Sunday, December 30, 2012

Here comes 2013

And I still need to query a literary agent.

This means I need to get off my butt and get it done. Query letters don't look intimidating, the issue is finishing a manuscript to the level <<I>> think it's ready.

A piece of feedback I received from a reader of one of my short stories told me volumes.  I put so many historical references into my writing he couldn't finish reading the story. This tells me the historical research is  getting in the way of the story and turning readers off.  Good to know! Here is the problem: I keep finding more interesting details through my historical research and I am such a nerd for this stuff I want to <I>USE</I> it. Time to stop doing that and get on with the stuff people want to read - the drama of the relationships between the characters.

So that is part of my plan for 2013. The other part is posting more often to this blog. Teachers use meta-cognition to help students understand how they arrive at an answer. Writers need to write about writing. Regular entries about what I'm doing would be good to motivate me to do more writing. See, I've thought this through!

Oh yes, and can't forget, I WILL query and agent this year.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNo 2012 - Fourth time's the Third Charm?

All I know is I'm already behind on my word count!

This seems to happen every year. I'm slow on the count but still manage to finish before the last day of the month.

I'm much busier this year; essentially working two part time jobs and still not making any money, but I'm getting paid to write now which is a good thing. I'm learning how to write quality content and make deadlines which are two important professional writing skills. I've also learned about the the importance of SEO in blog writing.

The election keeps distracting me SO MUCH. It's mostly good news though. President Obama looks likely to be re-elected and Senator Stabinow is going to win in a landslide. Proposal 1 looks to be defeated (*Happy petition canvasser's dance*). I am really looking forward to November 7 so there will be one less distraction with my writing.

Back to the word sprints on Twitter!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What The Hunger Games Taught Me About Books and Kids

On the off chance I get sucked into some alternative universe where YA publishers actually want books that feature two MC's that are male I have the book for them. With my setting being before the American Revolution there's plenty of opportunities for violence. The weeks leading up the the Boston Tea Party were full of mobs in the streets attacking tea merchants' homes and shops until the night when the tea went into the harbor. My main concern has been how much violence can I put into this story before it becomes too violent for young adult audiences? My answer came at the book fair of a local middle school.

They had an end of year bogo deal I took advantage of and bought The Hunger Games trilogy shrink-wrapped into a set, and a copy of James Patterson's hilariously funny Middle School, The Worst Years Of My Life. All of the books are great. Patterson's book will leave you in stitches even if your middle school career happened decades ago.

The Hunger Games I tackled just as quickly, read off and on through the summer when I found time and just finished Mockingjay a few days ago. To say I enjoyed all three books is an understatement. This is the first work of fiction I've read in a long time that was a genuine page turner for me. The characters are real, you really feel the emotion of these people and their struggles come off the page. The other thing that struck me however was the intense amount of violence in these books. There is fighting, there are battles and most of all there is lots of death in these books. Characters you wish the best for die with horrible grisly detail. If it weren't for the red and white Scholastic logo on the back cover of the book I would think The Hunger Games was a series written for adults.

My book takes place in the past. Collins' novels are in a dystopian future. The time doesn't really matter because in both settings there are plenty of ways for the characters to torture and kill each other. If The Hunger Games are considered suitable reading for middle school aged children then my books which will have plenty of violence but no one historically dying should be fine. I also found through reading the series that in the one area I've been holding back - the violence - going on in Boston in those days leading up to the Boston Tea Party I won't have to hold back at all.

And I was worried about the Pope Night scene being too graphic.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I can has job?

 I decided since I spend so much time writing I thought is it possible to earn money doing this? Well guess what, it looks like I can! I'm entering the world of freelance writing and so far I'm having fun.  I will say it's nice to get paid for putting words on the page.

Getting used to deadlines and someone emailing you with "You did this all wrong! Change it now!" And "You do know you have a deadline, right?" That's taking some getting used to.  I think it's good for me though.  I'm getting practice and writing tips while I work and feedback to improve writing is always a good thing.

We'll see how long it lasts.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is it normal to have scenes like this pop into your head?

Andrew knew he would forget something. He slapped his gloves against his thigh while grumbling all the way back to Massachusetts Hall and up the two flights of stairs to his room. Supper would be served soon and the others should be getting ready to go fetch it before study time and evening prayers. He turned the door handle to the room he shared with his chum, Joseph and found it locked.

