New Goals and New Steps

So it’s been a mixed bag here lately. On the good side, I’m applying for a new internship. The whole secret thing I was talking about? I’d tried to get on as an editorial assistant at the place I was interning at. I didn’t get rejected, but they took 3 months just to tell me they wanted the large picture edits in line like copy edits rather than in comment boxes. That method is not only not the industry standard way of doing it, but quite cumbersome. Combined with something a friend who’s heavily involved in romance communities said, I’m not pursuing that place anymore. A lot of factors went into the decision, but I don’t think I’d be happy working for them. Ultimately, I need to both respect my boss and feel they’re getting their work done in an efficient manner and with clear communication skills. Many unresponded to emails, lack of follow through, and unclear expectations pretty much killed it for me. On the good side again, the intern coordinator I worked with there will write me a recommendation letter, and I have every expectation I should be interning again in fairly short order. So while I’m annoyed at the time spent waiting on them, other changes have made new, better opportunities open up.

See, here’s the thing: Any position, be it an internship or paid work, will have to be online and with a flexible schedule. I simply can’t give up the reliability of my dayjob to commute 3 hours a day to NYC to be a glorified secretary, which is what the entry level positions at a lot of houses are. This leaves certain agencies, certain publishers, and freelancing. I think after this next internship, if I can’t get a full position at an acceptable place, I may just hang out a freelance shingle. Content development and refinement is far more enjoyable to me than copy editing, and while I can do CE work, it’s not what inspires me. There’s a madness and a method in finding the Right stories, and I know I can do it.

Sooner or later, it WILL happen. It will take 5 years from whenever I start getting paid work for me to give up a day job, most likely. But this? Is a good thing. It gives me time to get to know more people.

I’ll be at ALA Midwinter under my RL name, speaking of. Are any of you going? It’s only a few blocks from my place, so I couldn’t resist. If you’re going, let me know, we’ll meet up and hang out! I’m only going the weekend days, due to my dayjob, but it should still be enjoyable!

Also, I’m planning on going to BEA in May. I’m not sure how many days, yet, but I’ll at least go for the reader day, bare minimum. If KT comes up for the whole week, I’ll join her.

Meanwhile? I’m going to keep plugging along. If it’s meant to happen, I’ll make it happen.

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It would have been a better review, but…

Have you ever been in a restaurant and ordered a steak, only to be brought a hamburger? (I hope not, but work with me here!) It might be the best hamburger on the planet, something you’d savor if that was what you were in the mood for, but because you wanted a steak, the hamburger feels like a cop out. The same happens with books.

Reader expectations are THE single hardest thing to manage as a writing professional. A lot of factors add up to create them: The cover art, the back copy, the marketing ploy, the tag line, even things the author says about it on their blog.

Guilty pleasures, bubblegum books, whatever you call them, sometimes, a book just hits me just right. It might not be the best book ever. It might be sorta superficial, and trite, and super predictable… but I’ll like it anyway. But I HAVE to know that’s what I’m picking up when I sit down to read it. I have to WANT that when I sit down to read it.

Contrast these two stories (names and details changed to protect egos. These aren’t friends novels, just inspired by 2 I’ve read this year):

A YA contemporary with a steampunk angle, we’ll call it Bells and Whistles. Bells and Whistles follows the adventures of Mary Sue when she falls through a crack in the world to dinosaur land that no one knows about, and only she can unlock the secrets of the Paleozoic era, because she’s a special snowflake with a magical familiar who is totally not just an author intrusion device, really! It has a dark, somber cover, with a blurb that makes it sound like there’s some great mystery that she has to solve and wonderful conflicts between her and the other characters that can rock her world down to their foundations.

A YA contemporary playing off fairy tales, we’ll call it Wands. It’s about a girl who learns she has magical powers, and then has to juggle her mundane fail of a social life with her sudden time travel ability, while falling for a guy she knows she can never have. The entire magical system is handwaved with “Because history”, and there’s a very clear scene/act/reaction structure that makes the bones of the story stick out. The cover is bright and has shiny objects on it, and the blurb is as superficial and light as the story itself.

