Friday, November 1, 2013

Not Like You'll Miss Me...

I've been doing a great deal of thinking about my blog. Or, to be more precise, the lack of my blog. I try, but what began as a decently regular posting, has fallen into the realms of 'Dang, I need to do a blog post... but I'm busy with other stuff...' and more often than not, I'm not getting posts up with any sort of consistency. So for now, I'm going to take a little break from blogging. This isn't to say that I won't randomly post things, but I'm giving myself permission not to feel guilty over not posting.

I understand that nowadays agents - or supposedly *many* agents - like to see a definitive web presence, or platform, but with GMG looking at shelf-time, I need to focus on my next viable projects. The first of them is with one of my critique partners right now, and the other is in the first draft stage. I won't be doing away with my blog or anything, but writing needs to come first, so that's where I'm putting it.

So, I leave you with the knowledge that I'll be lurking but might not be all that visible for the next couple of months.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Random Notes...

I'm overdue for a blog post, but I just haven't been able to make myself write one. Instead, I've been reading some awesome books, working on my own WIPs, and finalizing my workshop stuff for Sirens (which is coming up in, like, two weeks!!!) *fans self to avert rising panic over traveling*

Anyway, since I've been doing 'stuff' I haven't been writing blog posts. Uh, so there we are. Shortest post ever about not writing posts...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Is Something That Drives Me Nuts, So I'm Throwing An Open Letter Out There...



It REALLY bothers me when someone, ANYONE, is singled out with prejudice while their contemporaries are absolved from any wrong-doing, or stupid-doing or any other doings the irascible media can come up with. One of my biggest peeves in this regard is the unmitigated, near-constant public torment of Kristen Stewart. I don't care if she can act (I will always argue that she can, because I first saw her in Speak, and I will never get over that movie. Ever.) The point is that she is a human. And she deserves to be treated like one. I know the media doesn't care about humanity. It cares about selling articles and getting hits on its websites. But WE'RE supposed to care. Yet the public also seems to delight in laughing at, and ostracizing Kristen Stewart, for no legitimate reason I have ever been able to discern. An instance that still sticks in my head, is the Oscars this year. Kristen showed up ON CRUTCHES, with STITCHES in the sole of her foot, and what does the media and public do? Make fun of her for hobbling. Anyone who tried to defend her awkward gait met with scoffing and proclamations that she just wanted to be dramatic. Meanwhile, *most* of the public (even if they didn't actually agree with what he did) managed to come up with arguably viable reasons (free speech) as to why it was okay for Seth MacFarlane to sing 'We Saw Your Boobs' while also making fun of the 'prudes' in the audience who had yet to show theirs.

Anyway, I finally had it today when I saw a 'headline' (I laughed when I typed that just now... headline my ass...) that announced 'Kristen Stewart Displays Noticeable Hair Loss' and so I went and wrote an open letter to Kristen. Yeah, I know, she'll probably never see it. I don't care. It made me feel better.



An Open Letter To Kristen Stewart,



I always seem to end up reading about you, Ms. Stewart. Every time I turn around there is another story in another magazine or online forum. You cheated on someone. You looked funny on the red carpet. You didn’t smile. You DID smile, but at the wrong moment. Everywhere I look, there is another article, another headline. Always focusing on you, and always in a demeaning way.

But here’s the thing that I’ve never seen said by anyone, anywhere, which I think needs to be said by someone, somewhere: NONE OF THESE HORRIBLE ARTICLES WRITTEN ABOUT YOU MATTER.

I’m not going to tell you to ignore them. It’s virtually impossible to ignore something hurtful that’s been publicly written about you. I’m not going to tell you not to take them personally, because it’s virtually impossible not to take something that personally attacks you, personally.

What I AM going to tell you, is that the people who write those articles cannot take your own experiences away from you. They think by writing about something that happened they can somehow lay claim to that event. To influence it after the fact. But you are the one who lived it. YOU. Not them. I do not understand the media’s fascination with trying to disarticulate you. Like some logging machine determined to strip the bark from your body and turn you into another piece of celebrity lumber, the media sets its blades at you from every angle.

Do not yield to them, Ms. Stewart. You are singular in your indomitability. A reticent introvert who manages to quietly eclipse the bold and often tawdry and narcissistic personalities of the extroverts that fill Hollywood to brimming. You are one of the bravest people I’ve ever seen. Because you put yourself out there, doing what you love. Because, time and again, you show up. And you smile. And you endure.

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but I hope so. I hope it makes you smile, to be reminded that all those snide commentaries floating around out there were written by people who don’t actually KNOW you. And yes, it’s true that I don’t KNOW you either. But there is something I DO know: That feeble, emotionless girl they make you out to be, doesn’t exist. The actual woman she’s based on, Ms. Stewart, is a resolute artist, who clutches her dreams and ambitions tight to her heart, and will not yield.

Sincerely,

Artemis Grey

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Death Sworn Tour!

A Non-Spoilery Review of Death Sworn By Leah Cypess


It was fate, I suppose, that caused me to bring up Facebook the morning that Leah posted the chance to read her new book, DEATH SWORN before anyone else, on her fb page. The rules were simple: Be one of the first 10 people to email her. Get the book, read the book. Send it on to the next person on the list. Review the book online after reading it.

I believe that it's acceptable to wait until closer the release date to put up out reviews but I decided that I was going to put mine up now (since it's not spoilery) to try an drum up some excitement in advance. I'll repost linkies to my review closer to the release date. And I'm also going to post it on Amazon, whenever the option to post reviews goes live.


But, I digress. On to the review!


Firstly, here's the blurb from the back of the ARC:

A secret cave of assassins-in-training. A young sorceress sentenced to be their teacher. This dangerous and eerie novel is an epic fantasy, perfect for fans of Cinda Williams and Kristin Cashore, but it is also a murder mystery, a fiery star-crossed romance, and a journey into the unknown.


I'm not sure that blurb is going to be the final version, but it gives you an idea. There's a larger blurb on the Death Sworn Amazon page, if you want to hop over there and read it. Or preorder the book... just saying.


What I loved:

Well, everything. But to be more specific, uh, everything.

Leah's writing draws you in right from the first sentence, sweeping you along with Ileni as she ventures into the caverns that will be her home for the next, however long she manages to survive. The world of the Assassins' Caves is fully realized, even while most of it remains shrouded in mystery. And though we don't experience the world beyond, that from which Ileni has come, and that of the Empire which poses a threat to both Ileni's people, the Renegai, and the assassins of the Black Mountains, we get a grand view of it through references in the story. Which sets you up nicely for the next book.

The characters of Death Sworn were the sort that I relish. There were ones I loathed to no end, and others that I desperately rooted for. Sorin, the assassin in charge of protecting Ileni as she carries out her duties as a tudor to the assassins-in-training, remained a mystery to me throughout the story. I never quite knew whether I could trust him or not. It's very hard to create a character who walks that line of trusted friend or something else entirely. Too often authors attempt it with ham-handed results. Leah succeeded flawlessly, and even having finished the book, I'm STILL not entirely sure where I stand in regards to Sorin, which is a lovely thing indeed. Ileni was an entirely different story, as I found myself alternatively cheering her on, and berating her for her faults, mostly which had to do with physical abilities. The thing is, I LOVE characters that aren't like me, that are opposite in personality. And even more, I love it when a character is my complete opposite, yet earns my utter devotion. Ileni was a strong female character, a problem solver who determined to learn how to adapt and master her situation. She's the sort of heroine I want my young niece looking up to. The kind that will surprise you in all the best ways.

