Friday, February 25, 2011

Realities of Writing

I was browsing through my facebook and ran across a friend's post where he laments yet another rejection. This one after the publisher showed initial interest. Oh, how I could relate.

But what really got me thinking was a comment posted underneath. "Your hobby sucks."
Sure, it's not delicate, but then the writing business is really no place for the delicate of heart. From an outside perspective- i.e. a nonwriter's perspective- it's completely true.

What other hobby can you spend literally hundreds of hours on and then have nothing to show for it but a flashdrive copy and something saved on your PC? It's not even up for public entertainment like a blog or website, or even an e-mail. No one sees it unless you put it in front of them and beg them to read.

Add to that the hundreds of dollars writers spend to hone their craft. Anyone serious about writing needs to understand the book business. While the internet is helpful, it can't replace writers conferences where you sit at the feet of experts and learn.

Okay, yes, there are exceptions to the rule. Some people- one or two every three decades- write their first novel and it becomes pure gold. After submitting their work to a grand total of 15 agents they are offered representation and shortly thereafter a six figure contract.
Can you say Cinderella? Only these Cinderella's actually exist.

But if you're a writer, you can't plan your future on being the next Cinderella.

In fact, one of the biggest factors of success in the writing business is persistence. Keep writing, editing and submitting. Regardless of how many people tell you "no", you don't give up.

And honestly, real writers can't give up because they're not writing for money. They're writing because they love doing it. Sure, we'll take a truckload of cash, but honestly, that's not why writers sit at the computer another day penning their thoughts and weaving another story.
It's simply part of who they are.
Yes- most writers face a lot of rejections.
Yes- writing is a solitary thankless job 99% of the time.
No- not every manuscript ends up as a published book.
No-you probably won't make enough money to support your family writing.

And really, it's better to face those realities before you commit your life to writing. But if you're like me, it wouldn't have mattered either way. I fell in love with writing and there's no turning back. I need it. I love it.

Does my hobby suck? Not to me. How could I ever say that? Some of the most profound moments have been when I see a child reading my book or getting e-mails from complete strangers thanking me for the story. How could I ever put a price on that? Even though I haven't sold a tremendous number of books yet, I have reached out and touched people from all over the world with my story- something that would have been impossible any other way.

And you will too. Or you already have.

That is the most important reality of writing.

Even so, I can't help wishing that my dream (the one where my agent finally sold my book) was a reality. I think every writer relates with the need for acceptance every once in a while. Sure, writers are supposed to have tough skin- and like it or not we grow it out of necessity. But underneath it all we're still dreamers hoping that one of these days we'll see a miracle contract.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buttons and other Impossible Hurdles

Okay, so maybe I'm the last person to finally learn how to do it, but I'm still going to celebrate. Today I made my first blog button.

Let's see, it took me two hours of wandering around aimlessly on the computer yesterday just to figure out how to make an image and save it. Then, let's face it, I still couldn't figure out how to make it into a "Grab it" button.

A big thanks to Rachelle Christensen who was kind enough to send me in the right direction. Seriously. She found people that speak English, not just html. I not only understood the directions, but wala! I have a button.

Okay, now I just need to get graphic savvy. Yeah, I pretty much am still wandering around aimlessly when it comes to an artistic flare on the computer. I'm going to have to study that one a little more.

But hey, I have some super cool stuff coming up in March. Thanks to some generous people, we are going to have a mega-book giveaway. We're talking something practically EVERY DAY. I'm still waiting to get all my ducks in a row before I let you all know the killer details, but I do know that you're not going to want to miss this.

Oh man, and I got my full cover today for Wings Of Light. It's completely amazing. Wow. It made me smile. And you're going to wait until the book is in your hands to see it. Sorry.

Okay, and the other impossible parts... March 17 is only three weeks away! Holy cow! I have a lot of dancing to catch up on. And, oh yeah, I was planning on FINISHING my work in progress book by the end of the month. We're talking Monday. I can do it. ha ha ha... I've been telling myself that all month. Well, I guess I better get off my blog and get busy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Ready

The Boise clogging competition is over. It was awesome, and honestly, a big sigh of relief to have that done.

I'm still grieving over the missed LTUE (Life the Universe and Everything) conference that I missed last week because I had to be in Idaho. Oh why can't I clone myself?

But now that the weekend is over, I'm starting to feel that before-Christmas excitement about my new book coming out. I'm ready. Waiting until April seems way too long.

And, I'm writing. I'm loving it. In a few months after I finish edits on this baby I'm sending it to my agent.
The writer side of me is waking up after a long winter. I'm ready for book signings, conferences and blog tours. I'm ready for a whole new slew of rejections from top publishers. Nothing like a rejection e-mail to start your day. Proof that you're a real writer.

Better yet, how 'bout a contract? I think I'm ready for that too.

Until then, I've got the Whitney Awards finalists to read up on so I can vote. I love the excuse to read like crazy. There are some awesome books on the list this year. Seriously people, these are some of the best books published in 2010. Pick your favorite genre and get reading too.

Hmmm, I smell a month of giveaways coming right up. We have to celebrate Wings Of Light's debut.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Popping Water

Imagine my surprise at finding the recipe to a magical beverage invented for the Alvor series. Popping Water. In my head, this out-does any soda out there because it is naturally flavored with fairy-grown fruits. I mean, how can you begin to accomplish that in the kitchen?

Well, my friend Christy Dorrity put together a recipe and you are welcome to play around with it.

Tasty Tuesday-Popping Water

Imagine a place where you pluck a colorful flower-cup from the foilage and dip it into a carbonated spring. Laura Bingham's characters are lucky enough to find such a place in her book Alvor. Use basic lemon-lime flavored soda and add some flavorings and fruit juices for a refreshing splash.

