#Writemotivation 3/9 update

1. Read at least 5 published books. Finished Burning Obscura and then devoured Solving for Ex. 2 books down, 3 to go. (It helps my internship wasn’t that busy this week. I literally had NOTHING to do Saturday for it except send a few rejections.)
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. -I also got to slush dive through her pile this weekend. Not sure if I should count those too or just requested things, but since that took up the majority of my Sunday time, I think I will. Counting those- 54 total. 2 of those were fulls. 41 of those were queries, 7 resulted in requests. Which is probably more than she’d prefer, but they very much sounded up her alley.
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.-Worked on the outline instead, I’m reaching a point where I need to start laying the groundwork for the
And a crit.

Phew! I have a Big Project this week, so don’t be surprised if I’m not around much.

Also, if you’re querying: Don’t be insane. Don’t write your query in your character’s first person POV. Don’t query an already self published work (and include the Amazon or Kickstarter links). Don’t pick random chapters from the middle of your novel to include instead of the first few. Don’t bother putting it ATTN: AGENTNAME. It has no impact on if the agent or the intern is going to be the one looking over the slush at any given moment. Do make sure the agent even reps whatever you’re pitching. If it’s a creepy as hell adult novel, don’t send it to an agent who specializes in kids cute picture books/MG. Their interns probably don’t need the nightmares. Don’t email just to ramble and not say anything about the book itself.

I’m beginning to understand why agents/editors have a reputation as big drinkers and chocolate fiends.

Remember, folks. Your query letter is a business introduction. They want to know about your story in a clear and concise way. Everything else is secondary to that. Include their specified amount of pages, pasted in unless told otherwise in their submission guidelines. Yes, I know your novel is a special snowflake, and as a writer myself, I do understand how difficult it is to condense that 100k brilliant manuscript into a short email. But if you can’t manage that? They assume your story is likewise just as rambly and incoherent, and it’s an easy choice to pass. You want to give them a reason in their already crowded and hectic lives to care about your story. You want them to go “Ooh, I have to have the rest of this!”. The easiest answer for them to give is no. Give them a reason to say Yes.

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#Writemotivation, Communication, and OWM

So, new month, new goals, and a few changes.

February was a rough month all around for people. I was just busy. The busy isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I prefer being busy. I’m more productive the more I have to do. It’s more that, when I’m busy, I feel less social. Others had it far worse, and I feel like I neglected people a lot in trying to juggle it all. So if you’re feeling ignored or neglected, *HUGS* first, and I’m sorry. Please poke me and say hi when you have a few minutes to chat, I have time for you.

And I’m not the only one busy, lately. Becca and KT are too, so we’re pausing OWM for this month (and possibly April as well) to give us all time to catch up. We’ll reevaluate it once we feel we have time to deal with it. I enjoy writing the stories and reading what they write, though, so don’t worry. Busy or not, I’m sure we’ll find a way to make it work. It just might mean a revised posting schedule or something. We’re working on it.

Meanwhile, March’s goals.
1. Read at least 5 published books. Stretch goal: 10 (My poor reading time is mostly eaten by internship things, and I’ve had trouble finishing books lately.) Still reading Grasshopper Jungle for the LGBT challenge, but I’ve mostly switched to Burning Obscura, it’s at least more clearly written. The style on Grasshopper Jungle is close to making it a DNF, but I want to finish it anyway. I’m half done. We’ll see.
2. Count how many partials/finished MS are read for my internship. (No stretch goal for this one, it relies too much on factors outside my control.)
3. Finish a chapter of an in progress novel.
I didn’t put walking on there anymore. There’s no point, I walk to work all the time. Same with Crits. I don’t anticipate having any to do this month, though that’s always subject to change if anyone has anything and asks. I CAN make room if you want.

Feb 24 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh, I’m not even putting it on here anymore. Crits- None currently Reading- Mostly intern stuff: 5 of those to 100%, 4 published books. The GLBT one I was reading, Grasshopper Jungle, is… well, strange, rambly, and honestly a bit of a mess. I just haven’t had enough time to read for fun, though, so not finishing that likely this month. (What you don’t see in here: 45 partially read between Jan/Feb, to various amounts. All past the first chapters, some to like 75%, some to only 25% or less.)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Did, and almost done with the next set. Whoot!
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Uhm… No. Oops.
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.-Partiall written next month’s, need to figure out an ending on that.

