Pets, Publishing, Writing

Pug in a Pub

PugInPubTwo great things happened for me in 2015. I rescued a pug that my daughter and I named Frankie. And really there’s nothing better than a pug at a pub. And I discovered Janet Reid’s Blog. This is a life line for writers anywhere in their career. If you don’t know about this blog, go there now. The regular blog readers (Reiders) and commentators are a friendly enough bunch and we hardly ever bite.

However, I am dissatisfied by my general life progress. Most of this is due to my own weird inclination to be mostly a hermit. I need to stop spiraling in this endless nothing ever changes rut I am in.

I never do resolutions. The most useless pile of manure to ever infest the planet. Life is too damn unpredictable, and I end up ranting at myself like this at the end of each year. Instead I have goals. Some of them lofty, some of them not so much. You will hear the sagely advice, break your goals down into realistic, achievable small bits. That works great. If you’re dieting. Less so if you’re dying.  And we are all plummeting towards that inevitable eternal dirt nap. Regardless of angels singing (they do have lovely voices, even some of the fallen ones) or pitch fork yielding hell beasts, nobody has any idea what you are doing once you leave this world. Here, time works against you.

So this year, I will strive to kick my ass to do the following…

  1. Write every day. Even if it’s just 100 words to say I had a shitty day or that I am too tired write.
  2. Expand my body of work
  3. Finish the revision on my book and resubmit the damn thing
  4. Write a better query letter
  5. Write a better synopsis
  6. Write better. Keep writing.
  7. Get an agent
  8. Attend at least one writer’s conference (even if agent is attained)
  9. Read more. It helps with the writing.
  10. Query until the pain of it is unbearable. For every rejection, send out another query.
  11. Stop making excuses. Just write.

I am going to use this blog to be my monitor. If it goes silent for weeks at a time as it did at the end of 2015, something is wrong. I am making excuses, avoiding getting things done. Maybe I have a migraine or the flu (both those things happened after November 2015), but unless I am on my actual death bed or the internet collapses (both entirely possible), then I better be writing something and recording that I did so here.

Let’s see where this leads. Shall we?

Pets, Publishing, Writing

Introducing Frankie

IMG_0190Meet Frankie, the newest addition to my motley crew of a family.

Two years back, my little Japanese Chin, Seymour passed away. He was twelve and suffered from a heart condition. Since his death, for the first time in my life, I have been without a dog or cat or fish or goat or horse. My daughter went off to college and I was traveling a lot and grieving. I finished my book, took care of some long time goals in my life, but it all felt a bit empty. I can’t stand not having a dog. It had gone on long enough.

My daughter has been obsessed with pugs forever, but we agreed that we should rescue a dog. On an ordinary working Thursday, a bit of a miracle occurred. A pug came into rescue and appeared on my PAWS application (great little app for matching people with pets in need of rescue). And she was at a rescue that is run out of my neighborhood. It was meant to be. We adopted her on Saturday

IMG_0194Frankie was found a few weeks before wandering the streets. Animal control took her in, but failed to locate her owners. They handed her over to a rescue and immediately a couple adopted her. They brought her back two days later because she shed or something. That is when she was picked up by the rescue in my neighborhood and put into the PAWS app. I happened to be looking when she was uploaded. There was not a lot known about her. The vet estimated her to be between 2 and 4 years old, and she had no name.

IMG_0210We toyed with the name Trixie (Beatrix), a prominent character in my WIP. My daughter would not go for it. She worries that any day I will go all George R.R. Martin on my characters. After going through a slew of names, my daughter called her Frankie (I think from the pug in Men in Black).

Having a dog again is so wonderful and calming. Maybe I will rescue a greyhound next. And as a writer, I am told that it is good to have pictures of your pets on your blog.

Check out Janet Reid’s Blog if you don’t believe me. And if you are a writer and don’t read her blog, you are handicapping yourself. Just do it. And go rescue a dog or cat.

 

 

 

Publishing, Writing

A Writer In Instant Gratification World

IMG_0149 I am a writer. By day, I work as a software engineer to pay the bills. I am also a single parent. There is no other means of supporting myself.  As I am not published yet (and I am getting closer), when I tell someone that I am a writer, they give me this dismissive look. I will explain I am looking for an agent. This has been going on for a while now, but for years it was, I am still trying to finish the book.

Inevitably, the non-writer will then suggest I self-publish or insist I go around the agents and go to some small publisher. And there are plenty of writers who do this. Not my path. I want to go through the gatekeepers and get published with someone who will put me on the bookshelves in both small and giant bookstores. Then they look at me like I ought to settle for whatever I can get. I’m stubborn so that’s not happening.

I also write epic fantasy. It’s not something you chug out in a year. Some of the early drafts of many chapters in Shadowed Castles were written when I was a wee kid. I have over 100,000 pages of notebooks, early drafts, scribbled maps, index cards with characters, creatures, and world history that I have been collecting since 1981. These records take up most of my attic. This is not some tea cozy mystery (which I happen to love). This is my life’s work. Now granted, I have about twenty books worth of great stories of research and ideas.

Shadowed Castles took me years to put it in a publishable state. I put it through a workshop back in the late nineties. Then I abandoned it for a good while. I simply was not ready to write that story. I wrote screen plays, short stories, and even tried a couple of literary pieces before coming back to what  I truly wanted to write. Once more I went to the workshops. Those early drafts were seven years ago. Now, I have something that I feel really good about, but it took so much time to get there.

