Sunday, November 16, 2014

Edits, unexpectedly not as painful as previous encounters

I've noticed that people don't talk much about the editing process. When I was in academics, editing was absolutely the worst part of the process. People were mean and rude. Every comment was designed to question everything from your writing, to your methods, to your understanding of science in general. It wasn't pleasant.

Someone once called my work an "Unholy Conjugation." 

Yeah. That was constructive feedback. There were worse comments, more hurtful comments, and they went to live somewhere in my mind. So when I waited for my edit letter to arrive, it was more me waiting for the explosion to go off in my heart.

As much as I cared about my science, I care about my novel so much more. I didn't know if I could handle being ripped apart like that again. I expected editing to crack me open and pour out the broken little bits that were left of me. But when the letter came, I was pleasantly surprised. The suggestions: professional. The demeanor: helpful.

I was more than prepared to cry my eyeballs out (I'm a cryer, what can I say), but so far, it has only been things to make my manuscript stronger. I guess things have plenty of time to go straight to hell in a hand basket, but it's already so much better than all my other editing experiences.

In every profession there are parts that aren't the best part. The parts that everyone sort of scowls at, like how shoveling manure is part of owning horses. I was expecting to hate taking the feedback and turning it into something bigger, and that just isn't the case. It's great. I wish I had some more time, but hey, deadlines are something I do too. Also, I'm a writer. The more time a writer has, the more fiddling they're gonna do.


Right, and now it's back to work. And like I said, people don't talk about the editing process, so if you have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. I'll respond by email if you have your account linked, and if not, response in the thread.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG - The Waiting and Worring Never Goes Away

Oh my, another IWSG has snuck up on me and I'm late! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, this is my
birthday week. Cruise on by the Ninja Pirate Cave and thank our host Alex and this month's co-hosts LG Keltner, Donna Hole, Lisa Buie-Collard and SL Hennessy!
So what am I feeling insecure about this month? Waiting. Specifically, that the waiting and worrying NEVER GOES AWAY. At every step of the publishing process there's waiting. You could grow old waiting in publishing.

At the query stage, you wait for a reply. If it's early in the query stage, you wait and wait, and then the rejection comes. Later in the query stage* you wait for a reply, get a partial request, send it back out then wait for a response. Then, if things are going well, it gets bumped up to a full. Then guess what happens? If you answered "I take a drink," you're my kind of writer.

The thing that's hard to see from the query trenches is that the waiting doesn't magically end after you're done querying agents. And worse, the worrying doesn't go away either. After you have the book deal or the agent, the worrying cranks in to crazyland. I don't know about everyone else, but when I query, there's a hope that it'll work out. I dream about it going well, but it's pretty abstract. Once there's a contract in hand, the Sagittarius gets real.

As in, before, in the querying stage, that was just warm up, because holy Scorpio, the Sagittarius is on fire and I don't know what the Capricorn I was thinking when I was worried about those queries.

Yeah, I had that moment.

It wasn't pretty.

Worse, it was a really big wake up call that everything every writer with a contract in hand had said was true. It's crazy when you're playing for keeps. Did I vary my sentence structure enough? Do I use the right peel when talking about bananas? Did I boil my characters down too much and make all my prose lifeless, tasteless drivel that sounds like something Ben Stein would read in an out take for the Ferris Bueller's Day Off extended, special edition DVD?

Right, deep breaths.

So, while I didn't like the idea that the people who came before were totally on to something, and that maybe the waiting would magically resolve itself, NOPE. I am not the exception. The process is going for me exactly how it went for all those before me (great, I can't even be unique in my meltdowns???!!!).






 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Brief Retrospective

My birthday is right around here somewhere, and I have to admit, this last year has been pretty interesting. I've had successes and failures. I've written books, moved my family, and things are...

Well, this is publishing, so things are about where they were last year. Some prospects faded, some bloomed. I guess that's the way life goes. So on to the recap.

My [age redacted for public safety reasons]th year in a nut shell:

The big thing was selling my first book. That was definitely a highlight. I also had my first full request (prior to that), and I'm not gonna lie, I spent a somewhat embarrassingly long time in the query trenches before I got a full request. 

Close calls left and right. I've never had so many close calls in and out of publishing. It was the year I was *this* close.

And then there was my first full request ever. I'm not gonna lie, it was sort of embarrassing how I'd never had a full request prior to the one I got this last year. I really felt like I should have managed to get someone's interest up earlier, but up until that point I'd had a handful of partials. It was quickly followed by more requests, a very gratifying response.

I've had a new IRL job, and while that's been a big bonus to things like steady pay, it's been rough pounding out the words (I'm a whopping 500 words into NaNo, but I already knew I wouldn't be able to write the whole pinata in one sitting, but more on that later).

I've had some success from an unlikely protagonist: a gnome hunting dog.

I grew my first giant pumpkin.

All in all, not a bad [age redacted for public safety]th year.

NEXT!
Okay, so it's not very giant. Still, I grew it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Misleading Nature of Numbers



Last year, about this time, I crossed the one million word mark for words. It’s a number I’m pretty proud of because it’s concrete. But let’s face it, numbers can be misleading.

