Monday, January 30, 2012

What, Another One? I Just Can't Keep Up!

Ever notice how many contest there are out on the world wide web of blogging and writers circles? Have you ever felt like you just have to enter each and every one of them? I mean how can you not, right? This is your chance to show the world how good you are. Even better is that some of these contests you get to have your work critiqued by other readers so you know before you fill out that official entry form that your work is in top notch shape right?

Wrong. Wait, just like querying make sure your work is the best it can be.

Or at least that is what I'm starting to believe. Don't misunderstand me, it's not that I'm against these contests. I'm all for them, and I think they are great, tons of fun to. I love meeting new people during them as well. Especially when the everyone is helping each other out by critiquing them first. And yes, I still feel this way even though I haven't won any. For me though lately I just feel like they are taking up to much of my time and not giving me a chance to hand in my best work, which is what I want to do. So I'm bowing out of contests for a little while. Let me explain.

First:  You find the contest, Oh but it doesn't open for another week. Book mark page or jot down note so I don't forget to enter.

Second: You select your work, or work on the pitch, or story, or what ever needs to be handed in for the contest.

Third: Post your entry on your blog so others can critique. Make sure you visit other blogs and critique others work.

Four: Make changes to entry taking into account critique notes from other entries.

Five: Fill out official Contest entry form

Six: Start it all over again.

All this while trying to write, do research on querying and send out queries, and start a new WIP.  And don't even talk to me about every day things that I need to get done. Right now it's just to much.  I'd love to enter some more contests, but I just don't have the time right now. I wish you all luck, and when things slow down I plan on being back in Contest mode like everyone else. 

Until then,

Work hard and good luck!  I'll be cheering you on from the side lines.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Beauty of Critique Partners

Many of us have critique partners. They are those wonderful people we turn to for advice and help when we are writing our novels. They help open our eyes to the flaws in our works we can't see ourselves. Sometimes they are nice, sometimes helpful, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes they rip us to shreds.

So how do you know if you have a good partner? It's not always easy to know until you have gone through the trenches with them. And by trenches I mean read, critiqued, ripped each others work apart and come out friends.  Yes, that's right. You tear their work apart, tell them why it doesn't work and are brutally honest, in a nice way of course, and they say Thank You.

I have found with my critique partners just that. In fact one of my partners entered the same contest I did. Now, remember we are competing against each other and the prize was a full or partial request from a agent who is currently closed to submissions. Hey this is big.

So I laughed when I got an email from my critique partner asking for help with her entry. So now I'm sure you are dying to know what I did. Well, what did you think I did? I helped her of course. Why? Because part of the contest was to critque others work to make it better before you entered the contest. Hey, we are all in this together remember? If we are not here for each other who will be?

Have you ever competed with a critique partner for the same agent? Have you ever entered the same contest? How did you handle it? Did your partnership make it though, or did it ruin it for you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Stand Out Synopsis News

If you frequent my blog enough you know that Mondays are Stand Out Synopsis day. If you have noticed I have not been posting any synopsis or queries on Mondays lately.  The reason is obvious, I don't have any to post.

Since I seem to not be getting any synopsis or query to critique I have decided not continue with this segment on my blog. Not to worry though, I am not going anywhere. I'll still be posting on Mondays, it will just be my regular ramblings. I might decide to add a different segment later, but for now, I'm just going to keep things as is. To be honest as sad as I am to see it go, I'm also glad that the stress of not having something for you and getting it done on time is gone.

This gives me more time to do what I really love, write and blog.  

Happy Monday Everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Writing is Hard Work

I wonder how many people understand the time and effort it takes to write that perfect novel, edit it, find the perfect critique partners and do the research to find the right agent? When I tell family members about my writing dreams and all I do to make my dream come true the question I get asked the most is when do you find the time to write?

Now this question doesn't bother me, because that tells me they know it takes time to get the words on the paper. But I wonder if they realize how much time we spend working towards a goal?

