Tag Archive: writing


I am not a social creature.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know a lot of people, and these people actually like me, but butterfly I am not (that’s you, Iyanna).

I bring this up because first I read Elana’s post the other day.  I’m still amazed at her ability to take those bleh feelings and turn them into some positive encouragement. 

I’d definitely been reading a lot of blogs lately addressing the hard work and dedication and love of the craft of writing involved in making it into a career.  It seems most writers have gone through those questioning moments of self-doubt.

Then I read this post today on Candyland’s blog.  It’s true we write for ourselves first before others, and I’m glad to be reminded of it.  I also read several posts on success stories, including this post announcing Frankie Diane Mallis’ signing with an agent. 

The combination of all these posts beset me with some strange, mixed up feelings, and it was suddenly clear to me that I am a little terrified. 

Yes, I worry a bit that I won’t get an agent, won’t get published, and won’t get good reviews, but I just began my journey.  I have time.  I was surprised, however, at my gut-wrenching reaction to the idea of getting what I want. 

What if I got an agent?  What if I get published?  What if I was successful?  Then what?  People will see me.  There will be expectations to meet, obligations and responsibilities beyond what I’ve experienced, and that’s where my self-doubt lies.

I would love to offer a tidbit of encouragement, but as I haven’t yet achieved that level of wild success, I suppose I will just have to learn about what happens next in the steps to publication.  That way my fear will be battled, slain and finally put to rest by the time I eventually get there.

Anyone have tips for conquering the fear of success?  Any insights on why someone would be afraid in the first place?

The Captive…

“So this is what we’ve been fighting all this time,” she sighed.  “He just looks like a man.  Men can be reasoned with sometimes.  Not you, of course.”  She tossed him a sly look.

“Appearances are on the surface, my dear.  He’s very different from us.  Very deadly to us.  It’s important to remember that when you deal with him, especially now.  I am hopeful, though, we may yet keep him alive long enough to reason with him.”

“How long before he wakes up again?”

“Should be another two hours or so.”

“So I’ll be okay in here by myself for a little while.  Long enough for you to get his labs?”

“Emelia, you promised.”

“I know.  Just asking.”  He let out an exaggerated sigh and finally nodded, sending a mock salute as he left the room.  She turned back, looking again at the vamp’s tattoos, wondering if they had some meaning or if they were just body art.  Perhaps he was different from the other vamps because they have different classes of people or like human men and women were different.  Still they’d encountered the same results with autopsies of the females, all black-eyed, single-heart, etc.

“Gabriel,” she whispered, trying out his name.  His eyes opened at the soft sound.  Emma’s feet rooted to the ground.  She wanted to back away, but her body wouldn’t obey, her heart a hummingbird beating against her chest.

Several moments passed before Emma finally took a deep, unsteady breath and saw he just studied her curiously with those silver eyes, no growls or snarls, no bared fangs.

“You can’t hurt me right now,” she said more to reassure herself.  “You’re strapped to this table, so you can’t hurt me again.”

His gaze roamed over her, lingering over her full rosy lips, deep emerald eyes and heart-shaped face.  He said nothing.

“Can you understand me?”  No response.  “Do you know where you are?”

She saw no fear, not even a little.  The irony struck her that she’d been so terrified of him earlier when he was the one kidnapped, maliciously wounded and strapped on a table in an empty white chamber to be drugged and stabbed with needles and waking to a strange woman staring at him.  Something about the situation pulled at her in an odd way

Sunny Side Up Today

Whew!  What a crazy last couple of weeks it’s been, thus why I’ve been blogone lately.  I’ve decided early this morning that the mood of the day shall be “optimistic.”  Why?  Because I need a little of it to keep my sanity!  And truly, if I don’t make myself look at the bright side every once in a while, I’ll spiral down into a deep pit in which I only write horror where the good guys all die at the end and the demons inherit the earth.

First on my optimism agenda, I had to address my job.  It’s only natural considering I live where I work.  I have to admit it can be pretty awesome.  Just check out the pic.  We shot over 220 rounds from our 5” gun the week we went out to sea.  Makes me proud–*tear* love you Combat Systems/Weps!  You’ll have to check out my Facebook photos for last year’s missile shoot, and any true patriot will have even the hairs at the nape of their neck saluting at that sight.  Sometimes I’m so busy complaining, I forget to remember I could never have lasted thirteen years of this without being strongly patriotic. ‘Nuff said here.

