Or at least maybe it should be. I was joking with a friend this afternoon and I told him he was a bad person for something he did. He said he goes into the box for two minutes, full of guilt, but when he comes out life goes on. That's the way it should be. Too many of us let guilt eat at us forever, feeling bad about things we did years ago... other people let it go... we should let it go. He probably didn't know it was profound, but it kinda was.

I posted my query letter at The Public Query Slushpile yesterday. It's a really neat site where they do peer to peer review like they do on Absolute Write, but it's smaller, more personal, and not so overwhelming. I didn't realize I'd gotten any comments on it until I got a message that another query had been posted. When I clicked the link my own query came up and I had nine really great comments. I've only been on it since yesterday, but I feel like maybe this is the writing community I have been looking for. The people seem nice. I made a deal with another author, she's going to beta read my novel, and I get to read hers when she finishes her current draft. I'm looking forward to it, the book sounds really good... for one thing it's got dragons in it, but just overall the story sounds right up my alley.

The whole experience re-energized me. The comments were so positive that they pulled me out of my funk, they gave me back my belief in my story, and I plan to spend part of my weekend making sure that I get my snail mail queries into the mail. I haven't touched the book in over a month, so tonight I'm going to revisit it with a fresh eye.

I was talking to another friend about self-esteem and self-confidence. I told him that I think musicians, artists and writers grapple with them more because we create things and then we put them out there to be judged. The things we create are personal, so we're exposing ourselves more than other people might. We're our own worst critics and we're sensitive dammit. I wish I was a more positive person, but I'm fairly cynical. I do, however, cheer my friends on. I think they're the bees knees. We have a mutual admiration society. They keep me going.

And am I the only one who finds that Gillette Venus commercial offensive? With the woman walking by, and the foliage in the background changing shape to match the way she trims her personal area... it's borderline lewd. I know it's old by now, but it's always bugged me.
 
 
Sometimes when I read other people's blogs, it drives home the fact that my own blogs are pretty fluffy. And that's okay. I'm not seeking to change the world, I'm not here to discuss my political views, I don't consider myself an expert on the subject of anything but myself (and possibly spreadsheets... and sarcasm). If someone does read my blog, I hope they find something they can relate to and enjoy, and that's all. If my book ever gets published, and if people buy it, and if that purchase leads them here to this website... they may very well be disappointed... unless they're looking for the person behind the book. What I want is to be relatable... I'm willing to share my own foibles with the world.

(Okay, what's the deal with all the helicopters flying over head? Go away already, you're loud and you're throwing off my groove! The Emperor's New Groove is an awesome movie by the way - LLAMA!)

I'm sure that (eventually) someone will make their way to my site thinking it's a site dedicated to the art of writing. Because - I can almost say it without choking now - I'm a(n unpublished) writer, and that's what I advertise on the home page. But nope. This blog is just me talking about whatever the heck amuses me at the moment (and as you may have noticed, I'm all over the map... EVERYTHING amuses me). If what you want is writing advice, check out my Writing Biz page, any time I find something interesting I put it there -- and I updated it again today.

Today I am going to talk a little about writing... nothing so lofty as craft, just the way it works for me. People have asked, so I assume it's interesting to someone out there. I'm pretty sure my method won't work for most people. Until recently I preferred to write by hand, now I prefer to use the computer, but I digress... sort of:

Location and setting: Very informal. No desk. I sit indian-style on my love seat, in front of the television with the volume down so low that it's barely audible - yet loud enough that I'm not struggling to hear because that would distract me - I have my laptop cradled in my lap (as I do now)... and I type. Obsessively. When I've got the creative juices flowing, hours of my life disappear and I only realize time has passed when I have to stop and turn the lamp on in order to see.

When I finally force myself to break away from the computer to take a bath and wind down for the evening, I take my notebook with me so I can write down whatever pops into my head, because God has cursed me such that most of my best ideas come to me when I'm in the bathroom... and I wish I were making that up. Afterward, I may go back to the computer, or I might carry my notebook to bed with me, because God has also cursed me such that the rest of my best ideas come right as I'm about to fall asleep... and if I don't write them down I get into a long (mostly internal) debate about whether I can remember this nugget until the morning, or whether I should write it down immediately -- trust me, if you have this dilemna, write it down immediately and save yourself the heartache of a lost idea, or the tragedy of insomnia.

