Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remain Open to Change - Dwell in Possibility

Short post on one of the most important elements of the creative process: remaining open to change.

Example: I began writing my current novel last month. I had the title first, which for me, is how I roll. I'm not prepared to spill the beans on the title yet, but I will say it's similar to THE SECRET KEEPER in that the title tells the power of the main character. However, last week as I was writing, I was trying to find another character who could also have a power, since that's what I thought "should" happen. When I couldn't come up with someone else having a power, I thought, maybe none of them should, and the book should be straight YA rather than YA Fantasy. So... I took the power away from the mc.

And then today happened.

As I was writing, the mc stole my pen (i.e., keyboard) and began telling about her power and how it works and how it doesn't work and I realized maybe this is the way the book is supposed to be after all! How confusing this writing game can be. And how beautiful the notion of creating something from nothing.

Have you had similar experiences with your writing - when you thought something was "supposed" to go a certain way only to find you were terrifically wrong? I'd love to hear about it. ;-)

I feel I'm in "change" mode. I'm looking for a new background for my blog (don't be surprised if I have a new look the next time you stop by), I've moved the furniture around in my bedroom, and I have that anxious-butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that something's coming, I don't know what it is, but it is gonna be great... Life. Possibility. Exciting.

As Emily Dickinson says, "Dwell in Possibility."

Monday, February 22, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Revelations

Is it just me, or are SUBLIMINAL MONDAYS arriving at warped speed these days? I'm fairly certain someone has messed with the fragile space/time continuum, and I'm not pleased. The reason this angers me is because, although it may not look like it, these posts do not write themselves. [In fact, small elves from Greenland write them, but I'll save that for another time.]

So, my friends, guess what? I'm back to work on a new story. [Sheesh, does this writing crap never end?] Awesome Agent is currently reading Draft #3, and I'm going crazy not editing. Therefore, TADA! new book to the rescue.

As I was writing this week, I had a mind-bending revelation: There may not be "magic" in this wip, and I mean that literally. I would've bet money that the follow-up to my first YA novel would also have a magical element, but guess what? I would've been wrong. [I'm sorry, are you snoring? RUDE!] So, what is my new book about you ask? It's about teenagers without special powers, other than their usual bitchiness, know-it-all-ness, laziness, sex-craziness, etc. that teens excel at. [I'm sorry, did I say, "teens?" I meant,"I."] Even though I'm only 4,200 words in, I'm already in love with my characters. They're fun, quirky, bossy, interesting, and conflict-ridden. And a few are just plain train-wreckish. [Like Tiger Woods or Sarah Palin. Or maybe Tiger Woods and Sarah Palin. Ohmygod, could she have been one of his gazillion mistresses? Holy Lipstick-On-a-Pig, Batman, I didn't think it was possible for my opinion of Tiger to tank any lower!]

Like many writers, I translate the drama I see in real life into fiction. I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a gaggle of teens. [Yes, they're called a "gaggle." Google "gaggle" if you don't believe me... Okay, fine. I made it up. I just wanted to say google gaggle.] Of course, I cut out about 99% of the bad words they use, because, really, who wants to read a book with the "eff word" in every sentence? [Larry Flint, Howard Stern, and David Duchovny, to name a few.]

And, don't faint, but I had another revelation this week. [Must be the extra chocolate I've been strategically adding to my diet.] I realized writing is akin to Olympic sports. Yup, you heard me right folks. Like Olympic athletes, we writers rise early in the morning [afternoon], exercise [Twitter, solitaire] and GET OUR GAME ON! [Write a chapter or two and take a nap.] Sometimes we even fall down [roll out of bed for a snack] leaving random body parts [words, sentences, entire chapters] strewn about, and get up and do it all over again the next day. In fact - and you can quote me on this - the stress we writers face far surpasses that of Olympic athletes. Why? Because they only do it once every four years, while we writers sometimes write four books in ONE year. You do the math. [You hate math? Fine, I'll do it for you. 4x4=16. You're welcome.] Like gold medalist Shaun White would say, "I'm so stoked, dude, cuz like, WRITERS ARE TOTALLY RAD!"

So, as you continue to watch world-class, Olympic athletes skiing, skating, bobsledding, or whatever-the-heck it is they do on the international stage this week, remember to give credit where credit is due: to the writers. After all, it is we who work our arses off [sit on our arses while we work] and it is we who never sleep [not counting night time and mandatory afternoon naps].

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY question: What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport? My fave is Figure Skating. [Will forever be in love with Torvill and Dean.]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BBB & DLS in NYC

Okay, folks, I've edited a bit and tried to make this VLOG as intriguing as possible. May I present me and Awesome Agent (the incredible Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Baker's Mark Literary Agency) in NYC. Let me know what you think!



