Monday, July 30, 2012

The Dreaded Query

For the most part I try not to repeat myself on Facebook and my blog, but I thought the picture below was worth repeating. It's a copy of a query letter I dashed off, mostly to relieve the frustration of sending out serious letters and getting nothing in reply. The few replies I do get are simple form letters that show me the agent or publisher either didn't even read my submission, or couldn't be bothered to draft a personal note in return.

I know they are busy people, and I understand that there are thousands and thousands of authors submitting queries to them everyday in every possible genre imaginable. I also know that my writing may not be perfect, or appealing to everyone. It takes time, patience, practice and a little bit of luck to land on the right desk at the right time. My ability to practice patience was overruled by my sense of humour, and so I decided to share.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unplugging to Plug in

I’m guilty of spending far too much time on the internet, checking Facebook, Twitter and browsing the forums on Authonomy. I have accounts on Goodreads, Pinterest and even something called Gothise, but I’m not exactly sure what it is or how I ended up there.

Sure, social networking is fun. My virtual friends are witty, sarcastic and funny. The problem is, I can lose hours to each of these things and not actually accomplish anything of value. There are times when someone’s status update will take precedent over something one of my kids have asked me, and that’s just wrong.

Not only am I connected to the internet by my faithful laptop, the vast information highway follows me where ever I go. Cell phones, smart phones, iPhones, iPods, iPads and Tablets are all wonderful devices, designed with the convenience of being portable. With 3G, 4G and free WiFi pretty much everywhere I go, I don’t even need to be sitting at my desk to get my internet fix. It’s always there, morning, noon and night. When I leave the house, go out for lunch, go grocery shopping, go to the gym or even spend an afternoon at the local pool with my family.

On the odd occasion I can’t actually connect to the virtual world – I have texts at my fingertips. Not quite as much fun, but for some strange reason, texting has become the communication of choice. Sometimes it seems easier, and perhaps less intrusive than a phone call, but is it really the same as truly connecting with a friend?

This week, while my husband is on holidays, I will also be taking a holiday. I will give myself the gift of unplugging for hours at a time, so I can focus on my children, my writing and connecting with friends in the physical world. This isn’t to say I won’t check in once and a while – I’m an independently published writer, so disconnecting completely would be suicide, but I will be placing some strict limits on my internet usage. No more Bejeweled games, no more checking Facebook’s news feed multiple times a day or idly skimming through the forums on Authonomy or other sites. I think it’s reasonable to allow 30 minutes in the morning and another 30 minutes in the afternoon to see where the world is at beyond my physical space – but other than that, I will be signing out. I owe it to myself, my children and my husband to take care of what I can feel and touch. So, for this week, at least, I will be unplugging so I can plug in with them and give them the quality time they deserve.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Seven Random Facts

Eveli Acosta nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. What a terrific way to acknowledge fellow bloggers, gain new followers and learn a bit more about friends in the virtual world. To “earn” this award, I must disclose seven random facts about myself.

Here goes:
  1. I like oranges but hate orange juice. It's slimy and tastes weird. (Somehow I manage to work this little fact into each of my books, not intentionally, it just happens).
  2. My husband and I went to Jamaica last spring. Everyone talked about how lush the vegetation is there, but I still think Canada has the most beautiful (and lush) countryside. 
  3. I kill plants - not that I'm proud of it, but for some reason I can't seem to make things grow, no matter how hard I try. 
  4. I have a dog that looks surprisingly like a black and white heifer. Her name is Panda Bear; she's lazy and too cute for words. 
  5. I hate folding/sorting socks and underwear. We are a family of six - that means 42 pairs of socks (or 84 individual socks). When I have to discipline my kids, I make them sort the gigantic basket of mismatched socks. 
  6. I love chocolate, but I am a little picky about the kind of chocolate. There can't be any nuts, mint or other weirdness in it. Some things just spoil its natural goodness. 
  7. My men (all five of them), mean the world to me. They drive me to distraction and back, but are completely worth the journey. 

Now – I have to nominate 15 bloggers to receive the Versatile Blogger Award – not an easy task, since there are so many.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ten Things I learned during Camp NaNoWriMo

This year, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, and things did not go quite as expected. Promising to write 50 000 words plus in 30 days amidst the chaos of grade six graduation, two birthdays, father’s day, a wedding anniversary, a child with a concussion, various other ailments, appointments and traveling was a little bit insane. I didn’t complete the 50 000 words, but I did learn a lot about myself and my writing – so I thought I would share:

1. During a 15 minute writing sprint, I can write up to 900 usable words. If only I were always so productive.

2. Writing is more fun when you know someone, somewhere is writing with you. Thank you FB support groups!

 3. The Ninjas will attack. They will steal your words and hold them hostage for hours, days or even weeks. Having chocolate on hand will help keep them away.

 4. My muse is not only nocturnal; she also often deserts me in favour of playing with other muses and eating cake.

 5. Alcohol does not cure writer’s block, but it can help.

6. Coffee is an absolute necessity.

7. My friends will bring me chocolate if I whine enough on social networks. (And I LOVE them for it!)

8. Laundry does not do itself, and while husbands and children are very helpful, they aren’t adept at folding, sorting and putting away. (Then again, neither am I.)

9. Books do not write themselves. They take time, patience and the understanding that sometimes even the writer doesn’t get to control the direction characters choose to take.

10. Trying to write with four children and a dog underfoot all day is like trying to paint a fence in the rain. Everything gets messy and diluted.

I don’t know if I’ll attempt Camp NaNoWriMo again during the summer months, but I am glad I tried. I have 32 000 words of a fun novel of fluff and stuff that I should be able to finish over the course of the summer.