I've been doing it all wrong. All this time I thought I was saying something profound when instead I was simply yelling into empty space. A few people listened. A few people cheered.
But now I know.
Time to Revise.
Friday, March 28, 2014
If you're going to be a successful writer, you have to at some point accept the fact that not everyone is going to like what you write. In fact, a lot of people won't like what you write. Important people. People who can make or break your career. Agents. Editors. Publishers. The movers and shakers in the industry are known for taking your babies, ripping them to shreds, and leaving you with the feeling you should give up writing and work as a factory inspector for packing peanuts.
The same principle applies to everything else in life: getting a (new) job, creating relationships, learning a new skill, furthering your education, etc. Negative people are going to be negative and you can't do anything about that. Yeah, you might not be the best, but if you work at it you can be BETTER. That's the point of life: becoming a better person, growing, and making the world a better place.
I've come to a place in my life where I can honestly say, "Too bad for you," when rejected without any bitterness or anger. Honestly! Sometimes I feel disappointment, but I'm human. I wouldn't have tried for the job, for the publication, for the "whatever" if I didn't want it. The reason I feel "Too bad for you," is I know the value I bring to the table and I know they are missing out because they haven't chosen to let me sit with them. Their loss.
Can I be a better writer? Definitely. Can I be a better employee? Absolutely. Can I be a better person? Yeah. (OH, yeah!) But I still have value and I still have merit and I'm not going to let anyone tear me down just because they won't let me play with their toys.
I'll have toys of my own one day. Toys that I have earned with sweat and tears and I'll be proud to share them with others. You see, I'm not greedy. You want to be part of my play group? Come on! I welcome anyone who wants to play fair and be friendly. Bullies need not apply.
So don't give up on your dreams when you're told you're not good enough. Use that as a springboard to get better. Study harder. Learn more. You may need more time. You may need to be just where you are. Who knows what blessings are in store for those who are patient and kind to themselves in the inner struggle to love ourselves?
And remember: the person who says "I can't" and the person who says "I can" are both right. Who are you going to be today?
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Step one: make a plan and lay it out so I can SEE my goals. I'm planning my racing and writing calendar for the next couple of months so I know what's do and when so I can MAKE time for what I want to do rather than rushing to do it at the last minute.
Step two: take some risks. I just entered a (very prestigious) contest I've never entered before. I didn't think about it, didn't re-read my piece, didn't worry, I just DID IT. I'm terrified. I have three others I'm going to enter in the next couple of days. Why? If you don't take risks, you don't make any gains.
Step three: make time for myself. Although I feel guilty, my husband has reminded me (often, lately, almost as if I have a hard head and am not listening) that taking time for myself IS taking time for others. Why? Because by taking care of myself, I can stay healthy and do more. Duh. My husband is so smart.
Step four: help others along the way. Any time I feel depressed, the best way to feel better is to help others. It's actually a scientifically proven fact. Look it up! So I need to focus on that more as the end of the school year approaches.
So, there's my four-step approach to attacking the slump monster I've been fighting lately. Revision has been colder than normal around here. Icy and snowy, too. Spring is coming, however, and soon, very soon, I'm hoping to see the results of my hard work.
Monday, March 17, 2014
“I knew...you were in there...somewhere…” -- Excelsior
Teenagers live in a world where their greatest desire yet their greatest fear is to be unique. It’s confusing when society pressures you to want to be the same as everyone else, but at the same time represses all urges for independent thought, creativity, and freedom of self-determination. This creates a barrier for self-discovery, loss of true self, and the fear of disappointing others by not becoming what they expect.These universal themes have been written about in a variety of genres both fiction and nonfiction, but not in such a unique way as in George Sirois’ Excelsior.
This internal struggle is illustrated through Matthew Peters’ adventures not only in high school, but with his “new” friends he thought were only figments of his imagination. As Matthew discovers the truth about his universe and his unique abilities, he also discovers that becoming the hero means sacrifice. Others before him have paid dearly. Other around him pay the ultimate price. Is he willing to do his part to save his world and the world he thought was just a cartoon? And what will be left of himself when the adventure is over?
Young readers, of course, won’t analyze the book for these points. They’ll be excited about the alien battles, evil plots, and bullies that get what’s coming to them. Adult readers, hopefully, will appreciate the deeper themes that run in the undercurrents of the book. Either way, Excelsior is a unique idea that is a fun read for young adults and anyone else who likes a Last Starfighter meets Terminator type plot. It works well as a stand-alone but leaves the door open for sequels.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
In about five weeks, (April 11-13) all of our hard work will come to fruition and attendees will enjoy a weekend of workshops, networking, pitches, slush pile readings, and so much more! I can't wait for the 99th annual Missouri Writers' Guild Conference.
