No friends, a tiny wee rant, and the fact that I’m 12

I finished my latest draft, cyber friends! Thank you, thank you. Why yes, I will have some of that champagne. You’re too kind. Oh, a five-million dollar book deal? Thank you, I’ll take two.

Okay, so it hasn’t been exactly like that. I gave it to my writing group and, lo and behold, I committed an ultimate sin that I thought I’d never commit…*cue music*

My heroine doesn’t have any friends!!!! Every time I read a book and the heroine is without friends, I cringe. Granted, those books are usually about paranormal women with man-harems (I love typing man-harem. I love saying it, too. Man-harem. *snerk*) where friends would get in the way of all the nookie. I made sure my heroine had lots of female support, but no actual friends. I had to throw some in there, and now I’m just hoping my new beta-readers won’t think they’re tacked on.

Also, man-harem.

Speaking of, this town would be a wonderful place to try and form a man-harem, if such is your desire. We have a plethora of young men who drive fast, sneer constantly and can’t seem to wear a hat correctly. If whopping big tail-pipes turn you on, you need to come here.

What the fuck is up with whopping big tail pipes, anyway? If anyone knows, please enlighten me. Sometimes, it seems you actually need TWO whopping big tail pipes or even a smokestack (a fucking smokestack!!!) in the bed of your truck. Hell, maybe you need all three, all of them loud as fuck and belching black smoke. I hear the smoke is even engineered to be harmless to the environment, meaning it’s just there to piss people off.

I picture the kids buying these things at one giant mega-store that has a commitment to, “Selling only the best annoying products for the discerning prick.” Close up on the store manager nodding enthusiastically. “Mmm hmm, we cater mostly to pricks. Also assholes, wankers, and the occasional dickweed or jackhole.”

Seriously, guys out there who do this, no one’s impressed. No one has wood over your smokestack. But ‘grats on creating memories that will shame your children later.

And as for shaming children, I don’t plan to have any, but if I ever do, I hope I’ll grow out of being 12. My husband and I are doing home repair right now, and you should hear the jokes about caulk. Yeah, if you don’t say it correctly, it sounds exactly like what you’re thinking. Holes to fill with caulk, grabbing caulk, how much caulk to you have, this job needs more caulk… You name it, we’ve done the joke. What can I say, we’re 12, but at least we don’t inflict our 12-ness on others.

Well, I guess I just did on you… Hmm, better get myself to that store for pricks…

Tell me what annoys you. I’m bound to make fun of it sooner or later.

Almost forgot! Sorry RSS feed people. Next week, I’m having Maria Zannini over. You better show! Also, today I’m posting on Fansci. Come say hi.

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A little bit of this and…

….a little bit of that. I think I’ve used this title before. Hmm…

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about a few things. First of all, the look of my site will be changing. My husband’s company FrogSlayer Software is designing webpages now, so they made a custom skin for my wordpress site. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

Second, I’m starting a new writing group here in College Station. I love my Houston group to death, but needs must and all. Anyway, if you know anyone near Bryan/College Station who is looking for a group, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll give you the details.

Did you all remember that I post every Wednesday on Fansci? Just thought I’d give you a reminder. ^_~ I’ll be linking to that from now on…sigh, when I remember.

I’m racing through my new project now. I think I’ve hit my stride. Looking forward to editing in early May and then the writing conference in late May.

Is everyone as busy a bee as I am? Whew! sometimes I forget what it’s like to slow down.

The writer slump, but hey, new pen!

New pen? Holy cow! I’ll just get that out of the way first. Ta da:

Pretty freakin’ cool, huh? It was part of my present from Sarah for our writing group’s “Christmas in February.” Patent pending.

Now, how many of you are suffering from the winter writer slump? Just about every writer I’ve spoken to is currently wrestling with this, so you’re not alone. I’m trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps, too. I’ve got ideas. It’s just that I really don’t want to write. I feel a bit maudlin, a bit depressed (and for no good reason that I can suss out). I blame winter. It always makes me just want to sleep, but when I do nap, I feel guilty that I haven’t been working and then, well, we’re on a sneaky hate spiral.

If you’re feeling this, too, the best advice I’m gonna give you is to just put one foot in front of the other, just as if you were having to march across the desert. (Then I’d also add to rest during the day and walk at night.) Write a bit, do something else, write a bit, do something else, etc. If it helps, tell yourself you have to “earn” leisure activities with writing. You have to write a certain number of pages before you can watch tv or read a book. If you don’t have deadlines already, you might want to set some for yourself. Maybe set a reward for meeting the big deadlines. Like a new pen! Want another peek?

