Monday, January 31, 2011

OFF ON HOLIDAY!

I am all packed and ready for my holiday. I will be back Friday evening, so I won't be writing any blog posts till then.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A to Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE IN APRIL 2011

I am so excited. This is the first time that I will be participating in a blogfest! It is a big challenge but I will try my best to pull it off. Thank you Heather for inviting me. I really appreciate it.
Please, feel free to come join me and fellow bloggers during the month of April to participate in this fun (hopefully) and exciting challenge! Just be sure to sign up before April. Good Luck to everyone and hope to see you there!



http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

How does the Challenge work?

The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays. In doing this you will have 26 blog posts--one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

You will only be limited by your own imagination in this challenge. There is an unlimited universe of possibilities. You can post essays, short pieces of fiction, poetry, recipes, travel sketches, or anything else you would like to write about. You don't have to be a writer to do this. You can post photos, including samples of your own art or craftwork. Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.

I AM FREE!

I have finally finished my job at the college and I guess it's no secret that I am very happy about it. I am just not the kind of person to work as a receptionist. I don't have the personality for it. Stick me in a office with lots of paperwork and tons of data capturing and I am happy. I suppose that's why I love writing. In the end it's just me and the computer and at times even blank pages. Writing can be a very solitary thing and that's what I love about it, but I also blog, therefore I get to interact with other writers and that makes me feel hopeful. It let's me know that I am not the only one out there.

Next week I am going on a week long holiday by the beach. I am looking forward to it. I can hardly wait. I am not taking a computer with me so I will be writing most of my stories freehand.

I finally got my novel bellow the 100 000 word mark! I am very chuffed about that. I was surprised how many times I used certain words over and over. I am reading through it again to make sure it still makes sense and that I didn't change too much of the original storyline which I love. I am also on the look out for more things I can cut from the manuscript. I am yet to rewrite my query letters. I am trying to find a better hook. I am also redoing the synopsis. This time I will be doing a long and short version. I didn't do a long version of my synopsis before because I couldn't make it sound good. So I am working on it.

I was thinking of entering a blog hop the other day but in the end I chickened out. I was so afraid to let more people read my blog posts and writing. I lack confidence in the writing department. Having people read my blogs as it is now doesn't bother me because I know almost nobody reads it. But when I would be part of a blog hop and people do read my stuff and hate it, well, there would be no hiding then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DREAMING

When ever I heard someone tell me that I had to follow my dreams and if I did that my dreams would come true, I always just ignored the advice and thought this person must be crazy. But today I actually realized how true that saying is.

No, not all our dreams will come true exactly how we planned, but, those dreams are what keeps us motivated and inspired. It gives us something to strive for. Today I realized, after not writing for a few days (blogging doesn't count), how easy it is to just give up on that dream. One of my many dreams is to be a successfully published author. And after working at my current job, where I constantly feel overwhelmed by inquiries and demands, it is all too easy to say ''I am too tired to write today or pursue this treacherous query process any further. If it was meant to be it will be.''

I felt like that today, but almost immediately I reminded myself that this is something I really want. I am not the type of person that will feel fulfilled with a 9-5 desk job. I have far too much things going on in my head. So it is not that stupid to do everything in your human power to try and makes your dreams come true. If we don't have our dreams then what do we have?

It is the thing that stops us from becoming bitter and hopeless. It is the thing that stops me from just fading into nothingness. So people, don't be afraid to dream big and don't be to proud to try your damnedest to make it come true.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

WELCOME AND THANK YOU!

Welcome and thank you to Kristin Miller for following my blog! I am always excited and happy to have a new follower.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW AND NOTHING BORROWED

SOMETHING OLD
Had a horrific day at work today. I have never been so close to tears of anger as I have been today. I think I was more upset with the fact that I am not allowed to retaliate or defend myself when potential students or their parents are rude to me, but I should just have said my say and have had them fire me. I think I would have been happier but that would probably look bad on my CV, seeing that I wouldn't be able to use them as a reference.

SOMETHING NEW
Anyway, I finally finished the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents and it was a wonderful and insightful book, not to mention very helpful, seeing that I get tons of New Agencies I can possibly query. So I would recommend it to anyone who needs more help with their writing or who needs a more detailed lay out of how things work in the world of publishing. I will definitely do a bit more research and tweak my manuscript before querying again. I also read about agent pet peeves and I am guilty of a few things, for example:

Starting a scene with someone waking up from the sound of the alarm clock.

