Sunday, September 25, 2011

My 2011 Writing Goal: Query Something, Dammit

I wrote this a few months ago, when I was experimenting with a different blog... but it still seems applicable.

Starting a blog seems monumental.  Though I suppose it is only monumental if I continue blogging for the rest of my life.  (Damn, that’s a hell of a commitment… maybe it is better not to think of it that way.) 
Question: Why start blogging now? 
Simple Answer: It is time to take a serious jump at this crazy goal of becoming a published writer.  (Yay!  Clapping is appreciated.  Champagne also works.  ;) )  Blogging, I hope, will help me stay focussed along the way.

Extended Answer: More than ten years ago, in the summer of 2000, I submitted a manuscript to Harlequin.  (God, I don't think my co-workers were even out of high school then.)  It was the first time I’d ever written anything so BIG.  I finished it.  Yay!  I edited it to the best of my abilities.  I had someone read it.  I edited it again.  Then I printed it off, packed it up and sent it to New York. 

I had no idea what I was doing.

In my own defense, I’ll just say that I was at a cross roads in my life - with that whole “Let’s see what happens" approach to life.


(Image: © Rouge617 | Dreamstime.com)
Can you guess what happened?
I received my manuscript back with a nice little form letter saying “no thanks.”  (I'm pretty sure I still have the envelope, my m/s and the letter in a closet downstairs somewhere.)
My next step? I enrolled in a master’s degree in a completely unrelated field. 
Over the years, I thought about that fork in the road.  A lot.  It haunted me.  I finished my degree.  It haunted me.  I moved to a new city.  It haunted me.  I started my new career.  It… well, you get the picture. 
I thought about “what could have been.” 
Writing became a compulsion, an addiction of sorts.  I couldn’t stop.  I wrote at my lunch break.  I wrote at the local coffee shop.  I bought books on writing.  And, I did what addicts do - I joined a support group.  (http://www.albertaromancewriters.com/)  
At the meetings and workshops, I met people who understood me.  They shared my obsession to always have a pen and notebook handy.  They knew how ornery characters could be.  They didn’t think it was troublesome that I had voices in my head… voices that belong to characters living their own lives, struggling with their own problems, and refusing to shut up. 
My fellow ARWAnians also taught me a lot.  I see these years as my apprenticeship.  You know – that whole “write a million words” thing.  And, I have written and written... and written some more.  Over these last ten years, I've reached "The End" on seven stories and have several others in various stages of completion.

And, (drum roll please) it is now time to jump into the exciting and crazy process of trying to get published.  <gulp>  (Yes, my lovely, supportive family and friends, this is finally that moment!)
I am stating right here, right now: I will send out at least one query before midnight on the eve of my birthday.  (Okay – that may not seem like a particularly aggressive goal, but after an apprenticeship that’s lasted over a decade, I think it’s pretty spectacular.) 

Hey, who knows, maybe I'll even send out more than one query!  ;) 

Oh, and I have prosecco chilling in my refridgerator ready for that moment when I "hit send."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm unpublished... so, ummm, do I need a website now or do I wait?

The following are excerpts from a few blogs and websites - all with varying opinions - on that very question! Click on the links to check out their full articles.
There are a lot of varying opinions!
(Image: © Palto | Dreamstime.com)
Jody Hedlund:“I don’t think unpublished authors should put too much pressure on themselves to have a website before getting a book contract…  On the other hand, a website can help unpublished authors begin to prepare for the future and can possibly save time and effort later.”

Moira Allen (as posted on Writing-World.com): “Designing and maintaining a site can be an excellent way to promote your writing and advance your career, but it should not be allowed to replace writing.”

Stacy Verdick Case (as posted on Ezine @rticles): “Do you need a website or not? Welcome to the twenty-first century--yes you need a website!”

Will Design for Chocolate: “Deciding if you need a website at this stage depends on two things: where you are in your career and what your goal in having a website is.”

Judi Fennell (as posted on Gather): “It’s a great way to get your name out there if you’re serious about becoming published and it shows you are in this for a career.”

Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary Agency): “I want you to take the time and work on your story. When you get an agent, and certainly, when you get an editor, then get that website up and running. Until then, just write.”

After reading these articles, my conclusions are:
  • I need to write my book and not worry about (or get distracted by) creating a website. 
  • I need to finish, edit and polish my book.  
  • I need to sell my work. 
  • Then, a few months before release date, I need to create a website.  
Okay.  Website is on hold... for now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September & Summer Commitments

Today I registered for my 2011-2012 ARWA membership.  I'm excited to start the new program year.  This giddiness probably comes from my long stint in school and university.  Every September I get nostalgic - itching to learn new things and see old friends.

In some ways, it'll be bitter sweet though.  You see, every June, when my writing group breaks for the summer, we write down our summer commitments: What do we plan to achieve?  We can choose whatever we want, but ideally it is something writing related.  The secretary collects our "commitments" and holds them for us.  Over the summer, I usually forget about my promise until it gets close to September.  Then, the first meeting back, the secretary reads aloud from the collected commitments and we have to say how we did.
My goal this year was to finish the first, ugly draft of my current work-in-progress. 
(Image: © Tomas Jezek |Dreamstime.com)
At the time when I made the commitment, I had... oh, I don't know... about 11,000 words written.  Since then, I've written another 33,000.  My goal is 80,000 words in total. 

Crap.

In my own defense - yes, there are excuses ahead - I've been working closely with my critique group, so hopefully what I have written is pretty solid.  I really want to meet that 80,000 word count though.  There are sixteen days to that first meeting.  With 36,000 words still needed, that's a "whole lotta" writing!  <Gasp> 
Okay - ready, set, TYPE!