Thursday, December 30, 2010

WHY WON'T THE WORDS STOP TAUNTING ME?

Christmas 2010 is now in the past and I am becoming restless once more. Why? Well as you know I have taken on the mighty task of de-bulking my manuscript. I had told myself that I wish to complete all editing of my first novel before 2011 but I fear I will not be making that a reality.

I need to get rid of 40 000 words to make it a reasonable 100 000 words. I was told this is the maximum word count for first time authors. Anything more and agents don't want to touch it, out of fear that it is over written and too much editing needs to be done.

I finished editing my printed out pages and of course I wouldn't know the final word count until I made the actual changes in my Microsoft word program. I am more than halfway on the Microsoft word program and I have only reduced the mighty 144 224 word count by 4773 words. Bringing me to 139 451.

I still have half a manuscript to go but I doubt I have eliminated enough scenes and chapters.

What was my approach? Well I printed out the actual manuscript. Read through it with my red pen and orange highlighter in hand and started crossing out scenes, words and even chapters I felt could be parted with. I thought I got rid of quite a lot of things but now I fear it was still not enough.

Will I make my personal deadline of finishing my editing before 1 January 2011? I doubt it but maybe I will pull an all nighter and surprise myself.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I SURVIVED!

I attended a workshop today that was hosted by the wonderful Literary Agent Louise Fury of the Laura Perkins Literary Agency. She was absolutely brilliant. She was friendly and she answered every ones questions even though at times she was bombarded by multiple questions at the same time. One thing is clear, there is a lot of aspiring writers in South Africa.

OK, so let me tell you more. There were about 30 attendees and we each got an opportunity to introduce ourselves. My brother and I sat at the back of the room, which meant we would be last to speak. Big Mistake! I had to listen to all the achievements and published authors histories and after a while I felt like a complete fake between all these experts. So finally when they got to me I was so overwhelmed and nervous that I started rambling and I started talking so fast that I still can't remember what I said. I just remember my brother turning all the shades of red possible. All he said is that ''you just embarrassed yourself''. But I don't worry about it. I know no one there will remember me because I was the least qualified to be a writer and the most inexperienced as well. I had nothing to offer a fellow writer in terms of help with their career.

Nobody was rude or anything but I just felt out of my league. Nobody said anything to me that was discouraging but I couldn't relate to anybody. They seemed so far ahead of me in this crazy world of writing that to this moment I am still struggling to decipher exactly what I was doing there or what happened. Don't worry I remembered enough that I can share what I learned with all of you.

So here goes:

Query letters should be professional and should not contain too much personal information.

In you first paragraph: mention why you are querying the agent, give the title and genre of your novel as well as the word count.

In the second paragraph: say what your book is about.

Third paragraph: a little information as to why you are the writer to write this book.


Manuscript formatting:

Always double space your work.

Use a header that contains your name and that of your book as well as some form of contact detail. Also remember to add page numbers to each page.

Use a Times New Roman font 12 Or Ariel 11.

One inch margins should be used on every page.

Maximum word count for first time writers is 100 000 words.


About writing in general:

If you want to be published in America you definitely need a agent.

Do your research about your genre. Educate yourself about the form of publishing you are seeking and the agent and publishers who deal with your genre.

Always share your knowledge with fellow writers because that is how the writing world works. You help someone today and tomorrow perhaps someone can help you. Louise called this networking and said that it is essential for any writers success.

You should have a critique partner that knows what they are talking about and participate in writing groups and public readings if you can. You need to get your work out there. Be part of an online community.

E-book publishing is very big at the moment.

Oh and another writer can steal your idea but they won't write it the same way you would. So he/she might steal your idea about vampires but only you will write it the way you would because every writers voice and style and even interpretation is different. (I am still paranoid though).

So that is all I remember for the moment, sorry. Most of our sessions turned into Question and answer sessions. Everybody was so hungry for information. You can't really blame us. A opportunity like today happens very rarely in South Africa.

Here is what I learned today: Know who you are as a writer. Know exactly what you are writing in the sense of genre. Be comfortable with who you are as a writer and your style of writing. Most importantly, know why you are doing what you are doing. Is it because you love it or is it because you just want to be rich or do you just want to be published? If you want to be rich choose another profession because becoming a published writer will take many years. And even if you are published it doesn't mean you will ever be rich or make enough money to survive on your earnings.

I learned a lot today and at least now I know how far I still have to go. I am barely just beginning. I am in fact an amateur and I am not ashamed of it because I have already grown a lot since starting this blog and who knows what my writing will be like in a few more months or even years?

So today all my fellow writers, lets believe in ourselves and our dreams, no matter how unrealistic they are. Because we first have to believe in ourselves before others can.

PS. Keep an eye out for my first chapter. I am strongly considering sharing it on my blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

THANK YOU FOR KEEPING ME GOING

Christmas is drawing near as well as the end of the year. And because of this little fact I wanted to take this time to thank the wonderful people who kept me going and that helped me keep my dream of becoming a published author alive.

Thank you to Jody Hedlund (http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/) for her inspiring and informative blog. Your blog has helped me through some very tough and trying times as a writer.

Thank you to Nancy (http://introverted-writer.blogspot.com/) for teaching me that if writing is what I want to do then I should do it no matter what my age or personal turmoils.

On to two very cool and brilliant ladies that allowed me to be part of their own personal journeys towards becoming published authors. Both of you helped me through some very tough and tense times as well.

Firstly, a very big thank you to Heather Gardner (http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/) because if I didn't get that wonderful piece of advice from you about self-editing my first manuscript would still have been lying on my desk un-edited. And I am so grateful that I discovered your wonderful blog because without it I would never have made it through this year. I would probably just have given up. Thank you for all the wonderful advice and encouragement through the year. You helped me so much and I am truly grateful that I could have been part of your personal journey. Your posts are realistic and inspirational and without them I wouldn't have understood what it means to be an aspiring writer.

Secondly, thank you to Renee Silvana (http://reneesilvana.blogspot.com/) A.K.A Leah ( http://leahonveggies.blogspot.com/) for all the wonderful advice and powerful words of encouragement. I appreciated it a lot. Your posts too were very inspirational and you taught me that one is never too busy to write, to experience life, to never force ideas to happen and that being vegan can be sexy and cool. Thank you for allowing me into your world and letting me see what it takes to be an actual paranormal writer. Your dreams alone prove that I still have a long way to go yet, with regards to originality and imagination. Also thank you for always being honest and helping me right, even when I didn't know what the hell I was talking about. Big Thank you.

Thank you to my family for their support. It took a while, but I am glad that all of you are finally ok with me being an aspiring writer. I will try my best not to embarrass you with my writing.

Finally, thank you to everybody that read my blog this year. I hope some of it was entertaining and that I wasn't too much of a bore and if I was...nothing I can do about that now. I can just promise to do better next time.

All of the best for the festive season and a very big (heartfelt) THANK YOU!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ATTENDING A WORKSHOP

I forgot to mention that I will be attending a workshop on Monday hosted by Louise Fury of the Laura Perkins Literary Agency. She is visiting South Africa and would like to give some guidance to local aspiring writers. I am actually looking forward to it.

My brother will be attending the workshop along with me. He is a Microbiologist who sometimes writes scientific articles based upon the research he does. But he becomes upset when I point out that he too is a writer. A non-fiction writer. He writes at least 3 articles a year and all of whom get published in a local magazine. But he is attending only to give me some much needed support.

I am a little scared to attend a workshop with fellow writers. What if I am a complete amateur in the presence of great writers? What if the agent asks me questions to which I have no answers?

But that is why I am there right? To learn.

PSYCHO ALERT!

Lately I have been getting a lot of pressure from all sources regarding my direction in life. Most of the pressure is actually coming from my new boss of all people. For some reason he feels I am wasting away my life on the quest to become a writer. Apparently I have so much potential.

At first I thought he just wanted to help me but Wednesday I noticed he has this White Oleander (as in Michelle Pheiffer's character) mind trick shit going for him. Now a little secret about me...I know a lot about mental warfare. My family specializes in this kind of stuff and this guy has no idea I realized what he is trying to do. Mostly I am upset that I didn't realize what he was trying to do from the beginning.

Anyway, the fact that he was trying to force me to stop pursuing writing was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Yes, he mentioned a lot of similar things that my family has previously pointed out but the fact that he told me that it was an unrealistic dream made me want to pursue it even more and prove to him that it was an obtainable goal after all. I hate it when other people tell me that I can't do something. If ever there is anyone to tell me that it will be myself. The more people tell me I can't or shouldn't do something the more I will push on, just to prove them wrong. I haven't always been like this but lately I found a new sense of strength in myself. I am the most clueless about life and the unknown then I have ever been, yet I have never been stronger or happier. I always had plans for everything in life and now I don't, but I am not worried about it.

When I go back to work on Tuesday I will be professional and if I get anymore shit for being an aspiring writer I will put him straight and if he wishes to fire me then I will start my holiday sooner and I will be happier for it.

I actually am going to use his personality type as that of the villain in my historical romance. He apparently used to be a poet and philosopher. I use to write poetry too but I wasn't anywhere near as psychotic as this guy. Poet's are passionate people but this guy is on some other mental plane and that is just scary. Sure he is intelligent but not in a good way.

