A Book Is Born

Please excuse my lack of preamble, niceties, etc, because…

LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL!

 

It’s a real live book with a front cover, a back cover, and even inside flaps! The title GLITTERS in the light! You may observe the barcode, ISBN, and swanky new QR code that will send you to a special THROUGH TO YOU mobile site on your smartphone! Also, it has THESE:

 

A title page AND acknowledgments page (never before seen, as it wasn’t printed in the ARC, and there were so MANY important people to thank!) But the coolest part is…

…my book has second dimension under the dust jacket:

It took me two hours of staring at the cover and flipping through the finished pages before I remembered to take the jacket OFF and look underneath. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL! The picture doesn’t do it justice–that is shiny GREEN foil spelling out the title and my name! It feels like a gorgeous secret…sort of like the one Cam finds inside the book.

You can have one of these beautiful hardcovers of your very own too in just two weeks! Here are links to preorder at The Tattered Cover, Indiebound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Books A Million

Will you grow up to be a writer?

(cross-posted from Brave New Words)

I knew I wanted to be a writer from at least fifth or sixth grade on, but sometimes it seemed inevitable that I should take that path. My parents had two daughters. They named my older sister Charlotte and then unwittingly (they claim) proceeded to dub me Emily.

Do you know what people of a certain age say when they meet two sweet little girls named Charlotte and Emily? Every single time, they ask: “Are you going to grow up to be writers?”

I didn’t get the joke for the longest time, and it was even more confusing when I explained our name-pairing was an accident, so finally I learned to simply smile and give a shy, “Maybe.” Then one day I discovered an old elegant hardbound set on my parents’ bookshelf of JANE EYRE and WUTHERING HEIGHTS by these two girls, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. I ran to my parents like, “Did you know these two girls with OUR names wrote some books?” I think the reaction I got was similar to the day I asked my dad if he’d heard of a band called The Beatles.

I was probably around nine years old when this went down. I sat and tried to read JANE EYRE, probably because the pictures on the cover were of little school girls and not some gross kissy-face couple under a tree. I distinctly remember that all the school girls had their eyes closed, but ONE girl’s eyes were open. This haunted me for years, and I never did read past the time Jane suffered at Lowood School.

Years later, in college, I read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in an English Lit class. Thankfully, I had a professor with a deep understanding of this book, and it came alive for me. I finally finished reading JANE EYRE soon afterward and loved it even more. Sibling rivalry still boiled in my blood though, and I was annoyed that EMILY hadn’t written the book I loved more. Why did Charlotte have to write it?

My sister and I eventually learned to like each other (for the most part). But I doubt I actually became a writer because of my parents’ choice in names (if I had been a boy, I was going to be Ross…yeah). But you know, if you want a kid to consider writing, it doesn’t hurt to have people asking at every turn, “Are you going to grow up to be writers?”

I’m still trying to get Charlotte to give it a go. ;)

Write Something ELSE (It might get you an AGENT!)

It has been about four years exactly since the first time I told S — “I am writing a novel.” He nodded at the time, clearly unaware that ~this was important~. So I added, “I’m serious about this. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’m going to finish this book and do everything I can to get a literary agent and get published.”

…to which he nodded again, mildly. So I rolled my eyes and went back to writing my book.

I queried that book months later. I got a lot of form rejections and one SUPER encouraging query-rejection from an agent I admired…who pointed out that my writing needed polish.

So I went out and bought books to jog my memory on how to write WELL. I had changed my major in college from English Writing to Psychology since everyone said I’d get nowhere with an English degree (FYI I currently run a business that doesn’t even come close to using my Psych degree either :P). The single most useful book I read during this time? SELF EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Browne and King. I blushed reading that book, realizing everything I was doing wrong.

So I rewrote the first book with my new skillz! And I queried AGAIN! This time I got a couple of full requests! And a lot of rejections. I didn’t get any agent-feedback at this time, but I was trying out some critique groups and learning more than I could’ve read in ANY book from the experience.

