Tag Archives: writing

Freelancing as a Bird

So, I’m not literally pretending to be a bird! Image

But I have just started doing some freelance editing, and my first gig is a doozy. Both in terms of length (113k words–about 400ish pages) and in terms of story (awesome!!!).

Of course, I can’t give you any details, but let me just say, this one is going to blow everyone’s socks off when it’s published. I believe that will be sometime later this year.

It’s won multiple awards, and no surprise. As a sci-fi/thriller/steamy romance, it hits ALL of the buttons.

“But, Deborah!” you might say. “Didn’t you just start your new librarian job? And your first book just came out? And you still want time for your family and your own writing!”

Sigh.

Yes, yes, and yes. Not to mention I’m an intern for Reading With Me (Spencer Hill Press), and have all of my own social media that I’m trying to keep up with. And I just got back from an awesome week-long vacation with my kids, which put me further behind on everything.

I’m crazy, and I know it. It’s hard for me to say no to great opportunities, though, which makes for long periods of insanity in my house. Hopefully, I will just ride the wave of stress until we’re all back to (relatively) normal.

At least I get to edit an amazing book while I’m at it! I cannot wait to share the details when it’s published.

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How Do I Love CPs? Let Me Count The Ways

I’m not really going to count the ways, because I posted on the wonderfulness that is a critique partner months ago.

But here’s yet another reason why I love my critique partners: they keep me focused. I have three manuscripts, mostly completed, but not at all polished. My brain kept flitting from one to another, and my “spare” (a.k.a. writing) time was spent trying to figure out which one I should work on. If you’re like me, it’s actually easier to write the first draft than it is to go back and identify problems and do the hard work of editing. So I was even toying with the idea of just going on to my next MS and leaving the others behind.

I sent them an email with the subject: What should I work on?????? (Yes, I used that many question marks. It makes me feel good.) And then I asked the following questions:

1. Which one do you think has more potential to snag an agent?
2. Which one needs *less* work before it’s polished?
3. Which do you like better?
4. Or should I just chuck them both and go back to The Evergreen, or skip ahead to My Girlfriend Is A Genie, or a whole new project????????? HELLLLLLP.
 
They talked me off my writing ledge (which was filled with punctuation marks), and persuaded me to give my full effort to A Pox On Both Your Houses (the re-interpretation of Romeo and Juliet that was my 2013 NaNo project). So that’s what I am going to do, hoping that I’ll have it all polished and ready to start pitching by the time the New England SCBWI* conference rolls around in early May.
 
*Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

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Happy Old Year: Reflecting on A Year in #Writing

Image

Courtesy Jmvkrecords

Reflecting on A Year in Writing*

 

Should old manuscripts be forgot

And never brought to light?

Should old manuscripts be forgot

And WIPs we didn’t write?

 

For Works-In-Progress, do I mean?

For Works-In-Progress, yes!

We’ll need some Scrivener or MS Word

For novels that weren’t the best.

 

We have worn pathways in our floors

And torn every hair out

But we have poured our hearts into

Our books that caused us doubt.

 

And surely we’ll pay to be in print

With money, blood, or sanity!

And we’ll take every crumb of encouragement

To think our work’s not a calamity.**

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

*NOTE: I make no claims to be a poet OR a songwriter.

**Hey, you try rhyming with sanity!

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Write Every Day! And other unrealistic expectations

I WON! I WON!

Yes, I “won” NaNoWriMo. My manuscript needs work. A lotta work. But I made it to 50k words (technically 50,001).* And there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. I do believe in this premise and the characters. But I don’t even want to think about it right now (or even share all of its badness with my CPs yet). And all of the most brilliant writing gurus say we should put away the NaNo novels for at least a month to let them simmer, so that works fine for me.

I was able to keep up writing virtually every day while I was doing NaNo, and then the moment December 1 rolled around, I said, BASTA.** Then I tortured myself reading all of these blogs that said how such-and-such writer finished NaNo in eight days! Or three days! And how important it is to write your $%# off Every. Single. Day. No matter what!

Or you’ll never be successful, they all seem to suggest.

Well, fugheddaboudit. I’ve decided that everyone works differently. I need the crowd, “let’s do it together!” mentality of NaNo to push myself to write everyday. Otherwise I lose my focus and get too easily distracted with other projects.

But–let’s say it together–that’s okay. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.***

And I realized something anyway. Just because I’m not working on a new novel everyday doesn’t mean I’m not practicing my writing. It’s just sometimes my writing consists of blog posts (hi there!), or a book review, or a report for Inklings, or even finishing my edits for Three Wishes (hurrah!).

Words are prevalent for me all day, every day. I don’t have to prove to anyone–not even myself–that I’m a writer by holding myself up to unrealistic expectations. It’s plain old writing that makes me a writer.

Hey, this is completely random, but as we are deep in the holiday season, here’s a link to my new favorite holiday song. Ignore the fact that it’s from Glade. (You read that right.)

http://www.glade.com/en/this-is-my-wish

*Not kidding! I wrote only until I didn’t have to.

