Friday, September 27, 2013

Returning to Regular Programming...

Depending on your point of view, this will either be good or bad news: The rumors that I've fallen off the face of the earth are untrue. What is true? I've been crazy busy and decided to take a break from posting on my blog for the summer.

Since May, I sold a house, bought a house, decorated a house, and got married.  In addition, I'm in the process of opening my own business - a home decor/gift shop - where I'll have my computer with me at all times, allowing for plenty of writing time.

Since a picture paints a thousand words, I think I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Home I sold:

Home I bought:

Before/After Decorating Pics:

(Notice my feline overlord, Emma, on the rug!)

(We opened the wall to the living room and replaced the solid basement door with a French door.)


 Wedding Pics:

So, there you have it. I promise to be back to regular programming now that things are settling down. Peace and love to all. - Debbie

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So Much Going On, So Little To Do

New/Old House. 
That doesn't seem to make sense, right? But that's what it feels like. I'm selling my current home, buying a new one, and both closings are on May 30th. Having been a professional interior designer, I'm dying to pick out paints, hard woods, and bathroom fixtures for the new/old house (built in '59), but I can't do any of that for another month. It's driving me crazy. Of course, there's packing to do, but who wants to pack? Not me, that's for sure!

Also, I'm getting married in a few months, so there's that... Again, lots to plan, yet not much to "do" yet.

All of this causes stress, but good stress - the kind of stress most of us look forward to in life. However, it's still sleepless nights-shaking hands-racing heartbeat-stress. In the midst of it all, I remain focused on how grateful I am for so many things:
Me & my "babies" Ethan (L) & Adam (R).

  • My kids are kind-hearted, brilliant musicians, doing well in college, and are looking forward to the great possibilities life has to offer. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my "babies" happy and engaged in life! 
  • My fiance is a great man who cares more about me than I can even wrap my head around. Plus, he's funny, sweet, hard-working, Irish (yes, he sometimes wears a kilt and no, I won't tell you what's underneath!), loyal, and damn sexy! I'd say more, but he
    Me & my man.
    embarrasses easily.
  • My family is healthy. Is there anything more important than that?
  • Did I mention a Caribbean honeymoon cruise in January!
The one thing I'm NOT doing now is writing. I began a new book about a month ago, but decided to take a break. I've been writing almost non-stop for five years, and I feel I need to step back, read, and see what life looks like while not writing/editing for a while.

So, that's where I'm at. What about you?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is it Time to Stop Pursuing Publication? A Post by Jody Hedlund

As I pursue my dreams of being a published author, I often wonder if my books are meant to find their way into the public domain. I sometimes self-sabotage by allowing doubts to haunt my thoughts and keep me from moving forward. In my mind, every moment I spend not writing, is a moment wasted. Then I blame myself for not working hard enough and it becomes a vicious cycle. Fortunately, I'm an optimist by nature, so I don't usually let that type of negativity hold me down for long.

I know I'm not alone on this, so for those of you wondering if/when it is ever time to stop pursuing publication, please read this post by the talented writer Jody Hedlund. Jody is the author of several novels and an advocate for writers everywhere. She is a great "writer friend" and incredibly inspirational.

Please visit her website, treat yourself to her vast wealth of knowledge in the area of writing and, perhaps, pick up one (or more!) of her books.

And if you get a chance, pop back in and let me know your thoughts on the subject.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Else Do You Do?

Many of my writer friends are multi-talented. I'm not surprised by this; I believe it goes with the territory. Creative people have a deep-seeded need to create, and many have more than one outlet.

Some writers cook, knit, paint, draw, garden, dance, or invent things. Some take photographs, others arrange flowers. Some sew while others make furniture. Like creativity itself, the ways we can create are limitless.

I couldn't cook my way out of a kitchen if all the ingredients were provided in the exact right amounts with instructions even a baby could follow, and if I tried to knit, I'd probably poke my eyes out. I do draw, however. I draw a cartoon character named Mrs. Qurly Q. She's a plump variation of a stick figure with a single long curl drawn out of the top and sides of her head. It's actually embarrassing that I still draw her on cards and letters, but old habits die hard. After all, SHE'S FRIGGIN MRS. QURLY Q!

For me, my additional areas of creativity are interior decorating and music. Here's the link to my music website. Please feel free to listen and share. 

So tell me - besides writing, what else do you do? If you have a website, please include the link. And also, feel free to share about your creative process.

