Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Read Through Blahs

Well I started reading through the third MS and BLAH BLAH it is sooo good in places, but the first 25 pages have been tweaked so often, I can't see the forest for the trees. I am not stopping to edit, but following April Kihlstrom's advice and going all the way to the end, making notes about global changes and catching small edits along the way. My writing buddy sent back 106 pages with great critiqe so I am incorporating her thoughts as well.

I have figured out how to get the hero and heroine together without him coming off as sleazy or as a rutting deer -- and I think making that fix will go a long way to helping me recover the proper pacing for the story. The first chapter is way to choppy... probably because I've hacked it to bit sooo many times for contests to fit page counts etc.

LESSON LEARNED. Different cuts for contest and no using contest cuts in revisions!!

Now, a quick check on the other blogs I follow and hi ho hi ho it's back to slogging through the manuscript I go....

Monday, March 30, 2009

PRO Status

I had to write a blurb about what being a PRO means to me as well as a little bio for my Romance Writing chapter's website. Here's what I wrote for my bio:

True to form, Christine ***** has worked backwards to achieve her writing credentials. Unaware of word counts or any other writing rules, she wrote her first novel, Love Builds a Chance (don’t laugh), in 2004. Silhouette Desire requested and rejected this novel before she joined RWA in April 2005. Christine found critique group two years later, joined Virginia Romance Writers of America with them, and, after moving to Alabama, she joined Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie in 2008. After settling into her new home, Christine dusted off her many rejections for the first three novels she completed and achieved PRO status. Christine loves to write very spicy Contemporary Romances and has just completed her 4th first draft as she continues to work toward her publishing dream.

I have done everything backwards. And when I read some of the other bios, I feel so small in comparison to what they have already accomplished. But that's okay. I have never done things the easy way. I wrote in my blurb about what being a PRO means to me that I believe it forces me to market my work. And it teaches me how to go about that business. I've learned so much, but the more I learn, the less I know.

At times it is overwhelming. I remember when I decided to write the first book. It was pure joy. Since that first day, I've not always experienced a lot of joy, but I love to write. I'm hooked. I can't stop and if I could avoid all other activities such as housecleaning and laundry and more, then I would just to have more time to write.

I am in revision mode again. I must polish this book. I don't know if it will sell, but I won't know if I don't try to get it out there and that means fixing any glitches I recognize before I pitch it. I feel soooo behind compared to some of the other writers out there in the PRO roster. I'm only just starting to feel like I am on the ball. I still don't have a web site or business cards but I am working toward it. Am I behind? Am I ever going to get there? I don't have anyone here to network with and that is driving me batty. I wish I had a website and a place to look more professional than I am.

Sigh. This day is medium is best.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gearing Up for Another Revision of the 3rd Book

First of all--I AM SICK OF THIS BOOK. Okay, got that out of the way. And THE MORE THINGS I LEARN ABOUT THE BOOK, THE MORE I HAVE TO FIX. Okay. Got that out of the way.

Now I am doing a character workshop with April Kihlstrom and I'm using it to help me flesh out my hero a bit more. I love the questions she is asking to ask about my characters in general and I will use them in the future for all other books and revisions.

So, today's to do list includes:

*work on Lesson 5 and answer questions about my hero for the class
*start reading through my MS and make notes for future revisions
*review my revision lesson from April Kihlstrom's BIAW class and begin applying that to the revision next week Monday
*Find a happy heart about the book
*Research possible hooks for querying the book

Oh joy. The beat goes on.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Well smiles and waves to all the Golden Heart Finalists!! I am so proud of all of you and I know how hard you worked. And kudos to all who entered, including myself, because we set a goal and we accomplished it and how many people say they will write a book and never do? We did. And we can all be happy for each other. The National Conference will be more exciting for me because I know two of my Southern Magic Chapter members are in the finalist circle and that is AWESOME. I have someone to cheer on and root for at this event. Wow!

And now I am back in the saddle. I've printed out the MS, and I've got my old character profiles dusted off for my workshop lessons about characters, and I've got my critique buddy's comments and judged contest comments to pour through. I'll work on the lessons today and I will read through the contest comments quickly before I read through the MS again tomorrow. Then it's TIME TO POLISH IT UP.

I'm giving myself two weeks to polish it and ready it for querying. Then I am querying it and putting it aside until I hear yeahs or nahs. And I am very excited about the fourth book and can't wait to start digging into it and revising it for contests.