There’s this 10,000 hour rule. Specifically, there was a study that said you need 10,000 hours of experience in something before you’re an expert at something.

I’m not gonna lie, but when I heard the 10,000 hour rule, I sort of assumed I already had that down. Just the amount of time it takes to type a million words seemed, off the top of my head, to be enough to qualify. Which of course led me to the land of numbers.

I type at approximately 60 words per minute. I have written over a million words. This is easy math. If all of those words flowed out just as fast as I could write them, then I spent ~17,000 minutes typing.

I admit, that’s not nearly as long as I thought it would be. It seems like it should have been MUCH longer. But, these are numbers, so I followed them down the rabbit hole.

17,000 minutes is just under 300 hours.

Not even a thousand hours of typing went into my books.

So yeah, with NaNo approaching, and me feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the working and what not, I think that’s a bit of an eye opener. In fact, if we knew exactly how the story went and were just taking dictation, a book could be written in just fourteen hours of typing.

0.0

I mean no novel to NOVEL in one really long day of typing?? CRAZY.

So yeah, as you’re sitting around thinking about the monumental task of going all NaNo, just remember, it’s really only something like two regular work days worth of typing to log a Novel. No big.*

And for the record, I’m not saying it’s easy, but you know, those numbers should make the task seem doable. Also, if you’re one of those people who actually write at your top typing speed, you could make the NaNo deadline by typing just thirty minutes a day for a month. How awesome is that?

If you weren’t able to put it together, I’m thinking about NaNoing this year… I haven’t decided yet. There are some other factors to look into, but I’m trying to psych myself up for it (can you tell?).




*And by No Big, I mean bigBIGdeal. Writing a novel is really hard, these numbers are really for word vomit, but I sometimes think it’s good to look at numbers to see what they can tell us. Novels are like marathons. Still, I was totally shocked at how little time is invested into the actual typing of words.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I think this might be one of my favorite parts of blogging...

... hosting cover reveals! I love seeing books go from manuscript to real book, so today it's my pleasure to show off Mara Valderran's cover. So gorgeous!



Today is the cover reveal for Altar of Reality, the first book from Shifted Realities--a brand new series by Mara Valderran. This YA dystopian is set to be released January 31st, 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press. Mark your calendars, and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads list! Want to stay up to date on all things Altar of RealitySign up for Mara's newsletter so you don't miss a thing!

And now...the moment Mara's we've all been waiting for...


When sixteen-year-old Madeline suffers her first grand mal seizure, she finds herself in an unfamiliar reality, surrounded by strangers wearing familiar faces. Her best friend, Brandon, tells her that the world has fallen to chaos, the aftermath of World War III ten years ago. Madeline doesn’t remember anything from this life— especially not the explosion four years ago that killed her parents and landed her in a coma, or the Lord Commander; a zealot leader of the Southern Territories now searching for her.

Madeline barely has time to process everything before waking up to the life she’s always known. As soon as she dismisses it all as a strange and vivid dream, she finds herself back there once more. Unsure if she’s truly caught in the middle of a brewing rebellion, or teetering on the brink of insanity, she finds herself flipping between the two lives. Her heart becomes torn between two versions of the same boy and the lines between her realities begin to blur as she struggles to save her lives in both worlds.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she's more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Find Mara Online: 

Be sure to check out the Heirs of War, Crown of Flames blog tour going on right now! There are excerpts, interviews, a giveaway, and more. You can find the tour calendar here.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thoughts on Being Gracious

I did something crazy this last weekend.

I love shoes.

I love dancing.

I LOVE dancing shoes.

So I thought it might be awesome to go to Boogie By the Bay. If you ever have the opportunity, go. Just getting to watch the other dancers is well worth the price of admission, and the pros who compete there make it easily some of the best dancing I've ever seen. EVER. And I've been to a number of impressive ballets live, so that's actually saying something.

I watched competitions, and they were incredible. The dancing, the costumes, the music (though there really was a propensity to dance to Bastille's Pompeii), it was unbelievably good. But when I ran into one of the dancer's after her competition and said "That was great! You danced beautifully!" she blinked at me, tears in her eyes and hugged me.

She said "Thank you so much. I didn't dance as well as I could have."

It shocked me. She'd done things I couldn't even dream of doing. She was magnificent. She was better than I will ever be. Her 'didn't dance as well as I could have' was so many leagues above where I'll ever dance, that it sort of hurt.

Literally, there are not enough years left for me to dedicate to family, job, writing, and dancing to ever get to where she was on a bad day. EVER.

It caught me up a little short. Not because I saw a moment of my mortality in her incredible dance that was "not as well as I could have," but because it was possibly the worst thing to say. Her dance touched me. It gave new meaning to the song she danced it to, and I'll never forget the place she took the dance and the song and me in that moment.

But to hear that it wasn't her best sort of--okay, I'll fess up, it Hurt.

She gave me her art. It had an impact on me. And then--after I screwed up my courage to approach this beautiful, vivacious dancer, a woman put on this Earth to Dance--she told me it wasn't her best.

I understood something else in that moment: just because you are the artist does not mean you have a clue how your art will touch people.