I'm not writing this only because I'm on the board. I'm writing this because the MWG conference is one of the big reasons I've made beneficial contacts, gained the knowledge, and developed the confidence as a writer and editor to become the person I am today. In the last four years I've published more stories and won more contests than I ever thought possible. I found my best friend at one of these conferences. I've found excellent speakers for our local guild at this conference. And, as a writer, I can't deny I've taken notes on some interesting characters to make into "interesting characters."
For some, conferences aren't their "thing." I understand. For some, finances are a consideration. I understand that, too. However, if you are a writer and want to improve your craft, meet new people, and further your career, this is one of the best conferences in the area to attend.
Conference home page: http://missouriwritersguild.org/MWG%20Conference%202014/
Conference blog: http://mwgconference.blogspot.com/
Hope to see you there!
Saturday, March 8, 2014
It's been three months. THREE MONTHS! Three months since my last entry and my life has been so crazy I haven't had time to breathe. I promised myself last year I wouldn't overload myself and here I am again with a full head of ideas, an exhausted body recovering from a respiratory infection, and stress through the roof. Shame. Shame on me. I keep saying "no" but the responsibilities keep piling up. I'm not sure how that works.
In the good news front, I'm now one of the board members for Walrus Publishing. I'll be working in my geographic area to acquire manuscripts to take to the Board and defend to try to get them published. Basically I'll be a manuscript public defender. Hehe! If the manuscript I've supported get's accepted, I'll work with the author to get it edited/revised and in shape to be published within the timeframe of the contract from Walrus. It's exciting but daunting.
I also have an opportunity to try to get my first manuscript published. In the next few weeks I'm going to submit the first 50 pages and a synopsis to a new publisher, Simon451, and see what they think. Shot in the dark, but hey, all they can do to me is say "no." I may also submit to Pyre and Tor, too, since I've re-worked it again.
And I'm almost ready to pitch Shadow of Redemption at the Missouri Writers' Guild conference in April. I have a few more chapters to write, then I revise once more, send it to my pre-paid editor, then we'll see what the conference brings.
Contests! Did I mention contests? So many contests I'm entering lately. The WOW! Winter Flash Fiction contest, the Missouri Writers' Guild contests, and several others. Writing up a storm and excited to be sending out so much material.
The only thorn in my side is yet again I didn't make the deadline for either Clarion workshop. My pieces (again) weren't ready and I can't see spending money on a contest I know I can't win because it isn't my best work. It isn't about perfection. It's about feeling I've put my best work out there and I don't have my best work into either piece, yet. Next year. NEXT YEAR!
It's been the coldest, snowiest, iciest winter in my memory and I'm hoping the worst is over with. Although I've enjoyed the time to edit and write (and do laundry!) we're going to be going a lot more extra days at school. Trade off.
So MORE blog entries, say "no" and make sure they don't get you to do something else in a sly way, and get over that cough! 'Nuff said.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
It was a fun romp in the grass until the cows started attacking, the sheep started rending, cats and dogs began to show their true colors, and the blood started flowing. Gushing, really. When the rats started pouring out of the gutters like waves of the ocean and consuming every shred of flesh they touched, that's when the mayhem REALLY began!
And just think, all of this was just the backdrop for a simple Scrabble game where the vegetarian and the carnivore battled it out spelling words related to their philosophical views on eating. At least until the board was flipped over and tiles got stuck to her.... I don't want to spoil it for you!
It is British humour, however, so if that's not your sort of thing, then you won't find it as funny. If you're not a 16 year-old boy (well, any male over the age of 16 is 16 at heart!) then some of the 16 year-old boy jokes might not be funny, either, but humor is a relative thing. Especially in THIS book of who is related to whom.
While zombie literature is not usually my genre of choice because it can be mindless gore (pun intended), this book is both amusing and thoughtful enough to be worth the read. Full of teenage angst, unwitting heroes and heroines, it adds serious undertones questioning where our society's culture is leading us. Logan's vision of the future of bio-weapons is a wake-up call: Don't be a zombie. Become aware what your government is doing. And cow tipping is a bad idea, especially if their eyes glow red.