More like a big sinkhole

So, the conference didn’t go quite the way I hoped. However, I did make a lot of new friends, and I got one of the things I came for: feedback.

Now, back to the drawing board. ^_^

New York, the city, was as cool as I remembered. Saw some old favs like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Also was able to take a walk through Central Park, something I’ve wanted to do but never got around to. And man was it hot, hotter than I expected. Luckily, I ate some very good food that wasn’t good for me at all. I had no choice, really. My ego demanded I eat to help it heal, really. That’s totally what happened.

I’m running ragged right now trying to finish my current round of edits but also preparing for the fact that I’m moving to Austin soon, with the only question being exactly when. I will try try try to get some pics up later this week, not only of the city but also of the swag I picked up here and there, including a very sparkly scarf and a purse that my friend haggled for. (I’m not a natural haggler, me.)

*Sigh* How has your week been? Did I miss anything?

I conference, you conference, we all conference!

Or maybe it’s just me. That’s right, kids, it’s almost time for the Backspace Writer’s Conference. I am at once both excited and terrified.

I’m excited because unlike pitch conferences, we’ll be reading the material to agents and getting feedback. Yes, you heard that right, actual feedback! Good or bad, I’ll be learning about how to improve my query and my opening pages straight from the agent’s mouth.

I’m terrified because of the very same thing. Really, you thought it would be different? I am currently feeling really positive about the entire thing, though. I’ve got my query letter in good shape and I’ve edited my opening two pages into oblivion. I even have my logline. Behold:

“Using Cherokee and African magic, an inexperienced young woman embarks on a dangerous journey through the Georgia swamp in order to keep a young man’s soul from being devoured by animal spirits.”

I hope that’s not confusing as hell. I also hope you want to run right out and buy it if I can get it in the door. Wish me luck, friends, and I’ll be posting again in two weeks!

I wish I was back in London, but no, I am in edit hell

The weather looks so nice in England. Not that it isn’t nice here in TX, but when my mom and I were in the UK in December, it was so freakin’ cold! I want to be back there when we can stay out past 5pm and not be in danger of hypothermia.

Also, if I were in another country, I wouldn’t be slogging through the first draft of my manuscript, trying to put everything in order, trying to make my plot run smoothly. And oh God, the cliches! I use them as placeholders, framework if you will, to hang my plot on and then I change the specifics later. But now I’m running into them and having to edit them out. I’m both laughing and ashamed.

Let me see you a scene. My group of three heroes gets separated. Two are in one warehouse, another is in a warehouse across a parking lot. The first two discover they’ve walked into a trap. They rush out to warn the third one, but as they leave their warehouse, the warehouse across the parking lot…does what?

Did you say explodes? I am deeply deeply ashamed to say that you’re right. However, before you disown me, let me say again that it is a placeholder for a misunderstanding and then a tragic event. I think seeing it written as a cliche helps me from pulling a cliche in the final draft. At least, *sigh* I hope that’s what it’s doing. Hey, I’ll think of it this way, when I’m a huge bestselling author *snort*, and my first draft leaks, people will still have a complete surprise waiting when they see the real thing. If they haven’t given me up in disgust after reading all my cliches.

Am I a complete weirdo? Does anyone else rely on cliches when they’re drafting, just as scaffolding? Please tell me I’m not alone. *Extra sigh* I’m alone, aren’t I?

One place I’m not alone is on Fansci, where it’s my day to post!

I work from home, neener neener

That’s something I never say, but since I do work at home, I encounter a lot of jealousy from folks who don’t.

Now, I think I work hard. I only have to look at the amount I write to see how productive I am, but people aren’t with me day in and day out. They can’t see how much I do. And even if they do, all they hear sometimes is “work at home,” which makes them project onto me what they’d be doing if they were at home all day.