Happy creativity to all!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Four Stages of Writing

I am here, not only to entertain, but to enlighten. Hence, I give you THE FOUR STAGES OF WRITING.

When I'm writing a first draft I'm happy. Make that borderline ecstatic. I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing in the world, and I feel powerful and free. Except, that is, for the moments when I'm terrified. The terror comes from staring at a blank computer screen and not knowing if my muse will grace me with brilliance or if I'll be at a complete loss to mentally capture anything remotely resembling words. The conversation in my head goes something like this:

"Hang in there, Deb. You can do this! You've done it before, you'll do it again. If you were [insert character's name here] what would you do? Where would you go? What would you say? See, it's not so difficult. It's just like kindergarten. All you have to is pretend you're [character], go in the backyard, make some mud pies, and eat them! Writing is that easy!"

This type of inner dialogue is common when I'm writing. My mental cheerleading squad brings out their pom-poms and yells, "Go, Debbie, go! Beat the other team!" I have no idea what 'other team' they're referring to, but I'll be damned if those imaginary cheerleaders don't get the job done. Before long, with the exception of those pesky blank-screen-terror bouts, the first half of the book is moving along quite well. Characters are appearing, plots are forming, and action is happening. Life is good. And at the end of each day, I pull out my writing journal and joyfully record the number of words I've piled up, which is usually between 500-2000. I wink at myself in the mirror and treat myself to Stella Doro Chocolate-filled cookies. This goes on until...

Tragedy strikes. 

Somewhere around the two-thirds mark in the book, I completely lose my mojo. In an instant, the entire story seems silly, tired, predictable, boring. At this point in the process, I have an epiphany: I totally suck at writing and should have pursued accounting or geography or some other subject I hated in college. Maybe then I wouldn't feel like a total loser. 

Hot Cheerleaders aka Cheap Ploy to Keep You Reading.
The mental cheerleaders roll their collective eyes and hold special practices to keep me from doing what I'm threatening to do: toss out all of the stupid, uninteresting, lame, ridiculous verbage I've written up to that point and salvage whatever might be left of my dignity. Most times, after days of torturing myself, the rah-rahs prevail, and I trudge onward through the arid desert known as "the second third of my book." This goes on until...

Magic happens!

A perfect ending appears like a picture of Jesus in a dollop of ketchup on a double cheese-burger with onions and lettuce, followed by visions of writing awards, TV appearances, and millions of glorious dollars piling high in my bank account. The cheerleaders don their finest uniforms and, in perfect rhythm and surprisingly impressive harmonies, cheer, "Go, Debbie, go. GO, GO, GO!" The heavens part, the harp-holding angels rejoice, and the world becomes 'one.'

The sprint to the end of the story is a joyful, self-indulgent, glorious collection of happy, brilliant writing moments. The plot twists weave together with satisfying clarity, the characters who haven't died in a tragic car crash or been poisoned with a toxic cocktail of anti-freeze and Gatorade, pull out their finest crystal and pour glass upon glass of the most expensive Dom Perignon, and then the moment of true glory occurs: I write the two most precious words in the English language....


After a brief but glorious bout of post-coital first draft joy, I grab an electronic cigarette and begin the real work of writing: revisions. The process of revising, though somewhat less terrifying than staring at a blank page, is daunting. It is here that a writer flexes their muscles and attempts to turn a rough sketch into a glorious masterpiece.

After I'm certain my manuscript could not be even one drop more brilliant, I do what I learned as a parent - I send my precious baby out into the world to spend the night with total strangers. These people who've never met my baby are called "beta readers" and although they can be strange (after all, they're writers!), they are some of the most patient, kind, and supportive people on Earth. These are folks who put their own writing (and episodes of Homeland, HGTV, and Nashville) aside in order to help you become a better writer. They grab their beta magnifying glasses and go over every, single word with painstaking care. Then, they send your precious baby back covered in red marks and scribbled with helpful comments like, "How did Jenna jump out the window if she was sitting cross-legged on the floor meditating?" Or, "Did you really mean to put a comma after every single 'and' in your story?" 

After realizing your brilliant manuscript is not quite so brilliant you, once again, put your revision cap on and get back to work. Mine is a black leather cowboy hat adorned with feathers and turquoise. (Okay, so I don't actually have a revision hat, but I do have a big imagination which, given my "occupation," is like totally way better.) After months of sleep-deprived nights and wine-deprived days, I arrive at the point when I can no longer envision a way to make my story better. Then, and only then, do I move on to the third stage of writing...