Having a bit too much narrative which tends to make the novel read slowly.

Not having a good balance between showing and telling.

Repetitive words or sentences. (Big problem for me).

Too much pointless dialogue.

NOTHING BORROWED
As you see I picked up quite a lot of things. I also rewrote my whole first chapter and it is almost just as terrible as my original first chapter. I also decided to rewrite my query letter and synopsis. I am definitely doing something wrong (besides that my first chapter sucks). Because there were a few agencies who just wanted a query letter, no synopsis or sample pages allowed and I wasn't even requested to provide a synopsis or anything afterward. So I am thinking that maybe my query letter isn't polite or professional enough. Apparently agents like queries where one's personality shines through and perhaps I give off the vibe that I don't have one or perhaps I come across as being too dull.

Anyway, I talk to much. Have a wonderful day and best of luck with which endeavours you attempt.

Friday, January 14, 2011

JUST A THOUGHT

The night air is warm but tolerable. The sun has faded and all that can be seen is the lights in the black sky. I sigh in relief, thankful that the night has come. For there is a comforting quiet all around. I feel as if I can hear the very breath of nature. She sounds content.
I suddenly hear the sounds of crickets and even they sound happy. As if they know something I do not. I smile, for I do enjoy this simple pleasure of natures company. Even though I feel it, I am never really alone. Nature is always around, blessing me with it's presence. For that, I am thankful.

Just a thought I had.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I CAN SEE THE LIGHT!

My pity party is finally over. Whew! I decided to pull myself together. Actually, when I woke up this morning I didn't feel as if the veil of gloom was hanging over me. I felt refreshed and ready to go.

I was so upset last night that when I sat down to write my horror scene, I ended up writing about something completely different and I finished 2 chapters.

My day at work was also better. I worked with two other ladies and they were a lot more helpful and we just worked well together. They didn't allow me to feel overwhelmed or stressed. My prayers were answered.

So back to reality.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING!

As I was driving to and from work today, people kept on trying to kill me. Seriously! This one guy cuts in in front of me just as I was preparing to take my turn off and as I was driving home a truck almost drives over me, because I didn't feel like driving in front of oncoming traffic. There were far to many cars speeding and I didn't want to end up killed.

Speaking of killed. My one cousin (from my moms side) lost her husband in a car crash yesterday. A truck smashed into his car. He was a sweet man.

To top everything off, I felt like a complete moron today. I didn't know what was going on most of the time and I kept messing stuff up. When I got to work this morning everyone was bombarding me with questions I didn't know any of the damn answers too!

I am so angry with myself right now. Why couldn't I have chosen a better degree program? How the hell did I get to be so damn low down the career ladder?

I think I am going to go write a horror scene now. One where I go to work with a chainsaw and hack everyone to pieces slowly (big smile). Yep, sounds like a damn fine plan to me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

WARNING! PITY PARTY AHEAD!!

Did you ever feel as if you are drowning in negativity? As if there is a heavy weight on your heart and you struggle to breath? You are trying to recover from one blow and then another hits you from behind, when you least expect it. Then there's the adding to an already heavy load.

That's me today. If you are having a similar day to mine then I advise you not to read further because I am feeling damn sorry for myself.

I went to the College, where I am suppose to start work tomorrow, and if you are anything like my mother you can probably guess that I didn't like it. It just doesn't feel right. The whole experience feels like a big punch to the gut. Not to mention the way people keep referring to me as the new temporary girl.

I went to church yesterday and the people there made me feel unwelcome and I felt awkward. I have been going to the same church since I was born and I will admit I don't go to church regularly but it doesn't mean I don't have faith. I believe in God and a power much greater than myself. I feel closer to God on my own than I do in my church. I know a lot of you will hate me for saying that.

I just have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have had it since the beginning of the new year and I just can't shake it. Every time something awful happens to me I feel like it is the end of the world and I know it is not. It just feels like it.

I got two more rejection letters. No surprise there. I got this weird feeling last week. The little voice in my head said ''Send away a few more queries. Do it. Do It!'' And hell, I did it, with disastrous results. The rejections didn't really get me down but the time they arrived I was already having a lot of personal problems and it just broke me.

