at the end of last week when Dean was going off to find Sammy and discover him using his demon powers, the continuation couldn't have come soon enough. It didn't disappoint. The intensity of the scene and later scenes when Dean and Sam continued talking about it was brilliant. And I love that nothing was really resolved, even at the end of the ep where Sam said he wasn't going to do it anymore. There was still a lot unsaid, still a lot of issues in the air between them.
Before the season commenced, creators and writers promised that the relationship between Dean and Sam was never going to be the same, and you can easily see how successful they've been. They've done it brilliantly, even while it's so sad. Dean doesn't trust Sam because of all the half-truths and things he's been hiding, while Sam is resentful of the way Dean treats him due to all the 'psychic stuff' Sam's got going on. It's hard to see that there will be any way back for them, in fact it seems likely that they're just going to get driven further and further apart. It'll be interesting to see where this all ends.
Song: Come On Come On by Little Birdy

Monday, October 20, 2008

Head Space

Book In A Week has officially started with RWAus. I thought I might try blogging first to get myself going. I think the reason I did so well last time was because I had a really strong start on the first day. Unfortunately I think I'm going to find it tough for a little while because I'm stuck on this one particular scene I feel like I've been trying to write forever. I even tried leaving it and skipping ahead a scene (something I've never done before) but even that didn't work. I just couldn't go on with the story knowing that this scene wasn't finished.
So I'm trying to get into the right head space to get this little piece finished so I can move on and get the story flowing again. I'm sure it won't end up being as hard as it seems right now.
Supernatural is on tonight, the ep is Metamorphosis.
Song: Everyday I Love You Less & Less by the Kaiser Chiefs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back on Top

I've had no motivation the last week or so. Ever since I got that last rejection I just couldn't bring myself to sit down in front of my manuscript and do any decent work on it. Last night I talked to my husband about it. Lucky for me he's one hundred per cent supportive of me and this crazy career I've thrown myself into.
After talking it all out, sharing my frustrations and knowing he feels the same way on my behalf, I felt much better and now have renewed energy to get back in there and continue slogging away at it all.
But it did make me think. Like I said, I'm lucky because my husband, the rest of my extended family and friends are all very supportive and believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to. But what about the struggling and yet-to-be-published authors out there who don't have that support base? I find it hard enough as it is without having to defend my choices to the people around me. And I know for many aspiring authors, that is the situation they are in. They're on their own, and maybe the people around them aren't so encouraging and use every rejection as a "see, you're not going to get published."
So today I can get back in the game and I don't know if my husband, family, and friends will ever know how much I appreciate and rely on their continued and unquestioning support. Hopefully, one day I will be able to repay them in kind.
Song: Lodi by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Staying the Distance

It seems that when I get a certain number of rejections, when I start feeling like I'm not getting anywhere, all I want to do is put away my current work and start somehting new. I can underatnd why. The more rejections I get, the harder it becomes, the smaller my list of agents grows and the less hope I have that I will actually sell this project. Starting something new gives me refreshed hope. I can think "one day in the future, I'm going to get this published" and there's no rejections sitting in my inbox from agents telling me otherwise.
But apparently persitence is the key. So no matter how much I want to move on to something else, I need to stick with this for the time being. I still have avenues to pursue and I still really believe I've got something with my SOAP series if only, if only, if only, someone would just give me a chance. I can't wait to get the judges reports back from the RWA STALI comp, maybe then I'll have some better idea of my direction.
Song: Welcome to My Life by Simple Plan

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Agents and Supernatural - In The Beginning