**Which means “enough” in Spanish, Dad. Not just me misspelling pasta.

***Please tell me if you know this reference.

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Prepping for #NaNoWriMo

This November will mark my third straight year doing National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s cool–a noun (NaNo), verb (NaNoing, to NaNo), and may I humbly suggest, an adjective (that book premise is so NaNo!).*

My husband doesn’t yet know I’m planning on doing it again. And of course we’re hosting Thanksgiving this year for 11 people. And we’ll have my daughter’s birthday. and . . . And . . . AND.

But I’ve found that for just one month, I can squeeze it all in. Thirty days of REALLY TOO MUCH TO DO. Going crazy, late nights, early mornings, scribbling (well, typing) in the five minutes between snack and going to pick up child from school, general chaos.

Is this a pace I can maintain all year long? Not I. In fact, I’m starting to think** that writing a book each year during NaNo, and taking the rest of the year to edit and query it, might be a realistic model for me. I think that’s why I’m still struggling just to finish the first draft of my current WIP, The Evergreen. I started it in the spring, while querying my very first MS, Three Wishes.

Yes, I know I will eventually finish the draft (trying to do so before the end of this month, FYI, dear CPs), but there isn’t that same sense of urgency to get the words down as when I’m doing NaNo.

Plus, I’m super-excited about my planned NaNo book. I’m not going to give it all away yet, but suffice it to say that it will have something to do with Romeo and Juliet. And re-reading R&J, for the first time since college, has been a real treat.

Things are good in the world of Noveland. I hope to say the same as of November 30. Wish me luck!***

*Cool people don’t talk like this. At least the last part.

**Unless I become a full-time writer, or get some mongo book contract that requires a quicker writing pace.

***For anyone interested in trying NaNoWriMo, check out nanowrimo.org. It’s fun! No pressure! Super-supportive! I’ll be your NaNo buddy!

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#WIPMarathon-Guilt Is A Useless Emotion

It’s been too long since I sat down at ye olde laptop and wrote a new blog post. And right now I’m writing with a weight off my shoulders. I don’t think I even realized how stressed out I’ve been except that now it’s over.

Life has definitely been getting in the way of my writing.

Yesterday was a big day. I’d been asked eighteen months ago if I’d help plan a special farm celebration as part of my town’s 300th anniversary*. Since I’m on the board of our local nonprofit farm, I was recruited for this event, and I’ve been working on it steadily for a while now. Along with tons of other amazing volunteers, of course. I’m no one-woman show, that’s for sure.

Between school starting and this September 15 event looming in my head/taking all of my free time, I have been letting my writing slide. Oh, I was still reading all of the cool blogs I follow (“make writing part of your daily routine!” “I don’t go to bed until I have at least two pages written each day!” “successful writers are the ones that keep writing, no matter what!”)** but instead of inspiring me they just made me feel more guilty.

You promised yourself and the WIPMarathoners you’d meet your goal in August, I told myself. All you need to do is write 20 minutes a day–set small goals, I coached. Things will get easier soon, now that 5yo is in Kindergarten, I theorized.

And yet.

My brain was swimming with too many other things. Too many other obligations. Yes, writing time is sacred, but so are commitments you’ve made to other people. I can’t do it all, and I need to accept that. And take advantage of the times when I DO have the luxury of writing. I worry that writing will start to feel like more of an obligation, another item on the to-do list, instead of utter joy. The way to avoid that (I hope) is by accepting that my life ebbs and flows, and better to work consistently when I can, accepting when I cannot.

I told one of my co-volunteers yesterday that I felt guilty for not doing as much as I thought I should have for the event. “Guilt is a useless emotion,” she counseled. I answered that I’m Jewish, so it’s in my genes. Totally unavoidable. She laughed and handed me a beer***. That helped.

She’s right, though, really. Guilt is useless. A waste of energy. A better idea is to sip your beverage of choice, take a deep breath, and try do your best. Accept when your best isn’t as good as you’d hoped. And keep plugging along.

So even though I never reached my super-easy and I-can’t-believe-I-didn’t-manage-it goal of 15k words in August, I’m trying to be okay with that. I’m not far from finishing my first draft. I may even complete it this week.

But you know what? If I don’t, it’s okay.

I would like to sit here.

*Yup, we were founded in 1713–good ol’ Massachusetts. Still, it kind of blows my mind.

**I’m paraphrasing, here.

***Don’t worry! This was after the event was done and the kiddies had all gone home.

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#WIPMarathon: Check-in #3 (sort of!)

I was on vacation last week with the whole extended family. Ten people all together, including the four nuclears, my parents, and my brother’s family.

We had a lovely time on Martha’s Vineyard, where we typically go each summer. I brought my laptop, thinking maybe, possibly, I’d be able to get some writing in, squeezed around visits to Back Door Donuts, the Flying Horses Carousel, and of course, the beach.

Yeah. Nope.

The writing thing just didn’t happen. It didn’t help that my laptop was on the fritz with some weird bug (seems to be okay now, after a lot of tinkering). Any “writing” time was basically banging-head-on-keyboard time. So I didn’t try very hard to make it happen.

Total number of words written the past week? ZERO.

Intentions? GOOD.

Days left in the WIPMarathon? FOUR.

Think I can squeeze in the last 5k-ish of my goal? PERHAPS.

I’m going to try, anyway. Wish me luck! I’ll make sure to post about any success at the end of the week.

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