Oh, and speaking of contests, I am entering the revised 3rd MS into the Maggies and the GH again this year as well as TOM, LHAoE to see if I can get a better result. And I am going to the Moonlight and Magnolias Retreat in GA as well. Why not? I think it will be a smash.

Back in the saddle and back to work I go.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blah--Didn't Final

Oh well, the dire predictions for myself have come true. Blah... much wine and perhaps chocolate later will help me deal with the preordained disappointment. But it's soooo hard to lose. But I am happy for the few I know who finaled... and how? And I read the titles and I think... my title so totally sucks. But that's okay. There's always next year.

And how does one push through this? Well, I have a plan to NOT open the score sheet--just toss it away... why be discouraged?? And I lit candles (as it was raining) and made tea (too early for wine) and read through my RWR Magazine and my latest course lessons. Then I dashed to my closet and got rid of OLD TSTE stuff and tossed it, printed out the latest MS and BACK TO WORK TOMORROW. Argh.

Must query. Must remember that not all GH Finalists are published and must remember that many non GH finalists are published and must remember that I am a writer regardless of any results.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Distracting Myself from Thinking about Tomorrow

Golden Heart finalists will be announced by 2pm tomorrow and I am a nervous nellie. I have no illusions about finaling. I just want to get past the bad news and disappointment so I can refocus my energy on my writing. I just haven't been able to process or write at all. I've spent the day distracting myself with household admin work and organizing a baby shower. I can't think about writing. I'm too filled with hopes and reality checks to focus at all.

Oh, I can't wait till 2pm hits and I am free of this endless waiting!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Taking a Lovely Break

I am off to Orlando and Disney World with my family today. I can't wait to have a real holiday. We have gone on little breaks, but nothing major since we saw our wonderful friends in the Netherlands nearly two years ago. We're all tired and ready for a long, well-deserved break away from school, moving, writing, and work.

I might blog while I am gone, but other than that, the only writing I'll be thinking about is protecting my memory stick. I am bringing it, but not my computer, on the road with me. If I feel the need to check in and write something or FB, I'll use DH's. Some people like to blog about their vacations, but I just want to savor each and every moment without worrying about what I'll say about it later.

And I know when I come back, I'll be refreshed and ready to hit the final run through on the third MS. I'm polishing it for the GH should I ... hahahha... final. And if I don't final (highly likely it's door number two), then I'll have something better to query. That's got to happen before I tackle the fourth book in revision.

A break, a long one, and then back in the writing saddle again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


We are getting ready to travel to Orlando. And I love traveling. That reminded me about a quote I have on my inspiration door by Delle Jacobs...

"The object of goals is getting there.... the object of dreams is the journey..."

What does that mean to me? I'll be blogging about that on Romance Magicians this morning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Root Canals

Well I survived my first ever root canal. Blah. Now I am just relaxing and doing NOTHING. What a concept. Any rate, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I hate having crap in my mouth and I hate all the noises and tastes involved.

And all of it made me wonder: who does my dentist see when he needs dental work done?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Climbing Mountains

Well I have a song on the radio that pretty much says it all. Not sure about the title, and definitely not sure about the singer as it is Mylie Cyrus and she's not the best singer in the fruit bowl, but I am sure about the lyrics. It's a great song given to a mediocre singer and it encompasses all I think about when it comes to writing:

There is always another mountain to climb...

No matter where we are in our careers or on this journey, we will always have mountains standing in our way. We will always have boulders in our path blocking our passage, and we will always have rivers to navigate to get to the other side. The trick is--doing it. Doing it in spite of the worry, the fear, the doubts, the concerns, the possibility of failing. The trick is to do it. To believe that the mountain can be climbed, the boulder can be moved out of the way, and the river can be navigated safely.

The courage to face the fear and do it anyway is not in all of us. But it is in some of us. And even that courage doesn't mean success. Not outwardly. But it does mean success within. The knowledge of one's fortitude is success. How many times did Rocky get hit? How many times did we fight any enemy nation and think we'd lose? But we did it anyway. We performed.

The trick is to keep working and performing despite the obstacles in our way. And the trick is to keep working and performing even when no one comes to watch the show.