I know my posts have been a little depressing of late and for that I apologize. I will try to make it a bit more interesting. I guess my posts are a reflection of my moods but I am cheering up as we speak or should I say write?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DIRECTION IN LIFE

Today I feel like jumping out of my own skin. I feel as if the person inside me is suffocating.

A few days ago my new boss came into my office and said something out of the blue that has been bothering me quite a bit. ''I think you are hiding from life. What are your plans for the future? Why not do something bold with your life? If you want to be a writer why not do it? Why don't you go do a academic program that can help you become a writer?''

I sat and stared at him in confusion. How could he sum me up so quickly? How could he possibly know these things? This man hasn't known me before this week. Do I have some invisible sign on my forehead that says ''Hey, I am struggle with the direction of my life!'' I didn't mind what he said, I just wish it wasn't true.

I don't want to face the reality of the situation. I have to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have a degree in Agriculture. Most specifically Animal production and Management. But I only recently realized that I don't want to do that anymore. I can't stand it when the animals aren't treated properly and it sends me into a crazy spin of emotions. My heart is just not in it anymore. I don't know if it ever was. So basically I spent 4 years obtaining a degree I don't (and also can't) use.

I want to write, just like millions of other people. But writing at the moment is like my brother says '' a hobby''. I need a job in the real world and I am rather tired of doing low paying jobs with maximum amounts of stress. So how the hell am I supposed to make a choice? I don't want to depend on my family anymore.

I desperately need to make a choice that will impact the rest of my life. But I don't know how to go about it. I am lost today.

Monday, December 13, 2010

OVERLOAD

My brother is renovating his room and seeing that my room is the closest to his, his storing most of his stuff in my room. I don't mind at all. But the past week has been a mentally draining and physically tiring week. I just feel like my senses are suffering a overload.

Yesterday I had another one of my migraines. None of my medication helped but the good news is that I don't have a migraine right now. Because of the past week and yesterday's headache I haven't resumed my normal writing routine. My ''wanna be'' historical romance is just lying there unfinished, taunting me as if saying ''yep, knew you couldn't stick it out, sucker''. It is smiling an evil smile and laughing it's evil laugh.

I am still capturing data for my previous company. I have a lot of stuff just floating around in my head and it is not the kind of stuff I want to be thinking of. I think it is somehow blocking my creativity. I haven't thought of a single scene in a week. Maybe it is because the couple finally had sex and now all the mystery and previous built up tension is gone (sounds like real life) and now I can't seem to get them to work together.

I will resume the de-bulking of my first manuscript on Thursday. I am forcing myself to get into the editing mode. Must edit...must sleep...must...goodnight.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

FAMILY REUNION UPDATE

The family reunion is finally over and the last guests had left 30 minutes ago. I met some nice members of the family (who didn't know me at all) but I also met a few that I wouldn't mind not ever seeing again. The kind of people that make you wish that alcohol was never discovered.

It was a good idea my mom had, to reaquint us with more relatives from her side. Honestly, we (I really mean me) don't really know most of my moms relatives, I don't know why that is but we just never met before or at least I never met them before. Everybody seemed to know my other siblings and in all fairness my siblings are a bit older than me. I am what we call '' 'n laat lammetjie'' which basically means there is a big age gap between me and the sibling born before me. So I suppose it makes sense that the others are known and I am the one everybody keeps inquiring about a bit too loudly, for example ''Who is this girl?''

The age old saying has been truly tried and proven today, '' You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family''.

Today I found out how big of a leap I am truly taking with trying to become a published writer. My goals really seem like unrealistic dreams at this point. I am writing novels that probably nobody will ever read and sending away query letter to agents overseas when people like my moms family are trying to just make ends meet or are trying their dire best to avoid the evils of the world but losing the battle each time. At some point I considered that we might truly be from two different worlds. It was scary to see how much our priorities differ. And now I can see that I truly live in a dream world.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

OH BOY

Christmas carols are blasting at full volume, cookies baking in the oven and my sister dancing with a smile on her face, probably for the first time this whole year.

Yep, you might have guessed it. My family is preparing for Christmas. My one sister is a bit of a sour puss and she only comes alive for one month of the year and that is December. She loves Christmas. Me, I respect the holiday and it's traditions. But I don't get that overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness the way I did when I was a child. I wish I had my sisters enthusiasm about the whole concept of the festive season but I don't know...It just feels as if though something is missing. As if something perhaps died in me or is broken.

We have a family reunion coming up this weekend. My moms idea. We get to meet the other side of my moms family who we never see or know anything about. It should be interesting. I will let you know how it went.

Operation house cleaning is on the way. I am missing most of it because of the new temporary data capturing job I have. Yeah! But I am sure my mom will find something for me to do.

I have not done any writing since this weekend. No editing either. I am falling behind. Oh well. Life goes on.

So back to real life and my sister singing along to her favorite Christmas Carols at the top of her mighty lungs. Might I add, she has a strong voice for such a skinny person.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?

Who would have thought that I would be making an attempt to write a historical romance novel. Yes people, I am putting it out there, I have begun doing my research and even wrote (as in pen and paper) a few scenes.

I am not romantic myself, which is probably why everybody laughs to my face when I tell them that my writing has a strong romantic theme intertwined with action and drama. I love the guts and gore but I also like the idea of having a guy through me over his shoulder for misbehaving. My sister thinks that idea is just barbaric, but there is just something about a strong man putting me in my place that I like. I guess because I am such a tomboy I find it hard to find guys who can handle me.

So yes, it will focus on the more romantic side of things and believe it or not, it makes me nervous. I am not comfortable writing love scenes. I am working on not blushing as I write it, but hell I just can't help it. The way I was raised it was not appropriate to talk about sex openly (at least not in my family). So here I am, trying to figure out when my characters will be having sex and how exactly I want their first encounter to be. Damn it! I am blushing already. (Big smile).

I am leaning towards the more erotic side. Just for the hell of it. I am breaking out of my own comfort zone so I might as well do it properly and take things as far as I can. I am still such a chicken shit that I won't tell my family about the details of this project. I don't want them praying for my soul just yet. Luckily for me they don't read my blog.  (Wink-Wink).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

NOT SO FAST

I have prepared myself for a series of chores and re-editing of my first manuscript, seeing that I am once again unemployed. But all is not as it seems, at least not anymore. I got a phone call on Friday from the company I used to work for, asking me if I wouldn't mind capturing some data for them, which of course I agreed to do.

It will only be for a week (maximum). So I had to put away the first manuscript for later, or at least till I have more time to get rid of some scenes to make it a more reasonable size. My first thought was that ''hey, how hard can it be to scale down my manuscript? This is going to be easy''. How wrong I was. I can't just end it at an earlier chapter, I have to end it as originally planned. The flow is just not right if I end it earlier. But what I have to do is take out unnecessary sentences and narrative. Even scenes and characters that don't make a significant contribution toward the quality of my manuscript.

I have to come up with another plan on how I am going to edit the first manuscript, while still doing research for the third novel and fitting in traditional house cleaning chores in preparation for Christmas. I will figure everything out. If I have to wait till next year to send out more queries, so be it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS

My day started off good. I got about 2 hours of writing done before me, my mom and sister had to go do our weekly grocery shopping. Then my mom reminded me that I still have to do my yearly jeans shopping. I didn't forget, I intentionally put it off till a later date. Every year I go buy myself a few pairs of jeans. Because I am a jeans and t-shirt girl my jeans take a lot of abuse the whole year long. Hence the yearly jeans buying tradition.

So there I was, on the prowl for a pair of flattering jeans in my size. I found a few and when I went to fit them on...Let me tell you, nothing ruins a woman's day like a failed shopping attempt. The first few didn't fit at all, the others were not flattering and then the last pair were just wrong on so many levels. 

I walked away feeling dejected. So I went to the plus size woman store. I avoid shopping here because the size might be right but the cut of the jeans aren't. So I went into two different plus size stores and found three pairs of jeans that fit perfectly and who were flattering. So I cheered up soon after.

So today I realized that  finding balance in life as well as happiness is like finding a perfect pair of jeans. The end goal might seem impossible when things don't go my way, but if I really know what I want and I keep at it, I might just find what I am looking for. Or even achieve the end goal I was striving for.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

APOLOGY TO LYNETTE BENTON

I would like to apologize to Lynette Benton for the confusion regarding a post of mine being posted to twitter. She has left a comment on her website saying that she had tried to contact me in the past but was unsuccessful. Her only intention was to help me, an aspiring writer out and send more aspiring writers to my blog.

I was a little hasty with expecting the worst and I am a big enough person to apologize for my lack of judgement.

I have done some research and I noticed that she gives very good advice for aspiring writers, so if you are interested you can check her website out here http://lynettebentonwriting.com/

But for the future people, please note that I do not handle surprises well at all. So please let me know before posting any of my material anywhere.

MULTITASKING

I have suddenly become really good at multitasking. I did the washing today and in between washing cycles, which are about 30 minutes, I managed to write a few pages. I did about 4 loads, each having a washing cycle of 30 minutes, so I have gotten 2 hours of writing time, while still completing an important chore. It is very windy today so I could wait for all the loads to finish before hanging it on the close line. So I am pretty chuffed with myself.