Next, my home-purchasing endeavors are beginning to pay off.  Didn’t get the house we first offered on, but the second was a winner.  I am more than happy to run with it as I realized last week that it had been my #1 pick from the listings my husband sent me.  Now, if only I could actually see the home before I buy it…  Nope, not likely.  But I did see lots of great pics–5brm/3ba with a tree swing, playhouse, garden area, fire pit.  Yep, definitely something to be optimistic about.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about perseverance and optimism when it comes to writing, and I’m really glad I’ve come across these posts because trying to become a published author is a somewhat discouraging business by nature.  The authors write from a personal place and therefore take rejection personally at times.  I really needed to see how much work is involved in crafting and marketing a worthy piece of literature. 

And after much research, I’ve also concluded that agents, editors and publishers are not truly evil, but are actually on our side.  They are the buffer between the writers and the cold, hard truth of economics and technology.  They do the best they can with the resources they have.  And in return, we’ll spill our blood and guts to write as close to perfection as a writer can call it (since we all know we’re never done with our work).  Maybe, just maybe, if I learn all this at the front end, it won’t take me three years to get an agent, and that, my friends, is optimism!

So I’ve shared what I’m optimistic about.  Now, where has the optimism bug bitten you?

Infected!

Vile, slimy, foul, despicable, nasty little bugs!  And I’m currently in good health, so I’m not referring to the kind you sneeze out or cough up.  It’s those pervasive, invasive computer bugs, the Trojans, worms, keyloggers, malware or whatever euphemism you can come up with for what they really are: pure evil.

Two days of my life have wasted away as I cried over my keyboard (friends would say ‘cussed’ over my keyboard) while vigorously scrubbing my laptop.  I’ve mostly got my baby clean, but there’s still this one crazy Trojan that keeps reinstalling itself.  Well, the Navy sent me through Information Systems Maintenance school for a reason, but to be honest, that was eight years ago, and I barely remember Unix and A+ from it, much less anything else.  I’ll solve this the way I solve all of my other problems: Google.

Okay, rant over.  Not to change subjects, but I’m changing the subject.  I am blown away by all these blogolicious contests offered by all you phenomenal bloggers out there:

Anna Staniszewski, YA author represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, is having a 100 followers contest, offering two soon-to-be-released books.  Click quick.  The deadline is April 22.

Sarah Wylie just published her book, All These Lives, and she’s giving away some amazing prizes for aspiring authors: lunch with agent-extraordinaires Janet Reid and Suzie Townsend, a query critique, a partial manuscript critique, or a writer’s survival package.  Click here to beat the April 25 deadline.

Linda Sandifer is giving away an autographed copy of her latest novel, The Last Rodeo, and a box of chocolates in honor of Mother’s Day.  You’ll need a hankie when you read about her impressions of her mother.  She’ll pick a winner who clicked here by May 2.

Stephanie Boman just signed with Alyssa Reubin of Paradigm Talent Agency and wants to celebrate by giving away a creepy pendant made by an Etsy artist (Ebay for handcrafting artists, if this is new to you).  Just comment here about something that creeps you out.

And one of my personal favs, a revolving contest, is Miss Snark’s First Victim Secret Agent Contest.  This is a monthly contest, but you need to be quick on the draw to get your submission in.  Entries are judged by a panel which includes a mystery agent.

Whew!  Lots more out there, but I need to sleep eventually.  Uber-giant thank you to Bethany Wiggins for awarding me a Blogger BFF Award.  I’m psyched about it because I love her blog.  The Shooting Stars blog and Elana Johnson’s blog were the first blogs I ever followed, and I still always go there first.

Geez, I got a lil link-happy tonight.  Before I go, I’m a bit curious about how people choose their prizes.  What’s the weirdest prize you’ve ever seen offered or that you’ve ever offered in a contest?

Found Me Some Peeps

…and I’m not talking Easter Peeps! Where do you go to find a crew that will have your back? I was struggling with this question for several days and tried a couple of options. In particular, I needed to find writing buddies.

