Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New computer, or Reset all your passwords

Yeah, so, my computer decided that it was going to take a nose dive. It was dropping data, randomly turning off, constantly eating the days work, and doing it in such a way that I thought I was going insane. Afterall, I haven't been sleeping well, I'm under a wild amount of stress, and let's just say, things have been hard on me.

And then work started disappearing from my WIP.

A few pages here. A few paragraphs there. Nothing really obvious, but always the "I thought I wrote something more here."

Well, it was my hard drive, and before it went one hundred percent to the dark side of the force, I bought a new computer. All of this to say, if I haven't responded in the last few days, it's not cause I hate you or I forgot you, but that I'm in the slow process of resetting all the passwords to everything because I can never remember them anymore. The joys of having fifteen different passwords for home and 12 (12!!!) for work.

Right, well, back to installations for me!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

When you check and your name isn't on the list

Right, so there you are. You entered a contest, and now, the world has moved on and you didn’t get to the coveted agent round.

I feel for you.

I feel for you because I’ve been in your shoes. And what makes it harder is that sometimes those people go on to getting agents, and you feel like that could have been you.

It’s hard to be objective at this moment in life because you just received a blow. When you get cut from something, it feels like you were attacked. It feels like someone took your dream out of your heart and used it to park a tractor on. When I was rejected, I’d always feel like the world had just spit me out and keep on going.

I felt worthless.

I felt like a crappy writer regardless of what anyone else said.

I hated feeling so disregarded, because I felt like I was ready. I was ready for the big leagues. This is what I’d tell myself. I’d watch those contests trying to feel supportive of my friends and CPs, but in truth, I often had a sick green monster on my shoulder.

I know there is nothing I can tell you that will make it better, but I’m a writer and by default, I believe the impossible is merely difficult.

Publishing, the business side of writing, makes no logical sense. It just doesn’t. So when you get a rejection and you can’t figure out why a manuscript you feel is inferior gets the big agent and a contract in three days, it’s not what you think. Sometimes people win the lottery, but you don’t see them doubting their self worth when they don’t win the jackpot.

But with writing we do. It’s bizarre, but it’s part of writing. And maybe, just maybe, there is something that could be made more perfect about your manuscript. Or maybe your writing is Ah-May-Zing, but your story is a portal with a pretty typical other world. No matter how much I love those, no one is buying them in publishing, and that trickles down the castle walls.

Chin up. Write more. One thing about publishing: when you do get your break, the first thing they are going to ask you is “What else do you have?” Be sure you have something else, so get back to writing, even if your heart is feeling a bit broken.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Insecure, but keeping our heads up

It's another installment of Insecure Writer's Support Group! Jump on over and say Hi to the Ninja Captain, Alex, and be sure to swing by the co-hosts, Allison Gammons, Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend, and say Hi! 

This month, I think it might be good to acknowledge that the writing journey is hard. I know, duh, Rena, we get that it's hard. There's a whole support group for it!

But it's true it can be hard.

And it can be amazing. This might be one of the hardest professions to try to be part of--the internship is a bit rough--but it's amazing. We writers create amazing things. We take people and we transport them to other worlds, other lives--we create within the people who read our works a sense of connectedness with the world around them.

I mean, wow. Step back for a minute and take that in. If you're writing, if you've written, you've already accomplished so much.

Yeah, the business is hard. Didn't get a request. Didn't hear back. Beta readers weren't kind to you. Reviews were terrible (like for real, yo, what is the deal with some reviewers?). But they aren't writing. Those things are a side effect of writing. They are the Con trail after your plane of awesome flies by. The bad parts of writing are the blisters and bruises you get when you play soccer (or football if you're from any country besides the US). 

But even with the bad bits, the bits that make us wring our hands and worry and fret, Writing is amazing.  We've all seen this meme, but it's true for everything, not just ballet. Writing is hard, but it is amazing.

Get back out there and write people.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Home Stretch: the Road to Published

If you’ve been following parts I, II, III, and IV, you’ve probably guessed that this book took a long time to become a book, and boy, you’d be right.

I had given up on my book not once, but twice, and I’d started querying another book. It’s complicated because when you start querying one book you have to make a choice agents or publishers. You don’t do both. So I started sending my new novel out into the world of agents, and things were different. I got partials and fulls and my book did well in contests. It was all very exciting.

That is, things were very exciting up until the point when they were painfully “not right for our needs at this time.”

Yeah, rejection sucks, but it’s part of the process. For this new novel, I started getting personalized feedback, concrete bits I could actually work with. Unsure how to apply them to my current novel, I practiced that feedback on my old novel, the one in the trunk. Then, I saw a contestif there’s one thing you should know, it’s that I have a weak spot for contests. But this contest wasn’t the usual query contest for agents, it was aimed at publishers only. My current query bait was already out in the world with agents, and I didn’t want to query both agents and editors with my book. That would be rude. But I did have that other novel and thanks to the feedback, I had a good idea what might be wrong with my novel. I edited Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon and put it in the contest.