I've been very busy lately polishing up my manuscript, my query letter and synopsis. I've also been researching agents I haven't queried before and refreshing myself on who is looking for what, and what is on market these days and I got to thinking:

 When you started out writing did you know the non-writing part would take up so much of your time? I have to be honest, I didn't. There is so much information out there to weed through, and so many agents to research. Then, if you want to do it right you need to not only write a killer query, you need to personalize it. Sorry guys, stock query will not work here. Agents want to know that you did your homework and rightfully so.

Don't get me wrong, I'm loving every once of information I have learned about what agents are out there and who they work for and who their clients are, but I have to also be honest. I didn't realize how much work it would be. Or how much fun I would have doing it!

Did you know it was going to be so much work? What part of the process do you enjoy the most?

Monday, January 16, 2012

I've Come a Long Way Baby .....

....with a long way to go.

I have to boast a little bit today. I have been thinking of all the things writerly (according to spell check this isn't a word, but I like the sound of it) that I have accomplished lately and I have to say I'm proud of myself.  We all have obstacles we must face in our day to day lives. Some are huge while some are little mountains we must travel over in order to get to where we want to go.

Today I am going to celebrate a small mountain that I had to go over. The mountain of Technology. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but when I first met Technology we didn't get along. I was terrified that I couldn't figure it out. I was scared I wasn't going to be able to work that darn cell phone, or computer. I mastered my cell phone, and all the other little gadgets my husband has lying around the house. (He is a technology buff, so if it's out there we have it, even if we don't really need it.)

Then I decided that if I wanted to write I needed to have a platform. I had to look technology in the face again. I wanted a blog/web page all my own, but I didn't know how to do it. My husband made it very clear that although he supports my writing, he wants nothing to do with helping me out on this. Which is really fine because he is more right brain and I am more left. (Did I get that right? Art and language is on the left side of the brain and math and science is more on the right? Yeah, I think that's right) Anyway, I was on my own.

I. Was. Terrified. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea which direction to go in to look for help. I had so many questions. But I trailed ahead anyway.  I opened up an account with google and it's been a learning game ever since.  Have I made some mistakes? Oh yeah, ask Laura Barnes who did a wonderful job of critiquing my blog. (Click on her name to see what she said.) The point is though is that I knew enough to ask for help. That is key isn't it when learning something new? Know when you need help and don't be afraid to ask for it. 

So I want to thank all of my blogger friends out there, thank you for your help and guidance in this great writing journey of mine, especially with this technology blog part of it. Because if not for you guys, my blog would still need work, and I would never have figured this thing out. Is my blog done evolving though? I hope not, it needs to grow as I do as a writer and will.

Is there more to learn? Oh, yes there is, but I never knew how much fun I would have trying and I didn't have to ask my husband for help. See, I've come a long way, and I'm looking forward to how much more I have to learn.

How about you, what have you learned along the way in this blogger world? Or just in general that you were afraid to do before?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Festival of Color- Game by Ozlem Yikici

Ozlem has devised an interesting game. I really love the idea. Take a situation, setting, and two characters and write a short dialogue to go along with it. A few of us bloggers signed up to play the game. Each of us had to write a short profile of the characters and short dialogue to go with it. Next we got to see how our characters played out with different authors. Unfortunately life happens and the game has not been able to continue. Until now.

Please hop on over to Ozlem's site to catch up on the rules, since she is better at explaining them than I am. Click here to hop over.

I am also posting my short shorty below for your enjoyment, put please in order to get the full effect hop over to Ozlem too see what other people wrote and then come back and let me know what you think. It's really cool!

Ted grounds keeper 75 year old and hates kids. He has a limp and very good eye sight.
Katie is a twelve year old girl hiding in the barn. 

Katie knows more about why she was left at the festival them she is saying.

Ted looks down at a half empty bag of popcorn on the ground. He was getting to old for this job. As grounds keeper for the festival and hitting 75 in a few months he knew his years of bending down picking up other peoples crap was limited.

“Damn kids. Why can’t they ever use the garbage can?” Ted says as he bends down to pick it up. In the corner of his eye he sees a small glossy red shoe sticking out from behind something in the barn a few feet away. Ted limped, entered the barn and yanked at the shoe. Attached to the shoe is a leg, a long skinny leg, attached to a young girl wearing a blue and white checkered skirt.

