Monthly Archives: April 2010

Don’t Kill Your Career Before It Even Starts

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about The Rejection Queen.

This is a prime example of what NOT to do. Ever.

For one thing, it’s rude and unprofessional to talk shit about agents and publishers. They’re just people doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. A job that is completely subjective when it comes to taste. It is absolutely impossible to write something that everybody is going to love. So getting upset about a rejection is simply unproductive.

For another thing, the literary world is a very small pond and people talk. You talk smack about agent A and writer Q is going to tell them about it. And then agent A is going to tell every other agent he or she knows about what an unprofessional dumbass you are.

Even if you use a pseudonym, very little on the internet is completely private. With just a little bit of Google-power, several people were able to uncover The Rejection Queen’s true identity. One wrong comment, one slip-up and the people you’re bashing are going to find out who you are.

If that form rejection you just received on a full submission really bugs you to the point where you can’t not say anything, then for Gods’ sakes don’t post your glorious nine-page screed against all things agently on the internet. Call a friend and rant about it to them, write it in a paper journal.

When the Going Gets Tough, Keep on Going

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Life has just gotten quite a bit more complicated.

A family member has called for help and I can’t say no even though it means more work and stress for me and my husband. Especially considering that it involves the health and well-being of children.

This means I’ll have to put the revisions on the back burner until this mess is straightened out. Not something I’m looking forward to doing, but what can ya do?

Revisions

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I think I’m done with my revisions. I’ve sent it out to three people, two of whom have never seen it before, to get their opinions. I’m hoping they give it the okay because I am so done with looking at this thing for a while. I want to get back to working on book two.

I’ve read and re-read book one so many times, I could probably recite pages of it from memory. For now, I’m going to stick it in the back of my mind and forget about it until I hear back from them.

Book two, here I come!

Getting Published *Is* A Real Job, TYVM

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My husband and I went out to dinner last night with a friend we don’t get to see very often. As we were eating our ice cream, she looked at me and asked if I were searching for a job — right after I just got done telling her about the revisions I’m doing for a prospective agent. And to make it worse, my husband is sitting next to me shaking his head no.

Don’t get me wrong, but last I checked, attempting to do something for which you will ultimately get paid IS looking for a job, no?

Unfortunately, this mindset is all too prevalent. Doing what we love, even if we get paid for it, isn’t a real job. It’s just a hobby. A side project.

Sure, getting published is something to be lauded and applauded, but now it’s time to go out and get a real job. Because unless you’re at a 9-5 job that you hate, you’re not working. If you sit at home on the computer all day, you’re not working. If you spend hours staring off into space (even if you’re trying to puzzle out a plot twist or characterization), you’re not working.

As so many writers before me have said, writing is not easy. It’s not simply a matter of spewing words onto a screen. Or jotting them down in a notebook. I can spend hours staring at a blank page trying to find the right words to describe what I’m seeing in my head. If I’m seeing anything there at all. Then there’s the research and the rewrites and even more rewrites.

And this is all before even finding an agent. And then there might be rewrites for the agent before they start trying to find a publisher. Then there are rewrites for the publisher. And you better believe that writing isn’t all a writer is going to have to do. I know of very few writers who don’t do at least a little bit of self-marketing.

So please, before you ask a writer when or if they’re ever going to get a real job, stop and think about how insulting that question is. And then keep your mouth shut.

Revision Hell

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A couple weeks ago, I received a revise and resubmit from an agent. She loved my world and my premise, but she didn’t love the main character and her interactions with one of her fellow Vamyraset Agents. That same week, I found a beta partner on the Absolute Write Water Cooler Forum (BTW, if you’re a writer and haven’t checked out the AW forum, it would probably be in your best interest to do so. It is a great forum with a lot of knowledgeable and helpful members including quite a few published authors and other industry professionals,)

Both the agent and the beta partner have brought up similar concerns, so I’m knee deep in revisions. My beta partner has also pointed out flaws the agent never even mentioned, which I’m grateful for and also annoyed with. Not at the beta, god no! She’s been fabulous. I’m more annoyed that these flaws have lasted through countless rewrites and nobody else caught them. And I’m including myself in there. Thankfully, I don’t have to do a complete rewrite. The changes are minor enough for just a few tweaks here and there.

This is an aspect of publishing I was not looking forward to. But I’m gonna put on my big girl panties and slog through it because I WILL be published one day and if this is what I have to do to get there, then so be it.