The intrigue of Death Sworn knows no end. I am not a big mystery fan. They just aren't my thing. Yet time and again Leah Cypess manages to twine mystery in with her fantasy works to devastating effect. Death Sworn does not disappoint in this respect. The underlying mystery involving the murders of Ileni's predecessors flows seamlessly into her story of survival within the Assassins' Caves, her quest not only to survive, but to solve those murders. Too often, authors add subplots that end up falling by the wayside, unrealized, or which muddle the story until the reader forgets what's important. Not so here. The mystery of the Renegai murders is so deftly intertwined with Ileni's story of survival and growth that it is a natural process of discovering the perpetrators, not an awkward 'who-done-it' reveal. 

What I Didn't Like:

There really isn't much that I didn't like. But, I yearned to know more about the magic that had been such an integral part of Ileni's life before she began to lose it. I wanted to know things like how the magic worked, and how it might be taken from someone. But it's very difficult to get vast and detailed information about a certain subject into a story that doesn't have a great deal to do with that certain subject. Also, I felt as though all the delectable tidbits of information and reference we got about the magic Ileni came from and that which is used by the Empire, were given to us in a manner intended to both intrigue us and set us up for the next book. So the fact that I didn't learn everything there is to know about it in this book is easily forgiven. Instead, I'll just camp outside Leah's house and lurk-in-waiting for the next book!


In closing, I'd like to add that I am REALLY happy to see the words 'epic fantasy' in that ARC blurb. I feel as though there is a gap in YA writing (which is slowly finding books to fill it) where 'epic fantasy' is concerned. In the adult sense of the term, there are many authors who write epic fantasy, but where Young Adult is concerned, it seems to be overlooked. Not in the sense that there aren't authors/stories to fill it, but in the sense that the term simply hasn't been applied to books that actually fit the bill. I love a fully realized world, a sprawling tale that fully involves the reader in nuances and details. But the adult version of epic fantasy is usually too much for me. When I have to create spreadsheets to keep track of characters/countries/conflicts from one chapter to another, you've lost me as an audience. Just me, personally. For a long time, I've felt that there were YA books (Kristin Cashore's are a great example) which are no less ornate in their plotting and world-building (but much easier to follow) and which contained stories of world-altering importance, that fell into the category of epic fantasy. However, it seems as though these books are only just being recognized as bonafide epic fantasy. Or perhaps they're just beginning to be advertised as epic fantasy. But any which way, I'm very glad to see it!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Family Doesn't Have Nice Things...

That title is a little bit of a stretch, but I loved the way it sounded and couldn't resist using it. We DO have a few nice things. Nice in the shallow materialistic current societally favored sense of the word. I'm talking about the 35th wedding anniversary ring my dad got my mom (don't bother googling my address, it's a *nice* ring, but no one's going to get in the papers for stealing it) and my new MacBook Pro would fall into that category, I suppose. But by and large all of the very coolest and best stuff we have came from other places. Other times.

A reclaimed glider on the screened porch, dating roughly to the '60s. Bonus points if you even know what a 'glider' is. A vintage formica table in the kitchen. Other pieces of furniture from various deceased relatives. Clothing, too, is something more often than not purchased at Goodwill, or vintage stores, though occasionally something brand-new and store bought will be purchased. Bras and underwear, mostly. The point is, my family is one of a mind that you don't throw out things just because they're 'old' and you don't buy stuff just because it's in fad at the moment and EVERYONE has one. Because, eventually, 'everyone' will be getting rid of whatever it was they just had to have, and they'll spend the next decade pretending as though they never got sucked into that particular cult of en vogue strangeness. Just look at all those folks who had Flowbees... More bonus points if you remember Flowbee.

The one exception to the 'not trying to keep up with the Jones' mindset in our house is the mailbox. I know, I know, I've thrown you entirely now because you're scratching your head going 'Mailbox? What's the big deal about a mailbox? EVERYONE has a mailbox.' But not so. Some of us just end up with a receptacle that looks enough like a mailbox to fool the post office employees into shoving mail into it. If we're lucky.

When I was a very small kid, in town, we had a mailbox attached to the side of the house. It was black. I can't tell you all that much more about it because I was so small that from my perspective, you'd have to use a rocket ship just to get that high on the side of the house. And we had a one story ranch. The Dixon grandparents had one like that too, only their's could be reached by dragging a chair over to it (usually the old rocking chair, because we liked to live dangerously, and it was the closest one) and standing in the seat. But Rainelle was such a small town that if you were on the front porch when the mailman walked (yes, WALKED) by on his rounds, he'd actually hand you the mail. Heck, sometimes he'd stand there and actually have a conversation with you.

But, I digress. At some point in my childhood, we took the mailbox off the house and got one that stood out at the curb on a heavy wooden post. This one was black too. And I can't tell you much more about it either, because I just didn't care. My sister and I were never (that I can remember) kids who loved to retrieve the mail. I wish now that I could remember that simple black shape of normality from my childhood, because once we moved out to the county, things were never the same.

We've lived in this house for about twenty years now, give or take. I don't feel like trying to count it up. Coffee is still leaking into my bloodstream and math is beyond me at the moment. Throughout that time, we've been through countless mailboxes. I used to be able to spout the exact number, but I've given up counting. By now we just shrug and say 'The mailbox is down.' and go on with life.

The very first few mailboxes were 'nice' in the current popular meaning of the word. When we moved in, we put up a brand new one with shiny gold letters and a handsome wooden post. I think it made it about six months before snow set in and VDOT smashed it into the hillside with a snowplow. We were shocked. The city used snowplows too, and not only did they avoid all the parked cars (though occasionally someone's VW Bug might be temporarily lost behind a ridge of slush) but they almost never damaged a mailbox. And besides that, three of us lived in an open straight stretch, and neither of our neighbors on either side received any damage to their mailboxes. What was this? Some sort of county initiation?

We put up another box. This one with a metal pole, as the ground was too frozen to allow for anything else. It made it through the second snow but on the third dusting we found it laid in a roadside grave. Rather than buying a new one, we jacklegged the second box into standing again. It lived crookedly up into the summer when the mowers took it out and left it in pieces. And so it went. In the winter the plows unmercifully took out their frustrations on our mailbox, and in summer, the mowers chewed it up for no apparent reason. Sometimes, during droughts where we had no snow, or the summer was so brittle that no grass grew, the mailbox lived longer. I often tried to catch the acts of violence against it, but to no avail. And never, even once, did either any other person on our stretch of road have a single bit of trouble with THEIR mailboxes. No, their boxes remained pristine. Ideal. Nice.

At first, I was just a kid and it was an amusing annoyance. But then I had to start helping fix or replace our mailbox and it got personal. I was sure someone had a grudge against us. They were doing it on purpose. Then, just a few days after replacing the box yet again, I was wakened in the wee hours by a horrendous noise outside. Racing down the drive in my jammies, I found two bewildered farm boys wandering up and down our stretch of road. They'd broken an axel on their hay wagon, they explained, and had lost a tire. With flashlights swinging, we searched. We searched until well after sunup, long after a tow truck had come and hauled their trailer away. By then you could clearly see in the road where the axel had broken, sending one entire wheel askew. The wayward wheel had veered to the left, neatly smashing our solitary mailbox - the only thing for hundreds of feet either way - and flinging it clean into the fence of the adjacent cow field. The wheel itself, to this day, has never been found. I knew then, that our mailbox was doomed for eternity.

