Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 208 - Can't Query my Dedication!

When I was in university, I would regularly pull all-nighters to play video games, dance, read books, study or just because it was a nice night and who could sleep? But working full-time with an exuberant toddler has taken its toll and I find myself crawling into bed most nights around midnight with a relieved sigh.

But not last night! Last night I researched, wrote and sent a query letter!

I actually feel better about this one than I did the last one. I gave the manuscript a couple of tweaks, which I think improved it, and the agent had very specific guidelines so I knew exactly what I had to do. After I'd finished, I took a deep breath, checked it one more time and hit send.

Five minutes later I had an email back! But before I could get too excited about getting the quickest agent response in was an out-of-office autoreply email. ^_^

Still, I know these things can take weeks and weeks, so I'll put it out of my mind for now and go on with my other projects. The main problem I'm having is that I'm working on a Regency romance, but my SF Space Opera keeps beckoning me to come back and do a second draft. Leave me alone, space pirates! Can't you see Lady So-and-So is about to go into her confinement? Stupid space pirates.

And I'll apologise for the dad joke in the title. All work and no sleep makes Julia something something...

Word count - 1,030

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 207 - All the Wonders of the Universe

We live in a time of seeming unlimited possibility. The more I hang around writing blogs, the more I realise there are chances by the bucketfull to get your novel out there, to get it seen by the shining editor/agent/publisher of your dreams who will rescue it from the slush pile, throw it over their metaphorical steed and ride off with it into the publishing sunset.

If you want to help someone out at the same time as helping yourself get ahead, Operation Auction 2011 is raising money for a woman widowed in tragic circumstances by auctioning off signed books, advertising space and critiques of your work by agents and editors. You can also get your work ripped apart (in the nicest possible way) to help Japan with earthquake recovery - here for genre fiction, and here for kid-lit/YA.

On the other side of the wall, if you write historical fiction Irene Goodwin, of the eponymous literary agency, wants to hear your pitch. Authoress at Miss Snark's First Victim holds regular competitions that result in partial and complete requests from agents. And Savvy Authors has pitch days for different agents which look brilliant.

With pitching opportunities in particular, it's easy to get SO excited about a particular opportunity that you decide the jump the gun. To send your novel in as-is and hope for the best. My YA romance SF (oh, I need a shorthand for that) was not ready on the weekend, but I was oh so very tempted to just pitch it regardless. After all, how bad could it be?

The problem is that once an agent has seen your MS, it's going to be harder to get them to look at it a second time. They already took a chance on you once, spent their time and energy looking over your stuff and it wasn't up to scratch.

My mantra for the week is this - Finish it. Polish it. Sub it. In that order, dammit.

Word count - 1,320

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 206 - Official Romance Writers of Australia 5DI Participant!

I believe the universe works on balance, and so I was looking forward to some good news while I lay around the house wishing my belly didn't feel like it had just been cut open and organs removed. I would have been happy with a $20 lotto win, but what I got was even better.

I made it into the 5DI!

As one of 12 lucky people selected to be in the 5 Day Intensive Manuscript Development Workshop I get to go to Queensland and have Sophia James tell me exactly what I'm doing wrong for an hour a day! I seriously feel like the luckiest girl alive ^_^

The thing I'm worried about now is the opening night novel report. Specifically, I'm worried I'm going to shriek like a banshee when I'm told my dialogue is stilted, declare passionately that I'm never going to make it is a writer and go throw myself on my bed for a good cry. I know the whole point is honest, thorough feedback, and I know I'd be disappointed if she pulled her punches, but I used to be a bit of a wuss when it came to even the slightest criticism so I'm worried I'll let myself down.

I guess I'm worried I'll regress to a teenager without a toddler around reminding me I'm an adult now! :-)

Nevertheless, I'm so terribly excited. Anyone else had any good news?

Word count - 0 (but I got to watch Wrong Side of Town "starring" Rob Van Dam and Battista - yay!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 205 - 16 Lighthouse Road by Debbie Macomber

I found this book really weird and certainly not what I was expecting. It follows the love lives of several women linked by circumstance and friendship in an idyllic medium-sized community. It starts when Cecilia, who is trying to get a divorce after less than a year following the death of her baby, is told by the presiding judge that she will have to go to a hearing, and in the meantime they should try mediation. The Judge, Olivia, is falling in love with the local newspaper editor, a newcomer with a shaded past, while her daughter Justine dates a creepy older man and pretends not to be love with (oh I love you so much!) Seth just to spite the whole dammned world and their obsession with family.

