Pages

31 August 2009

Woops!

In keeping up with my over-zealous nature, I posted a rather LARGE blunder in my last post! I mentioned that the NaNoWriMo word count was 100K. It's only 50K! Now, you can all stop hyperventilating and sign up!

Thanks to Weronika for pointing out my snafu! Of course, I've never been good with numbers :)

Jen

Weekend in Review

Good morning everyone!


First off, thank you to all of you for the well wishes and good luck for our move. You guys are awesome! It's been a HUGE project but we almost have everything in. Now starts the process of going through every single box and deciding if the stuff we've accumulated over the past five years is worth keeping or if we'll be making a trip to Goodwill next weekend!

I don't have pictures today because we don't have our Internet connection up yet. However, pictures aplenty have been taken and I can't WAIT to post them! I do, however, have one I can post:

My husband picked up the keys to the loft on Friday. Instead of calling me, he sent me this picture. Yes. That is a gigantic map of the world. It's almost two stories tall and occupies one wall in our loft. According to Loft Lore, as told to us last night by our neighbor, the former occupant used the loft to film a variety show for HGTV. The map was a backdrop. We're not sure of everything that was done on the show, but there was a cooking segment performed by local chefs in every episode. Seeing that my husband and I both are HUGE Food Network junkies, this is great news indeed!

And speaking of Food Network, Jon and I took a break from our moving adventures on Saturday to go see the taping of the tenth anniversary episode of Good Eats! If anyone of you don't know who Alton Brown is, you must check this guy out! I confess to having a crush :) Even if you don't enjoy cooking, you'll enjoy Alton's approach to food and life. I've been to a live taping before (for an album, not a television show) and they are always enjoyable. This one, however, took the cake (pun intended!).

Needless to say, I'm bleary-eyed and sore but very, very happy. This weekend was quite a chore, thanks in part to the wonderful rain storm that swept through south Atlanta around the time we were loading the trucks. It cleared up just long enough for us to drive to the lofts and begin unloading. The clouds unloaded as well! We were wet, but happy :) And the floor needed mopping anyway!

And, just when you thought I wasn't going to mention a thing about writing, I did do something this weekend writing related (shocking, I know). On Thursday, I discovered a wonderful writing group on Yahoo! Groups. I joined up and they have been nothing short of wonderful! If you are in need of a writing group, check out Yahoo! Groups. You do have to have an account with Yahoo! but that's remedied in about five minutes and it's free. Search their Groups page for your particular genre of writing, and they'll bring up a myriad of groups you can check out. Believe it or not, I joined one for cozy mysteries. I know, a HUGE departure from my usual fantasy. But, I have good reasoning behind this. I love fantasy and will continue writing it. That being said, I grew up watching cozy mysteries (Murder, She Wrote; Father Dowling) and I adore Susan Whittig Albert's Beatrix Potter Series and Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries. I'm discovering more and more that I read more cozy mysteries than I do fantasy. I decided it was high time I tried my hand and writing my own. We'll see how that goes. Prepare for all the grueling details as I mix my pursuit of an agent for my trilogy with my new found obsession with crafting mysteries! I can't do anything easy, can I?

In other writing news, Friday marked a revelation day for me! I now know what NaNoWriMo stands for! You are probably all rolling your eyes now, but I'll be the first to admit I'm terrible with acronyms in general :) National Novel Writing Month has been, for the last ten years, the month of November. Long story short, you register on their website to commit to doing your darnedest to write a 100,000 word novel in a month's time. You can outline all you want between now and November 01, but not actual novel writing is allowed before that time. You can check in with other participants, and upload word count. It's all in good fun, and no one expects you to produce a saleable work in a months time. However, seeing that I have written a book in a month before, I figured it would be a great exercise. Check it out and see what you think! And if any of you have participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, I'd love to hear about your stories!

Well! I've taken up more than enough of your precious Monday! I hope you all have a wonderful week and I promise I'll get loft pictures posted as soon as possible! I'll more than likely post them to my other blog, but I'll let you know and post a link as well. Take care and, as always,

Happy Monday!
Jen

28 August 2009

Friday Frivolities


This is how I felt this morning driving into work. Atlanta traffic will do that to even the most innocent of creatures...