Now, some of those things are out of the author’s hands on traditional publishing, but let’s assume for the moment these were both self-published endeavors and thus the author had total approval control. Both stories handwave their magic systems. Both stories have Mary Sue type characters who are somehow super special despite humble/nonspecial backgrounds. Both have the tension of guys she likes being totally out of her league, and her fumbling to figure out what she wants out of her life.

The biggest difference between these novels is the way they’re packaged.

Dark, brooding cover and Serious Drama blurb vs bright, cheery, sparkley cover vs No Bones About it Fluff blurb.

Guess which one I went into expecting far more than was delivered? Yep, the first. I found myself being more analytical on it from the start, because I expected it to have depth, and was disappointed when it felt like a kiddie pool. There’s nothing wrong with lighthearted books… in fact, quite the opposite. The ones I’ve actually recommended in my internship have mostly been lighthearted, fun romps that didn’t pretend to be anything more than that. Setting reader expectations is absolutely key. I won’t read a romper book when I’m in the mood for tense drama, and I don’t want to read a tense drama when I’m in the mood for lighthearted fun. Maybe I’m strange, because I do read across genres so much, but it seems like a simple and controllable factor. In publishing, so much can be beyond your control. Why set anything up for failure you don’t need to?

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. 😉

November 25 #Writemotivation and #Nanowrimo update

Ugh. This last week did NOT go according to plan. It was a combination of things, but basically from last Monday to now, I managed about 2100 words total for the week. NOT what I had planned at all, and frustrating. I was banging my head on a plot wall. I hit the point where things started coming together and tensions should be rising, revelations had, etc, and it just wasn’t working. I tried to push through, figuring I just hit the week 2 wall late (it’s happened before). I finally realized Thursday the plot was snarled. Not broken, mind you, but there were elements twisted up and not working. KT and I bashed it out, mostly, so I fiddled more and sat my character down for tea in a drabble. And it was still missing something, until yesterday Owen was able to figure out the other aspect that wasn’t quite working just from me describing it.. I love them both, seriously. So hopefully this week will go better.

Granted, this week has it’s own challenges. Thanksgiving is one, since we’re going to Owen’s brother’s fiancee’s parent’s place. Luckily, we talked his mom into driving, so I don’t have to stress so much about getting there on time. I do have to make a pie and a turkey breast, but that’s easy enough. Tonight is a bloody wash, I got off work late thanks to a combination of a screaming child on the client’s end and a really bad interpreter. I really need to just learn Spanish more fluently, then I wouldn’t NEED to get the interpreters. Most are great, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes, I think I understand more Spanish than they do, and it’s really frustrating. I told my boss, when he told me I was getting a lot of good karma for this call, “Yeah, well, I must have a few murders from a past life to make up for the way this is going!”.

Ah well, this is why they invented chocolate and rum. Possibly together. 😛 And we’ll just pretend this went up yesterday, oops! 😉

November 18 #Writemotivation and #Nanowrimo update

So Nano’s going quite well, if I do say so myself. I’m finding a nice rhythm most days, and any day I manage to drag myself up in the morning to write before work, I’m getting around 1k. The least I’ve reached so far was 418 words for a day, and the most is 5511 (Before you ask, no, that was not an intentional fun number!). Current count is about 34k! So I’m a little ahead of pace, which is good. I know there’s 2 days where words are VERY unlikely due to family commitments. My current goal is to finish 50k by November 24th. That way going into Thanksgiving week, I can still write but I don’t have that pressure. We’ll see how well that works. It requires me to push some on the weekends, but not to anything ridiculous.

In other news, I volunteered to Help Brenda with a couple query critiques over on her blog, hopefully they’re helpful! When she sent the queries to me initially, I first saw them on my phone while walking to work. I had a very gut-level reaction to one of “This doesn’t work at all”, and a “This one’s not too bad” to the other. I’ll leave it to you to guess which was which, 😉 and both ended up with parts that were well phrased. But in a slushpile? Those gut reactions are often what makes the decision. If a concept isn’t extremely unique (hint: No, yours likely isn’t.), then the quality and clarity of the writing is what they’re looking for.