Still unwilling to give up on my Brilliant First Book Idea, I started rewriting it…AGAIN. Along the way, I finally met some GOLDEN critique partners I meshed with, and I truly believe we made that book as polished as a square peg in a round hole can get! So I queried it…AGAIN (3rd time same book, if you lost track)! This time I got AWESOME detailed feedback from several agents. They weren’t outright rejections…more like suggestions for HEAVY revision with an invitation to submit again. The problem with that was–I was sick of Brilliant First Book Idea by this point. Don’t get me wrong…I’m still in love with the concept. But the characters and I were so sick of each other, I finally decided (through many tears and threats to quit writing, naturally) that maybe the best thing to do was work on something else while trying to gain some perspective on that book.

So I wrote a New Book. It’s called THROUGH TO YOU. I queried it recently and I am THRILLED (THRILLED!!!) to announce that writing a different book was exactly the right decision for me because…

I have just signed with agent Mary Kole at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Mary astounded me with her enthusiasm and drive–she gets my novel, maybe even better than I do! But the best part? Mary was one of the agents on the last round who was enthusiastic about my writing, but told me (SUPER SWEETLY) that the Brilliant First Book Idea…wasn’t working.

And the most important thing I did? Acknowledge that she was right.

I think what can be taken from this how-I-got-my-agent story is pretty clear: PERSEVERE. If you want to get an agent, write the very best book you can, and query it! Pay attention to the feedback you get — good AND bad, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a project — even when it seems brilliant! You can always return to it (maybe I’ll revisit that first book too someday). But if you’re having trouble with a project and you just CAN’T make the peg fit the hole…maybe you’re working on the wrong thing. That manuscript you love will always be special because that’s where you started. But you’ll never know what OTHER projects might be successful if you can’t let the current one go…

WRITE SOMETHING ELSE. And see what happens! :D

Enter Title Here

That’s what the subject line says in the box before you post a blog in WordPress. I have been thinking about writing this entry since April, and I had no idea what to call it once I got here, but that seemed appropriate.

I just finished my second novel (yay me!), which is not to say I just finished the second project I ever started. Like most writers, I have a folder of paragraphs, pages and chapters that either died on the page, or haven’t been completed yet. I usually have to call them SOMETHING in order to hit save and file them away, and I’ll admit, those names are usually…uninspired.

I never came up with a name that I liked for my first novel. It started as MIND FIRE, and was put in a drawer as SPARK, but neither of those names called to me like: I am this novel.

But then I started writing THROUGH TO YOU (the novel I just finished – yay again!). And that was its name from Day 1. I know how publishing is, and I know there’s a strong chance if it ever gets published, the title will change. But it was just WEIRD how that was the book’s title immediately, and I never questioned it.

I know people often ask writers where they get their ideas, and as annoying as some say that is to answer over and over, I hope someday…maybe…someone asks me that question about this book. Because the title and the idea came from the very same place, about eight years ago. I didn’t know I was going to write novels at the time, but the things pinged in my brain back then stayed there. Until they became a book.

Some people may laugh when they see this. It’s hard to see a NOVEL in um…a rave in a library. And I’m not going to go through and point out the things in the video that matter to me. Maybe YOU’LL see something there too, a different concept that will matter to you. But this is my testament to ideas: they can come from just about anywhere.

And now you know where the title comes from, too. :)

TTY

THROUGH TO YOU…is what I’m NOT getting AND what I’m doing! Heh.

TTY Word Count is currently: 36.5k (w00t!)

Unfortunately because of the time sucking demands of my day job, I have had to choose between blogging and writing a YA novel I’m VERY excited about. I’m sorry, WordPress, I didn’t choose you. :(

I hope to be back SOON when this book gets close to the querying stage…I see now how MUCH I learned from writing SPARK three times over, and I hope that will shine THROUGH TO YOU in this new ms. Hee. (I NEVER pick good titles, but this one puns so well! It MUST be right, Y/Y?)