Process: I write, then the next day I re-read, and add to, what I previously wrote. Anything that was handwritten in the notebook gets transcribed onto the computer. Then I build on what I wrote. I didn't use an outline initially, although once I got into this story I did sort of draw a skeleton to keep things sorted out.

I don't know how many edits I did because I edit as I go along. As I mentioned, I am always re-reading what I wrote before... George Lucas says don't do it... write until the whole story is out there and then go back and edit... but what does George Lucas know? (I jest) I save at least one new file each day, with the date and word count, and if I make a major story change I also save a new file with 'story change' in the title. Not only does this make life easier if the idea doesn't work out, it also helps me feel secure that I can - without a doubt - prove that I am the author of the story should it ever become necessary. If 120 or so files don't prove anything, I don't know what will!

Whenever I get what I consider to be a brilliant idea that will further the story, I skip several lines so there's an obvious break, and I type it out so that I can revisit it in the future and see what I can do with it. Anything I delete from the story goes into a scrap file in case I can use it somewhere else (not a word or two, but good sentences and paragraphs).

Where do I begin: I start with a line, something that I can't get out of my head. In this case it was "I moved here from a place where the sunlight was abrasive and cruel; where it not only beat down on you, it also beat you down." Then I add to it. In this story I wanted the first paragraph to set a mood that was almost palpable, so I challenged myself to be as descriptive as possible.

I ask myself questions... how would someone accomplish this... how would I feel if this happened... how the hell is she going to get out of this mess... and see what answers I can come up with. I may get ideas from conversations I have, songs I hear, movies I watch, books I read, random internet tidbits, dreams. Wherever the inspiration comes from, I make sure to tweak the idea until it's mine. I do sometimes draw from my own life experiences, and apparently it shows, more than one person accused me of being Grace... and okay... we are similar, but we're also different. Thankfully, they also felt that my other characters had a different voice.

I also did a lot of research. I researched wolves, morthouses, skeet shooting, castles, cailleachs, wildcats, gardens, lime-based paint... all kinds of things. Many times that research led to more ideas.

I don't know if that's helpful to anyone. That's just how I did it. There's no one method that works for everyone, that's for sure. If you're a writer, stick to whatever works for you, and good luck!

Comments:

Greg -- Unfortunately, we drive the same streets my friend

Jeff -- Have I mentioned that I'm going to Scotland soon? LOL Today's weather is awfully nice, too... windows are open again
 
 
If you want to get someone's attention, try telling them you're not wearing any pants.

I wore a skirt to work today, and it was the first time in a loooooong time. Some people thought there was a guy involved (wrong), others thought I was going on an interview (also wrong), a lot of people just didn't know what to think. It was sort of a social experiment to stir the pot, and it worked. I like to do that from time to time. I did get a lot of compliments, and it wasn't a horrible experience, so I might do it again in the future. Maybe.

About midday I realized that I wasn't wearing any pants... it was true... but it's all a matter of perspective. It's fun to see people's faces when they take it at face value, before they realize that you're not wearing pants... you're wearing a skirt... people turn really pretty shades of red. And then there are the pervs who hear something completely different... boo...

So this morning I started up the car, and there was a new, unfamiliar light on the dashboard, and a bell. I was a little freaked because I thought maybe it was the oil. I needed to stop and get gas anyway, so I pulled in and consulted the owner's manual... tire pressure monitoring system... sigh... So I drove slowish and called in the reinforcements to air up my tires. Luckily they didn't require much air so there's probably not a hole in my tire... they weren't flat by any means. It was just scary, because I'm tired of all the shit that keeps going wrong with my house, and didn't need my car to start falling apart, too. I already have to get my visor replaced next time I take it in. This will be the second visor I've had, and I don't abuse them, they're just cheap plastic and that's why they disintegrate so quickly. Easy peasy, except that it's floppy and is hanging by an electrical wire.

It's a holiday weekend... good time to paint the vinyl trim around my windows and put up soffit vent covers... if the weather's nice. If there's anything better going on, then I'll gladly sidetrack those projects. I should probably pick up my novel and have another pass, but I haven't felt like it. Not good. I haven't been writing. Also not good, even though I know where book 2 is headed, I still need to be writing that down. Bottom line is that I've gotten discouraged and I have to figure out how to overcome that. Maybe next week's a good time to have lunch with Rachel and get hyped back up, talking to another writer will probably help...
 
