I entered a pitch contest. You can read all the entries and comment on them if you like here.
I’m not tellin’ which is mine.
A few months ago, I participated in one of those Twitter pitch contests. If you don’t know, this is when someone hosts the event on Twitter – sometimes they are hosted by agents, or publishing houses. Writers pitch their books in a tweet with a specific hashtag and agents check the hashtags to see which manuscripts they might like to see more of. I sent a query and a synopsis and I think a couple of chapters to an agent for the publisher hosting the contest. (I sent her “Daughter of Light,” my second manuscript that re-imagines WWII with magic and automatons and some zombies and stuff.)
She emailed me asking about the romance in the book. The publisher is primarily a romance publisher and they like their stories with lots of kissy bits. There is a little romance in the story, and I told her as much. I also said that while there was romance, it was going to develop over the course of the three books I had planned but I was not opposed to bumping it up a little. So I revised and sent her the whole manuscript. I feel good about the revisions. I stuck to my original plans for the story, so I didn’t feel like I was cutting off my baby’s arms to suit her. (This was A.C. Crispin’s analogy at Dragon*Con, not mine, but I like it.)
A few days ago, I got what was ostensibly a rejection email but I’m about as okay with it as possible. She was really positive about the book but said it just didn’t fit with the publisher’s stable. I absolutely get that. Looking at their crop of writers and books, I can see where mine doesn’t quite fit because it isn’t heavy enough on the romance.
I haven’t shopped this book around as much as the first one, for several piddly reasons, but I feel like I really need to get on the ball and get it out there.
So I have two manuscripts. The first one is called The Bluegrass Goddess Incident, and it’s a weird little book that combines mythology, fantasy, steampunk, and contemporary elements. I call it a New Adult Fantasy, since we have to put everything in its category. If Twilight is potato chips, this book is anchovies. It’s not for everybody. And I get that. It’s been rejected by every agent based on the query letter and whatever they request (10 pages, a synopsis, etc.). This might be the book that is published posthumously.
The other book is called Daughter of Light and it’s a YA alternative history fantasy. I’ve basically taken over World War II for my own use here, including Hitler and the histories of the US and England, among other things (for example, in this world, the US never gained its independence from England! Tesla didn’t die a pauper! Im in ur historee messin up ur stuff!). It’s meant to be the first of three books. I’ve shopped it around just a little bit. I got a rejection yesterday from the agent I thought would just really love it.
I feel like the manuscripts are my two children and people really want to hang out with one and think the other one is weird and talks funny.
Daughter needs some revisions, and perhaps I’ve sent her out too early. But I really believe in both of these stories and so I will keep plugging away at it.
A friend solicited book recommendations today and I was a little embarrassed not to have much to contribute. She listed some books and authors whose work she liked and sought similar tomes – literary fiction.
I have an M.A. in English Literature and spent many, many, many years reading ONLY literary fiction. Then I met Husband and he introduced me to the wonderful world of science fiction and fantasy. Now that I’m writing fantasy, and young adult at that, that’s where my reading is concentrated.
I read so slowly that I feel compelled to keep up with YA fantasy trends instead of varying much. I’ve also gotten to a point in my life where I appreciate the escapism that fantasy books provide.
Right now, I’ve just started the fourth book in GRRM’s Song of Fire and Ice. I adored the third book, and I love the series as a whole. I’m also reading a little about twins, since mine are due in November, but I can only read so much about that subject before I get bored or overwhelmed or both.
Uncategorized 1:58 pm
If you recall, or perhaps you don’t so you may go here, my last post concerned the news that I am With Child.
Yesterday we went for our first ultrasound. I was nervous, but not for the reasons you might think. Yes, I was a little concerned in general – I have a friend who went to hear the heartbeat for the first time and there was nothing. Her body kept progressing as if she had still been pregnant. I was afraid of that a little bit. My main fears concerned time off work, to be honest.