In my absence, please enjoy the news that Christopher Pike is coming out with a new YA novel in September 2010!!!! *gasp*

Paying Tribute to Christopher Pike

October is one of my FAVORITE months. The weather starts to cool, but we don’t usually get snow, the shorter daylight hours become impossible to ignore…it’s all about transition. And then there’s HALLOWEEN.

Every year, S and I watch a marathon of scary/thriller/horror movies from October 1st to 31st in celebration of the season, and this year will be no exception. Last year I blogged movie reviews, and I might this year too…but when I started to think about great blog topics for this month Of All Months, I wanted to do something different. I tried to think of what DEFINED my love of Thrills and Chills…and Christopher Pike jumped out at me!

…and then I screamed! ;)

For those who may be ~unfamiliar~ with The Great Mr. Pike, he was known as the Stephen King of Young Adult Fiction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is also famous for being completely mysterious – no one knows much about him personally, and good luck trying to find out (his name is a pseudonym taken from Star Trek - FTW!). It’s part of his ~mystique~.  He was a MASTER of teen thrillers and science fiction, always pushing the envelope. I devoured these books in middle and high school, always checking the stores to see if a new one had come out. Recently, I reread some of them (I still have ALL my original copies), and I’m so impressed that not a single one seems formulaic or trendy, even now. Many of them deal with paranormal phenomena, but often times, the scariest things in them are simply human beings.

My absolute all-time favorite Pike book is Master of Murder. Observe the completely amazing 1992 cover art (it was redone later, but to me this is the only cover): MasterofMurder

The book is about an eighteen-year-old guy named Marvin who is a bestselling author of teenage fiction, but NO ONE KNOWS IT except his sister and his agent. Marvin needs to keep his identity secret, but he starts to realize that the stories he’s been writing – murder mysteries - are actually true. And then he receives a fan letter that reads: “I know who you are.”

People have speculated that MASTER OF MURDER is semi-autobiographical for Mr. Pike. The first time I read it, I became convinced that he WAS a teenaged novelist, and that if I met him, he might realize that I loved writing too and go out with me!! I no longer think this is true…okay, the part about him being a teen novelist, ;) though I’d still LOVE to meet the mysterious Christopher Pike.

Does this cover not SCREAM amazing to you? The 90s computer! The dead girl! The chilling font! The guy tapping away at his novel! <3

 

One of the more disturbing Pike books I’ve read  is Whisper of DeathWhisperofDeathThis one definitely has a supernatural element to it, though it is hard to define – which is one of the BEST and scariest things about Pike – how uncomfortable he makes you feel. You don’t understand the threat, and that is SO terrifying. !!! Anyway, those two terrified-looking kids are Roxanne and Pepper. That hooded death-figure on the road may or may not be Betty Sue, a dead girl with a GRUDGE.

Roxanne is pregnant, so she and Pepper leave town to try and solve their problems (I LOVE how vague the back cover copy is about this). When they get back, however, the town is deserted except for three other kids Betty Sue wants dead.  

Christopher Pike is a magnificent storyteller, and one of his great talents is weaving stories into stories. Betty Sue left stories behind that she’d written about each of the kids – telling how they died, before it happens – and of course things unfold exactly how she wrote them! One of the greatest things about Whisper of Death is the ambiguous ending. I still couldn’t tell you exactly what happened, but it wasn’t happy for anyone – except maybe Betty Sue, who we find out, was also pregnant when she died. I’ve read this book several times, and it still bothers me. Which is why Mr. Pike is a master of the craft.

 Midnight Club

The Midnight Club has stuck in my mind for fifteen years. I reread it recently, and cried all over again. Yes – I CRIED over a Pike book. That’s what a gifted author he is.  The Midnight Club is about a group of teens in a hospice (I KNOW – depressing). But Pike makes you realize teens in a hospice are still TEENS, and they act like them. A group of five meets at midnight to tell stories (more stories within story – FTW!), but as each of them gets sicker, they start to speculate about ~the after life~ and make a pact that the first of them to die will try to make contact–from beyond the grave. Eeee! I LOVE this book. It feels so well-researched, so compassionate…and so hopeful, despite the theme.