 
I warn you now -- I don't have much to blog about, so read on, but prepare to be fairly unimpressed. I also caution you that I'm feeling rambly today (those of you who know me are already cringing)...

I have been on a quest to find the perfect purple eyeshadow, and I think I may have found it... Goddess Minerals Plum Passion. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous color, and it's only $4. I'm loving the loose mineral eyeshadow, you can make it as dark or as light as you like. (I did mention that makeup is my latest obsession, right?) So far all of the samples I've gotten have been amazing, so sparkly and pretty and girly (Euphoric Dysphoria and Pink Quartz Minerals). While I'm gushing about makeup, Kat Von D's eyeshadow is awesome! I treated myself to it when a friend gave me an e-gift certificate to Sephora... it's the best.

Moving (randomly) on... I can't remember the magic I worked when I did it, but I somehow set up a search on Google and it automatically scans the web for the words 'query shark.' Sometimes it means that the Query Shark has eviscerated another query letter (which is what I'm hoping for), sometimes it means she was mentioned in someone's blog, other times it's just a blog about a shark (it apparently searches for each word independently). Today I ran across an author who is in the same boat as I am, more or less. She posted her query letter, mentioned Query Shark, and asked for opinions. I commented on it... I hope she doesn't take offense at some random stranger offering suggestions. I didn't go into the meat of the letter because I'm not an expert on what agents want so I don't feel like I'd be doing her any favors, I just pointed out some things I do feel confident about.

I'm trying to reach out and meet people in the writing community...

A friend also put me in touch with Rachel Brady, a friend of hers who recently got published. I felt a little awkward emailing her, but I also didn't want to let the opportunity pass me by. I didn't expect her to get back to me for a while, if ever. She was soooooooooooo nice, she even suggested that we meet for lunch, so I'm looking forward to that. It's good to meet someone who knows what this process feels like. Here's her website: http://www.rachelbrady.net/, her book sounds really interesting, so next time I place an order I will add hers to the list.

Tomorrow I get my hair cut by a new stylist. I'm skeered. Hair makes such a difference in how you look and it's hard to trust someone new with it. This one comes with high recommendations, so my fingers are crossed -- but I'm still nervous. I want a reverse angle bob like I already have - BUT - I want to keep it long, and I want layers and I want long, angled bangs -- the kind where they hold your hair and let the scissors slide down it. That doesn't sound impossible, does it???

And oh gawd... The Devil's Rejects is on IFC in a few minutes... that means it won't cost me anything (except my sanity) so I know I'm going to try to watch it while the opportunity is available. I also know it's a bad, bad idea but oh how I love Rob Zombie... He's an amazing artist and his concerts are so much fun. At this point in my life there are very few bands I care to see live anymore: Static-X, Rob Zombie, Metallica, and Papa Roach. If Alice in Chains comes to town I'll probably go see them, too. I saw Jerry Cantrell once, but I missed out on the old Alice because Layne Staley o.d.'d when they were supposed to come through. I have to say, I'm loving the new songs.

So back to Rob... (I warned you about the rambling)

I attempted to watch House of 1,000 Corpses once. I made it 30-45 minutes in, right up until the axe came out. Problem is, I had seen some clips as he played the song in concert, so I had an idea what to expect. I never made it to the part where the guy had scissors sticking out of his face.

I had two nightmares about the movie before I ever saw it. In one, Viggo Mortensen and I were on a bus full of guys at a bachelor party (and in all weirdness, I was a guy). These strippers in American flag bikinis were coming down the aisle asking everyone to drop their car keys into a plastic bucket, telling them that they didn't want anyone to drive home drunk. But Viggo and I smelled a rat, so we stuck our hands into the bucket and moves some keys around, but kept ours because we knew that they were really collecting keys so that once the violence started, no one could get away.

Second dream was me at a Rob Zombie concert. Everyone else was oblivious, but I saw the strange looking people shutting and locking the doors. I saw the guy with the axe and the manacles. A few other people did, too, but they thought it was all part of the show... and it was, sort of... except that we were also a part of the 'show.' They were going to kill us all. I started to leave but couldn't get through the crowd and I don't remember all of it, but I think we ended up on some remote island somewhere and I did escape, or I woke up...

