Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Why Would Anyone Ever Do This???

Hi kids!

I'm back and it hasn't even been a year. Woo hoo! I know it's been a month, but I wanted to let you know that I survived that 3 day weekend of self imposed editing. AND true to form, life reared it's ugly head in the middle of it. BUT, I managed to push through. I typed with one hand and faced the issue with the other. Almost 10,000 words later, I had an updated and (I hope) improved manuscript. It has been submitted to both agents and that's all I can tell you for now.

I received a ton of messages and good wishes throughout this process, which was so very motivating. Mainly because this whole thing is exactly that. A process-a very lengthy, drawn out, crazy, lonely, process. And it made me realize how little people outside of this world know of the process, how incredibly surprised they are by how hard it is, and how long it takes to get a book published. I won't bore anyone with the tedious details, but we're talking years.

  • You write the story, but then edit, correct, change, and edit some more, until you finally have something you love. And if you're doing it while working a full time job, raising kids, taking care of pets, family, and trying to maintain friendships....well, let's just say it tends to lengthen the process.
  • You submit the manuscript to a ton of agents, hoping just one will be able to see the potential under the possible mess you've presented to them. 
  • They offer to represent you, and then you really get to work. You'll edit again and again, until they are certain you have the best product possible. 
  • The agent then submits it to publishers. If you are lucky enough that one likes it, a new process begins, whereby they need to present it to a number of people at the publishing house before a decision can be made.
  • And after all that, if you are lucky enough to actually have all those stars align... it can take almost another year or two for the book to actually make it to store shelves. 
This list is as simplified as I can make it, but everyone of these steps has about a hundred steps, (and possible years) to go along with it. And since I haven't actually experienced all of them myself, I'm pretty sure I missed a couple. My apologies to all those who have come before me and succeeded in this insanity.

Now, this list just pertains to traditional publishing. These days there are a number of options available for working with smaller publishers, or actually choosing to self publish. But, I know people who have chosen both of those options, and they work just as hard (if not harder), to reach the same goal.

So, I love when someone asks me when they can buy my book. I am humbled by their faith in my ability, but I also feel despair at the possibility that my answer may have to be never.

Why? Why would anyone ever put themselves through that? That's a question I have heard a number of times, by writers and non-writers alike.

The answer for me personally, is that the stories push to be told. The idea that it may never be a fully, bound book on store shelves means nothing to the story. The characters don't know that they aren't real. They'll keep talking until someone listens. I personally will have no rest if that happens (again, Patrick Swayze). All they care is that the story gets told. I get to go into their world and help create their story. And if I get it right, I can make you laugh and cry. So the answer is, why wouldn't I?

Writers - what's your reason for doing it?
Non-writers - Do you have a passion you feel this strongly about?

Adrienne ~

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Curses, Snacks, and Lots of Words......

I think I curse myself inadvertently. Every time I say "Pheww, I'm glad we got through that. Now I can get back to work," the universe literally laughs itself silly. It's been another year. How is that even possible? It's because I keep telling myself, I'll write a new post as soon as X, Y, and Z are over. The problem is that A, B, and C always follow.

I need to stop waiting for things to calm down, get easier, be normal, etc. This is the normal and I just have to figure out how to keep writing in the middle of the storm.

I'm still writing. I have been all along. Book number one has been completed for what seems like forever now. I queried a few people, entered some contests, made some changes here and there, but let's be honest, I stalled. Why? Who knows. Maybe deep down I know that if I don't actually send anything out, then I can't really be rejected. It makes complete sense when I step back and analyze it, but it's still a little bit insane. I'm doing my best to push through this.

In the meantime, I have been working on my next WIP (the idea that created itself a couple of years ago while on vacation. (See Patrick Swayze). It's a YA, completely different than my first book, other than the ghost idea. Yeah, I never actually told you about book number one, did I? Well, of course not. I'm hoping/wishing/praying, that someday you'll be able to find it on a store shelf somewhere.
In the meantime, I've been rolling right along with book two. I love the characters, and the story makes me smile to myself just thinking about it. It also breaks my heart just a little....and I hope it will break yours someday, in the best possible way.