I guess a post about Christopher Pike wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Remember Me. Except that I am sooo disappointed I couldn’t find a bigger picture of the cover than this.  You can hardly see the ~ghostly hand~ on the balcony railing, not to mention poor Shari’s artistically-arranged body on the ground – without a trace of blood in her gorgeous blonde hair. RememberMeRemember Me is about Shari Cooper, a murdered girl whose ghost sticks around trying to find out who pushed her from that balcony at a party. The story is compelling, with lots of interesting familial backstory and baby-swapping, but the ending totally makes the whole book. I might as well ruin it, it’s so…NOT anything I ever expected. Shari’s (not dead) brother is diabetic, and his crazed girlfriend-slash-actual-sister tries to kill him by using his own syringe to inject an air bubble into his veins. Shari’s ghost slips INSIDE her brother’s veins to stop the air-bubble from giving him a heart attack. I mean – WHO would have thought of that? CHRISTOPHER PIKE.

There are TOO MANY excellent Pike books for one blog entry! However, I found out while writing this that The Last Vampire series is being re-released. Which isn’t a huge surprise considering the YA market right now…but it isn’t one of my favorites. I think one of the most impressive things about Christopher Pike is that he could write fantastic stand-alone thrillers. Remember Me became a series, so did The Last Vampire, Final Friends, Chain Letter, etc… and I’m not saying I didn’t buy every single one and enjoy them. But I remember and hold dear the single, sweet, intense books like Road to Nowhere, Spellbound, The Eternal Enemy, The Immortal, Die Softly, Last Act, and who can forget the very FIRST book: Slumber Party.

So on the first day of October, the spookiest month, a month of transition, I pay humble tribute to Christopher Pike. For keeping me up reading at all hours as a teen, for making me afraid to turn out the lights, for blowing my mind with compelling tales, and for instilling an everlasting love of YA that continues to shape me as a writer.  ~*~

Pike

10 Things to do at Your First Writing Conference

So a while ago I wrote a  blog entry about my fear of writing conferences. Ok, maybe it wasn’t just about writing conferences, but a general fear of social situations IN GENERAL and writing conferences happen to be VERY SOCIAL events? 

Well, last weekend, I FACED THE FEAR.

And…the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s conference was a FANTASTIC experience. :) I learned so much, I only had one soul-crushingly-anxious moment the entire weekend, and now I have become infected like a ZOMBIE and become one of those obnoxious people who always tells you, GO TO A CONFERENCE…there are *SO MANY BRAINSS*…

Ok maybe not that last part. I just listened to the audio version of  The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and ~loved~ it. :) My apologies for all zombie analogies in this post…

So to get away from the undead and RUN toward a much more productive blog entry, I give you:

Ten Things to do at Your FIRST Writing Conference

1. Walk in, register — locate the bathrooms. You will want to know where they are if you suddenly find yourself in need of them, TRUST ME. And don’t laugh at me yet – MANY drinks are consumed at conferences. Most of them either caffeinated or alcoholic. Nature calls, even if agents don’t. And the sympathetic nervous system is not your friend. Ok, I can’t make a judgment on that for you, but MINE is not my friend. Also…what was the green thing in your teeth while you were talking to that editor? Bathrooms are BUENO — they’re also a place to hide from zombies.

2. Get the “I am a NEWBIE” label for your name badge, or whatever equivalent tagging you can locate or create yourself.  This helps prepare you for number three (talking to people)… which was my BIGGEST fear going into RMFW. My NEWBIE label made everyone smile sympathetically and ask if I needed HELP, or if I was having a good time, which was wonderful — because sometimes I did indeed say “HELP!” and they were soooo nice about it! (disclaimer: being labeled NEWBIE puts you at risk for being thrown to zombies first, so STAY on guard, even when people smile.)