And that is the hardest lesson to learn. When we have only an audience of one, we still have to perform.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Forced into Nothingness Equals Learning about Somethingness

I haven't done any writing in a while, or any organizing of my writing in a while, but I have managed to read and digest a lot about marketing my writing.

It's daunting. But it's also forced me to think about a lot of ways to approach this process when I return from our vacation. For several years, I'd not considered E publishing because too many people said there wasn't any money in it, or it would not be recognized by RWA as valid. I focused primarily on HQN, AVON, and other largers houses' red lines/steamy lines. But I'm rethinking it all.

Why not go for the two or three e publishers, one in particular, who are recognized by RWA and who are just now branching out into the print world? The truth is, I can't see why not? As long as I see some of these e publishers in the first sales section of the RWReport, then they are recognized. And isn't that the point? Getting published is part of the writing process.

The other thing that occured to me is that if I can get my foot into one door, then there's a good chance I can get my foot into more doors and swing them open as well. It is a numbers game. And my numbers for attempts at publication have dropped to zero in the last twelve months (with good reason--hello? can we say move?). Now I need to amp them up.

If I can get my goal of 3 working first drafts going per year and increase my production levels, then I'll be able to work in three levels of the business, four including the classes I will continue to take throughout the year.

Level 1: Write New Books--it's key. If I don't produce, I have nothing to sell
Level 2: Revise Existing Books--an important ongoing element that is very different from first draft writing.
Level 3: Market/Query/Enter Contests: I consider this the selling element of writing. But I am cutting down on the contests. The contests must provide great final judges, editors in the final round I am targeting, and/or an opportunity for excellent feedback. Querying is essential. I must do it more often and to more houses. Marketing is querying along with polishing what I submit.
Level 4: Learning to Improve My Writing: always a must. On-line classes, bootcamps on PRO, attending as many chapter meetings as I can if the topics are relevant.

If, out of all this hard work, I get published by the time I am fifty, I will be very pleased. I have four more years to achieve the goal. Then I'll have done it for ten years. Actively for five. At that point, much will depend upon finances. Do I continue chasing a rabbit without compensation just because it is my dream to write? Well, I don't know. I am driven to write. I want to write. But at a certain point, I may reevaluate where to put all this talent and energy.

Or I may not.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Juggling and Jostling

Today is a lazy day for me. I know we have to get ready for the trip and there is a good chance my DH and I will get the plague. And that will mess up all of next week if that happens.

So today we will make our packing lists and start planning our trip. I will organize the cat stuff and give that to a neighbor on Monday. Next week I will go get my first root canal and my hair done. Then there is packing. And probably coping with absence idiocy at the school. But comeheck or high water, we will be on the road next Friday. And I am pulling out my DD from school no matter what.

I haven't gotten any writing done. I have done a lot of reading, mostly online, about selling my writing and pitching my writing and I am overwhelmed by the information. But I think once I get back from the trip and hit the writing again full throttle, I'll be able to take the new knowledge and apply it to marketing my writing.

One day, maybe this year, my ship will come in. But this is just another big step up the writing rung and I have a lot more rungs to go!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another Sick Day

Well we're on day two of illness here and I am forgetting about getting any meaningful writing done between now and the end of our vacation to Disney. I have to get so much done for the trip, and I can't do that with a sick kid at home. Plus, there's a strong possibility I'll get it, too. Not sure it was food poisoning as my DD developed a fever four hours after her last episode of vomiting. God I don't want this right now.

Anyway, that means my whole week is a bust as of yesterday. And I have a root canal on Tuesday, so that day is a bust. And we're supposed to leave on Friday for the trip. ARGH.

I am reading a lot about writing. Mostly online info for the PRO loop about agents/editors and how to get past the slush pile and into publication. It feels like an uphill battle. And so many of the authors trying to get published on the PRO loop seem way more ahead of me with their blogs, their websites, email signatures, and more. I can't wrap my head around it at all. I am still in major writing mode.

I did go through the RWA Report and I saw a lot of possibilities with smaller presses. I guess the question I have to ask myself if do I want to settle for less just to get published or do I want to hold out for more and keep banging on the big company doors? I don't know. The point is to get my name out there. If I can sell, even for a little, then I am able to write this off on taxes. I am able to eventually promote myself in other ways. And I am officially published. Just not in a big house like HQN--everyone's dream.