Backstory

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It’s late and I haven’t had a chance to write a blog post for today, so I’m just going to post a little bit of fun backstory for my series.

Everybody expected the Apocalypse to descend upon us in a fiery torrent. Nobody ever imagined it would be a largely silent rending of reality.

On November 6, 2012, at roughly a quarter past three Eastern Standard Time, the Veil between our world and Faerie fell.

Virtually overnight, both worlds were near seamlessly melded with one another.Humans found themselves face to face with beings they had long thought simply fairy tales.
The inevitable war between the races favored the Fey. For how could even the most well-armed human stand up to something that can make the very land rise up and fight alongside them. And so a group of well-meaning Fey created the Vamyraset Agency to end the war and forge peace between humans and Fey.

Because the Fey know, even if humans have forgotten that without one, the other would cease to exist. Humans and Fey co-exist in a symbiotic relationship of dreams and fantasies.

Sixteen years later, humans are still trying to come to terms with this new world. And it is becoming readily apparent that the Vamyraset might not be the goodwill neighbor it advertised itself to be.

The Beauty Beneath The Trash

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I’m going to tell you about what I did today and also use it as a metaphor. But! But there’s a twist — I’m not going to tell you what the metaphor is about. I won’t do this because if I tell you what the metaphor is about, then that’s all that it will be about. I want you to be able to apply it to whatever you think it fits. Going back to my very first post — I don’t want to limit my metaphor to just a single story. ;-)

Today I worked outside in the yard. Not exactly a surprising thing to do considering the time of year and all, but I wasn’t planting or weeding or doing anything with a garden.

No, today I was out in my yard picking up trash.

A little backstory — my husband and I rent a beautiful house with an enormous back yard. There’s also a sweet little brook flowing along the edge of the property. At some point, somebody used the far left edge of the yard as a dumpster.

No, I’m not being hyperbolic. The area was literally used to dump trash. And then it was covered with brush and fallen limbs. I’ve spent the last six years attempting to clean it up. Again, I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve barely scratched the surface. Every spring after all of the snow melts, I go out there and there’s a whole new layer of trash revealed. I think I’ve thrown away more than a hundred pounds of trash already.

Now, I could let the landlord handle this. He could have a cleanup crew in to clean it up within a matter of days, but I like doing this myself. I like having the time to reflect and think which is what I did today and came up with this post.

Despite all of the trash, the soil is still healthy. Not as healthy as it could be, but it just needs a little bit of care. And love. It needs a whole lot of loving care to reach its full potential. But, when you sift away the trash and the roots, the ground is soft and dark and ready to be made great.

It’s just the getting there that’s hard. I’ve got this whole mound of potential that I have to dig through in order to work with. It’s hard work and some days I just want to give up and forget about that corner of the yard.

But I don’t. I don’t because of days like today when I find little bits of treasure buried amidst the dreck. Today’s find was an old glass Coca-Cola bottle. At least I assume it’s a Coke bottle since that’s what the twist cap says. Most of the glass I find is broken or cracked, but this bottle is in near-perfect condition. It’s something that I’ll clean up just a bit and set aside for later use.

Someday, that section of the yard will be full of green, growing things. It probably won’t happen before we move, but it WILL happen. Of that I have faith.

Selkie’s Song

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Back in January, I participated in the Help_Haiti auction on Livejournal. I offered up an original 1000 word urban fantasy ficlet. The winner was allowed to choose prompt/setting/character. The winning bidder wanted a story about selkies, so I wrote Selkie’s Song for her.

The sea – it spread out before us in a thundering, foam-laced line of bluish gray. Where it met the clear-blue sky in the distance, it shimmered. I could almost see ghostly shapes dancing on the waves.

“Let’s find a good place to set up our blankets.” My sister, Robbie, trudged down the shell-speckled sand dunes, scattering a flock of seagulls before her. The beach was nearly empty, the upper-sixties temperature was keeping most people away. We had our pick of the beach, but it would do no good to argue with her. Robbie was a force to be reckoned with, and I had learned a long time ago not to even try.

“Wait up.” I drank in one last view before scrambling down after her.

It was the first time either of us had been to the ocean. Well, technically it was at least my second, but I didn’t remember the first. I was a baby when they found me crawling along the seaweed encrusted shoreline of Oregon’s Neskowin beach, my sole possession a battered and filthy seal pelt wrapped around my waist.

I chased after Robbie, my mind firmly fixed on the lapping water. It drew me in, called to me. Sang me a hauntingly sweet lullaby that was both familiar and utterly foreign.

