Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Writer's Conference Recap

I'm sitting here waiting for Dan to get home so we can go get some wings (and the biggest Blue Moon Cleats has to offer- it's been that kind of day), so I figured I might as well finally do a blog post about the writer's conference I went to this past Saturday. I'm sure you've all been waiting anxiously to hear how it went, right? Right??

Well, anyway, I did learn some pretty interesting things. I also learned some not-so-interesting things, things that made me want to rip my hair out and cry no, no, NO!! But I digress.

The first session my sis in law and I chose to go to was called "Increasing Suspense In Your Novel". The speaker was interesting and made some good points, but a lot of it was common sense kind of stuff, like the fact that the resolution to the main conflict in your story should not be obvious. Duh. If readers know how the book is going to end, why would they bother turning the pages? He basically walked through writing a book from beginning to end, talking about how to introduce anxiety right in your opening scene (I'd like to think I accomplished this), create likable but flawed characters (again, I think my characters achieve this), keep raising the stakes and build disasters, aka "wind up a ticking clock", and make sure you have lots of conflict, conflict, conflict. I hope I achieved this part- is there enough conflict in my story? Is it a page-turner?? Ugh.

One thing he said I really liked- and I know I need to work on this- he suggested: "Make your words become 'invisible'- let your reader 'see' the story unfolding in front of them." I like that.

The second session was the one that had me pulling my hair out. This one was called "How to Win Over an Agent or Publisher". Ok, now, you all know I've been doing a lot of homework on this topic. Like, a LOT. I follow tons of agents' blogs & twitter feeds, and I read at least three different query critique sites weekly; my own query was heavily critiqued on one. Well, the lecturer seemed to be studying some different techniques, because pretty much everything she said went against the stuff I've researched. I'm not going to get into it too much (lest I start ripping out more hair from the memory), but suffice to say I'm just going to ignore everything she told us- from the way to create a query letter, to the way she suggested finding an agent. No, no, NO. I don't think a whole lot of people in this lecture were at the querying point, but I still feel almost guilty for not shouting out the different resources I've found. I mean, I don't have an agent yet myself, so who do I think I am, right?

The third session, "Amp it Up! Adding Drama to Stories" was by far my favorite session of the day. The speaker was great- funny, engaging, totally interesting. Even though some of the information was similar to the Suspense session, the way she lectured was completely different. She's published a mystery series (among a ton of other stuff, including YA!) and used examples from her own books to actually show us how to accomplish some of the points she was making. She made the point that even your title can be important to adding drama to your story, and asked if any of us had a complete book with a title yet. She wanted the group to try to discern what the book was about by the title alone. So I shyly raised my hand, mainly because I really think In My Mind's Eye is a great title. The first impulse was that it might be a memoir, but the second person hit it almost on the nose, asking if it was about a psychic. I said close, it's about a girl who starts having visions when she meets her soul mate. The speaker loved it, said it would definitely intrigue people who are into that sort of thing. So, yay. I hope she's right!!

So, in conclusion, am I glad I went? Was it worthwhile? For the most part, definitely yes. Would I do to another one? Welllll...I think we'll see what happens with In My Mind's Eye and go from there.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I'm super psyched for my first ever writer's conference at Lakeland Community College tomorrow! Not so excited to be up at the buttcrack of dawn on a Saturday, but it'll hopefully be worth it. I've always wanted to go to one of these, and probably should've gone to one a long time ago. Now that In My Mind's Eye is done I figure there's no time like the present. My awesome seeester in law, also in the midst of writing a book, is going to come along with me. I'll do a recap of the conference next week.

Last night was one of those nights when my mind would NOT allow me to go to sleep. I have all these ideas for my new book- I think I've actually come up with a storyline and conflict that will work. I've already started writing it with just a teeny blip of a concept for it, but now I think I know where it will go. I wish it hadn't been at 12:30 last night when I was lying in bed attempting to sleep, but eh. Considering I barely slept at all, I pretty much remember everything I was thinking about/writing in my head. I'm hoping to get some of that down ASAP. It's tentatively titled Here & Then, and I think it has potential to be pretty cool. But of course I'm going to say we'll see! All I know is I'm so over the revision process right now, and I'm more than ready to start writing something fresh.

Anyway...happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

So close, but yet...

My latest round of revisions are complete. My devoted readers have the manuscript in their paws yet again. My advice to them this time was to read it like it's already a "real" book. Read it for pleasure, for the content. Don't worry so much about the commas and punctuation stuff- although if there are any big, glaring mistakes, of course let me know. But just read through it like you would any other book. Then tell me what you think. Of course, it's kinda a moot point for them, considering they already know how it ends.

