Sunday, July 31, 2011

I knew I didn't know anything

But MAN ALIVE! I didn't know how much I didn't know. The self editing workshop concluded today. It was a challenging, educational, and humbling (to say the least) experience. I learned that my raw material is good, that my instincts as a writer are important to my overall ability to tell a story (and tell it well), and that my mastery of the more intricate rules of grammar is sorely lacking (dangling particles and passive voice make my head spin). I will also need to be prudent in my edits. Unlike some people who have a tendency to over-write in their first draft, I tend to over-write in my edits. You might not think thats funny, but trust me, its hilarious.

I learned that as much as you wouldn't expect it, when it comes to words, less can definitely be more. The flip side oft that coin is you need to start with so many words that you have enough left to make an actual book once you have "killed your darlings". See, that's a fancy editing phrase that means even if the sentence you wrote is the most amazing sentence in the history if literature, if it doesn't progress the plot or slows down the pace of your story, you cut it.

*insert needle scratching across record here*

I know, right? I was bummed, too! I mean, how can I convince a publisher I'm the greatest thing since Vanilla Coke (which they don't sell anymore, but I'm totally not bitter, not at all) if I cut the very best line in the history of literature? What's that you say? Write a really good book? Oh, sure, you make it sound so easy.

But on all seriousness, I've become painfully aware of how much work it's going to take to get my manuscript ready. I completely terrified but also blissfully high on the fact that I'm armed with so much more knowledge now.

In completely unrelated news:
I'm adding a new feature. Let's call it "Bookporn Bloggy Time". I read books with the same ferver and gluttonous abandon that socially inept college boys watch porn. I read great books, lame books, and everything in between. I'll read well written books and stuff that makes me say, "well if THIS can get published...". I'm not terribly discriminating, I just need to READ. If you have a better name please leave it in the comments. I have a tendency to pick unusual names. Those of you that know me well enough to know my kids' name are fully aware that they are either going to love me for my immense creativity or change their names and disown me the second they hit eighteen.

Anyway, here we go. Short and sweet this week. I finished The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, today. I'm desperate to start the next book in the series, Catching Fire. If you haven't read these books, I simply don't know if I can be your friend anymore. Amazing. Go. Now. Run as fast as you can and buy the first book. You can thank me later.

Friday, July 29, 2011

You know what's awesome?

Here's what's awesome. When you get an email from an editor you just starting working with that says they'd "love" for you to write another article for their magazine. THAT is awesome. As a new freelance writer, it's always nerve wracking to turn in your first submission to a new editor. You sit there thinking, "This will make or break my relationship with this editor." So much rides on that first submission. Honestly, I teared up a little. It's very validating to have a request for your work.

I hope as my career progresses that I always have the same humble feeling about my work that I do now. I write and I feel good about it, but I'm never really sure if anyone else will think its good. When someone really enjoys a piece a write its like being prom freaking queen! (Well, I'm assuming, since I've never been one) I hope it always feels that way. Although I have a dream to be a best selling author, I intend to always have appreciation for those who read and enjoy my work.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Men Don't Hold Doors

Men don't hold doors, even if you're wearing a pretty dress. Oh, they'll let their eyes trail a little too long or make idol chit chat in the line at the post office, but they don't hold doors. Chivalry is all but dead in American men.

Men wonder why books like the Sookie Stackhouse series and the Twilight Saga have such an appeal to modern women.  It's simple. The vamps are from another era, one in which they treated a lady like, well, a lady. There is nothing terribly redeeming about Bill Compton or Edward Cullen. If you break the characters down, they are actually pretty lousy guys. Bill Compton is a liar, a LIAR I tell you. And Edward Cullen, good grief, he's the poster child for a controlling, obsessive boyfriend. But they pull out chairs, they take their love interests on proper dates, they come to the door instead of texting to tell you to hop in their fancy vampire car, and last but not least, they hold doors.

Sure, women want to be treated as equals, receive the same pay as men, and blabbity-blabbity-blah.  That's not the point. We still want to feel special. We want to feel like the man is appreciative of our feminine charms, our time, and our general existence. This is why I write romance novels. Men take us for granted now-a-days. There is something so magical about losing yourself in the fantasy of a really intense love story. All of the fireworks and butterflies and Shiny New Boy feelings. It's the way you feel about a guy when you first start dating him.  It's the way you wish it would always stay, but is inevitably crushed underneath years of marriage, bills, kids, mortgages, and laundry.

So men, take a hint. It's not sparkly vampires and rondezvous at undead hours that turn on your woman.  Just hold open a fucking door.

**Please note this is not a veiled shot at my husband, who incidentally, not only holds doors but also never lets me walk on the curb side of the sidewalk, because HE is a true gentleman.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Birthday Sex

Ok, I'm not really going to write about birthday sex, but I got your attention didn't I? And now you can't stop singing that song either. It's okay, you can thank me later. Anyway, my birthday was earlier this month and instead of birthday sex I got coupons. To be honest with you, I'd be highly offended if a lingerie store sent me birthday sex in the mail. I much prefer the ten dollar coupon I received. So, I hit the mall today, prompted by the variety of loot promised by local retailers.

Thanks to my birthday coupon, I was able to grab a pair of panties (Do you hate that word? So many people do, but I like it!) for just under two dollars, although I fear I may have paid dearly with my sanity.  The retailer-who-shall-not-be-named is the bane of my unmentionables shopping. I avoided shopping there for many years, but I gave in after my third baby forced the need for a push-up bra. I won't go into details, but just know, when I left my husband received text messages with references to "cutting a bitch" and what not.