Without a doubt, I could have lived my whole life without knowing that her routine that brought me to tears (yeah, I'm a crier, maybe people shouldn't be proud of the waterworks I give them) wasn't her absolute top performance.

But that was just one more gift she gave me. She showed me how I should always treat people who see something beautiful in the art I create.

Her response should have been: Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love to dance.

At the end of that exchange, there could be a brief exchange about an upcoming piece. In writing, it would be to direct the reader to the sequel, or other work by the writer (or other work that was similar by another writer).

That wasn't the moment to confess that the performance of something was shaky. She'd already touched my heart. There was no greater place she could have taken me by confessing that it could have been better. In fact, the admission that it wasn't her best cheapened the moment, as if by being touched by the lesser performance, it was some sort of degradation of my ability to discern good dancing from bad.

Yes, this is all in my head. Yes, it is quite possible that she could have danced better. Yes, my dance experience is small enough to be suspicious as a judge. But I know what I like, and I know when something speaks to my soul and not the bean counter that can tell if the steps were all in perfect alignment.

Her performance was more than enough to take me to somewhere else. I didn't need to hear about her insecurities. I understand that she had them. I understand that it was amazingly hard work to put the routine together. Trust me, I get that part.

But what I didn't need to know was that she was dissapointed in the performance that I found so much meaning in.

It's okay to have insecurities. It's okay to talk about how hard you worked on something. It's okay to be disappointed, but it's not okay to greet someone who is praising your words with regret and insecurity.

I get that writing and dancing are different. I understand that on a visceral level. But the thing to do is to swallow your pride and realize that the performance that is given, be it novel or dance or painting or anything where the goal is to touch someone else's heart, is the best that you could make at that moment. Maybe the floor was slippery--we get that. Maybe your editor wasn't what you'd hoped--we get that. What your fans are trying to say was that your work was amazing to them and they don't care how amazing it could have been. The people who come to you after they've experienced your art are saying they loved the art Just The Way It Is.

Accept that.

Own that.

And after they've taken their deep breaths and screwed up their courage to even make eye contact with you (Yes, I mean you, because everyone who reads this blog, whether you mean to or not, intimidates the crap out of someone else), they deserve the respect that you can give to the moment they have had. Once they tell you about how you touched their heart, it's no longer about you the creator: it's about those who have interacted with your art.

Be gracious. Your art has just done the thing you've always hoped it would: you have touched someone's life. Be thankful, not everyone manages to achieve the One Thing they have always tried to do with your art. Be sure to say thank you. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

I know, it would look great in a beautiful cover



It's been a while since I put a smokin hot cover up on my blog, and lucky for you all, I've got one to show off! Behold!




 



A world like ours, but filled with gears of brass, where the beating heart is fueled by steam and the simplest creation is a complex clockwork device.  

Within this tome, you’ll find steampunk fairy tale re-tellings, as well as original stories that will send your gears turning.  

Welcome to the steampunk realm, with eleven authors guiding your path. 
GEARS OF BRASS is a steampunk anthology published through Curiosity Quills.  It will be available for purchase on November 10, 2014.  Within the pages, you’ll come across clockwork inventions and steampunk-ified fairy tale retellings.  Eleven authors will guide you through worlds filled with airships, top hats, and corsets.  

Meet the authors:

Jordan Elizabeth writes young adult fantasy for Curiosity Quills, including ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW which was published in October and the upcoming TREASURE DARKLY; she’s represented by the Belcastro Agency.

J. Million is the author of Last of the Giants and can always be found reading or writing. 

Lorna MacDonald Czarnota is a professional storyteller and author of several books including, Medieval Tales That Kids Can Read and Tell, Breadline Blue, Legends Lore and Secrets of Western New York, Wicked Niagara, Native American and Pioneer Sites of Upstate New York, and Dancing at the Crossroads: Stories and Activities for At-Risk Youth Programming.

SA Larsen is represented by Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary and is the author of published short stories, community-interest stories, and magazine articles focused on children. 

Grant Eagar is an Engineer who would take the tales he told his children at bed time, and transform them into fantasy stories. 

Clare Weze is the author of The House of Ash (forthcoming) and the co-author and editor of Cloudscapes over the Lune.

Eliza Tilton: gamer, writer and lover of dark chocolate; author of the YA Fantasy, BROKEN FOREST, published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Heather Talty's stories have been featured in Enchanted Conversation, as well as her own fractured fairy tale site, Mythopoetical (www.Beatrixcottonpants.com).

W.K. Pomeroy is a third generation writer who has published more than 70 short stories/articles/poems across many genres and styles, which now includes Steampunk.

Christine Baker is the author of Lana's End, The Guild of Dagda, and many more. 

Natalia Darcy: a bookilicious reader, tea drinker and Zumba aficionado who enjoys playing cards against humanity and washing her hair with ice cold water. 



You can get your steampunk fix before GEARS OF BRASS is released in November.  To enter for your chance to win a copy of GEARS OF BRASS, you will need to share the cover.  This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper to record it.  It will give you more chances to win.  The drawing for the winner will be held on October 27th.