Monday, October 26, 2009

The First Moment of My Future, continued

First off, I wanted to explain why I titled this post and the previous post what I did.  Why do I think that the night I pitched was the first moment of my future?  I think I mentioned somewhere before how I've wanted to be a published novelist since the 3rd grade.  For anyone who writes and has the same dream, you've known and experienced what kind of reaction you GET to that dream.  " want to be a writer....okay...."  No one's very impressed with your dream and the responses are generally neither encouraging nor supportive.  But you keep writing because you can't NOT write.

And I did.  And I do.  I have hundreds of stories started in vaiour genres and stages.  I have several main WIPs that haunt me daily, characters whispering in my mind, scenes unfolding in my thoughts, pieces snapping together in a way that thrills me.  If you're a writer, you know what I mean.  And you also probably remember the very frist of your stories you finally completed, topping that 100k word count, and wrapping the whole thing up in that happily ever after way that you always love to read.

I pitched for the very FIRST time my FIRST completed manuscript, Jagged Edge.  And that was my FIRST moment of breaking away from just writing my stories to SHARING them.  And that's our ultimate goal as a writer, isn't it?  Sharing our stories with the world?  It doesn't matter what you want to call yourself, a writer, an author, a novelist--you just want to share your stories.

So I pitched my 100 word story explanation and froze.  Boiling over 100,000 words to a 100 word DECRIPTION is HARD.  There's just so much more that needs to be said to pull someone in, so many interesting things you want them to know about your story--about why they really do want to read it.  Luckily for me, Marlene Castricato from Crescent Moon Press had questions.  I answered, we AGREED on things (which is what you hope for, but when you only have 5 minutes....I took it as a good sign, that she was interested).  I got my 2 minutes warning from the moderator and then Marlene requested my outline and the first 3 chapters.  I thanked her and signed out.


Forgive me....lost a minute to a happy flashback.

I try to stay optimistic while also being realistic....which is a lot harder than it sounds.  I understand that the majority of authors should expect to receive more than 50 rejections before--or IF they even receive an acceptance.  Sometimes the 1st manuscript is a is the 2nd one you spent several months slaving over....and the 3rd MIGHT be the charm.  So I'm remembering all this even as I'm hoping I'll get lucky--even if it's only some positive feedback.  Naturally, I would really, really, REALLY like a request for my full manuscript and a contract, but I'm also trying to prepare myself for a "Your story sucks, burn it today" response.

I believe in my story.  You're supposed to, and I do.  I believe in my characters' abilities to keep a reader engaged.  I believe in MY ability to keep up the motivation from beginning to end and hold the readers captivated.  And I believe people would be interested in reading Jagged Edge.  I suppose how I balance the good and bad is being positive one minute, negative the next, and then positive again after that.  Maybe not the best way to go, but it works for me!

So I scrabbled to find out exactly HOW to write a story outline since I'd never written a professional one before.  I wrote that up--3 pages long--and sent it off with my prologue, and the first 3 chapters of Jagged Edge.  Hopefully, in 2 months, I'll get that good response....but maybe not....but maybe....yes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The First Moment of My Future

Thanks to the Muse Online Writers Conference I had the amazing opportunity to pitch my manuscript, Jagged Edge, directly to Marlene Castricato, Marketing Director of Crescent Moon Press on the 16th in a private chat room. I had five minutes and only 100 words to persuade her to request my manuscript--and I've never done anything like this before!!

In the final five or six hours prior to my pitch at nine I was EXTREMELY anxious and nervous, pacing, fidgeting, pacing....well, pacing mainly. I get restless and need to MOVE. I went up and down the stairs and from room to room for I don't know how long. If I'd gone outside I probably would've started running and I wanted to stay close to my laptop. My family was laughing at me as I zipped by them again and again. As I did my laps around the house I was also carrying Briareos, a stuffed unicorn my best friend Kris gave me. Whatever works, true? I really miss my cats....