So, as I said it has been a year. You know what that means - Pennwriter's annual conference. The time when I'm surrounded by people who get me, who motivate me, and who remind me of why I love writing. Sure enough, the magic happened again and I came back twice as motivated.

And, good news -I pitched to two agents, who BOTH requested to see part of my story!
Bad news - one of them has asked that I try to lower the word count before sending it.
Good news - I have a three day weekend ahead of me, and a house all to myself. The plan is to stock up on essentials (Food, coffee, snacks, vodka(?)) and barricade myself at my desk until Tuesday morning. I'm a little overwhelmed, a lot nervous, and a whole lot of looking forward to the challenge. Wish me luck.....

If I don't answer your call/text/email, you'll know why.

~ Adrienne

PS - Writer friends - what do you have to have in order to be productive? Specific snacks, fancy pens, particular music, lucky socks.....?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Unfolding - One Page At A Time

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.
~ Max Frisch

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
~ Dr. Seuss


I don’t know where the past five months have gone. They disappeared like someone turning a page in a book. One day it was damp, dreary March and we were dealing with death and illness, no idea what to do next. But, the next day happened whether we were ready or not. Now it’s the sweltering end of July, and we find ourselves blinking against the sunlight, dazed from all that has happened. 

Both of the above quotes apply aptly to my life right now. It is getting late, more so every day. And time has definitely unfolded me this year. It has pushed and pulled, stretching me to my limits. It’s forced me to be vulnerable and open up to people. It has made me do things I didn’t believe I was capable of doing, handling things I never could have imagined. 

In terms of my writing it has pushed me outside of an imaginary safety net I had created for myself. I finished my book, pitched to two agents at the annual writing conference, came in 2nd place in a writing contest at said conference, entered an online pitch contest, and am currently preparing to take part in PitchWars. You may or may not be aware of this, but the introvert in me would not have been able to handle this many things so close together prior to this year. You would think the fear of time running out is what propelled me forward. But that’s not the case. If anything, it actually made me less afraid of things. The thought of speaking with an agent about my book became less scary after some of the things I faced this year. It made me become more focused on what is truly important to me. At the conference I received requests from those two agents to send some of my work to them. That gave me the confidence to send out a couple more queries to other agents. I made a joke on social media at the time, asking the Universe to be kind. I had been so fearful of taking that first step, showing my work to someone other than supportive friends and family. My true fear was someone telling me I had no business thinking I could be a writer. So far someone in the Universe is listening. I’ve only had a couple of responses, and even though they were No’s, they were incredibly kind and supportive. They reinforced my love for what I am doing; that whether I ever publish a single written word, just the act of writing is enough to make me happy. 

Time to unfold…… 


Sunday, March 11, 2018

One Day at a Time.....

Yes, it’s been that long. 

It’s been that long since I’ve written anything, let alone a blog post. That saying, “life can change in an instant?” It happened for me the first week of the New Year. It began with both of my parent’s in the same week, being diagnosed with cancer. My mother’s was caught early, my father’s too late.

The following week I turned 43. Notice I didn’t say celebrate. I couldn’t find a single thing to celebrate this year. From that point on everything narrowed itself down to the smallest fragments; going to work, and emailing/texting/calling family. It moved from there to hospitals and oncology consultations, followed by social workers and hospice. There was nothing else. No socializing, no exercising, no reading, and not a single word written, other than the aforementioned emails and texts. The only television I could manage was binge watching Stranger Things. Bizarre I know, but nothing else could hold my attention, or in the very least, not cause me to start crying.|

45 days

45 days from the initial tumor being found, my father passed away. It was peaceful, at home, with family and friends. And it was shocking. I’m still not quite sure how these last few months took place. I have no idea how we all kept on moving, eating, talking, and breathing, while simultaneously being in shock. But we did. We did it because life keeps moving and happening, whether you’re participating or not. My mom and I adopted a motto that first week. “One day at a time.” We tried to keep focus on that. Sometimes it changed to one minute at a time, but it helped keep us from spiraling somewhere into darkness. We’re still in that one day at a time mode, but sometimes we let ourselves look a little ahead. We hope for summer, we talk of vacations, a new home for my mom, and the routine of daily life.