Anyway, I got to the ultrasound place a minute after Husband. Signed in. Paid the copay. Waited. The nurse took me back for some questions. At one point we were left alone in the room. Husband read on his phone and I jiggled my foot. Finally I pulled some essential oils out of my bag – neroli, which is supposed to be calming. I got it and some bergamot to help me cope with the nausea (the terrrrrrrrible nausea). I rubbed some neroli on my wrists and tried to relax.
Then we went into the ultrasound room. Cut to me on the table, tummy covered in goo, and the tech touching the wand thingy to my middle. For a second I saw….two round blobs. I thought to myself, “Was that…? Naaahhh…she’s just getting all set up. That was my bladder or something.”
But Husband, who is currently doing his pediatric/maternity rotations for nursing school was staring hard at the screen.
“Looks like there’s two in there.”
I burst out laughing.
Over the next half hour, I laughed in disbelief and delight, Husband shook his head, and the tech tried to get B to roll over so we could see the neck. Two strong heartbeats. Two little polliwogs.
This was so far off my radar, I can’t even tell you. Twins don’t run in our families. I had no fertility assistance. And they are identical which means that we had something like a .03% chance of this happening. We just kept staring at each other and shaking our heads.
After we talked to the doctor we went to my regular ob/gyn practice where we talked to more doctors and nurses and kept shaking our heads. Appointments were made. Prescriptions were given.
And we’re having twins.
I feel this is a good enough reason to start a separate blog so if you feel inclined, please come visit. I’ll continue to post writerly stuff here, too, as I am able.
Actual baby spiders are not cute so here’s a cartoon baby spider.
Well, people, it’s about time to tell you that there’s going to be a change in the Writing Spider’s web. Come November, we’ll have a baby running around, doing baby things and such. It’s the first one for me and Husband.
Since I really wanted this to be a writing-based blog, I’m considering starting a second one for baby/family stuff.
At any rate, I’m coming out of the first trimester which was pretty rough. Morning sickness? No. Permanent state of pre-vomiting? Yes.
I’m still writing and I’ll continue to update here and post about writing stuff. And I’ll let you know if I decide to start a baby blog. It’s all the rage, you know. Imma get on that bandwagon.
So I finished a book. This would be my second book completed. The first one is a really weird little stand-alone about some ambitious demi-goddesses who take over the lives of a bunch of characters in order to shape a story that will wow the gods into giving the demi-goddess some celestial promotions. I love this book, it is my baby, but so far, no agents will claim it.
The second book is the first in a trilogy. It is an alternate history fantasy set during World War II. The Colonists lost the war for independence and the US remained part of Britain. A young woman loses her only family – her grandparents – and soon discovers she is a prophesied heroine meant to defeat a mad man. There’s magic and airships and a madam with rubies in her teeth.
I have basically appropriated WWII, its related timelines and characters, and some Jewish mysticism for my own use.
This one has gotten more interest than the first one, which is kind of like when people like one of your kids more than the other and you keep saying, “But Jane is really good at dominoes and she makes her own clothes!” And everybody just says, “That’s nice… Can we talk to Sally now?”
I’m also very much learning to love Twitter. I didn’t think I would like it this much but I do. However, occasionally I will notice that my followers have dropped by one or two and I can’t remember who was following in the first place so it’s hard to see who it was. I always hope it’s those weird Twitter skankbots. Where you get a follower named “Liza Duvall” and her whole feed is links to half-nekkid pictures. How do they end up following ME?
Anyway, thanks for dropping by.
Cakewrecks makes me cry because it is my life in a lot of ways.
One of my other passions/jobs/hobbies besides writing is making cakes. Fancy cakes, cupcakes, stuff with fondant on it. I have a little price list and I do work for random people – some are referrals, some just find me on Facebook. There are parallels between writing and cake, I’m finding.
