Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Week in Review

So it started with me getting Jalapeno in my eye. I was making guacamole and rinsing a jalapeno under the kitchen sink. The jalapeno was so hot, the heat wafted off the pepper in waves and sent me into a coughing fit. And then later that night, even though I had washed my hands several times and taken a shower, the jalapeno oil was still on my fingers and soaked into my contacts. So not only did I burn my cornea Sunday night, but I was stupid Monday morning and burned my cornea again when I tried to put the same contacts back in. My vision was affected and my eye burned for three days! Not fun.

Last Monday I finished my first draft for my MG Fantasy, COLLIDE. I started working on this last fall during a Mediabistro online class with Emilia Rhodes last fall. Took a break with it for six months and picked it back up this past July. I'll probably wait six or eight weeks before I tackle revising the story.

Last Wednesday I must have eaten or touched something and my face blew up from an allergic reaction. It was not fun. I had to cancel work and conk myself out with a couple Benadryl. And when you have such a big allergic reaction, it kicks you in the butt. I was wiped out for three or four days after that--trudging through life like a zombie.

Friday through Sunday I went to an EIGHTEEN HOUR conference for work stuff! 18 hours is a very long time! My bottom was not happy. But there were two shining moments during the weekend. One, I finished reading CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Cassandra Clare. It was such an amazing ending to a six book series I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading. Two, I had an epiphany for a new book idea! The concept is so cool....and...I have no explanation for it....yet. This is the fun part of writing a book--developing the idea and the characters. Who is who? Where is this all taking place? Why? Why? and more Whys? What helps me out the most during this process is talking the concept out with Sarcastically Delicious (aka huzband) or friends.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In Memory of Billie Letts

Billie Letts, 'Where the Heart is' Novelist, Dies at 76

I was saddened to hear of the passing Ms. Letts today. She was one of the first people who encouraged me to pursue my writing dreams.

Rewind back to 2004. I was in grad school, unsure if I was pursuing a career that I was truly passionate about. It was a year that I did a lot of soul searching, and I came to the conclusion that I had abandoned something in college that I had truly loved--writing.

I met Ms. Letts when I was studying for an exam at Books A Million and she was doing a signing for her new novel, Shoot the Moon. I recognized who she was right away because I had read Where the Heart is earlier that year. I watched readers line up with copies of her books (instead of studying) and how she smiled and signed each one. After a few hours the crowd dwindled and I was itching to talk to her. I purchased a copy of her book for her to sign, but what I really wanted was to talk to her about how to become an author.

Let me tell you, I was soooo nervous. But, she was so warm, friendly, and helpful. We talked for a good bit and she told me about literary agents, and how it was important to complete a novel before trying to pursue representation. I was a happy sponge, just soaking up all the information she had to offer. And to top it off, she even offered, whenever I finished writing my novel, that she'd be happy to read it! And then she even told me how to send it to her! I was blown away by her generosity.

I hadn't even written a novel at this point, and yet she was so supportive and encouraging of pursuing my dreams.

We chatted a bit, and then I needed to get back to studying. So I handed her my book, she signed it, and I went back to my study table. I remember I couldn't stop grinning. She had lit a fire of hope inside me. Maybe my writing dreams weren't so crazy after all.

Instead of opening up my study notes, I opened up my copy of Shoot the Moon and saw what Ms. Letts had wrote:

I haven't opened up Shoot the Moon in many years, until I heard of Ms. Letts passing today. And I had totally forgotten that this is what she had signed inside my book.

On one of the blank pages of the novel I had also written notes about what Ms. Letts and I had discussed that day, and I had just happened to write the date that we had talked: July 22, 2004.

Adrian Ranta offered to be my literary agent on July 21, 2014--almost ten years to the day.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Don't Fixate on the Numbers

I announced last week that I signed with an agent.

For years I've read author's posts about How I Got An Agent--and I've always found them inspiring. I'd gobble up every useful piece of information, and try to implement it in my own writing and querying journey. And I couldn't wait until the day that I would get to write my own post about signing with an agent. 

But in most of these How I Got An Agent stories, there were the NUMBERS, and I'd fixate on those NUMBERS. So and so wrote this many books before they got their agent. Or it took so and so only ten queries before they got five offers. Or so and so queried eighty get my point. And even though I knew the numbers didn't really matter, that it really only takes finding one agent who is passionate about your writing--deep down I let the numbers eat at me.

I'd say I was pretty positive the first eight or so years of my journey. But then it got so bad, I couldn't even walk into a book store. I didn't like going to the library. I didn't like watching movies. I stopped tweeting. I wouldn't listen to any new audio books. I hung out with what I'd like to say my comfort books: Harry Potter, Anna and the French Kiss, etc....

Because in my mind, I had put in the numbers. I poured my heart and soul into producing numbers that should have gotten me some kind of step forward in my writing career...something. 

And, yet, nothing was happening for me. 

I can't say exactly how I got out of my funk. I think it was a combination of taking a Mediabistro YA Novel Writing Course with Emilia Rhodes last fall, learning how to knit, and sketching again, and just time....time to change my attitude. And, most importantly, talking to other writers who had been through it. 

Fast forward to July.
I'm reading up on Adriann Ranta's clients.
And then I get to Ron Smith's How I Got An Agent post. And I respected the fact that he didn't get into the numbers of queries, the number of full requests, the number of books he wrote that got him to where he was. We all love stats because we're all curious muffins. But Ron said it best: I have to say what everyone else has said and you’ve heard it a million times: It only takes one Yes.

I tried to make the signing video focus on different type of numbers--the numbers that make a journey worthwhile.

So I guess the purpose of this post is that if I can save just one aspiring writer from the misery I put myself through by fixating on the numbers--I'll consider writing this post a success.