3. TALK TO PEOPLE and do not be scared when THEY TALK TO YOU. Unless they are moaning and shuffling toward you with milky eyes and fetid flesh…they don’t want to eat your brains! Ok, as noted, this was my biggest source of anxiety. When in social situations with people I admire, I either don’t say anything, get ridiculously giggly and say stupid things,  or manage to say something horribly offensive without realizing it until later. But ~everyone~ at RMFW was sooo nice from the moment I walked in (even going so far as to sit with my lonesome newbie self at lunch – SO not like high school!), and just remember you are armed with the ETERNALLY INTERESTING ice-breaker question that works on EVERYONE at writing conferences: “So, what do you write?”

4. Go to as MANY workshops as possible. Staying in an organized, structured environment at all times is a priceless tool when you need to pick a zombie out of a crowd. That person who just WON’T stop groaning at the back of the room and hasn’t turned their cell phone off? Probably a zombie. Or at the very least…not a serious writer. Also – you will LEARN THINGS! I found interactive workshops to be the most helpful – ones that help you craft a query letter, for example, and then give you feedback on the work. There were a few workshops I didn’t even like the sound of that turned out to be really informative – SO GO.

5. BUDDY UP. This may come as a shock, but…there are other people at the conference who don’t know ANYONE there either. I was lucky enough to find someone close to my age who wrote in the same genre as me. We hit it off pretty quickly attending the same classes, so I didn’t have to go hide in the bathroom (see #1) rather than try to “mingle” with others…as much. Also, when the dead rise again, having someone to run/strategize with increases your chances of survival.

6. DO Participate in a critique group/session, if you can. This is what you want most – for other people to see your work. You want feedback on it. THIS is where it’s at. Er…where it is. I was in a group with six other writers and one agent. Our agent had never participated in a critique group before, but I was WOWed by the grace with which she handled the situation. Each writer submitted ten-page samples ahead of time, and each writer got feedback from every member of the group. I received comments I was expecting, as well as some new insights, and it was just FUN to hear what people thought about what I’d written, whether good, bad, mistaken, or dead on. Knowing HOW people read your work helps you become a better writer.

7. EAT. Okay, this list is obviously in no particular order. Try to eat something ~lasting~ before you enter the conference each day, and no matter how nervous you are, TRY to eat lunch. If you don’t, I guarantee you WILL be a zombie by nightfall. I know this sounds like instructions for surviving the SAT, but…maybe those obnoxious test-prep people were onto something after all. Also…the RMFW conference had TWO separate dinners, which I was completely unprepared for. The sight of well-appointed tables with ZERO seat assignments in a huge room with 300+ people made me feel a little like um…a wounded vampire surrounded by hungry werewolves (though I was going to make another zombie ref, didn’t you?). Also, the tables at these things are SO LARGE you can’t possibly talk to the person directly across from you. It helps if you are good at interpreting facial expressions, but my advice is, smile a lot, nod, pay attention to what you’re eating, and try to LISTEN as much as possible. IT IS SO INTERESTING TO LISTEN.

8. Sharks don’t bite. I mean–agents are people too! Okay, some of them are more intimidating than others, for sure. But a writing conference is a huge OPPORTUNITY to get to know them! Say hello, introduce yourself, and DO NOT talk about your book — unless they ask. You may be thinking, um, but the whole reason I am THERE is to get them interested in my book! And that’s TRUE! But if you have a great conversation with an agent, and make a good impression, then you can QUERY them and say, “Hi my name is Emily Zombiepants, and we met at the RMFW conference in September…” which is the appropriate place to speak to an agent about your book (UNLESS they ask), and when they are at their desk in New York and you jog their memory, they’ll look back and go, “Ohhh yeah, Emily Zombiepants! The ONLY person at that whole conference who DIDN’T try to hock their book at me, AND she was cool – I am 100 times more interested in her query letter now!”

9. Dress for success! UGH I cannot stand that phrase — but it’s true. Go to a writing conference dressed as if it was a job interview — because it IS. You wrote your entire novel wearing pumpkin pajama pants, but get out the dress slacks, the iron, and pet hair roller before going to a conference (also, comfortable dress SHOES). Once you’ve topped the best-seller list for 52 weeks, you can wear NoPants, or All Black, or a Pink Sparkly Bodysuit, or just revert to (my fave) PJ PANTS! And if you’re worried about erring on the side of OVER or UNDER dressed, pick OVER DRESSED. Always. If everyone else is in jeans, you will SHINE. If everyone else is over dressed too, you won’t look like a sloppy ZOMBIE!!

