Monday, August 24, 2015

One breath at a time

I haven't been blogging as much as I like.

I haven't been sleeping as much as I like.

Let me be clear on this point as well: I haven't been writing as much as I like.

My life feels like it exploded. I'm half moved into a house that's half done (and 3/4 left to do!). I'm working overtime at the day job because construction is expensive.

I've passed the end of the rope. Last week I averaged 5 hours of sleep a night for the whole week. This is not Rena at her best.

I start making poor choices. Things seem bigger than they are. I react more.

I react.

In short, I'd be a terrible character in a novel.

So I unpack a box. I fix a hole in the wall. We replaced a broken window. One foot in front of the other. A blog post here. A short story there. Life will return.

There's a saying that I sums up the determination to keep moving forward when I'm overwhelmed and can barely function in the reality of my own life: If you have to walk through Hell, why would you drag your heels while you're there?

So I unpack another box. Grout more tile (more??? And we're not DONE YET???). Hey Rena, is that cement in your hair?

Don't judge me.

Also, that grout has sparkling glass pieces in it. That's not cement, it's jewelry (also, it's the stain proof grout, so that's not coming out without bleach).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG - A rose by any other name would be 13% less awesome

This month's IWSG is co hosted by Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia.

OF course, you should always hop on by the Ninja Captain's secret camp and jump on the linky. 

Right on to the main event. 

I don't know if anyone else saw this, but here it is. This article makes me want to cry. 

Go ahead, go read it. 

A lot of people are saying that it doesn't mean anything. A lot of people are saying that it just means that agents are nicer to men because they figure women can handle the truth but men need to be coddled. 

I'm afraid it does mean something. It's the truth. In academia, they did a similar experiment with applicants to work in science labs across the country and found that male applicants were seen as 13 percent more competent when the only difference in their resume was whether it was a girl's name or a boy's name. 13 percent. The author of this article quotes much higher numbers, ~ 33%, but it's the bias that is important to understand. It's important to note that the lab technician experiment had exactly the same bias across both sexes. Well respected, women scientists rated the boy's application higher than the girl's and the only difference was the name.

I've struggled with sexism in my writing before. It is so pervasive that the first comments out of people's mouths when I pitched a particular book with a woman protag who needed to go save the world was "but who's going to watch her kids?"

No really, that was the feedback I got. Nevermind that the mom is going out to SAVE the World and therefore HER KIDS! Everyone wanted to make sure she was raising those kids right. Oddly, when I changed the pitch to make sure that the kids were responsibly being watched, they feedback was, "but how can she leave her kids to go fight a war?"

This always upset me. Women leave their kids to go fight wars. They have always done so. In recent days, they have done so in the US Armed Forces. And we don't have a lot of fiction that captures how they feel absolutely torn inside about how they want to be the ones tucking their kids into bed at night, but someone has to protect and serve our nation. 

No one asks Superman who's watching his kids, he just has to save the world. This sort of sexism and bias has hurt me in many ways, probably ways I'll never realize, so this article about a woman changing her name makes me want to stop fighting. It makes me want to close down my blog, delete my FB and twitter accounts and set up shop as Guy Fasseless. 

So, I'm insecure because I already know that just having my name on the book means it's already seen as at least 13% not as good as if I wrote as Robert Rocford. 

Thoughts? Comments? 

(also, I totally reserve the right to delete comments that are just nasty, as this is my blog and all)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Moving and intermittent availability

Sweet mother of the seven plots, I am so tired. I'm also moving, and no, that doesn't mean I'm finished remodeling. I get closer everyday.

Somewhere over the last year, I stopped doing weights. Now that i'm schlepping boxing around, I can honestly say: BAD IDEA. On the plus side, I'll get a few weeks of carting around my library boxes prior to the main event: Moving my baby grand piano!

In renovation news, well here it is, a warning not to cut corners at the end. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A pile of broken dreams or a steel wrecking ball?

I came across an old bit of a post that I'd saved but never published. (remember, we aren't supposed to write about querying, despite the fact that it's one of the hardest things writers do, just after submissions, reading bad reviews, getting dropped by publisher and having agent leave the business).

Anyhow, what I found amazing was how much this feeling doesn't seem to change. Enough prologue, here's a clip from a bit of a distant post that's only now seeing the light of day.

I'm not gonna lie to you: my heart has been broken.

My dreams have been crushed.

I've seen what it looks like when everything I've dreamed has been burned down to the bitter ash. It ain't pretty.

But, as they say, Life goes on. Life doesn't care that your heart is shattered. Life doesn't care that you were broken. Life goes on, with or with out you.

And the frightening thing, is that all aspects of life go on. I got off the querying horse for a while. I needed a break, like for real. Sure, I have a ton of books just ready to hit go, but I needed to step away because sometimes publishing is crazy. Every book I've queried has broken my heart in some way or another, and now I'm back at that point where I'm trying to screw up my courage and do it again.

I'm back to reading agent bios and interviews, a pass time I'd sworn off. As I read, I find myself falling in love with them, my mind painting a picture of what my life would look like on the other side of finding the agent who will take me on.

I've been here before. I've stood on this shore and watched those waves come in. I always dream they'll be the waves to launch my boat, but instead, they eat away at the base of the cliff. It has always ended the same.

Like a fool, I find that there is still hope, and I wonder how? 

Where did you come from, hope? Did you not see how this ended last time? What about the time before? And the time before that? Why are you the one without reason, Hope? How did you survive the pyres on which I burned my last dream? How are you still alive, letting me fall in love again?