Mostly, this seems to be watching television and jerking off. I can’t speak about spending day after day jerking off, but I did take a month off from doing anything right after I graduated college, and t.v. watching got really old, really quickly. I credit that month with the discovery that I could be a full time writer if I had the luxury to do so. I have quite a lot of self-discipline.

Do any of the rest of you that work from home have to deal with jealousy? Do you ever feel the need to justify your life like I do sometimes? Like if you aren’t earning a wage, you aren’t earning your oxygen? Wait, are any of you working from home AND not earning a wage, or is that just me? (I get occasionally freelance writing jobs, but nothing steady.)

If you work from home and get paid regularly, do you still have to deal with “work from home” jealousy? Is it less if you also have children?

To clarify, I do get people asking me what I DO all day since I’m not working out of the home, and they are asking from a curious place. Sometimes, I get angry questions like, “And what would YOU know about hard work? You stay home all day!” I used to sink into depression because I equated how much I earned with how much I was worth, like as a person. It took a lot of growing up to move past that.

Even now, I’m just to the angry, “I’ll TELL you how hard I work” stage. Soon, though, I hope to move into the stage where I don’t care what the angry people think of me and have the courage to say, “Think of your favorite thing, that you never get to do because you work out of the house. I do that. All. Day. Long.” Hmm, the non-caring stage is right next door to the sarcastic, antagonistic stage…. I think I’ll like it here.

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.

One small press for man…

Or woman, in this case.

So, thanks to Marilou’s suggestion to check out Duotrope, Maria’s list of more small presses, and Carol Garvin’s info on the ones I had, I’ve got more presses on my list. Now, I’m whittling them down further. I haven’t had a chance to delve very deeply into their websites, and before I even try, I’m googling each of them to see how widespread they are.

I’m looking to see what social and business networks they’re on, what distributors they’re attached to and what contacts they have. I’m also checking to make sure they haven’t been tagged by Writer’s Beware or outed as scam artists by the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Victoria Strauss, I know you’ll probably never read this, but you’re da bomb, as the kids used to say. ^_^

Regarding social and business networks, I originally thought, who cares? Anyone can get a facebook, twitter or linkedin account. It doesn’t actually mean anything that they have them. Now, after my research, I think it might mean that they actually give a damn. Some of the presses I researched haven’t bothered to sign up for anything. As easy as it is to set up these accounts, some of them haven’t taken the time to do so.

The ones that have taken the time are getting the word out about their authors and doing what they can to promote them. So far, all the presses I’ve found that look really good (good history of publishing what I write, good buzz, good connections, etc.) have accounts on all the networks out there.

What do you think? Do a lot of social/business networks help a publisher’s credibility? Would you rank that low on your list of credits a small house should have?

Oh, and I have to share with you a sweet rejection letter I got from an agent’s assistant:
“Though what you’ve written promises to be thoughtful and compelling, I’m afraid we were unable to find a place for it at this agency.”
Call me optimistic, but I’m taking that to mean she really wanted her agent to rep it, but they didn’t have room. ^_^

Small Press update

I’m still compiling a list of small presses. I was disturbed to see that so many have been gobbled up by huge presses. They might still call themselves by their original name,s but when you go to their websites now, you’re redirected to Harper Collins or one of the other biggies.

And not too many of those take unagented submissions. Bleh. Some small presses are now doing the same, just because so many people are submitting to them. Double bleh.

If you live in the UK, Canada, or Australia, you have a lot of options. I had to take those small presses off my list, though, as I live in Texas. ^_^

Many small presses are currently closed to any and all submissions, probably because they’ve got too much on their plates. All this searching really makes me wish I’d gotten on the stick years ago with this writing thing.