Two posts about Supernatural in a row? It must be that time of the year.
Before I get into that though, just thought I'd mention that I got a rejection for Agent A this morning. She didn't waste any time making up her mind. It was the same as all the other ones. It just wasn't right for her but that didn't mean it wouldn't be right for someone else. But what does that really mean? Obviously the idea is coming across well enough, but is something not working in the actual manuscript? I wish one of these agents would actually take five minutes to explain a bit more in depth. And in all honesty, I am thinking about emailing Agent A and asking. The worst she can do is say no or ignore me. I won't have lost anything for it. Meanwhile it's been 4 weeks since I queried Avon and now I'm wondering whether to keep waiting or send them a follow up. Its so hard to know what to do in these situations.
Also, my dad asked me an interesting question this morning. He asked how I felt about trusting the integrity of the system, in that what's to stop an agent taking my idea and getting one of their writers to re-write it. That's the kind of paranoia I try to avoid. I don't really have a choice. Ok, maybe it could happen, but I have to do my homework and make sure I'm only dealing with agents who are above-board and hope that it doesn't happen to me.
So, onto Supernatural.
This ep was interesting because Dean was sent back in time to learn the truth about what went on with his parents and the yellow eyed demon. I thought it was great that they did an ep where the boys were totally separated and had no contact whatsoever.
Although Sam basically wasn't in the ep, his impact on it was not lessened. It is quite clear that Sam is already well on the road to the dark side, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn later in the season that Ruby has been working for or working in place of the YED all along. I also don't think Sam really realizes how far gone he actually is. This was highlighted by the end of the ep where Castielle says to Dean: "your brother is on a dark path. Stop him, or we will."
I still can't believe they ended the ep there. I think that's the first time I've ever really gotten frustrated by SN (apart from the end of S3 where Dean was left in Hell). They've always been really good about wrapping things up and keeping things contained. Not this ep though. They had to leave us hanging. Now I can't wait to see what happens when Dean finds Sammy using his demon-given powers along side Ruby. Also, I totally won't be surprised if Sam and Ruby have been sleeping together. I can see things are going to get worse between Sam and Dean before (if) they get better.
Song: Leave Out All The Rest - Linkin Park

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Supernatural - Lazarus Rising

Beware of Supernatural spoilers in this post if, for some insane reason, you haven't started watching Season 4 yet...
I realized that although I mentioned the other day that Supernatural was starting again here in Oz, I never said what I thought about the episodes. I say episodes because we were lucky enough to have a two hour special, screening both Lazarus Rising and Are You There, God? It's Me, Dean Winchester.
LR was extremely great. I thought it was all done really well. And the part with Dean digging himself out of his own grave? Wow. I mean, hell, if that angel was going to save him, he could have at least dug up the coffin first. But I guess that wouldn't have had me holding my breath for the first five minutes.
The reunions with Bobby and Sam pretty much went as I expected. It took some convincing for both of them to realize it was actually Dean. And I just have to say, boy had Jared Padalecki bulked up over the break. Or maybe the creators were just clever enough to make it seem that way. I mean, we all know that he's always had a totally ripped body from the couple of tee shirt-less scenes he's done. Anyway, getting back on track...
I had a suspicion pretty early on that it was an angel, or arch-angel or some sort of good-guy that had saved Dean from 'the pit.' Call it writer's intuition I suppose. I always just think "what would I do if I were writing the script?" and nine times out of ten I'm usually right. I should so totally write for these guys. I have some great storyline ideas, never mind the fact that I have no idea how to write a script. A novel? No problem. Scripts are a whole other ball game.
Sorry, I seem to be going off on random tangents today.
Back to SN, the next issue we come across is Ruby. Now, I'm sorry to the actress who has newly acquired this role, but I think so far I like last season's Ruby a lot better. She had more kick-ass attitude ("Does anyone have a breath mint? Some guts splattered in my mouth while I was fighting my way in here.") And although the character would obviously be scripted and written the same way, execution was never going to be. This Ruby seems to be more doe-eyed and apparently afraid of the angels. Well, fair enough, but the last Ruby would have come across as totally pissed and sarcastic. This one? Not so much.
So Sam promised Dean not to use his psychic abilities. But what do we find? Sam express-posting a Demon back to hell using only the power of his mind and right hand. Demon like? Totally.
Which brings us to a very interesting point. Sam was supposed to go dark-side and lead the demon army. In my opinion, he's already taken that freeway exit by doing exactly what Dean asked him not to. Meanwhile, God apparently has big plans for Dean (and then there's the prophesy. We couldn't have God involved without a prophesy, could we?).
So can we see the total contrast here between good and bad? Darkness and light? Will Sam and Dean end up facing off? Will Dean be forced to kill Sam just like Daddy-Winchester told him way back in Season 2?
I find it interesting that Dean ended up on God's side while Sam has gone the other way. Dean was always the darker or the two, willing to push the boundaries, always getting closer to crossing the line, whereas Sam was his moral compass, often bringing him back from the edge. Although, truth be known, we have seen some role-reversal going on in Season 3 in particular. And there's always the threat hanging over their head from when Dean brought Sam back at the end of Season 2 and the yellow eyed demon said to Dean "how sure are you that what you got back was 100% Sam?"
So well done to the creators and writers. They haven't disappointed and have in fact raised a lot of interesting questions. Its been said before, but if you've never watched Supernatural, now is the time to get on board. I'll be looking forward to see what else they throw at us this season.
Oh, by the way. Was on youtube and some people have invented what they think the opening credits of SN would be like if they had one. I thought this one was actually pretty good. Not to mention I'm a fan of the song. ;)
Song: Supermassive Black Hole by Muse.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Problem?