10. GO TO THE CONFERENCE. Okay, this isn’t advice about what to do AT the conference, but how can you do all the other nine things if you’re home on your couch? FIND a conference, PAY the money (soooo worth it), and GET OUT THE DOOR. Don’t get me wrong, I am a total advocate of online networking when it comes to being a writer. You can do so much to connect with other writers, agents, and editors online — you can learn a TON that way — but we’re still human. Coming from someone terrified to answer her doorbell when it rings…NOTHING beats connecting with the writing industry face-to-face, getting a feel for writers, editors, and agents as people, in real time. You will come away excited that you could count yourself among them! AND you’ll have an advantage when fighting zombies.*

*NOT true…or I don’t think so, but someone let me know because if it is, how fast can I get on a conference committee?

Turndown

S and I went for a Night Walk around the park with Basil this evening. These are the best kinds of walks because there’s almost no one else there, the air is comfortable in summertime, you don’t have to put on sunscreen, and all of the squirrels (aka poodle bait) are asleep.

About halfway around, near one of the lakes, S and I started discussing writing conferences. I’ve never been to one. The idea of going fills me with excitement and DREAD (which might be WHY I’ve never been to one). Anyway, this week I learned that the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference will be right here IN Denver in September. I checked into it, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it turns out a LOT of interesting, important people have signed up to be part of this conference.

The only problem is…I have no one to go WITH. Okay I’ll just come out and admit it, I am ~fantastically~ codependent. I can do ANYTHING if someone holds my hand. But by myself…I BECOME wallpaper. And not even the delicious Willy Wonka kind. More like the I-WISH-I-could-talk-to-someone-I’m-going-INSANE Yellow Wallpaper. Heh. I blame my mother.

Trying to be supportive as usual, S asked me what the advantage of networking at a conference would be vs the old-fashioned query letter. So I searched my memory banks and recalled this post by Janet Reid, and told him that basically, conferences were like a chance to deliver a verbal pitch and prove in person that you are not a yahoo.

To which he responded: “And with that in mind, WHY do you think a conference would be AT ALL the right choice for YOU?”

Heh. S has known me a long time. In fact, he was in the room with me for my very FIRST real job interview. I was seventeen. We were both interviewing to work as “turndown staff” (aka we make the bed and put a chocolate on the pillow) at a high-end golf club for the summer. The woman interviewed us together to save time. S went first, chatting with the lady – we’ll call her J – and answering her questions. Then it was my turn. Typical, easy job interview, right?

J: “So Emily, everything on your application looks good. Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Me: (O_O)

J: “Uhm…you know, do you have any hobbies? Things you like to do?”

Me: (O_O) *panicked glance at S*

J: (really trying hard here, poor woman) “Maybe you like to play sports…go skiing…perhaps something? Anything?”

Me: (thinking nothing she’d listed sounded appealing) “No…I don’t like to do anything.”

J: “You…don’t?”

Me: “No.” (O_O)

Um, so chasing down the point of this blog entry…perhaps conferences are NOT for everyone. I doubt the above exchange would WOW any agents or editors (in a good way) if they took the place of J. But okay yes, I have never been to a conference, so I WILL give it a try – to make sure. Because despite S’s kind intentions to keep me from embarrassing myself again…I’m a different person (thank goodness!) than I was at seventeen. I’ll never know for sure if I can do better than that at a conference unless I suck it up and just GO to one.

Incidentally — maybe somewhat because S was there cheering me on in the background, I DID miraculously get hired for the turndown job. LOL. So maybe I just need to hold out for a conference I can go to – not so conveniently close to home – with my amazing YA writing friends who cheer me on every day. Can anyone say…SCBWI Winter 2010? I know, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to fly 2,000 miles and spend TONS more money just for some cheerleaders to pull you off the wall… But neither does putting a ridiculous piece of chocolate on someone’s pillow every night, does it?