Queries are HARD, folks. You need to be able to succinctly communicate what it’s about in a way that makes it sound interesting. It’s simple in theory, but exquisitely hard in practice. We’ve gone over this before, but if any of you want a fresh set of eyes on your query or more tips, let me know.

Meanwhile, today was slammed at the dayjob, so I have writing to do. Time to war!

#Writemotivation and #Nanowrimo update

So far, decent. I’m a little behind where I wanted to be, as this weekend wasn’t the productive one I’d hoped for. Still, I managed to get more written during the week than I’d anticipated, so it’s not all bad. IF I can do that again this week, I should hit 25k either today or tomorrow. The total project count over there is actually about 1k above the nano count, as I had about 1k from the plotting stage already written where I was playing with the voice when I’d first had the idea. I’m pleased with how the story is going, and I’ve layered in a few elements along the way that are tying in quite nicely. It’s sort of The Uglies meets Phantom of the Opera crossed with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’m cautiously optimistic about the level of edits it’ll need (As in, I know I’ll need to tighten and adjust certain aspects, and weave some of the “Oh, hey! This happens because REASONS!” that my subconscious likes to pull on me in the middle of Nano), so we’ll see.

My OWM story went up last Friday, but I suspect no one’s really paying attention, as it’s November and who has time? I’ll hawk it more next month. And if you’re curious, no, those don’t count in my nano count.

So how’s everyone else’s nano going? Have you consumed your weight in caffeine and sugar yet? For those rebellious (or count-phobic, hehe), how’s your month going? Anything good/new/interesting in your worlds?

October Wrapup and November #Writemotivation goals

Wow, October really zoomed by! I’d meant to put this up on Halloween, but time got away from me.

1. The usual. Walk,- check. Crit-All caught up. Even volunteered and did some query crits for Brenda, those will go up later this month. If I have anything I still owe you back, let me know! Otherwise, I’ll do whatever in December. Read- 11 books for the month. Not my usual 15, but a couple of those were pretty long. I’m still ahead. 😛

2. Socialize- Did a lot, but only with a few people. Oh well. Generally, if anyone ever wants to chat, I’m around, but I’m likely multitasking and therefore you should poke me if I haven’t poked you. Seriously. It’s ALWAYS ok to poke.

3. Figure out game plans and alternate options for November, including ways to preprep food and streamline household tasks.-Got this all set. Did a decent cleaning job on the house over the weekend so I can ignore it mostly for November and just do a cleaning spree the first weekend in December. Groceries are preset except for hitting order.

So, about that time again, eh?
November!!!!!!!

My only goal for November:
NANOWRIMO.
well, and 2. FOCUS ON THE WRITING and don’t go insane waiting.

I still haven’t heard back on my secret. I’ll admit, I was starting to get impatient until I asked a friend who had done it already. Turns out they’re not being slow, this is normal for them. Just goes to show the importance of setting people’s expectations up front. The first half was fast on turnaround, and the primary contact person was so excited that I expected a faster turnaround time… Like 6 weeks, not longer. I can be as patient as a mountain, as long as I know to settle in and wait. On the bright side? This means I ought to hear back from it about the time Nano ends. I’m frontloading my word count. Already (before I started writing today) have ~10700 words for the month. I’ve done about 600 so far today at work (up to lunch) and after I eat (waiting on it to cool, I overheated it!), going back to try to catch at least another 400 before the end of the break. Hoping to get 2-3k today total. I set things up so if I get at least 1k a day during the week, I’m good to go, but more is NEVER a bad thing considering my brain pretty much stops after 5k.

I’ve already had my MC do something I didn’t completely plan out, but that’s okay. It fits, both her and the story, so I’m running with it. There are a few points where my outline is a bit vague, so I can adjust as I need.

Here’s to another great Nano and #Writemotivation November!

October midmonth check-in

This month has been rather nuts. Between the dayjob and critiques and such, it feels like no sooner do I get up than it’s time for bed again, and no sooner do I go to bed than it’s time to get up. 

 

October’s going mostly okay, aside from the lack of time.

