Aug
2010

After the Pitches: Day Three

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Procrastination is the big winner so far regarding the use of my time. So, I decided today that I would track my time and see what I actually do all day.

Got up early again! 5:00 AM seems to be SLEEPING IN for me lately. Sheesh. However, that doesn’t stop me from taking a nap about ½ hour later.

Woke up again at 7:00. Finished Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw and then I finished Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days. I laughed less during these books and I liked them less (they both felt more like a series of one-liners than a story).

7:00 – 9:00. Surfed the web; wrote on Facebook; watched two episodes of Haven on the DVR.

9:00. Watched an episode of First 48 that I have seen a million times. And started this blog.

9:30 – 10:30. Talked with my mother on the phone.

10:30 – 11:30. Supernatural mini-marathon

11:30 – 3:30. Lunch with colleague; went to bead store to make earrings

3:30 – 6:00. Dinner and chatting with husband.

I can’t say that I’m not busy. Just not overly productive.

20 days to deadline

Procrastination = 3; Manuscript = 0

Aug
2010

After the Pitches: Day Two

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The day started off well. I went to my local Starbucks to work on my manuscript. I brought Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, Nathan Abercrombie Accidental Zombie 2, Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover – and my laptop.

My 2 favorite tables were occupied – by a businessman yelling on his phone and a homeless man sleeping over his cup of coffee. So, I ended up at a long table near the area where people pick up their drinks. But at least I could plug in my laptop.

I plugged in my ear buds and cranked Depeche Mode’s extended mixes. I settled in – although it was a little chilly (why do they crank the AC when it’s 65 degrees OUTSIDE) – and opened up my laptop to start working.

First, I pulled my manuscript out of Scrivener and pasted it into Word.

Second, I named the chapters for easier reference: Chapter One, Chapter Two…

Third, I copied my previously-concocted detailed outline into the document.

Then, I picked up Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3 to research effective first-person writing geared toward middle grade readers.

HUGE MISTAKE!

This lead to a trip to Kohl’s, a transfer into my pajamas, and a strong desire to clean everything within 100 square miles of my home.

And now? A repeat performance of Wall-E!

21 days to deadline

Procrastination = 2; Manuscript = 0

Aug
2010

After the Pitches: Day One

Monday, August 9, 2010

So, I went through my manuscript again to fiddle and fart with it. And as I was reading it, I decided that I have to rewrite it. Currently, it’s in third person. And I know it will be more successful in first person.

Shoot.

So, I made a plan to rewrite the manuscript in first person by the end of August. That gives me 22 days.

I picked up all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on Sunday, so I picked up the first one to check it out. And I laughed my butt off.

Then, I started the second book.

I never got back to the manuscript.

Procrastination = 1; Manuscript = 0

Aug
2010

Getting published: and the journey continues…

Willamette Writers Conference 2010

I was going to call this entry “and the journey begins” but that is completely not the truth. This journey started – in it’s serious form – three years ago. I pitched my idea to an agent in 2007 who said “yes, please, send it in.” And I didn’t. For a variety of reasons, which really don’t matter in the world of publishing. Suffice it to say, I dropped the ball.

It is now 2010 and I’m not completely done with the piece but I decided to go “balls to the wall” and just pitch it! And have fun doing it. So, here’s my 3-day journey:

Thursday, August 5

Mandatory volunteer training for the conference. I am volunteering two of the days for 4 hours each shift. I have Sunday off to frolic and go to workshops. Mostly the same information as last year, but it’s great to see familiar faces and reconnect for the conference.

Attended Pitch with the Pros. If you ever attend a conference and are pitching your work, and if they have an opportunity to practice your pitch, I HIGHLY recommend it. There were a few rooms open to pitches and it was invaluable. The first woman who pitched her book was SPOT ON! From then on, many people rambled on about their plot. NOTE TO SELF: find a one-line hook to grab the attention of the agent or editor.

Friday, August 6

Up bright and early. Need to leave by 6:30 to beat the traffic. Got to the conference at 7:20. Breakfast (as always) is fabulous. Met new people. Hung out with writing friends. Put up a flyer to solicit serious people to create a writing critique group with me.

First pitch is to an agent who is creating a middle grade line at her company. It’s a fairly young line at her company. She was in the panel earlier in the day – and I found that I really liked her. When I pitched, we connected. She asked, “so what is your hook?” I rambled a little bit and said “X-files monster-of-the-week premise meets Goosebumps.” After a few mini-brainstorms, she came up with “X-files monster-of-the-week meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid” – YEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!! Later, she saw me volunteering in the room and said “I was thinking about this and I think you should simplify it to ‘X-files meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’” This became my MANTRA all conference.

Additionally, she asked if I was pitching to any agents at the conference. I named a few. She said “tell them I like it.” (There was much celebrating at my table at lunch.)

Worked the consultation area that afternoon. Wore my new Avia-brand “Shape Up” type of shoes and had ZERO back pain!

Became known as “the beach bag woman” by people at the conference. (I dunno.)

Saturday, August 7

 

Carpooled with a friend to the conference. Got there for breakfast. Chatted.

Pitched to the first agent at 9:00. I had fun with it and said “the editor over there likes it.” Before I got out two sentences, she was hauling out her business card and writing her query requirements on it. She said, “I’m not taking many solicitations for new clients, but I love it! Send me the whole thing!”

Throughout the rest of the day, we would catch each others’ eyes and grin at each other. Later that day, a friend of mine pitched to her and came back to report that editors and agents were talking about my pitch. HOLY SHIT!

Volunteered that afternoon. Celebrated with friends about their pitches. Kathy was asked for her entire first manuscript and synopses of her next two. Blythe received 4 out of 4 “please send me your manuscript” requests!

Met a strange man who wanted to pitch his entire manuscript to me – which was based on the opera “Carmen.” I asked him what his short pitch was – and he said, “I can’t pitch this in a smaller scale. It’s just not possible.” To which I said, “good luck to you, sir.”

Went home with a BEAST of a migraine. Slept most of the night.

Sunday, August 8

Last day. No volunteering for me this day. I went to a few workshops and pitched to a few people.

My first pitch was with one of the leading agencies in the world for children’s literature. And she is the president. Scared? Nah. “Balls to the wall” right?

I did my quick pitch and told her that I pitched it to one of her agents a few years ago (remember the one that I didn’t send in 2007?). She said, “polish it, make it beautiful, and send it to her.”

3 out of 3.

That afternoon, I was exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Done. One more pitch.

It was a group pitch. One agent and five authors. Doesn’t leave much time. But I liked how she coordinated it. Each of us had one minute to pitch. Then she would offer advice, etc.

We all pitched. I did my spiel (which morphed all weekend). Then she says (I was the fourth of five authors):

to the first author: “No show stoppers here. Make sure you call it eco-terror”

to the second author: “again, no show stoppers. Refine your pitch. And call it a thriller. The title is a little dry.”

to the third author: “funny. you are hilarious. your book will be hilarious. cut your POV to 3 or fewer characters. you’ve got something here. But change the title.” (she writes like Christopher Moore, if you’re familiar with his work.)

to me: “I LOVE IT! The title is awesome. The characters are appealing. I can sell it RIGHT NOW based on your hook! But, you should add more words. Make it closer to 40,000. Then, send me the whole thing!”

to the fifth author: “I have NO IDEA what your book is about. I can’t offer an opinion. Make it less confusing. Define the characters. And let me know when you’re done with it.”

Aftermath

I thought I was exhausted before – now I need to write more. And (I decided this last night), I need to change it from 3-person to 1-person! It’s gotta be done. Painful process, but it’ll make it a better book (no one suggested it – but I KNOW it will be better.)

I bought the 4 Diary of a Wimpy Kid books so that I can really refine my writing style. I am peeing myself laughing at the antics. And now I understand the reference the kiddos had this summer to the “cheese touch.” I never understood why I was crossing my fingers, but I did it anyway. These books are the reason I KNOW I need to change my POV to first person. Damn Jeff Kinney! Damn him!

Well, off to fortify my body. Then, my mind. Then, the keyboard. Busy week ahead! Busy busy busy week!

Jan
2010

Day one of my writing goal…

GADS! I had a wally-honker of a migraine last night. Not bad enough to go to the hospital – but kinda bad. I took 1.5 Vicodin and that seemed to work, but I have “headache hangover” plus a headache today. SHEESH!

So, now writing today. I think I’ll watch Part Two of The Prisoner (with Jim Caveziel). Part One was doggone good.

A picture of one of our girls. This is Esther – our “boo-boo’d” chicken. This was taken 1 month ago.

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We are thinking of sending a picture of her and a write-up of her medical condition to Backyard Chickens magazine. We *guess* it’s rickets, but we are not sure. It would be interesting to see what she has (without paying the exorbitant vet bills) and get an idea of what her life is like – and what it will look like when/if she lays.

She does just fine squeaking her way through the yard (she doesn’t cluck – she squeaks). She digs for bugs, loves apples and potatoes, and follows her sisters around. What’s amazing is the flock doesn’t pick on her – they actually nurture her. Huh. Weird.

Well, off to relax. I’m tired of this headache, but it’ll be gone by this weekend. It usually is gone in 3 – 4 days.

Have a good one – whatever you do.

Jan
2010

I *don’t* make resolutions, but…

 

I am not a fan of making resolutions. I usually make ridiculous claims (I’m going to lose 50 pounds by summer, I will walk 5 miles a day, I will write the “Great American Novel” in one summer, and other such crap like that…). Always sets me up for failure.

However, this year, I wanted to do something a little like a resolution – but not a resolution. Perhaps I should call it a “goal” (still sounds all resolution-like). But it’s a better word than “resolution.” During the first week of the year, the spousal unit and I wrote down things that we wanted to get accomplished this year – together and separate. My list included: joining a Sangha (Buddhism), write 5x per week, payoff vehicle, increase savings, yoga, cut expenses.

So, since that day, I’ve been thinking about these “goals” and pondering the importance of each one. They are all fine goals, with merits. But one is SCREAMING at me to do it: write 5x per week.

The reason? In August 2007, I left my job at the local university to write. That August (the last day of my job), my father-in-law passed away – and things have not improved since. There have been various deaths, injuries, hospital visits, weight loss activities, family planning mishaps, and getting back to work (I started working January 2009). All of these numerous (too many to list) incidents used both physical and mental energy. So, I didn’t write much.

But what do I want to do?

WRITE!

And I don’t mean blogging, tweeting, IMing, lesson planning, etc! I mean WRITE FOR A LIVING!

So, here it is in print. My promise to myself. I will write at least 5 times per week. I will attend appropriate writing workshops (I have a stash of money saved for this). I will work on getting my final draft of my novel done by the Summer SCBWI Conference in LA, which is at the end of July. I am so committed to this that I am not going to work this summer so that I can finish it up and make it all pretty – and PITCH IT at the conference!

And, I won’t worry about joining a Sangha, paying off the vehicle, increasing the savings, or starting up a yoga practice. (Some of this will come when I get paid for writing for a living, eh?)

But what about cutting expenses? All ready done (say “goodbye” to indulgent cable bills, excessive dining out, craft projects, big grocery runs,  and Weight Watchers [I reached “Lifetime” and that means no more paying for WW]).

Whoot! That’s one “goal” down! One to go!

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Nov
2009

My last few days

It’s been a little wacky these last few days – heck, WEEKS, but who’s counting?

Although we spent the weekend brain-farting, the spousal unit and I were extremely pooped when we started back up on Monday. We both had a pretty intense cold that just knocked us down. We spent the weekend watching brain-fade TV and relaxing. I think we finally left our pajamas on Sunday – only because we had to go to Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers

I think I just finished week 4 of my “maintenance” routine. That means 2 more weeks to go until LIFETIME (which = FREE meetings and support). $40 a month has been soooooooooo worth it (don’t get me wrong), but ZERO sounds great, too! I am maintaining quite well. My goal was 135 and I’ve gained and lost about a pound each week. THAT IS PERFECT! I’m not supposed to be below 133 or higher than 137.

Wait until Thanksgiving. I think the Sunday after T-Day is my final weigh-in. Wish me luck.

NaNoWriMo

Wellllll, I am approximately 5000 words behind. The cold this last weekend wiped me out – and I spent Friday with my dad.

Annnnndddd, I read a book:

The Hunger Games

The first in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy about a “game show” (of sorts) where young people aged 12 to 18 are tributes in a fight to the death.

Quite good!

Unfortunately, I have the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire, next to me on the desk. It’s a little too tempting.

Cooking with the Kiddos

WHAT WAS I THINKING!!?? Yesterday, I planned a “day of cooking” with 16 rambunctious, monkey-energied children. The good news? There were no heat sources involved (I thought that much ahead). But we made Energy Balls with peanut butter, banana, graham crackers, and various toppings. What a mess!!