I am not writing anymore. I am at a blank wall. I truly feel as if I am just drowning at the moment. I am making everyone around me miserable.

I am doubting my talent as a writer too. I just feel like a wanna-be at the moment. My brother bought me, The Guide to Literary Agents 2011 and The Writers Market 2011 for my birthday. He really wants me to succeed and my whole family is really supportive now. Their support is coming at a time when I am at my least creative and when I am having the most doubt about my writing and the fact if I have any talent at all. Ironic.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I LOVE DAYS LIKE THESE

Today was a very special day for me and I enjoyed it even more because I spent it with my wonderful family. They do give me a lot of crap and they do drive me crazy but they are always there for me when it counts. Not to mention that they are always ready and willing to pick up the pieces when I fall apart.

I feel really blessed and I am ashamed to say that I do at times take them for granted.

I am also starting a new job on Tuesday. I will be working at a college, at the bursary department. I am not sure what the job entails, but I start training on Tuesday and it is only for a month, so yeah, good day all round.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

DIFFERANCE IN WHO I WRITE FOR

Last night was unbearably hot. I couldn’t sleep and while I was tossing and turning I realized something. I am amateur at writing! It is not a bad thing. Because I know why I say that.

Every aspiring writer has to answer one basic question. Who is your target audience?

What do I mean by that? Well simply stated, do you write for yourself or do you write to one day be a published author, thus writing for others?

I am an amateur writer because even though I have been writing for more than 10 years, I only started writing for other people, 1 year ago. All my previous work had been written by me—for me. I never intended for anybody else to read it and I surely never thought about ever publishing my work.

In December 2009 I finished writing the first draft of my first novel. I thought that it was good and that I wanted to publish it. My one sister insisted that I should think of pursuing publishing. I spent most of 2010 editing and writing up more drafts of the same book. I thought I was doing splendidly and when it was time for the querying process I learned how far I was off the pace.

When you write for yourself there are fewer rules. The only rule is to follow your own rules. Therefore, I always wrote long hand, thus, I never bothered to check spelling and grammar. I never needed to worry about the type of font or font size I was using. There was no need to know which genre I was writing for or who my target audience was. My goal was to write the stories I wanted to—how I wanted to—anyway I wanted to. So I guess I sacrificed a lot of technique and finer details in the end.

When I finally decided I wanted to write to be published, I thought I could get away with my previous approach of writing and as you know I didn’t. Writing novels fit for publication is hard. It basically pushes everything you did while writing for yourself, right out of the window.

Here are a few differences I noted:


  • I started writing my manuscripts on the computer.

  • I had to learn to add 1 inch margins to my entire manuscript.

  • Did I mention double spacing my manuscript for submission?

  • I had to know that I had to indent every first sentence of every paragraph ( go to Microsoft word—right click—go to paragraph—Go to indentation—Go to special and select first line).

  • I had to reintroduce myself to the rules of grammar and spelling.

  • I had to learn to edit and edit some more and when I thought I had edited enough, I had to edit again.

  • I had to learn more about the actual art of writing because till very recently I discovered I didn’t know much. I still have a problem with things like showing and telling, not to mention keeping in mind the different writing styles.

  • I had to learn to write a synopsis and query letter.


    The good thing is that I now know what I did wrong before and I can make changes. I can seek out ways to improve my skill level of writing. That, I think, is the best part about life. You are consistently learning new things all the time. Everything is constantly changing.

    I am even trying to find out more about publishing. I would like to educate myself. Before I just thought ''all I have to do is submit my novel, because surely someone will love it and then they will publish it! I will be a writer and I can live happily ever after.'' Man, was I wrong!

    So basically, if you want to be published you have to abide by the rules of the publishing world. And basically everyone is looking for well written ( polished and ready to go to print as is) manuscripts.

    And if you just want to write for yourself—not caring about all the publishing stuff...then good for you! Keep up what you are doing. Enjoy it and don't stop, not matter what.
  • Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    HELL ON EARTH!

    It is fiery hot here people! Seriously, it is 32 ◦C inside the house and no I am not joking. What makes it bad is that it is a very dry heat . It is like the very air you breath is warm and there is not even a hint of a cool summer breeze. I have been living in the same town all my life and every summer, I swear, it just gets hotter and hotter.