My mom is stage one, and we’re hopeful the cancer will remain at bay for many years. But, the last few months have taught us that time is so ridiculously short, and 45 days can pass in the blink of an eye. Our goal is to find some happiness now in that day to day life. I wish that for all of us; that we can stay in the present and find the good in our days.

Part of my happiness is to find a way back to my writing, and my book. 

Posting this will be step one. One day at a time, one minute at a time.

Here we go…..

~ Adrienne 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Which Comes First? Reading or Writing?

I have an ongoing battle with myself. It’s called there are not enough hours in the day for all the reading and writing there is to be done. It’s always been an issue, but since starting my early morning writing ritual, it’s increased tenfold. As I said previously, I created a monster in giving life to my creative side. The need to write gets stronger every day. The only thing taking a close second to it is my love of reading. It makes sense right? I love words and stories, and reading the work of others is inspiring.

And therein lies the problem.

Reading another person's work triggers a creative spark in me – it makes me want to write something equally amazing. Now. Obviously that feeling then disrupts my reading. So I go back to my writing, to getting the words down as quickly as possible. But, all too soon the call of my books comes back to me and I step away from the keyboard for a chapter, or two. And the vicious cycle continues. It doesn’t help that I’m a (slow) serial reader, typically having about four books going at once, along with an overstocked library just waiting for me to pick them next. (My book obsession has been chronicled before).  Currently this is my reading stack. 

Paper Towns – John Green
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky – Summer Heacock

Now, before you start laughing there is a method to my madness in so many books. The book I read depends on the situation, locality, environment, and even my mood. Let me explain.

Paper Towns is taking me so long because it’s on my Kindle so I need to be somewhere conducive to electronics. 

The Secret History I started back in June on vacation and I’m sooo close to being done. It’s an amazing literary read – translation: I need absolutely no distractions when reading it. So a crowded waiting room, busy coffee shop, or even my house sometimes, is not the place to read it.  

The Glass Castle I started two weeks ago. The book has been on my shelf for a couple of years now, but I was compelled to start it when I saw the movie trailer. I’m sorry it took me so long to start. Ironically I will probably finish this one first. (Confession - I wrote this last week and have since finished this book. Spoiler - the book was so much better.) The resiliency of this character has me mesmerized. It reminds me of Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, which I couldn’t put down either.

Under the Tuscan Sun is my fun, escape read. Days when the pace of life is overwhelming, the 9 to 5 grind, suffering from technology overload – this is what I reach for. Maye’s description of her life in Italy renovating a Tuscan villa brick by brick makes me want to sell everything and book a one way ticket to Italy. I’ve taken to leaving for work a half hour early so I can stop for coffee and read a chapter. It’s like a decadent dessert I need to savor in small bites.
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky is a new release by a friend of a friend. I’m only a chapter in, but I can tell this is going to be my comic relief, which I think we can all agree we need more of right now.  

So until someone finds a way to stop time, or add more hours to the day, this will be the pattern that I follow. Is anyone else out there a serial reader? (Or invented a way to stop time?) 

Footnote – while writing this someone stopped to comment on my copy of The Glass Castle. “Such an amazing book.” I bet she’s a serial reader too…

~ Adrienne  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pants, Plots, and Pages.....

