Blog of a Writer on the Go and Barely Here.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

This is Mork from Ork saying, "Nanu, NaNo?"

November is almost here and many of you know what that means: It's National Novel Writing Month!

Anyone who's a writer, married to a writer, friends with a writer or knows someone whose second cousin twice removed's best friend's girlfriend is a writer, has heard of this strange phenomena.  A whole month of writers staring at their keyboards, willing at least 1667 words to appear each day.  Praying for the 50,000 word to manifest itself before the clock strikes midnight on November 30th.  Ignoring family members' pleas for them to eat, or at the very least, take a shower.  And if you hadn't already, well now you have

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short (or NaNo for those of us too lazy to spell out the entire abbreviation) allows writers of all ages, skill levels and from all over the world to share the stress of writing a novel (or at least the first 50,000 words of a novel) in only 30 days.  The deadline tends to loom large even months before it hits and the closer the start of NaNo gets, the more frantic the participants get.

Writers tend to be split on their feelings for this event meant to bind us all in unity and suffering.  Some look down on it and its participants as only being 'hobby' writers and not serious writers.  They poke fun at it and its overtired, worn out writers, thinking nothing good can come from anyone churning out words at such a breakneck speed.

The other camp of writers love NaNo, despite the sleep they lose and meals they miss.  The deadline is seen as a challenge to overcome and force them to focus on their writing.  With certain quotas to fill each day, the time for procrastinating is done.  At least until December.  They know their work will be rewarded when they have a first draft in their hands to be edited and reshaped to perfection.  They also have the inspiration of Sara Gruen' WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and Erin Morgenstern's NIGHT CIRCUS.  Both found their start as part of NaNo.

Personally, I started out in the first camp, thinking it was all a bit silly.  What kind of work could possibly be written in such a short time frame?  Last year, under peer pressure, the peers of which shall remain nameless, I caved and gave it a shot.  Guess what?  I became hooked.  In those 30 days I wrote the first draft to DOWN THE WOODED PATH.  There was a need for me to meet those deadlines.  When I checked in with my numbers, it made me a little giddy to see the bar slowly filling up and watch my stats.  Most importantly, it made me write.

This year I'm back and, call me crazy, attempting two projects at the same time.  During the day I'm hoping to crank out another YA novel tentatively titled MOTHER OF MONSTERS, set in ancient Greece and filled with loads of mythology.  At night, it'll be collaboration time with hubby as we attempt to get the first season (sans the first episode) of TINMAN drafted and ready for editing.  Wish me luck and feel free to send me lots of coffee.  I prefer French Vanilla, but really any kind will do.

I hope to see more of my writer friends joining us as we embark on this insane mission.  I know there are a lot of people already in stress mode, but all joking aside, don't stress over it.  Enjoy the craziness as your characters take off in directions you never intended.  Love the little unintentional quips they throw into your dialog.  If it doesn't work, you can always take it out later.  In December, when we all change into National Novel Editing Month.

Who's joining me?  Are you planning ahead or flying by the seat of your pants?  Keep me up-to-date on your stats by adding me (Emily Rebecca) to your buddy list on NaNoWriMo's website.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Will you rep me now? How about now? Now?

Yesterday on Twitter, an agent asked what they thought was a simple question: " Agents, what's your position on writers contacting you after they've received an  w/chance to read when they've only queried you?" A flurry of responses and opinions followed, giving birth to a new hashtag.  It was also the most tweeting I've done since I've opened my twitter account.

After the discussion I thought about what everyone had to say on the subject and came to realize one very important thing - there are no hard and fast rules for querying.  Sure there are 'experts' who will tell you how to do it and say if you don't follow their guidelines you'll never make it.  You can add agents and publishers to your Google+ circles, subscribe to their blogs, follow them on Twitter, hide in their bushes and stalk them until the restraining order goes through, but it doesn't mean you'll end up with a better understanding of the industry as a whole.

I'm not suggesting we, as writers, should ignore everything agents tell us to do.  Ignoring all protocol would end up with us alienating ourselves even further and missing out on any chance we might have.  Instead, we need to be mindful of each agent's policies.  Do they respond to every query?  What is their normal response time?  If you follow them on social media, have they mentioned they're behind?  Do they expect the courtesy of being told if you've been give an offer of representation from another agent, regardless of what stage of the game you're at with them?

Figuring out all these things for each and every agent can become time consuming.  If you don't have the time or patience to keep tabs on everyone, check out their policies before you query them.  Query only the agents who you either really want to represent you, regardless of their response policies, or the ones whose policies are what you expect from an agent.

Now, get out there and query.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Want a good Halloween Read?

The members of Authonomy decided to collaborate and managed to put together a book of Flash Fiction for Halloween.  Don't have a lot of time for reading?  No problem.  Each story is exactly 416 words.  Perfect for sneaking in between work.  Check it out and make sure to leave them a comment!


Friday, October 14, 2011

I've seen the good side of bad. And the down side of up. And everything between ...

Today's post was meant to be about the upcoming NaNoWriMo, but I went to bed thinking about something and woke up with it still on my mind, so the NaNo post will have to wait.  Instead, this is going to be one of those 'life thoughts' posts I warned you all about.

My Facebook feed, Twitter feed, Google + and every media source has been clogged with the coverage of Occupy Wall Street.  No matter where I turn, it's there, which is probably why I've been thinking about it so much.  On top of all the news stories, I've seen posts from friends and family concerning the '99%' and '53%' and whatever other % they've come up with.  The accusations and comments going back and forth between all these groups makes me sad and angry.

Personally, I agree with a lot of with a lot of what they're all saying.  I've seen the pictures of people holding up signs proclaiming what camp they're in and why.  I started thinking about which camp I would be in and realized I'd be in neither --- and both.

Here's the thing about it.  I'm all for personal responsibility.  Yes, I paid to put myself through school.  Yes, I work to make ends meet and try my best not to live outside our family's means.  No, I don't have credit cards and try to pay everything upfront with cash.  But, if I held up a sign proclaiming all this, I would be a hypocrite, as I'm sure most people would be.

See, taking responsibility for yourself is a wonderful thing, but there are these things called 'circumstances' that tend to be out of our control.  For those who know me personally, you know the financial crisis caused a domino effect that is shaking up things for us now.  Nothing we did to cause it, but we still feel it.

In my town we've witnessed the closing of countless businesses.  At least two of these closings were without warning.  As sad as we were by them no longer being there for us, I can only image what the employees went through when they showed up for work to find they no longer had a job.  Their own personal responsibility had nothing to do with this, but they end up paying for it.

It's not only Wall Street, although they are a major contributor to events taking place now.  I've seen sudden illness wipe out years of savings, even with healthcare in place.  I've seen the unexpected death of someone younger than me leave widows and widowers as single parents facing hardships they could never have foreseen.  This isn't just caused by the war, before anyone suggests I'm being anti-war.  Accidents and illness occur everyday.

At the end of the day, we're all human beings trying to eke out a living.  We all make mistakes and are all trying to do the right thing as we see fit.  For us to accuse other individuals of not pulling their weight or foisting all our problems on Wall Street isn't going to get us anywhere.  I'm by no means defending the corporations and what they've done to contribute to our current mess.  What I am saying is while we should take responsibility for our own actions, before we go attacking friends and family who don't feel the same way we do, we have to remember there are other forces at work.

If you feel like joining a side and writing a sign to post on a website, stop and think if it's possible for you to write a sign for the other side, too.

*Title song lyrics from WHAT IT'S LIKE - Everlast

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Heads up on this writing contest for childrens' authors.  The deadline is November 1st.  What are you all waiting for?  Go!  Enter!