    Why is the heat relevant you ask? Well, I can't seem to think in this heat. I am just sitting in front of the fan and drinking cold water. I can't imagine how the reproduction rate here—could be so high, honestly. It is scorching and you are sweating like a pig on a hot plate. The last thing I want is another hot sweaty body anywhere near me. But I guess where there is a will, there is a way. And no, contrary to what people believe about South Africa, we are not primitive people running around in loin cloths with wild animals running around. Our wildlife are in wildlife reserves and believe it or not, most of the species are endangered at the moment. So you will be very lucky if you see any wildlife that isn't a springbok, zebra or any other form of a four legged herbivore, walking around anywhere in South Africa.

    We have busy cities and towns just like anywhere else in the world. And like most of the world we also have very rural areas where people prefer a more primitive kind of lifestyle. I personally think the Western Cape is the best part of the country, yes because I was born and raised here, but also because even though we have big cities and stuff, it is not as fast paced as other provinces in the country. Besides, it is beautiful here and everyone else in South Africa, comes here for a holiday. The Western Cape is just the place to be. And yes, it can be very hot in the summer.

    I guess if any other South Africans from other provinces read this, I will be getting a lot of hate mail. There is a constant rivalry between the people of different parts of South Africa. Because each province thinks they are the best and well...you get the picture. But it's not a violent type of rivalry, just a verbal one, so don't worry.

    Anyway, I am going to try and resume my guitar lessons. I quite after my brother was hospitalized last year, so I am finally resuming my lessons, a year later. I am embracing my creativity and driving my brother crazy while doing it (big smile). My brother once told me, right before starting college, ''You can be anything you want, but just don't come to me one day and tell me you are an artist type person''. Ha! Ha! Ha! I am sure you can put aspiring writer under a artist type person.

    Anyway, enjoy the rest of your day. And Unfortunately for some...I will be back soon. HA! HA! Ha!

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    DE-BULKING IS DONE!

    I finally finished the reshaping of my novel. I started out with 145 000 words and I am proud to say that I brought it down to 106 000 words.

    I had to end the novel at a very earlier stage but seeing that it is the first book of a planned series, I guess it is ok. There will just be a lot more editing for the second book, seeing that the book will continue where the first one ended.

    I kept the first one light and it only has romantic elements, where the second one is more of a love story. So I am not sure if I can classify something as a paranormal romance novel if it only has romantic elements. But I will figure that out.

    I am not sure what my New approach is for my blog. Everyone is either spicing up or changing their blogs. I am aiming to get a few more followers on my blog this year. But first I have to think of ways to make my blog interesting or worth reading. I don't think my blog is very good and my small following, I think, is kind of proof of that.

    So if the posts are a bit dreary, don't worry I am thinking of ways to make it better.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    FIRST CHAPTER

    Here is my first chapter of my first novel Immortal: New Beginning. It is the novel I have spent most of last year editing. I am still not completely happy with it but I thought I will put myself out there and hear what you all have to say.

    Please, be nice. I hope you enjoy. Sorry about the weird formatting.