So, my whittled down list of small pubs that are:

A) Open
B) Open to unagented subs
C) Open to subs from the US
D) Accepting SF/F

so far comes to 7. No seriously, 7. I’ve been to a hundred or so, and I’ve got 7. I’m going to keep looking, obviously. Submitting right away is not something I had planned to do. Still, that number is a little discouraging. If you know of any small presses, throw them out here. I’ll make sure to put them on my list if they’re not already. So far, I’ve got:

Lethe Press
Edge Press
Immanion Press
Aqueduct Press
Four Walls Eight Windows

I have not delved deep into any of these yet. I do not know there business practices, response times, etc. Please do not take my pasting of them on my site as any kind of endorsement. I’m just telling you what I’ve found. If you have any info or experience with these presses, I would love to hear it and would repost it, giving you credit for the info, of course.

So, that’s where I am. Victoria Dixon also gave me the idea of entering the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest. I don’t think I have a hope in Hades of winning, but feedback from random strangers could be nice. What do you guys think? If you’re in a go-for-it kind of mood, I might post my query here, just to find out what you think before I let the amazon people see it. Hell, I might do that anyway….

Any contests you like to enter? Do you troll the web for book giveaways? Writing contests? Fun fair raffles? I once won a stuffed bear at Kmart when I was little. It was an Icee giveaway. I was over the moooon. ^_^

Longer than expected

I took sort of a blog vacation there, and it ended up being an internet vacation. I don’t think I’ve done much on the internet except check my email since I posted my London pics!

It was kind of relaxing, but today is a new year. ^_^ Resolution #1, work again to get published. I’ve tried what’s being called “traditional” publishing, querying agents to try and break into large publishing houses. Now, for my second trick: small presses.

First step, research. I have to compile a list of all the small sf/f presses I can find. Luckily, from my first few skimming attempts, I see that some sites already list a few, though the sites I’ve found so far seem woefully out of date. After I have my list, I have to whittle it down with concerns like which presses would be the best fit for my work, how large their internet presence is, etc.

I know there are several good small presses in California, but according to the websites I’ve found, they only distribute in California. As long as this only refers to what they ship to bookstores, though, it shouldn’t matter. They’ll ship books to individuals (and individual e-readers) all around the world.

So, as you can see, I’ve got a lot of research to do, but I will include you every bumbling step of the way. ^_^

I know everyone’s already asked you this, but what do you hope to accomplish in the new year? If you don’t have a list, that’s fine, too.


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?

Tired of this ride

The publishing ride. I’m sick of it. It’s like a week-long line at an amusement park. In the sun. Where the chains that divide the line into a bullpen are too weak to sit on and too hot to lean on. You can see the people coming off the ride, and they look so happy. They’re so excited. So even though you’re tired and hot, you’re still happy just to be there.

And then you get to where the ride is supposed to be. And instead of going on the happy-fun-published ride, your ride is in pieces, smashed cars, torn up tracks, the works. The conductor waves your forward…and promptly kicks you hard in the crotch.

But before you go, he hands you a card for a free ride, and by the time you get back to where the line started, your crotch has stopped aching, and you can see the happy people for whom the ride has worked, and you think, “I’ll just try again!”

And again. And again. *sigh* I’m sick of this ride. I’ve written three books to what I’d happily call completion, and I really like them. I might tinker with them now and again, but I don’t think it’s making them “better.” My writing group has helped me with my query letters to the point where they’re made of awesome. I don’t see why agents aren’t willing to rep my work. Hell, some agents have even complimented my work. It’s just “not for them.”

Just to get one of them out there, I think I’ll put it up for free on my website. Free to download to computers, and I’ll try and figure out how to get it on e-readers without spending an arm and a leg. And if I do incur some little cost I need to make back, I’ll charge the minimum I have to for a Kindle or Nook edition, a dollar or something. I have to get my technically skilled husband to help me figure this out, but I think it sounds like a good start. I always say that the reason I write is to one day have someone who has no obligation to me pick my book up and like it. Maybe this way they will.

What do you think? Would you take a gander if it were free? And yes, I know, you might feel sort of obligated to do so since you follow my blog, but I’d be glad if even a few of you actually liked it and maybe told a friend. Does anyone know someone who went this route? Have you ever thought about it?