You’re welcome. ^_^

So how you doin’ in the winter slump? Getting it done? Not doing hardly anything, really? Too busy with other tasks?

p.s. I’m going to the Backspace Writers’ Conference in May. Anyone else going to this? First round’s on me! ^_^ And I don’t drink alcohol, but I’ll match you soda for…whatever!

This one’s for the spambots

I think I’m finally famous, guys. The spambots are leaving at least five comments on all of my posts. I finally made it! So, this is what fame is like!

Or not.

Anyway, I’m in serious trouble. I just found out that sharpie occasionally puts out limited edition colors. I had to buy them all. What the hell did I do before I had a “stingray” colored marker?!?!
Did I mention I’m a sucker for a pen/marker sales tactic? You already guessed? You know me so well!

I have my small press list whittled down. And soon, I will be making my first submission to Pyr. I’ve heard a lot about them, and I actually own some of the books they put out, and I think they’re a solid outfit. Now, if I only I can summon up the courage to begin the submission process all over again. Sigh. I think I’ll just submit instead of waiting for the Amazon contest. As I said before, I don’t have a hope in hell of winning, and I want to get this submission show on the road.

Tomorrow and hopefully every Wednesday, I’ll be blogging on Fansci. So far, it’s three women talking about everything sci fi and fantasy. Come check it out.

One more tidbit. In case you haven’t heard, Maria Zannini is holding a follower contest on her blog. Prize is a shirt or a critique of a 90K novel. She promises to be brutal. ^_^

What’s the first web contest you ever entered? It’s been so long for me that I can’t remember, but I think it was for a book.

Self-editing is what now?

Okay, campers, I’m back! Didn’t know I was gone, did ya? My husband and I took a trip to Colorado for some rest and relaxation (pics to follow), and we thought it would be fun to drive, spreading the getting-there to two days.

But what to listen to for two days? A book on tape! Sure to make the hours fly by.

Or….not. Sure to frustrate the hell out of us? Most definitely. And it prompted me to concoct today’s PSA topic: self-editing. Two authors leap to mind who need help with this. I’m not going to name names. See if you can guess!

So, the book on tape guy. NYT best-selling author for…forever. His books used to be snappy little roller coasters, and now it’s clear that no one is reading them before they hit the shelves. I don’t know if there were typos, but there was so much info that didn’t need to be there! Not only did we get a first and last name for Every Single Character (so many…) but they all had loads of backstory that had no bearing on the plot. Everything that happened reminded the people involved of some other incident years before, and the flashback went on for pages and sometimes involved another flashback, just chains of events that, I think, were meant to build tension…but didn’t.

The flashbacks came in the middle of exciting events, but once I’d read a flashback for everyone involved, the event was no longer exciting, merely frustrating.

No one cut this book for content, or if they tried, the author didn’t listen, and the editor decided to publish it anyway, probably thinking like the editor that once commented on my next candidate for self-editing.

I went to a writing conference a few years back, and an editor for Tor (I think) was on one of the panels. She mentioned my next self-editing candidate, and people in the audience groaned. One person even stood to ask a question and added that this author (another NYT bestseller) had really dropped the ball as far as book quality is concerned, mentioning that said author’s books now regularly appeared in the B&N bargain bin where they never had before. The editor just blinked and said, “But she’s still making money. She’s still selling books.”

The audience was aghast. She’s not selling as many! The people in the room who had read her had stopped buying her books. Sales were falling, in a large part due to the fact that no one was reading them before they hit the shelves.

She had long tracts of dialogue, lasting pages and pages, about stuff that had no bearing on the plot. She rehashed topics that were discussed in previous chapters, repeating herself word for word at times. And let’s not forget the word repetition. In one tiny paragraph alone, she used the word “hand” ten times. “She grasped the whatsit in her hand, and then passed it to her other hand. Then she took the whosit from her belt with her hand and grabbed it firmly with her hand.” That’s not exactly a quote, but you get the idea. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just didn’t spot this, but surely she had someone ANYONE reading for her?!?! My writing group would have caught that in a New York minute. I think any voracious reader would have.

Oh, and just to address a pet peeve of mine, I think no one needs to say, “She grasped it in her hand” unless the circumstances require you to use right or left. Hand is default. Only tell me if she’s grasping it in her foot or mouth or tentacle or lady-bits. With this woman’s books, none of those would surprise me.