This is how I shall feel come Sunday evening! I'm not moving to Bora Bora, but boy-oh-boya, am I excited about my new loft! Pictures to come!
Have a great weekend everyone! Go do something crazy. Tell 'em I sent you ;)
Cheers,
Jen











25 August 2009

This, That, and The Other

Work has been a bit slow today (yippee!!) so I've spent my morning perusing the plethora of wondrous writing sites in cyberspace. Here's a few I found that definitely demand another visit!

http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/writers-associations.html - this is a directory of Writer's Associations. If you're looking to join up with like-minded writers, you are sure to find a group to fit your genre.

http://www.squidoo.com/localwritersassociationsbystate - a list of Writer's Groups by state. Click on your state to drop down a list of writer's groups in your area.

http://www.dianneebutts.com/Writer's%20Conferences.htm - Author Dianne E. Butts posts tons of Writer's Conferences each year. I'm sad I only just discovered this site!

http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2009/02/05/top-100-creative-writing-blogs/ - as if you needed any more blogs to put on your blog roll! A list of Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs, all broken down by category (grammar, genre, famous authors, etc.)

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/ - most of you are already aware of this wonderful site, but just in case, here it is! If you're in the market for an agent, this site interviews agents often and also posts new agents. A great resource for finding the right agent for your work.

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/142
“An association of writers working to advance literature, defend free expression, and foster international literary fellowship.”

This is their “about” page; check them out. Their opening quote hooked me in:

"PEN is the voice of cultures truthfully addressing one another rather than governments or armies in confrontation. The object is not to win something, but to illuminate something."

Arthur Miller

http://www.absolutewrite.com/about.html - pretty good general information site for all types of writing and writing related topics.

http://www.macgregorliterary.com/ - MacGregor Literary Agency offers links to sample proposals. A definite help for newbies like me!

http://rwanational.org/cs/2009handouts - this is pretty cool. It's from the Romance Writer’s Association’s 2009 conference. A great selection of handouts! (Just bear in mind these were geared to a romance writing audience, but you can tailor most of the info to your genre. At the least it’s some good food for thought.)

http://hollylisle.com/ - writing help from a professional writer


http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ - for all of you out there, like me, who lack a degree in creative writing: the online writing lab at Purdue University. Indispensable!

http://www.darkroastedblend.com/ - just for fun! Weird and wonderful things to make you smile, laugh, or just say "what the heck?" Enjoy!

Do you have any writing sites you frequent? Don't mind sharing your secrets? Please, let us know! We can all use the extra help, encouragement, and information (at least, I know, I could).

Cheers!
Jen

24 August 2009

Things I Learned Last Week

- It feels good to see your name in print

- Perspective is everything

- You CAN make it to work on a 1/4 tank of gas

- Oranges look pretty on your desk and make you look healthy

- My new ring tone is ridiculous

- The right name makes all the difference

- Dreams really can come true...

...after five years of being married (1 of which was spent in perhaps the worst apartment complex ever and 4 spent in a garage graciously sacrificed for our well being by my mother and father in law), Jon and I are MOVING!!!

A friend of mine (whom I have known for over 12 years) has lived in the most spectacular lofts for the past 5 years. Every time I go to visit her, I am amazed at the peace and creativity that surrounds her home. Last Tuesday, I sent her an email, just to check in, to see how things were going. On a lark, I asked if there were any lofts available and she said there was one, sent us her landlord's phone number and told us to call. We didn't have to be told twice. We went to look at the loft on Thursday. The landlord (who is a WONDERFUL lady) remembered us and took us on a tour of a fabulous loft. We wandered around, blown away by the space and the quiet environment. She asked us if we liked it. She asked us if we wanted to move in September first! Long story short, after an enthusiastic YES, some paperwork and twelve hours of waiting for the official "yes", we're moving! This weekend to be precise!

Things have a way of happening all at once. I warned my husband of that when we first got married. Any time in my life when something big was to happen, it would happen at the drop of a hat, the last possible moment you think anything big or momentous is going to happen. Thus, after only a week and a half of inquiring about the lofts, we're moving in!

This week should prove to be a busy one, but I do so like to be busy. We've got to box everything up, take care of all the legal issues that moving entails, rent a U-Haul, pack and unpack and then go back and clean the garage. And we have to find an evening to take my mother and father in law out to dinner. Seems such a tiny thank you for such a huge gift as allowing us to monopolize their recently refurbished garage for four years.

As soon as possible, I'll be posting some pictures! I can't wait to see where this new adventure will lead!!

