Awards and Travel and Querying, Oh My!

It Started With YA…

It’s been an age since I actually updated this blog with anything related to my writing path. The last year has been…a journey. I think from last summer to this summer could be called the year of the pivot. This time last year I had just begun querying a YA Fantasy manuscript I called COBWEBS AND SILVER and prepping to enter it into Pitch Wars.

Long story short, none of that panned out. I made any number of query mistakes. Somehow still garnered a fair number of requests, which lead to rejections. Made a last ditch effort to revise it as Adult Fantasy Romance (because the manuscript had always been on the line), got two more requests and…that’s where everything stalls. I never heard from those last two (at least not yet) and I’ve effectively shelved C&S.

Then Came Love…

Then in November of last year for NaNoWriMo (also known as the only time of year I seem to be able to accomplish things) I drafted a Contemporary Romance. I fell really in love with this story and the characters right away. Saying it felt different seems cliche, but I felt different writing it. I’ve been more of a Romance reader than Fantasy my entire life so writing it felt comfortable and like I could express my voice in a way I hadn’t been.

I revised what I now call RIGHT ON CUE for Camp NaNoWriMo in April (including adding 20k more words or so). Then got beta feedback which was…good. Really good I think. People seemed to respond to the way I was pitching it.

So I took that a bit farther and pitch it to a publisher and got a request for a proposal which turned into a request for a full I’m still working to turn in.

I entered the first chapter and a half into the Cleveland Rocks Romance contest, from the Northeast Ohio chapter of RWA, and was totally floored to be announced a  finalist. I don’t even need to win, I’m already completely honored. I wanted to enter every contest I could find and see if my luck would hold up.

Next Comes a Membership…

I joined the Romance Writer’s of America (RWA) sometime early this year when I decided I was getting serious about RIGHT ON CUE and I wanted their learning opportunities. It’s hard to say what my membership fee has gotten me exactly, and I have yet to attend a local chapter meeting like I planned (I work weekends so it’s tough), but it’s doing one thing for me- I’m traveling this year.

This September I’m registered to attend a romance writer’s conference with a chapter in Houston where the amazing author Elizabeth Hoyt will be speaking. Then in October I hope to attend my online Contemporary Romance Writer’s chapter retreat in upstate New York. I’ve never flown alone, and I would be flying, taking a shuttle, and a train, and then a taxi to get there by myself. I’m completely intimidated but super excited for the opportunity. It’s not booked yet but fingers crossed it works out.

Now I’m Back Where I Started…

Just over a year from when I began querying my first manuscript, I’m putting the finishing touches on RIGHT ON CUE, and getting ready to take it into the world. I’m also planning to enter it into Pitch Wars this month.

It feels so much like the same place I was a year ago and yet as a writer I’ve changed completely and my focus is entirely different. I’m made so many friends in the last year who write, I have people I can go to with questions or for feedback, and I feel like I’ll be going into querying with 1000x’s the confidence I had in 2017. I don’t know if that will be the magic formula that gets RIGHT ON CUE onto shelves, but I’m doing what I can.

In the meantime, I’m planning who I would be as a romance writer, already plotting my next romance for NaNoWriMo, and realizing I have no clue what the next year will bring.

So Much Catching Up…

From the looks of the blog, I’ve been away for a year without updates. A lot has happened in my writerly life in that time, I just haven’t taken the time to come back and update here. So I’ll run down a brief list of what I’ve done…

Last May I attended the DFW Writer’s Convention. It was fantastic and I am going back this year. It was my first chance pitching a story to a literary agent (although I did a consultation rather than a true pitch since my manuscript was unfinished). I took wonderful classes and met some other great writer’s. I highly recommend this conference.

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I took the summer off of all things writing related to drown in work. Then came fall where I completed my MA in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. This meant writing a Fiction thesis which was hard, and rewarding, and awesome. I graduated in January with a 4.0.

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I’m currently in the process of polishing my thesis into something publishable so I can begin the process of querying agents. At DFW Con this year I’ll be pitching it to an agent for real (I guess). I should probably get on that.

In November, on top of writing my Rumpelstiltskin retelling for my thesis, I took on a retelling of Hades and Persephone set in pseudo historical England where Hades is a Necromancer and Persephone can raise the dead with a touch. It was my most challenging NaNoWriMo yet because I had work and school to contend with. I was so burned out by December that I haven’t even opened the Scivener file again. However, I don’t regret doing it at all. I’m glad to know I could take on the challenge and I love the story I created (even if it needs heaps of work).