My dreams are always incredibly vivid. I feel things... like the sensation of my teeth as I spit out the pieces when they fall out. I smell things... unfortunately it's usually during the nasty bathroom dream -- but once it was lemon dish soap and that was a nice change. Everything is in color, I don't ever remember a black and white dream. I write songs sometimes, though I can't remember them very well when I wake up. If I could design the houses that I see in my dreams, I swear I'd be rich. A lot of my dreams are repetitive, and I can remember dreams I had years and years ago. Sometimes I seriously wonder if they're dreams at all, or if I have another life on some alternate plane of existence. I think that's why I wake up tired all the time.

I just saw a commercial for a new Tim Burton movie, 9 it looks good...  It took me a while to get onboard with his movies, but I really like the sets he uses and it doesn't hurt that every single movie is scored by Danny Elfman. I heart Danny Elfman even more than I heart Rob Zombie. His music is so incredibly delicate... and then it's powerful... and evocative... and angelic... and twisted... Batman is still my favorite score, but I love them all. I'm still amazed as I watch the opening sequence to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, how he managed to capture a word: industrial.

Okay... enough blogging... I'm going to attempt to watch this movie... (funny how I had nothing to blog about and this is probably my longest blog ever... EEK!)
 
 
My tummy hurts. I got up this morning and there was a tight feeling under my ribcage and I had a slight sense of vertigo. I always feel guilty about taking off work, especially since I've been out more than usual to meet repairmen at the house, so I stuck it out for three hours before I came home. Then I slept. Then I ate. Then I regretted it for a while.

At the moment I feel a little better. It comes and goes. I hope that by tonight it's gone altogether.

I was going to print out the snail mail queries and get going on that, but ultimately realized that I need to revamp my query letter first (pun intended). I've gotten four rejections from this latest batch of queries. Most were form rejections, one was a rather snarky, "Alas,this is not for us. SO sorry." And maybe that was sincere, but as a smartass, I sense one of my own (and I don't appreciate it).

In the meantime I finished incorporating more edits last night, so I printed another proof. I talked to another writer yesterday and she brought up the issue of backstory, so I need to really take a look at that. My first couple of chapters take place in the past, but it's hard to chop them up and sprinkle them throughout the story without making it feel disjointed... and I can't get rid of them altogether because there are things in there that play into this book and the next. I tried not to include extraneous information. I've read articles that claim backstory slows the reader down, I'm not sure it's always wrong to do it though. There are a lot of 'rules' out there, it's hard to know which ones are musts and which are preferences.

It is incredibly difficult to write because there will always be flaws in your story, and the flaws will vary according to the person reading it. You have to choose when to make changes and when to stick to your guns. The goal is to end up with something better, something you feel comfortable with. So I'll save it to a new file and see what happens.

So to summarize: Today, not a great day. It is raining, and that's good. We need it, and I like it... rain makes me happy. But I don't like feeling like crap. And I don't like rejection. Blogs can't always be happy.  =)

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A moment of whining and then I'm going to take a bubble bath and go to bed...

I've been wallowing for the past couple of hours. I attempted to edit, to incorporate the back story, and it turned into a massacre. I gave up, because every line I read made me cringe, suddenly everything I had written sucked. It was one of those days. I've had them before, and they pass, but they're painful. It's like getting my hair cut... I should lock the scissors up when I get home... and on days like today I should not touch my novel.

The revised query letter that I was so proud of was slashed to pieces in the Absolute Write forum (despite my whining I am thankful to complete strangers for sharing their knowledge and trying to help me better my letter, and they were nice about it). The good news is that I may be closer to having a synopsis written than I thought... I'm just that much further away from a query letter. I am thoroughly disheartened. And overwhelmed by it all. I feel like a complete and utter failure. A spectacular failure. And I feel naive because I felt pretty good about what I was doing. Now I wonder if I've totally shot myself in the foot by sending out query letters when I'm so obviously unprepared.

I know writers are supposed to have thick skins, but I don't. Not all of the time. Definitely not today. My head isn't in the right place for this and I'm overly sensitive because I don't feel well. Everything's so jumbled up that my head feels foggy and I'm mentally restless. Tomorrow will be better... I'll get back on track, I just need to get through today first.
 
 
I take a break from writing... to write... god I'm an addict - somebody call Intervention and give them their most boring show ever.