Have a great week, everyone and now, if I don't post regularly this week, you know I have a really good excuse!!

Jen
PS: if you read my other blog, the post today is the same as this :)

19 August 2009

It's Official

Back in March, I read a little blurb at the end of an email I get from the Gooseberry Patch. It said they were accepting submissions for recipes for they're upcoming Christmas cookbook. I dug out my recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cream pies and sent it in.


June rolled around and I received a letter. "Congratulations!" It began. I danced! They accepted my recipe! My copy came in the mail the other day. I didn't want to post anything until I had book in hand.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's not my first novel. But it's publication. My name in lights...er...print. And it's a cute cookbook. They sent me a copy, a thank you for my contribution. And I have the pictures to prove it.




I don't know about you guys, but that just makes my day!

Bon Appetite!

Jen

Wednesday Wackiness

Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies are EVERYWHERE!
Over here, over there
In my hair!
Hiding under flights of stairs,
standing upside down in chairs.
Taking dares
up in the air,
Even playing cards with bears!
They're riding mares,
fixing tears,
lurking in their bunny lairs.
Eating juicy, luscious pears,
and selling wares
at Renaissance Fares.

Happy Wednesday!
Jen

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."
~ e. e. cummings

PS: on a more serious note, check out my post at Learning the Art of Slow. It's not depressing or anything; just a bit more thought provoking then somersaulting bunnies!

17 August 2009

A Word of Thanks

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who gave feedback on my query rough draft. Your input has been very helpful and I'm excited to get this thing edited and as close to perfect as I can so I can send it off into the great wide world in search of an agent's desk to call home.

Cheers!
Jen

Monday Musings

"Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write. "
~Natalie Goldberg

Happy Monday, everyone!

Jen

Kreativ Bloggers - An Award

Wow! A great bit thank you to Weronika for the nomination. I've been reading her blog for several months now and I am always amazed at the wisdom she possesses! You should definitely pop over and check it out! Tell her I said hello :) **update: I just discovered that I was nominated by another wonderful blogger for this very same award. What a Monday, huh? Thanks also to Michelle for the nomination. I've just recently discovered her wonderful blog. This is quite an honor. And a big congrats to both of them for their awards! It is a happy day indeed!

Ok. So here's the rules for my little award. I get to pass it along! Sadly, I can only give it out to seven people, and believe me, that's going to be a hard choice to make but I shall do my best.

The rules are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated

Seven things about myself people might find interesting. Hmmm...this could get...interesting!

1. I sing opera. Not professionally, and I've never had lessons, but I've always been a singer. My first "real" opportunity to sing opera came at a friend's wedding when they asked my oldest brother in law (who is a professional singer) and me to sing Josh Groban's The Prayer. What an amazing experience! Secretly, I believe that one day, Josh Groban will call and say he heard me sing and wants to record a duet with me.

2. I've been to six different schools since high school and do not yet have a degree! Let's just say I have very eclectic tastes. Also, life changes have put my schooling on a halt, but prospects look good that said status could change shortly. So far, I've studied English, Anthropology, History, Irish History, Graphic Design, Photography and Aromatherapy. I actually have certificates in both Photography and Aromatherapy.

3. I've been to Ireland and India. I joke that now I must travel to Iceland, Italy, Israel and Indonesia just so I can hit all the "I's".

4. I tend to get lost whenever I visit a foreign country. Seriously. I got lost in Mexico with my sister. We were separated from our parents and took a different tour bus. We ended up hitching a ride on a golf cart down to the ruins we were supposed to be touring :) I was lost in a castle in Ireland. I don't really like tours, so the idea of being alone with all that history certainly didn't bother me for one moment! Thankfully, I didn't get lost in India, but I did get lost in the Paris airport on the way back from India! Anyone want me for a traveling companion?

5. I wrote my first book at age 7. No one shall ever see it. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't exist...

6. I've known my husband for twelve years. We met in a warehouse in which I was a youth counselor for a church. It was a Halloween party. He was dressed as a trash can. We've been best friends ever since :)

7. My dream is to take a year off and see the world. My first stop would be Egypt. I've wanted to see the pyramids since I was old enough to know what they were. Here's to published books and signings in Cairo!

