Thursday, February 26, 2009

Manuscripts and dirty puppies.

I've been working on a new story while I wait to hear back from Jen on my editing outline for Shades of Blue. For Shades I wrote 3,000 words a day, five days a week so I got the first draft done pretty quickly. I'm taking a bit more time with this one, which is good and bad. Bad because I can't help comparing time frames for the two stories and when I realize how much I still have to write, I feel like a slacker. Good because I have more time to get other things done during the week, like critiques for the wonderfully talented women in my critique group; or playing Ichumon, which I'm hopelessly addicted to; or blog writing (Hi!); or giving my dog a bath.

I wish I had a picture of that last one because she looked so miserable that it was adorable. You'd think I was trying to drown her. Next time I'll plan ahead for picture goodness. Anyway, she's been mad at me all day. Dogs are supposed to like water. It's not my fault she wants to be a rebel, or that she likes to scratch her back with dirt.

New manuscript progress: 15,716 words.

I have to go peel potatoes for my father's birthday dinner now. Oh how I hate peeling potatoes, especially for a lot of people. Isn't it a punishment in the military, or did I just see that in a movie?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stress Relievers: #1

I'm going to have another niece! My brother and his fiancee found out yesterday that their baby-on-the-way is a girl. This is their 3rd and I was hoping for another girl, so I'm pretty happy. Although I would have been happy with a boy too, you know how it is.

Finally #1, the best stress reliever of them all. You may have some guesses, and you are probably wrong (this is a PG13 blog, thank you very much). So that aside, I ask myself: What in t
he world makes me instantly happy and worry free? And the answer is:

#1 - Puppies!

The soft, furriness? The confused little head tilts? The pause, run, pounce move and the similar pause, surprise snap move? The tiny puppy teeth nibbling on you, your sock, or their favorite toy as they play? They way they stumble when they start to walk or run? How they sometimes sit and then fall over because they lost their balance? Little puppy growls and barks? Finding them sleeping in silly positions and/or places?


I could keep going, but I think you get the picture. Okay, I can't help it, a few more: How at the pet shop (yeah I know they're evil) all the puppies pile on top of each other to sleep and roll around together playing? There's one at the mall that lets all their puppies out every morning as they get ready to open the shop, and they have a glass storefront so you can see the big line of them trailing the store owner, doing all those cute puppy things mentioned above.


If you're a good owner and start training them early, it won't be long until they are cute and well-trained dogs. They may not do as many cute things as puppies, but dogs have their own share of great qualities.

If you're not such a good owner, you can still always play with someone else's puppy and then give it back for the hard stuff. This also works for children. :p

They tend to sleep a lot, so there's plenty of time to get the things done, and they're easy to keep in one place if you have a baby gate or are good at using what's around the house to create a playpen of sorts.

Poo on your floo
r until potty trained.

There's going to be some chewing, and leaving them home alone is risky (just ask my brother about his brand new couch).

Sometimes they don't sleep through the night, or whine if they get scared.

In other words, they don't come trained; they take a bit of work at first. But all these cons can be solved by playing with someone else's puppy.

One that can't be? Allergies.

Thankfully there are still puppy pictures:

Puppies - #1 stress reliever. Just thinking about them puts a huge grin on my face. They may not solve my problems, but they can sure distract me from them for a little while. Sometimes that's all I really need.

P.S. The picture isn't photoshoped.
Here's the story. Try not to smile at that, I dare you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Selling Yourself... a non-prostitutional way, of course.

There seems to be a lot of self-promotion in the publishing industry. Probably in other industries too, but it seems to be of the utmost importance for a writer. The fact is that unless a big movie studio is turning your book into a movie (Twilight), or you're already a very well established author who has proven your talent and ability to rake in the $$ (JK Rowling), you aren't going to get big advertising displays for your book, and reviewers aren't going to beat down your door to get a copy. Or even make a polite phone call.

You have to do most of the promoting yourself. Which in turn means learning how to promote both you and your book. The first major test for me came when I had to write a query letter to get an agent.

For those who don't know, a query is a one page letter you send to an agent, telling them in the shortest and best way possible what your book is about and why it's so awesome that they'd be crazy not to represent you. Except you can't say that last part, you have to prove it.