The last time we spoke, I told you about how Patrick Swayze my muse wouldn't leave me alone about a new idea. I thought maybe it was just a vacation thing. I jotted down some of the ideas, made a couple of notes and tucked it away for some time down the road. I figured that would quiet things down. I'd get back to my first book and follow the logical steps to completion. I completed the revision on my book and sent it off to my wonderfully kind friend who helped with the first round of edits and (God Bless her), offered to take another look.

So, the next steps would be to start researching agents and work on a query letter, and cross my fingers that my friend doesn't tell me to throw book #1 out the window. I did these things, or at least I started to do these things. But then two things happened - Mr. Muse came knocking again and Camp NaNo WriMo started. (Short for National Novel Writing Month - a contest that takes place every November. The idea is you try to write a novel in a month. It's a great tool to kick start a project and it forces you to just write and not over think what you're writing.)

So back to Camp NaNo, which is a virtual writing retreat. It's the same idea as the one in November, but more relaxed. You set your own goals (hours worked, pages written, word total, etc.) You set up virtual cabins and you and your bunk mates offer support, camaraderie, jokes, and virtual s'mores. Again, a great way to jump start a project. A writing friend sent out an invite the day before the camp started, asking if anyone wanted to join. The fact that the invite came the same week that Muse started yammering again, seemed to be a sign. So I took the challenge and jumped in.

I set my goal at 50,000 words, but honestly had no idea if I would get past 500. I've only written Women's fiction and this new idea was somewhere between Middle Grade and Young Adult - way outside of my comfort zone. I had no idea if I had the ages right, or was the topic too old, or too young, or too boring?? But Mr. Muse told me quit whining and just write. So I did and in only a couple of days I had about 5,000 words. Words that have never come so easily - I was shocked by how much fun and easy it was. I can do this....piece of cake....like riding a bike....and then the wheels fell off. I hit this wall suddenly. I listened to the wrong voices in my head (not Mr. Muse - the other ones who say I don't know what I'm doing.) I sent my WIP off to some very trusted, extremely knowledgeable friends who write MG and YA and asked for their opinion. I got amazing feedback and encouragement to go either way with it - it would just need modifications depending on my choice.

And I froze....again.

And then one of the friends emailed me some wonderful advice. She told me that all of the things I was worrying about (voice sounding the right age, content too old, etc) would all be fixable in revisions. She said for now, you should just write the story you want to write. And that unfroze me!

But, I was still a little stuck. I had the beginning, the ending and some vague ideas for the middle. It's how I typically write. I meander and wait to see what comes to me. Sometimes it works amazingly well. And sometimes I feel like I'm lost in the forest. I decided to try creating an outline just to see how it would work. I've always been more of a pantser, a term to describe writers who just write, with no outline to guide them. Previously I scoffed at outlines. I didn't want to take the time to write about what should happen - I just wanted to write! But there were too many ideas and they were swirling above my head like little cartoon birdies.

Comfort zone out the window - I wrote an outline. A very long, wordy outline. Honestly the thing could be a novella in and of itself. The whole time I kept muttering that I could just be writing instead of wasting my time and energy on this. But a funny thing happened. Normally when I write as a pantser, I sprint through the first couple of chapters. The whole time I can see the finish line; how I want the story to end and I'm impatient as hell to get there. But in order to get there I need to get through the middle. That loonnng middle. And that is where I tend to hit my wall (see forest). But now that I have my novella outline I'm able to stay on the path. I can see where I need to be every step of the way and if I get stuck, I refer to the outline and see what I need to be writing about. It's not to say that the outline is carved in stone. I can make adjustments, but it guides me from point A to point B. It says, if you want Z to happen in chapter 5, then you need to do X in chapter 3. If you want E to equal....ok you get the picture. The point is this outline idea got me to over 13,000 words for Camp NaNo. It may not sound like a lot, but remember I took time out to write that novella, so imagine how many words I could have done. 

For my writers out there....anyone else convert from being a pantser to a plotter? Anyone else try out Camp NaNo WriMo? Anyone else have a muse who won't shut up?

~ Adrienne

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I've Created A Monster......