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Post graduation, I decided to take time off to relax without school bearing down on me. I’ve had two months with no writing deadlines and have frankly let myself get rusty. Now it is the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo and…uh…I am admittedly unprepared. I had a story idea percolating and when I sat to outline it I realized there was just no middle. I also had no buzz in me to create one. I decide to set that plot bunny aside until I can feed it and care for it property. That leaves me midway through the first day of Camp changing projects and starting a new outline…

And away we go…

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Holy Schnikes! Pushcart Nomination

Holy schnikes doesn’t really sound like a verbose title that would be written by a Pushcart Prize nominee, but it is.

That’s right, I was notified tonight that my story, “She Knit”, which was published in the Wild Horses: Women on Fire 2015 edition was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

I know that thousands of stories, most of which probably far outshine mine, were nominated and I honestly think I have a 0% chance of winning, but I am incredibly excited to be nominated.

I’m still reeling that anyone found my writing publishable, so learning that an editor thought I was one of their six best pieces of the year totally makes my day.

It’ll be months yet until I learn that I for sure didn’t win, in the meantime, I’ll just be telling everyone I know.

Oh yeah, and I should probably do my NaNoWriMo words for the day.

With a Fizzle…

So I did Camp NaNoWriMo for July. Technically, I’ll have won once I verify my word count. Yet, this is the least exciting victory yet.

Back in April, I churned through 30,000 words for Camp NaNo and felt genuinely accomplished. It was a challenge, but not impossible. After doing NaNo in November, writing only 30k in a month seemed sort of easy. 1,000 words a day, how hard is that?

Well, July came in to steal that sense of victory.

First of all, I’m a children’s librarian. That means that June and July are Summer Reading Club at work. Which means all day, every day at work is hectic and most of the responsibility falls to me. I decided to set my word count at only 10,000 so I wouldn’t feel strained.

Well, after a few days I was zooming ahead of my goal and started to feel cocky. I started bumping my word count goal up until I got to 20,000.

Flash forward to the third week. I am tired. I had a bad allergic reaction to who knows what that made me feel horrible for several days. Work is eating me up, and the words aren’t coming.

So I admitted defeat. I rolled my word count back down to 10k, checked my current total (10,880) and called it done.

And so I won Camp NaNo for July 2015. Not with a bang, but with a fizzle.

Better Late Than Never

I have not been in the writerly way as much in the last few months. I am taking a break from my MFA program since my day job has been so busy. However, I did do one thing…

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I finished the April 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo with a word count of 30,000. While this was not my first Camp, it was my first success. I made an attempt last year but bailed about about 5,000 words because I really had not plotted out my story and was writing blind.

I have learned – I am not a pantser. I need an outline to be successful. Especially when I need to have a high output, like during NaNo.

My historical fiction project is not a little over 80,000 words and it is so not finished. I expect it to be about 100,000-115,000 when finished. Then I plan to trim a fair amount during revisions.

I am still deciding whether to do July’s Camp. I probably will, but I think my word count will need to be on the low side. Summer Reading Club is about to start at work and I am basically the sole person in my library in charge of it. I expect a hectic summer.

What I’ve Done Instead of Write

Since I finished my NaNoWriMo goal a month ago (whew, that flew by) I have done no writing at all. Zilch. The only exception being two book reviews which accounts to not much at all. Here’s what I’ve done in place of writing for the last month:

  • Relax. As soon as NaNo was done I was ready for a break.
  • Holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas have now come and gone and taken one of the busiest times of the year with them.
  • New job. I started as a Children’s Librarian the day before Thanksgiving and it has been a whirlwind of training and adjusting since. I’m finally getting past the initial new-job fatigue.
  • K-dramas. My ugly addiction to watching Korean dramas reared its ugly head again and I’ve devoted far too many hours to watching Emergency Couple, Sly and Single Again, and Fated to Love You. They were also so good! Darn them!
  • Knitting. I knit a few Christmas gifts plus finally began projects out of my most recently finished handspun yarns.
  • Reading. I can’t claim to have done a lot of this, but I am nearly finished with Hugh Howey’s Wool and it is fantastic.

What’s coming up:

  • School. I start my MFA in Creative Writing program at Lindenwood on January 12. My first class is on writing Sci-fi and Fantasy. I am super nervous and super excited.
  • Birthday. On January 11 I’ll be a quarter of a century old and I am not ready.
  • Maybe Some Damn Writing. I have an idea for a romance type novel that I would really like to work on. It is contemporary so it will be a nice change from writing about the Iron Age. I’d also like to go back and revisit some of my short stories I wrote and see what needs revision and if there’s any I should submit for publication.