Whether you have an agent or not, this is a nerve-wracking time. In my case, I had an agent but I'm currently looking for a new one. This means, I'm querying again. (Hits head against wall.) Many writers would sooner endure water-boarding or being forced to marry Octo-Mom than to query agents, and, really, who could blame them? To write a query letter, you must shrink your three-hundred page manuscript into two paragraphs. It would be easier to squeeze a five-hundred pound person into size two jeans. But you have no choice, so, you do your best to describe -- in several, short sentences -- what you've nearly killed yourself writing for at least a year. Once this sadistic process is complete, you research agents. This process is painstaking and intimidating and involves scrutinizing Publisher's Marketplace, Query Tracker, Agent Query, and agency websites in order to pour over agent's bios, find out what genres they accept, what other writers have said about them, and how many books they've sold. Once you find an agent whom you feel you have at least a one-in-a-gazillion chance with, you send a query letter their way and...


And wait. And wait some more.

For me, when my email inbox dings, I pop an ativan. Most times it's nothing more than a spam offer to make my penis larger or date gun-toting born-again Christians, but every once in a while there is an email from a real, live, actual agent. When that happens,I slowly, ever so slowly, open the email...

Dear Author,

Sorry about the impersonal nature of this letter but we receive far more queries than we are capable of responding to. We are also sorry to inform you that XYZ Agency will not be pursuing representation with you. We found your writing bland, uninteresting, and sophomoric. Plus, your genre has been beaten to death like a dead horse. But, don't worry. There are many agents who, if exceedingly drunk, might feel differently about your "work." 

Please don't contact us by phone or in person or we will have no choice but to seek a restraining order against you.

Best of luck,
XYZ Slush Pile Junior Assistant

I transfer the depressing email into the "Pass" folder (because "Pass" sounds less debasing than "Rejection") and tell myself this is a good thing; that I'm now one step closer to finding the perfect agent. (Being a writer entails not only writing fiction, but also believing it.)

When a request for a partial or full does come through, it is literary manna from heaven. I position myself into a perfect Downward Dog, offer my feline overlords up as a sacrifice to the Writing Gods, and hope and pray this will lead to an offer of representation. It happened before, so it must be possible again, right? (Refer back to "believing fiction.") Waiting to hear back on a full or partial is more torturous than watching Snookie talk about, well, anything. And that, my friend, is pretty damn painful.

Whether or not you acquire or already have an agent...

This may not sound like a stage of writing, but it is, in fact, an important one. It's the time in between books when story ideas simmer and percolate. (Suddenly craving coffee, which I don't even drink.) At first, this is a joyous time; after all, you've completed writing a first draft, finished revisions, and are querying or waiting to see what your agent thinks. You think, "Wow! Look at all this time I have on my hands! I could sleep, read a book, drink a bottle of wine, watch TruTV, or take a walk! Hell, I could do all of those things at once! OHMYGODTHISISAMAZING!!!!" But for me, the longer I'm not writing, the more I start to feel useless (why am I here?) and hopeless (what is there to live for??) and fearful (what if I never write again???) and you delude yourself into thinking you actually miss the torture of staring at a blank screen or getting to the dreaded two-thirds point in a novel or receiving humiliating rejection letters from literary agents. 

At this point, there is nothing to do but tell the cheerleaders to ready their pom-poms and and pray, once again, to the Writing Gods. And, what, you may ask, are you praying for now? For STAGE ONE, of course! Because writing, like life, is an ongoing cycle.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Word Count: Size Matters

I thought I'd share a link here that has gotten a lot of attention on my Twitter page. It's an article from the ever helpful and brilliant Chuck Sambuchino on the subject of 'Word Count.'

Do you want to know what the word count is for women's fiction? Science Fiction? Picture books? YA? MG? Westerns? Memoirs? Then you'll love this post. 

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do what I can to get you an answer.

Happy writing, y'all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tightening the Screws


I'm here, I'm alive, and I'm excited about 2013. I just got back from a Caribbean cruise, my feline overlords haven't killed each other (or me!), I'm tightening the screws on my women's fiction novel (damn you, commas!) while I selectively query, and I'm making wedding plans. Yup, it's a good life. 

How are things in your world?

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