Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Frustration of Feedback

As my querying goes south, I've been trying to gather more feedback to figure out where I might be going wrong. Looking for new betas for my manuscripts. Sending my query letter through an intensive critiquing over at Absolute Write. Getting books on revising and editing to warm up for my next revision.

Ah, feedback.

It's a double-edged sword, isn't it? As a writer, I want people to read my work. I don't write for myself (I mean I do, in the general sense, but for me the purpose of any specific work is to be read). Knowing how real, actual readers respond to the work is invaluable. But at this stage, the work isn't perfected, at least as much as any finally released product will be. There's so much wrong with it, and it can be hard to show that to another person. What if they think I'm a bad writer forever? Not to mention that hearing harsh criticisms of something that has been the result of months, even years, of work can be difficult.

I have a pretty thick skin. I definitely fall more on the "all the feedback!" side of the spectrum. I want to know where my manuscript falls down. I need the perspective that I can never have as the author. I have no problem sending my manuscript out there to betas or others.

Then the first response comes in. Sure, there's a lot of problems they've found. But it starts to give me an idea of what I need to work on. The manuscript starts to feel fixable.

Then the second response comes in. And, wtf, it's completely different!

Everyone has different preferences in a story. Some people will identify with characters and some won't. The feedback can be all over the place. It can be enough to make the manuscript seem an irredeemable mess. If everyone finds a different problem, that means there are infinite problems!! 

Okay, deep breath.

The great thing about readers is that they are all different. There is no universally beloved book—no, really, not a single one. Gathering a wide range of feedback is excellent, but a manuscript could be crippled by trying to cater to everyone one of them. Just got to take the advice that resonates, fix the unintentional mistakes, look for common issues. And remember: in the end, it's your book. Take what you can use from the feedback, but write the book you want to write!

This is for the guy whose name is an instant touchstone for "brilliant author." And not by some illiterate schmoe.

(PS, if anyone is interested in reading a YA fantasy or adult SF...)

Friday, July 18, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "The Ferry"

I am so excited for WEEK TWO of my new series #FlashFridayFootage.

I'll be honest, guys: I am not a video editor. I know, I know, it doesn't show at all, right? Ha! In any case, I appreciate your patience as I work out some of the kinks with recording videos. And just keep in mind that a little cheesiness is classic SFF!

This week's story is called "The Ferry." Take it away, Nora!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Need Help: Blank Notebooks Edition

I have a confession, internet. I have an obsession with blank notebooks. I cannot resist their siren call. I stop at the notebooks aisle in Target just to flip through them. It's not just fancy notebooks, either! A simple one subject Mead can tempt me to plunk down my credit card. Not that I can say no to the thick-paged, leather journals either!

I don't know quite how to explain it. I haven't written anything significant in longhand since the first draft of novel 1 (about four years ago). I journal on a very sporadic basis. I could easily get by with one or two notebooks, but I have far, far more than that...

When I decided to write this post, I spent maybe 5 minutes collecting notebooks. This is what I found in that space of time (it's definitely not all of them):

A spiral of spiral bounds!

Do I use these notebooks? Ummmm...well...okay, there's maybe 50 pages in use between all of them. Whenever I buy a notebook I try to come up with a use for it. Sometimes I will actually use it for that. Usually that lasts about a week and then it is relegated to a dusty shelf or storage bin. Or the floor of my office, which I swear I am going to clean soon (probably when I move next month).

Let's take a quick tour of a few selected notebooks, shall we?

The red marker was the only one I had. Ugh. Clash.

This notebook, as it is so helpfully labeled, is part of my unofficial studies of philosophy. This is a subject that has always interested me—probably not surprising considering my father is a philosophy professor. He bought me Sophie's World when I was in 5th grade, and to this day it is one of my favorite books. I've probably read it at least five times. So anyway, this notebook was for my thoughts while reading Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers, a 203-page book I bought five (?) years ago, of which I am on page 21. Similarly, I have used 20 pages of this 3-subject notebook. I swear, I am going to get back to this! Someday...

Oooh, another spiral!

This is a sketchbook. I bought it early in 2013 to create a record/motivation of my weight loss. At the time I was 155 lbs (up from a low of 149) and worried about the gain. I used 5 pages in the book and my weight is currently 160 lbs. Oops.

Told you I couldn't resist Meads.

This notebook was purchased over five years ago to be my at-work notebook. However, the tag did not come off the front very easily, as you can see. So it got relegated to scrap paper. Over half the pages have been torn out over the years, and I haven't used it in gods know how long, but I still keep it under my end table. Just in case.

I feel daydreamy just looking at it!

This is one of those notebooks that I bought solely because it was cute, while insisting that I was going to use it to jot down writing ideas. (I have a whole other writing notebook that isn't even in the stack above, by the way.) I have used exactly 1 page since I bought it over a year ago. But it's still damn cute!

