Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Up, Up, and Away! My Blackhawk Helicopter ride with the ROTC!

Today I got to take a ride in a Blackhawk helicopter through the ROTC at my school. One of the cadet's family lost their house to a fire, so they decided to do a fundraiser raffle to raise money for them. Here's where the plot thickens. I didn't actually win the raffle. Since I have no luck but crappy luck, I was one ticket close to winning. Then one of our sweet custodians, Mary, decided that she didn't want to go since her daughter was having surgery. She knew how much I wanted to go so she gave it to me. SQUEE! LUCK CHANGED! We had a great day to fly and here's some of the pictures!

The two choppers coming in after circling the school.

Landing and preparing to hear the pep talk, rules and regulations, etc.

My Buddy Paige and me

Strapped in and ready for take-off
Some of the views from the air

What my school looks like from the air

And this is me with my hair pulled back with the crazy wind inside the chopper!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Soundtrack to the Submission Process Part One

Anyone who has been querying or on submission knows it's not an easy process. While lamenting how I was firmly set in the 7th Ring of Hell the other night, I got to thinking about how we have playlists for our books. We sometimes even have the playlists of our lives--you know those songs that meant something to us during special times and places. Well, that got me thinking of if someone were to put together a compilation cd of all the songs that relate to the agonizing process. Here's Part One of the Cd!

(1). Highway to Hell: Yeah, this might seem excessive, but seriously, it would be numero uno on my list of the Soundtrack to Submission. I spent nine months on the query train a chug, chug, chuggin’ along. I seriously couldn’t imagine anything could possibly be worse, but alas, it is. Maybe it’s what querying nine months did to me in the fact that submission feels like one more hellish crusade.

(2). Under Pressure: There’s a lot of pressure in the submission process. First, there’s a race to prove yourself. Gotta sell, gotta sell, gotta sell! The sooner the better---you wanna be that person on submission a week or less before having a preempt deal or going to auction. There’s also the pressure to prove yourself to your agent. They chose you out of hundreds—maybe even thousands—of eager beaver applicants. You wanna make them proud and make them realize they were visionaries when choosing you. So besides proving it to yourself and to your agent, you also want to prove yourself to all your family, friends, critique partners etc—all those people who have supported you, loved you, allowed you to go on acidic, demon possessed rants and still talked to you, etc. It’s a heck of a lot of pressure pressing down on you!

(3). Survivor & (4). I Will Survive: You need some songs to remind you that no matter how hard and how emotionally and physically crippling the submission process might be YOU WILL SURVIVE. Sometimes I just have to put on the headphones and let Beyonce remind me that I’m not going to give up because I’m a survivor!

(5). Eye of the Tiger & (6). Gonna Fly Now: It’s hard not to feel like a pumped up conquerer when you hear these two songs from the Rocky movies. Just hearing those trumpets in Gonna Fly Now gives you the image of Rocky Balboa working his ass off to get in shape for the big fight. I totally feel revived when I hear it, and somehow I do my own mental run up those stairs and end in a fist pump…well, not a Jersey Shore fist pump or anything like that, lol.

(7). Don’t Give Up, Never Give Up: I really love this Eagle Eye Cherry song. I first heard it in the Holes movie. It’s not just the jazzy beat of the song that I love; it’s also the lyrics. All our dreams are gone with a loss of faith. We're still hanging on for another day. It's so hard to see that it's going to get better, and when will that be it's hard to say…..Don’t give up, never give up. We won’t stop giving all we’ve got.”

(8). Sitting in Limbo: I think this song just about sums up the most agonizing part of the submission process….the wait. When you’re querying, it’s like you hold the cards. You research the agents, you query them, and then you wait for their response. When going on submission, it’s completely taken out of your hands. Not only do you have to wait, but you have to wait on many other people to let you know what’s going on with your book. The whole song is great, but I especially love these lines:“Sitting here in Limbo waiting for the dice to roll. Yeah, now, sitting here in Limbo. Still got some time to search my soul. Meanwhile, they're putting up a resistance, but I know that my faith will lead me on."

