Friday, April 30, 2010


I'm wondering about conferences. I've gotten materials for 3: Willamette in Oregon, Writer's Digest in NYC, and Romance Writers of America in Nashville.

I've read the websites and pamphlets, I've looked through the photos of conferences past, and I've heard the success stories of some of them. But for me, a kind-of shy person with zero publishing credentials to boast of, would that be the right step for me?

I'm most interested in the RWA conference, because it's closest to where I live, and I like the workshops they're offering. I'm intrigued, and the thought of being around other like-minded people, even just for a few days, makes me feel hopeful. Unfortunately, here's the way I envision it playing out: I enter, trembling. I smile at everyone, speak to no one. I sit as far in the back as possible, afraid to approach anyone for fear of the first question directed at me being, "So what have you been published in?"

After the cost of the conference, travel expenses, hotel...that's near $1,000. Decisions, decisions...

Has anyone else ever been to a writer's conference? Any intention to go anytime soon?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Worth a Second Look

Mood: Down but not out

Okay, so I was cruising through a superfab chick lit blog I found yesterday, and in that blog I found not one novel, but four novels (by successful authors) who had themes very similar to the novel I just started. Not cool.
While I know each one had a different twist, voice, characters, etc. to differentiate them from my own, it was still disheartening to see my ideas executed by far better writers. It isn't the first time I've gotten that unpleasant shocker, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
I don't blame lack of creativity on anyone's part, or copycatting someone else's work, so what is it that causes several people who have never met to have similar ideas, thoughts, and words we think we've invented? (Words I think I've invented: humilified, boobear, zipstick-now I know that to be a flash drive. I even have what I think is my own line of curse words; dickass and jerkass are my faves.)
I have read on other blogs where a commenter posts that they finished a novel only to submit it and be told there is already another similar novel on the shelves. I know it's not just me.
I'm left with one conclusion, and it is this: Great minds think alike. :)
On the bright side, I have started down another path. After making this discovery of similar novels to my own, I decided to go back to some of the novels I've written in the last ten years or so. I popped in an old "zipstick" this morning, and I was pleasantly surprised. I've already got the skeleton for one novel I think can be great. It needs some work, of course, but the foundation is there, and that is a huge chunk of work that is done. Yay! (Yes, I've browsed around online to be sure my idea is as original as I believed it to be, and Eureka! it is, as far as I can see.)
So now I will spend the next several weeks rewriting, re-reading, and polishing for Novel 2. Wish me luck....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Day of Distractions

I had today all mapped out. I was determined to write two chapters of the new novel and still have time left over to spend with the hubby and kids.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Between the unplanned visit from family, the foot injury hubby suffered, and the time wasted on Facebook, I didn't even write two words, much less two chapters. Oh, and I shouldn't neglect to mention, the baby found a bottle of red food coloring, God-knows-where. Suffice it to say the living room looked like a crime scene after his paint job.
Okay, so I didn't get much accomplished as far as the novel goes, but all was not lost. I got more time with the kids (even if much of that time was spent scrubbing tiny red hands), and I have more ammo stashed away in my arsenal of material for future stories.
And the icing on the cake was, well, cake. Yeah, I may have baked a cake today. All in all, I'd have to say today was a very good day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To Outline, or Not to Outline?

I love writing novels. Creating lives and circumstances (and being able to ensure happy endings) is such a fun way to spend my time. But the part I love most is right at the beginning.
That's when I have a spanking-new, shiny idea, and I'm excited about what I'm hoping to create. Usually by the time the book is finished, I'm frustrated, anxious, worried, and wondering if I should add more pages, or cut more pages; but the opening pages are carefree, and I am happy to type away.
I already know what my next novel is going to be about. I know how I want it to begin, some of the stuff in the middle, and how I want it to end. But this time I'm going to try something different, and not use an outline.
I'm a rebel, I know.
Between the time I've started a book and the time I've finished, I've usually changed a thousand things anyway - characters' names, ages, jobs, locations, and family lives have all been overhauled somewhere along the way, despite my best outlined intentions. I figure a lot will change regardless.
So I'm just going to wing it and see how it goes.
And for my next trick, finishing the book without gaining another ten pounds. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Healthy Helena