That word brings such joy to my heart. To me it has always meant a time out, time off, time for my brain to truly rest. Hubby and I recently returned from a week in Florida. Nothing strenuous. We visited family, hung out at the pool and beach, and ate some fabulous food. One of my main goals was to read in the sun and for lack of a better word, veg. This is how I’ve always viewed vacations. I certainly would not be writing – my brain needed a break, a real break. This plan has always worked perfectly in the past. 

In the past….

There was just a slight problem with this plan. My brain. After months of my new routine of writing once, sometimes twice a day, going cold turkey was not going to go as easily as I had hoped. It started on the plane on the way there. My brain started nagging me to get out the notebook I’d thrown in at the last minute and start jotting notes. But since our flight was at 5am I told my brain to hush and took a nap. The first day we were on the go all the time so it wasn’t too bad. The next day was our first full pool day and I settled in with my book, excited to just disappear for a couple of hours. Then it started.

Brain: Hey, um mm we're not at work.
Me: Yup, that’s right.
Brain: Hmm, we um normally would be writing in our free time.
Me: I know, but we’re on vacation and need a break. And I don’t have my laptop
Brain: You put a notebook in your bag – I saw you.
Me: Siggh…I know that, but no. We need a break and we’re just going to read.
Brain: But…
Me: its one week. We’ll come back refreshed and more focused.
Brain: …

This worked for a couple of hours. I floated in the pool, read, and actually interacted with people. I thought my brain and I were on the same page. I thought we understood each other. I thought wrong.

Brain: OK, so we’re not actually going to do any physical writing?
Me: Right, no actual writing. Now, if you don’t mind I’m –
Brain: OK, no problem. You go back to reading and I’ll just sit here and wait.
Me: Okay….
Brain: Hey, remember that new MG/YA story idea you had? I have some fabulous ideas. I’m just going to mull them over. I’ll be over here. Perfectly quiet. I won’t say a word. (Proceeds to mumble ideas for the next hour.)

I meanwhile proceeded to read the same pages over and over again until I gave up and just sat and listened. I didn’t give in and write, but I definitely zoned out. I went far into my head; so far that hubby actually asked if I was okay. He gets me. He gets that I do this and that nothing is wrong, but I don’t typically (try not to) do this when we’re with other people. I do my best to be present. So I felt really bad about this, but my brain literally would not shut up. 

It got progressively worse from there. No matter what we were doing my brain kept throwing ideas at me. The only time it left me alone was when I was sleeping. It was always there, like a child, tugging on my arm, begging for attention. Going for a walk on the beach was the worst.

Brain: You enjoy your walk. I’ll just be over here… Hey! Look at all these people! What kind of stories can we come up with about them?
Me: No, no…. listen, I just want to walk. Please, just zip it.
Brain: Okay…. Psstt, look at that guy there. What’s going on? What’s that bottle he’s holding? How comes he’s holding his hands like that? Is he praying, or meditating? I bet he has a great story. Oh, oh! Look at this lady. A dog and three kids and she looks sad. What do you think –
Me: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

Silence for about two minutes and then we passed a group of older woman, sitting in those small chairs that go right in the water. They were having a lot of adult beverages and laughing hysterically. You could see the years of friendship and fun between them. Brain literally exploded.
I Just about ran to get away from them.

I made it through the rest of the week, but just barely. I was beginning to feel like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost when Patrick Swayze’s ghost wouldn’t stop bugging her. I’m trying to view this as a positive thing. My brain fully believes it’s a writer. Writer’s write. Therefore going without writing for a day just doesn’t work. It’s my own fault. This was my goal after all; to train myself to write as much as possible so I could become better at it, and actually accomplish something. In a way I wanted to become addicted to I and I did. I created my own monster. So for future vacations I will need to schedule time for some kind of writing. 

Otherwise I’ll need to buy a plane ticket for Patrick Swayze.  

~ Adrienne

PS - This was how I imagined vacation would go.....