I have not been reading any blogs lately so I apologize if I haven't stopped by to give any encouragement or any motivation. But I am sure you are all doing very well and that the ideas are flowing.

I am once again haunted by thoughts and images of my new lead character. She is about to discover her own inner strength and that just makes me happy. Every second I work on her story I am smiling. My family wants to know what it is with me and the stupid grin I have have plastered all over my face.

Well, I am off to clean the house. The sooner I get that done, the sooner I will have more time to write. In the meanwhile I will allow my leading lady to whisper into my ear what she would like to say or do next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ANOTHER BITTER SWEET END

I have officially finished working as a temporary receptionist today. The new lady will start working tomorrow. It was a bitter sweet ending. There were a few nice people that I will really miss. I had gotten use to a certain routine and I will surely miss the income, but I am also glad to be finished. That job was just not meant for me.

I am not worried about future prospect though. It is hard to explain, but somehow I feel as if there is something better waiting for me. I will be looking for a new job, but I am not going to make myself sick if something doesn't come along as quickly as I want it to. I have discovered that nothing in my life happens in the time frame in which I want it. So why worry about something I can't control?

What this means is that I now have more time to finish scaling down my first manuscript and even getting to work on the third. Can't wait.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

SWEET TASTE OF FREEDOM

It has been a few days since my bold declaration of freedom. I must say I am rather enjoying doing things because I want too. It is a whole new experience. Saying what I mean and just saying what is on my mind is a long sought after relief. The need to constantly censor myself was overwhelming and it drove me crazy.

I am blushing even less now when ever I have to write a intimate scene. I can allow my written word to become a little erotic without feeling guilty.

My brother tried to have another talk with me but I just told him that this is who I am. I am not going to change. I am done changing for anyone. Only changes I will make will be for myself. So mentally I am as free as I have always dreamt of being. Finally...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

CUTTING BACK ON THE BULK

As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, an agent gave me some wonderful advice that I just can't pass up on. She mentioned that one of the biggest problems she had with my sample chapters was the very high word count. It was about 145 000 words. The other problem was that certain scenes read as if though I am just dumping information on the reader.

To me that is nothing but good news. A bulky manuscript I can fix, but if she mentioned that I lacked imagination and execution of my idea then I would have been screwed. I have to go back to my first novel and see what I can omit from my manuscript. That is always the hard part for me. Because I think every scene should be in there. As I have mentioned before, my first novel is the first of a planned series, so one solution is ending the book at an earlier chapter and adding the remaining chapters to the second book, which by the way I finished last week. Second option is removing selected scenes from the book.

I originally labeled my book as paranormal romance, but I am even considering including or changing it to the Urban Fantasy genre. I am also aiming to scale it down to at least 115 000-120 000 words. It is still a bit high I know but it is an improvement over the original 145 000 words. I have no idea how I would make my novel work with only 100 000 words. So I have to make those changes before I start querying again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inspiration by the bucket loads

Every so often, like now, I am overwhelmed by an idea for a potential project. So much so that I sort of become obsessed with it. I have been doing the necessary novel planning which is part of my creative process. I am doing research and writing down tons of ideas for possible scenes.

How do I know a project is worth writing about? Well, I know a project is worth writing about when it is all I think about in my spare time. When I am doing one thing, like doing the dishes, and my mind just starts thinking up all sorts of possible scenes and dialogue for that project. When I feel as if though I am going to jump out of my skin if I don't get the words on paper. Those are the projects I write about. The ones that beg me to be written.

Passion also plays a very big part for me. I have to be passionate about a project. If the idea sounds good but I don't get excited about it then I won't write about it.

My current project is making me really excited. I just can't seem to do enough research or plan enough. I love the story and I just hope I can make it sound as wonderful on paper as I see things playing out in my head. As I am spending more time creating the characters and their unique personalities, I seem to be getting more and more attached to them.

I have not started typing it out on the computer yet. I tend to do the rough drafts on paper, in long hand. Crazy I know, but somehow it just works for me.

Well, I am off to do some writing on my story.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who am I supposed to be?

Yesterday I had a interesting talk with my brother. It was about knowing when to change yourself to fit into the world. About being someone else when in public and only being myself when at home. But last night I had officially had it with being told what to do and pretending to be someone else for other's sake.

Today at work I let my true colors show and people didn't talk to me half as much as they used to and I was rather happy about it. My work contract expires the 30th of November 2010 and to be honest I can't wait. I am counting down the days.

So what brought on this talk with my brother? Well, it was about me being unemployed. He thinks that I have a bad attitude, which I don't agree with. When at work I am always professional and courteous and to be honest, being all smiles and crap just got me trampled on. The real me usually tells people what I think when I am thinking it. And apparently being like that won't get me employed. But pretending to be this happy and bubbly person has done nothing but make me unhappy and get me low paying jobs. Pretending to be a weak and fragile person is not in my nature and I refuse to be like that for any bodies sake. Not anymore anyway. So I told him to stop trying to change me.

Thinking and writing as I am now would probably get me in trouble with my family but I don't care. Being happy to me is more important than anything. Having the freedom to say what I think is priceless to me. And my family doesn't get it. Though I know writing does not pay my bills it keeps me content. I know who I am as a person and I know what I want out of life. How many people can say that? Some people go on many life changing journey's without having ever discovered what their life is all about or who they really are.

I have faith that I will find another job soon and this time I will make sure it is a job I can actually making a living on. I am done working for minimum wages. I have a degree after all, even though it has not helped me much this far. But I just can't do something just for the sake of doing it. It ruins me as a person. I have to see purpose in it.

I might never become a published writer, this much I know, but I will damn well try. Even if I have to do it under a pen name, it makes no matter to me. As long as my work gets read. You may have noticed I took all the advertisements off my blog. I think it gives people the wrong impression of me. Because I can promise you that it is not all about the money. Never was. But that is in the past. I am moving on.

I am done changing. If people don't like me for who I am than tough shit.Honestly, I am done worrying about it. Life is too short to worry about living up to any bodies expectations. So if people have a problem with me being fat as well , than it is their problem. I am who I am and I am damn proud of it. When I exercise, it will be because I want to do it. Not because someone tells me to.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FIRST DRAFT OF BOOK TWO IS DONE!

I am so glad that I have finally finished the first draft of book two. I have a word count of 104 000. Though, I am not sure how I am going to allow myself to give the novel a resting period. To me it is always hard to distance myself for the necessary break.

I already have another writing project in the works. It is very different from my other two novels. It is a stand alone novel about the lives of a Viking-like race. What they do and shining more light on their behaviors. Of course I will have to weave a love story in there somewhere, but like I say it is in the works. All the details are yet to be sorted out.

I am reading Fires Of Winter by Johanna Lindsey at the moment and thus far I am loving every moment of it. I love her writing style and she just had me hooked from the first page. So loving her. And I am learning a lot about the viking way of living.

Got a brilliant rejection letter today. It has been my best rejection letter to date. It was very encouraging, the agent gave me some wonderful advice that I will definitely be taking.

Oh, and I gave my letter of resignation at work. It was only a temporary job and they had the job interviews for the position and didn't even invite me, even though I applied. so I decided, seeing that they will be employing a new person soon anyway, I will resign and be free of their ridiculous demands once and for all. I will be an unemployed aspiring writer again soon, but rather that than making myself sick over a job I hate.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NEW PROSPECT

My brother has given me a new possible prospect to consider. He has suggested that I apply for a postgraduate degree. I didn't consider it at first but now, after it has been marinading in my thoughts for days, I am actually considering it.

I am not sure which faculty I would like to apply to or what I would like to do my postgraduate study in, but I will figure that out. I am not sure how much time I will spend on my writing then. It sort of sounds like a bad case of dejavu. I gave up writing when I started on my Bachelors degree program a few years back. But this time I don't want to give it up no matter what. I will just have to get a lot better at juggling my priorities.

It is not a definite thing yet and there is still the funding to consider so maybe it is not as much of a prospect as I am thinking. But just the thought makes me feel a little happy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Decisions...Decisions

Today is a better day for me. The pity party is finally over. So I am finished crying over things I can't do or control and rather focus on that which I can.

Like I said yesterday, I haven't been doing any writing on my second novel lately, but I am eager to get back to it again soon. Hopefully this weekend. I have to start figuring out how I want this couples story to end. I already made notes on how I want it to end but it just doesn't sound right. This novel is a bit darker than the first and the couple has been through so much. So I am wondering whether or not to give them a sweet, yet simple ending. The other option of course is to add another troublesome twist. Decisions....Decisions.

I am trying to motivate myself to send away more query letters. I must say I am not as enthusiastic about it as I was a few weeks ago. No matter how strong you are as a person, when nobody seems to believe in your work the way you do, it can be a bit disheartening. But I can't give up. At least not yet. I have to keep trying. I just have to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bit of a slump

Every now and then one tends to experience a bit of a slump in one's life, whether it be professional or personal. At the moment I am experiencing one of those much hated slumps. I can't seem to get myself to look on the positive side at the moment.