Since then we've been through various mailboxes, lost in various manners. The snow plows and summer mowers remain the primary culprits, but there have been other, less conventional killers as well. The power company has damaged one. VDOT damaged another, while only halfway fixing a drainage problem (there is a drainage ditch under the road in front of our house, which was put in back when it was a one lane dirt road. The pipe is twelve inches in diameter and constantly gets clogged, nearly flooding the road on occasion. I maintain that the entire thing will be swept away eventually) and then some workers on the farm across from us managed to wing one while working on fencing. Once, the post office itself caused so much damage by swinging in to drop the mail at such an angle that they consistently warped the box to one side, then left us a note proclaiming that our box was an 'Unacceptable receptacle' and that we needed to replace it posthaste, or risk getting no mail at all. It was very tempting. But at that time, there was no such thing as email (unless you were a cutting edge geeker who was in the know with Telenet) so we replaced that mailbox as well. Then there was the loose cow, who bent the box while dashing up and down the road... I was chasing it while wearing nothing but a pink slip, and still I could not save the mailbox. It was only bent though, so I could straighten it that time. But just a couple of weeks later the mower finished what the cow started. Sometimes, there was no visible reason whatsoever for the destruction. The mailbox was just in the ditch, and that was that. The most recent incident was a two pronged attack. First the snow plows mashed the box over sideways. At that point, lost in rage, Mom and I got a new mailbox and pole drove two metal fencing stakes deep into the ground on either side of the pole, wiring the lot of it together. No one was going to smash it over sideways now! And they didn't. Instead, I was awakened just a month later by another horrible sound. If you've ever heard a car wreck, nothing else sounds quite like it. Some one had hit a patch of ice and run off the road. Before he could get the police there (but thankfully while he was out of the truck and well away from it) another car hit the same ice and ran off the road and hit the already-wrecked vehicle. There were sirens and first responders. I stayed down there, alternately calling the families of the two drivers to tell them where their loved ones were going etc. The first guy had actually rolled his truck, and the woman had an obviously broken arm, but both were fine in the end. Once the sun had risen and everyone had gone, the damage was obvious. A piece of flying debris had glanced the mailbox. Our triple poles stood tall and proud, but the box hung askew alongside them. I tiredly wrenched it around and propped it in position. A little tape helped things. Until a late snowfall prompted the plows to come by.

As I type this, a fresh new mailbox stand down at the roadside. I'm not holding my breath to see how long the shine stays on it. Instead I'm writing this post and then running out to the farm to visit Sonny. If it's there when I return, awesome, if not, I'll just murmur a Hail Mary for it as I turn up the drive, and get on with life.

This concludes your morning of Erma Bombeck-inspired blather.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Being Naughty...

I'm being bad. I really ought to be in bed, but I'm in the height of my most recent dose of Percocet and I don't have the discipline to bother with 'ought tos' and 'should dos'. Instead, I'm sitting up and writing a blog post because I haven't written one in more than a week. And the last one was rather drippy to boot.

So here's a goofy, drug induced one to make you laugh!

Oh, the drugs... yes let me first explain those, since I don't want to look like I'm endorsing them. I love doing new things, you know, experiencing things I've never experienced and that kind of thing. So I went and got Shingles *insert excited squee here* Yeah, no. No squeeing, unless it's in pain. And the only exciting part about it all was when the doctor handed me the script for pain meds to counter the excruciating nonstop pain I'd been dealing with for three days by the time he saw me. And technically, I didn't 'get' the Shingles, their insidious, miserable virus had been lurking inside me since I had chickenpox as a kid. It just decided to reincarnate itself as Shingles. Now. For no apparent reason.

But I'm rambling, which, really, are we surprised, what with the drugs and all? Now what was I saying? Did I even have a point with this post?  If you've laughed already, then I've achieved my goal :)

For writing updates, I've got nothing. Well, almost nothing. I don't know if I ever mentioned that I had a 'new' request for Gone Missing Girl just the week before last (and I'm too lazy to look back through my recent posts to see) but in case I didn't mention it, I DID get a new request for the full. *Squee in a non-sarcastic, but genuinely excited manner* So, at the moment I've got about five fulls floating around with various agents *crosses fingers*.  Other than that all I've been doing is collecting feedback from one of my crit partners, Margo, on Thornbriar, and working (okay like really mostly working in my head, because the Shingles really whopped my arse) on my two main WIPs, Lamb Dressed in Armor, and Gristle Girl.

I've also *mostly* outlined and figured out my workshop for Sirens (if you're looking for a GREAT conference this fall, you can't go wrong with Sirens. Check them out here: Sirensconference.org) which is about how to write believable horses in your books, even if you don't know much, or anything, about horses. It's been... interesting, trying to decide exactly what to cover, what things are absolutely necessary for you to get right, what you can fudge, what you should ALWAYS do, and what you should NEVER do. I still need to decide exactly what would make for good handouts, but I'm liking what I have so far. Now, if someone like Judith Tarr shows up, I will feel very small and nervous in my horses-in-writing knowledge because she is one of the best in that area... :)

Okay, time for bed. It's almost eleven, and my alarm will go off at six am...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Some Things Never Leave You

I started out writing this because I'm trying to get back into writing blog posts on a sort of regular schedule. You know, because blogs are supposed to be good for writers trying to get their names out there. As long as you write first and blog later. Or whatever... Mostly my blog posts are blatherings. But that makes for a good outlet for me in many ways. And amusing for anyone who reads my posts.

Anyway, I digress.

I started out thinking I was going to come up with something funny or silly to write about. You know, something along the lines of my usual 'How the Donkey Ended up in the Backseat of the Car' kind of posts. But while I was staring at the screen going over recent events (a not-quite ear infection that's plaguing me, cat hijinks, snake wars, an exciting request for the full of Gone Missing Girl, etc.) what really stuck with me, were the things that do not change. No matter what goes on around you, some things never change. This might be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending precisely on what the 'thing' is. But even the fact that some things never change, is one of those things that never change.

The request for Gone Missing Girl was unexpected. I mean, I wanted to get the request, obviously, but the agent seems so hip, so up-and-coming and cutting edge. I had heard of her, and liked her, but had never queried her. When I read an interview featuring her in an agent spotlight, I had a moment of 'You've got to just go DO something' and right then and there I started serious agent-stalking, rather than admiring her from afar. Then I queried her. And within minutes, received a request for the full. This was one of those strangely brilliant and utterly terrifying all at once things. Now, of course, I'm afraid of my inbox. But such is life.

More importantly, all the kerfluffle surrounding the sending out a query/getting a request highlighted, once again for me, the fact that I will write until they pry the pen from my cold dead fingers. As much as I want to be published in the mainstream. As much as I want the books I've written to be out there in the world where they can be read by people, and affect people, what matters most to me is that I wrote them at all. It's what has always mattered most. It's the reason that when I was younger I'd tell my mom 'I can't go to the park today because I need to write.' Eventually she took me aside with concern and explained that I didn't 'need' to do anything. It was then that I understood that I 'needed' to write, not because I had to, but because writing was what made me happier than anything. That's when I knew I was a writer. Because being a writer is just something you are inside. Being a published author is a title you achieve, but being a writer is something you are regardless of whether your books are ever known to the public. And that never changes.

Well then, I managed to make this post all about writing, and not about anything depressing. But because I cannot help myself sometimes, in those moments when I'm alone and feel the emptiness where she used to be, I'm going to leave you with a picture of Di. Yes, I know. She's gone. But that's something else that never changes. Missing her. That pain never lessens, it just gets farther away. And sometime, it's not far off at all. Sometimes, inexplicably, I find it nestled right there against me, fresh and keenly brilliant all over again.




Now, off I go to get some writing done!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Things That Make Me Happy...

