Friday, August 29, 2014

In which no one asks me to dance

Rejection is hard.

HARD I tell you.

I've been querying Book One. Fourteen little queries lovingly and anxiously crafted and sent out to my top 14 agents. I got my first rejection two days after emails were sent.

The next day, I got a request from an agent I LOVE for a full manuscript(!!!).

She later passed :(

And since then, nothing but passes. Passes--not even a standard rejection, just the passing of time which means "Sorry, not for us."

Sigh. Realistically, I didn't expect anything. Did I hope for it? Oh my, yes. (Especially after that request for a full--glory. I could not tame the hope inside of me).  Now, I don't know what to do. Does my query stink? Does my story stink? Is it just not marketable? My little hope balloon has completely deflated. After that pass on the full I got to the point (and am still there) where I expect nothing but passes. I've stopped obsessively checking my email. I ignore the highlighted dates in my planner telling me I should have heard from Agent x, y, or z by now.

I wrote a list after my first couple of rejections titled "What to do if everyone passes". Number one was "Write something else."

So I am. I'm back to my fantasy piece, which I am loving, and which is coming together (the voice still isn't there the way I want it to be, but we're in first draft mode, so that's ok). I plan on querying this one when it's polished, and have set a goal of queries going out in December. That gives me three months to polish, rewrite, polish, rewrite. I get all nervous because even though I've done this before (polished a manuscript), I worry that I won't be able to do it again. I worry that Book One isn't good like I think it is. I worry that getting published won't happen.

I'll still write if that never happens. And love it.

But oh, ya'll, to be able to quit my job and write ALL THE TIME....the idea makes me delirious with joy. What a gift that would be. How many more stories could I create, how many more characters could I get to know if I didn't have to be somewhere else, doing something else, for 40+ hours each week. Imagine.

I feel so late in the game writing wise. Some people on my crit board are young (in their teens) and they already have amazing talent. I often wonder, if I had started doing this when I was 16 or 17, how much better would I be? Would I be published by now? I don't know, and it's stupid to wonder. I'm thankful that I discovered writing. And that I was brave and started doing it despite the millions of fears that made me want to not try. I'm thankful for my stories, even if no one ever gets to read them but me.

Trying to get published is hard. Having people critique your work is hard. Having people say NOTHING about your work is, for me, the hardest thing. I don't like quiet. To me it means rejection and dislike and failure. Heaven help me, I am such a creature of affirmation. Which makes trying to get published - trying to convince someone that my writing is good, that my story is good - crazy hard.

I just want to write. And to share these stories--stories mean so much to me. They affect me in ways few other things ever have...maybe more than anything else ever has. If I could do that for someone else - affect someone in the core of their being in a way that they can't even articulate; to have my story resonate truth to someone in a way only a story can do -  that would be the world. Stories are beautiful...even the hard ones. I hope I write a million more stories, late in the game and unpublishable though I may be.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A little princess and her water dragon...

Because if these words were a color, they would be pink!

Today's words for Five Word Wednesday come compliments of my friend Kelli's little girl, Alaina. Great list of words sweet girl! Here is a story just for you!


Princess Dahlia!”
Nanny’s voice skipped across the castle lawn. Princess Dahlia ignored the voice and held a fat caterpillar up by its head. The bug’s little feet pushed through the air, looking for a place to land. Dahlia closed one eye and studied the bug as it danced in the air. Then she gently placed it on a flower petal.
“There little bug,” she told it. “Now you’ll be happy.” She wiped the mud on her gown and turned to where Nanny came running across the lawn.
“Oh Princess,” she said. “Come quick, before the Queen finds out!” Nanny, normally so friendly, grabbed Dahlia’s hand and dragged her back across the lawn so quick that Dahlia’s crown nearly fell off her head.
“Nanny, what is the matter?” she asked.
“Doris has gotten out again!”
“Oh bother,” Dahlia said. They reached the castle moat, where a puppy sized blue green dragon splashed in the water below.
“Doris!” Dahlia yelled. “You’re supposed to stay in the royal bathtub until you’re big enough to be in there.”
Doris roared a tiny dragon roar in reply then plunged back beneath the water. Dahlia turned to her sister. “Violet, did you let her out?”
Violet shook her head, her blond curls falling over her chubby toddler face. “Doris swim!” she said, clapping her hands.
Dahlia wanted to laugh but didn’t. A five year old princess had to take charge, and not be outdone by her baby sister or a naughty dragon. She ripped the lace from her dress (which made Nanny nearly faint into the royal rose garden), and made a snare, then snagged Doris out of the water. “Good thing she’s a water dragon,” Dahlia said. “If she flew we’d never get her back.”
“Dahlia!” Her big sister’s voice clanged in her head like a toy cymbal. Oh no.
Dahlia turned her head. “What do you want, Rose?”
Rose adjusted the crown on her head, making sure it was just so. Eight year olds are very particular. “If Mama finds out, she’ll have Cook turn Doris into stew.”
“Dragon stew! Dragon stew!” Violet chanted, her cheeks turning pink.
Dahlia scowled at both her sisters. “Doris would make a better dessert than stew, I think. Just look how sweet she is!” Then she thrust Doris up into Rose’s face.
Rose shrieked and fell into the moat, and Nanny fainted into the flowers again.
Dahlia shook her head and peered down into the moat. Rose bobbed up and down in the water, her crown now crooked on her sopping wet head. Dahlia looked at Doris. “Looks like it’s time to go swimming again.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