Today at work I was having another one of my bad days and I was asking myself what is the point? Why do I still keep writing? It doesn't change anything about my life. Yes, it makes me feel good for a while but as I have had pointed out to me by various people; writing doesn't pay bills, put food on the table or provide safety. So what is the point? Today I don't have that answer. But yesterday I was sure to think of something.

I don't know why I am in such a horrid mood at the moment. Maybe because I am still not 100% healthy yet or maybe it is the fact that I have a huge cold soar the size of a human head on my top lip. It could also be because I haven't written anything accept a few blog posts for the past month or maybe it is the fact that my whole family now knows about my unsuccessful pursuit towards representation.

All my rejection letters are accounted for now. I sent out 7 query letters, gotten back 4 ''no thank you'' letters and the other three said that they would let me know if they were interested. The time that they gave me, in which to expect a response, is far past the deadline. So I think it is safe to say that those three are a NO too or even a HELL NO!

I have already gotten the next batch of agents email addresses lined up for the next set of queries. But that little devil that sometimes sits on my shoulder and whispers nothing but little evil taunts is having a very busy day today. I am experiencing nothing but doubt. I am not sure if I am a talented writer or if my project is good enough. I know thoughts like that is a sure way to fail but that is truly what I am thinking and how I feel.

Monday, November 15, 2010

THEME SONG

I don't know if any of you who have ever visited facebook had ever been sent the quiz ''Theme song to your life''. I had and it was some happy song which I didn't agree with. Anyway, so I was thinking, if you...an aspiring writer, would have to choose one song or a music style to represent your style of writing or the essence of your current writing project what would it be?

I thought about this a lot yesterday and I couldn't really choose one specific song but...I would say that my style of writing (when it comes to novels) would fall in the Linkin Park category. Sometimes things are calm and other times there is just so much going on that you could say my characters are definitely rocking it. However, my love scenes itself tend to be more on the folk music side.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

FEELING BETTER

Firstly, thank you for the well wishes that I received while I was a bit ill. I really appreciated it. It made my day.

I am feeling a bit better. My head finally stopped spinning and my stomach isn't burning as fiery hot as it used to. It is just smouldering at the moment. But I went for the scope (where they stick a camera down your throat) and we finally got a diagnoses. Yay! I have Gastritis, aka, inflammation in the stomach lining. I got some new medication which I think is helping but only time will tell. Hopefully this is the end of my medical drama and I can get back to my writing.

While I was lying in my bed, waiting for my head to stop swimming I thought of something. I am currently writing a series! Which I think is sort of career suicide for an unpublished writer. I didn't intend on writing a series, but I couldn't just end the first book like that. I wasn't finished with those two characters and seeing as I am close to finishing the second one (which is a follow up of the first) I suddenly got an idea for new characters for the third book but one or two characters from the first two books making a small appearance here and there.

But getting back to it being career suicide...I now face the dilemma that if I don't get an agent to take on my first book then there is no use querying the second because you need to have read the first one to comprehend the second. So yes, I didn't quite think this through. Maybe I need to write a stand alone book. But my head is not really focused on that. It still wants to add to my unintentional series.

I honestly can't worry about any of that right now. I am going back to bed. Happy writing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

WHEN EVERYTHING JUST COMES TO A SUDDEN HALT

My life feels like one big surprise party. To some people that might sound like mind blowing fun but to me it is just scary. I hate surprises and one thing I hate even more than being caught off guard is being surrounded by too many people. I hate crowds. I can't stand it!

Yesterday I got sick at work and my big brother came to the rescue. After seeing me first hand he rushed me to our Doctor. I asked him not to tell our mother, because she would lose her mind as she stressed herself into oblivion. Anyway, after the doctor examined me, he too was worried. So I was sent for another sonar, but this time for all my organs and at another doctors office than the one I used before.

After being there for hours and hours we went back to my doctor who all but jumped in the air because the sonar couldn't pick something up meaning it is nothing life threatening. So he diagnosed me (drum role please) with an Ulcer. But he is not sure till I go for that test where they send a scope down your throat. Big brother is sorting that out and making sure I get an appointment as soon as possible.

Anyway, when I got home my mother was already waiting for me like a lion on the prowl in the Serengeti. Getting ready to make her kill. Because one of my brother's work colleagues called home to ask if I was doing better, remember my mom didn't know yet, because he heard I got sick at work. So much for not telling her. So my whole home environment is awkward and tense. It makes me feel even sicker. My head is killing me and my stomach is burning as if it is on fire, literally. My mom threw a tantrum as she always does and is giving all of us the silent treatment, after she scolded me of course.

My writing is put on hold yet again. My mother hates it when I write and if I write while I am sick she will just be even angrier. She quickly stopped out that's why I snuck to the computer room to write this post.

Oh, and I got my fourth rejection letter yesterday too. It was hiding in my brother's inbox. He said he didn't read it but I know the fact that I started querying agents isn't going to be a secret anymore.

See you when I see you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

WRITING IN FIRST PERSON

I personally find it easy and natural to write in the first person. In fact the very first time I started writing I started off in the first person. All my projects are written from a first person perspective. I tried writing in the third person but I found it to be quite difficult and hard to tap into my characters. So I just decided that I just can't do it.

Because I am such an over emotional person it just feels so natural when I write about how my point of view character (POV) is feeling or what she is thinking. I love putting myself in her shoes. Letting myself feel what she feels, seeing things the way she does and finding the best way to describe her reaction to everyday situations.

To me it's like acting. I put myself in her shoes without ever forcing her to be in mine. I don't write about myself though I am the one playing around in my own head. What I also like about writing in the first person is that the reader discovers each new character the same way the POV character does and gets to know them just as she does. If I don't make sense I apologize. It's just hard for me to explain exactly in words how I do it. Ironic, I know, considering that I want to be a writer and that is what writers do.

For those of you that don't know what I am talking about well her is a simplified explanation:

First person narrative: the writer uses ''I said'', ''I thought'' or ''I felt'', etc.

Second person narrative: the writer uses ''you knocked on the door'' or ''you feel'', etc.

Third person narrative: the writer uses ''she/he said'' or ''she/he thought'' and so on .

There are also further sub-categories of each of the above types of narrative which I will not dare get into but you are welcome to do further research about on http://www.google.com/

So my question for you today, my lovely blog readers is ''Which point of view do you prefer when writing and why?''

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LOSING YOUR VOICE AS A WRITER

I started working on my second book, which follows on the first one, and I felt as if my narrative voice completely changed. I have previously written it more than halfway and left it to edit my first manuscript. Now I can't get myself to write the second novel with the same or at least similar outlook. I am now stuck with a novel which is half me of 6 months ago and another half that is me at the present time.

I read a lot of books, fiction and nonfiction a like, the past few months and I thoroughly enjoyed most of them. But now I am not the same writer I was just a few months ago. I know that you are supposed to read as many books in your genre and of your favorite authors, pick up on their style, see what makes their writing brilliant, while still maintaining that essential thing that makes you...you.

Well I screwed up big time. My whole attitude and style of writing has changed. Which I suppose can be a good thing. Growing as a writer is necessary. In all the books I read, about helping one write better, the authors always talk about growing and your writing evolving. So maybe that is what I am experiencing.

But is there a chance that one can lose oneself in all those books? Can it be that reading so much about rules, do's and don'ts and what ever others offer as wisdom, make you lose your originality, writing personality or in my case, writing voice?

I think I just have to read through my book and try to recapture the essence of the novel. Make myself understand why I wrote what I did, when I did.

So what do you think? Can one lose one's voice as a writer or is that just nonsense?

Friday, October 29, 2010

It is official - I am a Moron

It is official Ladies and Gentlemen. I know many of you have thought it but now I can finally admit it is true. I am a Moron.

I read Gift by Ursula Le Guin and I am sorry to say it but I didn't like it. No disrespect to Ursula Le Guin. After all she has written more than 60 books, most of them if not all are bestsellers. Who am I to say I didn't like this book? A nobody! But I will not be finishing this book. Sorry.

The way the book begins and the way the whole story flows and progresses...I just didn't find it stimulating. It felt like a chore reading it. I refused to have paid for another book and not have read it. I finally stopped at page 100.

Why buy it if you or not planing to read it? Honestly, I have never read any of her other works but according to the Internet she is a must read author. I also picked her book because she is said to be the best Fantasy writer alive and because the first page read so easily. And to be honest that should have been a hint because the first page starts telling a story and by the third page I flipped to the front to see if there hadn't been a book written before that one because I was feeling lost already.

I read the reviews for this book online and all of them said that the book was excellent, easy to read and easy to comprehend. So yeah, I am a Moron. I seem to be the only person who read it and not like it.

Signed the Moron.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Feeling good when you want to cry

I got some bad news yesterday and it was the kind of news that can have an impact on the rest of my life. But anyway the point I want to make is that I have been sulking about it, in fact I still am, and I shouldn't be. Everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason or so I believe.

So I was wondering what would be the best way to get over the bad news and get on with my life? I can't sulk forever and at some point I am going to get over what ever it is that is bothering me. But why wait till then? Why not speed up the emotional recovery process? If that is possible. And if it can be done, how do I go about doing it?