Wanna hear a secret? I made a baby last night. Yep. On Bebo. She's adorable. Her name is Penelope and she's just a joy to have around... already sleeping through the night... never makes a fuss. In fact, most of the time she just sits there and stares at me with her big, green, anime eyes. She never blinks... or moves for that matter... Penelope's kind of boring, actually. Truth be told, I worry about Penelope's development. She doesn't seem to take an interest in much of anything (not even my best material) and I don't know what's become of her dirty diapers... because I haven't been disposing of them... Hope she's not eating them, but if she is... that might explain why her eyes are so big... Gah, that went downhill fast...

Day two - success. One soda, all food from the book, and in a couple of hours I will get on the treamill. Baby steps.

So... as I was editing, I remembered that I was going to talk about one very important thing I learned during the process of writing this book - never throw anything I've written away. I used to delete, delete, delete, and I can't tell you how many times I ended up regretting it. Just because something doesn't work in one place doesn't mean it's worthless - maybe you can change it up and move it to another location in the story, or it might generate an idea that you can run with, or it might even be useful... in a different story. And sometimes, well, it's just crap. But crap can be useful too - it might make you laugh, or you can look back on it and pat yourself on the back because hey - at least you don't write crap like that anymore. Or now you recognize crap when you see it. So now if I cut a sentence or paragraph from my story, I don't just delete it; I move it to my s-crap file in case I want to recycle it.

It's come in handy quite a few times.

For example, I wrote this a few months before I ever got started on this book, then I changed it up and used it in chapter one. Originally it was an exercise to describe how it felt to lose someone and have to host their funeral, especially when you have mixed emotions about the people involved, including the deceased (thanks to Hallmark channel for the inspiration). I'm always pushing myself to write something that people can feel, as if they're experiencing it for themselves, so that's what I was going for here... visceral.

I'm posting it as I originally wrote it, warts and all. Yes, I realize it's not perfect. I wrote it and walked away from it until I cannibalized pieces of it for Born on a Day When the Sun Didn't Shine. So to clarify, this hasn't been edited and I am aware that it's not my best effort.

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The following material is copyrighted by Kristy Hutchison:

Here I stand, the focal point of a line that seems to stretch on for eternity. He had been loved, and he would be missed. That's what they tell me. Each of them puts it a different way, but it all boils down to the same thing.

It's awkward to stand here and talk to people I barely know, to accept their condolences on my loss when all I want to do is curl into a ball and disappear. Why should I be subjected to this public spectacle? It feels more like a social event than a viewing. They aren't here for me, they're here for him... and that bastard, he isn't here for me now either. I feel so angry, and so ashamed at myself for being angry. But I have to put on my thankful face... thank you for coming out, thank you for your kind words, thank you for the broccoli casserole.

How much longer can this possibly go on? I forgot to eat breakfast; I don't want to faint in front of him. I need to sit. Or cut my feet off so they won't throb anymore.

God. Why have I been so reliant on him? I don't even know where we keep our money. Where's the insurance policy? He never told me where the safety deposit box was. Come to think of it, I don't know much about anything really. This is just beginning and I'm already overwhelmed.

"Those flowers are from me... they were his favorite." Does she really think I care about flowers right now? Okay she does... and why shouldn't I? She went to all the effort of reaching into the cooler to grab them. But god, they're putrid, she must have spent a whole five bucks on them – if she spent more she got ripped off. They're beautiful, thank you.

I think I see the end of the line. Finally. This is almost over. "We'll drop by later to bring the side dishes." Who is she? "And don't worry dear, we'll stay to help clean up - you shouldn't have to worry about that at a time like this." She's right. I shouldn't have to worry about entertaining at a time like this. I haven't even cleaned the house since it happened. I'll be mortified if anyone wanders into the guest room.

If only he had family. If only he hadn't alienated mine. Might be easier if I didn't have to shoulder the burden of his memory for all of these people. They're starting to cluster now, tell stories about him. Some people are crying, but there are pockets of laughter, too. It doesn't seem right, the laughter. I bet they're telling the chicken story again. They always tell the chicken story. When my time comes I hope I've contributed more to the world than a bad chicken story that isn't even funny unless you were there.

"I always liked him in that suit." Thank you, I bought it two days ago, you have an excellent memory. "He looks so natural, they did a good job." Well yes... except for the orange tint to his skin and... is that mascara? "If you need anything don't hesitate to call us." I don't think you mean that... because I don't actually have your number.