My chest ached with longing. I sped up the pace, passing Robbie as she fastidiously smoothed the wrinkles out of her blanket. I merely dropped my bundle in a heap without slowing. I needed to feel the water cascade over my face and dive deep into the cold black depths.

A restraining hand pulled me short.

“Cara, are you crazy?” Robbie stood beside me, grinning like a fool. “You’ve still got your shorts and shoes on.”

She was right. Steadying myself on her shoulder, I stripped off my sneakers and socks. My shorts landed on top of them and I was again moving toward the water. Robbie laughed with amusement.

“Fine, fine. I’ll pick up your stuff. Don’t worry about it.”

I didn’t answer, couldn’t answer. The sea’s siren song was too strong for me to resist. I was at the edge, the cool, damp sand worked itself between my toes. It was glorious.

The first wave lapped over my feet. Electricity flashed upward through my legs, sparking a torrent of images in my mind. They zipped through my brain too fast for me to understand any of them. All I got were impressions of fur and fish and warmth, then they were gone as the wave was pulled back out.

I took a step forward into the sea proper and it was as if I had attached myself to an electric generator. I was enervated and alive in ways I never knew were possible. The hair on my arms was standing at attention.

Robbie’s voice called to me, but it was a long way off and easy to ignore. I waded in deeper – up to my calves, then my thighs. Heedless of the cold that skittered goosebumps across my arms and chest, I took a breath and dove beneath the churning waves.

I was home. This was where I belonged, where I was truly myself. I had never felt this sort of connection on land. I was outcast there. Too strange and odd for everybody except Robbie.

Robbie. My link to my adoptive sister pulled me back to reality.

I surfaced – the shoreline was a long ways away. I could barely see the small figure of my sister splashing through the waves, trying to reach me, the sister who never learned how to swim.

I was at least half a mile out and being pulled further by the second. The siren song was gone, drowned out by the slap-slap of the water.


Fear, raw and primitive, stole my senses. I thrashed and kicked, frantic to get back to shore. A wave slapped me in the face and I swallowed a mouthful of salt.

Spluttering and choking, I sank beneath the waves. Freezing darkness enveloped me as I descended down into the shadowy depths. My lungs urged me to take a breath, while my chest convulsed with the effort to keep from doing just that.

With arms that were fast becoming numb, I clawed my way to the surface only to be rolled under again by a massive wave. As I sank, wretched with fear, the soft croon of the sea returned. Under the water, it was louder, more insistent. Hailing me with love and joy.

Daughter…Welcome home…You’ve come back to us… It was a medley of inhuman voices whispering through the water. They drew me further down into the dark, despite the insistence of my body to swim upwards to the light and air.

Embrace your true self and join us.


What did that mean? What was my true self?

Images again flooded my brain of wet and warmth, fish and fin. I grasped at them and pulled them close, feeling their rightness. I wrapped them around me, suffused them into my being.

The tightness in my chest eased, I didn’t need to take a breath. Or surface. I dove deep, scattering a school of fish. My new, sleeker body torpedoed through the water. I angled my body upwards, rocketing to the surface. For a moment, I was arcing through the air before splashing back down.

“Cara!” A human voice. A human name. Vestiges of my former self, too powerful for me to continue to ignore. I swam to the slight figure struggling against the increasingly choppy waves. She backpedaled as my nose broke the plane of water.

“Cara?” My beautiful, intuitive sister still knew me, even as a seal. “What happened to you?”

She stroked my head, fear and anguish puckering her lips and furrowing her brow. I nudged my head beneath her arm and towed her back into shallower waters where she could tread water with ease.

Her arms wrapped around my neck, squeezing tight.

“Don’t go,” she whispered into my damp fur. “I love you, sister.”


I’ll be back. My short bark rippled through the air. Robbie lifted her hand in farewell, her tears mingling with the salt of the sea.

She mouthed just one word – goodbye – before turning and swimming back to shore where a crowd of anxious bystanders had gathered. I watched as she trudged out of the water and collapsed onto the sand.

A distant sense of melancholy needled at me, but I pushed it away and dove back into the sea. For eighteen years I had been human, now it was time for me to live as my other half for a while.

The Danger of a Single Story

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My first blog post was going to be a self-indulgent ramble about my journey to becoming a writer. And then I saw this linked by Kaigou on Livejournal. It is beautiful, poignant, and really made me stop and think about all of the things that I’ve created a single story for and how I’m going to change that. Hopefully, it will make you think as well.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf