Your New Terrifying Thought of the Day

I found a new and improved querying phobia, the other day, and since I can’t get the thought out of my mind, I figured the rest of you should suffer, too. Maybe I’m dense, but I hadn’t even thought of this one, before.

This one’s from Janet Reid’s blog–she’s a literary agent, and she blogs, and you should read her blog, even if you’re only slightly considering traditional publishing–and here’s the dark and terrifying quote:

“You should also remember that if I love your work, and sign you as a client, all my OTHER clients will be skulking around your blog to learn about you.”–Janet Reid.

Oh, good. That’s not terrifying at all, because I am perfectly normal. All my friends are perfectly normal. And we certainly did not throw a party for our imaginary friends a couple years back. Also… pay no attention to any posts about standing in the rain with a camera trying to photograph lightning; rampant insecurities; desired marriages based on “some men can cook”; vacuum cleaners or other electronics with names; or skulls or other human remains.

I don’t know how that got there.

So… there’s the idea. You know that writer? The one that made me query this person in the first place? The one where I explain the agent by saying ___________’s agent? (As in, They’ll probably laugh until they pass out, but they’re ________’s agent, so I at least want to try?) That client?

Yup.

That seems to say they’re inviting themselves over for dinner.

Don’t forget they’re vegetarian, and they have some food allergies. (I’ll send you a list.)

Not just my place. They’re going over to visit you, too.

I’ll be hiding as a puddle of melted Karen over in the corner. You get your own disguise.

 

Unsagging My Middle

No, not my middle. My Story’s middle. I have a character who needs to get from point A to point B in a hurry, but the middle third of my book is starting to look more like the Lord of the Rings than something thoroughly modern, and written by someone who **ahem** doesn’t particularly care for dual person verbs.

There are a few things that need to happen on this trip, but not a lot. It’s not an epic journey, and it’s certainly not the whole point of the story. Just enough that I can’t skip over it and just say “And when he arrived, he took a bath.”

And the whole thing has to be very, very sleek, because I’m running out of spare word count.

As if it didn’t have to be sleek, anyway.

There was a lot of sag to the book, when I started my revision. I’m not sure if I’m talking about words and plot lines that I never should have written in the first place, or if they were… necessary explorations that have now served their purpose. They don’t fit in with the plot, and most of them can’t fit in with the plot.

I’ll save some of them for the next book, and throw out the rest.

I keep coming up with things that could–and maybe should–go in the book, though. A plot card here, a paragraph there.

I have plot cards in an envelope. Counted out and color coded according to available word count. If I run out of cards before I run out of plot, I’m in trouble.

So, how about it? Any plot de-sagging tips I should hear?

The Exercise Thing Gets Expensive

As a part of my tech-assisted health and fitness kick, I’m spending a good chunk of time wandering around places I wouldn’t ordinarily go. Do I have my hourly 250 steps in? No? What about now?

So, I went to an antiques mall. You know… one of those chain places that rents booths to anyone and everyone. I don’t, usually. There’s usually nothing to see that you couldn’t dig out of your Aunt Thelma’s attic. I went for the steps, and not for the antiques.

And I found human remains.

One booth in the whole place is selling some old medical school skeleton parts. They’re pieces that are about two hundred years old. (As usual, there wasn’t anyone to ask about them.) The first of the pieces was an articulated female pelvis. Once upon a time, it had been painted to show the various bones. Okay. Maybe if I were running an obstetrician’s office, or something.

Then, again… maybe not. Pregnant women probably don’t like the death aspect of the thing. We’d hate to see someone go into labor. (That could be why I’m not running a doctor’s office.)

There was a bundle of ribs… I’m not sure how many, or how matching. It was all behind glass.

And then, there was the skull.

I am not in the market for a skull. I am not in the market for a skull. I am not in the market for a skull.

But if I were…

He was about two hundred years old (according to the notice in the case, but I think it’s close), and missing his calvarium, and some of his teeth. He’d been articulated old-school style, with the little springs connecting the mandible.

I thought he was charming, but out of my price range… you know… since I am NOT in the market for a skull, at all. And exactly how would I store him, if I did buy him? He doesn’t want to be shoved in a drawer somewhere.