1. The usual. Walk,- check. Crit-Caught up, including one more pass on Kt’s. I love this story. I can not WAIT until you all get to read it. The voice on it is AMAZING.  Read-aside from that, 3 books read. I’m not in a hurry, as I’m still ahead, so I read a really long one in there. 
2. Socialize- With what limited time I’ve had, it’s not been a priority. Oops. 
3. Figure out game plans and alternate options for November, including ways to preprep food and streamline household tasks.-Grocery shopping mostly set up for the month, with a set list for the items we get every time. I’m going to go through and make menu-specific lists for a few of the things we frequently make. Also, I’ve discovered quite a few preprepared foods they have that are pretty delicious, so there’s also those options. 

 

Other than that, not much to tell. Just waiting for November. 

September #Writemotivation Wrap-up and October goals!

1. The usual. Walk, read, crits.-Walked. Crits- Didn’t have any to do this week. Reading- 14 published and 3 unpublished=17 so far for the month. I’m most of the way through the one I’m reading right now, so I’ll definitely finish it in the next day or so. Either way, whoot!

2. OWM- I need to finish October’s, oops! Luckily we have our buffer week of the prompt going up. Then I need to pick mine for the next set.

3. Be more social online.- This week got away from me, and I wasn’t as social as I wanted to be. But I think at the least, I made a good attempt this month.

4. Start figuring out tentative nano plans-Reread what I had on Top Hat, figured out why I’m stuck. So I have October to figure out the plot snarl, and then I’ll finish this off in Nano, then get to work on Starboard.

So September? Other than being sick, not a bad month. I’m still shaking off random aches, but oh well. Kt lost one agent and gained a new one, and between the two, I think I lost track of most of September. I looked up and it’s cold and the leaves are starting to change. I made chili this weekend, and accidentally made it a 5 alarm version. In my defense, I always err on the side of spicy when I do chili. I like it that way. But I have this hot sauce I made, and erm, it’s habenero+ level. I’d give you guys a recipe for the hot sauce, but it was a case of Dev picked up random peppers at the farmers market, and Owen’s mom brought some random peppers from her garden, and next thing I know I had a bag full and nothing coherent to use them in. So I tossed them in the oven to roast for a bit, then blitzed them with the immersion blender (stems off but seeds in!) with some strong apple cider vinegar. Let that hang out in the fridge for a few days, and ta da!

Still waiting on a response from my poke, but that’s okay. Nothing ever goes quickly when you’re waiting. It does make planning rather entertaining, but that’s okay. I’m planning both options. If I get it, Nano might become a backburner and I’ll be happy to finish Top Hat. If I don’t, I might throw myself headfirst into working on Top Hat and Starboard, and see if that gets me anywhere. I’m flexible, and life happens. All I can do is hope for the best and plan for every reasonable opportunity.

October’s a little different. With so much still up in the air, I’m going to be cautious in my October goals:
1. The usual. Walk, Crit, Read.
2. Socialize- comment on at least 5 blogs (not my own) a week
3. Figure out game plans and alternate options for November, including ways to preprep food and streamline household tasks.

That’s it. Simple. Easy. Flexible. Just like I need to keep things.

#Writemotivation September 23rd update

1. The usual. Walk, read, crits.-Amazingly, managed to walk every day last week that I went to work! Granted, I was slower than I am usually, but still. Crits- Didn’t have any to do this week. Reading-9 published and 3 unpublished=12 so far for the month. I should make it. (And hey, one of those was a long epic fantasy, so I can’t really complain!)

2. OWM- Roughly drafted October’s post. VERY roughly, but I’ll get it in.

3. Be more social online.- Was mostly too busy to be terribly social, but tried when I could anyway.

4. Start figuring out tentative nano plans-Looked over what I have for Starboard and Top Hat. I think I’m definitely taking about 30k of Nano to finish Top Hat, then using the other 20k for Starboard.

I get to prod on Secret come Wednesday, since it’ll be a month exactly since I sent it in, and I have resisted poking, showing a GREAT deal of restraint. 😉 Not that I totally have the email already written and all I have to do Wednesday morning is hit send. NEVER! 😛

Also, I need to send my mom a birthday present this week. Any suggestions for treats for a food lover that has everything and is always on various fad diets that I don’t keep track of?

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