On my bookshelf

My latest read was "My Life Next Door", by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

My Life Next Door
I am not the biggest contemporary YA fan, but holy smokes, did I love this.

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them…until one summer evening Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love and stumble through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first romance, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own—even as she keeps him a secret from her disapproving mother and critical best friend. Then the unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
A debut novel about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Ya'll, I cannot even....sigh...this was so good.

I was on page number four reading this in my car on my lunch break one day when I stopped, clutched the book to myself, and said out loud "This is so freaking good." (Yes, I realize I have a touch for the melodramatic. But really, as a newbie writer learning about things like voice and pacing, holy heck, Huntley just nailed it. I mean, wow. This is a great story, but also a well written one. And let me tell you, there are a LOT of poorly written YA stories out there.)

The voice in this book was fantastic. Samantha is wonderful - not mini-adult-in-teen's-body, not whiny, not all knowing. She is seventeen, and self aware and confident and vulnerable all at the same time. Her romance with Jase is believable and real. And her issues with her mom? Glory, spot on.This book deals with tough family issues, with crisis, with friends and the, well, ickiness that can be them. It deals with jobs and real life and first love and first kisses, and most of all it deals with learning to trust who you are. I felt empowered after reading it. Isn't that crazy? This seventeen year old character and her honesty and how she learns to deal with mess, made me feel like I could be myself and take on the world.

I realize books are subjective things (that's one of the things I love most about them) and sometimes a reader will connect in a way that another reader won't. This was one of those books for me. I connected to Samantha in a lot of ways, and this book just resonated. I read it four times cover to cover before turning it back to the library (Divergent sets the record with five read-throughs), then promptly went and ordered a copy off Amazon. (And I rarely buy books because of budget reasons, so a purchase is like a Oscar or Emmy book wise from me).

Hands down, one of the best YA books I have ever read. That's right. Right up there with Divergent, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Throne of Glass, this little book will rest on my bookshelf  ('cause I own all those books, too).

Go forth, read it, and love. *there is a fantastic line about cougar lust that is to die for. read it, love it, thank me later. *

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's the End of the World!!

Today's Five Word Wednesday story comes compliments of my friend Lea, who suggested a YA Post-Apocalypse scene. Here were her five words:


“Put the fire out.”
I shoot up from my seated position and kick dirt over the flames. Rebels haven’t been seen in this part of the state for months, but still my heart ricochets inside of my chest. I bend my ear to the woods, then back to Dell. “Anything?”
He stays silent a minute, then shakes his head. “No.” He stomps on top of the already dead fire and grabs our dinner. “Let’s get going anyway.”
Dell starts jogging, and I follow him out of the woods and back to the edge of town. The streets have been deserted since the war. It’s been seven years, and some buildings still stand here half crumbled, their rooms exposed like a girl caught undressing. Dell tosses one of our fish my way. I grab it, its skin not cold but not warm either. We’d been halfway through cooking them when Dell heard noise. I bite into the half cooked meat. Not exactly sushi. I choke the rest of it down in three bites. "How far until we get there?"
“A few more miles.”
Easily covered before nightfall. Maybe we’ll get some better dinner, though who knows what the people at the hub have. Crops sell at ridiculous prices now, meat even higher. I glance at Dell and his swift form and run faster. Do your best Caiden. You know you can go this I think to myself. Geez, it sounds like a cheesy inspirational quote, the kind my sister Nan and I found in an abandoned gift shop once and giggled over as we binged on two year old jelly beans we found in a display.
I’m part of the Net now, no longer a baby helping out in the kitchen at our village, but part of a network of runners, getting information from one point to another, like some twisted slow version of text messaging.
Dell slows to a walk. “We’ll have a few hours of extra time.” He turns to me, his eyebrow arched in an unspoken question. His breath is a nauseating mixture of lake water and the mint gum he chews all the time, the gum he bribes from girls at the hub in exchange for a romp behind the building. Gross. 
I roll my eyes. “I’m with Ethan, Dell.”
He chuckles. “You sure you don’t wanna mix it up? It being the end of the world and all?” 
I smile, despite myself. Dell’s sarcasm and humor make him easy to work with. But work is all I’m interested in.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What to write next?

