Update Day

Hey all! Today’s Update Day for my Big Dreams (or any one of a million things you want to call it) bloghop. Basically, if you have big dreams or hugely important goals for your writing, this is the place for you. Go here, if you still want to sign up. Or even if you want to see how the rest of us lunatics are doing.

Okay. So… January wasn’t my most productive month. I only wrote about 6000 words.

I did, however finish a short story I’m going to send to the Untethered Realms anthology. And I’m pretty dang close to finishing edits to Birds vs Bastards. So close, that I’m probably going to start querying before the end of February.

Of course, as the year develops, so do my writing goals.

My timeline now looks like this:

With my editor gone, The Heir’s Choice (War of Six Crowns Book 2) is in limbo while I wait for the publishing house to find a replacement. Which means that Book 3 also has to wait. Honestly, this is breaking my heart. I’m dying to get back into that story.

In the meantime, I need to get some of my other projects done. That way I can focus on the Wo6C series once I have an editor again. I also need to keep busy while I query BvB.

That’s why I moved up one of the rewrites and why I’ll be drafting as well in February.

Also, researching the Afrikaans story is turning into a pain in my ass. (As any research would if all you get is “They were glorious.” and crap like that. Oh and if my local library employees give me empty stares when I say I need something for research. Want me to find it myself? THEN MAKE SENSE IN YOUR SHELVING!!! Stick up markers so we know what goes where. ANYTHING!!! Sigh. I hate useless people.) Ahem. Point is I basically lost a whole month out of my already short schedule trying to get the books I need for research. Which means that I don’t know if I’ll manage to write the story by September (never mind edits). Not giving up on it, but it’s now lowest priority and stuck on “research/conception” until such a time that it’s actually realistic for me to even consider writing the damn thing. I’m going to stop here, but expect a post on this in the near future. But let me just say I now know why NO ONE seems to write about this time period anymore. (One book in the past ten years.)

Anyway.

This month I want to:

1) Add words to at least one of my running rough drafts.
2) Rewrite my western romance.
3) Research my Afrikaans story.
4) Put together an agent list for Birds vs Bastards.
5) Finish edits to Birds vs Bastards.
6) Query some agents.

Tell me you’re getting along better with your goals than I am. Please.

I present to you… Birds vs Bastards

Hey all! So… As I mentioned, I’m going to start querying again and soon.

In the interests of that, I thought I’d share my query letter. Please feel free to crit me. Yes, I know it’s a SHORT book. I also know that lengthening it just for the sake of adding 20k words screws up the pacing. And my pacing is AWESOMESAUCE.

And no, the irony of me querying a very short book after querying a very long one isn’t lost on me. Ahem. The query.

First, do no harm. It’s an oath Blake Ryan took to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals. 

Aleria had changed that. She’d given him mercy when he deserved death, set him straight and let him loose. Even though everyone she cares about wants him to die. He hasn’t let her down yet. Thanks to regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, he’s led a quiet life since WWII. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them. 
Then Aleria’s wheeled into his hospital ward, and his carefully controlled life teeters on the edge of disaster. Her life is vibrant. Basically, crack to immortals like him. And she can’t even remember her name, let alone defend herself. Deserting her when she needs help isn’t an option. 
The small problem is, Ryan will have to unleash his inner monster to protect her from those who want her dead. 
The nightmare is that his inner monster wants to kill Aleria himself, when the sane part of him is falling for her.
FOREVER is an Adult Urban Fantasy, complete at 41,000 words. 
I’m a published author of a YA Epic Fantasy novel under the pseudonym M. Gerrick. (The Vanished Knight, published by Etopia Press.)
There you have (a bit of) what this story’s about. Thoughts?

And… she’s back.

So… Yesterday had me in a bit of a slump. But fortunately for me, I have more than one horse in the race at the moment.

Which is good, because this lady’s getting herself an agent.

Oh stop groaning. I know you’ve heard all this before. But really. The one upside to having worked with the editor who’d quit is that I’ve learned a lot more about writing and the craft than I thought possible.

In fact. *whispers* I even know why agents didn’t look at Doorways back then.

This time. This time I’m not making the same mistakes. I’m making new ones, but hopefully smaller ones, that’ll have an agent interested in the new work.

But for now, I’m copy-editing like a fiend. My draft query is written and I’m working on that.

Soon, lovelies, soon, I shall cry like a girl take over the world!

No. I’m totally not on uppers or anything.

Promise.

And now… home made pizza! O_O

Who’s joining the query trenches with me?

Now I know.

Remember when I said something bad was happening and I couldn’t put my finger on it?

Turned out I was right. My editor quit over Christmas, due to ill-health. I only found out today.

I’m shocked and sad. And a little upset. I’d chosen loyalty to her over the other publishing house… But… thinking back, she did warn me to base my decision on something else. Maybe she suspected she wouldn’t be able to see the project through.

I’m a bit scared too, since I now have to work with a new editor. I don’t even know who it’ll be. I also don’t know when the new editor will be assigned to my project.

So all in all, it’s bad news for me (even if I understand my current editor’s motivations), but it’s not as bad as I thought it could be.

I just wish I knew sooner.

At least I know now.

Some more tough love.

Sigh… seems like I can’t stay away from this post. And it might get me into some trouble. So yeah. Please be warned that if it isn’t quite a full-on rant, it’s pretty rant-like.

Especially since it’s a bit hard to put my thoughts into words without sounding smug or anything else horrible.

But, I took on this writing gig with honesty and helping writers in mind, so… here we go.

*takes a deep breath*

We, as writers have to take responsibility for the quality of our writing.

I’m not talking about the rough draft. Hell. Go nuts with your drafting. Chase plot bunnies with wild abandon. Be dedicated by your muse’s whims. Let your characters direct your way. And experiment, experiment, experiment. This is what rough drafts are for.