It’s been really busy at my dayjob lately, they’re trying really hard to meet some quarterly goals that were a bit overzealous, so I haven’t had much time to work on my own projects. Combine that with being utterly exhausted afterwards, and most of my work is getting done in the mornings before the dayjob and on the weekends.

I find it interesting, though. There’s been a lot of buzz because some SFWA guy made some really sexist comments. He’s since apologized after he was repeatedly called out, but this led to a great number of discussions about how women/POC writers are largely ignored by booksellers and how ingrained this discrimination is, to the point of almost subconscious blinders. It made me wonder though: I keep hearing that scifi is dead, no one wants to buy scifi, etc. How much of this is because women (who are generally reputed to make up the majority of the reading populace) see these stories as not being targeted at them. Looking at the top best selling scifi books on Amazon, do you notice anything? Of the top 20, there’s 1 book written by a woman. 4 in the top 50. 10 in the top 100. (Granted, there are repeat/duplicates in there for mutliple editions and some box sets. I’m also not trying to figure out for initial names if they’re a guy or a girl. This isn’t a full on study, just a quick assessment.) Of those, many of the ones with women writers have covers that are extremely feminized vs their male counterparts that mostly focus on ships/worlds/epic sized things.

But wait. What about YA Scifi? Because the thing is, YA doesn’t segregate (at least most of the time) different genres apart. Contemporary is mixed in with scifi, mixed in with fantasy, mixed in with paranormal and dystopians. The trend is reversed. It’s mostly women. Top 20: 20 women. top 50:41 women. Top 100: 82 women. Hmm. So judging by this (admittedly, very limited) glimpse? It’s not that women don’t write scifi. It’s that we’ve (either by choice or market pressure) sold mostly YA Scifi.

Granted, there is overlap. A few books appear in both the YA and adult scifi lists. Some books are listed multiple times due to different editions. And like I said, I wasn’t bothering to sort out the initials genders (The whole point of using initials in a pen name is to avoid disclosing your gender at all, therefore I’m considering them gender neutral.) We also have no way to know how this translates into actual units moved and real money for the publisher/author. Some of these books have tens of thousands of reviews on there. Others only hundreds. Trust me, if I ever get access to real, solid numbers, I will be a VERY happy camper. (That’s the subject of a whole different rant!). This also doesn’t separate out self vs traditional publishing, I suspect that would be interesting to look at too.

The reasons are complicated. It’s a self fulfilling feedback cycle. What’s selling as adult scifi is mostly male written, so what’s being promoted is mostly male written, so what’s being acquired is mostly male written, because that’s what sells. It’s why everyone and their cousin says scifi doesn’t sell, when it really just shoehorned itself into a corner. Meanwhile, you have the YA market exploding with scifi (and dystopian, which until about 5 years ago was still lumped into scifi entirely.), and yet “scifi doesn’t sell”.

And this, folks, is why adults read YA. When you stop publishing what people want to read in Adult, we’ll find our stories where we can get them, even if there are annoying constant love triangles in there as a result.

Feb. 10 #Writemotivation

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Walking’s a duh. Crits- Will have more to do on that shortly. Reading- More partials for my internship, so far this month 1 (January ended up at 8). Clearly, my internship is reducing my reading time. I’m ok with this as long as I still get over 100 published books read this year. (Also, I started Lindsey Cumming’s The Murder Complex this weekend. OMFG this is already kicking ass!)
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- ALMOST done with that pile. I have … 1 I sent to bossagentlady with a “read me!” note, one I’m going to tell her “Read but here’s all the problems with it and I mostly want to see if you think it’s worth the effort to fix”, one I’m like, “I see these flaws with it, but I suspect you’ll like it anyway.” and one that I’m probably sending a “No” note on because there are too many eyeroll inducing things involved. And another pile of work landed this weekend (YAY!), mostly partials, one delayed full from that bunch that I’m REALLY excited about and hopeful for. Like… If it lives up to the pitch, I will sing their praises to the rooftops. Ties into last post, somewhat, and I’ll just leave it at that. We’ll see, I’ve only gotten a couple chapters in so far.
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Pending
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.- Glanced over this month’s tonight, didn’t really see much to change. So letting it stew again a couple days. I’m not happy with the ending yet. It’s missing something, and I’m not sure what. Well, no. I know what. I’m just not sure if I want to spell it out or leave it for the reader to infer. I’m not sure it’s obvious enough that they’ll infer what I want when the standard defaults are different… Playing with tropes and expectations a bit. It’s always fun.
Haven’t had time to work on next month’s yet. Soon.