Writing:

       Writing is my favorite thing ever. If I could manage to write from the back of a horse, then the world would be, in truth, a perfect place. After waffling between getting started on the sequel to Ravina of the Twains (working title: Lamb Dressed in Armor) and the new fangled idea (Blitzkrieg) I finally got ensconce in the sequel WIP. I don't force myself to do anything, I just let my brainstem settle on whichever story it wants to (something I can afford to do, since I'm not currently agented and working on deadlines) and my brain eventually fixed on. I am loving the story so far and the potential within it. Also, I already have a good idea of how the third book will go, which is nice for a panster like me.

Family:

       I am very much a hermit, and I LIKE being a hermit. But I also love my family. All of them. Even the crazy folks we all tell stories about. Okay, let's face it. My entire family is nutty, in a mostly good way, and all of us tell stories about everyone else. That's what clan-life is like. And we don't get together to make those silly stories-that-will-be-recounted-for-years-to-come near as much as I'd like for us to. But recently, I got to see almost everyone, and had a blast.

Love:

      I know. I, myself, am the least likely to end up with a significant other because, well, I'm a hermit. And I like it that way. BUT. I love seeing my friends and family with their loved ones. And recently, I got to celebrate and awesome event. The wedding of my cousin Meghan to her fabulous fiancĂ© Jonathan. It was the party against which all parties (for the next few years, anyway) will be judged. I. Had. SO. Much. Fun. No joke or exaggeration.

So, that's how I've been recently. Now, I'm off to write, but I'll leave you with some random pictures from the wedding. In no particular order, and in a format to be decided by the computer because I'm too tired to argue with technology. Oh, and one photo of something I'm seriously considering getting as a tattoo. On my forearm...









Friday, July 5, 2013

Blathering...

So, in the last week, I both finished writing the first draft of Ravina of the Twains and managed to get the entire thing transcribed to my computer. This was a strange WIP for me. It is the shortest I've ever written (comes in at just under 60k transcribed) and it has had the least amount changed during the first edit while transcribing. I have yet to figure out if these are good things, or bad things. My average novels have been longer, and while many authors hate killing their lovelies, I find it rather enjoyable. I'd always rather have too many than too few. The same goes for a horse. I've always been one to go for the hot blooded fruit loops because I find settling them out so much easier than rallying the pluggers up.

But now I'm holding a story that is short, for me, and I fear it needs so much that I can't yet give it. Time will tell once my critique partners get their mitts on it. In the meanwhile, I've already started on the sequel, Lamb Dressed in Armor, and I can't seem to help but launch myself into it. This is the first series where I can see exactly how the second book will go (at least the bones of it) and where it will end up and how that will work with the first book. The third is still in the shadows, but I have faith it will arrive just as the second did. In a flurry of words and ideas.

It's amazing how some stories evolve so differently from others.

On the query front, I have no news. One of my critique partners has assured me that it is acceptable to gently nudge the agents who have fulls with them, and since she has an agent, I don't doubt her. Mostly, I think I'm avoiding doing that because right now I don't want to know, unless it is something wonderful. And it's been so long that either the agents haven't gotten to me, laughed out loud and threw the ms out the window, or have already lined up an entire publishing team to carry the book to glory. Commonsense tells me that the former two options are by far the more likely, and given the choice, I'd like to believe that I'm on a TBR list, not sailing into dumpsters. So I'll deal with not knowing for sure, for now, anyway.

Instead, I'll focus on these strange new WIPs who are driving me any which way they please, causing me to write maniacally into the wee hours yet pop out of bed after a few hours of tossing and turning, excited to strike pen to paper all over again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Book Birthday to my Critique Partner Christi Corbett and her book: Along The Way Home!!!


Reasons Why My Critique Partner, Artemis Gray, is Awesome!

First, I’d like to give a big thank you to Artemis for allowing me to host her blog. I truly appreciate her sharing her readers with me as I celebrate the release of my debut novel, Along the Way Home.

Artemis is one of my critique partners, and has been a wealth of information as I wrote Along the Way Home. (And a virtual shoulder to whine on during the querying process, but I digress)

We met when I was a guest host over at the blog Pimp My Novel in December of 2009. She left a very insightful comment and a friendship was born! We kept in touch through our blogs and other social media for a while and then we eventually began exchanging chapters, and became official critique partners. 

She is the GREATEST when it comes to explaining how horses eat, drink, act, and how all their gear works. Also, she’s a wealth of knowledge about Virginia, how a horse rears first and then spins once they hit ground again, and how to bury a body (got your attention with that one, didn’t I?!)

And she’s so cool that I knew this would be the perfect “Thanks for being my critique partner” present for her…



Thank you Artemis, for allowing me to host your blog today, and above all for helping me on my journey to publication. 




Kate Davis is intrigued when her father reveals his dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory. Settlers out west value a strong woman, and though she manages the financials of her father’s mercantile her competence earns her ridicule, not respect, from Virginia’s elite society. 

Jake Fitzpatrick, an experienced trail guide, wants land out west to raise cattle and crops. But dreams require money and he’s eating dandelion greens for dinner. So when a wealthy businessman offers double wages to guide his family across the Oregon Trail, Jake accepts with one stipulation—he is in complete control.

Departure day finds Kate clinging to her possessions as Jake demands she abandon all he deems frivolous, including her deceased mother’s heirlooms. Jake stands firm, refusing to let the whims of a headstrong woman jeopardize the wages he so desperately needs—even a beautiful one with fiery green eyes and a temper to match. 

Trail life is a battle of wills between them until tragedy strikes, leaving Jake with an honor-bound promise to protect her from harm and Kate with a monumental choice—go back to everything she’s ever known or toward everything she’s ever wanted?

About Christi
I’m addicted to coffee, sticky notes, and the Oxford Comma. I live in a small town in Oregon with my husband and our twins. Our home’s location is especially inspiring because the view from the back door is a hill travelers looked upon years ago as they explored the Oregon Territory and beyond.

My debut novel, Along the Way Home, is a Sweet Historical Romance. It released in ebook format on June 11, 2013 and will be available in print July of 2013. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Astraea Press (my publisher) and several other retailers. 

When I’m not writing I love chatting with readers and writers alike. You can find me in one of the following locations: 
Twitter: @ChristiCorbett
Facebook: Christi Corbett—Author

Along the Way Home Links
I have several Pinterest pages, including ones about my inspirations behind Along the Way Home, Oregon Trail landmarks, horses, cowboys, writing funnies, and lots of fun ideas for EASY crafts with the kiddos. 
Amazon
Barnes and Noble


Writers, do you use critique partners or Beta readers? Did it take you a while to find a rhythm? 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Still Here!!!

I know, I know. I'm supposed to be posting at some sort of vaguely regulated intervals. But I'm not. As evidenced by my absence.

What I've been up to:

Working! And loving work.

Weddings... not mine (yeah, right :)

The Writer's Voice Contest! I got four requests from participating agents and was ninja'd by an after-contest lurking agent. *squee*

Getting rejected... one from one of the WV agents (very fast turnaround, and form letter, so they were very obviously totally uninterested) and one by a agent I had queried some time ago. She was very nice, but her rejection left me reaching for chocolate because she said things like 'the story wasn't progressing as quickly as I would like' and 'the characters needed further development' in addition to having issues with a few other things which led me to believe that she just didn't 'get' the story, in part. It wouldn't have bothered me nearly so much, but I'd just finished laboriously plowing through a book that was 'acclaimed' that I found INCREDIBLY boring (nothing happened. I mean NOTHING) and which had completely flat characters, so I inadvertently committed that Cardinal sin of looking at the 'acclaimed' book, and my own ms and thinking WHAT DID THEY DO THAT I HAVEN'T??? IT'S NOT FAIR!!! Yeah, fast forward to a few hours and I got over it. Though I AM eager to hear something from other agents and see if they say anything about story progression and character development. Because that'll tell me whether I need to check myself or not.