I was reading an agent blog today and the entry was about common mistakes they see in requested pages. The post mainly focused on what is commonly called an 'information dump.' To explain, an information dump is usually found somewhere in chapter one and will be a whole load of background information about the character/s. Since I was in a bit of a hurry this morning, I only gave it a cursory read and then of course spent the rest of the day wanting to look at my own work to see if I'm guilty of this crime. I finally found five minutes to look at the opening chapter of SOAP book 1, and of course immediately found three separate places I'd 'dumped' information. After that I spent the remainder of the day thinking "is this why agents have been passing on my work?" But then I just went back and read what the agent was saying slowly and luckily I think I'm ok. I think what this agent was trying to say was that if there's just pages and pages of back information, with no present action or dialogue, then it would be a problem and an immediate 'no' from them. However, I really think some background information is obviously necessary. The trick is to weave it into the action and dialogue, instead of bashing your reader over the head with it. I think mine is ok. Probably not great, there's probably some other way I could have done it better and it's a mistake I'll be aware of avoiding in the future. No one has ever pulled me up on 'information dumping' before, so it can't be too big an issue in my work. I still believe my work is good enough to get me that currently-elusive 'yes' from an agent or publisher.
Oh, and I still haven't heard back from Avon, which I'm taking as a good sign. Hopefully it means my query actually made it to an editors desk and is being considered for a request.
Song: Pacifier by Shihad.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

About Time

I'm finally about to do a serious edit on SOAP book 1. I've done basic edits, structural edits, etc, but no full-on, search-for-every-possible-problem-edit. Of course, the first three chapters have been edited to death, with them being sent off to comps and agents, but the rest has been lagging behind. So I'm going to start doing in in preparation for the entire manuscript being requested by Agent A or the editor who is judging the short list for the RWA STALI comp. Optimistic much?
Anyhoo, yesterday I went out and bought a laptop stand and a separate keyboard. I've been having some trouble with my wrists and fingers being sore lately, and I'm kinda scared I'm giving myself RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) so I thought maybe I should do something about that since I've known for a long while that typing too much on laptops can be bad for you. Actually I'm probably going to be worse off because I got a wireless keyboard and I can already envisage myself slouching back in my chair, feet up on the desk with the keyboard on my lap. I'm sure that will be much better for my back and wrists and hands...
Song: It's Like That - Run DMC vs Jason Nevins

Monday, October 6, 2008

Out of My Hands

I sent the requested material off to the 'Agent A' this morning. I gave some last minute read overs, but there wasn't really anything I could or would have changed. So now Agent A has it and I'll just have to spend the next two months waiting to hear back. By then I should also know whether I made the short list for the RWA STALI comp.
And I just thought I'd mention; you know what I love about Agent A? She didn't want to see a synopsis. Alleluia!
Thank God. All she wanted was the chapters and hopefully they'll speak for themselves.
Meanwhile, I've signed up for another Book In A Week with RWA. That will be starting in about two weeks from now and since I did so well with my last aim, I upped the stakes and am shooting for 10,000 words this time around. Should be a bit more of a challenge.
Supernatural starts back on TV here tonight. WOO!
Song: Grand Theft Autumn - Fallout Boy

Friday, October 3, 2008

Request!