Perhaps if I just throw it all out there, the right answer will come. Eventually. I think I need to quit worrying about the future of my publication chances when the real goal is to make it happen. All in good time. I guess. And it is totally a numbers game. I know that.

Well, off to hydrate me, and the dear sick daughter. And they off to the doctor for a confirmation of an illness and to get a bloody note for the state of AL and their dumb rules.

BLAH. Due to the irresponsible backward behavior of some parents, I must go get a note like I am an errant child to prove my daughter's illness. Ridiculous!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guess I'll Just Read About Writing this Week...

Last night my daughter puked all over the bathroom--literally. Argh. And I had cleaned it yesterday. This is why I shouldn't clean house. Any rate, my DH believes it might be food poisoning. She threw up on the hour for 3 hours, then stopped. No fever. But in the meantime, she is on an antibiotic and this is one of the sideeffects... grrr. But DH had some tummy trouble as well and as I am not sick, I guess it's their lunch meat or the lettuce on it that did them in.

And it's Science Fair today! And she's in it. Regionals. Argh again.

Now I have to chaperone/drive the other kids, check on her, see if she can make the judging phase of the fair, make a dr. appt. to follow up on the antibiotic (cause I am NOT giving her this one anymore), and get a doctor's note for the schools (only 5 parental excuses allowed -- triple argh).

So life is just hijacking me left and right and it is driving me batty. I have a dumb form I have to fill out for determining if I am eligible for regaining my Dutch citizenship and I have no idea about 80 percent of the info as my dad is gone and my mom is, well, a NUT, who I avoid like the plague. And I and I and I...

No this isn't about writing. It's about life when you want to write and can't.

Yesterday I managed to read a bit in my RWA Report magazines and jotted down info about publishers. I think I may have to go the e-publisher route as it is virtually impossible to get my foot in the door via print. But I want print. But my books are very erotic and that might turn them off. I don't know what to do. I have plot. I have story. I have characters. I KNOW how to SHOW not tell. I am a decent writer. But when when when... ????

I know when I get back from Disney after spring break, I'll be writing/revising at breakneck speed just in case the Writing Gods have mercy on me and I final with the infamous "kiss scene." I'm half way tempted to send it as is to Ellora's Cave and see if they find it as revolting. I didn't think it was bad. Argh argh.

I must learn to listen to my own voices in my head. I am listening to them from now on.

Writing is easy compared to trying to publish it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writing Takes a Back Seat

Well it's official: life is hijacking me. Actually it needs to. We have a trip to plan and we're leaving in 9 days. The house is still a mess--not cluttered but needs cleaning. And my DD needs me to drive her all over the place. Between the lists for the trip and the after school activities, I barely have time to breath. Of course, I would have done this last week.... but.... oh well.

I have been reading about PRO and agents and publishing and editors' letters to authors and it is all sooooo disheartening. I feel like such a novice even though I've got 4 books written, tons of good contest results, and a sense of my writing voice. But when I see people with blogs and websites and published novels in their signatures, I feel soooo inadequate. This has got to be my year to break through--I keep telling myself it is, but what if I really do stink? What if my stories never resonate with anyone in the publishing business? I keep getting stories, but will they ever be good enough to make it through the slush pile? And will I ever have the perfect query, the perfect letter, the perfect synopsis, the perfect first three chapters?????

God this is a frustrating business. I am glad I procrastinated on getting the PRO pin. Which, by the way, hasn't arrived! ARGH.

My original plans for this time were to revise the third book a bit more. But instead, I find that I have so little time to commit to it, that I need to just kick back, print out what I have from a critique buddy, read about the business and start thinking about querying when I get back. I need to get my PRO stuff organized and my plan for attacking the publishers and agents and editors worked on before I go forward. When I get back, I will finish the stupid billionth revision (it is NEVER done), and then I will query it.