And something happened that hadn’t happened before: someone from the publishing world, an editor, loved my book. It was such a moment of validation to have someone other than close friends and family say they loved my work. They were enthusiastic and hopeful.

And then I got a second offer.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to make up your mind, but it ain’t easy. I talked to all the people I knew who had published with small publishers and with the publishers I was considering. To be truthful, I had already researched one of the publishers, Curiosity Quills, and they were the reason I had entered the contest in the first place. I had been hoping they would notice me, and they did. I was over the moon.

And that, as they say is that.

I know it’s pretty normal to talk about these things, but if you saw something about my path to publishing that you’re curious about, feel free to ask. From my rather longwinded story here, it should be obvious I love talking about myself and my process.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Entertaining bits on the Hugos

Right, so I’ve been in a friendly vote war on a list with my writer buddy @Michelle4Laughs over a list on Listopia keeping track of books eligible to the Hugo awards in 2016. And I’ve received a number of questions about the Hugos and the list, and no, being on it in no way guarantees a nomination. In fact, the likelihood of my book getting nominated is exceptionally slimbut as with all fun things on the internetthere is a slim possibility.

So, the Hugos

Entertainingly, the Hugos are currently a popularity contest where one can BUY the right to vote for not only the nominations, but also the award. In fact, it’s such a scattergun system, that last year, a very small group of people all threw their votes one way and got a whole slate of stories nominated for Hugos, stories that might not have otherwise made it.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons, it literally means that a couple dozen people voting in concert could change the fate of the whole Hugos one of the biggest awards in science fiction and fantasy. In short, it’s slim that a nomination is coming my way, but a concerted effort could, in fact, make it a realityunlikely as it may be, as happened last year.

I said currently because the Hugos, of all the awards, is a rapidly changing target. It takes two years to change how the voting will be done, and after last year’s debacleand last year was a debaclevoting is likely to change next year. Another entertaining fact: you have until January 31st to become a voting member of the Hugos! 

So what does this list mean?

Nothing. It means nothing. It’s a voting member’s list modeled after another list, and it does more to collect books than it does to help people connect to them.

That being said, I’m still trying to beat out Michelle Hauck’s Grudging on this list, because, you know, competitive streak!

For the curious, you can find the list here. As of this writing, I’m number 68, so all first page.And again, if you want to buy a vote and nominate my book for the Hugos (voting member is the supporting membership), I wouldn't stop you there either.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On the road again: Part IV of the road to publishing

This is part IV of All Roads Lead to Publishing (maybe). Part I, Part II, and Part III

There I was, part of the blog hop that felt like winning the lottery just to get on the ticket. Everyone was twitterpated about the contest, and by that I mean all the judges were on twitter. I joined twitter on the spot, following their every tweet, but that wasn’t enough to quell my obsession of Who Was Going To Be Picked. I read through every tweet hint, then I read through them all again. Then I read every entry on the whole list, all 200 of them.

When people tell me they have a hard time with writing queries, I tell them to go read as many query contest entries as possible. It definitely helps you get a feel for query writing. The good ones are clear and have a sort of pep to them. The bad ones are awkward and hard to read. I only mention this as part of my road to publishing because this moment, more than any other, was a major marker in my writing. I learned so much just by reading through all the other queries.

But, as had always happened to me, up until that point, other people were getting picked. I quietly sat on the sidelines encouraging my friends, but it was looking pretty grim. I made peace with not getting picked: I had already won because I'd learned so much, and I knew there was a ton of work left on my novel.

Then the unthinkable happened: my story was picked as an alternate by Monica!

I jumped and did the happy dance and laughed because someone else finally said they had seen something in my writing, something that was worthwhile. It was amazing to hear that from someone who wasn't my mother. As part of the contest, she edited my first page and it was a miracle. It was amazing. I'd already learned so much from that contest, and now I had personalized feedback on my writing. Hint: good editing makes you sound more like you. Bad editing makes you sound more like your editor. In the case of Monica, she was a great editor. Her suggestions helped me get the writing out of the way of the story, a gift of craft I have carried through every novel since.

Things went live, and... crickets. I did get a lonely partial request, but nothing like the other amazing writers who were making everything look flawless and amazing. (bonus hint: Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s; your journey is as unique as you are so don’t get caught up in the “I GOT AN AGENT IN TWO DAYS” hype).

So I started querying the old fashioned way. I got requests here and there, more than previously, but they all ended in no. Sorry, but no. Your writing is great, but it’s me. The story isn’t quite what’s selling now, or my personal favorite “Your pages made me laugh a couple times, but ultimately the story didn’t grab me.” I took all of those rejections and I gave them a home in my heart next to where this novel lived, andsad to be sureI moved on to the next story, because I’m a writer and that’s what you do. It’s not about one book. It’s about all the books. It’s the next book. It’s the book after that, and if this wasn’t going to be The One, then I was going to put my best foot forward with my next book.

That’s right, I gave up on this novel not once but twice. On the other hand, I still had a lot to learn. And I’ll be talking about that next time.