"I'm sorry for your loss." Oh God. I can't believe she's here. She's got a lot of nerve to walk up and try to give me a hug. After fifteen years of marriage I knew something was up, but I hadn't thought it'd be her. If he was going to cheat on me I'd hoped it would be out of vanity, some pretty young thing I couldn't possibly compete against with my saggy ass and age spots. Some silly twit with nothing going on upstairs who couldn't hold his attention so he'd get bored and come home, chastened. But there's nothing remotely attractive about the old bag in front of me except for her Cadillac. I've never seen her this close up before. Gads, she looks like she's wearing a wig and I think she took a bath in Chanel No. 5. There's nothing more embarrassing than being left for an ugly woman... except, I suppose, being left for a man.

I was actually planning to leave him before they found the brain tumor, but by then I was stuck. I hate myself for admitting this, but I mostly stayed because it would look callous if I walked away. People would judge me because I abandoned him. They never liked me so the fact that he was stepping out on me wouldn't matter to them. In fact it would probably end up being my fault, in the final analysis it would be me who drove him to it. They're judging me even now. I can hear their whispers, they think I'm a snob. "Unfriendly" is the word they used. I guess next time I'll try to smile and tell knock-knock jokes so they'll like me.

I don't know what I'm going to do now that he's gone. I'm scared. I've never been alone before. Now I have to fumble my way through life like a newborn. I'm not equipped for this.
 
 
The agent giveth me hope... and the agent taketh it away. This morning I was elated to see that another agent wanted me to send a sample chapter, but I felt the impending hand of doom when she also stated that she wasn't sure if my book was right for her. She said she'd read it right away and get back to me. True to her word, within two hours my once-high-hopes were dashed. I would be crushed, but I have a lot of irons in the fire, and it's a very subjective business.

Not going to linger on it. In fact, I'm going to continue to make edits tonight, and hopefully print a hard copy so that I can read the whole thing through next week, one with all the changes incorporated into it. Yesterday I sent out 35 more queries, and received no rejection from the agency who requested the full. No news is good news... unless they tell you that no news is bad news. *pulls hair in frustration* There are about fifteen more agencies I will approach once I print the query letters out (snail mail only), and another twenty that I can contact once I write a synopsis... I'm really hung up on the synopsis but there's an agent that I really like on that list, so I need to do it for her... lol

I finally joined a writer's group (of sorts), a site called Absolute Write that I've been using to get agent information in cases where the agency doesn't appear to have a website. So far people have been friendly and I've run across a couple of interesting author websites. It's intimidating to read other people's work, because I have a tendency to make comparisons to my own writing. My writing tends to be pretty simple, no epic battles or complex worlds, mine's more relationship-based and internal. Thank god there's a market for that, and hopefully there's room in it for me!

...I don't know how many times I have to find myself in the middle of making dinner only to find that I'm missing a key ingredient before I start to pay attention to the frickin' recipe. I got Monterey Jack instead of Mozzarella... no big deal... but I totally overlooked the riccota. I don't know if this is going to work out or not, but there's an interesting substitute (no amounts specified so I winged it) of cream cheese, egg and parmesan. Dinner's in the oven now... we shall see. Casseroles tend to be pretty forgiving.

This week I've decided to test my willpower, and yeah--go ahead and laugh at how pathetic I am... I intended to cut back from three sodas a day, to one. I ended up cutting back from three to... two. Yes, it's still progress, but I didn't meet my goal. So this week I'm going to adhere to it, and I'm going to cook meals from Cook Yourself Thin, and I'm going to hop on the treadmill every day and burn at least 250 calories. If I don't see a difference this week, no matter where you live, you will hear my scream. I figure it's six days. If I can't last for six days then what does that say about me?

And you'll be happy to know that I survived the night, in fact, 30 minutes after finishing the movie I was in bed asleep. I am a badass! lol
 
 
My samples from Pink Quartz Minerals showed up in the mail today... so pretty... four tiny little plastic vials of shimmery red eyeshadows and one small baggie of a gorgeous shimmery gold. Makeup is my latest addiction, I'm actually ashamed at how many eyeshadows I own, and I just bought more today... (samples from sellers on Etsy! cheap and fun and it keeps me out of trouble because the alternative is Ulta or Sephora or CVS...) So I went online to get inspiration from Makeup Geek, because she tends to do looks that have more impact than my other two faves, Lauren Luke and Kandee Johnson, and I'm still trying to put together a look for Samhein (Halloween). I don't know why, but I have gotten sucked in to these tutorials. My inner Barbie has only recently come out, but now that she's out, she's out with a vengeance.