I joined some online discussion groups. This didn’t seem like such a bad idea at first, and some blogs recommended finding critique groups this way. Uh-uh. This isn’t for me I figured out quickly. A critique does no good if it’s coming from writers who aren’t on your level or readers who don’t give specific enough feedback.

Blogs will give you some really fantastic advice, but they won’t read your writing, slap you when it’s bad, encourage you when it’s good, motivate you when you slump, and guide you when you’re lost.

When I finally found a group, it was where I should’ve looked first. I’ve been using a site for the last two years with phenomenal success,  a social networking site that specializes in face-to-face contact. I finally searched for writers on Meetup and found a group that sounded right for me. Jackpot!

My first meeting was more than I could have hoped for. The group reviewed each other’s work, offered specific and constructive feedback, offered encouragement, and had no problem covering any genre, including poetry and screenwriting. I got nothing but warm fuzzies about all the group members. Yes, I’m pretty sure I found me some peeps. I’m excited now to submit some of my own work to see what I can do to improve.

I wish everyone luck with finding their own peeps. Maybe you’ll have a better experience with online groups, but the face time suits me well. What have you done to find your own support and encouragement?

PS, we met at All American Grill in San Diego, and I had the Salinas salad – Yum!  Highly recommended.

Just Fun for Now

Ah, the sting of rejection riding on the coattails of hope!  So far, my first query resulted in a form rejection, second query resulted in request for partial followed by a form rejection, and queries three through five are still out to sea with the agents.  Well, that’s okay.  I’m bracing myself, doing my research, and settling in for the long haul.

I could get dejected, but I’m not.  I have a job, a family, a life, and a love of writing.  So I’ll keep writing.  I started in the first place because my friends wanted the story and now I’ll continue because they want more and so do I.  I love that feeling of a story unfolding where there wasn’t one before.  I can do this just for fun, for the love of it.

In the meantime, I’m working on the next project, while still working on ways to make the first one better.  Along these lines, I’m having difficulty getting useful feedback on my manuscript.  My friends are great, and they help me gauge whether I’ve got a great story, but they’re not writers.  My husband’s a writer, but doesn’t read or write in my genre, although he’s encouraged me and helped me considerably with it.  I considered joining associations or attending conferences and workshops, but I don’t really have the resources to invest.

Any writers out there have any suggestions?  Where have you turned to get input on your manuscript?

I sat slumped in my chair slowly dying.  To be completely honest, it was my laptop battery dying, not actually me, but it felt the same.  The writing bug had bitten me in the rump, and it was not about to be ignored.

I looked around the waiting room at the gate for my next flight.  It was enormous, but amazingly dated.  Even the carpet looked like the ‘70s.  No outlets to be seen anywhere.  In this age of technology and battery-powered everything-in-your-pocket, an airport needs to have outlets for the modern traveler, especially this traveler who was lucky enough to get a three-leg flight with nearly three-hour layovers between each leg of the journey.  Well, there was one outlet at the front overlooking the runway outside, but a couple already sat there with their battery-powered something-or-other happily drinking the electrons.  The room was empty otherwise, except the agents at the end of the room.

I approached the agents, hoping for directions to a wireless section somewhere with plug-ins or some other similar modern amenity.  Too much to hope for.  Apparently, when your layover is in Maui, you should enjoy it and lay off the technology, never mind I never left the airport and have yet to set foot on Maui soil.  They looked about the room as well, noting the lack of electrical outlets.  Finally, the agents noticed a very large unmarked thing plugged into a set of outlets.  The thing looked like a big locker that appeared to be empty.  They made a command decision to unplug the thing so I could use the outlet.  Normally, there’d be a pair of plugs in the outlet, but one of them had a ground broken off in it, thus rendering it unusable.

Yes!  Power.  Good.  As I hit the end of my first paragraph, I heard an angry voice in front of me demanding to know who unplugged the big, unmarked thingy.  Instinctively, I knew by the tone not to throw my new agent-friends under the bus.  They were, after all, only trying to help me out, and they had jobs there to lose.  So I said I did it.  The transportation professional proceeded to berate me and call me names before he stormed away.