I just wish I could final in the Golden Heart. It would make me feel like I had accomplished SOMETHING that would get me closer to getting published. But I don't hold out much hope for it after reading the LHAoE contest judges' comments about the infamous KISS scene and the editors' letters about how they decide to accept or reject.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The War Between What Must be Done and What I Want to Do

Well I've put off so much over the past two weeks that this week will be less about writing and revising and more about to-do lists and catching up. Typically I do that right after a major project is finished, but last week I had a guest and was busy driving all over the southeast sight seeing and going out for lunch and entertaining and doing my mother/wife duties at night. Now I am just coming up for air and in the flurry of activity I have found:

*daughter with rash
*oops, it is picture week
*one million items on my to-do list for the big vacation in less than two weeks
*cleaning up a huge post visit mess
*filling out immigration and eligibility paperwork
*science fair chaperone
*returning items to the store
*grocery shopping
*mounds and mounds of laundry I don't normally have
*returning phone calls to long lost friends and neighbors
*and a mega sore shoulder causing me endless amounts of pain

Somehow, during this week, I must squeeze a little out for the writing. Even if all I do is organize my PRO status workbook, my BIAW notes, and send off my MS to my critique buddy, I'll be happy. Oh, and it would be nice to read an RWA report. Haven't done that in ages.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Abnormal is the New Normal

Well I had hoped for a normal week this week. Ha. My darling daughter has already squashed that idea by Sunday, 4pm. She got out of the shower covered in some weird rash on her right torso. As soon as she dried off and dressed, off we went to the urgent care clinic to check it out. With our family's history of cellulitis, we simply don't fool around with any skin issues.

Almost two hours later, I am dashing home to toss the antibiotic prescription and skin cream medication prescription into dear husband's hands. DD and I wolf down a sandwich (her) and cold pizza (me) and dash off to another DD event obligatory Parental meeting while DH finishes taxes and then fills scripts for me.

DD was supposed to do HOMEWORK at the event meeting, but instead she and her friends watched a movie. Came home to wait for her to finish HW, rub cream on her, give meds and then she was so tired, we opted to let her sleep in so she'd be rested for the ridiculous mythology exam she has this morning.

This morning, I get up and fake the doctor note so I don't use up another "parent excuse" for her absence at first period (WHAT A PAIN THAT IS!!!)--yes, I will stoop to rewriting the receipt because I DON'T WANT TO WASTE ANOTHER VALUABLE MINUTE at the Urgent Care Clinic. Enough valuable time has been wasted there.

Now I am still wondering when I will get at least 45 minutes of "writing" hahahaha.... as I have to deal with all this other baloney like grocery shopping, tearing down a houseguest's bed and washing linens, doing my own bloody laundry, and getting my paperwork started.

But I've learned to surrender to the madness. Today I will not fight the anti writing Gods as I am in revision mode and am waiting to hear back from my friends re: my MSS. So I will send my MSS to another writing buddy, start reading through my one friend's critique if I get my other boring chores accomplished, and try to squeeze in organizing my PRO paperwork. At least that will put my brain in writing mode for tomorrow.

I don't have to look for things to keep me busy and preoccupied as my goal is to have nothing standing in my way as I write. People who say they don't have enough time to start and finish a project aren't looking for the time as far as I am concerned.

And that is the difference between me and people who say they want to do something like write a book, get published, get a career, make some money, and follow their dreams. I DO it, regardless of the boulders standing in my way.

And that is why I believe, one day, I will be published. Because I know I can find time to do what I love, even if it is only for an hour, and that I can fight for more time to become available to pursue my dream of being published because I DO IT.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Lot to Juggle and A Lot to Write

As I head into the next week, I know I will be unable to focus all my energy on my writing. A part of me is very frustrated by that knowledge, but the truth is, I have to run my household. I have fallen behind on filling out paperwork for my daughter's and my eligibility to regain my Dutch citizenship. I have got items to return to BB&B. I have to hunt for missing receipts for taxes. I have to do tons of laundry, clean house, cook meals, and finish planning my vacation for spring break.

It's frustrating. I want to just jump back in, but it'll be tippy toes first. And to top it all off, I am very tired. I think I am getting a sinus infection and I know that will bugger up my good intentions. Because I still have to do the house stuff. And if I am sick, all my leftover bits of energy will go into those chores.

And my brain is sort of full of stuff I don't need in it and I want to pull it out and park it somewhere else so it all doesn't distract me from focusing on my writing.

How do professional writers without maids and personal assistants manage to do it all? I guess they are like me. How do other writers manage, ones like me who aren't paid? I could see my husband's eyes glaze over when I moaned about wanting to get back into writing. He's seen the entire household turned upside down for two weeks now and he is missing my being able to juggle house and writing and child for him. But I don't blame him. He's been great and has picked up the most important balls for me and kept them in the air.

Now they are tossed back to me.

Hope I manage to keep them up in the air long enough to get through this week without getting sick.