There just wasn’t enough time! They made (maybe) 20 balls. Sigh. Ah, well, whatcha gonna do?

Off I go. Chores to do, novels to read, novels to write, children to educate (hee hee – I’m REALLY the one who gets the education).

Have a good one – whatever you do.

Nov
2009

Quick update – NaNoWriMo and “The Girls”

Just finished my writing session for the day. I just hit 16829 words! The kids met grandpa and they introduced him to the wraith in the pool. Scared him a lot! Hee hee.

16829 words is 159 words ahead of the recommended daily allowance for NaNoWriMo. 10 days at 1667 words per day = 16670 words. Hooyaaa!!

And my daily count (for the 5 out of 7 days that I write) is 2500 words. This is Day 7 for me, so I should be at 17,500, but that’s all right. I’m just 700 behind that.

I’m planning on attending an all-night writing frenzy this weekend, so I’ll catch up. :-)

The Girls

Well, one of our girls has bad legs. Esther. We’ve been chatting about what to do with her. We think she might be in pain because her legs shake when she stands and she doesn’t stand much. However, she does roost once in a while. And I noticed the other day that she walks on her own feet.

Here they are (I took this today – don’t let the watermelon fool you. I found it at the store the other day). Esther is on the very right, with her back to us (I don’t know if you can see her legs, but they are quite large):

girls_111009

And she hasn’t started clucking yet – the other girls (including her bio sister) have. She still cheeps. And she is soooo funny. She chases after the other girls like a little sister cheeping at them as if to say “wait for me!” And she comes when we call her.

However, she spends the majority of her time, laying underneath the warming light in the coop.

We hope to get her into the vet soon. Then, we can make an informed decision about what to do. We’ve decided that if she is in pain or if she is contagious/whatever, then we will put her to sleep. But if she isn’t in pain or a problem for the other girls, then she stays. She is very entertaining and awesome and let’s us handle her a lot. We think she’s a great addition to the flock. And the other girls cuddle with her at night so they aren’t put-off by her. But we don’t want her to have a rough life.

We’ll keep you informed.

Off to get ready for work. Cheerio.

Nov
2009

NaNoWriMo Day 5…

After hauling serious bootie the first few days (I averaged 2500 words per day), I’ve hit a block. A wall. A block wall.

I made it to a little over 1200 words today, so I’m giving myself permission to stop for now. Can’t get blood from a stone, right?

So, I’m stopping at 11,300 words to date. More writing tomorrow.

Have a great one.

Nov
2009

A quick blog: NaNoWriMo, Chickens, and the Zoo

I just want to update my blog really quickly since it’s been a while.

NaNoWriMo

I am doing NaNoWriMo and want to use my “writing energy” for it. So far 4314 words (in two days). Not bad. I’m a little ahead of the game, so I’m feeling kinda cocky! I hope to have nearly 7000 words by today.

The Chickens

We were out doing chores the other day (the husband at the chipper shredder):

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and we decided to let the girls do some adventuring. We let them out into the yard – and they frolicked. They ate a lot of bugs, played in the grass, and came home (into their run) to a pumpkin. Lucky girls.

This is a picture of 4 of our girls: Polly (tan), Lucy (red), Netty (brown and black), and Petunia (black). Esther and Miss Priss don’t seem to be around when I take pictures. Hmmmm.

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Esther has bad legs, we discovered the other day. Her legs are bigger than they should be and she shakes as if her legs are too weak to hold her up. We do find her laying quite a bit. She takes small steps and usually steps on her own feet. But she does all right eating and hanging out with the other girls. She’s also the only one who hasn’t started the clucking sound. She still “peeps.”

The Zoo

The husband wanted to go to the zoo on his birthday last week, so we went for the day. He wanted to take some photos with his good camera:

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And we were there for over 5 hours. It was a wonderful time. The elk and cougar exhibits were closed, but we got to see a lot of other animals.

A few pix (the hubby took the majority of the photos).

Two of the 5 elephants on their trek to “squish the squash.” A local nursery donates HUGE pumpkins that the elephants smash and eat. There were a zillion people there, so I didn’t get a good photo.

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A leopard. I stepped into a little house-like structure (made for kids) and this cat came walking up to me. FREAKED ME OUT because I thought I was trapped in the little house with it. Just for a second. Made my heart leap.

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Off to write for NaNo! Have a great day – whatever you do.