Andrew frowned and reached for his key.  He stopped when he heard a female voice, loud whispering and scrambling in the room on the other side of the door. With a loud sigh Andrew jammed the key into the lock and unlocked the door. Joseph sat up slowly in the bed and rubbed his eyes as if he had just awoken.  "Andy,  I thought were going to Boston for the weekend?"

Andrew burned him a look before walking over to his wardrobe.  "I am, I forgot something."  He scowled at the look of growing alarm on his room mate's face.

"Oh, what a shame." Joseph murmured just as Andrew swung the door open and found unlaced stays and a sheer shift in his face.  His eyes traveled up until he found a round, plump face and brown eyes staring at him. Andrew glared and reached for the small satchel hanging on a peg behind her and slammed the door in her face.

Joseph winced at the loud noise the wardrobe door made combined with the high pitched yelp that could be heard coming from within.

"Right, I'll be home Sunday after church." Andrew couldn't wait to get out of that room.  He opened the door leading into the hall and looked over his shoulder at Joseph. "Please remove the whore from my wardrobe before I return."

"R-Right."  Joseph murmured. 

Andrew never heard him, he slammed the door shut and took the stairs down two at a time. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Librarians - your best worst friend

I stopped working on Pierian Spring a while ago because I realized that one of my main characters, Andrew was a Harvard College student and I didn't know much about Harvard College in the 18th century. I did as much research as I could online and with the history books on hand, but knew eventually I would need to find more thorough sources to flesh out Andrew's academic life.

Oh happy day it was when a google books search led me to Revolutionary Generation, a book about the Harvard class of 1774. The book covers the lives of 204 students during their four years from 1771 to 1774. I read through everything offered in the Google books preview, but as you know with Google book previews pages and sections are left out, and knew I needed to read all of this book.

No problem, that's what libraries are for! I worked in the cataloging department of a large university library for 4 years, I love the library. The two best places in the world are libraries and book shops because I say so.

Of course, living in the Manistee National Forest of Michigan means I am nowhere near a large university depository library where a book like this might be, so I head to my local public library's website where I can request the book through inter-library loan. I check the public side of OCLC to see where the closest library that the book in their holdings might be, then put in the request through the online form my public library provides.

Then, I sit back and wait. I know inter-library loans can take from a week to up to a month, so I put working on my novel on hold until the book arrived. I really should have a clue about what Andrew's life at Harvard was like before I write about Andrew's life at Harvard, right? Right!

And I wait a little longer ... one month passes, two months ... three months ...

Huh? That's not how it works, especially when copies of the book are sitting in East Lansing and Kalamazoo. A trip to the library is in order it seems.

I need income tax forms anyway, so while I have copies of those made, I ask about their inter-library loan program and how long does it usually take? I explain about the form on the website that I filled out months before and never received any notice.

The librarian looked at me, and I swear this is what she said ... "We have an online form for that?"

Uh, yeah honey, ya sure do. I didn't say that out loud; thinking it the whole time though. The librarian suggested trying again. I took my tax forms, and a job application and left for home.

A week later I stopped again to check on the status. Different librarian there and didn't have a clue what I was talking about. "Perhaps you should bring in your titles hand written and we can process your request that way?" It became obvious to me I would need to do this old school.

Not that I mind old school, as stated earlier I spent four years working in the cataloging department of a large university library right when everything digital switched to awesome looking but memory bogging graphics. It looks pretty though, and that's all that matters right? I miss the card catalog.

So I waited another week and returned. This time I had my job application filled out and a hand written list of the titles I wanted to request for ILL. I handed the librarian the application, then asked about the books I wanted, and offered her that list.

"Oh wait, one of your books is in! I have it right here!" She pulled the book out from the bottom of the pile on her desk and showed it to me.


She stamped the due date in it for me, and even waived the $2.00 fee 'for my trouble'. Then she really hit me with the most mind-boggling part of this book Odyssey - The librarian who handles the website had no idea what that ILL form was for, so ... wait for it ... SHE JUST DELETED ALL THE BOOK REQUESTS WHEN THEY SHOWED UP ON THE SYSTEM.

Let me repeat, this ILL book request form is on the library website, but they had no idea it was there. Because they had no idea it was there, when people filled it out they didn't know what it was for, so they deleted the requests and forgot about them. Problem solved!

Oi ...

I am very happy to have my book. I am learning lots of great things that I can use in my novel to flesh out Andrew's life as a Harvard student. Perhaps I could write a scene where he struggles to find a book in the college library?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


BIG shout out to Jamie Corrigan and her excellent contest. I am one of nine winners randomly selected! I can't wait to see what my prize will be.

Thanks, Jamie!