So, as you can see, I'm an idiot. My heart has taken leave of its senses and somehow--magically, for I had nothing to do with it--has reassembled itself to the point of feeling like an indestructible sphere of annihilation. 

But then I hesitate. This hurt last time. Am I ready to have this dream ground under the heel of a business model? Is my heart as indestructible as it pretends?


But it's too late, I've already jumped.

The current is faster than I remembered.

Sink or swim.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

And a bonus post!

Yes, two posts in one week (remember when I posted three times a week? I was crazy!!! Today I have Tara who's showing off her brand new cover for Pop Travel! Take it away Tara!

So happy to be here at the Doc's! Dr. Faerie Godmother, that is! Rena is the best! I've been enjoying this woman's sarcasm and scientific jargon for ages! Thanks for helping me out, woman!

AND Rena is also one of our newest authors at Curiosity Quills! Her hilarious book, ACNE, ASTHMA, AND OTHER SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE HALF DRAGON (I mean, just the title, ha!) is due out in November. And Rena, make sure you let me help you with your release!

Well, I'm going on a little rant today (don't worry, it's got a happy ending, all my stories do!)

Rena's book makes me think I could be half dragon with all my skin problems. Wouldn't that be cool?? But since it's not true, it's just kinda sad and annoying. It also makes me wonder. Has anyone else noticed how rampant allergies, autism, and even vitiligo (white spots where the skin pigment dies) are with kids these days? They're epidemic! Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the extended amount of time we all spend inactive indoors on screens. We are all connected all the time. You know you feel naked without your phone!
this is where my boys are headed...
So here's my crazy theory: All this inside idleness is causing our immune systems to weaken, causing our pigments to be unnecessary to protect us from the sun, causing our brains to turn to mush, and our bodies to flab - ever see WALL*E? My point! I don't believe in the big bang theory (great show tho!) but I do believe in evolution as in survival of the fittest and adapting and changing over time... things that make me go HMM! Or it could all just be my overactive imagination!! I am a writer, after all!

Thanks again, Rena for letting me rant and for letting me show everyone my new POP TRAVEL cover - it's eye-catching! And the re-release has a sneak peek at the first chapter of SIMULATION which comes out Sept 14th!

by Tara Tyler
Re-released July 1, 2015

In 2080, technology has gone too far for private detective J. L. Cooper. He thinks he can avoid pop travel teleportation, until he stumbles onto a video of a pop traveler who turns to dust.

Sparking a series of murders, attempts on his life, and threats to his brother, Cooper wants to pass off the evidence but knows he’s being watched and can’t trust anyone. And who would believe him?

With help from the neurotic genius “Creator” of pop travel and a beautiful Southern charmer, Cooper must expose the deadly glitch and shut it down or die trying. No problem.

Amazon ~~~ B&N ~~~ Goodreads

Tara Tyler has had a hand at everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently, she has two series, The Cooper Chronicles (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (MG fantasy) She's an adventure writer who believes every good story should have a moral, and a few laughs!

Also by Tara Tyler, MG/YA Fantasy series, Beast World,

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

IWSG: Writing is like Iris hybridizing? But I thought it was like construction??

And here we go, another installment of writer's support group. Say "Hi" to the Ninja Captain and hop on the Linky. Also drop by our co-hosts, Charity Bradford, S.A. Larsen, AJ, Tamara Narayan, Allison Gammons, and Tanya Miranda! This blog hop has gotten huge, and we need all the wrangling we can get.

This week, I’m taking care of my mother’s Iris habit. No, really, we’ve reached addiction level, and to make matters worse, she has started breeding them. Last year, she made somewhere between 500 and 1400 seeds from her various crosses. Of those, some 300 or so sprouted and are currently building up enough gumption to bloom (but probably not until next year).

And out of these hundreds, it’s likely only one or two will ever be taken to an Iris show. Hundreds of possible genetic combinations, and only one or two will get to go to the show to compete against the one or two brought by the other dozen hybridizers in the region. Of those, only a handful will go on to the next level of showsif you’re into writing and publishing, I bet you know where this is going.

To start with, those seedlings, the original crosses are new genetic material, the likes of which the world has never experienced before. So are the thousands of novels cranked out by writers every year. No one else has a novel like yours. Sure, it has some similarities, but it’s a new creature altogether. And of the books that get published, well, only a few of them will do well in any given year.

As I’ve been watering those hundreds of seedlings (did I mention it was 110 today? I’m wilting just thinking about it), I keep thinking about how much writing is like those Iris. Some of those plants are going to make Iris blooms. Bright lovely blooms that look just like every other Iris introduced twenty years ago. Sure, the flower is pretty enough, but that’s not enough. If it looks just like the other flowers, it’s got nothing.

Almost as bad are the hideously ugly ones. Sure they have the form of an iris, but they come out looking like someone painted a flower using manure. No joke, dog doo brown is a common color in the iris world. But at least there aren’t a million other people introducing a flower called Hero’s Duty (my mom would probably say that’s because everyone else had the sense to throw out the plants that looked like the dog crapped on top of the stem).

But that’s part of the problem, with writing too. Your story might be amazing, but how much room is in the market for a book like yours? Worse, is that book really in the Poo Parade? Our society sort of romanticizes the idea that hard work pays off, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you work really hard, you have a great book and a great idea, but all the hybridizers were crossing romance and sci fi this year and your book is suddenly elbow deep in competition.

So am I insecure? You betcha. I’m one of the seedlings yet to make a bloom and come to my fate (my mother has promised me she’ll ruthlessly destroy the unwanted flowers to make room for the ones she likes). And I feel, increasingly like there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this book.

I’m told nerves are part of the game.

Deep breathes.