Promise me guys, when you all reach the NYT bestselling list and become ultra famous, that you’ll continue to practice self-editing. And if you don’t trust yourself, if you know you’ll want to wax poetic about the stars in the middle of a battle, if you can’t control your impulse to talk to the reader, or if you want to share with the reader (via your characters) your love for Target when it’s got nothing to do with the plot, HAVE SOMEONE ELSE READ FOR YOU AND THEN TAKE THEIR ADVICE. Ahem. Please, don’t frustrate someone’s road-trip.

Ever read a bestselling author and wondered if you could somehow get out and push the book along? Ever wondered, who in the hell read this before it was published? Ever read a much touted author whose book included typos? *Raises hand*

Sequeling

I said I’d never never do it again. Why have an entire trilogy no one wants to represent, I said. Why spin my wheels, I asked. It’s wasting time. It does no one any good. It just makes me sad…. I said all this, I know.

And you know what? It’s complete bollocks.

I like the worlds I’ve created. I’m proud of them. My writing group and my family want to read more stories about these worlds and these characters. I’ve got tons of notes and even a first draft. I’m writing a sequel.

The third book in a trilogy, actually. Many moons ago, I wrote a book called Paladins of the Storm Lord. It’s about a spaceship crew who gets thrown off course, develops super-human abilities and decides to be gods over the colonists they’re transporting. The bulk of it takes place on the colonists’ planet 250 years later when an epic catastrophe of the gods’ doing makes people begin to question their faith.

A couple years after I wrote Paladins and rewrote it….and rewrote it again, I wrote The Third Level, a sequel that I liked even better than the first. By then I knew these characters and what they were capable of. I enjoyed pushing them, mutating them and making them grow. Last year, for my nano, I wrote the rough draft of the third in my trilogy and now I’m fleshing it out, something I swore I wouldn’t do again.

So why now? Well, besides novel love, there’s also the hope that comes with e-books. If no publisher ever expresses an interest in these three books, even if another one of my books gets published, I can release these on my own, just to see them out there. That makes me happy and puts to bed those “spinning-my wheels” feelings.

^_^

Have you written a sequel? Do you ever plan to even if no one seems interested in Book 1? Would you ever write one if your beta readers wanted to know what happens next?

Cleaning out the old mental cupboard

I started making some notes today on different projects, tinkering, you know, and rediscovering that there are actually LOTS of hours in a day! So, I thought I’d open myself up for some critiques. If any of you have anything you’re working on that you’d like someone else to look at, feel free to send it my way as a .doc attachment to barbara at wright dot org. I’m pretty good with commas, and I can be a good overall reader. (I just set my brain to reader and forget writer.) Let me know if you want anything specific, or just general comments. Also, let me know what format you’d like your critique in, be it track changes or copy and pasting what I find into an email.

Also also, put a note in the comments section so I know to look for your work, just in case it gets caught in the spam filter. If you don’t leave me a note in the comments and send something anyway, I’ll probably assume you’re spam…or a virus. I know a lot of viruses read this blog. ^_^

And we’re back!

Just got back from writing weekend. It was the first time everyone in our group has finished a novel, so we had a party with champagne and cake. My husband had the best slogan to write on that cake, The End. ^_^

I got a lot of editing done and was able to read for some of our other members. Know what I now, though? Tired! See everyone tomorrow,

Still sick, but sticking with it

Ugh. I’m so tired of being sick. Luckily, I’ll have time to make up for all the writing I’ve missed because I’m going on a write-in this weekend! The writing group and I will be headed down to a house in Bay City, TX that DOES NOT HAVE INTERNET. Oooooh, scary. But it will mean we’ll get a lot of work done. And it will also mean that several diets will get blown. Everyone knows that things you eat during a write-in have no calories or fat. They’re just fuel for the writing. At least, that’s what we’ll tell ourselves. ^_^

I’m looking forward to not only finishing the first round of edits on my current project, but diving into the second and banging out a few versions of the dreaded query and synopsis. If I ever get stunningly rich (ha!) I’m going to rent out an entire hotel somewhere central in the U.S. and have a nationwide write-in. Would you come?

Woo hoo! Freelance contract!

I got a freelance editing contract! It’s money coming in, so that’s good, but now I’ve got to be extra disciplined and make sure I spend as much time on my own manuscript as I do on this one. This is the first time I’ve ever edited a novel, so I’ve no idea how long it will take. I’m just going to do it as fast as possible while still making sure that my client gets my best work.

On an equally good note, I just wrote a love scene, and now I’m working on the morning after. It’s a good morning after, and that always puts me in a good mood. I wonder what other scenes put writers in good moods. You tell me.