Orange is my favorite color, if the blog theme doesn't give it away.

This is my hard copy journal. I have had this since the beginning of 2012, and well, that bookmark should tell you just how much I've used it. Although the times I have, it has been very therapeutic! Speaking of which, I really need to journal. Maybe tomorrow.

Hedgehogs!

This is an example of actually needing and using a notebook! I bought this cutie specifically for the purpose of doing problem sets/exams from my actuary textbooks. I used an entire other notebook and this one is 3/4 full. Of course I stopped studying for an actuary career (no jobs in my geographic location), but I can't get rid of the notebook. You never know when it'll come in handy again!

So, there we have it. A small sampling of my deep and abiding love for blank notebooks. You might think that, being aware of the problem, I would be able to resist the lure. HA. Just today I was flipping through some blanks at Target, and I think I know which one I'm going to get next!

And don't even get me started on pens...

Friday, July 11, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage is Here!! "The Launch"

*drumroll*

The moment we've all been waiting for: #FlashFridayFootage has gone LIVE!

Every Friday, enjoy a quick dose of science fiction/fantasy in the form of an author (me!) reading original, never-before-published flash fiction stories. The stories are all less than 500 words, and the videos will be less than 2 minutes (approximately—don't mind the extra :20 on this one!). I hope it will be a great start to your weekend.

This week's story is "The Launch." I admit to choosing this one for the fact that it is the launch of FFF!

Enjoy the very first one:

I really hate the thumbnails YouTube comes up with...

Monday, July 7, 2014

An Ode to My Support Staff

I wanted to write about something a little bit different today.

Writing is a very solitary endeavor. Only room for one butt in the chair and one set of hands on the keyboard, after all. Ideas spring into my head from nowhere and everywhere, and they are scribbled on scrap paper or jotted into my notebooks or typed into random Word files. Some are not written down until they are ready to come together into something new. Some never leave my head at all. This is all an individual effort.

But no man is an island, as much as I sometimes try to be. So today I want to write about someone who is indirectly indispensable to my writing process. Especially because this week he is leaving on deployment, and I don't even know what I am going to do!

His name is Jon.

Jon and I went on our first date November 26, 2011 if you ask me. If you ask him, it was the 25th. Depends on whether you want to count a certain tennis match. Anyway, it's been a while!

I don't remember when I first told him about my writing. It was within the first six months or so. Now, my writing is not a secret. I am not ashamed of my writing (obviously, hence the public blog about it!), and I will usually discuss it with just about anyone. But it is very personal for me. I don't typically bring it up unless asked, and I don't usually describe it in much detail. So it was just incredible how he always made me feel comfortable about being open with him and how supportive he has been.

He has read manuscripts that no one but myself has ever seen. He will listen to me bitch and moan about the publishing process. When I don't feel like writing, he encourages me to give it a shot anyway. He is unbelievably supportive, and I think sometimes he has more confidence that I am going to "make it" than I do. (It probably helps that he is not as familiar with the crushingly depressing statistics and process of actually doing that.) He understands when I just have to disappear into my office for a couple hours. He lifts me up when I am dejected and sick of rejection without acting like everything is sugar drops and gum balls.

I could be a writer without my boyfriend. But I am so glad I don't have to be! Thanks, boobear, I love you!!


Now there's a damn cute couple! ;)



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Wrap-Up

It's been a while since I've done a monthly summary post. When I'm not producing a new MS, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. But since I started a new novel this month, well, here I go!

June was a great month for me in writing. I wrote what I felt to be a kick-ass query. I participated in and "won" #SFFpit. I sent out a ton of queries. I had a plot idea, outlined it, and started writing novel 7. I joined the amazing Absolute Write forums. Being without a day job is undoubtedly good news for my writing. It really makes me want to be able to pursue being a novelist full time. Alas, I don't have the savings for that. So the job hunt continues.

I didn't set any concrete goals for June, except to start the querying process, but if I had I think I would have met them all! Here are the nuts and bolts of June 2014:

Words written: 15,385 (!)*
Non-writing days: 16
Agents queried: 33
Rejections received: 8 forms, 1 from a partial request
Publishers queried: 2
Rejections received: 1 personalized

*This makes June 2014 the most productive month I have ever had for wordcount. At least going back to the inception of my tracker spreadsheet, 2011. That includes an attempt at NaNoWriMo!

With such an excellent June on the books, I just know July is going to be even better. Those June words mostly resulted from a 14 day writing streak on novel 7. I've blogged before about the importance of momentum, and I clearly have it. The streak was broken due to a Disneyland trip yesterday, but tonight it begins again!

So, the goal for July is 750 words a day, for a daunting total of 23,250 words. Also no more than 10 non-writing days! I think that is completely achievable. We'll see!