February 3 #Writemotivation update

1. Keep up the walking/crits/reading.- Worked on crits a bit Saturday, did more Sunday. Reading- Many partials for my internship, I’m behind on my reading of published stuff, need to dedicate more time to that. Walking’s a duh.
2. Finish the current set of projects for the internship.- Made a dent. I hate letting people know bad news, but I know the waiting is harder than no. (This was the majority of what I had to do this weekend, alas. But one is in the middle of being written up in a positive fashion, so there’s that!)
3. Write one chapter on a current project.- Will get to this hopefully next weekend.
4. Write my OWM story for next month and edit this month’s.-Will get to this next weekend whether I want to or not.

Plus I now have more testing at work to do for our in-house software. I enjoy it, I think ultimately I’d rather be on the tech side there than on the phone side. But that also involves me taking enough time to really learn proper coding instead of “Let me google the piece of code I need.”, so we’ll see if that ever actually happens. (Then again, why reinvent the wheel? It’s a dayjob, not my passion.)

I attempted to set aside 20 minutes a day to work on my own projects last month. It didn’t really work. Before work, I’m too busy getting things together for the day. After work, I make dinner, catch up on a few internet things, then spend whatever time’s left working on internship things. Lunch breaks are too distracted with coworkers to be really useful productive time too, and what time there is I tend to snag to read things for my internship. I need to find a happy balance.

Also, still doing my twist on the GLBT* challenge. This month, the discussion there centers around “Things I want to see (or see more of) in YA LGBT fiction.” Oh the rant I could go on for this. See, thing is? I’m not much for navel gazing in my novels, but that’s so often a large facet of GLBT novels. I deliberately, in my internship, have my eyes peeled for GLBT novels with PLOT. They have 50% of their letters in common, after all, they should be able to coexist! I want ones where yes, the characters are GLBTetc, and they act on/react to the attraction(s) they feel. But if they can do it while running from the rebels who are trying to kill them, or while plotting a heist, or while skydiving into a parallel universe or something? THAT I’ll be all over. If it can be integrated into the story in the same way a straight romance would? I’ll be singing the praises of that author right to an editor’s hands. Seriously. It doesn’t need to be a niche market, if it stops going “WAAAH I’M STRUGGLING WITH MY SEXUALITY” constantly.

Malinda Lo is one of the few authors I’ve seen do this and do it well. We need more of this. I buy her books even when I’ve read a library/loaned copy, on the grounds of declaring the market. I deliberately will prod a GLBT novel that looks otherwise less interesting, in hopes it might surprise me. This month’s GLBT read will be (if I get to it) Grasshopper Jungle. We’ll see. 😉

#Writemotivation January 27 update, with a twist

1. Walk, keep up on crits, read at least 15 books- STRETCH GOAL: 20 books!- Walked, except on days when I didn’t go to work. Crits: 1 Books: 2 unpublished, 6 published. 1 GLBT one. Didn’t have as much reading time this month, as I got a BUNCH of work to do for my internship. Mostly because I saw a chance to take initiative and took it. Luckily, this agent was happy I did it. Now I have the resulting work from THAT to get through… Not a bad thing at all, but I definitely made myself a stack!

2. Finish up January’s OWM story and pick my next prompt. STRETCH GOAL: Work on that prompt too!: January’s done, Feb is done, March is semi-started. AND all prompts for the next cycle are picked. Win!

3. Get another chapter written or revised in one of my active projects. STRETCH GOAL: 2 chapters. One chapter finished up. Not 2, due to lack of time. Still, I’ll take it.

ALA was an absolute blast! Ended up with a small mountain of books, so as my intern reading allows, I’ll be reading through them. I’ve triaged the top Want to Reads, and I already sorted out a stack or three for you guys!