    Chapter 1
    I spent 23 years…searching. That’s how long I have been alive. Never really knowing what it is I am looking for—just trying to fill the empty hole on the inside of me which felt as if it was getting bigger as I got older. It feels as if something or someone is missing. And it didn’t help that I was dumped on an orphanages doorstep when I was only 3 month’s old either.
    I was walking to work this morning. It was my way to de-stress before a hard day of work.
    Oak Tree city was just like any other city—lots of skyscrapers and no sign of green foliage anywhere, along with millions of people rushing to get to work on time.
    I reached my office building a lot faster than I wanted. On my way to my office I walked past my boss, Anna. She pretended not to see me and I was rather happy about it.
    My mood changed as soon as I walked into my office.
    I noticed that there were close to 50 files that needed to be organized and the information needed to be updated. But as usual, everything was shuffled together. Someone’s idea of a practical joke. But I wasn’t laughing.
    Sometimes I felt capable of terrible things like I could commit murder. Not that I ever would.
    As I was reaching for the first file I heard the clicking of high heels coming my way. I knew exactly who it was. Only one person could sound as uncoordinated as her. Petra!
    ‘’Think happy thoughts’’ I told myself.
    I had to psyche myself up to talk to her. My job was tolerable, but the people around me made me feel like an undercover serial killer.
    Petra always has a smug smile on her face which already ticks me off. She always pops into my office without knocking and then there’s the meaning less conversations.
    Suddenly my office door yanks open and I knew who it was. The office troll Petra, right on time like I thought.
    She had the smug smile I despised spread across her ridiculously over made-up face.
    Then she spoke, her voice sounding even more annoying and arrogant than her face ‘’Anna needs those 50 files before 16:00 today’’.
    I felt like screaming, ‘’I quit bitch!’’. But I had to fight especially hard to restrain myself today and I needed the money. Besides this was a good job. Another good job like this might be hard to come by if not impossible.
    “I will have them by then’’ I spoke as calm as I could muster for the moment.
    She was glaring at me now, keeping that smug grin on her face and pissing me of by the second.
    ‘’Have them ready by 15:00 instead. You know if you quit you can daydream everyday on your own time’’ she said in that smug arrogant tone she always had to her voice.
    “Slap her Claire!” that’s what the little voice in my head said.
    “Maybe tomorrow’’ I spoke through my teeth, answering both the voice in my head and Petra at the same time.
    ‘’Did you hear? I might get promoted’’ she said smiling
    ‘’Hah’’ I replied not interested in this conversation in the least.
    I felt like stapling her mouth shut with my stapler.
    Out of nowhere the smell of cotton candy filled my office. I closed my eyes and took in the smell. I suddenly felt calm, not agitated at all. The scent was sweet but still sort of masculine smelling. My mind felt as if it was standing still as if I couldn’t think at all.
    I opened my eyes to find Petra staring at me totally bewildered. Why wasn’t she appreciating the smell the way I was?
    ‘’Do you smell that? It’s…’’ I stopped short of speaking any further.
    “There is nothing to smell except the smell of pen ink. You are so odd. Sometimes you give me the creeps you psycho’’ she responded storming out of my office.
    I just sat there smiling, taking in the wonderful aroma. She seemed unsettled by my reaction. Maybe I should creep her out more often.
    I stood up trying to find out where the scent was coming from but as quickly as it appeared it disappeared.
    When the scent was gone I could focus again. I could let my mind kick start.
    I immediately went to work.
    * * *
    I put the files on Anna’s desk at 14:40.
    As I was leaving her office the smell hit me again. It wasn’t as assaulting and aggressive on my senses as the first time I smelled it, yet still absurdly appealing.
    The smell was coming from the reception area. I walked over to the reception area, but nobody besides our surly receptionist was there and I knew instantly she wasn’t the source.
    I walked back to my office feeling like I was losing my mind. Nobody seemed to be bothered by the smell except for me.
    ‘’Pull yourself together Claire. You can’t become crazy now. Not yet’’ I told myself.
    It was finally 17:00. It was time to go home!
    I couldn’t help but smile as I left. I had 2 days of rest. No work, no wonderful but strange scents driving me crazy—just relaxation. It was weekend!

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

    The 1st of January has come and gone. My personal deadline of 31 December 2010 (for my editing deadline) has also past and no, I did not finish. But we are heading full swing into a new year.

    I spent most of my day sleeping and watching movies like Ghostbusters and Cry baby with my family and just enjoying a good laugh with my loved ones. Usually we make a big affair about going into the new year but not this year.

    I was so relaxed that I didn't make a single new years resolution. All of my family members named at least one. My only answer, when they prompted me, was that I was not going to make any new years resolutions. Instead I was going to take each day as it came. I have made lists of goals and dreams my whole life and in truth, I am done making lists of which I only achieve one or maybe even two of those items on my lists.

    This year I am not making any plans or writing down any dreams or goals. This year I will try my hardest instead to make them a reality. To live for the here and now or simply to just live! I know what I want and I know who I am. I might not know what my future or tomorrow holds and I might not know exactly how I might make my dreams a reality yet but I am not worried about it. I have noticed that in my case...things have a odd way of working out. Not in the manner in which I wanted or hoped but I get steered in a good direction regardless.

    I hope all of you had a wonderful day and that the year holds nothing but wonderful things for you.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2011 brings you all nothing but good-luck and that all your wishes do come true!

    Just finished ending the old year and welcoming a new year with my wonderful family. I have truly been blessed in 2010 and I can only hope to have at least a tiny bit of it's blessings in 2011.

    May your year ahead be blessed!