But at some stage a writer who wants a successful career needs to put his/her pro writer pants on. This means facing that what you’d written isn’t perfect. And that some of what you’ve written needs work.

Or that something you loved has to go, because it’s weakening the story.

It also means not being a pretentious prick who puts “intentions” before quality. Honestly, I as a reader can’t give a damn what you intended. I only know what I see, and if it’s not working, it’s not working. I won’t be the only one. So the way I see it, a writer has the option to either make his intentions come across the right way by adapting his writing, or to leave it. But don’t blame readers for not understanding your intentions if your writing isn’t up to standards.

Always know that if you’re keeping some aspect to a story despite what crit partners and editors say, that you made that call. Someone will notice, and you might get nailed in some review.

The other day, I talked about a book that was hampered by too much dialogue with too little description. Someone commented that I can’t say those things because the writer probably intended something with writing so little description.

I’m sorry, but having literary intentions does not exempt us writers from critique. In fact, it sets us up for it more. Readers can’t read the writer’s mind. They can only read what’s there in the book. If you got so fixated on speeding up the pace that you didn’t realize that all dialogue pulls readers out of stories, I’m sorry, that’s your responsibility as the writer.

It’s the same with intending to write a message into your story. I’ve addressed the issue multiple times, to huge consternation in some factions of the YA community in particular. I’m not rehashing that, but what I am saying now is that if you put the clarity and strength of your message before the strength of your story, you will be nailed again and again. Don’t blame the readers.

YOU made that decision. 

Editing is all about decisions. Cut this. Keep that despite what everyone says. Accept or disregard advice. I’m not saying that reviewers bullying writers are right. That’s also a post for another day.

What I’m saying is that we’re writers. We’re story tellers. At the heart of it, those stories always remain ours first, but we’re responsible for what we put out there. Own that responsibility.

Stop hiding behind your intentions. Stop blaming readers. Sit your ass down and take a hard look at what you wrote. If you find your opinion still differs from the criticism, graciously disregard it. But don’t do it because “they just don’t get it.”

Do it “because I made that call and I knew not everyone would like it”.

Taking responsibility for quality is a sign of excellence.

Blaming others is a symptom of weakness.

Which do you prefer to be?

I Think This is My Most Ambitious Challenge Yet

Before I tell you all about it, I just want to let you know that I’m visiting Crystal today. If you can spot the lie over there, you stand a chance to win a copy of The Vanished Knight. 


So. I might have mentioned this before, but I’m a firm believer in challenging myself in order to become a better writer.

That’s why I set such a huge amount of writing goals, and why such a huge goal is at to top of the blog.

Today… I felt inspired to take on a whole bevy of challenges by deciding to take on a book I’ve been toying with since last year.

I put it off because:

1) It’s not a genre I usually write. This one’s a mystery.
2) It probably won’t sell anywhere but in my native country, in my native language (Afrikaans).
3) #2 means that my scope of royalty making would be pretty small, right? Right.

But. Today, my Afrikaans writer gran mentioned that she’s thinking about entering this writing competition. The winners stand a chance to win anything from $4000 to $20,000 AND a contract with the biggest publishing company in South Africa. AND! The books have to be Afrikaans.

That equals some serious brownie points in any industry.

Needless to say, I’m going for it. This isn’t about the money, but hey, it does make up for any lack of royalties I might get. And the book stands a chance of getting published.

See, even if I don’t win, the publishing house takes first option on all entrants. In my mind, that equates to a full manuscript submission (right off the bat) to the Afrikaans equivalent of a Big 6 publisher.

I can’t miss it. Just can’t.

The hitch?

Oh there are multiple ones:

1) It’s in a genre I haven’t ever tried to write.
2) It’s set in a time that, if I get anything wrong, it’ll piss a lot of people off.
3) I have a bit more than seven months to research, write and edit the whole thing.
4) Which means that if I’m to stand a chance, I need to significantly deviate from my usual method. I.E. One draft. No hand writing. Editing without CPs (except my gran, who’s awesome (seriously, I have no idea where to find other Afrikaans speaking CPs)). Planning said rough draft. *shudders*
5) I’m also preparing two other books for submission, while editing a third for publication.
6) And. The guest house refurbishment needs to continue.

Still, I’m going for it.

Because I’m brave.

Because I’m unhinged (or will be by September).

Because if I don’t take this chance, I’ll never be able to take myself seriously as a professional writer.

Watch this space.

Thoughts?

A bit nuts, but still alive.

Just when I thought I’d make some time for some serious blog visits, my internet connection goes down. What did I spend my weekend on, you might ask?

Compulsively staring at my computer screen while waiting for my e-mails to load, and picking figs. 
Lots and lots of figs. 
As in I’m so sick at looking at figs that I feel sort of nauseous when I do. 
As in, I spent most of yesterday picking figs. In 100 degree (Fahrenheit, in case you think metric like me) temperatures, picking figs. Over. And over. And over again. 
I wish I could say I used this manual labor productively to get some story thoughts done. 
Instead (I think it was the prolonged exposure to the heat. That, or my eternal search for optimism.) I had Vivaldi’s Gloria stuck on repeat in my head. Mind you, it could have been Justin Bieber. *Shudders like a true rocker /classical/baroque/opera/old school jazz girl*
Anyway… I’m still unlooping Vivaldi from my thoughts, so there’s not much going to happen today post wise. 
Luckily I’m doing a guest post at Carol’s blog today. So head on over if you want to meet the other two main characters in my War of Six Crowns series. 
If not, feel free to share in the music stuck in my head.  

 See? Definitely not the worst thing ever to listen to all day.