And now... the seven Kreative Bloggers nominated for the award are:
1. Carol at The Writer's Porch
2. Alexis at Aspiring Author
3. Ratty at Everyday Adventurer
4. Sandra at Thistle Cover Farm
5. Willow at Life at Willow Manor
6. Kristen at Write in the Way
7. Glynis at New Scribbles from Glynis Smy

There are at least a dozen or three more blogs I would LOVE to have listed. But they'll only allow me to do seven! It's the system, I tell you! ;) Have a wonderful day, all!

Happy Monday,
Jen

14 August 2009

What's Stopping You?

This link was sent to me by a wonderful writing friend (you know who you are!) Check it out! It really helped me put my own writing blocks into perspective.

http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/2009/08/whats-stopping-you/

Happy Writing!
Jen

A good excuse, I promise!

Dear readers,

I apologize for being so delinquent on my posts! I have, however, a good reason. I've been working on my new book! The query for the trilogy is going well. I did another draft (this makes number four) and I'm letting it rest before I try re-reading it and seeing what I can alter and perfect this go around. I'm feeling much better about it than I was and I'm confident I should have a submission worthy query within the next week or so!

If you're curious about this trilogy, I'll give you the first lines of my query letter. Let me know what you think, what works, what doesn't. Be honest; constructive criticism is what helps me better my craft :)

Seventeen year old Devon Elliott has spent most of her life trying to pretend she wasn't different. Her belief in stories other dismiss as myth, the strange scars from a childhood accident she doesn't remember, the teasing, the nasty rumors instigated by her hateful sister, has to be some great, cosmic mistake. Her job at the bookstore in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia is boring but safe, which pretty much is the summation of her existence. That is, until she finds a necklace on the beach one afternoon. Until the necklace begins to conjure up dreams so real she wakes up with mud-caked feet from running down a long, dark corridor from an unseen monster lurking in the shadows. Until the necklace refuses to come off.

The Other Side of Dreams is the first book in my trilogy (and yes, all three books are completed). It's a young adult fantasy steeped in Greek mythology. I grew up on the myths and stories of other lands and I found it fitting I should dedicate my first foray into fantasy to the myths that drew me in, made me fall in love with story. It's a new presentation of the ancient legend of Atlantis. I'm very excited about this story! However, as you all know, that darn query letter looms above, making my seven years of hard work fizzle. Why is it so hard to write a one page query when I can sit and write 100 in a novel in a day!

Let me know what you think! Does this interest you? Are you compelled to read more? Like I said, be honest (but kind :) . It's scary putting my heart and soul out there, as you all know, but I'm willing to take a flogging if it will mean getting my query spit-spot and in the right agent's hands!

When I sat down to write this post, I had no intention of putting my query letter out there for review. But heck, it's Friday! Why not take a little risk. We were created for risk. This is a step of faith for me. I tend to be a little on the worrisome side, especially when it comes to what others think of me (seems to be a trait amongst writers).

Fly little query letter, try out your wings! Gather up your criticisms, your praises (if there be any). Bring them back to me and we shall weave them together to make a garment worthy of the story you are trying to sell.

Happy weekend everyone! And a big, huge thanks in advance to you who offer up you words of wisdom.

Jen

10 August 2009

Monday Musings

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat it's head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist."

~Isaac Asimov

05 August 2009

Words from the Wise: Artists Must Abandon Control

Abandon control? That sounds rather oxymoronic. I mean, aren't we, the writers, supposed to be in control of our story? Aren't we supposed to hold the reigns, veering our characters and plot to the left, the right, pulling back if they get too far off course? That sounds right. But is it?

I'm at a place in my writing where I could easily tell myself what I'm going to do next. I mean, the books are written. The query letter is in the works. I should be able to just pick and choose what I do next right? Right?

Wrong.

The reason being: the story I think I should be writing and the story that wants to be written are two different things. I thought I was going to finish this trilogy and begin working on the novels that continue this tale. (What is this tale about exactly? Oh...I haven't told you! Silly me! It's a new take on the Atlantis legend centering around a seventeen year old girl from Savannah, Georgia and a mysterious necklace she find hiding amongst the seaweed. The further along we go, we discover all sorts of dark secrets. Sinister things are running amok in Atlantis and, as we shall soon discover, throughout the entire world!) I almost sat down and outlined it the other day. But...

I couldn't. I mean, I was perfectly capable of doing so. But something inside me wouldn't let me do it. Why? I need this story to be complete! After Atlantis, our characters venture further into the lands of myth. I really want to see what will happen to them! "Wait!" my heart was telling me. "There's something else you need to do first. Somewhere else you need to go."