Okay. So, I’m thinking about it.

He’d be a splurge and a half. Easily the most money I’ve ever spent on a man I just met, and that’s before I figure out exactly how to store him. (That sounds expensive, too.) Of course, I don’t think all that many people who go through antiques malls are really looking for skulls, so he might go down in price, if I wait.

Or, I might come to my senses, and buy something sensible.

IWSG: Lessons I’ve Learned Writing

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
July 5 Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
I think–and I keep having to learn this one over and over–that I’m learning that small goals add up over time. Novel writing isn’t so much a marathon as it’s a thousand sprints. It’s writing a little bit every day, as opposed to sitting down and writing a novel, or even sitting down and writing a chapter. You get up and write another page, or edit a page, and you get there, eventually.
I can’t say I always do that, but it’s a path that has begun to show results for me in other areas of my life–with building my blog, with my fitness goals–and with my writing and my revision. I may have been plagued by small goals when I was a kid–the kind of thing where you have a “project” for the day, and you wind up finishing it in a very short length of time. I’m trying to remember any point at which I would have been working on one thing for a semester or a year, and I’m coming up short.
The more I think about it, the more I see that most goals–the popular ones, the ones that everybody has–come pre-broken down. Baby-steps, until you lose track of the bigger thing that you’re aiming for in the distance.
If you lose track of the whole with novel writing, you don’t wind up with a whole.
The next step can be easy to lose track of in the enormity of the whole.

Electronics for the Fitness Conscious Writer

My fabulous (old model) Fitbit has arrived, and so far, I’ve downloaded some apps, fiddled around with some settings, and lied to it. Lied? Well, maybe not exactly. It asked me what I weighed, and the truth is, I don’t know. Haven’t kept track, since I quit dancing on a regular basis and actually lost weight. Well, whatever it is, I’d like to go down. Or up. I’d like to be more compact, in any event. Since there wasn’t a box for “more compact,” I checked lose weight, and made a guess. I really have no intention of finding out, but I will notice when my bras get looser.

It told me I’m probably going to die.

I also got in about two hours of stomping around the house, running up the pedometer excitement. I’m not sure if this is going to be a new leaf I’m turning over, or just the same ol’ playing with new electronics thing.

So, as of right now…

Writers Maybe Should Have it Because:

It will remind you to get up and move around instead of just sitting there, staring at your computer screen. I haven’t totally decided whether that’s a good thing, or just a Harrison Bergeron moment waiting to happen.

It also pulls the thought of exercising to the forefront, and breaks it into small, achievable goals, instead of hitting you in the face with “I must be eating kale and raw vinegar right now.”

I’d love to find a “Set non-fitness goals” option, and track my daily word count or editing goals that way, but as of right now, I haven’t found it.

The Good:

SURPRISE! The Fitbit App is actually small enough to run on my ancient phone. I didn’t even have to remove anything that was already there.

The thing is generally easy to work with, and pretty intuitive. I’m not looking up how-to’s every other second.

I also think that tracking water intake might have a tendency to make me drink just a little less other stuff which can’t be all bad.

The Bad:

As I said, I’m not really a “weight” person. The tracker is definitely weight conscious, and wouldn’t let me so much as begin without punching in a number. **shudder** It has also tried to sell me a wi-fi connected scale. (I might, actually track weight, if I didn’t have to know, myself… but apparently, not an option.) That said, it is possible to hide the “weight” tile in the dashboard.

Sorry, That Bookstore’s Not for Me; They’re Selling ARCs

So, there’s good news and bad news from a town nearish me.

The good news is–and I found this out via one of those 50 whatevers in 50 states lists on the internet–that there’s a new bookstore.

The bad news is… I couldn’t go in. I can’t go in. I won’t go in. I certainly can’t actually… spend money there.

They’re selling ARCs.

For those of you who don’t know–and maybe that’s a pretty small crowd around here–an Advance Review Copy is a copy of a book sent out before publication to reviewers and booksellers to get the buzz going. You’re likely to see them as prizes on the internet, where they get thousands of people to sign up for a drawing for three books. That kind of thing.

The whole point is to get it into the hands of people who make recommendations, and into the public consciousness.

The Author does not get paid for that copy of the book.

And I happen to believe that the author–you know, the human who’s maybe going to make the next book–should get paid. The more I like the book, the more I think the author should get paid, which is why you’ll occasionally find me bouncing up and down on your chest asking whether you bought my favorite book, yet.

So, when I got to the bookstore (note the lowercase, there.) I found a sign out front that said “We DON’T think Authors should Get Paid.”

“We DON’T pay our Authors.”

The exact wording was “Buy one BOOK, get an ARC for FREE.” One of those easel boards you find on sidewalks.

BOGO? Sounds more like a sleazy discount sale than a giveaway. And what do you wanna bet those ARCs are in “new” condition, meaning that the very people who are supposed to be reading them–Booksellers--aren’t. It sure as hell isn’t giving the ARCs to charity. Now, that’s tippy-toeing pretty close to the line. Or, you know… pole vaulting over it, if the goal is to PAY YOUR AUTHORS.

Now, apart from the fact that people like me are going to keep walking, when they see a sign like that, there are a few other people who will be pissed off.

You know.

The Authors, for one. If you’re a Bookstore, you’ll want to be on good terms with the Authors so they’ll come and do signings and events. Probably not going to manage that with a big sign that says “We Don’t Pay You.”

The Publishers… Because they don’t get paid for ARC’s either. And there aren’t all that many of them. Ever wonder what happens to a bookstore when the Publishers stop sending it books to sell? It becomes an Empty Shelf-Space Store. Yup. That can happen. And risking it for a BOGO sale?

Bookstores aren’t selling discount sports equipment. They aren’t an in-and-out proposition, the way getting your tires rotated or your oil change is. They’re a community, and tendrils of an intellectual culture that need to be nurtured.

The people who shop in Bookstores–your customers–work to build that community, and that culture. They invest in their Bookstores in time and money, and in a devotion that not many businesses ever see.

And they expect you to invest in that culture, and that community, too.

Selling ARCs is leeching off that culture. Taking without giving.

You’re saying “Here… I stole this from your friend. Now give me your loyalty.”

Look, I wrote a blog post.

I woke up this morning with the back of my neck pressed firmly against the headboard of my bed. Pretty much, I’m curled up like a shrimp. This is not good for my head, muscles, or whatever the hell else gunk is in my neck, and it’s literally my oldest bad habit. It used to drive my mother nuts when I was an infant scooching around in the crib. Maybe I should get married so I have an anchor. Another job for the foot fetishist of my dreams. Here, it’s your job to sit here and hold my feet so I don’t break my neck.

That might be going overboard.

What I am getting is a Fitbit activity tracker, which… among other things… is supposed to chart sleep cycles and make me sleep better. A snazzy vibrating alarm so I can get some hardcore earplugs to block out the world. It’s last year’s model, so it doesn’t cost as much as the new ones, and it’s maybe even going to encourage exercise. You never know. It’s getting here tomorrow.

Tonight’s dream involved watching the south end of town blow up. I attribute this to a combination of the 4th of July explosions (which have now been going on for a couple of weeks) and the scene I’m writing in my novel. It was a pretty big explosion. Very explosion-y. But apparently, even my subconscious knows there are no targets of strategic or symbolic value anywhere near me. It turned out to be a series of transformers going out. Yup. In my dream, the explosion turns out to be transformers.

I am in desperate need of excitement, ladies and gentlemen.

Garlic Bread and Patriotic Socks

Last night, I dreamt I went to a casual dining establishment where–for some reason–they were advertising free patriotic socks with every meal. That’s probably a side-effect of all the explosions. A little less than a week left to Independence Day, and my neighbors are celebrating. Loudly. Why no, as a matter of fact, fireworks aren’t legal to sell or use in my community for a few more days. Never mind, the neighbors are conducting their own private Trinity tests, and I’m dreaming about patriotic socks.

The garlic bread? Well, doesn’t everybody dream about garlic bread?

