Friday, December 18, 2009
It's probably a combination of factors. Four years ago all four of my grandparents celebrated with us at my parents house. This year there won't be any. I've lost three in the past three years, and my remaining grandma is spending Christmas in Arizona with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. Not that I blame her. If I could, I would fly South for the Winter too. My father's parents died a year apart, both fairly unexpectedly. Or as unexpected as it gets at eighty-nine. I loved them, had just begun to really appreciate them, and I miss them. This past May, though, my mother's father passed. He was that one, the one who was special. The one who makes you feel special and loved, just by being in his presence. He and I have always been close, ever since I was an infant. Losing him is something I still haven't adjusted to. I started crying at a restaurant a few weeks ago because the old man at the next table ordered a tenderloin (one of Gramps' favorites). Gramps was a big man in so many more ways that his physical appearance. He filled up a room with joy, kindness, and laughter. The house at Christmas will be so...quiet.
This year it will be only my parents, my uncle, my sister, my husband, and myself. I've been working hard on getting out of debt and there isn't much to spare this year for presents. Usually I go overboard. I love giving. Watching people open the things I've picked out for them brings me such joy. Especially my mother and father, who have done so much for me over the years. It's impossible to think of paying them back, but I love to try. Part of me doesn't want to go and face that empty house. I know I will, though. Families change, surely everyone goes through years like this sooner or later. To top everything off my best friend (who I've had my entire life) is moving away for the first time. I don't make friends easily, at least not close ones, and I have no idea what I'm going to do without her to escape with. It's hard. I'm making a valiant attempt not to let it ruin Christmas, though.
It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie. People always say that's an impossible task, to pick a favorite movie, but not for me. I love the characters, the story, and the moral. This year I feel sort of like George Bailey. Like nothing I've done is good enough, will make enough difference, or means much of anything at all. I'm trying to take on his lesson as my own, and remember that it doesn't matter who I've lost, how much money I have to spend on presents, or whether or not our house is bursting at the seams on Christmas morning. What matters is the lives we've touched and those who've touched us. That we are all better people for the love, family, and friendships we've been given over the whole of our lives. Those are the things, the love, family, friends, and memories that make the hard road forward worth it in the end.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, dear readers. Here's to 2010...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
(Look for a peek at my version of Titus and Berenice's beginnings in my next post)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
While deeply immersed in piles of research, I am overcome with resentment. Armed with my fury at the unfairness of it all, I scribbled down a defense of Berenice, a woman who is a historical character as well as one of the main characters in the novel I am currently writing. Since it is a subject I am passionate about, my scribbles went on for ages, and the piece refuses to fit into a proper blog-length. So I decided to break it into chunks, using this one to set the historical stage for my upcoming rabid, vociferous, defense of Berenice’s character.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
There is such an immense amount of information on the web about how to get a literary agent, how to get your book published, how to write query letters, a synopsis, etc. Don't believe me? Google any one of those phrases and you could spend the next month sifting through the information. Much of it is conflicting. There are a thousand ways, it seems, to write a query. What I want to do is share some of my own experience and offer links to some of the sites I have found most helpful.
1. Put yourself out there. Engage in the whirlwind that is social media. Join Twitter and Facebook. Find other writers like yourself. Find agents and editors and follow them. They often offer up priceless advice for free. Twitter hosts any number of chat sessions for writers to come together and talk with each other. I joined one for the first time last Sunday called #writechat. I got so many ideas for organizing, learned about programs I am not using but probably should be, and found interesting people to follow and learn from. Networking is essential. It has also saved me from thinking I am alone, I am crazy, or that I am a terrible writer and should give up because of the never ending form rejections that keep showing up in my inbox. There are others out there. Find them.
2. There are agents and editors (and in some cases, assistants, who we all know do the hard work) who are willing to help us unpublished folks learn the ins and outs of querying, signing with an agent, and publishing. The first one I stumbled onto was Janet Reid. She works for an agency called Fine Print Lit (who I have queried with no success, btw) and her advice is witty and applicable. On the days she doesn't post anything pertinent, it is still hilarious and will give you a good laugh. She also has another blog called Query Shark, where she reviews submitted queries and tears them apart for the greater good. I know my query improves vastly as I learn from the mistakes of others. I have sent two different versions to her but she hasn't chosen to review them yet. Drat. I am hoping this means they are not filled with enough mistakes to be a valid learning tool for others. I hope it doesn't mean it's boring. Here are a few others that I follow, all of which have helped me learn and made me chuckle. The Rejectionist, Editorial Ass, Rants and Ramblings, The Swivet, and Nathan Bransford. These are just a few. You will find many more.
3. Learn how to write a query letter. Use the Query Shark. This is also a helpful site for many things, including writing queries. Let others critique your query. Trust me, I thought my original version was uh-mazing. It wasn't. When I read it now, I laugh out loud at what a pretentious ass I sound like.
4. Do your research on agents and agencies. Know who likes to read what and who is or isn't accepting new clients. We don't want to waste their time and, more importantly, we don't want to waste our time. I joined a site called Writer's Market for a low monthly membership fee. Lots of benefits, such as agent updates, articles, web seminars, web page suggestions, and a way to track your queries. I have also heard good things about Query Tracker.
5. Develop a thick skin, learning to graciously accept criticism is a requirement in any creative field. It's not easy. Instinct pushes us to explain concepts further, to try and get people to see our point of view. Bottom line, though, is that not everyone will want to see it our way. Not everyone will want to read your book, no matter how great it might be. Ask for critiques from people you trust. Listen to what they say. Join a critique group, either online or in your area. These people will one day, hopefully, be your audience. Their opinions are like gold.
6. Last, but I have learned is most important: DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. Most of us will get rejected many, many times. I let myself feel disappointed for ten minutes when I receive a "no" from an agent and then I get back to work. Maybe I won't sell the first book right away. Maybe I'll sell the second, or the third. Even if I don't, I'll still be writing. All I know is that I was born to be a writer, writing is like breathing and I couldn't stop if I wanted to.
I hope some of these links are helpful to those who have just decided to take that leap of faith and put themselves and their work out there for others to see. Letting people read what you've written is like letting them into your heart and soul and it's intimidating, to say the least. One last link to one of Janet Reid's posts. I read it every time another rejection makes me feel like I am an idiot for even trying. Keep the link in your favorites. You'll probably need it. Be Brave.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
In the meantime I have written another historically focused novel and a memoir. I have gotten some feedback on the first novel and am revising. Which is not too fun, by the way. I am excited about an idea that has been brewing, this time around my area of specialization, Ancient Rome. I spend pretty much all my free time browsing other blogs by agents, editors, assistants (those are the best!), and other authors like myself or on Twitter trying to keep up with the same people. It's exhausting. Sometimes I feel like I could spend all my time reading about how to write instead of writing. I am working on a balance.
I decided to start a blog mostly because I am a writer and being able to jot down any little thought that comes into my head appeals to me. I have been doing movie/book/television reviews on my husbands social media blog for some time, which has been enjoyable. Also, I wanted to connect with others like me, maybe just starting to get the hang of the process, just starting to get a whiff of how immense the online writing community is and how priceless their advice can be. I'll try and pass along any tidbits that I pick up along the way and hope you will do the same. One day I hope to have advice to offer myself, once I actually convince someone actually in publishing that my work is worth reading. Till next time.