Here is what I did:

1. Comfort food helps, though I won't specify which because to each his own.

2. Exercise. I know that when you feel down in the dumps the last thing you want to do is exercise, but exercise provides your body with endorphins which in turn makes you feel happy.

3. Think happy thoughts. I know that it is a stupid thing to say but if you think negatively you will feel negative emotions.

4. Surround yourself with positive people. The last thing you want to do when you are already feeling down is listen to friends complain about their problems.

The most important reason for my search for a quick fix is that when I feel better I also tend to write better. I never want my writing to suffer because of my emotional instability in my personal life.

But I am over myself and focusing on the future and worrying about things that I actually can change instead of worrying about something that I can't.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Alert: MyFreeRead.com Is Spamming Again

I just read about this scam on Writer Beware and I thought I should let you all know about it.

Alert: MyFreeRead.com Is Spamming Again

TOO ''FAT'' FOR LIFE

I finally got my test results back after two painful needle pricks and one uncomfortable sonar moment that revealed more about my own body then I wanted to know.

Anyway moving along. The specialist doctor I was referred to (sonar woman a.k.a the villain) felt that the reason I have been having problems with ill health was the fact that I am just too fat. That if I was thin I wouldn't have problems with fluctuating hormone levels and bad health. Basically she spent 2 minutes telling me I was fine, that there was nothing wrong with me (out of the ordinary) besides that I was fat. Then she spent the next 15 minutes lecturing me about being fat. Basically she just hates fat people.

In my defence I have started with a life change. I started counting my calories and exercising regularly. OK, I don't lose weight like crazy but I do lose weight. According to my previous dietitian predictions losing 0,5 kg a week is good and healthy. But no, ''Miss Sonar woman'' thinks that if I was really counting calories that I would have been at my goal weight already.

Moving On. I have been prescribed medication that I will have to be on for the rest of my life to keep my hormone balance stable (this is the same problem I had when I was skinny by the way. But according to her I was still fat then too). The funny thing is the medication my own doctor prescribed me is the same medication I used before when I packed on the weight I have now. But apparently it is the best. A trial and error process. So lets hope it doesn't make me even fatter.

So yeah, I am feeling a little down. But I have a reason to be. To have someone basically talk to you as if you weren't even human, as if you were some grotesque alien specie is hurtful. She was almost at the point of implying that every bad thing that ever happened to me was because I am fat, which was even more upsetting. Usually I would have said something back but I was in too much shock.

To make matters worse...when I went back to my own doctor to get my prescription the receptionist said ''Hi, I hear one of these days I am going to see a skinny you instead'' which meant ''Miss Sonar woman'' had put that into my results report for my doctor to read and because the receptionist handles all the administration she had read the report too. She is a sweet lady but I don't want everybody discussing me! Oh... the horror!

I only started having problems with my health lately when I started losing weight. So as a fatty I was healthy. But I feel a lot better now that I talked about this. I think blogging can be therapeutic.

So according to ''Miss Sonar Woman'' I am just too ''fat'' for life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

THIRD REJECTION LETTER

Today is not one of my better days. I had more tests done for the doctor and when I thought my day was over, my third rejection letter was already waiting for me in my inbox. This time it said that my project was not right for their agency.

The writing of my second book is going well. Should be able to finish it before the end of this year.

Still smiling but craving cake.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BRILLIANT READ

I just finished reading THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by ANNE FRANK and I thought it was brilliant. Written from her perspective while she was 13 - 15 years of age.

Her maturity and out look on life at her age was shocking. At her tender age she grasped concepts about life and love that most of us adults will never begin to understand. I think what made it even more moving for me was that she explained things so clearly that it wasn't hard for me to see things through her eyes. Anne Frank had a wonderful spirit that refused to be broken no matter what. Her courage was admirable and as I came to the end of the book I found myself wishing and hoping that the book ended differently but it didn't. When I was done I wanted to cry. She was a brilliant mind and she had such a love for life.

Which made me think to myself that I should be grateful for the few loved ones I have and for the fact that I am as blessed as I am. Because she too deserved to survive and live her happily ever after, but as you know she never did. And like most of us she too wanted to be a writer. And what a talented writer she would have been.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TOO MUCH PASSION!

I went to the Doctor yesterday and his diagnosis was stress. Well I don't think it is stress but he's the Doctor right? Anyway, my mom and my brother seems to think that I should stop writing. They feel that it is my writing that is causing my stress. I of course, like the rebel that I am, disagree. I think that my writing is the only thing keeping me from falling apart. It's my comfort blanket so to speak.

There is no way that I am giving it up or stopping again. I made that mistake before and still regret it to this day.

My one sister thinks I get the headaches because I am too passionate. She thinks that I pour too much energy into everything that I do. I can't help it. If I do something I want to be sure it is done to the best of my ability and that it is as perfect as I could make it. Maybe my sister is right. Maybe I am too passionate. Because I do put a lot of emotion into every word I write. But all writers do that right?

I am just not a half hearted woman. When I love, I love with my whole heart and when I care about something I care with all of my being. Is that really such a crime? Is that not what living is all about? There are very few things (even fewer people) I truly care about. But when I do find something or someone I care about I hold onto it. So yes, I can be a little too passionate but that is who I am.

So now I am on all kinds of medication to relieve my symptoms. But at the moment I feel as if I am in some weird daze. I feel as if I can't focus and I am just unbelievably tired which I wasn't before. If anything, I think it is my frustration with my job that is really driving me crazy. Just sitting there...waiting for the phone to ring and then getting attitude from all kinds of people the whole day long is enough to give anyone a series of headaches right?

I just hope I stop having the headaches sometime soon. I don't want to have another discussion about my writing and more importantly I don't want to pay the Doctor anymore money to tell me I am stressed.

I try not to think of the other query letters that I sent out last week (which I have not gotten a reply from yet). I don't want to drive myself crazy. I try to read a lot to distract myself. And I even agreed to spend a few minutes a day with my punching bag. My brother bought a treadmill so maybe physical activity can keep me preoccupied and stress free.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What's new?

I have recently added the presence of a stress ball to my life. And no, it is not just because of the latest stress of submitting my MS, but also because apparently my work and work environment causes stress for me. I drive all my colleagues crazy because I am not content just squeezing the life out of the little ball. No, I play catch by myself and bounce it on my desk repeatedly.

I have been having problems with headaches since last Wednesday and for some strange reason they just won't go away. But I am going to the doctor tomorrow anyway so maybe stress isn't the reason for my headaches after all.

I also managed to do 10 minutes of kick boxing yesterday. I know it's not really an achievement but I didn't get a heart attack while doing it so that was an achievement on its own. But I won't lie. My body feels as if though it has been to war.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2nd REJECTION LETTER

Yeah, the post title says it all. I got my second rejection letter today. And like the first one it was a very nice rejection letter. Once again the agent said that she didn't think that she was the right agent for my project.

All I am thinking is ''Why are they responding so quickly?'' I know most writers wait months and months for a response and never get one. But seriously. Is it a good thing that agents respond within a day of me sending the query or is it a really bad thing? Is it so bad that they decided after the first sentence that they didn't like my writing?

Anyway, I am still smiling. Still pushing on. And I am very grateful for every response I get, regardless of what it says. So thank you to the agents for taking the time to respond to my query letter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book 2

I have also started on book 2 again. I am a little more than halfway. I stopped writing to do the final editing on my first book (which is finally done!)

It feels absolutely fantastic to be back to the actual writing part. I learned a lot during the editing process and I see how vital it is, but creating the story is definitely my favorite part. And note to self, All future editing is to be done by me alone.

FIRST REJECTION LETTER

I got my first rejection letter today. I don't know if that is a bad thing or a good thing that I heard back so soon. I was waiting for the standard 4-8 week reply. But I am grateful for the reply. And one can tell that I am a newbie at the query process because I am so excited to have gotten a response.

Basically the agent just told me that she didn't think that she was the best agent for my project but she wished me the best of luck with my search for an agent. I thought that was very nice of her, but maybe that is just a standard reply and I am just being overly excited.

As you can guess I am smiling like a damn fool. I always said that I couldn't wait for my first rejection letter and now I finally have one. Luckily for me it was a nice one. It could have been worse.

But I am still smiling.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

TOO LATE TO TURN BACK NOW!

I did it. I finally did it. I sent away my first 6 query letters.

I am suddenly very nervous and now I get what you mean Heather, when you say ''THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART''. Because I have OCD, I am driving myself crazy with thoughts like, did I address it properly? Did I write my query letter properly or is my manuscript any good? But it is out there now so I will see what happens.

The funny thing is that nobody except the people whom I have queried and the few people that actually read my blog knows about me starting my querying process. I decided to keep it a secret from my family. I don't need them stressing me out or judging me at the moment. Ignorance is bliss, right?

I am going to try my best to forget about those 6 queries and go on with life as usual (yeah right!). I have to if I expect to remain sane for the next 2 months. That's how long query responses can take (if you get a response back at all) and sometimes even longer. So patience, which has never been one of my virtues, will have to be my new companion.