(9). When the Going Gets Tough….the Tough Gets Going: Yes, the awesome 80’s beat from Billy Ocean. And it’s such a true one. To survive the submission process, you gotta be tough, and when things get really hard and you don’t think you can go on, you gotta just keep persevering.

(10). The Climb: I actually blogged about this song when I was querying. It meant a lot to me then, and it still does now. I like the idea that all the hardship of the querying and submission process will mean something in the long run. It's about keeping a dream alive even when you think it's impossible. As long as there's that little flame flickering within you, the dream can stay alive until it comes to fruition.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Awesome Sauce Awards!!!

I was given this award by the lovely, talented, Jamie Blair, and I wanted to pass it on to more deserving peeps. So, here's the rules If You Get Sauced:

Basically, define awesome, and then name 8 people you think fit that definition:
Awesomesauce: the quality of being awesome with ease, ie: just as spaghetti sauce flows easily from the jar, so does the awesome flow easily from them. Awesome: Awesome, in this case, means one of two things (or both):
A. They make me choke on whatever I'm eating on a regular basis because they're so freaking funny
B. They generally exude an air of cleverness, wackiness, or badassry."I'm sticking with Kaitlin's definition of Awesome and how Jamie stuck with it, because it''s awesome and they're awesome.

Kaitlin is awesome because she's a bridge builder. On AW, blogs, and Twitter, she reaches out to everyone to talk. She's awesome because she shares my appreciation of Snuggie's. And she's awesome because she balances writing and blogging with a young son, and that's no easy undertaking.

Kristen is awesome in her 20's now! Not only is she an awesome writer, but she's an awesome person. I connect with Kristen on a spirtual level b/c I know she's someone of faith like myself. She never ceases to make me feel appreciated as a writer and a person.

Amanda is awsesome because she's a fellow GA gal and a teacher. Our meetup back in January fell through, but I'm sure we're going to meet up sometime soon. Amanda is an awesome photograph as well as writer, and she plays double duty being a wife and mom.

Sushi/Sumayyah because I think novels about other cultures that feature a diverse cast are awesome. She's also awesome b/c she kinda dropped off the face of the world there for awhile, but she totally came back, and I'm stoked!

Leah is awesome b/c like Sumyyah or Sushi she fell off the AW and writing side of the world for awhile, but thankfully she's come back as well. She's awesome b/c we can have some hilarious conversations on Twitter that often leads to us saying to much or others getting in trouble!

Sarah is awesome because she takes her writing so seriously that she's even entering the MAPW program. She's also awesome to join in with hilarity on Twitter, and I know that I can count on her to make our group blog a success.

Regan is awesome because I got to meet her in person and spend the weekend getting to know her and her writing. She's also awesome because she runs great contests on her blog, and she always shows me #FollowFriday love on Twitter!

And my Golden Girls Book Tour Girls(Becca, Jamie, Steph, and Annie!) Hey, it wouldn't be spicy awesome without a little cheating from 8 to 11, lol)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So long, farewell!! Well, for just a week!

I couldn't resist a title that makes an allusion to one of my favorite movie's of all time, The Sound of Music. Anyway, I digress. The point of this blog is to explain why I’m officially taking an internet hiatus. I think it’s in the best interest of my creative mojo/Muse if I spend my time off Absolute Write and Twitter. I’m at almost 10K post on AW and 3K tweets on Twitter. That’s intense!! It also equals a lot of valuable writing and reading time I’ve wasted. Well, I hate to say wasted because I don’t know what I would do without my writing peeps. They’re the wind beneath my wings! If you’re a Facebook friend, you’ll still see me on there a little bit because I have a lot of family and friends on there that I want to keep up with.

I really want to finish editing, The Road to Damascus. I had planned to have it locally published this winter, but it's looking better for late Spring or early Summer. Also, I want to finish edits on Nets and Lies. My agent hasn't read it yet, and I'd love to have it as shiny as possible to send to her. I've also taken a reading challenge this year to read 110 books in 2010, so time off the internet means more reading time as well.

So How long will I do it? My goal is to make it a week. I’m getting a little twitchy about that—like Tyrone Biggums twitchy, lol.

