Archive for July 2011 | Monthly archive page
Today, we’re going to delve into all your dirty little secrets — reading secrets, that is.
When Gwen Hernandez, one of my Starcatcher sisters, posted about sometimes not finishing a book she’s started, it got me thinking.
Her argument against slogging through something she’s not into:
Why waste valuable hours reading a book I don’t enjoy?
It makes complete sense. As we all know, there are only so many hours in the day. When we’re trying to write, work out, cook, tend to the day job — and families if we have them — it leaves precious little leisure time for reading.
Yet I’m one of those people who slogs through every book I start. It may take me a while to pull it off my TBR pile, but once I have a book in my hand, I finish the darn thing. Even if it takes me a month … or I’d rather be visiting the dentist than reading it …
I’m not sure where this attitude comes from. Maybe it’s a remnant from my college days, when reading was my job. As a journalism major who took a lot of English lit and creative writing classes, I read tons. Even the semester I spent in England, when I probably should have been focused on exploring a foreign country, I took a full course load that included French lit, Literature and Politics, and Shakespeare. (I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a class on Shakespeare in England, from a British prof, now could I?)
Maybe it’s just what I refer to as my good, old-fashioned Midwestern work ethic. I also can’t call in sick when I’m not really sick. Heck, I work even when I’m sick … I have to be in bed, unable to move, before I throw in the towel and take a sick day.
Whatever the reason, I finish the books I start. It’s a good thing, then, that I tend to only start books I know I’ll enjoy. I usually stick with contemporary and historical romances, with the occasional weighty book club pick.
Hmm. Now that I think about it, I can’t say I always finish the books I start. Sometimes I don’t finish my book club selections. Case in point: “Edgar Sawtelle.” I don’t care if it was one of Oprah’s picks, I didn’t like it. Too lyrical— and it was obviously heading toward a bad end, seeing as it was a modern retelling of “Hamlet” (one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, by the way.) Trudy and Claude? Please.
How about you? Do you finish the books you start? Or do you refuse to waste time on books that don’t hold your interest?
I want to know!
Sometimes you just need to retreat.
No, I’m not talking about the kind of retreat where you curl up in a ball and hide from the world because rejection number three thousand five hundred and ninety-nine has just found its way to your inbox.
I’m talking about the “lock yourself away and write until your fingers fall off” variety.
That’s the kind of retreat I’ve been blessed to undertake for the last several days while on vacation from the day job.
Okay, I still have all ten fingers … nine of my toes, too. The tenth is numb after its run-in with my exercise bike. Being the klutz I am, I kicked the dumb thing while I was walking around.
Having been at my office for 10-plus years, I get a ridiculous amount of vacation to burn off every year (four weeks) — and this summer, I have to take it before our staff goes down in number. (One of my fellow page designers is leaving at the end of the month.)
So I’m off work for two whole weeks and the Boyfriend is out of town. He took his kids to California to see where he grew up.
What’s a pre-published author to do with all that free time? Write, of course.
One day, I poured out 3,500 words of my WIP (the one connected to “Beauty and the Ballplayer.”) Another day saw a word count of 2,ooo. The other two days were 800 and 1,100 — and that’s with breaks for movies. (Being a comedy fan, I went to see “Bad Teacher” one night and “Friends with Benefits” another afternoon.)
Even today, with grocery shopping and softball practice, I’ve written about 700 words — and reached a turning point. In fact, I’m going to get back to it now. See you on the other side … hopefully with a fully finished first draft.
The gals at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood posted a form to look for a critique partner. When I tried to post my response in the comments, it didn’t show up. So here it is, in all its glory:
NAME: Arlene Hittle
Please E-MAIL me directly at [email protected]
I write: humorous contemporary series and single title
My favorite authors are Christina Dodd, Kristan Higgins, Cherry Adair, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
My work would be enjoyed by the audience of ??? (If I knew that, wouldn’t I already have sold?)
I prefer to give and receive critiques that include:
Story & characterization analysis only _N__ With occasional line-edits Y__ With in-depth line-edits _S____
I prefer a no-punches-pulled, straightforward critique focusing mostly on problems _N_
To avoid feeling discouraged, I prefer frequent praise to surround negative comments __Y__
I’d like help brainstorming problems _Y_ I just need the problems pointed out _S__
I’m highly self-motivated__S__ I need someone to help me set goals (kick my butt) _S__
I have completed ___6___manuscripts
I usually write_______1,000 to 5,000 words a week.
I finish and polish a 90,000-word book in _8__ months.
I have been seriously writing / pursuing publication for ___2+___years.
My strengths are: dialogue
My weaknesses are: agents say they’re not in love with the characters
My writing credentials are: 2010 Beacon winner, 2011 GH finalist, BS in journalism. My nonGH-finalists have fallen into the bottom and half percentiles. Have a weight-loss blog and a writing blog.
Since RWA Nationals ended, much talk has been going on amongst my Starcatcher Sisters about fear … of submission, rejection, inadequacy — you name it and we’ve probably felt it.
Aislinn, who recently sold not one but two books, wrote an excellent post on writers’ fears just the other day. Her conclusion?
I must sit down, and I must write. I must give myself permission to suck. Because I’ll suck even more if I let the fear stop me from writing this second book.
I am so there … well, on everything except writing my second book. I’m still trying to sell my first. 😉
However, I am of a similar mind: It’s time to move ahead.
Of course I’m still tweaking my GH finalist and sending it out on submission. But if I don’t do anything else — something new — I’m going to go stark-raving mad.
So while I continue to submit “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” I’m also going to start doing other things.
— I’m making some serious progress on the story related to it, Dave and Melinda’s tale.
— And I’m going to figure out which of my other, finished stories I want to enter in this year’s Golden Pen — even though that means tackling another dreaded synopsis. Yikes. (The early bird deadline is Friday.)
— I also have my NARWA meeting coming up this Saturday. We’re doing a “first three pages” workshop, where we read the first three pages of submitted WIPs aloud and give feedback. I need to decide which one of mine I want to have read.
I have to keep moving ahead. Each new manuscript is better than the last, because we’re continually learning and growing — or we should be. So I can’t just sit back and rest on the laurels of being a Golden Heart finalist.
Who knows? My next submitted MS may well be the one that finally secures me the agent and publication contract I’ve been chasing.