Incidentally, and I probably shouldn't admit this because I know all books start with disclaimers that any resemblance to real people is purely circumstantial, but I loosely based my character Lauren on the Lauren who does the makeup tutorials. I guess it's not surprising... I observe people every day and over time the character traits find their way into my writing. She just has this every-girl personality that you can't help but like, she seems so genuine and... likeable. I don't know her, never met her, haven't spoken to or corresponded with her, so the character is only a representation... my interpretation... and I'm sure when all is said in done it really does bear no reselmblance to the real person... it's based on her vivaciousness and openness and how comfortable she seems to be in her own skin. I was happy when one of my friends said they loved her in the book. So. Not actually Lauren, but yes, based on Lauren. And the fact that she's also named Lauren? I actually had a character named Lauren in my screenplay, so I wanted to give her a second chance.

This morning one of my friends returned my manuscript with her suggested edits (and no, I haven't gone psycho - I'm still marvelling at the cool binder it's in). Throughout this process it has been so interesting to see what other people think as they read my story, what they key into. Almost everyone brings something different to the table. I love to read the comments... "No!" or "Gag" or "I love this!" or "You switched metric systems." My mom thought the scene in the hardware store went on a little too long, just prior to that, one of my friends told me he loved the scene in the hardware store. You can't please everyone I guess, but I like that I'm not getting too many people pointing out the same issues. Most of what I see is positive feedback, and questions that make me rethink how I worded something.

Tonight I spoke to one of the friends who is coming to Scotland with me, and he asked me if I would help out with a press release for a charity event that his Harley chapter is putting together. Awesome! I love this guy (and the cherry on top is that his wife is incredible, too). Our friendship was forged in  a non-traditional manner, one not likely to have lasted for this long: I met him over the telephone at my last job... over ten years ago... egads! I worked as a buyer supporting the western region of a major telecommunications company, and he was one of the project managers I frequently worked with. We developed a rapport and over time became friends... he's a hell of a guy. As luck would have it, I had a relative living in the same general vicinity, so I got to meet up with he and his wife a couple of times, and we now have this great, almost famial relationship. I guess my point is, you never know who is going to come into your life, or where they'll pop up, but sometimes you get lucky. I feel lucky anyway. Most of the time (gotta keep him grounded).

Spent my lunch hour looking up more agents. I added about 25 to my list, and unless the whole winery thing works out for tomorrow... which is not looking promising... I'll spend a good portion of my day sending out more queries and working on the book (my friend had some valid suggestions so I want to go back tomorrow and implement some of them). My enthusiasm is back now that I've gotten a positive response from an agent, and I know better than to put all of my eggs in that one basket; it's not a yes yet (but it's not a no... it's like purgatory...).

So that was my day. Oh - that, and the bathrooms were out of order for over half the day, so I had to walk half way to Albequerque to pee. Fun! Sometimes I think other people must have way more exciting lives than I do... Oh, and I take far too much joy in puns... a friend of mine is an electrician and he was getting worked up over something so I got to tell him not to blow a fuse... I slay me.

Now I'm going to get off the computer, lie back on the sofa, and watch A Haunting... and possibly freak myself out so that I will have problems falling asleep... even though I'm completely wiped out... I don't know why I do this to myself, but the paranormal fascinates me. If they had a paranormal channel I'd be watching that puppy all day long... as long as the shows were worth watching... and okay, honestly most of them are crap... Paranormal State, on the other hand... that's one of my faves...

...and before I start to ramble again... I'm getting off this crazy thing!
 
 
First - a couple of random thoughts:

1. The frozen dinner I had for lunch puported to contain chicken and stuffing with mashed potatoes. What I found inside the box were two strips of chicken sitting atop a pile of soggy croutons smothered in gravy. Ah those crazy marketers... you're a wily bunch who rule the world with your versions of the truth... lol

2. This morning as I drove into work, a security guard - who I've never seen before - said, "welcome back!"... How did he know I was out yesterday?...

On to the nibbling...

Yesterday I sent out several more query letters. It was a matter of getting off my duff, delving deeper into the database and taking more chances (primarily broadening the search parameters from 'paranormal romance' to 'women's fiction' and 'commercial fiction').