“Well, I’ll be damned. What are you doing here after hours?”

“I got lost. I was in the bathroom. I didn’t hear the last call.”

“Oh, come on. You can do better then that. Come on there’s nothing hear to see after closing. Get going.” Ted pointed towards the exit.

“I…I can’t. My ride left.”

Ted put his hands on his hips annoyed. He didn’t have time for this. He needed to clear the grounds of garbage for the continued festivities tomorrow, and he didn’t have all night.

“How old are you, twelve, thirteen?”

“I’m twelve.”

“There’s no way your ride left without you. Go on get going.”

“But I can’t. I don’t know where she is.”

“Who is, your ride?” The girl just nodded.

“Well go to the exit and look around.” Ted said starting to walk away. The girl grabbed his harm. He was surprised by her strength.

“She’s not there. I know because I….”

“You what?” Ted stared at the girl, but the girl wouldn’t answer.

“What’s your name?” Ted sighed.

“Katie.” Ted looked down at Katie’s hand still clenching his arm. Katie let go and dropped her hand to her sides.

“Katie, tell you what, I walk you to the office. You can use the phone there to call someone to pick you up.” Ted turned and started to walk away.

“There is no one to call.” Katie mumbled.

Ted sighed. He didn’t like kids, he liked them even less when he had to deal with them. It didn’t seem this one was going to go away.


“Because there’s no one to call.” Katie looked up and stared at Ted. The look in her eyes gave Ted a creepy feeling.

“There’s always someone to call.” Ted said nervously.

“Then you better call someone Ted.”

“How did you know my name?” Ted frowned.

Tell me what you think, do you like the idea of the game? What would you write for the profile? What did you think of the other dialogues?   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What Happened to Birthdays?

Yes, this is a question I have been asking myself lately. You see my boys are getting bigger. They are no longer little boys when they are almost as tall as their mother. Which I might add is a good thing at their age because I am not a very tall person.

My oldest is 10 and my youngest is turning 9 in another week or two and I have noticed something about birthday parties this year. People aren't having them. I know for a fact that one of my friends decided to stop having the kids party. Now, I can't speak for parents everywhere, but around here for some reason parents don't RSVP even when asked on the invitation. I'm I guilty of this? Sure once in a while I have slipped, but every time? No. That was one of the reason why my friend stopped having kid parties for her boys. People don't RSVP and she had no idea no one was going to show. At other times, which has happened to me people didn't RSVP then they would show up. It's very frustrating.

This year my son couldn't even decide who he wanted to invite. Go figure. I finally got a few names out of him and decided to have it at home instead of out. More work, but less money. Needless to say my husband and I decided this is the last year for kids parties. Parties are expensive. Part of me thinks this is one of the reason why people aren't having them. Then I got to thinking, they are older now at what age did you stop having parties for kids? I guess my age is showing because I can't remember.

How about you? What age are your kids and do you have kids parties for them? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Part II: Pride and Joy

I wasn't planning on making a Part II to this post, but I was so interested in the comments from this post that I had to make another post on it.

I have to say I was really surprised to hear that some of you have not been inspired by your teachers. It honestly felt me feeling sad. I feel so forunite that I have had many teachers in my life who have inspired me growing up.

Through out my school career math has been my down fall. I'm horrible at it, ask my husband I still am. (I've a posted about my and my horrors, if you are interested). Anyway, even though math isn't my favorite, and I'm not the best math student one of my teachers who I looked up to was a math teacher. She was understanding and compassionate. She understood that not everyone loves and is a good at it as she is and she tried to make it fun, if not barable for those who struggled.

Another teacher who at the time I didn't appreciate was my expository writing teacher in college. I hated this woman. Every paper I turned in the hacked. For homework I had to redo it an was given another assignment. Before I knew it I have at least five papers for homework from her alone, and that didn't count my other sudjects. Looking back now while writing my novels, my query, and synopsis I wish I had her back. I didn't realize what a favor she was doing me.

Could it be that we just don't realize how much these teachers are helping us but us are just not ready to receive and be open to what is offered us at the time?  I wonder.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think if you had these teachers now it would have made a difference, like with my college professor?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pride and Joy!