So, I officially have Book Three drafted. It came in at 50,000 words, a good 15k short of my goal. But I ended it today, printed a hard copy, and sat it on the dining room table. Then promised myself to walk away for a while. 

Book Three was hard, but also glorifying. I killed my main characters in Book Two. I mean, slaughtered them in some sort of fit of masochistic frenzy.

Book Three was hard to write because my MC enters it at a really hard place. She finally gets back to what she thinks is normal life, only to find that there is a new normal. And the new normal is hard, and not at all what she wants. Book Three is full of this:

Brokenness. Raw, horrible, nowhere to hide brokenness.

And this:

Yearning for closure. And it Will. Not. Come!

I cried so much writing Book Three. I remember babysitting one night and working on a particular scene and I was sitting at the kitchen table absolutely sobbing, and thinking to myself that the parents would walk in any moment, see me crying, and think I was a loony bin.

But, but, Book Three is also the conclusion. And so with that came a restored ending. Not the perfect one, but a good one (oh, a good one!). My theme for Book Three was something I heard in a sermon once, and that was "The worst thing is never the last thing." Hope can bloom from even the foulest dirt of life. And that's what Book Three is about. Hope. 

Hope finds my characters in Book Three and grabs hold of them, despite what they do to shake her off. 

Book Three still needs work. But the meat of the story is there. And we move on.

Book Two needs work. It's no longer maimed and bleeding out at the aid station. But it needs some serious physical therapy to get it to a good condition. 

And then my fantasy novel...ah, must figure that one out! The sucker is 56,540 words long, and I have NO IDEA HOW TO END IT! I mean really, I must figure it out. And never attempt to write political intrigue again. My brain was not meant to handle things like that. Bless it. 

So enjoy your slumber Book Three. I'll wake you up in a month or so and probably tear you apart so that I can completely rebuild you again. And crazy bird that I am, I will enjoy the whole tedious and painful process.

Then all these things I've started will get done and you know what awaits after that???  ALL THE STUFF IN MY HEAD! There are voices in my head people; a cacophony of teenage girls and boys dying to be heard and to know themselves and to kiss people for the love of pete! Sigh....may the Lord bless me to be able to sit and make stuff up for a full time job someday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Five Words for the Old West

Photo from Wikipedia
Five Word Wednesday on my Facebook wall is hilarious. I get quite the range of comments and suggestions. Today I combined my husband's lists of words with my friend Kelli's suggestion of an 1800's setting. So I came up with a wild west story. Here were my five words:


Land sakes, only Sid Benson could say her name in a way that made gooseflesh appear on her arms. Ellie turned around and looked out across the yard.
Sid ambled over to her, his thumbs thrust into his belt loops. Two pistols swung by his side. Her chest constricted and it was hard to breathe, like when her corset was laced up too tight.
Sid stood in front of her. “Where ya off to?”
Off to? Anywhere but here. Ellie bit her lip. “Just to the barn.” She flittered her eyes that direction and then back to Sid.
“You shouldn’t be walking by yourself, Elijay.”
She cringed. How dare he use her nickname. That name was the one Pa had used. She fought the urge to kick Sid in the shin.
It’s just for a while Ellie Jane.
Pa’s words echoed in her head. He’d joined Sid’s family in their business a year ago. A sour taste flooded her stomach, like when she’d eaten too many blackberries as a girl. Business didn’t describe it. Sid’s daddy ran an interstate ring of horse stealing. And probably more. Pa’d been sucked in. Sid’s family was a whirlwind, a conflagration of evil, just like Preacher Sam used to talk about. The business had gotten Pa the money he needed to keep the ranch. 
It had also gotten him killed.
Sid spit, the stream of tobacco juice landing not far from the hem of her dress. “When you gonna marry me, Ellie Jane?” 
“I’m only seventeen, Sid.” As if that were an argument. Sid’s mama had married his pa when she was fourteen. She smiled at Sid. Eighteen is what they’d agreed on. He could have her when she was eighteen. And he’d pay off her family’s debts. 
Sid took a step closer and his eyes slid from the top of her braid to the bottom of her dress and back up again. He grinned. “I can’t wait. Betcha you can’t either.”
Oh Sid Benson. He had no idea. Ellie Jane may be an orphaned adolescent, but one thing was for sure. She was no idiot. She’d marry Sid Benson for his money. She’d let him have her. And when her brothers and sisters were safe on a train and tucked away somewhere Sid couldn’t find, she’d take her Pa’s rifle and pay back the Benson family for every night of grief they caused her. 
She fluttered her eyelashes up at Sid. “I’m countin’ down the days.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday! Wednesday! Wednesday!