It sounds simple enough, but I can assure you, it's a NIGHTMARE for any normal human being. The pressure to make it perfect is overwhelming because it's likely to be your only shot at catching an agent's attention, and the amount of competition out there is staggering.

I don't care what anyone says, the opinion that if you're a good writer, you should easily be able to hammer out a query letter is wrong. For one thing, being a good fiction writer doesn't automatically mean you’re a good nonfiction writer, nor does it mean you're a good salesperson. But you have to find a way to make it work.

The good news is that there are things like Query Shark out there, as well as countless blogs and websites with tips on what to do and what to avoid. Here are a few things I found the most helpful:

-Research, research, research. If you're sending an agent a query you better be sure you know as much about them and their agency as you can. Google is your friend. There's not much point in sending queries to agents who don't represent your genre, aren't taking on new clients, or just aren't the right ones for you for whatever reason. Not to mention the vast amount of scams. Look for someone legitimate, someone you think will fit you and your story, and tell them (in two lines or less) why you chose to query them out of all the other agents. But don't make it sound like you'd be doing them a favor by letting them represent you either.

-Don't try to fit everything from your plot in the letter. Stick to the main storyline and character, highlighting what makes it interesting and/or unique. Also, agents are busy people; they want you to get to the point and hold their interest throughout the rest of the letter. Don't talk about writing being your lifelong passion (they know that) and only mention your writing experience and/or writing credentials if you have some worth mentioning. Otherwise, use that letter space to talk about your story. You'd be surprised how short one page actually is.

-Don't try to be cutesy or gimmicky. They've seen it. They don't like it. Read some of their blogs if you don't believe me. Be professional and let the story speak for itself. If you've written a solid one, a few choice details will be enough to get someone's attention.

And it probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Expect them to reject you and don't be a jerk about it when they do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stress Relievers: #2

*gasp* Two posts in a row! I knew I could do it. But to be honest, I was a little worried there'd be a massive power outage or something just to prove me wrong.

#2 - A hot, candlelit bubble bath, preferably in a jet tub:

Veeeery relaxing.


Quite time to think of solutions to your problems.

Can be used in combination with some of the other best stress relievers like ice cream, or reading a good book, or others that you can put together yourself.

Hmm...Wrinkled fingers and toes?

Remote possibility that your candles will light your shower curtain on fire.

The combination of jets and bubble bath can lead to bubble-overflow.

Quiet time to think may backfire.


Short and sweet. Well deserving of #2 in my opinion. Clearly, since that's where I put it. And look, I even figured out how to include a picture!

Rather than getting to #1 tomorrow, I think I'm going to talk about something a little different.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stress Relievers: #3

As we're learning, "tomorrow" is a subjective term for me. *giggle* I'll post #3 now and make a solemn vow that tomorrow (the real tomorrow this time) #2 will be here. On my honor!

An update for Shades of Blue: I have more editing to do. This time I'm outlining the revisions so Jen and I can discuss them before I actually change anything. So far it's proving to be a lot easier than the usual way I edit which is to read the entire story from start to finish, rewording, tinkering, and fiddling the whole time. I swear, no matter how many times I've written a sentence, I can always see a way to make it better the next time I read it. OCD much?

Onward to stress reliever #3!

#3 - Being pampered

Going to a spa, salon, masseuse, or nail place (a better name for this is escaping me at the moment) can be a great way to forget your worries. Stress is knocked out two ways: One, by distracting and relaxing you while you're being pampered; two, by making you look and feel better after you leave, so it's easier to get perspective. Who wants to pull their hair out and risk breaking a nail when they've just gotten all prettied up? (Not my most feminist moment, I admit.)

Can be costly and may seem wasteful in hindsight.

Unless you are very self-confident, having strangers touching all up on you--rubbing your mostly naked body, scratching the dry skin off your heels, wrapping you in weird mud-slash-seaweed mixtures--can make you very uncomfortable at times. (And when they push down my cuticles and snip off the skin with those metal clippers? BLEH! It just squicks me right the heck out. *shiver*)

Bad haircuts are not your friend.

Can chew up a lot of your day. Bad for deadlines.

Tomorrow, #2. For really reals this time. XD