I have my first ever writer's conference next weekend, so I figured I'll wait to get through that and then I'll start the submission process. I'm really hoping to learn some valuable information and do a little networking, but I honestly have no idea what to expect. Who knows, maybe I'll end up doing yet another round of revisions based on something I've learned. Although at this point, I'm not sure there's anything more I can add or change; that is, until perhaps an agent or editor gives me suggestions. Sigh.

It's time to step away from In My Mind's Eye now, though. I mean, at least revision-wise. I'm too close to it and I'm starting to doubt everything all over again. This happens every time I read a good YA novel, too (and I read at least one a week). But when I go back and reread it after stepping away for a couple weeks, I think it's pretty damn good. It's just that the more I sit and pore over it, the more I start to question everything I've written. The more I wonder if this will actually go anywhere. If I've spent over a year of my life writing something that will just end up in countless slush piles.

But anyway...let's stop that negativity, shall we?

So, for now I need to continue on compiling my agent list, and I also need to work on my synopsis. It's written and I kept it to three pages, but I'd still like to try to cut it down a bit. Not every agent asks for one, but they still say you should have one ready to go, just in case. I'd much rather be prepared and able to give an agent what they ask for right away, too.

Fingers crossed, kids...fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You Blog & You Learn

When I started this little blog like six months ago or so, all I wanted to do was share the journey I'm going on with my writing, as well as little bits of my personal life here and there. I had no idea if anyone would read it, and to be honest I still have no idea how many "loyal" readers I have out there. I put my posts up on Facebook and Twitter, and figure if people are bored maybe they'll take a minute to read it. I assumed my readership would mostly be friends and family who are aware of the process I'm going through and want to check in to see how it's going.

Thanks to the internets, the amount of information about the publishing world is as abundant as it is overwhelming at times. I follow several literary agents' blogs and Twitter feeds, and many of them will post or retweet relevant links to other agents' blogs and whatnot. I could literally spend an entire day reading agent blogs, linking to one right after the other. Ahhh, if only I had the time. Anyway, I have a point.

I found yet another agent blog yesterday (which was tweeted by the great literary agent Janet Reid of Query Shark), and basically this agent is doing a series about what NOT to put on your blog. In other words, how you should keep your blog professional and not use it to whine about how many rejections you've been getting, and for the love of god, don't post excerpts from your book!

Um. Whoops.

Again, I guess I wasn't considering this a "professional" blog, but in the long run, if I want to be taken seriously, I need to make it just that. It's not completely unlikely that perhaps an agent will stumble upon this blog when I'm in the submission process.

Of course, I plan on sticking with most of my original format- telling you guys how things are going, sharing the stuff that's happening, where I'm at with everything. And I never, ever intended to post anything about how many rejections I've been getting or mention any specific agent names who've rejected me (while I'm being positive- someone out there WILL love me & my work!- I'm sure there will be plenty of rejections). But I still DO intend to share my excitement of this whole process...when I get my first request for a partial or full from someone...when I get any good feedback about things I should change or think about...etc. My feeling is if you're not interested in it, well, no one is making you read it. But this blog is also for ME. Ten years from now, when I'm a successful author (ahem) it'll be fun to look back on where it all began.

I have, however, removed all the posts with my snippets of In My Mind's Eye. Sorry kids. You'll just have to wait for the real deal.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wait, it's March already?

Shoot. I feel like I'm completely slacking now and totally falling behind my self-imposed schedule/deadline. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to wave goodbye to that awful, cold, snowy, miserable month known as February. But each passing day is making me more and more antsy to start the submission process. And I just haven't had a whole lot of time to make the line by line revisions, let alone the few content revisions I need to get to. I've been trying to set aside time on Sundays, cuz the weeks lately are just shot. And I still need to finish building my agent list. 20 agents is nowhere near enough. SIGH.

My fingers are itching to write. As I think of little phrases and things I want to change I've been typing them down on the notepad in my iPhone. I've also been writing down song lyrics that strike me as appropriate for possible chapter intros. I have no idea how that would work- like with the copyright issues and all that- but I figure I might as well make note of them regardless. I actually have a hard time listening to music when I write, even though I'm completely inspired by it. Is that odd? I find I get distracted by the music though; that I get too wrapped up in the song and can't concentrate on what I'm trying to write. Anyway. I'm babbling. So I'll leave you with these very appropriate song lyrics for In My Mind's Eye:

Sometimes I just can't explain all the ways you devastate me
You're always on my mind
And I try but I'm not convincing
Your lips they pout & twist
I'd die trying just to keep myself from kissing you

-Straylight Run

And it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time, didn't I my dear?

-Mumford & Sons

I'm still breaking old habits
When you pulled the wool over me
And I can see everything, everything
Remembering, jinx removing
Don't worry, I'll catch you
Don't ever worry
You're still all that matters to me

-The Get Up Kids (this was also the song I walked down the aisle to, btw :))