I was heading off to bed, but thought I might quickly check my email since I'd been working all day and hadn't had the chance. Being a member of RWA's e-loop, if I leave it for more than 24 hours I end up with about 200 emails to sift through.
There was the usual RWA chatter, a few emails from friends, and then in amongst all that was an email from an agent requesting more material. Oh, the feeling of excitement and triumph at that simple line of 'we would like to see more'. I'd been having a seriously crap week, but that just cheered me right up. My husband was just as excited and wanted me to email it all straight off, but I told him I would do it in the morning when I have a clear head. I wouldn't want to get this far and screw it all up by making a stupid mistake (like putting the wrong agent's name on it or something!).
Just when things seem so negative, like I'm getting no where seriously fast, all it takes is one little step forward to bring me right back up again. I can do this. I know I can do this. I just have to keep working. It will all fall into place eventually.
BTW, I've decided to start putting a little finish-off at the end of my entries, what music I'm currently listening to, just for something a bit different.
Song: Come Alive by the Foo Fighters.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Actually, I don't know where I've been. Here, but not in front of the computer. I spent last week getting ready, printing off, and sending my entry for the RWAus STALI comp. So it's all gone now along with lots and lots of hope. I've also been busy with non-writing-related stuff and sick. The whole sick thing has been extremely energy-sapping, so I've done no writing in the past couple of weeks, much to my frustration. I'm going to have to find time in the near future to sit down and get some done, because I get a bit jittery if I go too long without doing any writing. I guess I'm kinda addicted.
However I know I'm probably not going to get that chance until next Monday, because I'm fully booked between now and then.
On the agent front, I haven't heard back from any of the agents I queried in the last round. I also haven't heard back from Avon, which is unusual because they have on their website (and I know from previous experience) that they usually respond within two weeks. I'm not going to do much about Avon except keep waiting, but I might send some follow up letters to some of the agents. And speaking of follow up letters, the ones I sent several weeks ago to agents who hadn't got back to me from May never replied. I'm not all that surprised and I'll just move their names into the 'no response' folder in my computer.
I can't remember from last year how long it was before the results of the STALI came out, and I guess for the time being my hope is riding on those two entries. And I suppose soon I should consider which agents to write to next. You know, no response is worse than a rejection. I hate being left in limbo. I'd really rather know either way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Same Old, Same Old

A few things have happened since my last post, though none of them terribly exciting. I sent a few follow-up emails to agents who haven't responded to my queries. I know that some of them will only reply if they want to see more work, but I've avoided following-up with those ones since the silence speaks for itself. Not to be totally harsh about it or anything, because I know agents are busy and often get abused by crazy-illusions-of-grandeur authors, but how hard is it to send a little 'thanks, but no thanks' email? I don't need anything other than that. At least that way I know they got it and it didn't get eaten by a spam filter between here and America.
Anyhoo, this week I also put together a 'vision board' for myself to invoke all things positive. I even designed book covers for myself. I think it'll help me stay on track and chase away the self-doubt when I get those pesky rejections.
This morning I was printing off my entries for the RWAus Single (Title) & Loving It! comp. I thought I had myself all covered in the ink department, but apparently not. Even though I had spare cartridges, I got three quarters of the way through and ran out. So I'm waiting for my hubby to bring some home so I can continue printing it all off. Then I can send it and not have to think about it again until the results are posted.
I've written a couple of thousand words this past week as well. I seem to be doing things at a slow and steady pace at the moment, not in fits and starts like I used to. I suppose being a mum has made me value my time more and forced me to be a little more organised. So going along like this, my second SOAP book should be finished in a timely fashion and I can begin on the third. Exciting thoughts!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stubborn

The good news today is that out of the handful of agents I queried yesterday, I didn't get any immediate rejections this morning. It more than likely just means that they haven't got around to reading my query letter yet, but still, it's better to get them at least one at a time rather than altogether.
Obviously rejection just makes me more determined to get somewhere, to succeed, because although receiving 3 immediate rejections yesterday morning was totally demoralizing, my response wasn't to dwell and wallow in my depression, but to find another lot of agents to write to and to re-work my query letter and synopsis. In the query letters I wrote yesterday, I spoke more about my intention for the manuscript and series, hoping that might help sell the idea. I know in the end its my writing that's going to seal the deal, but I won't get the chance for it to be considered unless I can get past the query letter stage. I'm obviously also hoping that Avon might show some interest and request some material. As I've previously said, it would be much easier to find an agent if I had some interest from a publisher. Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to print off and send my entries to the RWAus Single (Title) & Loving It! comp. It doesn't close until next Friday, but I may as well get it sent since it's all ready. And then it'll be back to that game I hate. The waiting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blown