Sending out queries!

And finally, WRITING!!! I'm about 3/4 done with the first draft of Rivana of the Twains and it feels SO FREAKING GOOD to be writing again! I'm still not sure if Rivana has what it takes (or the potential to have what it takes) to be marketable, but I love the story and we'll see how it looks after the first transcription edit.

Oh, also, I am now the mother of a pitcher plant, named Bruce, and Venus fly trap named Hannibal... Pictures to follow at a later date.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Writer's Voice


Query:

Dear Amazing Agent,

Take one shy albino guy named Ansel. Add his two younger brothers, and an injured runaway girl with a hidden past. Shake thoroughly and stand back because things are going to get interesting fast.

Letting the nameless girl with the banged-up ankle sleep in his parents’ book shed for one night *seemed* like a good idea. But Catskin, as Ansel nicknames her, needs more than shelter. She needs someone to help her figure out how rejoin society. Prone to panic attacks and acts of defensive violence, she turns out to be as dangerous as she is fragile. Slowly, the sweetly strange Catskin begins to find a sense of normality and the bond she and Ansel already share blossoms into a mutual attraction.

Then an accident leaves Catskin hovering between life and death. Pressured by doctors, Ansel contacts her estranged parents, reconnecting her with the life she left behind. His actions provoke a shocking confrontation between the wealthy world Catskin was born into, and the starkly average one she now shares with Ansel. When Catskin’s overbearing parents use hospital policy to force their daughter’s return, Ansel takes the drastic measure of kidnapping Cat in order to give her a chance at freedom.

A Contemporary YA inspired by the fairy tale Catskin, GONE MISSING GIRL is complete at 85,000 words.

I have had five poems published in the anthology Poetry Pact 2011 (Volume 1) and several short stories published in the online magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree. In addition, I have had two nonfiction short stories published in the magazine ‘laJoie’. I am a member of SCBWI.

Thank you very much for your time and attention

Happy reading,

Artemis Grey



First 250:


 I have never been that guy. You know, the one surrounded by adventure and covered in awesomesauce. That would be my younger brother, Ethan.

 But Ethan wasn’t in the book shed that night.

 I was.

 It’s not like you get to pick and choose life-altering events the way you do socks from the bargain bin.


 I went out to the shed for a bottle of spine glue.

 Simple, right?

 But when I flipped on the overheads, I found a shrunken zombie lurking just inside the doorway.

 *Insert very macho scream*

 Right about then the broom slid sideways, hitting the light switch and leaving me stranded in the dim twilight of the Alaskan summer.

 Lovely.

 When my brain wasn’t immediately harvested, I took several deep breaths. Convinced myself that I had not, in fact, just seen a zombie in the book shed. Turned the light back on.

 It was still there.

 But it wasn’t a zombie. It was a girl.

 Filthy, tangled, rumpled and undersized, but definitely female. Definitely alive. Her mouth hung partway open now, eyes wide, yet disturbingly empty. Like her entire body was deserted. The void inside her yawned at me. A sort of awful maw that might chew me up, if I got within reach.

 Which, I had no intention of doing.

 Hell, I couldn’t even find my voice to bother asking who she was, where she’d come from or why she was in there.

 Of course, she wasn’t exactly a Chatty Cathy, herself.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Everywhere And Nowhere All At The Same Time...

This will be a short post. Mostly because I'm really just wasting time while my laptop charges (it's an old laptop and sometimes refuses to charge and since it's willing to charge right now while I'm holding it open, I'm obliged to sit here for a little longer and let it keep charging) but also because it's been probably too long since I last posted.

So, what have you been up to, internet world?

As for me, I've been:

Writing on a new WIP, tentatively titled Rivana of the Twains. It's a fantasy (YA, of course) and right now, I'm madly in love with it. Tough to tell at this juncture whether it will be genuinely unique and marketable, but the important thing is it''s rekindling my passions. I'm stealing moments to write just one more sentence, and jotting down little notes on pasty pads while at work. I'd forgotten how freaking good that feels.

Working at the shop. Still loving it. Still learning. Things are great so far. I have, as of yet, avoided breaking any anvils... but give it time... *crosses fingers that I never *actually* manage to break an anvil*

I still have fulls of Gone Missing Girl out so several agents. So glad that they're 'out there' but I'm not hulking over my inbox. It's enough that they're in the works. I've got work and the new WIP to keep me busy. But it means the world just to have stuff with agents.

Getting feedback from a new critique partner... (THANK YOU CHRISTI!!!) which is a little frightening but mostly made of awesome because it means new eyes on my stuff and a new angle on things. Opens up an entire world of possibilities, one which I'm super excited about.

Also, I've watched the Boston Marathon tragedy unfold. Wept over the dead and injured. Selfishly wept a little more over the knowledge that friends who desperately wanted to run, failed to qualify and subsequently weren't there to be endangered. Watched the capture of the second suspect. Laughed at my niece, code name Walelu, and forgot about being sad. Laughed at Mad Max and forgot about being sad. Wrapped my cousin's fiance in toilet paper during Easter games, then got wrapped myself in a toilet paper wedding gown during a bridal shower for the same cousin. Caught the bouquet of a friend, which I did NOT want to catch, but was forced to in order to avoid getting the bouquet implanted in my front teeth :) Saw War Horse, and was less than impressed. Blech all around. Not to slight anyone who loved it.

So, yeah, been busy. Not been around very much on the internet, but been around in general. All right, off to write, and edit and all of that. See you round internet!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Way Things Happen...

It's been a while since I posted. Things are going well, if strangely, some of them more strangely than others. Which brings me to the title of this post.

Sometimes things happen in the very strangest of ways and no matter how you try to steer toward normality, you miss it by a mile but end up in the same place anyway.

Most of this blather was inspired by the epic saga partaken by my mother and I in our hunt for special item X for my father. I'm not going to say exactly what it is because it's still in the works and I don't want any chance of him somehow finding out. And he's one of those people who always finds out somehow, even without trying.

But I digress. Mom and I have been on a hunt for item X. Turns out that item X is very hard to find. Very expensive. And pretty much impossible to get ahold of.

Then we found what we were looking for on eBay. I am not an eBay expert, but I know something about it. We bid. We were outbid. We bid higher. We lost.

Then I got an email from eBay saying I'd received a Second Chance Offer because the original high bidder had failed to pay or the sale had otherwise fallen through. This offer means that your high bid becomes a Buy It Now price, which you can agree to pay, or pass on. So I replied that I was interested, but had several questions which I itemized in the email. I had 3 days in which to respond to this offer. I got no reply from the seller until the end of the 3 day offer period, which was annoying but not insurmountable. At the end of the offer period I received a confirmation email from eBay stating that my offer had been accepted and gave me all the information required to pay by bank transfer. I also got an email from the seller saying my offer was accepted and to let him know when I got the confirmation from eBay. I replied, saying I'd received it, but I was confused because originally there had been several options for payment, and now it was only giving me the option to pay via bank transfer, and I didn't want to. While awaiting his reply (mind you, he hadn't responded to my first two emails) I tweeted about how it seemed weird that he was taking so long. A friend replied to my tweet and during our conversation, she told me it all seemed strange to her, and that I should do what made me comfortable but that she thought it was fishy. So instead of biting back my frustration and rushing to the bank to complete the transfer I didn't want to do in the first place, I felt bolstered by her support and did nothing but wait for the seller's reply. When it came a full 24 hrs later is said simply 'Please pay with bank transfer and I will ship item to * address supplied by me*' He still never acknowledged my questions nor answered them. At this point, I wen to eBay and contacted the seller directly through them, instead of by email. And while I was doing all this, I discovered that eBay has warnings about second chance offers and states that if you received one, you need to check your eBay message center because you will ALWAYS receive a Second Chance Offer there, in addition to you email. Guess who DIDN'T have a message in their Ebay message center? I promptly forwarded the fraudulent emails to eBay's security center and they have since emailed me, confirming the scam and letting me know that they were already attempting to track the emails down.