Popping Water

1 can of lemon-lime soda
1 tsp vanilla or other flavoring (try lemon, grenadine, coconut, etc)
fresh fruit (try limes, lemons, oranges, cherries)

Combine ingredients in a frosty mug. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writing 101

After a lengthy conversation with an old friend, I decided to put together a post about writing. I know, it's about time....

Most of this is going to be pointed at beginner writers who are just testing the waters. But sometimes the basics apply to everyone, so here it goes.

* The best research a fiction writer can do is read in the genre they write in. Read what's being released now, in the last few years, not a decade or two ago. Sure, read the old classics if you want, but if you want to be razor sharp, keep up with what's hitting the shelves now.

* You don't have to be a professional writer to start writing. This is one of those things where experience isn't required before you write your first sentence. Just write. Once you get some things out on paper, you can start learning the finer points of grammar and novel structure, but when you're just getting started, don't let the fear of perfection paralyze you.

* Are you starting merely with a great concept? That's okay, just start growing the story from there. Think through characters, plots and what changes will come as a result of different challenges. A concept is a great place to start, but don't stop there. Explore every nook and cranny of your idea until it explodes into a full story.

* You're afraid to let anyone read your work because you think it's terrible. Well, believe it or not, you will get over your protectiveness as your finish writing you piece and you will want the brutal truth from whomever is willing to give it. Don't worry about that part until you are emotionally ready. Believe me, it will happen.

* You stink at grammar, your expository writing professor hated you or you never took a university level course in journalism, creative writing, or, heaven forbid, English. It's okay. Really. Go to writing conferences. Find people who are willing to critique your work. What you don't know today you can learn tomorrow. There's really no limit to how much you can learn if trust yourself enough to get that far. Don't let someone else determine whether or not you are capable of writing a story. Take Nike's advise and "Just Do It".

* Have fun with it. That's it. Write for fun. If you ever get to the point where you're writing for work, consider yourself a successful author, because by then, it will still be fun. And really, if you don't already like writing, you're probably not trying to write a novel. If you don't know if you like writing and are having doubts about your genius in that area, just sit down and write already. It's free. No one has to know but you.

But be careful. Writing can be addictive. Many writers seem to be able to live in an imaginary world in their heads even when doing mundane activities. This could be you someday. And if it already is, welcome to the ranks of insanity. We're always glad to have one more!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Truth about Dreams

I'm not talking about the crazy ones you have while you're sleeping. I'm talking about the outrageous ones you have when you are perfectly conscious.

Dreams. Aspirations. Goals. Deadlines. Promises. Responsibility.

If you have a dream, you have a lot of work ahead of you. That's the bottom line to getting anywhere.

Luck you say? Yes, luck helps. But luck only takes you so far.

For example, you dream to be rich, you win the lottery, but then you waste it on bad investments and it's gone in three years. Because luck isn't enough to make your dreams come true.

What I've learned about dreams is that the bigger they are, the more work they take. Okay, maybe I'm the last one to put the two together, but the ratio is startling.

If you want to make it big in writing, you have to commit a huge portion of your life to getting there. Your time, talent, emotions and mental capabilities will all be on the line.

I know a lot of my posts are about writing, but this one is going to be about the dream I'm spending my brain power on lately.

For those of you who are not familiar with Irish dance, this may seem petty. Sorry.

What I'm attempting to do involves learning and absolutely memorizing 30 ceili dances (traditional group dances). Not only will I have to take an extensive written exam on these dances, but I will have to successfully teach whatever piece of whichever dance they ask me to on the day of the exam.

And I need to know 38 tunes along with the timing and bars in each section and recognize the difference between even more music.

Of course, there will be dancing. I'm learning a lot of new dances right now. Most everything I will be testing with is new pieces from An Daire that I only recently joined in October.

What am I forgetting? Oh yeah. I have to be able to teach any level of dancer any dance that I submit and likely more than one level dancer at the same time.

Maybe you can see why I can't stop thinking about Irish dancing- even in my sleep. Why I take the Ar Rinci Foirne with me wherever I go to study instead of reading books.

It's a ton of work. Right now it looks like the impossible dream.

But failing is not an option for me. I need to do this for a lot of reasons. Ironically, the most important reason isn't for myself, it's for the Boise An Daire dancers. The second reason is to prove to myself once and for all that I can do it. I'm already so deep into Irish dancing that this really is the next thing I need to do.

And then, even though this may sound strange, I'm doing this for my kids. It's insurance that no matter what else happens in life, they will have a TCRG around to teach them part of their heritage. It's more than a dance to me, it's part of who I am. It's part of my whole family.

Last St. Patrick's Day I had no one to Irish dance with. It was the first St. Patrick's day that my kids had ever gone to school. We've always performed throughout the community on that day. But there we were without a group to dance with.

And though I missed my ghillies like a fish misses water, I learned that dancing is not something anyone has the right to take away from someone. And so I will become the giver. I will help others learn what it's like to fly, because that's what Irish dancing is to me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

And the winner is....

Congratulations to L. T. Elliott, winner of the $50 gift code to CSN.

Hey all, I've got some cool things up my sleeves to help get you all excited about my next book coming out in April. Oh yeah. My kids are already jealous.

In the meantime, my brain is full. Officially. I'm trying to figure out how to put some extra megabytes in there to store more information. Any ideas?

Why does the phrase "...old dog new tricks..." come to mind? I refuse to get too old to learn new things.

The fact is, I have a lot to learn and I think I'm going to remember it all with sheer determination, low brain-power notwithstanding.

My question to you is, other than caffeine or other artificial stimulants, give me some advice for keeping the studying going and the memory running strong. Seriously. I need some ideas. I think my brain is turning to mush over here.

Oh yeah, and writing. Still doing that, when I actually get time. Time... laughing maniacally... what is that?