The three agents I wrote to yesterday all replied straight back to me, all with rejections. A little demoralizing to get three immediate rejections like that. This whole thing is so frustrating. It seems like you're getting somewhere and then you seem to take twenty steps back. Was there something wrong with the letters I wrote yesterday? They weren't all that different from other letters I've sent out that have resulted in requests for more material. I know I'm crap at writing the synopsis, but what was wrong with those three proposals? Is it really just the luck of the draw, is something getting lost in translation, is there something different I could be doing to find success? I have never ending questions and no answers.
And now I am beginning to wonder if I shouldn't move on. Sure, I'll continue trying to sell this manuscript, I still have the RWAus STALI comp, and many more agents I could write to. But I have been working on this idea for a couple of years now. How long do you hang onto something before it becomes apparent that its not going to work? I've been so close, but is that it? Was that as far as I was supposed to get with this one?
And this leads me to yet more questions. If I do start something else, what do I start? I have a lot of ideas. I had been thinking I should go back to my first passion, historicals, but then I have other contemporary ideas I'd really like to try as well. Besides, my SOAP idea, which is contemporary, really seemed to bring out my voice the strongest, it was all really working. But how do I convey that to a potential agent?
Obviously I don't have any of the answers or I might be published by now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Keep Rolling

The whole moving on thing seems to be working fairly well at the moment. Today I've queried Avon and written to 3 agents. Ok, that might not seem like much, but consider that every single agent has slightly different submission guidelines. Though a bulk of the content is the same, it's still four separate queries/proposals I have to put together which takes up time. I suppose its partly their way of making sure we do our homework and don't just send off generic letter after generic letter. However from what I hear, some writers still do that, as crazy as it seems to me. If I want to get an agent's attention, I think the foremost thing you need to do is follow their submission guidelines. Pissing them off will not make them want to take on your work. I've also taken the time to write to the agents who requested further material and thank them for their time and consideration. This industry isn't that big, and you never know who you might cross paths with in the future. Plus I really am grateful that they took the time to read my work and provide me with encouraging feedback. So if I get a chance to work on anything tomorrow (which I probably won't considering the fact I'm working) I'll be getting back to a bit of writing. SOAP book 2 is feeling seriously neglected. Now I am going to go relax until my daughter wakes up.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Refreshed

Was it only yesterday I got that rejection? It seems like a lot longer. I'm already moving on, I have a few promising leads with agents; a couple that seem to be specifically looking for a manuscript like my SOAP series, so I'll write to them and see what happens. I've also decided to query Avon directly, because why not? Finding an agent would be much easier with an offer from a publisher on the table and Avon have always been open to taking query letters.
So that's where everything is at. Things are good, and I'll just keep working forward.
I will get this book published.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

There was an email from The Agent waiting in my inbox this morning. And obviously it wasn't good news or this post would be sounding a whole lot different.
It was the same as the other agents so far, though she enjoyed reading it and might have liked the idea, she didn't 'fall in love with it' and went on to tell me an agent should love your work and your voice and wished me luck in finding someone who would.
So its back to the drawing board. I think I'm taking it better than I thought I would. If I think about it too closely, it'll probably make me go crazy; how the hell do I find the agent who does love my work? Seriously, if there's nothing wrong with it, why isn't the overall premise working?
I guess I'm not allowing myself to dwell on it too much, I'm already planning on which agents I'm going to write to next and I have my two entries to send off to the RWAus Single (Title) & Loving It! comp, (the closing date has been changed to Friday the 26th of this month, so I have an extra week, not that I need it) which could in all possibility land my work on the desk of an editor at Berkeley. If its as good as the agents seem to think, then hopefully the comp will get me somewhere if nothing else will. Then it'll be up to me to find an agent, which will be a lot easier to do with an offer in hand. So I'm not giving up, just going on.
Today, however, I'm taking a break. Stepping away. Doing something that doesn't involve writing. Then tomorrow I will go back to it with fresh perspective.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Waiting Again

Still no word from The Agent. It's been a week since she emailed me, and of course I'm back to the old waiting game. I really hope its not going to be too much longer. Of course I don't want to hear a 'no', but not knowing is so much worse.
I've been re-working the end, fixing up a few basic plot and character problems that my critique partner picked up for me. She said maybe if I do all those things it'll send out some good vibes and hopefully I'll get the answer I'm looking for.
The two entries for the RWAus comp Single (Title) & Loving It! are all ready to be sent off. It doesn't close until Friday the 19th, so I'm putting off sending it for the moment in the hopes that The Agent will get back to me with a 'yes' and then I'll have no reason to enter the comp. If, however, the unthinkable happens and I get another rejection, I have high hopes that at least one of the entries will make it into the short list and land on the desk of an editor at Berkeley, who will be making the final judgement. Of course then I'm hoping the editor will like what she reads and request the full manuscript and things will happen from there. So that's where I'm at. I have a plan, and I'm hoping one way or another, things will unfold in my favour.
Better get back to my revision work.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Taking A Moment to be Political