You just never know. Thankfully no vital information had been passed to the scammers.

BUT while I was on eBay dealing with all of this, I found ANOTHER item X even better than the one I'd lost which had spawned the spam (it should be noted that the original seller is innocent and on the up and up. He was getting scammed the same as me, as his name was being used in the commission of a crime. Thankfully neither one of us has suffered irreparable damage) and I was able to Buy It Now, and have already received proper invoices etc.

So, something crazy bad awful ALMOST happened, but didn't and as a result, I found the one thing my Mom and I wanted most. And God willing and the creek don't rise, this will work out perfectly.

It's sort of the same with querying. Not that agents try to scam you (well, not any REAL agent) But just that sometimes you think you're headed in just the right direction but then something happens and it's all a mess and you're on the verge of flinging yourself off a cliff and suddenly you end up precisely where you wanted/needed to be.

During all of this item X drama, I opened my inbox to find, utterly unexpectedly, an email from an agent I'd last had contact with in about November of 2012! She wasn't someone I'd queried, but someone I'd gotten involved with via a blog contest. But I love this agent! She is someone I've secretly pined for. I admire her, and I'd love to have the opportunity to work with her. Not because she's an agent and I'm a writer who wants an agent, but because she's who she is. And guess what? She was asking me if I was still seeking representation and if so, would I send her the full because she was intrigued!

Now, since I sent her my first fifty pages, my ms has been through a huge edit, mostly because of feedback from an editor at a publishing house. It was good feedback, and since requests for my ms had trickled to a virtual halt, I'd decided to look hard at the ms and revise. So I had. But now an agent wanted to see it. So I sent her the full, and explained everything. The first fifty she'd seen and my current fifty aren't gargantuanly different. It's the rest of the ms that's changed. I explained that to her as well.

Maybe having the ms change will bother her. Maybe she'll think I did the right thing. Maybe something awesome will come of this. Maybe it won't. But you just never know.

The way things happen... well, they can be amazing and unexpected and wild. And sometimes you end up right where you need to be, despite everything you went through on the way there.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Muddling Along...

Well, so much for 'I'll be posting this week since I won't be at work'... funny how that's turned out. I will get this one sad scrawny little dribble out, though. Even if it doesn't account for much.

Ah, this week. This first strange 'I no longer work where I ALWAYS worked week'.

Let's recap:

Monday, the power went out because (hold your breath!) it snowed a whopping 4 inches... this, after the last storm took out every tree in the tri-state area. But at least it was only off for a matter of hours, cutting out at around 9am and coming back around 4. But I was still a grumpy mess for the day.

Tuesday, I spent recovering from Monday. This involved having the plug of the electric fireplace explode and melt creating a physical mess, and psychological nightmare for me (if you know me, you'll know I'm terrified of fire) and that had to be addressed and the fireplace replaced which I managed with the help of my sister. Then in late afternoon, I realized Saida (big old bony thoroughbred mare) was acting colicky. You might remember that at the first of the month, I lost my beloved Di to torsion colic. Needless to say, I verged on meltdown, seeing Saida displaying similar symptoms. I'm STILL twitchy. However, once dosed with banamine and xylaxine, Saida reacted the way you WANT them too, settling down and then going back to her usual self as the drugs wore off. Run of the mill tummy ache. Still, it was a rough night for me, waiting for something horrible to suddenly happen.

Wednesday was spent staring anxiously out into the field at two horses and a donkey who were acting completely normally. I did manage to go out to breakfast with my Dad and write some, but fretted on and off over the blissfully oblivious Saida. It's SO HARD not to be pensive this close on the heels of losing Di.

Today, I wrote some more on my new WIP, Shed The Wind, which doesn't quite know if it wants to be contemp, or magical realism... and wistfully peeked in over at the big PitchMadness hoopla going on, wishing someone was requesting something from me. I'm SO HAPPY for all of those who are competing!!! May they ALL get requests! I was going to try and get into the PitMad event, but that might be sidetracked because my phone has suddenly decided that its foray into first the lake and then the (clean) toilet last week has, in fact, had some sort of affect on it. So unless there's a miracle, I'll be talking with AT&T tomorrow, and possibly sending the phone off to be salvaged or replaced. I have insurance on it, but I'm sure I'm going to lose money.

Oh well. Things could be worse. I can't say that I haven't been occupied this week! And I've gotten some writing done, which makes me very happy.

Now, a question: I have a number of queries out, but the 10th or so of April will mark the one month time frame for the most recent of the queries. As of right now, I've heard nothing from anyone, so I'm assuming they're rejections. Presuming that I hear nothing by the 10th (one of the agent replies to all, but almost always within a month, so if I don't hear from him, I'll figure he's super busy, and I've been set aside to be rejected later, which is okay) I was considering resubmitting to Entangled Publishing. This is GONE MISSING GIRL, my contemp YA, and it was already requested, then rejected with feedback from Entangled. It wasn't a revise and resub, but they said that if I addressed their issues, they'd be happy to see it again.

Subbing directly to publishers is not what I ever thought I'd do. I worry about my ability to agent myself, and manage myself. But I'm at a point where the dystopian, despite it's numerous requests had fallen into the 'we're over it' category, and the contemp which has gotten so much attention from pitches and garnered interest via queries has never gotten much interest beyond that. My Beauty and the Beast retelling isn't nearly as 'out there' different as something like Cinder, or Scarlett (EPIC LOVE FOR THEM) and thusly seems to have a slim chance of becoming some dramatic breakout agent-snagger.

So should I go out on this strangely shape and unfamiliar limb of subbing to publishing houses? Well, to Entangled, specifically. I'm not ready to sub widely to houses yet. But what say you? Opinions?

Friday, March 22, 2013

I Don't Even Know How to Write This...

This post will be a mishmash of things. I already know that because I've started it while we're waiting on the vet and I'm sure that I'll have to save it and come back later. Not just because the vet will arrive and I'll need to be there, but because this is probably my last chance to go out and meet the vet to deal with one of Castalia's horses.

The last time.

I've had so many last times recently, it seems, and not nearly enough first times to make up for it.

At least, that's how it feels at the moment.

When I first got a job at the farm, I couldn't imagine working somewhere every day. Thirteen years later, I can't imagine not driving down the driveway every morning. It's not even like moving away because once the property is sold, it will belong to someone else, someone who doesn't want strange teary-eyed women driving up their driveway just to reminisce. Then I'll have nothing but photographs and my own memories, which will fade in time, to look back on.

But I was here. And it was wonderful. And it has changed me forever. And will keep changing me throughout my life, the way things do.

But that doesn't help much right now. When everything is so new. So hurtful. Even knowing it was going to come to this.

And at this precise moment (I know, because I just checked my email) I don't even have a request for a full - a request for ANYTHING to make me feel better about the void of empty space that is me-without-the-farm that I'm moving into. I mean, obviously I'm going to write until they pry the pen from my cold dead fingers. But it's nice to tell myself that some day, I'll write as my job, and not around the other job that I have. That even if I still do have another job, my writing will be the center of my world, instead of an orbiting planet. But I'm a realist, if an optimistic realist, and I'm going to have to look at the possibility that GMG is not going to be 'the one'... which means shelving it and going back to the drawing board. Which I can't handle at the moment. So for now I'm going to crank 'Holding Out For A Hero' on my iPhone and pretend like something awesome might still show up in my inbox.