You Make My Heart Pound Throbbingly

Recently, I’ve been reading a very successful YA series (NOT Twilight). These books are right up my alley – they’re paranormal, action-filled, humorous, and the concept is unique. And most of all…I am ~swooning~ over the male love interest. *c’thunk, c’thunk, c’thunk*

But OMG the writing is atrocious.

All through the series I have been asking myself WHY I am so compelled to keep reading when I am literally tripping over unnecessary adverbs down every page. Not only that, but this author has a habit of telling, telling, telling. Don’t get me wrong, they often *show* what’s happening with the characters quite effectively – but it is almost always followed up by a sentence or two *telling* the reader what they were just shown.  

Maybe I am simply a snarky writing snob.

And yet…when the love interest takes the MC in his arms, my hearts pounds in my chest.

So I guess I don’t really need to ask myself WHY I’ve kept reading. I suppose if characters/a story is strong enough, it can make you look past the bad writing. It’s just one of those things that makes me face-plant along the writer’s path. I peel my face off the pavement, pull pieces of gravel out of my wound, and look down *unbelievingly* at the writing that made me fall. And then *I think how that fall HURT*.

All of this makes two thoughts run in circles through my mind: If this book is what’s successful, I’m never going to make it. And then, If this person can be successful, darn it, SO CAN I.

…Hello Mr. Doubt.

A little rewrite analysis:

1st Draft: taught me all of the above about adverbs, telling, and BAD writing in general.

2nd Draft: taught me that even with nice writing, all the elements in the book MUST tie together – despite how badly I wanted to tell those pages and pages of backstory or have that unrelated shih tzu run through that scene.

3rd Draft: Isn’t finished yet but…maybe will ~finally~ bring all the lessons of Draft 1 and 2 together??

Or maybe I’ll reach the end and have a well-written story no one wants to read.

…she said *sulkily* and walked off to finish Draft 3.

14 Months

So today’s kind of a big day for me.

And that got me thinking about the past 14 months.

Actually, let me back up, because according to my Word files, MF has officially existed for almost two years. Two Thanksgivings ago, I was playing around with writing more than I had for a long time. I messed with some short stories and poetry, but this one idea kept needling through my mind & wouldn’t leave me alone. I wrote a short story, which became a first chapter. For the next nine months, I struggled through and finished writing a first draft. I showed it to my family. They *loved* it. I submitted the first draft to agents.

*blush* I got a lot of rejections. :) One of those rejections took the time to mention what the agent didn’t love about the work. It wasn’t the idea so much as the writing. I sat on that for a while. I bought some fabulous books. The most important one being: Self-Editing For Fiction Writers. I LEARNED A LOT.

I stopped subbing, and started rewriting (14 months ago). Overthis period of time, I read more books, and messageboards, and continued to learn. I started this journal, met some wonderful people (*waves*) and continued to learn. Several times, I stopped what I was doing and wondered if it was a waste of time. Several more times, I decided it wasn’t, and pressed on.

My entire plot changed. My characters changed. Some of them got new names, others new personalities. Their relationships changed. They stopped breathing and coughing their sentences. But the basic idea I started with, the one that wouldn’t leave me alone, stayed the same.

I’m generally a self-motivated person, but I continued to learn a lot about discipline. I wrote myself sticky notes, and I’ve left them up over my desk to remind me to keep going:

"5,000 Words BY MONDAY!"

"NO Messageboards this AM! _____ got an agent! REVISE!!!"

"You got NOTHING done tonight because you procrastinated! Your four lines SUCK and you’re going to be fat!"

Honestly, I can’t look at them now without laughing. S reads them and says I’m mean to myself. It’s a weird thing, self-motivation.

So today is a big day, because I’m sending MF out again. Today feels so much weightier than the last time I sent queries. I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen now, but I know I’ll understand everything that DOES happen in a way I didn’t 14 months ago.

I guess we’ll see… :)