A cosmetics and beauty product dealer was also very nice to me and gifted a free bottle of birthday cake scented body wash. They are so sweet! Just give me a little taste, just enough to make me feel good, and I'll come back for more. They know what they're doing. Somehow I was able to leave the Land of Temptation that is said retailer with only a few choice items. It was treacherous, though. Nail polish on my right, a gorgeous display of high end cosmetics on my left, perfumes and lotions in the back. You know how your kids act when you hit the toy section of any store? Yeah, well that's me in this place. Yet, I am strong and persevered! It's work to keep my beauty product addiction in check, but I'm doing well.  Thanks for asking.

Finishing off the trifecta of my shopping mini-splurge was another cosmetic retailer. This retailer was supposed to give me a discount during my birthday month.  *AHEM* Did they NOT pay attention to the beginning of this post? Anyway, it didn't happen. Don't fret! I had a ten dollar credit for having filled my punch card! I was all about the deals today and I wasn't leaving without the scales of commerce tipping in my favor.

Now, here is where I have a question for you, my friends. Do you bring your new found treasures home, rip them from their glossy wrapping and set them in their rightful place? Do you bask in the glory of your fantastic finds? Do you try everything on twice and make your kids watch while you model them, clapping furiously as you strut across the kitchen floor?

Honestly, I can't do it. I have to leave them in their pretty little shopping bags for a couple days (more on those pretty little shopping bags in another post soon). I don't know, maybe I want them to stay new for a while. Maybe I am afraid I'll change my mind and take them back. What ever it is, it's weird. Regardless, as I type I am admiring my little pink, black and striped bags full of fantastic treats, that most definitely are NOT birthday sex, but almost as good.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm gonna stay Annabelle

I was laying in my bed earlier (I'm still there but that's not important right now) going through the bargain books on Amazon. I came across a book that was co-authored buy...Annabelle BLOOM. Initially, my stomach dropped. I had searched high and low, Googled the HELL out of this name, and nothing had shown up. No author sites, no book reviews, although I did find a young aspiring actress with the name Annabelle Bloom which is why I chose this alternate spelling. Alas, I am in the very predicament I tried my hardest to avoid.

And of course, there are the inevitable references, here and there, to Judy Blume. She is iconic in the world of Middle Grade fiction. You're hard pressed to find an American girl who did not grow up reading her books. I mean, honestly, I think "Are You There God, its Me Margaret?" is akin to the Bible to most 9-11 year old girls.

Either of these things may cause an issue if I am so lucky as to be offered a contract with a publishing house. But, you know what? I'm keeping it. I'm going to continue to work with this name and if my one-day-future-publisher has an issue with it, then we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I've already set up the blog, set up Twitter, and purchased the domain name. So, for now, I'm rolling with it. Consequences be damned! Fake names are pretty easy to change anyway!

*I have written this post on my tiny little phone screen, so if there are typos be a dear and ignore them, 'mkay?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Being Brave

I’ve had to work hard to be brave lately. In personal relationships as well as in my profession, or maybe it would be more appropriate to say the profession I aspire to (but this would be grammatically incorrect and makes me nuts).  I don’t want to be brave right now. I want things to be easy.  I think we’ve all felt that way though, and that’s when we know we have to push forward, challenge ourselves.

On that note, I entered a 24 hour writing contest.  Yes, I’m a novice, but no time like the present, right? I mean, one of my favorite sites, The Rumpus, sells a mug that says “Write like a motherfucker.”  I am working on putting that into action. So, as ridiculous as it may be, I put myself in the running with around three hundred other people to write a short story in a mere twenty-four hours.  I’m proud of what I wrote, and if it doesn’t win, I’ll still be proud because it’s good.  I’m confident that it is good. Someone else’s might be better, but that doesn’t negate the value of my work. (See? See how I have that positive attitude there?)

After that challenge, I addressed my first PAID writing job.  My first freelance article.  I was scared to death to write it. It carried so much weight. If it sucked I would probably never get another assignment again.  If it was great it opened the door for so many more jobs. It took bravery to hit send, but the next morning I received a very positive reply from the managing editor.  My heart soared and I thought, “Maybe I can really do this.”

I also started a self editing workshop this week.  It’s run by Angela James, Executive editor at Carina Press.  You can find information about this workshop here.   I have so much to learn and I’m so eager to learn it.  Amongst my struggles of getting my grammar straight and fixing my erratic comma placement, (does that go there, I’m really not sure?) I am also learning about immensely valuable tools such as web-based backup systems and the damn new fangled rule about ONE space after a period. Seriously? Why? Why does this need to be changed? “Hit the space bar twice after a period”, it was drilled into my head for years.  They began to teach us typing in third grade and from that day forward the double space was hailed as the most necessary habit to have ingrained.  But noooooooooo.  Now it’s one space, just to mock me.  And exclamation points.   You know those things that you use to convey excitement? Ya, well you’re not supposed to use those either! (See, but I did it anyway)  These rules are blowing me away. As much as I’m poking fun here, I’m so grateful to be learning them. I’m a rule follower, always have been, always will.  I will learn these new rules because as hard as it is to be brave, I want to be, so I will fake it until I feel it.