But back to the farm, and all of that. Realistically, I could write for pages and pages about the farm. About all of the things that went on, the experiences and the growing I did while here. I could tell you hysterical stories (some of which could, maybe, show up in some format, some day, possibly, is all I'm saying) and tragic stories. Tales of cranky old lady ponies and spry babies who tried to stand before they even cleared their mommas womb.

But I won't do that. Instead, I'll bow out before I start to ramble. Which, technically I've already been rambling because it's taken me several days to write this post. This next week will be an interesting mix of straightening up around the house and acclimating to things, so I'll have time to post again, and I fully intend to start getting that done on a weekly basis rather than letting it lag, as I have been the last few months.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Strangeness of Life...

I'm typing this on my iphone, wasting battery life. We've been three days without power. The lines are down in the field and the equines are not amused, as they've been locked up in a teensy dry lit the entire time. I've been hauling water to them by hand. Horses drink a lot. But at least they appreciate me. And really, I'd give anything to be heaving water for four hooved ones, not just three. Still having sobby moments over that matter. Probably will for a while yet.

The cats think this is the best sleepover ever. All but SealCat, who's shown us that she maintains an unholy hatred for the sound of the bedroom phone ringing. With no power, that's the only phone that works. It rings. SealCat growls. It rings. SealCat growls. This goes on until the phone is either answered or the call is swallowed by whatever strange ether exists to consume phone calls that ring through to answering machines that can't function. Perhaps that phone has taken possession of a little girl named Carol-Ann and SealCat is the only one who can hear her asking about the light.

Really, that's what all of us want to know. When will we have light? Power? Running water??? Yeah, no idea. The latest news suggests maybe Sunday, or Monday. *sigh* So much technology, and they're thrown totally off when they can't use it. Not that I really blame the linemen. I know precisely how hard it is to lug stuff by hand over this kind of terrain. I'm doing it daily for my horses.

But I CAN tell you this: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles) is an AMAZING read!!! I'm tucked into When We Wake, and might end up reading it cover to cover. And it's kinda fun to write by lamplight. As long as you don't have to do it for a week...

Also, apparently it is impossible to 'tag' this post using my phone. Poop on you, technology.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Beauty in Darkness...

I stood within a swirling maelstrom of snowflakes, their gossamer flickering a brilliant contrast to the depthless black of the surrounding night. Di remained unmoving, her head pressed into the length of my side, ardent breaths seeping into my coveralls and warming my hip.

Those moments of unity remain  wielded to my heart. Stretching back to the beginning of time, and out into all the days of the future, even beyond my own small existence in the world. Because life is ephemeral but love is infinite.

Within an hour Di would be dead.

The snow waned. The halcyon moment faded. The pain returned. Di left my side, once more pacing back and forth, me trailing along on the end of the shank. When she lay down, I let her, intervening only when she tried to roll. No drugs I had could alleviate her discomfort. The situation was beyond that.

The vet was already on his way, but I knew what the end result would be even before he confirmed it. A section of Di's small intestine had twisted, the tissue dying. Sometimes surgery is an option, but under even the best circumstances, the success rate hovers around just 50%. For my sweet Di, even getting to the clinic was an insurmountable obstacle. She couldn't bear to stand for more than a few minutes at a time.

Once the vet arrived, we dosed her heavily with the strongest painkilling narcotics available to medical personnel. They gave her only minutes of relief. Just long enough for us to confirm diagnostically that Di's intestines had twisted, and would soon rupture, causing even greater pain (inconceivable, considering what I knew she was already going through) then septicemia, shock and, eventually, death.

Our course of action was clear. Di deserved the kind of mercy that comes from letting go, rather than hanging on. So we set her free.

My sister Rachel, and close friend and coworker Bekah were already there. They'd come for Di, as much as for me. Because that's what you do when you love horses. You rush toward the impossible. Brace steadfastly against the unbearable. You endure the unendurable.

And then you go on.

With, or without the horse you loved, depending on which way fate decided to swing, but always with the memories of those moments of unity when you and the horse were one creation. One being in two bodies.

It is so with all of life. We occupy these bodies and this place for only the briefest of spans. Some even briefer than others. But the moments of connection between our souls and the souls of others, human and animal both, cannot be confined within a paltry lifetime. Those connections exist infinitely. And as painful as everyday life can sometimes be, we always have those moments to fall back on and remember.

No matter how dark the world around us gets, there is always beauty within it, always the speckled light of the souls we've already met, and the glimmer of those we have yet to meet.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Inspiration...

I have recently discovered Doctor Who. Don't hate me. I'm a late bloomer, it's true, but now that the line has been crossed, there is no going back.

I am quite sure that I will die still pining for Christopher Eccleston. I adore him. And I can say without any hesitation that if he showed up (meaning the Doctor, though I'd probably nip after Christopher himself too) I would run for the stars with him in a trice.

But really, this post isn't about the Doctor so much as the giddy excitement watching the show provokes. There's something so incorrigibly lighthearted about, specifically Christopher's portrayal, but also the other Doctors wherein they find joy in watching beetles surmount boulder mountain peaks. It's very refreshing. And while they face dangers that are quite serious, they never miss a chance to laugh.

I am inspired by this. And while I've been known to laugh on the way to the emergency room, there's always room to be reminded that laughter is a grand thing. Sometimes, it's the only thing that can carry you through.

Short post, this.


I'll leave you with a laugh of the day picture. Me, photo-creeping Artemis style:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

That Fine Line Between Cookie-Cutter, and So Far Out There That Nobody Gets You...

This post is really just blather. I'm wasting time, you see. Because I ought to be writing. But I have queries out, and so far they're either gathering dust in agents' inboxes (no offense, agents are busy, just saying) or they're crawling back home with rejections tied to their collars. And because all of these rejections are related to the contemporary which *seemed* like the slightly different, yet completely marketable, 'safe' but unique manuscript that I thought would at least get plenty of interest, I'm now procrastinating on working on any of my WIPs.

It's not that I don't love them, or that I suddenly think that they're worthless and ought to be abandoned. It's just that my emotions are snagging on first one, and then another, and as a result I'm not getting much on any of them done.

My question is: How do you define that line between 'expected' and 'too strange to risk'?

Some authors say 'Go for it! No matter how out there, just get it on paper!' Others say 'Plan things. If you're trying to break into the market, don't go writing stories about aliens who crossbreed with unicorns that fart fire and need human DNA to solve their metabolic problems, because agents/publisher aren't likely to take a risk on such a crazy idea, if you're also a debut author.'

No, I don't have any WIPs that involve aliens or fire-farting unicorns.

My point is that it's hard for those of us still trying to break into the game to know precisely where to focus. Besides the old adage to write what you love.

Do I try to settle on the new contemporary inspired by Beauty and the Beast, which involves kidnapping Carnies and a girl with a bad attitude?

Do I dig into the paranormal with the girl who goes on the run from her zealot uncle and finds refuge with a foul mouthed big-hearted satyr and his equally unexpected friends?

There are others, as well.

I *thought* I had a good game plan in place. Wrote a dystopian (I write YA, so everything is YA, regardless of subgenera) which got tons of requests and so much interest that I expected it to be 'the one' but it turned out not to be (which is totally okay). While I was querying the dystopian, I wrote a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which was different, but classically styled and not wildly out there and was subsequently only queried a few times because interest in retellings seemed to be focused on REALLY different (like CINDER, by Marissa Meyer <3 p="">
Then I wrote a contemporary. It was unique. But marketable. Intriguing but not off-puttingly weird. And yet, it hasn't gotten any notice, really. No requests.