I see that confused look. Ok, so basically, we ended up picking up a few duplicates by mistake, and didn’t realize it until we were home. We didn’t want to haul them back and be like, “here, have your extra book back”. People were literally piling books in our hands at one point, going, “Oh, you have to read this!”, acting like they’re stray kittens they’re desperate to get rid of. It was all kinds of awesome and ridiculous! Like, I turned down almost as many as I brought home (Because I was trying to only take ones that I or someone in my household would likely read, and a few that KT had asked me to keep an eye out for). So instead, I figured we could have fun with it. I thought about doing a rafflecopter or other contest, but that’s boring.

So instead, if you’d like some ARCs, email me your mailing address and what genres you like best. There’s a lot of dystopian/YA, some more light hearted/contemporary (some border on literary), some mystery, some lighthearted middlegrade (I already have plans for the more action oriented middlegrades), and a few other assorted bits. No promises on how many you’ll get or exactly when (I’m hoping to get the first batch out this week though!), and it’s grab bag. But they’re ARCs, so I doubt you’ve read them already. 😉 (KT, Becca, Jai, you don’t need to because I already have things picked for you specifically.) There are a few that are part of a series, if you’re not okay with getting one of those, let me know and I’ll try to avoid it for you.

Oh, one catch: To avoid a ton of random spammers popping in (and because if there’s no rules, mayhem ensues), you must have participated in #Writemotivation at least once before.

Enjoy the treats, lovelies! I’m going back to reading. (February’s goals will come next week. They’re pretty much the same.)

January 20th #Writemotivation update

1. Walk, keep up on crits, read at least 15 books- STRETCH GOAL: 20 books!- Walked. Crits: 1 Books finished this month so far: 1 unpublished (5 partially read for this. I wonder if I should count 4 partials as 1?), 5 published. Didn’t have much to do for my internship this week, so if this continues, I’ll catch up on the reading. I’m almost done with a GLBT one, Affinity. It’s a little slow, but at least there’s some plot beyond the romance. It’s supposed to be gothic, but I’m not feeling it so much. With any luck, it’ll improve near the end.

2. Finish up January’s OWM story and pick my next prompt. STRETCH GOAL: Work on that prompt too!: January’s done, Feb is started, all prompts for the next cycle are picked.

3. Get another chapter written or revised in one of my active projects. STRETCH GOAL: 2 chapters.
Working on that today.

I’m off today, thank you MLK. (I’ll freely admit, I don’t have any authentic “right” to this holiday, but I’ll enjoy it anyway.) This coming weekend, I’m going to ALA under my IRL identity. It should be a blast, I’m hoping to meet a few editors and just politely introduce myself as an agenting intern. I’m going to stop by on Friday after my dayjob to pick up our badges and get a general lay of the land. They’re having a meet/greet kind of setup, so I’ll poke around that and then come home. If I’m MIA next weekend, it’s probably because I’m up at the convention center. (It’s just less than a mile from my place, so I can always pop home for lunch and such, drop off arcs, etc.) No promises, as I’m awful about going to the post office, but anything anyone REALLY wants in arc form? Hmm. Maybe I’ll see what I get and then do rafflecopter giveaways for a few? Ya know, if anyone’s interested. 😉

January 13 #Writemotivation update

1. Walk, keep up on crits, read at least 15 books- STRETCH GOAL: 20 books!- Walked. Crits: 1 Books finished this month so far: 1 unpublished, 2 published. Going to finish another one tomorrow, hopefully a couple more this week. With the dayjob being unusually busy lately, it’s cramped my reading speed.

(Many others started but not finished reading for the internship. Tis the life of slush!).

Loving the internship, thus far. I’m not QUITE busy enough yet with it, though, so if anyone has things they want looked over/critted, especially broad stroke crits, let me know. I can basically stop reading the submissions at any point, if I don’t like them, which is nice. I’ll give every book at least 25%. If it can’t catch my interest in 25%, it’s not well written enough. Frankly, well written trumps basically every other aspect when you’re talking agents. It’s absolutely key to making all the other things work. Bear in mind, an agent wants you for the long haul. They might work with you over 2, 3, even 5 books before you ever GET a book published. They have to feel your writing is worth the effort. There’s a lot of “Not quites” happening. I swear there must be some gems waiting though!