...and it might just pay off! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

This afternoon I checked my email and the dread filled me... a response... if I opened it would it tell me that they appreciated my submission but it was a pass... or... *click* ... would they?... *gasp* ... did they just?... OMG, they did! They just requested the full manuscript! Someone wants to read my story! Someone that I don't know!!! Someone who knows publishers!

For those of you who write, you know how monumental this feels... It's not a rejection. It's not a yes, but it's closer to a yes than I was yesterday... and they requested a full, not a partial. It's step 0.5 in the process of getting published, but it's a step that I've certainly never taken before. It's exhilerating and terrifying, because now it's real, now I have a shot - and I'm a perfectionist, so I don't know if I'm ready. After the immediate thrill, there was horror: Did I sell myself short? Is it the best it can be? Did I edit it as much as it needs to be edited? Should I have waited for all of my proofers to finish it first? Did I jump the gun? The only solution I could come up with was to trust that I have put a lot of effort into it, and hope that they like it despite its flaws.

I'm open to criticism. I know a lot of people say that and don't necessarily mean it, but I am. I'm proud of what I've written, but I recognize that there's always room for improvement, and I am definitely willing to listen to the professionals. As I've gotten copies back from my proofers, my thought process has been to:

-- Immediately recognize the critque as valid and make the change (spelling, grammar, things out of sequence, comments that strike a chord)

-- Take the critque into consideration and decide whether I agree with it or not, and if not, I wait to see if more than one person brings up the same issue (grey area)

-- Completely ignore it as irrelevant (something I intentionally wrote to be ambiguous, something that will play into the second book)

Typically I toggle between the first two. I don't get upset with the person for being honest, because I'm asking them for honesty (I do request that they be nice about it though). I don't take it personally, even though it's sometimes difficult, because it is all a matter of opinion and there's no point in getting upset about it. I'll tell you something - being a proofreader takes guts, and I am humbled that my friends agreed to do it, that they trust me not to become irrational!

I know just about diddly about agents (with regard to who the best one is). I read their profiles and usually try to find a sentence that jumps out at me... loves a good vampire story... enjoys finding new talent... really likes a hero with a sense of humor... something that resonates with me. I sort of judge them the way they judge me, to see if I think we're a good fit. I honestly don't know who I'll end up with, only that I will know when it feels right, and that will be the perfect agent... for me.

To put a perfect cap on the day - it looks like it might rain! We need rain... but... yesterday it looked like it was going to rain, too... and it did a lot of grumbling, but not much raining... Right now the sky is a very, very dark grey... Eh, I have pizza coming (the world's best pizza)... and if it rains, I'll feel bad that the poor delivery guy had to get out in it to deliver my food... so it's definitely going to rain... because I feel too good right now and I need to be taken down a peg (kidding... I don't really, I'm humble I swear!).

Oh yeah... I hear the sweet, sweet sound of heavy drops hitting the concrete (and just in time for the pizza guy, as I predicted)...
 
 

This weekend I cleaned out a couple of my closets. It's something I've needed to do for a while because I hold onto things that I don't need, want or use, on the off chance that I'll need, want or use them in the future. I'm embarassed to admit that up until about a year ago I still had a couple of shirts I'd worn in high school (and I shudder to add that high school was almost 20 years ago now). I even had my prom dress hanging in a closet until I finally got sick of having to deal with it.

The best way I've found to get rid of clutter is to move... the thought of packing things up and lugging them to another house really puts it all into perspective. It's amazing what becomes expendable. But... I'm not moving this time, so I had to toughen my resolve and just let go of my pack rat tendencies. I made a pretty good dent in things, but I could still do more.

I might try something I saw on How Clean is Your House once: face all your hangers the wrong way, after you wear something, wash it and rehang it, face the hangers the right way. In a few months you can probably toss the stuff on the hangers that were never turned. Pretty cool. But I haven't done it yet...

Baby steps.

So tomorrow is HP and the Half-Blood Prince!  Getting excited! Just re-watched HP and the Order of the Phoenix... it was good... but sad...

Ah well... gotta go --having drinks and catching up with a friend and I need to make sure the wine glasses are clean! That reminds me, I added whisky tasting info on the Scotland page this afternoon, notes I found on the whisky I brought back from Scotland last time; if whisky's your thing, check it out!
 

 

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