So what's the difference? My writing has improved (as per my crit partners, who are the sort that would tell me if that weren't the case) the story is FAR more desirable, and marketable (most agents aren't even looking at dystopian now) and by all reasonable thinking this ms *should* be getting requests, at least for partials. And I'm left wondering if it's my writing, or just random bad luck.

I don't obsess over these things, mind you. But sometimes when I'm dithering over what to work on, I do digress into pondering over what, exactly, it is that makes agents get excited over something. I know, I know, sometimes something just grabs them from within a manuscript. But BEYOND that, what makes them lean toward requesting something they know isn't an easy sell in the market, and passing on something that *seems* to fit what agents are requesting.

These are things the answers to which I'll probably every know, and that's okay. But I'll keep asking, just the same. And in the meantime, I'll try to pick between Lusus Naturae, and Kiss The Devil. And hopefully, I'll get one of them written sometime before the turn of the century...


Monday, February 18, 2013

How Do You Submit?

So, everyone has a different way they go about sending out submissions. For me, my first and foremost goal has always been to secure an agent. I have many reasons for this. I don't know anywhere near all there is to know about the internal workings of the publishing industry. I have almost zero (I've met a few editors at conferences, but they're friends not networked contacts, and for me there is a difference) contacts within the publishing industry. I'm not such a much that I have a huge platform already in place. I have the makings of a small group of friends, but it's not much by most standards. I can't manage my way out of a paper bag. So while I CAN manage to organize myself with my own writing, I don't have a huge amount of faith that I could arrange, organize and carry out complicated things like signings or readings or out there self promotion things. In short, I need someone who can help me learn how to do those things in a correct and successful manner.

But I digress. The point is, I've always had the goal of getting an agent, viewing that as the first step in my road to publication. So I've always focused on submitting to agents and everything that goes with that.

However, along the way, people have suggested that I sub to publishing houses as well, I just never have. Part of the reason for that, was that I was afraid of what I would do if I ever actually got an offer from a publishing house (big and mainstream or otherwise) because there's just so much to think about when you're looking at something like a publishing contract.

Now, with three years of querying agents behind me, and a growing stack of rejections that read 'If it weren't dystopian, I'd offer,' or 'In the wake of the Hunger Games, I'll have to pass, otherwise I'd offer'  or 'Very strong and commercial writing, but due to personal developments, I am not taking on new clients right now' and a plethora of other variants of rejection that is (according to the agents) more about personal preference than bad writing, I'm starting to consider subbing to publishing houses, even while I continue to query agents.

So what do you peeps think? Has any of you subbed to publishing houses? I'm going to need to research how to even go about it. And I'm not sure I'm actually going to do it. Just something I've been considering.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Think I Fail At Social Media...

With everything stressful that's been going on, I've made a concerted effort to get back into querying and other attempts at agent-hunting. There are multiple reasons for this, but primarily, it was so I had something 'else' going on that I could put energy into (because writing when stressed and unhappy is very hard) and so I could have something to be hopeful about.

Of course, since it's been some time since I queried, I did what I always do, and read up on current trends (in regards to query, or what agents think is a bonus for upcoming writers, not what's hot in the market) and of course, social media, and having a 'platform' seemed to be high on the list.

Well, I've had the blog for a while. I have a excruciatingly boring tumblr account. A live journal page I sometimes manage to post on. And then there's Twitter. Everyone's favorite random tweety thing.

I was late to the twitter game, but once I got an account, I found I really liked it. There is just something terribly amusing and endearing about reading that your favorite author got out of bed and tripped over their cat, or woke up with a kid's feet in their face. You think 'HA! I know exactly what that's like!' Then there's the 'I got an agent call! And then I sneezed into the phone! *face/palm*' tweets of your friends who are going through their own journey to publication. The point is that you get glimpses into those peoples' lives, and you feel connected to them. You love hearing these little blinks of their world.

Except Twitter isn't like that now.

Now, I have to search my feed in earnest to find one cute, random remark about daily life, or personal writing experience. Instead, I'm flooded with tweets bearing links to articles about peoples' books, tips on writing, releases of their friends' books, radio interviews, newspaper articles political articles, contests, press releases, movies about books, casting calls, charity events, and any number of other things. I, personally, am not such a much. I'm just a writer on her way to publication. I've got something like 250 followers. But I follow many more than that. Agents, authors, fellow writers still trying to make it, a couple of actors, and several publishing houses.

I sort of expect ads from publishing houses. And I don't mind them from established authors (what's cooler than having someone like Scalzi or Gaimen help raise awareness for something?) and I totally don't mind agents tweeting happily about clients' upcoming books or events.

But I think that either I've missed the point of social media, or it's changed. Because the nonstop links to buy your book on Amazon, and the endless ads drive me up a wall. If your tweeting about a release date, or contest/giveaway for the release date, awesome. But don't kill me with it. Recently when I've lurked on twitter, I've found myself feeling like I'm in one of those futuristic movies where there are ad banners embedded in your retinas and you have no choice but to swallow a steady flow of marketing. Maybe I just don't get it. Maybe the point of a platform is to tout yourself and your works nonstop.

But I thought the point of social media was to be social. To get people to like you, and thusly create a platform wherein people will support you because they think you're pretty cool. And they'll help spread the word about you because they want other people to think you're pretty cool. And somehow, being bombarded with what amounts to self advertising, just doesn't make me feel social. Or friendly. It makes me want to move into the middle of nowhere on the top of the world and live alone in a cabin, like that girl Hanna, in HANNA.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Tentatively Moving Forward.

So. Here I am. Still. And yet, I'm not here in the same way.

It's been so long since I posted that I can't even remember what, exactly, the last post involved. But that's okay. I'll just move on without backtracking. Sort of like life. You can linger and stare longingly at the past, but you can never go  back there (unless the Doctor shows up, and then you're still likely to screw things up if you try and change them in major ways) and so it's better to just move forward. Or sideways. Or in diagonal little squiggles. The point, my dear, is not to stand still while the world is moving around you. Not unless you're  stand still so you can smell a luscious rose, or smile at a child.

I am moving in all sorts of directions at once right now. And I'm not sure that any of them are the way that I ought to be moving. But I'm going in them, just the same. Eventually, out of the chaos, will form a path, and then I'll know which way to head.

I have several queries in the wind. Something I've done far too little of in the last months, and not because I was revising, but because I couldn't handle the rejections, should they come. So for the sake of my emotions, I took a break. Now I find that I am so far into this emotional turmoil that, as Robert Frost observed, The Best Way Out Is Always Through, and so I have begun sending out queries again. Just three, so far. But I'm making a list of other agents and will soon send out more.

Outside the writing world, things are in a constant state of flux. The farm is not the same and never will be. We've placed many of the horses in homes. And once those that will be going to live with various staff members leave, we will be dangerously close to single digit numbers. Which means that in the not so distant future, we will all be looking for new places to work, and new adventures on which to embark.

I do not want to leave. But even if I stayed, I would just end up being the only thing left. That's the way life is. Sometimes you leave a place or time, or group of people. But sometimes they leave you, and no matter how much you don't want them to go, they do, because for whatever reason, things change.

So here I am, hoarding pennies and fearfully exploring the idea of being who I am, in a place that isn't here. I have some leads on work. I do not fear not finding a new job. I fear everything else.

But when the dust settles, I wager you'll still find me sitting here, even if here happens to be someplace else.