I guess watching MMA is not such a good idea for me. It makes me all confident and brave. Then I start sending out query letters without planning to. Stupid or is it about time?

I personally think it is a mixture of both. I just wanted to start submitting already, but the controlling part of me wanted to wait till every little detail was perfect, which is ironic because to me there will always be something to fix. But I am going to shut up now and go do something to distract me.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

GUILTY LITTLE PLEASURE

As everybody knows...I am taking a little bit of a break before finishing my second project. So in the mean time I have had time to do all the things I have been setting aside for myself and even picking up on a few new trends (or in my case guilty pleasures).

I am addicted to watching American Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). And No...I am not joking. I used to watch a match here or there on the Internet and I even used to watch Bully Beatdown Religiously. But I stopped because Bully Beatdown ended and I needed to finish my book. But lately there has been no excuses to stop me from googling my favorite fighters and watching some of their fights that I have missed.

And No...I don't just watch it for the violence. I sort of use all the testosterone for fights scenes in my book but minus the large amount of grappling. The only person the Hero in my book will straddle beneath him will hopefully be my heroine.

But Yes. I am a big Jason ''Mayhem'' Miller and Andrei ''The Pitbull'' Arlovski fan. Now I just hope I can stop watching old fights so that I can go back to reality.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

GIRL POWER

Me, my mom and two sisters got a bit down and dirty with the power tools as we did yet another one of my moms little renovating projects. I am covered in sawdust but playing around with a few power tools is well worth it. It makes me feel all tough.

My brother, of course, was off on yet another one of his spiritual adventures (not that I have a problem with religion) but it is good that we females do handy work for ourselves. We learn to be independent and why wait for a man to do it for you when you can just as easily do it yourself? At least that is what I say. I love my brother but I can't always wait around for him to do stuff for me.

Apparently our next project is painting my one sisters room this weekend. I can't even slip away or use my "I'm sorry I am writing'' excuse because they saw me celebrate as I printed up my manuscript last night. What an idiot I can be sometimes.

So that whole rest and take it easy thing is out the window for me. But book number two is already in the works. Just taking a bit more time off before I begin again.

MY PERSONAL ''MUST HAVE''

I have just finished reading The Art Of War For Writers by James Scott Bell. And I found it to be a good book to have regardless of what stage of your writing you are at in your life. Whether you are a beginner or a professional writer, it doesn't matter. He explains everyday scenarios very well and I personally learned a lot of new things too.

He tells you plainly what life as a professional writer is like and he even talks about how to survive and prosper as an aspiring writer. In my personal opinion I think it is a must have, especially if you are anything like me. I constantly feel lost in this whole journey of trying to get published and some days I just don't know how to handle certain problems.

Just thought I should share this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BABY STEPS

Tonight I printed my newly edited manuscript to have it proofread and I was all emotional. I felt like and idiot but it also felt like such a big achievement. It has truly become my baby.

I am reveling in the smell of printer ink and smiling at the burning sensation at the tips of my fingers from my newly acquired paper cuts. Thanks to the sorting of various chapters to make it easier to read. The sound of the crisp white pages shuffling, still sings a song in my head. Oh, the memory.

I know what you are thinking ''Did this woman take her medication this morning?''. But it is just a big thing to me. I am one step closer to my goal which is to start querying agents.

Baby steps, little baby steps...but I am getting there.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

THAT'S A WRAP!

I am finally done with my editing (loud scream for effect).

It has taken me a while but I am done. I must say I am relieved. It was becoming like the never ending battle. Even though I still have to give the finished product to my romance novel loving sister to proofread. Even then I can just tweak it where ever she might have encountered a problem but the ''working through the novel with a fine tooth comb'' part is finally over.

Must say that I did learn a lot during the whole process. The next novel I write will definitely have the proper formatting and I will apply all the new knowledge I have learned to my next project. So editing the next novel should be easier, in theory.

I am just smiling like a fool right now. Well I am off to get my much deserved sleep.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PROGRESS REPORT

Today was one of my very bad days. Things at work were just stressful and horrible. I nearly quit but I reminded myself that I needed the income.

My editing is going very slow. I have about 200 pages left to edit. That is without the changes my friend had suggested. But so far I am happy with my novel. But when I am done editing I will give it to my oldest sister to proofread. She loves her romance novels and she is very honest and extremely critical of any new writers in that category. She will definitely tell me if it is crap. She has been reading every type of romance novel available for the past 32 years. So I think her opinion, from a readers perspective, will be very valuable.

Made a list of possible agents I want to query, today. I am still doing my research regarding the various agents. I am working on my query letter and synopsis in the mean time as well.

Slowly but surely I am making progress.

ANOTHER AUTHOR TO ADD TO MY FAVORITE LIST

I discovered a new author (for me at least) last week, courtesy of my sisters varying taste in romance novels. You might already know and love her but I read her one book "Darkest Night'' and I just fell in love with Gena Showalter's style of writing as well as each and everyone of the Lords of the underworld.

So now I am reading as much of her novels as possible. The Lords of the Underworld series is exquisite. I just love it. Love it. Love it. I can't seem to get enough.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SUGAR

I have recently discovered my calming agent. That one thing that pulls me through one of those tough times, that makes me forget about all my troubles. Sugar.

Honestly. Whether it be a simple thing like a glass of coke, a bite of a chocolate bar or (pause for effect) A cupcake! Even frozen yogurt does the trick. I don't know how, I don't know why but it completely turns my mood right around.

Though I don't think eating to calm your nerves is the best thing to do. I am working on breathing techniques at the moment to deal with the stress, but if I want a quick fix, I just need to eat a sweet and I am relaxed.

Weird, I know. After my friends criticism of my novel I finally indulged on cupcakes and I felt better. And soon after that I convinced myself to accept the criticism and write it off as a way to develop a thicker skin. Because apparently you need one if you are even considering submitting your work to anyone.

But yeah, sugar. It is my friend and yet it is also my enemy. My brother always tells me ''A moment on the lips but forever on the hips''. Sad...But true.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BRING IT ON!

I am officially done sulking and pouting. I have made peace with the fact that my novel will need work and I am ready to make the changes.

Most importantly, I changed my attitude about the way how I view my novel and even though I don't welcome criticism, I am ready for it and require it.

So bring it on!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

DISGRUNTLED

I am just going to come out and say it. I am a hypocrite!

I have told many writers to keep at their craft and to believe in their novels and their ideas but when I got some serious criticism myself I wasn't feeling so positive anymore. I am pretty upset but I am not thinking of quiting writing or anything. I am just pondering whether or not I should make the suggested changes to my novel.

Yet it is a whole different story when someone criticizes your book like that. I would like to apologize to all my fellow writers that I had given comments to. I now understand what you went through and I apologize for any obnoxious comments I might have made.

I am still in a state of shock though. Here I was worrying about spelling mistakes and overuse of commas and then Bam! Someone drops a bomb on you and suggests rewriting.

I was so upset that I finally ate that damn cupcake I have been craving for ages and it was fantastic! So I had another one. OOPS!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WRITING AND LIFE

As I was sitting at my work desk pondering the complexities of life (yeah right) I thought about the life of an aspiring writer. Not exactly how our lives unfold thanks to our writing aspirations but the actual way we live our lives. How much of our life is dedicated to writing and how much of our life is dedicated to everything else?

I use to play guitar, but I never play anymore. If I'm not working I write or edit. I don't really make time for anything else anymore but I suppose that I should. I have a little obsession with reading writer Biographies and I noticed that some writers like Christine Feehan have a lot going on in their lives besides writing. Now for those of you who know about Christine Feehan knows that she has published over 40 books in the last 11 years while taking care of her family of 12 and still obtaining her black belt in martial arts.

I know that a lot of us say that being a writer is who we are, I am one of them. But does that mean we shouldn't do other things with our lives too? Or does it mean for us to find a balance between everything? That writing is just another dimension to our life?

I know I have complained about my job a lot but maybe it is a good thing that I have two different lives entirely. Because at what part of my life do I say this is the writer part of me and this is who I really am when I am not writing? To walk around with a writers mentality 24/7 can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ROLLER COASTER OF EMOTIONS

I actually did a lot of editing tonight and during the editing process I realised what an emotional drama queen I am. Just a few days ago I was complaining about how bad my editing was going and today I found it a lot easier to do.

I don't know about my fellow writers but I think this whole writing journey feels like one big emotional roller coaster. Some days I feel as if everything is going well for me and other days I feel as if the universe is against me. My emotional state constantly varying.

What ever mood I am in determines how my story progresses. Which at times provides me with very interesting twists and turns. So all in all my crazy roller coaster of emotions comes in handy every so often.

Only setback is that sometimes your creative turmoil starts to show in your work. I had a few chapters where I could immediately pick up where my writing was more sloppy then the previous chapters. I knew when I wrote it I wasn't feeling very happy but I didn't think it would have an effect on my writing, until it came to the editing phase. Now I can see how I felt on which day because it is definitely showing in my book. But most of it is fixed now. Thank goodness.

I am off to bed to get a good nights rest. Happy writing everybody!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I HATE YOU, BUT I ALSO LOVE YOU!