Five Word Wednesday today! Thought I'd switch it up and do a historical piece. Here were my 5 words for today:


       Charlotte’s laughter bubbled up through the air like champagne, and she latched onto Jasper’s arm. The joke he shared wasn’t that funny. But he was rich, and good looking enough for her attention. Today at least.
“Yoohoo!” An airy voice called out behind them.
  They spun around and Charlotte pasted on a smile. Good heavens. The blur of yellow green silk teetering toward them made her skin crawl. Lucille Wellington may be an aristocrat, but that didn’t mean she had any good sense about her. Especially when it came to clothes. Her dress was heinous.
  “I caught you just in time.” Lucille stopped before them and  fluffed her gown.
       Mustard. It was the color of mustard, with enough lace it was a wonder Lucille could walk upright.. Charlotte scrunched up her nose.
  “Dane and I are going to the theatre,” Lucille boasted as she glanced at Charlotte,”but he’s running late, so I’ll take a walk around the gardens with you two.”
  “How nice,” Charlotte beamed.
       As if Dane Abrams was anything to boast about. He was ten years her senior, dull and fat, and not at all charming. Hardly a catch.
       Well, maybe he was -  rumor had it that he was due to inherit everything from both sides of his family. How many silk gowns could she afford if she was Dane Abrams’ wife? But really, Lucille’s nose was turned upward so much at mention of her date it was practically vertical. Charlotte stood a little taller. She never wanted for male company, and had scads of dates, plural.
Charlotte looped her other arm through Lucille’s. “Of course you are welcome to walk with us.”
       She looked up at Jasper, and fluttered her eyelashes as she peered up at him. Was he the competitive sort? What would happen if she showed interest in both he and Dane, and pitted them against each other? It might just be the thing to make one of them propose, and fast.
  Bile rose in her stomach, and she swallowed it down. The thought of Dane Abrams touching her in any way made her skin crawl. But her patience was wearing thin, and the debts were stacking up. Dane Abrams could be the solution to everything.
       It was a plan she hadn’t dared to dream up before, but , as her mother always said, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.” And she needed money. Charlotte didn’t run in quite the same circle as Dane Abrams, but if she could get to him, maybe just maybe, she could work her charms to her advantage.
      Charlotte turned to the girl beside her and smiled. Naive, stupid, mustard-dress-wearing-Lucille was about to become her new best friend...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hint Fiction

So, I'm doing this online writing challenge during the month of August. And one of the homework assignments over the week was about Hint Fiction.

Hint Fiction is a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story. Legend has it that someone asked Ernest Hemingway to write a story in 6 words or less, and that he wrote this:

For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

Powerful, huh? And amazing, that an entire story can be conveyed in just a few words. I was nervous about the challenge and really thought I wouldn't come up with anything. But surprisingly, I came up with a few. And surprisingly, this was a ton of fun.

Here's a sampling of what I came up with. What do you think?

Wanted: Husband. Males need not apply.

Burying bodies is hard work.

Pope agrees: Bible is a lie.

I let my twin marry her.

Dumped via ad in school newspaper.

Farted first day of class. Great.

Positive pregnancy test. Never had sex.

Birth certificate confirms: I’m not theirs.

Man kills family. Unborn son survives.

Avalanche buries White House. All dead.

House for sale. All ghosts included.

Prom queen results: Mark Jameson wins.

Conflicting reports on Fox/CNN merger.