Friday, July 30, 2010

Feel Good Friday

I received an email from the fiction editor, Gaynor Davies, at Woman's Weekly. My four-part serial "La Luna" hits the UK newsstands next week (10 August issue) which is exciting enough. But Gaynor also told me that the editor is mentioning my serial in the Editor's Letter that appears on the Contents page! Gaynor didn't tell me what the editor wrote but said "I'm sure you'll be pleased with what she says" and went on to thank me for a "lovely" story.


And then she went on to inquire about the progress of my next serial. Um... I better get to work!

How about you? Any good news or happy feelings you'd like to share?

Friday, July 23, 2010

You have to have a goal. Do you have a goal?

I'm just about breaking my arm from patting myself on the back today. And the reason? I wrote 1000 words today. Now, this normally would not be a huge accomplishment for me. On a good day, I'll knock out 3000 words. But I haven't had many good days lately. In fact, I've barely written a word in six weeks.

I have several reasons (excuses) for this. The primary one is that my kids are home for the summer (seriously, 11 weeks for summer vacation??? Give me the UK system any old day -- 6 weeks!). This is a big problem for me as I am a bit of a prima donna when it comes to my writing time. I need a good hour to faff about before getting my game face on and then I'll write for a solid three or four hours. I cannot do that with the Prince of Dinosaurs and the Drama Queen dancing about. Even sticking a movie on buys me only two hours and that means they're finished just as I'm deep into my zone.

The second is that I'm still querying, which is really breaking me down. I am not patient and I am not an optimist. It is a debilitating process for me.

And the other reason is that I don't have a goal. Strangely enough, it isn't enough that I have an editor ready to cut me a check when I finish my current serial. Without hard dates to work toward, I flounder.

Things have to change.

So here are my goals (because posting them here means I've got witnesses):

  • I am committing to finishing my current serial by August 15.
  • If I finish a second serial by September 1 (and that's a big if), I will use half of that payment to attend a conference this fall.
  • I will get my new WIP underway starting September 1, with the goal of finishing my first draft in November.
This means I need to cut through the paralysis that querying seems to put me in, work out some new writing practices that let me work in less than ideal conditions, and actually start writing again. And I need to get my gameplan together.

So that's where you come in. I'd like to find some crit partners for my new WIP. I know that my first novel suffered for not having the right kind of readers and that is a mistake I will not repeat this time around. So if you or someone you know is interested in forming a new group, please let me know in the comments (or send me an email). This WIP is commercial fiction, although I am comfortable working with writers of other genres. I'm happy to provide some writing samples so we can see if we're suited (obvs, it won't be from the WIP because I haven't written it yet!). I'll be ready to start exchanging chapters in September.

And the next thing, can you recommend some good conferences this fall? Location is not important (I'm in Texas). I'm looking for some exposure to other writers as well as editors and agents, whether through pitch sessions, workshops or informal opportunities. I'm thinking Backspace in NYC in November, but I'm open to any suggestions.

Thanks very much to anyone who can help me out on either of these suggestions. And, bonus points to anyone who can identify which movie my blog post title came from.

And thanks for reading this. I know I've been absent for a while and it feels good to be back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The things we shouldn't do as adults

As a woman of a certain age, contemplating a certain major birthday coming up next year, I'm painfully aware of how things don't work quite the same as they used to.

Like clothes. Honestly, get out of the junior section. Those clothes just aren't made for women with hips.

Like my body. I'm not going to say anything here because it is too depressing that I'm already starting to notice this.

Like recreation and entertainment. Over the weekend, we took our kids to a minor league baseball game with the boy scouts. We were having a great time -- we ate popcorn, we drank $6 beers, the kids tried to catch foul balls. And we were really amused when one of the fathers was asked to participate in the bat race in the middle of the 6th. Do you remember bat races? That's when you stand a bat up on the ground, put your head on the top of it, spin around it ten times, and then try to run in a straight line. All very funny.

So the time came and our man stepped out onto the field in front of a crowd of 6000. He and another man (also of our age group) completed their spins and headed for third. Except our friend veered to the left, fell down and hit the fence in front of the dugout, striking his head on the fence post. The crowd thought this was hilarious. When he rejoined our group, this man was seeing double and his whole left arm was numb and tingling.

We found out today that after they game, they went to the emergency room because he was having major trouble moving. After xrays, a CT scan and an MRI, they diagnosed a fracture of his C6 verterbrae. He will be in a neck brace for the next 6-8 weeks and may be facing surgery. All for a silly bat race.

So note for the future: leave kids' games to the kids.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Can you say 'Genre' with a British accent?

The majority of advice I've seen on how to decide what genre you write in is to look at the shelves in a bookstore or library and see where your book would fit. Generally, I think that's pretty clear advice.

Right up until today. I just got back from the library in the small Scottish town where I am staying on vacation. And the shelving system completely threw me off. Here were the categories for fiction:
  • Family Saga (large sweeping romances and ???)
  • Modern Woman (mostly chick lit, but also narrative memoir, misery memoirs, some romance, some historical -- got a bit confusing)
  • Modern Man (lad lit? Crime, suspense, thriller -- lots of crossover)
  • Crime (duh, yeah, can't get confused here)
  • Adventure (covered both suspense and thrillers)
  • Unknown (this is paranormal and included both fiction and non-fiction)
  • Teen (YA, graphic novels)
  • Sci Fi (this included fantasy)
  • Romance (strictly Mills and Boon, which is the UK version of Harlequin - think small paperback)
  • General Fiction (historical, literary, classics)
I had to ask the librarian how they decided where to put things if it crossed over (such as a YA book about vampires, which incidently were in Unknown, not Teen). She told me that it often came down to who was shelving the book. If there were two copies of a book, they would split them and put one in each area. So something like Michael Crichton would go in both Modern Man and Adventure. Anything they had trouble identifying went into General Fiction (the leftover section, if you will).

Based on these categories, where would you put your book?