Anyways....I was finally dragged downstairs and sat down in front of the fire place, Briareos and blanket in tow. Everyone was going out to see "Where the Wild Things Are" and they wanted to reread the story before they left. After the story we all sat and watched an hour of "America's Funniest Home Videos" which was an excellent distraction. At a little after eight they left for their movie and I sat down at the table with my laptop, flash drive, Briareos, and a water bottle--we were all out of chocolate or I definitely would've had some with me too (LOVE chocolate). And then, over a half hour early, I logged onto the chat room where I'd soon be waiting with all the other authors scheduled to pitch. The nervousness and anxiety that had driven me all throughout the house for the past couple hours had passed in a heartbeat. I'm kind of weird that way. I get absolutely, almost over-the-top anxious, and then right before the actual event I'm so worked up about, my tension just burns out and I'm good to go.

Soooo I was actually not the first person logged in--can you believe that? A wonderful woman named Ivy was waiting all by herself and we immediately got busy with the talking. She'd been published before so I was instantly feeling kind of "uh-oh". In a matter of minutes the moderator logged on and then one by one the other six scheduled authors--everyone more than ten minutes early. And after some technical difficulties and ten minutes later than when we were supposed to begin, the first person was called and we were wishing her the very best of luck! I was scheduled to pitch last, but my nerves never made a reappearance. Like I said, kind of weird.

While we waited our turns we all encouraged one another, talked briefly about our stories, got some last minute pitching tips and advice from the chat room moderator, and then began goofing off, more of less knighting this woman. Our moderator, a MARVELOUS woman named Lea, made the Muse Online Writers Conferense possible for us. After each author pitched, she returned to our group lounge to share her experience with the rest of us.

And then my name was announced. With encouragements and well-wishes directed my way, I calmly switched from Chat Lounge 3 to Chat Lounge 1 where Marlene, Lea, and one other waited for me.

My first moment had arrived.

To be continued....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Difficulties with my fantasy romance WIP

At the end of the summer I completed my very first manuscript (YAY!!!): a science fiction with strong romantic elements temporarily titled Jagged Edge. I know that many writers have trouble transitioning from their finished manuscript to their next WIP. By the time I finished Jagged Edge I felt ENTIRELY ready to move on. There were three other stories in my mind all demanding attention. One, a fantasy romance titled Risking Existence, was never fully mollified while I wrote Jagged Edge, and it was foremost on my mind when I had finally finished. Unfortunately, I started classes again immediately after the completion of Jagged Edge and I had to once again squash down my characters and their stories. Regrettably, this time it worked too well and I've had a difficult time stirring my muse again since (I think I've hurt her feelings). Risking Existence remains mainly unchanged.

During lull point in my classes, I kept busy working on plot, character building, goals, and motivation. I read somewhere that if a writer has writer's block, s/he hasn't thought enough about their story. I wish I could remember where I read that piece of advice because I feel that it is some of the best advice on writing I've ever received. I find it extremely helpful to take a notebook and pen and go sit outside somewhere. At times, the pressure of the laptop can be too much, making me feel like I need to perform and produce NOW. With only the wind, green trees, cloudy skies, lines, and lead I can allow myself time to think on my story and coax whatever is struggling inside of me out.

So while distracting myself in math class I realized something of monumental importance about my WIP, Risking Existence:

I don't like my heroine.

Powers That Be, beat me. When I realized this I must have had the dumbest expression on my face. Everything just stopped while I turned over this thought several more times. I forgot I was sitting in math class, I forgot math even existed--all I could think was I don't like my heroine.

Oops. Well I finally realized why I couldn't write my story. I love my antihero, I love all of my heroine's companions, but her--I didn't even like. When I read a story, I like a strong female main character: stubborn, determined, sarcastic, witty, motivated, etc. My Risking Existence heroine was none of those things. Marion was timid, compliant, quiet, submissive, and I didn't like her at all. She was way too weak for my half-demon anithero Rohgen. Hell--I didn't even like her name. So during the rest of my math class I recreated her. Her physical appearance changed, she gained goals and motivation, she grew a backbone (although she isn't going to use it at the beginning out of a sense of obligation), she can even think for herself!! I still need to learn a little bit more about her--and find her a new name--but once I do, I know Risking Existence will burst from me like a burning weave of magick.