Sorry about the darkness and the background noise. Steven Spielberg has nothing to fear from me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Meeting Awesome Agent - The Ballad of B & D

I bet you're wondering how my meeting with Awesome Agent aka Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Baker's Mark Literary went? [You're not? Fine. Be that way. I have no feelings.] It wasn't easy, people, let me tell you: It. Was. Not. Easy.

First of all, she was supposed to fly in on the Red Eye Tuesday night, but, guess what? The East Coast got slammed with the biggest storm in like a bazillion years. [That's not an exaggeration. It was a bazillion and three years since the last storm this big hit Philly, Baltimore, & DC. Google it if you don't believe me.] So.... plane canceled.

Tears streamed down my face at warped speed for the next 24 hours until, VWALAH - Wednesday night Red Eye took flight! Yes, Maribelle, there is a God and her name is jetBlue. [I've no idea who Maribelle is, and if God existed, which I'm not completely convinced she does, her name would most definitely NOT be jetBlue. It would probably be something like Sasha or Ariella or Alexandra or Sasha Ariella Alexandra. You know, something with beauty, elegance, a little oomph.] Alas, my tears dried up like the Sahara after a wicked rainstorm, and joy began to creep back into the soft, slight creases on my face. [Okay, they're craters. Whatev.] Awesome Agent managed to fly 3,000 miles into the City Of My Birth, and now it was my mission to travel a mere 94 miles from Philly to NYC. No big woop, right? WRONG! In my humble town, we received 20 inches of snow atop the previous 15 inches that was dumped on us only four days prior. Three freaking feet of snow, people, three freaking feet of snow. So, guess what?

1) Honey plowed our driveway with our super-duper snow-blower for three hours and we still couldn't get a car out.

2) I couldn't get a cab to the train station.

3) Most of the trains were either not running, or seriously delayed.

So, AA was in NYC and I was, once again, crying at home in Philly. [Do you feel bad for me? Cuz you should definitely feel bad for me. Heck, even I feel bad for myself! This story is a real tear-jerker.] I was supposed to have dinner with AA, but I couldn't even get to my mailbox.

She wrote to me in an email, and I quote, "The force is strong with you, young Jedi. I believe that you'll make it. ANYTHING is possible."

Wow. She called me, Young Jedi. How could I so thoroughly disappoint my Master, especially when she'd traveled thousands of miles just to see me? [She had meetings galore in NYC. Dinner with me was, no doubt, a regretful afterthought.]

LIGHT BU
LB MOMENT! I could try to get into New York on FRIDAY! I checked the train schedules and paid the price of a plane ticket, but it was worth it, because I was on my way to meet my Master! The clouds parted, the sun shone through, the flowers bloomed, and Sasha Ariella Alexandra spoke to me. She said, "Good job, my young Jedi. The Force is most definitely with you!"

[BTW: For those of you new to my blog, if you were looking for a "meeting" here, AA doesn't mean what you think. AA stands for Awesome Agent. And, best of luck with your sobriety.]

So, after what seemed like a lifetime of tears and sadness and disappointment and sheer terror, I found myself on a bumpy, ice-lining-the-tracks train ride to NYC. [There wasn't even one scintilla of terror, I just thought I'd toss it in for effect. Did it work? Were you terrified? Good. Then, I'll give my bud Stephen King a shout-out. He's kind of green at the fear game - thinks it's "his calling" (such a Drama King!) and I believe strongly you've got to encourage the newbies.]

I arrived in Penn Station not much worse for the wear - a few hairs out of place, my make-up smeared, some drool on my chin from a much-needed nap - I mean crying for 24 hours wears you out! And then, as if in a beautiful dream, there was AWESOME AGENT! Amidst the millions of busy New Yorkers racing by, AA appeared in a black and white checked coat made of pure awesome. She walked up to me in slow motion and gave me a long, much-needed hug. I'm fairly certain Steven Spielberg hovered above in a hecidoctor [That's what my son called a helicopter when he was little. Isn't that cute? No? Oh, well, never mind then.] filming the most intense, history-making, literary moment EVAH!

We slipped inside an Irish Pub and got down to the business of getting to know each other in person. Phone calls, emails, tweets, and even Skype, don't begin to convey the magnificence of AA. She's exactly as I imagined - an angel sent from Heaven to help me along my literary path. She even has wings, I swear, it's true! [And, yes, Maribelle, the Pope is Jewish.]

