Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Update

Bruno Mars @ the 2011 MTV VMA's
Did you watch 'em?

This won't be a long post, as I've got to put in some time on the WIP this morning before hitting the normal get-ready-for-work routine.  Just wanted to let you guys know things have been a little strange and hectic in our household as of late, which is the main reason why you haven't seen a lot of posting here and the fanfiction hasn't been updated in, like, forever.  But my husband and I are expecting our first child (12 weeks today!), and the adjustment has been far harder than I originally anticipated.  I sleep A LOT--nap for 2+ hours in the evening, then sleep all night. However, my wonderful Doc tells me this should be subsiding within the next week-2 weeks. So, I should be up and running like normal soon, though I'm certain I'll have to play some catch-up first.

However, I've been reading quite a bit lately, though I did sneak in a few hours to watch the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, because I'm a sucker for live performances.  Just finished Kristan Higgins' March 2011 release My One and Only. Wonderful characters and writing, as usual, though the plot seemed to be a trifle flawed at times. The heroine was strong and humorous, the hero sexy as all get-out. And the secondary characters added so much color, I really don't know that one could've been rightfully cut without taking away from the overall feel of the novel.

So, what have you been reading? Where's your bookmark? I'd love to pick up something new next trip to the bookstore!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

P.S. As a treat, I figured I'd share my fave performance from the VMA's. It's Bruno Mars' rendition/tribute to Amy Winehouse's Valerie. Phenomenal. I so have a cougar crush on this kid. (By the way, this isn't the best recording; I'm sure MTV's having a field day ripping this stuff off YouTube as soon as it hits.)


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Never Give Up

As you may or may not know, Le Muse and I are sort of on the road to recovery. After a two week stint of non-production, we're showing up at the keyboard, trying our darndest to put some sense onto the page. For those of you who are fortunate enough to sit down, write a book all the way through, without the slightest setback or the least bit of sigh... I'm sooo over this story, so, what's next?!... I commend you. Because for me, it's been pretty much the same with all my novels: around mid-book, I get a little bored.

However! I did say I'm on the road to recovery, right? And that's so true. Inspiration has showed up in all forms: friends, readers, articles, and, yes, even witnessing the success of fellow authors. That's why I want to share this with you today. I'm certain we're all familiar with the current box office hit The Help, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. As writers, I'm also pretty sure we're aware of the fact that this film derived from the bestselling novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

But... did you know Kathryn's novel was rejected 60 times before someone finally gave her a break? Wow. I know, right? And I'm all bent out of shape over, like, ten or so. Here's the thing: We can't give up. YOU can't give up. So, if you've been feeling a little down and out about your manuscript lately, or, perhaps, if you just need a little inspiration, check out this article Kathryn wrote about never giving up.

If you ask my husband my best trait, he’ll smile and say, “She never gives up.” But if you ask him my worst trait, he’ll get a funny tic in his cheek, narrow his eyes and hiss, “She. Never. Gives. Up.”
It took me a year and a half to write my earliest version of The Help. I’d told most of my friends and family what I was working on. Why not? We are compelled to talk about our passions. When I’d polished my story, I announced it was done and mailed it to a literary agent.
Six weeks later, I received a rejection letter from the agent, stating, “Story did not sustain my interest.” I was thrilled! I called my friends and told them I’d gotten my first rejection! Right away, I went back to editing. I was sure I could make the story tenser, more riveting, better.
A few months later, I sent it to a few more agents. And received a few more rejections. Well, more like 15. I was a little less giddy this time, but I kept my chin up. “Maybe the next book will be the one,” a friend said. Next book? I wasn’t about to move on to the next one just because of a few stupid letters. I wanted to write this book.
A year and a half later, I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry. “You have so much resolve, Kathryn,” a friend said to me. “How do you keep yourself from feeling like this has been just a huge waste of your time?”
That was a hard weekend. I spent it in pajamas, slothing around that racetrack of self-pity—you know the one, from sofa to chair to bed to refrigerator, starting over again on the sofa. But I couldn’t let go of The Help. Call it tenacity, call it resolve or call it what my husband calls it: stubbornness.
After rejection number 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.
Sometimes I’d go to literary conferences, just to be around other writers trying to get published. I’d inevitably meet some successful writer who’d tell me, “Just keep at it. I received 14 rejections before I finally got an agent. Fourteen. How many have you gotten?”
By rejection number 45, I was truly neurotic. It was all I could think about—revising the book, making it better, getting an agent, getting it published. I insisted on rewriting the last chapter an hour before I was due at the hospital to give birth to my daughter. I would not go to the hospital until I’d typed The End. I was still poring over my research in my hospital room when the nurse looked at me like I wasn’t human and said in a New Jersey accent, “Put the book down, you nut job—you’re crowning.”
It got worse. I started lying to my husband. It was as if I were having an affair—with 10 black maids and a skinny white girl. After my daughter was born, I began sneaking off to hotels on the weekends to get in a few hours of writing. I’m off to the Poconos! Off on a girls’ weekend! I’d say. Meanwhile, I’d be at the Comfort Inn around the corner. It was an awful way to act, but—for God’s sake—I could not make myself give up.
In the end, I received 60 rejections forThe Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me. What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books.
The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.
And if your friends make fun of you for chasing your dream, remember—just lie.
The article was written by Kathryn Stockett.

You can find Kathryn's wonderful debut novel on Amazon.com and bookdepository.com, and you can check out the official movie site for The Help here. Oh... and by the by, the soundtrack is incredible. Ray Charles, Frankie Valli, Johnny Cash? Doesn't get much better than this. ;)

Hope you found this as inspirational as I did. Have a great week, everyone.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Friday, August 12, 2011

What if You've Written Yourself into a Rut?

Unfortunately, I'm not giving advice today; I'm asking for it. Well. For your methods, I suppose. In pulling yourself out of a writing rut. This past June, as you all know, one of my favorite authors spoke at our local summer writing workshop. I served as her chauffeur to and from the airport, dinner, etc. On one particular occasion, she laughed and said she was on a deadline and hadn't written in an entire month.

I was shocked. I mean... all the published writers out there show up at the keyboard every single day of their lives, right? Right?

But later on, I came to find out that my CP, who was riding in the backseat at the time, thought to herself, "Wow. Maybe I really am a writer!"

Totally different reactions, though, admittedly, I like hers better. Here's why: This happens to me around mid-point in each novel. I get bored. Tired. Uninterested. Take your pick. I don't know why this occurs, but it does, and I find myself having to figure out how to get myself out of it--ie. The Rut. Last time, I picked old faithfuls to read. Books off my keeper shelf. It worked and, soon, I was on my way.

I'm going on two weeks now, and when I do show up at the keyboard, in my current story, I draw a complete blank. The CP suggests I plotted too hard, which is completely viable, I think, because I'm definitely a born-and-bred Pantser. But she's staying on me constantly, bless her, and she is nothing if not persistent. I'll spit this book out one way or another, even if she has to hog-tie me to the chair and refuse me Junior Mints until I type "The End."

I'd really like to know what you do when this happens--IF this happens. Or if it doesn't, you lucky writer, what would you suggest as a remedy?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

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