Waiting

I don’t like waiting. When I go to a doctor’s office, if I have to wait, I often end up pacing around the room. Or, I’ll get out the phone and Tweet or hit Facebook.

Waiting for news on a manuscript is a killer. I can’t pace around the office for 50 to 90 days. I do use Doutrope to track submissions and see where things are. So this means I log into it every morning and see the days out go up by one day, and the estimated days to response go down by one day. It is about as much fun and productive as watching grass grow.

In the meantime, I’m editing and rewriting the first novel. I’m still hoping for some feedback from my “beta” readers. I’m getting some rides in on the motorcycle and time with the grandkids.

But every time I have some quiet time, my mind goes to the project out there. Who’s reading it? What do they think of it? Do they like it? Did I make a hash of it? Self doubt creeps in. I start beating myself up for thinking I could write well enough to submit a story. Why am I even trying?

And, then, I think of the t-shirt my half-sister’s husband wears.

4-30-14 Therapy

Dang! I think I’ll go for a ride.

Keep writing!

 

My First Short Story Sale

About a week ago, I got an email that started:

“Thank you for the opportunity to read and consider your story …”

Groan! So many rejection letters and emails started that way. The next phrases, though, included words like “publish” and “pay.” I had to re-read the email several times before the truth got through. I made a sale!

After bouncing around the house a bit, I got down to replying to the sender, printing out and signing the contract and telling everyone.

The story is New Kid. I wrote this for entry into the Pacific Northwest Writers Association competition in 2011. While it didn’t win any awards, it scored well. I took the comments and suggestions from the contest reviewers and rewrote the story, then started submitting it around. I knew this one would find a home and, finally, it did. While the magazine isn’t a full pro paying market, it is a paid market and is an award-winning magazine.

When I selected the magazine for submission, I bought a few copies and read them. That was difficult to do. The quality of the stories in the magazine was pretty high and I thought New Kid wouldn’t stand a chance. After rejections from the larger markets, I just didn’t have a lot of hope.

Anyway, a win is a win. For those of you still struggling to get a story out there, don’t give up hope. While the market is tough, good writing will find a way through to readers. That gives me hope for The Deadliest of Games. I did a bit of a rewrite on that one, recently, and am looking for a novelette market. I’m encouraged because the number of magazines accepting stories in that length (7,500 to 14,000 words) seems to have increased and more of those are pro markets.

When I get details on when New Kid will appear, I will share that information here, with links to the magazine site.

Keep writing!

 

Character Motivation

I use Twitter as a resource. If you follow me or check my Twitter profile, you’ll see I follow less than 200 people, and followed by just a bit over 200 folks. The folks I follow are one of three types: old friends, information security folks, writing folks. I say folks, because Twitter profiles are not always people, but include companies or organizations.

Anyway, the way I use Twitter is to focus on specific information. This garners real gems sometimes. Here’s one I’ll share. One Paul Fenwick posted a blog entry discussing how to undermine learning in children.

Paul Fenwick

While the focus of the article is on how we encourage or discourage learning and the studies done in 1998 and 1999, we as writers can take this information further.

How we speak (authors) to our characters in our fiction, and how our characters speak to each other, can affect their progress and motivation. The language we use can move the character forward, or have the character ring hollow. How do you describe a character who faces tough challenges, and fails. If the character values effort and learning (among other things), the character comes back and tries again and again until successful. The character who values “looking good” and fails, usually will give up after one or two failures. Any attempt to portray the character differently will seem wrong.

You may apply this concept to both the protagonist and antagonist characters. I’m thinking that young adult fiction should show these distinctions clearly in characters. Not just for character honesty, but to demonstrate the difference between valuing effort and learning over just looking good.

I could be wrong, of course. You are welcome to correct me.

Keep Writing.

 

2013 NaNoWriMo Done

I finished my novel and am a NaNoWriMo winner for the second time.

Yes, the novel is a first draft. It needs work, editing, rewriting and a couple other pairs of eyes looking it over. In a few weeks, I plan to read through it and do some rewriting. For now, it is a pile of 257 pages of double-spaced manuscript formatted output sitting on my desk.

Yeah, I printed it out. I did last year, too. Both are on my desk. If nothing else, these first drafts are reminders that, yes, I can! I can write a complete novel in a month. I didn’t write the Great American Novel. Heck, it probably isn’t a good novel, but it is 50,000-plus words and more than 250 pages and I wrote it.

If you participated in NaNoWriMo, good for you. If you won, great! What matters is that you tried. A number of my friends and “writing buddies” tried, but didn’t make it to 50,000 words for various reasons. Others, I’m aware of, posted almost 500,000 words. It is important how much you wrote, but more important that you wrote.

This year’s novel is a sequel to last year’s, and I did a lot of preparation and planning for this one. There will be no third, no trilogy. I found out that I need to write a third. I hope I have a good idea for that one. While trying to write 50,000 words in a month is a challenge, it can be fun. The first novel was a lot of fun to write. This one was tougher, because it had a more structured plot. I couldn’t just throw anything at the characters as they moved through the story this time. Things had to happen in a more structured sequence.

It was tough, yes, and I almost gave up after the first week. If you look at my stats chart below, you’ll see I fell behind on my word count after the first week (I blame that on a couple of travel days. Yeah, that’s the ticket). Falling behind that early makes it tough, because you have to work harder than ever to get ahead. I finally did about three weeks in. I stayed ahead and was able to finish on November 27.

NaNo-stats

What that chart should tell you is it takes some discipline and perseverance to get to the goal. Write every day and do not stop writing. Don’t stop to edit, rewrite or anything. If you keep writing, you will complete the project. Get the story written. When you finish the project, then you can edit, rewrite and polish.

Keep writing.

 

Half-way in NaNoWriMo

Yesterday, November 15, I logged more than 25,000 words in my NaNoWriMo project novel. I hit the half-way target on the half-way day. While that is a good thing, it means I still have 25,000 plus words to write to complete NaNoWriMo and be a winner once again.

The novel, it seems, will run a bit over 50,000 words, total. That is fine and I still plan to finish by or before November 30. To do so, I’m going to have to have some 3,000 and 4,ooo word days. Thanksgiving Day is coming and will interfere with the writing days a bit.

As with last year’s NaNoWriMo, I keep trying to ask myself, “And, then what happened?” Story shouldn’t be about long, involved narrative, but about the story. Story is what happens. Sometimes it is what happens to characters, sometimes it is what characters to do make things happen. But, something always happens. Sometimes, things happen that you don’t anticipate, and sometimes that is because the characters start doing things you didn’t anticipate.

This is a young adult, or teen novel and things happen in young lives. Sometimes you have to address young people’s feelings and I’m probably not very good at that. Still, I’m making the attempt. Hope it works.

Also, as I write this sequel to last year’s novel, I realize that I may need to correct some things in that first one to follow better into this novel. So, maybe it is a good thing I haven’t found a publisher?

Keep writing.