I have reached the stage in the editing process where I feel as if I want to burn my own novel to a cinder. I am at my editing breaking point.

I know it is just a necessary phase in the whole editing process but I am going crazy. Every time I read through my novel I find yet another mistake that I didn't get the first time. There is always something to fix. Will I ever get to the point where I will be satisfied? I damn well hope so!

Now on another note, I also love my novel. I think it is a good piece of work. Then again all writers think their work is good, until someone else rips it to shreds. I guess that's why I am forcing myself to make the novel perfect because I love it so much.

In one of my previous posts about my editing I told you about how, for some strange reason I can't seem to fathom at the moment, I put unnecessary commas through out my entire novel. Don't ask me why I did, because I really don't know myself. Anyway, after I edited my novel for the third time I thought I got them all. But today I wanted to check up on an already edited chapter and what do I find? More Unnecessary commas! I don't know how I had missed it. But somehow I did. Now I have to do a fourth edit which is more like my final read through before I have it proofread.

It just feels like editing is turning out to be the never ending battle. Believe me, I am tired of my own whining too.

Good news is that I still love my characters and I still believe in my book. I at least know why I am doing this. To be a published writer someday for those who don't know. Which is strange because I never wanted to be published. I just wanted to write for myself. But lately I have this sudden drive to get published. And no it is not for the money. I just love writing and to see my end product on a shelf somewhere would be great. To get paid to do what you love wouldn't be so bad either, but it is not essential. I have survived on minimum wages this far.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WORKING FULL TIME AND FINDING TIME TO WRITE

This might sound like a mediocre problem but I assure you it is a very serious problem and it has been a great source of frustration for me the past few months. I feel drawn to one field of interest while I am forced to do another. And let's face it, we as writers need to work even if we wish we could write full time.

So I have compiled a list of things that I try to keep in mind when having a panic attack:

Give yourself some time to adjust to your work schedule. It took me a month to get into the groove of things and sometimes I am still too tired to write.

Take it slow and just remember not to worry about things beyond your control.

Don't try to force the inspiration when it is lacking.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is taking a break from writing. That is truly the quickest way for me to get back into things full swing.

When you need that break, take it. I found it hard walking away from a project for a few days but when I came back I was more eager to finish it then I was before.

Work out a writing schedule. I know many writers don't like this approach but just allocate some time for writing and stick to it. I tell myself that on weekdays from 20:00 PM-21:00 PM is my writing time, whether I use it for blogging, editing or writing, that is my allocated writing time. On weekends I edit every minute of my spare time. Some days it is 5-6 hours other days it is 3-4 hours.

Keep a pen and paper handy to write down ideas. Whether you are in a meeting and an idea for a brilliant scene pops in your head, write it down. I write my ideas in an email and mail it home.

Get enough sleep. I know that there is just not enough time for everything in one day but being overly tired only messes with your sleeping pattern and on the long term it is counter productive because the worst thing you can do, is over exercise your brain. And I know it sounds stupid but get enough sleep.

Try not to get ahead of yourself. I am guilty of this myself. The writing and editing process is not a race. If it takes months to edit then deal with it. Don't worry about the submissions of your manuscript until it is time to worry about them. Just focus on the actual writing or editing of your manuscript.

Be positive and believe in yourself. I know this sounds phony but believe it or not it is important. At times I feel like I just want to cry out of frustration. I want so badly to just write but then I have to smile at work and pretend to be the happiest person in the world. It is easy to lose faith in yourself and in your dreams, but keep at it. When it gets hard keep pushing through. Wanting to be a published writer is not an easy thing. But if it is what you really want then you have to persevere.

So that is my list. I keep a printed copy of these suggestions with me at all times. When I am having a hissy fit I tell myself to shut up and read the list. And I struggle everyday to maintain a balance and to fit everything in. Of course there are other writers who don't struggle to find balance. I am happy for those writers but unfortunately I am not one of them.

So , back to work for me and happy writing to everybody else.

I FOUND A SOLUTION - I THINK

I think I have found a way for me to tap into my inspiration. The best way for me, to get back into my writing groove is to do anything but writing. I know that is very contradictory but it works for me. So when I am lacking inspiration I will just go to work and spend the rest of my time doing things I don’t like and before I know it, I am filled with ideas and inspiration.

The whole idea of ignoring the need to write seems to be the trigger or maybe it is the whole reverse psychology thing that gets the creative juices flowing but so far it has worked for me.
The only problem I have then is to find time to write down or document those ideas.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

WHAT MAKES ME LOVE YOU?

While editing my novel I started wondering about the likability of characters. I couldn't help but think ‘’should my characters say that or shouldn't they?’’. And what really got me thinking is what is it about male characters that female readers really like? Let’s face it, if you want to write any book for the romance market, you are mostly going to be writing for female readers.

So what I am getting at is what is it about the male love interest that makes the female readers croon? What is it about him that makes your readers come back for more?

The reason I am asking is because the male love interest in my book possesses qualities that I myself would never even consider in a male partner. He is arrogant, selfish and rude. Yet he seems to poses some strange sense of charm that makes him likable. I hate him but I love him too.

Here are a few qualities I look at when creating my male love interests:

• A Strong personality (To compete with the strong personality of my female character)

• Masculinity (So that the female character's Independence doesn't seem overpowering)

• Assertiveness (Basically the Alpha male)

• A sense of Charm (But not a Casanova)

• An Off-beat, but yet likable demeanor (It makes him unique)

I suppose the list can go on and on, but those are the basics for me. Like in Life, I can’t have my female character date a guy that is more feminine then she is. He can't hide behind her when danger is near. He has to be worth liking. She should feel that when she is with him that she is safe and that nothing can hurt her. She has to instantly know that this guy is a good future prospect. Even though I know looks are very important too, I just don't really spend pages upon pages explaining how gorgeous he is. There's nothing wrong with it if you do.

I thought that I would be creating the perfect man for me and bring him to life in the pages of my novel but apparently not. At times I can't seem to stand the male character in my book.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two worlds

I am currently at a weird stage of my life. I am in between worlds at the moment, if it is even possible. I am in the here and now while I might have the opportunity to live in the ''what could be''.

As you know my current position as a receptionist is only temporary-till they can find a permanent replacement for the one that retired. I of course applied for the job even though I hate it, which translates to limited writing and editing time.

However, if I don't get the job I will be unemployed yet again, but I will have all the time in the world to finish editing and possibly even finish writing my second book.

At least at the end of the month I will know if I have a job or not. The job applications closed on 3 September. So the next few weeks should be interesting.

I haven't edited any of my work since Sunday. I am losing my rhythm. I am becoming lazy! But there is honestly just not enough time in the day for everything. But what can I do? I have to work. Every time I think I am done with a certain chapter I decide to change the damn thing again. I suppose that is why I feel as if I am not making any progress. This is going to be my last edit and then I am going to let the chips fall where they may.

I miss blogging and reading all my favourite blogs. I miss writing in general. I feel like I did a few years ago. I feel lost. I could never have imagined that writing would provide balance in my life.

I am still struggling to stay sane, regarding the fact that I am forcing myself to be two different people. By day I am the receptionist and by night I am the writer. But such is life. And no, you can't use my crappy life as inspiration for a story. I might need to write a memoir myself someday. HA! HA! HA!

Monday, August 30, 2010

BREATHE

I am having one of my many anxiety high moments. I am becoming slightly overwhelmed concerning my personal conflict between the person I am and the person I want to be. Say what?

I want to write. But I also need to work. Obviously the paying job gets priority, but as a person I am suffocating. I spend 8 Hours at work answering phones, helping visitors and just acting like an efficient machine for others. When I get home I have about 3-4 hours to edit, but unfortunately I also have to do other chores too. Personally I want to finish editing my manuscript. I want to write on other projects but I just don't get the time. Weekends I still don't get to just write which is highly frustrating.

I am mentally pushing myself everyday, when in reality I just don't have the time to make all the changes I have to make. Not doing what my instincts tell me is making me feel as if though I am betraying my passion, as if I am not being true to myself.

The irony is that a few years ago I stopped writing completely and almost didn't notice the absence because I was so convinced that it was for the better. But now that I have to limit my writing intentionally...it is driving me insane!

I have to constantly remind myself to just breathe. Breathe...breathe and yes...breath.

I guess what I am whining about is spending 40 hours a week pretending to smile and answering phones when I wish I could rather spend it doing what I love. I bet if that was possible there would be a lot more happy people in the world. However, nothing is more frustrating than having tons of inspiration and ideas, but being incapable of implementing it.

It feels as if the writer part of me is dying to get out but the receptionist personality is standing in her way. Why can't the uptight witch be the less prominent personality!

Breathe...breathe...breathe and breathe...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I CAN'T STOP CONTROLLING EVERYTHING!

What is it about life that just makes some of us think we have any say or power in what happens to us? I think it is determination. As long as there is still a breath in my body I will try and create a better life or circumstances for myself. I just can't help it. Every time I say I am going to stop being controlling I just end up being even more obsessive and determined to succeed then before.

I have done many changes to my manuscript. I am constantly pushing myself to edit more and believe it or not...I am driving myself absolutely crazy. My body screams, ''enough already!'', while my brain just pushes on and says ''just one more chapter...just one more''. Talk about being conflicted.

