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!

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?

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?

Finding the right writing group Pt. 3

Last time, I mentioned our group’s interview process, and in the comments, I was asked to clarify. So, if you’re looking for more info on that, it’s in the comments for Pt. 2.

So, now we had a group, and we had some rules. A few times in hour history, however, our membership dropped. The weekly commitment proved too much for many of us, leaving us with three people at one point. And if one person can’t make a three-person meeting, the meeting gets called. Two of the three of us had small children, so the occasional miss was unavoidable, but it got to be where we would go for two or three weeks without meeting. As the one without small children, I was a bit peeved by this. ^_^

We needed new blood. But how to get it? Well, the internet seemed to hold the key. My husband and I had created a webpage for Writer’s Ink, and now seemed the perfect time to put it to use. We needed to steer traffic toward it. We put Writer’s Ink on an online listing for writers’ groups in TX. We put an ad on Craig’s List. I scattered fliers all over town. It took awhile, but eventually, we had some submissions.

At one point, we had enough that we could give some acquired members the axe. This is always a hard thing to do. But one had sporadic attendance, and we had promised ourselves that we wouldn’t be a “drop-in” group, so we had to send him an email telling him to look us up again when he had more time. Lucky for us, he was very gracious.

Another member made it all the way into the group before we realized that, for him, honesty and brutality had to go hand in hand. If we weren’t willing to be brutal to one another, he said, then we clearly just wanted to sit around and give each other compliments. We tried to impress upon him that this wasn’t the case, but he persisted. When he got a polite email, telling him that his personality didn’t mesh with the rest of the group, he was very upset and fired back several emails, trying to argue. As I recall, we just had to say, “We’re done,” and not respond further. Now, when people join, we give them a copy of The Diplomatic Critiquer by Andrew Burt. The honesty = brutality people usually get the message straightaway and don’t bother.

So, that’s it, really. To find the right writing group, you have to be willing to look, to try out several and ask yourself how far you’re willing to drive. When I moved away from Houston to College Station, I thought I would have to give up Writer’s Ink, but I just couldn’t. Each week, I drive the two hours down to Sugar Land or over to east Houston. I try to schedule other Houston activities on the same day to stretch out the time between driving. Two hours has become a small price to pay for a good group.

And if you can’t find one, make one! It’s hard, sure, but it’s sooo worth it. If you need any tips or advice, feel free to ask. Writer’s Ink will have it’s fifth anniversary this Fall.

Finding the right writing group Pt. 2

So, as I said in my last post, myself and a few others from a larger writing group decided to break off and form our own. In the beginning, we had around six people. I can’t recall for certain. Some dropped out almost immediately, and we acquired others, so it’s hard to remember who was in when. I don’t believe we ever had over seven members at one time. This brought us to the first wrinkle we had to iron out: how many people we wanted and who we wanted those people to be.

This wrinkle led to others, and we finally decided that we needed some rules. We decided early on that we didn’t want to charge dues, as we weren’t going to do anything that costs money like, hold a conference. We wanted to meet at each others houses, once a week. We wanted to keep things friendly. And since we wanted to give in-depth critiques, we figured we’d keep it under ten people, and around 4000 words per submission. All submissions would be printed out by the author (enough for each member) and be brought to the meeting to be handed out and discussed at the following meeting.

This has all worked well, except for the under ten thing. I now think seven is the max number of people I would be comfortable with. My group has six, and if everyone is submitting, that’s 20,000 (discounted one’s own submission) to read and critique a week. It might not sound like an awful lot, but it is when you really have to think about what the author is saying and how you want to respond.

We all agreed on most of the rules, including one we made about not using red pens because that seemed like what a teacher would do, and none of us would be teacher. We were peers, colleagues, and none of us knew better than anyone else. This led us right to who to let in.

We didn’t want to be an open group, with people just showing up and then leaving whenever they liked. We wanted a commitment. In fact, we agreed that if a person didn’t show up regularly, he or she was out. We wanted people who were passionate not only about writing, but about finishing projects, perhaps to publish. We developed a sort of interview process, and it saved us quite a few headaches. We were able to weed out those who just wanted to use us for networking and those that thought you couldn’t have honesty without brutality.

Needless to say, we had a lot of teething troubles and some early-on disagreements, but we were able to finally hammer out an arrangement everyone was comfortable with. And I see now that this post is getting extra long, so on Tuesday I’ll do Pt. 3 where I’ll outline what we did to boost membership during the lean months and tell you about the few times we had to give someone the boot.

Finding the right writing group Pt. 1

Or…making your own writing group Pt 1. I’ve decided to do this post in parts because I don’t want to have one post that’s too long. ^_^

I have come to understand that many writers out there lack a face-to-face writing group, and I think this is a shame. Being face-to-face with someone changes your relationship. It’s been my experience that people have to be politer when speaking right to you, but not everyone adheres to this.

So, how do you find a writing group? Well, when I was first looking, I had the good fortune to be in Houston, which is large. Even there, though, I had to scour. My first step was to do an internet search for “writing groups, Houston, TX.” Luckily, I found several. Now I had to decide how far I was willing to drive for a writing group.

At the time, I thought, not far. I started with the nearest group. They only met once a month, and didn’t do critiques. They were more of a social group, and not what I was looking for. The second group I went to was planning to dissolve the next day. Just too late for that one. I had to go further afield (30 mins) and just like Goldilocks, the third group seemed just right.

The third group met weekly. They collected dues. For joining the group, each person could bring ten pages and have them read aloud before everyone present did a cursory, out loud, from the hip critique. Their numbers seemed good if a little schizo. Some nights we had fifteen to twenty people, some nights three or four. They met in Barnes and Noble, which made it difficult to read swearing or sex or violence out loud. It was the best I’d found, but I still wasn’t happy.

Soon after joining, a group of three women invited me to their after-writing-group-coffee session. And I am soooo glad I went. We talked about everything that was wrong with the group. We talked about what we would do differently. More people joined our coffee session, and they got in on the discussion. After about six months of talking, we decided to act. We formed our own writing group that would meet at our houses.

Of the founding members of Writer’s Ink, only two remain, but since we started, we’ve had quite an eclectic group, and I couldn’t be happier with the six we have now. In my next post, I’ll tell you about our baby steps and flirtation with “rules”, how we found members, and occasionally, how we were forced to get rid of them.

I have them completely fooled!

My writing group, that is. And I can post that here because I know that none of them read my blog. I love them dearly, but they just don’t spend that much time surfing the net. ^_^

But, as to the fooling, they’re trying to figure out who my villain is, and I have them chasing red herrings every which way. It’s such an…accomplished feeling. There have been clues, which makes me think that if someone were to read the book at his/her own pace, s/he would figure it out. Whatever. I’m just jazzed that they’re interested enough to speculate.

And I love my little herrings. I think the secret of a good decoy is making them suspicious, but not overly so. They need a motive to be bad, just maybe not as bad as the true villain. If every character has it in him/her to turn evil, all of them are potential decoys. Hooray for gray characters.