(Note this post was originally scheduled before Christmas)

Tonight I had the pleasure of heading back to school after a long day of work. It was a special occasion. Tonight was the elementary school's holiday concert. For my husband and I we were especially lucky because we got to stick around for the whole thing. You see one son is in the band, while the other is in the chorus.

The usual Christmas songs were sung, and I have to say for kids ages 7 through 10 they were good. I was totally impressed with the band. If you closed your eyes you never would have guessed the students were only in elementary school and the chorus was great!

I'm am most impressed with the music teachers though. For one they are dedicated people who think of the students first and foremost. The band teacher was professional and likable. I could tell the students really look up to him and take music seriously. The chorus teacher is A-okay in my book too. The student's really support him and give their all. I'll tell you it must be hard to teach a music class while being blind, but Mr. Z does. The teachers and students love him and it shows. After tonight's performance I can see why.

He's the type of person who knows his short comings, and he never lets them stop him. He is there every Tuesday before school for the chorus club, teaches chorus and the recorder to the third through fifth grades. What I loved most is I got to hear him play the piano for the kids during the concert. (Their last teacher just played a CD it's music class for crying out loud. I want to hear a live instrument!)

How does this pertain to writing? Short comings. We all have them. For some of us it is that we are just starting out and could learn more . It could be that we struggle with tag lines, settings, POV, grammar, the list goes on. My point? Don't give up. Work, work harder then you have ever worked before.

Somethings come easy for people, others it's hard, but if we give up we will never hear that beautiful music we all can create. Mr. Z never gave up and look at him now. He's playing music and sharing his love for music with the kids, but he is also teaching them something much more important. Never give up your dream, no matter how far a reach it may seem.  And that is a powerful message.

What teacher inspired you to live your dream despite the odds? Tell me, I'd love to know!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Muppet's + Memories = Happy Tears

 So today, (December 30th) my husband and I took the kids to see the new Muppet movie. Now even though I love the Muppet's, this movie was not on the top of my list to go see. I'd much rather go see Sherlock Holmes or the new Mission Impossible movie, but my youngest won and off we were to go see the new Muppet movies written by Jason Segal.

Anyway I just want to say thank you Jason! Not only did he do a great job of re-introducing the Muppet's to a new generation, but he reminded us "old timers" why we love them so much. Honestly this world needs more movies and characters like these. (I've posted about this need before-search for it in my cloud below).

I don't know if anyone has seen the movie yet, so I won't give too much away, but basically the story involves a die hard fan helping to get the Muppet's back together after a long time of being separated. Oh, and the deed to the theater and studio is in jeopardy.

 (Walter: the die hard fan)

 I know everyone has memories of the Muppet's. One of my first memories was while camping with my family. It was a rainy day. Not much fun for camping, so my mom and my aunt took all the kids to the movies to see the Muppet's. It was their first movie. We had seen them on TV and we were really looking forward to it. So my three cousins, my sister and I piled in two cars with my mom and my aunt and off we went. One of my younger cousins fell asleep just as the movie started. We wanted to wake him up, but my aunt said no, boy was he pissed when he woke up. I can't blame him. I actually saw those cousins this past weekend for Christmas Eve. Boy how times have changed.

 Anyway, that was one of the memories that came back to me while watching the movie today with my boys. Happy tears came to my eyes and I found myself crying, literally crying. Yes, I'm one of those people who cry for happy reasons as well as sad. It's call an emotion, you don't like it, too bad.

 Anyway lets talk about characters, my favorite? I can't decide, I love them all. Although I have say Gonzo and the Critics have a special place in my heart. I love how when ever Gonzo blows that trumpet the wrong sound comes out, and the critics can be very funny for the older crowd. Oh, no I'm the older crowd now. When did that happen? LOL I guess it happened around the same time the Muppet's slowly drifted out of the lime light. Well, I'm glad they are back. What no Kermit you ask? Oh, now that is a given! I'll always love Kermit. Doesn't everyone?!

Now it's your turn: share with me your memories. What are your favorite memories of the Muppet's? Who are your favorite characters?