Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the New...

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a week of reflection. The eternal optimist in me likes to see the New Year as a new beginning – opportunities, experiences, forward movement. I’m always a little surprised when it sucks – I look at the future in a way that says everything’s on an upswing... something good is coming. I prefer to be the constant optimist. Even when I’m wrong, at least I’m not perpetually miserable.

As this year draws to a close, I’ve found myself reflecting on my progress over the past year – maybe it’s the fiction writer in me, but I see themes. This year was one of connecting, and reconnecting. It was coming back into my own in a way I don’t think I’d fully done since having my kids. There was the me before being a mom, and the me after – I’m just coming to the place where they fit together, instead of tucking them both into neat little compartments, only to be dragged out in certain social settings. It was a year of rebuilding old friendships, and finding some new family. All good stuff.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about all of the different compartments in my life, all of the goals not yet met and the ones I’ve been blessed to attain. I’m not doing so bad, and this week is a good one to give thanks. I don’t normally talk about my religious beliefs, but this is a good week to light a candle and give a few prayers of thankfulness, for the guidance, and help, and ear. I don’t have everything I want. I haven’t done all that I mean to. But the game’s not over yet, either, and I feel damn lucky I even get to play.

As I get ready to greet the year yet to come, I’ve decided to spruce up the blog and do some redecorating, I’m not sure how much I like the new colors yet – but hey, I can change it... Like me, the blog’s a work in progress. Out with the old, in with the new... but that’s not really the most appropriate title. I’m purging what no longer fits, is gathering dust on my shelves or taking up space in the closet... and sending what I can on to someone else who can use it. I’m not getting rid of all the old, though, some of it sticks with you forever – and that’s not such a bad thing, either.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year. What was your theme in 2009? And do you have one for 2010? What are your resolutions and for what do you feel truly blessed?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Songs, Writing Style...

Me loves me some bloggy contests. Over at Miss Snark’s First Victim, there’s a Christmas Song Parody Contest right now. You can follow the link to see the rules posted at her place, and the comment section is open to submissions today and tomorrow (Dec. 7 & 8) – she’s actually shutting comments at 8 am est on the 9th. Oh, and there’s a great prize – agent, Lauren MacLeod, will be offering a query letter critique to the winner.

Personally, I just love the fun. There are a lot of awesome entries if you get time to do a little reading. Here is mine, in case you’re interested, to the tune of Silver Bells:

Query Hell

Busy writing
Keyboard fighting
My tenth draft took its toll
Sent it out
To my beta’s
Sharp scalpels
Then there’s tapping
Keyboard rapping
Fixing hole after hole
‘Til it’s good as this writer can get.

Query hell, query hell
Rejections come, what a pity
Email pings, damn this thing
When will it be a request?

Made my prose tight
Got the voice right
Through each perfect-paced scene
Followed each
Agents’ wish to
The letter
Got the format
Query’s down pat
She won’t know that I’m green
Yes, it’s good as this writer can get.

Query hell, query hell
Rejections come, what a pity
Email pings, my heart sings
My God, I got a request!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I’m Not Screwing Off Online... It’s Research

The Internet is a beautiful thing for writers. Jumping into initial research has never been easier. Remember when you actually had to go to the library or bookstore before you could even start your research on any given topic? Now you can get loads of information and even narrow your search for the sources you’ll want to check out.

Of course, research is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s also networking, the latest publishing news, and constantly updated submission guidelines and listings. Woo Hoo; used to be we had to rely on months old copies of one of the market guides.

Good Internet what’s chained at my wrist that I key into with the same verve as a crack addict hitting the pipe.

And really, without it, how would I ever be bent over laughing hysterically by the news that, yes, EVERYONE no, seriously, everyone, is writing a book?

Without it, how would I find fantabulous new authors to stalk, er, umn, watch, oh – that’s not good either... admire? Yeah, that’ll work. Or new industry blogs for to amuse me:

That particular post was on writers using a typewriter, rather than word processing system – my favorite bit was this:

...Will Self says that with a typewriter, "You don't revise as much, you just think more, because you know you're going to have to retype the entire fucking thing." (I, and several of my fellow editors, believe that since the word processor came into widespread use, the tendency of manuscripts to balloon to excessive lengths has become more pronounced.)

See, all good stuff. Me thinks I do protest too much.

Here’s what I’m noticing in my own online time – it’s never flippin’ ending. I check my email whenever I’m near the computer... and being that I’m trying to write, I’m near the computer an awful lot. I check my facebook, pm people, and whenever I see something in my inbox, I have a compulsive need to take care of it, or at least read it and mentally note that I have to take care of it... and blogging, I can kind of stay away from it for days, weeks, even. But once I’m there, I follow links, check all the industry blogs... yada... fine, at least it’s productive in the sense that I get to talk to people who I like, and learn a few things, and keep up on new events in publishing.... BUUUUUUT (you knew one of those was coming, right?)

I keep getting sidetracked by stupid people. Yes, stupid. I’m not linking any of them, because they’re stupid, infuriating, annoying, dead wrong, or just toxic. (And no, I’m not talking about anyone I regularly follow or who is on my sidebar, if you made my linky list, odds are good that you rock out loud.)

Seriously, though, I do this stupid thing. Yes, I’m occasionally stupid. I run across a blogger or blog that irritates the living hell out of me. Usually it’s an ism, elitism is probably my biggest pet peeve. At one point it was a blogger who did nothing but slam the industry and individuals in it. It’s been atheists who slam people of faith, people of faith who slam every person on the planet that won’t drink their particular brand of kool-aid, pompous nitwits who denigrate anyone and everyone...

Sometimes I will comment. Sometimes I just find myself stopping in to read what’s being said. And I don’t do this all the time. One particular venue will raise my ire for a little while and then I’ll eventually stop going there to annoy myself... and then I find another one...

So here’s the thing, here’s my early New Year’s Resolution, no more procrastination by annoyance. When I find another blog that’s, full of shit, purposely inflammatory, or just generally run by someone you can’t possibly have any type of thinking discourse with – even though they swear up and down they’re the most intelligent and open minded people on the planet (sorry, eternally annoyed by this type of silliness), my aim and goal is to move on. Not to comment. Not to bookmark or check back or even participate in any way. If it incites me to that extent, I can write my own article or blog on the subject – gee, like this one.

What I realized was this was my own little sick and twisted form of procrastination. I have work to do, and when I do find time to tool around on the internet, I’d rather spend it visiting bloggers I like.

How about you guys? Do you find yourself getting off track by this lovely little demon we call progress? How do you keep yourself from time-wasting for too long?