On the positive side, Macomber's characterisation is beautiful. I really fell in love with several of her characters, especially the uncomplicated Seth and the haunted Cecilia. No one was exactly as you expected, and the same went with the plots - in particular the plot line involving Olivia's friend Grace, which was really well handled. The pacing was something I had to get used to. The plot didn't move in a linear progression, it was more a meandering stroll through a park than an action-packed motorway.

But what really bugged me was the constant use of passive voice. Now, I don't mind some "telling". It gives writing a feel of oral tradition, you sit down there and I'll tell you how she felt, acted, what she thought etcetera. But really parts of the writing were so text-book bad in terms of passive voice that I just burst out laughing.

It was obvious that the writer was very conservative, but honestly most romances are. Marriage is THE goal, regardless of whether you think it is or not, and divorce is not for 35 years of unhappiness, only for 6 months of desertion. (Sorry, I get a little bitter thinking about that plot line.) However it doesn't really ram your face in it, it's more just a story about people with conservative views.

This book is like a warm cup of home-made cocoa on a cold, grey day. For technique you'd probably do better going to a cafe, but that doesn't change the fact that it's warm, sweet and really, really comforting.

Word count - 0 (but I have made friends with almost all the villagers in Old Bowerstone)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Days 188 to 204 - Gah! My Internal Organs!!

Have I been blogging lately? No.
Have I been writing lately? No.
Have I been on a lot of drugs? You betcha!

Last Wednesday night I went into the hospital waiting room at 5.30 with SEVERE abdominal cramping. I was in bucket-loads of pain. By 9.30 I had morphine (ahhh....), by midnight I had a hospital bed and by Friday I had no appendix.

I've spent the last week slowly recovering and wishing I was back in hospital where all I had to do was sleep and keep taking injections. In hospital, the lovely nurses kept all the cats in the world from jumping on my stomach (to be fair, I only have to worry about one at home, but that's still one too many when you're talking about surgery wounds) and my toddler was too short to jump on the bed in the morning and yell "Hi Mummy! You're all better now!" and throw himself on me.

But aside from my loved ones and pets trying to kill me, I'm actually a lot better now. I did try doing a bit of writing in hospital, but I was groggy and in a lot of pain, and it didn't work out well.

I am going to get back into the habit of every day - it was good for my writing because I hated having to write 0 next to word count when I'd been lazy!

Word count - 1,149

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Days 185 to 187 - The Other End of the Rainbow

Kiersten over at Kiersten Writes has put up an excellent post about the processes you have to go through to be published - or should that be Published? She says she queried 50 agents to finally get one, and then went on to write three more books in the time it took that agented book to be ignored.

It really puts my one little rejection in perspective. ^_^

I had to think a minute about whether I was writing to be published, or wanted to be published because I loved writing. I had to think because I didn't understand the question. Finishing a novel was hard enough loving writing - how the heck could you do it if it wasn't a labour of love?

I want to write for a living because I have, at present, 15 books I want to write, and I have time for perhaps 2 a year working full-time. Oh, the wonderous brilliance of being able to write ALL DAY! My editing wouldn't be piled up 1 and a half books deep. I could finish my current draft in weeks, not months. *blissful sigh*

So, if you're reading this, what make you want to be published? Or do you at all? Is it enough to sit on your manuscripts, warm in the knowledge that you're awesome?

Word Count - 1,410

Monday, March 7, 2011

Days 175 - 184 Too busy for words

Quite literally things have been far too busy for writing. I'm doing a Masters at present and I'm really behind on my reading, I've had job applications to do and I've still got my baby to take care of.

I just got a rejection notice for one of my submissions. It was expected, but it still hurts a little. Like when you know the boy you like doesn't like you, not like that, but you still can't help but get your hopes up when you ask him out.

I think what I need is a little more organisation and routine. I'll have to work on that.

Word count - 0