Monday, January 30, 2012

You've written a book, now what?

It's the topic of the last panel I will be discussing at the LTUE Feb. 10.

And it's a relevant topic for me, personally.

Only, if I were to revise that sentence to include all my writing situations right now, it would sound something like this...

You've written three books that aren't yet published, you've lost your agent, you've got a full manuscript out with an agent AND an editor.... now what?

Now what indeed.

What I'm actually doing is slowly writing another book. I say slowly because I've never gone at such a pathetic pace before. Instead of writing like wildfire ready to devour the forest, I'm sort of picking away at it one page at a time.

It may or may not end up being a great story. I'm not sure. I just know that in the middle of all this waiting, I just haven't had the same urge to write.

And I feel like I have the last book of the Alvor series looming over me. I want to write it, but I'm not entirely convinced my publisher will step up to the plate like I need them to. I know, for some of you that seems like a lame excuse. For others, you may not know what I'm talking about. Since this isn't my complain blog, I won't get into it. But it's the conflict that has kept me from writing that last book.

So now what? I'd say in terms of furthering my career, I've sort of done what I need to. Waiting is part of the book industry, after all. Probably the worst part.

If I could give myself advice, I'd say, "Keep writing, Laura. Sooner or later you'll either have an answer, or another book on your hands. And whether you land an agent this time, or secure a contract with a publisher and then land an agent, the best thing you can do today is write. It's the only thing you have control over."

Today. It really is the only thing we can do anything about.

I know I didn't answer the big question- You've written a book, now what?

The short answer to that is: edit like crazy, write a killer query letter, send it out to agents or publishers and then cross your fingers and hope. And wait. And while you're waiting, write something. It's a vicious cycle. Write-send it out- wait- write.

Friday, January 20, 2012

LTUE, baby

It's almost here. And I get to go this year. I Can't Wait!

The LTUE is one of my favorite writer conferences. Quick catch up for those who don't know...

Life, The Universe & Everything
The Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy

February 9-12, 2012
Cost: $30 Students Free with Current ID

Utah Valley University

And here are some of the stars you'll get to meet...

James A. Owen

(“Starchild” and “Here There Be Dragons”)

Special Guests:

Writing Excuses Podcast Team:

Brandon Sanderson

Mary Robinette Kowal

Dan Wells

Howard Tayler

Chris Schoebinger

Acquisitions Editor for Shadow Mountain.

Featured Guests:

Larry Correia

James Dashner

David Farland (Saturday only)

Tracy & Laura Hickman (Saturday only)

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (Saturday only)

Brandon Mull (Saturday only)

Are you starting to see why I love this conference? It's simply a blast. I guess that's really why it's one of my favorites. This is the conference where writers become friends. Authors have conversations. There's hardly any pressure (no pitches to national editors or agents) and it's just a bunch of great information from people who know the business.

I know I'm not the only one who knows this, but I'll let you in on the secret to this conference.... yes be good and go to classes- but also SKIP some classes too. I know. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's the key. Plan on what classes will make you happy, and then plan on some blocks of time outside of the rooms. This is how you get to have conversations. Or think. Or write. But at the end of the conference, if you do this, you'll end up with new friends.

Friends that will be in the writing industry for a good long time, and if that's where you plan on being, it's good to have some friends there.

Go if you can. It's the cheapest conference, and there is so much to learn. The panels are awesome, and there are plenty of editors there to keep things real. Tons of authors too.

So excited.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"It's a mind game."

Here we are, in the middle of January. I thought for sure I'd have something amazing to say by now. Hmm. I guess not.

So here's a little twist to mix things up. I'm a dancer and a writer- what if those worlds collided?

From this month's issue of Dancespirit, I give you YOUR TOP 10 COMPETITION FEARS, Everything you worry about on Comp day- and how to deal. And geniusly changed to fit the world of a writer...

Fear #1- the nemesis move-

In dance, this is that one trick that makes your dance pop, but what if you miss it?
In writing, this is that one streak of pure perfectness in your story line that makes every reader in your target audience want your book.

The fix: "Now is the time to trust your training." If you don't hit it this time, you will next time. Keep breathing and practice, practice practice.

Fear # 2 -costume malfunction-

I think it's safe to skip this one in the writing world.

The fix: You know, just in case you're a dancer...uhm, dress rehearsal, body glue, sticky tape, and just leave your hat on the floor should it fall off. I'm guessing you really didn't want to hear all of that.

Fear #3- Forgetting to pack something

In dance, we're talking dance bag. There is nothing worse than arriving without an essential item.

In writing, this is each scene. Does it have enough in it to make it shocked with emotion and movement? Or do you have a dead chapter?

The fix: In dance, "make a list and check it a million times". In writing, read your chapters objectively and ask yourself why anyone else would want to read it.

Fear #4- Blanking Onstage (AKA Deer in the Headlights)

In dance- nuf said.

In writing, blanking on the story. The "I've got nothing" scenario.

The fix: "Any performance-related opportunity builds confidence and decreases the chances that you're going to freeze onstage." Actually, I believe this 100%. In writing, if you're really stuck, ask people leading questions. For example, last night I asked someone what could go wrong if you're riding a horse. The list I was handed was full of possibilities that I hadn't considered. Let the story simmer if you have to, but also get back to your computer and keep trying.

We're going to skip the next few...#5 losing a team member at the last minute, #6 dealing with unpredictable props, #7 Unpredictable stages, #8 the quick change and #9 Letting the team down

Having said that, I can personally tell you that these are all valid fears that my dancers face at shows and competitions on a regular basis. Sometimes it makes you feel better when you realize that you're not the only one. But I like this quote, "Don't be mean to the girl who messes up, because the next time it might be you."

That said, we come to...

Fear #10 Getting psyched out by your competition

The fix: Do it for yourself, not for them. "But if you do choose to check out the others, make the experience a positive one, not a scary one. Try to get inspired."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bits and Pieces

The last month has been a whole bunch of madness with a sprinkle of this and that. And now that we are officially in twenty twelve, I'm trying to find that sense of normal I used to know.

But here are the pieces I do have.

*Did you know that if you pass the right things when taking your TCRG exam, it qualifies you for your TMRF? But, should you accept your TMRF, you would have to RE-TAKE all five exams to qualify for the TCRG. Uhhg. If you have no clue what I just said, consider yourself lucky and move on.

*A "D" is a passing grade at my son's high school. Hmmm. Not that I'm happy with a "D". I'm still going to be a mean mom and work endlessly for at least a "C". Yes, I called the school just to make sure it was really true. Who knew? Okay, don't answer that. I was one of those kids who never got a C from 7th grade on.

*I'm in the mood to edit. Weird. Really weird. Because I'm supposed to be in the mood to write (which I'm still doing). But I'd rather be editing. Is this some rare disease?

*Thank goodness it's twenty twelve. I'm so ready for a brand new year.

*I've been getting a lot of e-mails asking for the third book. Is that kind of pressure a good enough reason? I'll probably fold and write it after I get done with the book I'm writing right now.

*Working with free weights has improved my posture. I know this sounds really random, but I'm here to tell you that seven months of working with free weights has not caused me to lose weight, look like a model or give me to-die-for parts of my body. But it has improved my posture, and the awareness of my posture, especially when I'm dancing. Just thought I'd throw that out there for you.

*"See that mountain over there? One of these days, I'm gonna climb that mountain." From an old country song I clogged to when I was a kid. It's true though. The figurative mountains- one of these days I'm going to get to the top of them.

*"Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities." Thomas S. Monson This is my motto for the new year. It's hard to top those words.