This morning when I offered my 3 year-old a chocolate chip muffin, she politely declined. She said, "No, thank you. How about something even more delicious, like bell peppers!"
Hmm. When given the choice of a chocolate chip muffin or a bell pepper, I don't think I would make the same smart decision.
Reality check! I think it's quite a humbling (and embarrassing) thing, getting shown the error of my ways by a toddler.
So I had to do without my own muffin, and, following her lead, I ate Egg Beaters and a side of red peppers for breakfast today. Hey, I could stand to lose a few anyway.
I guess I'll watch her for even more cues on taking better care of myself. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow she'll be leading a spin class or something.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wow! TGIF, indeed

Today was great. I got to see my baby sister, and spend the day with my babies and hubby, and to add the icing, we finished the day with chocolate chip muffins.
Of course this isn't to say the last 24 hours have been pure bliss - they haven't. But what I'm working on, and what I think I've been pretty great at, is focusing on the bright spots in my life. I have a small network of people who really love me, and who I dearly love. In that sense, I'm successful, and rich.
Every time I get down on myself, or even when I don't feel all that well, I have to remember that all in all, I've actually got it pretty darn good.
And everything is coming up roses. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bigger Picture

Yesterday I got the email I was hoping for from the agent I queried - they requested sample pages of my manuscript - Yay! I wanted to show how ready I was, so I quickly sent what they'd requested.
I went back later in the day to re-read what I'd sent, and - Oops! - I found three things I really wished I'd have changed prior to sending it off. I spent the rest of the day kicking myself for being so sloppy.
This morning, however, I was briefly visited by someone on their way to the children's hospital for a major surgery being done on her toddler. Not cool.
It kind of puts things into perspective in a big way. Did I mess up in the manuscript I let go out? Yep. Is it the end of the world? Heavens to Mergatroid No!
I wasted too much time fretting over my error yesterday. Today I promised myself to brush it off and keep it movin'.
After all, I have much to be grateful for and a million reasons to be happy and hopeful. Here's to a very promising start...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Muchisimas gracias

I spend many of my waking hours writing nowadays. I feel like I have this small window of time to get my short stories, freelance articles, and of course, my novels, written, so I'm going for it.
I write when I wake up, I write until I go to bed around midnight. I write while my babies are sleeping, eating, or sometimes, while both are on my lap. A little obsessive, maybe, but I'm on a mission. I may never get this opportunity again, so I'm working really hard to make this dream of mine come to fruition.
I can't do it alone, of course. That is why I count myself incredibly lucky to have the husband I do. He's quick to run outside with the babies to give me time to write, or to take them downstairs to watch tv or play, or to cook, clean, whatever - in support of my dream.
I have not yet made a dollar off of my writing, but there he is, reading my work and encouraging me on. He works full days at his 9-5, then comes home to run the house and let me wander off to my computer.
Even on days we're struggling, I have to admit, I really lucked out with my Amor.
Now, back to work...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How'd she do that?

Novel is finished. Whew! So I can read a quick novel or two from real-live, published authors before I dive into my next one. Though I have a few new books I should read, I started my break with a book I've already read twice.
Why? Well, because the author is Jennifer Weiner, my fave. I wish I had an English degree, but I don't. So the next best thing is to pick up what I can from the best. I read and re-read all kinds of books, trying to glean what, exactly it is they do.
Today, I'll admit, was not a good time to pick up "In Her Shoes." After I finally wrapped up my first novel, I was overjoyed - I did it! Then cracking open Jennifer Weiner's work made me feel about as astute as a third-grader. Her writing flows so seamlessly, her eye for detail is unparallel, and where does she come up with all those perfect metaphors??
I've decided against reading any other novels for now. Instead I'll re-read my books about writing, and I'll continue writing (and hopefully improving), and I'll inevitably scratch my head when I think of Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, and Ally Carter, because their work, to me, is the best. I close their books wishing they didn't have to end, and wishing I could give readers the same feeling.
Leaves me wondering, How'd they do that?

Monday, April 5, 2010

The fear of "No."

So now that my novel is 99% finished, it's about that time. The agent search. After several weeks of research, I have the gal in mind who I think would be perfect for me.
She's funny, she seems to genuinely care for writers, and perhaps most awesome is that she's a fellow Midwesterner.
She'll actually be in Chesterfield next week, but sadly, I cannot attend the conference. Curse you, empty bank account!
So I get one shot, via an emailed query, to make Cora interesting enough for her to request a few pages of the book. If she passes on it, I will (with a heavy heart) send simultaneous submissions to the next few people on my list.
I know the gist of what I want to say, but I haven't yet typed a single word of my query to K.
Fear of rejection is a powerful thing.