So I went. I discovered the plot behind a first line I wrote five years ago, a line I loved but had yet to figure out where it belonged. I sat down and in the span of an hour, I wrote out the first chapter of this new story. It's another fantasy, set in the deep south with a parallel to another world. And yes, another dark and sinister realm of myth and folk tale. I like playing in that world. It's so very full of possibilities for enlightenment.

What does all this have to do with abandoning control? Simple. When we sit down to write (be it a continuing saga or a fresh, new story), we have our ideas, our outlines, our characters sketches. This is good. We need a form, a skeleton if you will, for our imaginations to cling to. Once we have that sketched out, we're ready to write. We sit down and begin to type. Then, quite suddenly, we see our characters doing things we didn't tell them to do. Plots begin to twist and turn, going down pathways we didn't construct. What is going on? We sit down to write one thing, but our hands begin typing another. Should we worry? Have we been taken over by sadistic plot changing aliens?

The best plan of attack for this is none. That's right. None. Follow that rabbit trail. See where it leads. It's not like you can't come back on track if it ends up at a dead end. A lot of times, rabbit trails help to get your mind off the problems you're having and let you steer your way through and around them in ways you would never have planned to do.

Madeleine L'Engle said that often, our characters know more than we do. I agree. My trilogy is a case study in having a well thought out plan and having it uprooted, turned on it's head, and looking nothing like it originally did. But you know what? I like it. In fact, I love it. It works. It's not as stiff as the original version. Everything fits.

What of this new story I'm writing? I would add to Mrs. L'Engle's wisdom by saying our hearts often know more than we do. If you feel the urge to take your story in a strange and different directions, do it. If your current work is stale and you're itching to wander down a leaf covered path, barely visible in the sun dappled forest, go for it. Wander. Collect wildflowers along the way. Keep your eyes open. You could get the breakthrough your current novel needs. Or you may find yourself caught up in another story entirely. Don't be afraid to deviate. The best adventures are not the ones we plan but the ones we are given.

Happy writing!
Jen

03 August 2009

The Query Low Down

Just a quick update to let you guys know where I stand with Dreaded Query. I wrote not one but three query letters. Honestly, I wasn't trying to be over ambitious. I started out by using a pitch I wrote for a blog critique, just to try my hand at actually conjuring up something that could remotely be mistaken for a sales pitch. Surprise: they liked it! I was very encouraged and used that pitch as my first query rough draft. Let's say that was my "what do I think they want to hear" query. Next, I decided to try my hand at the "what's on the back of the book" query. You know, the blurb you read when you pick up an unfamiliar book and flip it over to see what it's all about. I'm going to be honest here. I didn't like how that one turned out at all. So, after wallowing in self loathing for a bit, I decided to throw caution to the wind and write what I wanted. Yes, yes, I followed the "rules". I refrained from being cute and I managed to get out without having inserted one single cliche! The third query was ever so much easier to write. I felt freer and wasn't as nervous while crafting it.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband abandoned me at Books A Million while he went to do a photo shoot. *gasp* Abandoned! At a bookstore! O happy day :) I sat there and spliced together my three query letters and ... viola! I think I have a very good rough draft. I'm excited about having my two critique partners-in-crime read it and give me their brutal (but loving) feedback. Once I get this thing ironed out, I'll be ready to mail them out and throw my little fledgeling trilogy to the wind!

Of course, knowing my letters are out there on their ways to agents, I will have a whole new bag of anxieties to carry about. But at least I'll have the first step over and done with. Then I'll be able to concentrate on my next book, which, by the way, I've already started.

Happy writing!
Jen

01 August 2009

For Your Weekend Viewing Pleasure

Hello, dear readers! I hope you're enjoying your weekend so far. If you have the time (or the inclination), I'd love for you to stop by my other blogs and check out what's been cooking. Learn about a new dish at my lifestyle blog Learning the Art of Slow ,or take a little journey down south to Savannah at my travel blog The Gypsy Scribe.

Let me know what you think! And as always, have a fantabulous day!

Happy weekend,
Jen

PS: Thanks to Weronika who pointed out that my links were getting lost in the mix due to font color! Check out her blog too, guys! Another super talented writer for you to encourage and enjoy. Cheers!