I know that in the end it won't matter how fast I complete this manuscript. The result will be the same. I just have to learn to pace myself. I am surprised with my own enthusiasm to start submitting. I never wanted to submit my work before but suddenly as the manuscript is taking shape and no longer looking like gibberish, I have this compulsive urge to submit my manuscript.

But I have to force myself to be calm and focus on the job at hand. I have to finish editing my manuscript. I now understand why some writers hate editing. It takes forever to do and then you still have to go make the changes on the computer. But it is all necessary, I know. I think the trick to editing is taking long regular breaks. When you get to the stage where your shoulders ache or your butt has fallen asleep then it is definitely time for a break.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

EDITING AGAIN

I feel like the phrase " I'm back '' is required after my 5 day absence from the blogging world. Though I know it is not required.

I know I might get a few tongue lashings for this but I finally got my other half of my manuscript (ms) back on Monday. I got a few very helpful suggestions. I however am editing it again myself. My friend didn't suggest any drastic changes or big issues with the ms and I personally feel that drastic changes need to be made. All in all I got a lot of credit for creativity. So I am happy with that. Guess being a bit of a drama queen comes in handy after all.

I have to get back to my large stack of unedited pages. Happy writing everybody.




Thursday, August 19, 2010

A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY

I have recently decided to change my blogging habits. I am forcing myself to blog a bit less and spend more time actually writing my novel. Thus far it is working out well. I have finished a whole chapter this week so I am delighted with that.

I won't lie, I rather like blogging. It is a good way for me to vent but I'm not really good at it. I just complain a lot.

I might have very little time but I make sure that I do something productive with the little time I do have. And since I started writing full force again, I sleep like a baby. No more insomnia either.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time

Time is still the one factor that eludes us. The one thing we can't bend or break to fit our needs. Whether we want more time to finish a deadline or the ability to go back in time to fix past mistakes, we still crave the ability to have some what control of our destiny. At least that is how I feel.

I would love to just wake up one morning and press a little remote control and go forward in time about 5 years to see if I did have the guts to submit my manuscript or if I did get published. Just that little indication that you don't have to worry about the future that everything will be OK.

However that is not the way life works. You can only ever do the best that you can do. We can't change the past, but yet we live in it. We can't predict the future, but yet we fear it. Time is completely out of our control, yet we still try our best to manipulate it.

The worst thing for me about time is the fact that you have to have a huge amount of patience. I want to start submitting my manuscript now because I feel like life is passing me by, but deep down I know my work is not ready yet. I am trying to make life work out according to my plans, instead of me needing to adapt to life's little curve balls.

Trying not to be a control freak is a daily challenge. But I have plenty of time to sort everything out. I think we as humans have to stop worrying about factors beyond our control. Easier said then done, I know. But it is a necessary step unfortunately.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

I woke up this morning feeling very excited. I felt like it was time for a change, so I went ahead and cut my hair pixie style. I absolutely love the result. I think short hair suits me and my personality better. I feel happy about my new hairstyle and it just makes me feel inspired.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

PLEASE, JUST GIVE ME A CUPCAKE!

I had the biggest craving for a cupcakes at work today. I spent hours imagining all the kinds of fillings. I even thought of what one would taste like. Yum!

I know it sounds crazy, but hallucinating about cupcakes sounds like a wonderful past time to me. I didn't eat one though. It didn't fit into my calorie ratio for the day. Damn! One day...one day I will have one again. Not now though. Watching the weight and all that stuff.

But if I could dream about cupcakes, I would.


SHUT UP ALREADY!

After reviewing some of the notes on my second manuscript and comparing it with my first manuscript, I noticed that I tend to ramble on a bit when I write. My point of view character (POV) is constantly just chatting up a storm in her head. I thought that was just unique to my one character, but no. All my other POV characters are equally as chatty. I don't mind it, but readers might.

I suppose the reason they talk non-stop, is because I do too. My family and anyone who has ever read my blog could vouch for that. I don't mean to run my mouth but it just happens.

Naturally, I will have to address that in both manuscripts as well. Second one is far from done and the 1st manuscript is still only edited halfway. Don't worry. I am getting my ass in gear and psyching myself up for more editing. I am doing the outline for yet another idea. I have all the ideas and so little time to make any of it a reality.

Here I go again...running my mouth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another day in the life of yet another aspiring writer. I didn't do much writing, sorry nothing new on that front. I was a wine pourer at my brother's wine tasting today. I did it after work of course and it was actually very interesting. My newly acquired wine certificate is coming in handy already. Great.

Other news is that I have inflammation in the cartilage in my chest. Don't ask me how I got that right, I just know it hurts. But thanks to the injection the Doctor gave me, I feel no pain and I am floating on cloud nine right now. Yay for me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

HAPPY WOMANS DAY

It is National Woman's Day in South Africa today and for that reason I want to wish all my fellow females across the world, a Happy Woman's Day. Even if you don't celebrate it today, be proud that you are a female anyway.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I RATHER LIKE SELF-EDITING

I did a lot of editing today. I finished about half of my manuscript, but I already think that I should make more changes. I guess that is the thing about editing. You never feel truly satisfied with your own work. You always think ''Hey, I can make this even better''.

But I don't think I should change too much in my manuscript. Only the spelling errors and wrong use of commas, which I found out there were plenty of. The reason for that is that I liked the first draft and all I had to do was add a bit more meat to the skeleton and then I ended up rewriting the whole damn thing and now I am changing everything back to almost the exact same style as the first draft.

I also picked up the words I tend to use too much. Then, suddenly, But and Because. I used these words so much that I annoyed myself reading through it. Not to mention that for some strange reason during the second draft, I put commas everywhere accept where they needed to be. The most daunting task was reading through the whole manuscript to remove them.

Another thing that is difficult for me is removing scenes or sentences. I feel as if I am gutting my manuscript. Deep down I know that those words don't fit, but I want them there anyway. However, I took a deep breath and made the necessary cuts.

I rather like self-editing. The only problem is that it is very exhausting, but what makes it easier is taking a lot of breaks, regularly. I feel stupid for thinking that I needed someone else to do this for me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

ALLERGIC TO HUMANS

It is long weekend seeing that Monday the 9Th of August (woman's day) is a public Holiday. Besides my own family, I am staying away from all other humans. I seem to bring out the worst in other people.

Even my town, which I used to love, I cant stand anymore. As the town got bigger, so did the peoples attitudes. I don't see what is so hard about everyone just doing their job and minding their own business the rest of the time.

I think I might be allergic to human beings, truly. I can stay isolated in our house for weeks without longing for the company of other humans. I actually prefer to be by myself. My mother doesn't think I am normal and for once I actually agree with her.

Why am I ranting on and on again? Well, after work me and my one sister had to go buy some veggies and the girl at the till completely ignored us as we asked for a bag and when she added our total she just glared at me as I requested our bag for the second time. Then she just tosses the bag to one side and refused to pack my groceries in the bag. Now I am no snob, but she gets paid to do it and why the hell would I make her earn her money so easily? I sarcastically mentioned to her that I was probably supposed to pack in my own groceries and you would not believe the attitude I got. I had to leave before I insulted this woman and as I walked away she screamed insults behind my back. I had to restrain myself or I would probably have punched her in the face.

Just because I don't like interacting with other humans doesn't mean I am weak and defenseless. Being a weirdo like me during school, I had to learn to take care of myself. I have this philosophy that if I treat you with respect I deserve the same common courtesy and if you are awful to me then trust me, I can be very awful too.

I suppose what I don't get about us humans is why we can't just be civil. At work I would never treat a client or even a co-worker with disrespect, so why does someone else think that it is OK to treat me like that? I always say please and thank you and I will always be polite even when I am furious, because I think my fellow human beings deserves it.

Guess I can use this anger for a scene in my next book, blah.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Problems with my blog

I have been having a problem with my blog. Apparently I am not able to post anything on my blog. But I hope to sort that out soon.

Celebrating

Today was a good day for me. I took the day off from work to celebrate my sisters birthday. I got in a very good workout, which I feel great about. Because of all the celebrating I didn't get any writing or editing done. But I know I will get lots done this weekend.

The temporary reception job I am doing now is advertised in the local papers as a permanent job. I applied for it, just so that I can have an income. Don't know if I will actually get it though. I am applying for another job too. It is a reception job/wine sales/administration job. But I won't stress about it. If I get it, I get it, if I don't then just too bad. I just can't worry about things out of my control anymore.

FUNNY

As I was sitting at my desk yesterday, doing my job and minding my business, one of my co-workers approaches me and asks me for a pen. He had some document he wanted to fill in. But then, as he starts filling in the form he mentions that my brother (we work for the same company, but I got the job on my own, no nepotism) told him I wanted to be a writer.

My eyes were bulging inside my head. I am not ashamed of being an aspiring writer, but I don't want everyone knowing that I want to be one. Anyway, I smile politely and nod. He then mentions to me that his youngest daughter, who is at university, wants to be a writer too and that she has spent the last year researching how to become a writer.

I wish her the best of luck though. I hope that writing will one day make her as happy as it makes me.