I've also had some health issues going on, so I really feel like this will help to recharge and reboot for a bit. Who knows, I might decide to make it even longer....or not!!!

Most of all, I'm usually a writing machine, and it's been hardly lately to even make myself open up a document. Me no likey that, and me wants to change that! Here's hoping!

I'll miss you all, and be back to play in a week!

Friday, March 5, 2010

YOU DID WHAT? Querying Faux Paus Gone Bad!

So, faux paus…we’ve all made them. I’ve been known to maybe wear white flip-flops after Labor Day, oh, er, wait we’re talking about QUERYING faux paus, not fashion faux paus. DUH!

Yeah, that’s an ENTIRELY different ball game. Lemme just say that I’ve made quite a few blunders in the ol’ querying game. And today, I’m putting on my big girl panties and fessing up to them. First, lemme break down some stats for you.

Months spent in Hell aka Querying: 9. I began one frosty, late January morn of 2009 and received my first offer on October 17, which happened to come on the same day as my late mom’s 60th bday.
Novels Queried: 4
Genres Queried: 3….1 YA Urban Fantasy, 2 YA Contemps, 1 Adult Southern Literary/Christian Fiction

First, I’m breaking out the big guns, and I’m telling you about my most shudder worthy query mistake. Are you ready? Can you handle the truth?

Here it is:

I queried an unfinished novel.

Actually, I'm a repeat offender cuz I queried two!

When Don’t Hate the Player was within 2K of being finished, I sent out some test queries. The positive reception fueled me to finish.

But here’s the “querying unfinished novels to end all querying unfinished novels” story. In my defense, I blame roasting in querying Hell on what I did. The steam got to me and warped my mind.

So, DHtP was getting back to back rejections because of the dreaded boy book factor along with a revise and resubmit offer, TG was still hanging in there(picture a novel on life support with the blipping line going across the screen) and The Road to Damascus was flatlining because of what I call the Goldilocks factor: It was too secular for Christian pubs and too Christian for Secular pubs. I WANTED AN AGENT! Get the picture?

What happened next came out of desperation. A moment of pure insanity. I’d written around 20K of a YA Contemp called Nets and Lies. I thought it was pretty cool—some real edgy territory. So, I did the unthinkable. I wrote a query with the help of Kody Keplinger, Stephanie Jenkins, and Hannah Wylie. And I did it. I sent it to an agent who ALWAYS…ALWAYS requests partials.

You can imagine what happened. She requested a full. I probably stared at the email for ten or fifteen minutes. My first every query to request without rejection….and it was for a FULL.

So did I panic? Did I soil myself? Well, almost, but what I did do was write like a maniac and churn out 36K words in six days. Yep, I was sweat pouring, mania like Jennifer Beale in Flashdance.

And although I should caution you, although I should say, NEVER, EVER DO THAT...I won't. Here's why. Number one, I hate preachy posts by authors and writers who try to be all upturned nose and condescend to you. Yeah, some are published and agented, so they try to act all higher intelligence, but that's not what it's about. It's about being there for each other and learning from each other's mistakes.

Wanna know a little secret?

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken in the writing game.Trust me, that's a hard statement for a girl often labeled a "goody two shoes rule follower!"

Here's the truth. Yeah, it was a mistake to query, but what came out of that week of writing 36K was some great, deep stuff! I'm not lying or bragging, I promise, you can ask my beta readers what they think of Nets and Lies.

So, turns out my mania was nothing. I submitted the full around September first offer for DHtP came in on October 17th. Then I had to email all the agents with TG, RTD, DHtP, and NaL. It was epic! Then came two more offers for DHtP. AND I FINALLY HAD MY AGENT!

Long faux paus short, I'm the first to admit I made mistakes. I wouldn't advise you to make the same. Some people might think querying four novels was a mistake, some might think accidentaly quering an agent in the same agency is a mistake when they've said not to(yep, did that and got a request after a rejection).

In the end, I guess I could say what I heard people say before, "Do as I say, not as I do", but that's probaby not good either! LOL