So I am a writer living in a world of instant gratification.  This is particularly difficult when I turn down invitations because I am busy writing or when I take a day off (I do this a lot) to polish my manuscript or to respond to a request for more pages or a full. I do not do vacation. I write.  Non-writers do not seem to realize the hours of work it takes to finish a book, to revise that book as you attend conferences, interact with agents and editors and other writers, meticulously pour over each detail.

The non-writer lives in the world where if you want something, there is a great shortcut to get there. Yes, this even exists for writers (self-publishing). It’s not for me. I know there are success stories in self-publishing, but for me, it’s more than being in print. I want to squeeze my book into the company of David Eddings, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan (may he rest in peace), Mercedes Lackey, Patrick Rothfuss, and the like. I hope to tell stories that do for my readers what those writers have done for me. So I will remain a writer looking for a home in a world with little patience for me.

Writing

Godspeed, Uncle Irving

IMG_0108After an extended stay in Carkoon and the glittering cone of silence, I received a single rejection in the last two weeks. The agent sent a kind letter which basically said, great story but the manuscript is too long. I discussed this problem with other writers and such out in the blogosphere, and it seems that as a debut author, I must once more cut down the word count in my manuscript. I am trying to do that before any more full requests come in (hope springs eternal). That is where I have been and where I will remain until the task is accomplished. I so want to work on my new book, The Pirate Queen, but that will have to wait. I must sell the current book for the new book to have a place to belong.

The apocalypse is proceeding slowly. The white horse is no longer lost. Its rider is dividing us as he claims to be uniting us. Hint, when an antichrist unites, he simply slaughters (and I mean that literally) all that oppose him. His supporters, sickeningly, cheer the slaughter or blindly never know about it. Their ignorance, blissful and willful, prevents them from even realizing there is anything to oppose. And so this master manipulator of men, hidden in shadow, seldom seen in the light, rides his white horse.  He’s there. He’s riding. The blood red horse is bridled and chomping at the bit, and there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop it. So, I’m just going to keep writing.

My great uncle Irving passed away this past week. I am certain that was the rapture at work. He was a truly good man, and Heaven awaits him. If Heaven did not exist neither would men like Irving Massey. He was in his late nineties when he took his last breath, escaping mortality’s grasp after an extraordinary life. He fought in World War II, came home, was stricken by polio, married the sweetest woman you can imagine, produced four children, and enriched the lives of all who knew him.

I always forgot about the wheelchair. No matter how often I saw my uncle Irving, I always forgot that he could not walk. He shined with love and kindness, and that was all you saw, not the wheel chair, or the human frailty. Such was the magnitude of his spirit, that despite all the horrors he witnessed and the challenges that he endured, he remained among us for almost a century.

It is the ending of an era. May he rest in peace. There are too few men like him in this dirty world. If only the rest of us could live our lives in such kindness, love, courage, generosity, and gratitude, the rider of the white horse would be rendered impotent. Godspeed, Uncle Irving.

Publishing, Writing

The Cone of Silence

IMG_0108

It has been 10 days since I heard anything from the agents I am hunting. I have 7 partial requests out so I am not expecting to hear on those just yet. I have 2 full requests that will go out once I get over my fear of sending a sub-standard manuscript.

However, I have 12 queries, some that include my synopsis, that are enveloped in the cone of silence. And that could be my impatience, or it could be I have been rejected 12-19 times, but nobody is going to tell me about it. I have it on authority, it has become all too standard for agents to simply ignore writers whom they are not interested in.

I can’t decide if it would be better to get that rejection that says “Please go away, your writing sucks”, or to sit here and wonder if my work has been lost in the shuffle of 12-19 different agents. Perhaps, I have already been delegated to the kale fields of Carkoon. Or maybe I am on that super-secret agent blacklist because of some run on sentence or misplaced comma? I think I might just go out and find that white horse of the Apocalypse and get him unlost. At least, that will give me something else to worry about for a time.

Publishing, Writing

On The 1st Day of the Apocalypse

So far, the apocalypse is going well. It’s pitch perfect weather on this 1st day after the latest apocalypse.  Well, except for it being Monday, but most Mondays can make me feel like the world is coming to an end. But today is not so bad. The locusts are at a minimum. If the river runs with blood, I have Zombie Killer Meade to get me through (no, seriously I do – it’s really good stuff). A rain of toads would be disconcerting, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. Allergies are a bit harsh (autumn in the South). And I believe we have the White Horse (1st horse of the Apocalypse) pretty much stymied for the next half century. I had one of my flying monkeys (yeah, I have them. You can’t prove I don’t) tell the rider to take a left on Peachtree. He’ll be lost for at least another fifty years. Every other street in my neck of the woods is called Peachtree.

However, that doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world. In fact, I am not sure how much time I do have. I have a full request from an agent, my 2nd in fact. At the last writer’s conference I attended, someone said you have forever to get your full request to an agent. Another said, send it straight away which is why you should not query before your book is done. Well, I sure thought my book was done, but I keep catching little snafus shall we say. Hear instead of here, overuse of certain words in later chapters, and one run on sentence that starts on page 426 and goes right on until 429. I should probably fix that first. And don’t even get me started on commas. I was sure I had until about October 4 to get my full manuscript proofed and cleaned for these full requests. I wonder, do I?

If I end up mixing green drinks in Carkoon next to the kale plants, you’ll know that I ran out of time or sent a woefully inadequate manuscript. Do any of you, my ten loyal readers, have any experience with full requests? How long before I run out of time and become exiled to Carkoon?  This is what happens when you mess up as a writer. Check out Janet Reid’s Blog if you don’t believe me.