2. Finish up January’s OWM story and pick my next prompt. STRETCH GOAL: Work on that prompt too!: My January story went up Friday. I still need to pick my prompt for the next batch. We’ll see. My offline BFF gave me an idea tonight, but it might be too silly. Which… I might do on purpose, just to see what happens.

3. Get another chapter written or revised in one of my active projects. STRETCH GOAL: 2 chapters.
Nope, still.

January Writemotivation Goals

I’m doing limited goals with optional stretch goals.

1. Walk, keep up on crits, read at least 15 books- STRETCH GOAL: 20 books!

2. Finish up January’s OWM story and pick my next prompt. STRETCH GOAL: Work on that prompt too!

3. Get another chapter written or revised in one of my active projects. STRETCH GOAL: 2 chapters.

As far as 2014 as a whole? Again, stretch goals. A lot of factors are in flux right now. I don’t know how large a workload I can get from the new internship yet. Counterintuitively, the more I have to do, the more productive I am. I prioritize better and procrastinate less. So I’m goalsetting with the expectation that I can revise these upward as needed, but this is the MINIMUM I’m allowed to get done this year.

1. Read 150 published books again. Stretch Goal: 200.
2. Read/crit at least 20 unpublished MSs. (I did 19 this year, even without an active internship for 3 months, so 20 is quite reasonable.) Stretch goal: 30.
3. Find more/better tools for my prewriting process and refine this. When I go to start this year’s projects, I want to feel like I have a handle on them to the point where I won’t need to stop and figure out what the hell is going on repeatedly. I need to drive with GPS, not just going “This way looks right, I think” only to find the road twists and turns in completely unexpected directions until I’m lost. Once I have a project developed enough, sit on it for a month. See if it develops more. Repeat as needed until all that’s left to do is fill in the paint.
4. Develop 2 projects this way. Draft at least 1. Stretch goal: Edit that draft completely.
5. Focus on using the OWM stories to improve description and tightness. Carry that over into my own writing.
6. Participate in at least 1 contest, either as part of the judging or submitting. Stretch goal: 2 contests.
7. Keep in touch better, both via blog and on social media. I have a bad habit of going quiet when I’m stressed, or over analyzing anything I want to say and staying quiet for fear of saying the wrong thing. I need to get better about that. There’s a couple friends I don’t feel as close to now as I did at the start of the year, and that’s directly related.
8. Attend at least one conference/retreat/workshop. Stretch goal: As many as I can find a way to do (subject to time, money, and geographical restrictions. This is complicated by the fact that I really don’t like spending nights away from home without Owen.)
9. Pare down the timewasting activities. Replace them with more productive things.
10. Finally meet up with KT. This WILL happen. It’s a matter of when. Stretch goal: Meet up with 5 of the lovely internet folks.

How was 2013?
You’ll find out Wednesday. 😉

November wrapup and December planning

So Nano ended up at around 35k. I’m going to let Printed stew, add a few more influences into it as free time allows this month, and see what happens. I’ve noticed a trend in my incomplete/needing heavy edit stories, though. I’m not drilling deep enough in the edits, and when my subconscious rearranges things, it screws up the whole outline. If I stew and brood and outline it deeper, I might have better luck. Going to take some time and see how I can do that for a few of the projects I have in various stages of work. We’ll see what happens.

It’s a bit frustrating, but I’d rather take the extra time and do it right. I’m starting to think there’s something to KT’s detail level of planning after all. 😉

Thanksgiving was interesting. We spent it with Owen’s brother’s fiance’s family (Yeah, family in all but law twice over? What do you call that?! That’s like extension cord levels of extended family!). It was as awkward as it sounds, though they seem nice. It was just too prolonged for me, and I ended up snuggling with their golden retriever because dogs are better company than people. Then we had a hanukah party at Owen’s parents place, which was nice except when Marion had to make a trip to the ER (Everything ended up being fine, but we were all on edge and worried!). So needless to say, after such a hectic holiday, I’m glad there’s a gap until solstice and christmas. I’m planning a solstice party too! This one’s just friends, not relatives. 😉

Meanwhile, keep an eye at Our Write Mind, more awesomeness will be heading there as the month goes on!

I am also completely and totally addicted to the latest Marian Call album. I HIGHLY recommend all writers go give her work a listen, not just this most recent one. I suspect many of her songs will resonate with you guys. 😉

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