We did an 8-minute vlog answering questions submitted by my dear followers. I will post that vlog later this week. All I'll say about that is that it's downright hilarious [think Chelsea Handler meets Lewis Black] and is filled with way-important literary tidbits. You will not be disappointed! [You may be bored, but you will not be disappointed!]

Until then, I hope your Valentine's Day was filled with love, and more importantly, chocolate, and that you're enjoying the Winter Games in Vancouver.

Go USA!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wonderful Winter Wonderland

Today was the most intense blizzard I've ever experienced. The snow totals over the past 24 hours made this winter the snowiest in Philly since they started keeping records in 1884. Along with an enormous amount of snow, comes beautiful pictures. These were taken today at around noon from the front and back of my house. I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, February 8, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: More Fun Than Brad & Angie on the Set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith [PSYCHE!]

I did it, folks - I finished the 3rd draft of my YA novel! Could you possibly be more excited? No, I didn't think so. [Moving trash cans to the curb would be more exciting. Watching the grass grow would be far more exciting. Getting a root canal would be practically thrilling.] It is such a great feeling, almost as good as [sorry, folks, trying to keep this G-rated]. I will read through my ms one more time before I send it off to Awesome Agent (AA) and hope she loves it as much as I love my five-month old niece, Devyn from Heaven. [Will send 80% dark chocolate offerings to the gods in hopes she doesn't realize what a ghastly mistake she's made.].

Once I send it off to her, I'll dive right into the follow-up like a good writer [go on a week-long shopping spree and play countless games of spider solitaire.] I'm hoping the major edits are behind me, but that's not my call, now is it? [I'm begging you, AA - remember that Coach bag we talked about?]

As long as Mother Nature cooperates and doesn't bring another snowstorm to the Northeast, I will be meeting AA in NYC on Thursday. [Mother Nature's a selfish hussy. I mean, isn't two feet in one week enough for her insatiable appetite? In her case, apparently size does matter. ] I'm bringing my Flip camera and will film us having more fun than Brad and Angie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. [PSYCHE! Get your minds out of the gutter, people, sheesh!] We will, however, do our best to whip up some enlightening publishing tips for your vlog-viewing pleasure. It's sure to be a monumental literary experience. [Will try not to get drunk and dance on the table. SO not a good look.]

And, here's the best part: List your questions for AA in the comment section, and she may answer them in person! Yes, that's right folks - you may get to see AA answer your questions live and in person on my next vlog. Aren't I amazing? [Um, no. AA's amazing. You, on the other hand, are a pitiful cross between boring and pathetically self-involved.]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Query Hell? Give Yourself a Fist Bump!

Query Hell
For those of you in query hell, please know, I feel your pain. I was there not long ago, and I easily recall the distress of obsessively checking my email and excel spreadsheet, and stalking, I mean researching, agents on their blogs, Twitter, Publisher's Marketplace, AgentQuery.com, Google, QueryTracker, blah, blah, blah.

Being the oddball that I am, I actually enjoyed querying. Let me clarify: I enjoyed the part where I reworked every word on my query until it sparkled like a diamond, the part where I personalized my introductions, and the part when I hit the "send" button. In other words, I liked the parts I had control over. The parts I didn't have control over? Not so much.

Rejection Sucks
There's really no nicer way to say it. Rejection sucks - it's brutal, horrifying, and ego-crushing. On the other hand, being asked for partials or fulls never loses its luster.

Let me explain:

1) I recently got a pass on a full of my murder mystery MURDER ON TWILIGHT CIRCLE (MTC) by an agent who'd had it since last July. (I informed her I was offered representation for my YA novel, but she asked to read the murder mystery, anyway.) My stomach sank.

2) I also recently got a request for the first 75 pages and a synopsis for MTC. The query was sent last August. I gave myself a pat on the back.

As you know, I signed with Bernadette Baker-Baughman aka, "Awesome Agent" of Baker's Mark Literary Agency in November. My point is, I have an agent so none of this matters, right? Right! So why did I feel happy about the request and unhappy about the pass? Because I'm human and have an [abnormally large] ego. The emotions are still there, though thankfully, not quite as pronounced.

Fist Bump, Baby!
If you're in Query Hell, give yourself a fist bump. Why? Because you're pursuing your dreams. I'm not kidding, do it! Did you do it? Good. Because, you, my friends, are special. There are many folks out there who don't pursue their dreams for one "good" reason or another. It's true they never suffer the indignity of a rejection, but they also never experience the deep satisfaction of going for it.

We're All In This Together
Simply put, you are not alone. I'm not saying there are definitely other life forms "out there," I'm just saying we really are all in this thing together. And by thing, I mean, life.

I'd love to hear about your experiences, emotions, viewpoints on the querying process. And, best of luck to all along your journey. ;-)

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