Taking my cue, I reluctantly unplugged my laptop and plugged in the thingy.  Very reluctantly.  It crossed my mind (several times) to shrug it off and keep writing.  It’s a shame to get in just one lonely little paragraph, but it’s really a good thing I did unplug because the guy returned about fifteen minutes later with a posse.  Yes, a posse.  He had about six people with him from three different organizations, the Maui Police, Homeland Defense, and Transportation Security Administration.  They all swarmed in to investigate the “tampering” incident.

Apparently, the thingy was a computer with ultra-sensitive secure information on it, and they were concerned I may have gained access to the information.  After nearly an hour of grilling and ID-checking and “investigating,” they indicated I was most likely not a terrorist.  Now here’s the worst part: I’m a 13-year US Navy Electronics Technician with a Secret clearance and was just returning home to my husband and five children from a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf.  I had three photo IDs and my boarding pass verifying my identity and witnesses telling the investigators that I only plugged into the outlet and no one knew what the heck the thingy was.

Why would a computer bearing sensitive information be sitting in a waiting area in an unsecured space with no markings on it whatsoever anyway?  Wow.  Our tax dollars at work.  I never realized until that incident why so many people say the TSA and Homeland Security were wasting our money.

So, the outcome to date: they decided not to arrest me, but reserved the right to press charges at a later time.  Magnanimous of them.  Whether I go to court over this incident still remains to be seen. I’ll update if they ever contact me with a final disposition (I’ll probably never hear from them again).  In the meantime, I can say that given a chance to change what happened, I would still have unplugged that unmarked locker-looking thingy.  It was a damn good paragraph.

The Prodigal Muse Returns

How I ever truly lived without my Muse is beyond my comprehension, but somehow I went nearly a third of my life without it.  Well, lucky for me, I found it again.  Sometimes things long-dead can reincarnate, as I discovered.

I was one of the blessed ones born and raised with a Muse.  I’ve been a writer all my life, probably since the day I could read and write my first words.  Making up stories and poems came naturally to me, and in my egocentric youth, I assumed everyone indulged in writing for their own personal pleasure.  It was a shocking revelation when I found out otherwise.  Oh, I knew there were those who didn’t like writing assignments and essays for school, but I thought everyone who could write had some kind of hidden diary or journal of some sort.  Then I met those who admitted an aversion to writing in any form beyond their signature, and some said even that was pushing it.  I suppose they never had their own Muse sitting at their shoulder or maybe they had one after all, but it just specialized in something other than writing.

If everyone’s Muse is different, then I suppose mine is like a well.  Sometimes the well is empty, and I’m on my own with my writing.  Other times the well overflows and it becomes a strange ethereal voice that takes over, almost without my direction.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever experienced an in-between.  My Muse is either flooding out or not there at all.

My Muse mysteriously disappeared when I was half-way into my second year of college.  And the worst part is I didn’t even miss it at the time.  I was too busy to notice its absence.  I worked on my college newspaper as the copy editor and then editor-in-chief.  That’s where I burned out.  Not just a little, but burned out big time.  I ended up leaving college.  I stopped reading, and I stopped writing.

Thirteen years later (no kidding; absolutely nothing happened literarily during those years), I picked up a book again.  And then I read it.  It wasn’t for work, but just to pass the time.  Once I finished, I had more time to fill, so I read another book and another and another.  After a few months, I’d reclaimed my book-a-day habit until I’d read everything I could get my hands on.

I began to unconsciously critique the books I read.  And then I talked about some of them at length with my coworkers.  We discussed what they’d want to see in a book.  Soon, I began to write entire novels in the span of a dream.  The stories were in my head when I woke up, but still I didn’t write them down.  Finally, I awoke to write one page, and then the next thing I knew, I’d written a fairly polished, novel-length manuscript in less than a month.  It may not be in the genre I am normally accustomed to writing, but it’s impressive nevertheless.

My Muse brings me joy daily, and I love having it back again.  Now that I do have it back, I realize there was no sneaky vanishing act because it never really left me.  I was the one to abandon the Muse.  Knowing this, I do what will avoid the literary black hole I used to live in.  I write, write, write, and when I’m not doing that, I read, read, read.  But only what makes me happy.  It’s my own personal art fed by my own, ever-present Muse, the well that could raise the dead.