This isn't my forte. I don't have huge political opinions and although I have my own belief in particular things, I certainly don't try to force my beliefs onto others. Also, I never intended to use this blog as a tool to talk about these sorts things, but something I saw on the news earlier this week hit me in a soft spot apparently.
There was footage on the news about an anti-abortion protest going on. Unfortunately it seems a handful of these anti-abortion people are a bit fanatical. You often see them in the news because they've posted out graphic letters to the unsuspecting public or done some other equally over zealous thing. Personally, while I wouldn't get an abortion myself, I would never condemn someone else doing it. Even if abortion wasn't legal, those who really wanted to have one would find a way, probably at cost to their own health. In the same vein I don't agree with the people who do protest outside abortion clinics. Yes, they have a right to their own opinion, I won't deny that, but forcing that opinion onto others, upsetting those who are probably already in an extremely volatile and vulnerable emotional state is (in my opinion) terribly wrong, small minded and bigoted. Worse, many of these people justify their actions by religion. Did they forget the part about loving thy neighbour, forgiving others as God forgives us, tolerance and empathy to others?
Worse than this, the footage I saw on the news that got me going was of a child who couldn't have been older than 8 marching along with a placard sign, the message written in colour and glitter. I can't even begin to describe how wrong I find this. Isn't it bad enough that this person has take a child too young to understand to an emotionally explosive rally, yet they've also given the child a sign to carry. Yes, guide your children to adulthood with the views and beliefs of the world you have, but to use them in such a manner, to put them in such a position where they don't even understand the gravity of the situation? That is what I find disgusting and inexcusable. But that's my opinion. I wouldn't expect others to agree with me. Their belief is their prerogative.
On Friday night the Steve Martin movie 'Cheaper by the Dozen' was on. And believe it or not there was a quote in that movie that really struck me. Towards the end he said "if I screw up raising my kids, any achievements I make in life won't be worth much."
I guess I was thinking of it more in terms of my own life. Yes, my career is extremely important to me, but I would give it up in a second if I had to for my daughter (and future children). My husband and I are still young, we're not well off, we've definitely put having a family in front of material wealth and comfort, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Ok, we might not be able to give our daughter whatever she wants, who knows if we'll ever be able to afford our own home, we won't be able to send her to the best private school in the city, but we'll be happy. We are happy and she'll have a stable home and a supportive, loving family which is so much more important.
To me anyway.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Still Waiting

I was gratified to receive a reply from The Agent the day after I emailed her. I was surprised to say the least since: a) it was a weekend; and b) in the good ol' USofA it was a long weekend. I didn't expect to hear for at least a couple of days, but there it was in my inbox the next day. I so want this woman as my agent. From all the dealings I've had with her and reading her blog, (I know I said it before, but...) I really feel she's the agent for me. Her reply stated that she hadn't gotten to it yet, but she'd have her assistant pull it out of the pile and make it a priority.
Of course now I'm even more anxious. Talk about performance anxiety. She's made it a 'priority' so now I feel like I've got even more to do to impress her. And of course, it's all said and done, isn't it. I've sent what I've sent and there's nothing I can do to sway her decision either way. I wish there was, but there's nothing to be done but wait. And wait. And wait some more. Not that I feel I could or should have done something different in what I sent her. I wouldn't have sent it if I didn't feel it wasn't ready to be out in the world.
In other news, my critique partner has just read the first half of the second SOAP book and told me besides some fleshing out and work to be done on the Hero, she's really enjoying it and says it's even better than the first. Although, not exactly better in the traditional sense of the word, but different to the first. She likes the characters in the second book better, was the gist of the conversation. I was quite happy to hear that since I was having more issues writing this one than I had with the first. I don't know why. Maybe it was just because writing the first one was so exciting, the idea was new and I was thinking of all the things that could and would happen within the series over a number of books. By writing the second one I guess I'm really into the business end of things. Once I get my agent and publishing contract, it'll be interesting to see what kind of challenge its going to be to write the remaining books, having a deadline, trying to keep all the different elements in check. I'm looking forward to it!