So I was in this casual dining establishment. The kind where you can look over the counter and watch what’s going on in the kitchen… and I ordered a meal, which should have come with garlic bread and patriotic socks.

I didn’t get the garlic bread, and that left me with the feeling that since I wasn’t given patriotic socks, I should probably complain about those, too. Whether I wanted them, or not. (Possibly not a patriotic socks person.)

I had to complain to get my garlic bread, and then, I had to complain two or three times to get my patriotic socks.

As I’m leaving the restaurant, I had to tell them that if I did not get my patriotic socks, I would not be paying the bill.

So, a manager comes to talk to me, and then, I’m standing there watching while she pulls out an overnight case that is completely full of socks folded into neat little balls in white plastic bags. She hands me my bag of socks and apologizes.

I don’t know what made me check. My subconscious is a strange and suspicious place.

I had to call the manager back. These are not patriotic socks.

What do you mean? Of course, they are.

These socks… are yellow and black.

The manager looked at me like I was crazy. She unrolled the socks, and pointed. Yes, they are. They have pictures of cowboys on them.

Can’t argue with that, so I went away with my yellow and black cowboy socks.

Early Morning Word Sprints (Caveman Style)

I got up this morning and did a nice, long word sprint, instead of my usual blog post. I got a lot done, and wound up with enough of a scene that I didn’t feel particularly guilty about going out to play. It gave me something nice to put in my “progress charting journal” and really does… uhm… compliment the on-going “took a vitamin D capsule in the pretense that it’s actually morning when I get up”. It worked well, and there’s a fairly good chance I’ll do the same thing again, at some point.

Maybe I’ll be a little more organized about it and figure out I’ll put up that day at some time in the evening.

Word sprints are working out fairly well for me… well, when I remember to do them. I got two of them in, today. They were both an hour long, and that amounts to about six pages, all with teeny-tiny writing. (Don’t ask the size of the pages.) I’m doing the writing longhand, at the moment, which seems to keep me in a much more linear space, and it also puts the computer (and Twitter and the News and and my e-mail and my several writing forums) out of reach.

Linear is very, very good.

I’m reminded of that every time I pick up a section to revise.

Eventually, I’ll wind up with a stack of little yellow papers, and type them all into the computer (because nobody’s willing to accept a shoe box full of little yellow papers) and that will be like a first going over editing. As long as I can keep all of my little yellow papers together long enough to get them into the computer, this process could really work out well for me.

I did some word sprints socially during NaNoWriMo last fall, and then, a presentation by Jenny Marts (Writing Sprints Journal) at the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference kicked me back into it. I haven’t gotten as far as chasing down sprinting buddies, because I’m not exactly sure what I’d have to report back to them, besides a number of handwritten pages. I’m also–not always, but frequently–going a lot longer with my sprints than we did for Nano.

In a weird way, writing sprints seem to be a thing I’ve always done. Not, perhaps, the organized, pre-emptive, I’m going to sit down and do this thing, but the last minute, NO, REALLY, YOU HAVE AN HOUR AND A HALF, NOW COME UP WITH SOMETHING COHERENT! thing.

So, there you have it. If you’re going to wait until the last minute to get anything done (and well, yeah. I am.), you should probably figure out a way to get yourself as many last minutes as possible.

Does anybody have any tips on how to make sprinting work for revisions? How to measure revision progress in general?

StoryTime Blog Hop: Your Invitation

We’re a little less than a month out from the next StoryTime Blog Hop, and I’m actually getting the invitation out in time that everyone has an actual opportunity to write a short story. The deadline for links is July 20, this time around, and the Fabulous Juneta Key will be hosting (again. Because she’s amazing.)

StoryTime is a Speculative Fiction blog hop, so bring your Science Fiction, Fantasy, and anything else that has speculative elements, and join us.

The hop features speculative short stories, usually under 1000 words with a G or PG rating (No graphic sex or violence, and try to avoid the dirty filthy language you hear around here.) It is not specifically oriented toward children, although children’s stories are welcome and encouraged.

If you want examples of stories from previous hops, I have a (dismally out of date) list of links.

I hope you’ll join us as a writer, but if not, be sure to come back and read the stories on the 26th of July.