1. Can you just write/make me a…? Usually this sentence ends with something ridiculous. “…four-tier fondant-wrapped sponge cake in five flavors? I need it in three days and I have a budget of $20.” Or, “A 27-page brochure that requires research and has huge blocks of technical language? I need it in a week and my budget is $50.” People think that cakes and writing just come out of my bellybutton like magic. I like to think of this as the Cake Boss effect. People watch TV shows where a commercial bakery produces spectacular cakes in less than a week. Here’s the thing: I’m just one person and I only have two arms. People have no concept of big commercial baker vs. little home baker. And people STILL think that writing is easy. You know what’s really easy? Bad writing.
2. Why is it so expensive? You get this in freelance writing and you get it in cake. It’s not expensive, dummy. It costs the exact amount it should cost. I do a lot of math to decide how much to charge for stuff and I have to include things like when I make a cake, I use actual butter and sour cream. Those are more expensive than lard and whatever else you might use instead of sour cream… For writing, it takes time to research, write, revise, revise, rewrite. Time is money, people.
3. I’ll just go to Walmart/do it in-house. I do custom cakes. People loooove their sculpted fondant. So when I get a request to do a baby-butt shower cake (don’t ask), I have to figure out time + supplies + effort to sculpt out of sugar a baby’s behind, legs, feet and diaper. Then they’re STUNNED, SHOCKED even, when the quote comes back beyond what Walmart will charge. I cannot tell you how often I hear, in a really miffed voice, “Well. I can just get a sheet cake for $15 at Walmart.” Yes. Well, I love to buy cakes where I can also purchase ammo for my gun, motor oil and camouflage pajamas. Same thing with writing. “I”ll just have my secretary do it.” Yes! Let her, because she has Word’s spelling and grammar check, she’ll be FINE.
I have a lot of Feelings about this.
I’ve only just begun claiming “improv-er” as a label. “Writer” had been on the list for a long while.
My bachelor’s degree is in English and Theater, though I am no great actress. My best part ever was in a weird postmodern piece during which the first line of the play was mine: “OH MY GOD, THE TURKEY!” I never aspired to DO anything with that dramatical part of my pedigree, as many of my friends did. But about a year ago, I felt an itch to perform. Not plays or musicals – I was afraid they’d take up too much time (and though I can sing, I mostly chose not to in front of People); time I could use to write or query or edit or something writerelated. I emailed a local improv group and asked if they were open to new members.
They were. That was a year ago.
The connection between writing and improv is not really so mysterious although it has been revealed to me only recently. When you sit down to outline or write or revise, you may have a structure in your mind, you might have a few characters at the ready, but you are, essentially, improvising. And when we step onto the stage once or twice a month, we have a few characters and we know we’ll be doing what’s called a Harold or a Henriette (those are long-form improv structures) but we don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens.
My friend and fellow improvisor and writer, Patrick Wensink, is teaching an online class about this. I have not had the pleasure of Professor Your Honor Wensink’s class, but I am sure that it’s awesome. He is, after all, a seasoned improv-er and published author so he must be doing something right.
There are many principles of improv that work on stage or on the page. These are the ones I find myself thinking about most.
1. Yes, and… In improv, you never negate what someone has said to you. If you get out there on stage and your scene partner says, “I just love having my hair dyed orange!” you should not say, “But your hair is brown…” You’ve killed the scene. “Yes, and…”-ing is a useful skill onstage, off stage, on the page, off the page. It opens up so many possibilities and adventures. On the page, you can use this as a jumping off point for conflict which is much more savvy than relying on “NO!” to create conflict for you. “No, but…” is flimsy conflict and doesn’t reveal much about the characters or relationships.
2. Support the reality of the scene If you’ve already made it clear that you are in a classroom in Queens, you can’t just start acting or writing like you’re in a spaceship on Mars. You create the environment then you live in the reality of that environment, stage or page. If something unforseen or unplanned happens, as it is wont to do, you go with it. As my former improv coach used to say, “That just happened.” That means you deal with that reality and make it work. See where it takes you. In writing, you might end up with a scene you didn’t imagine and might be awesomesauce.
3. Trust In improv, the thrill is not having a script safety net and trusting your scene partners to not let you fail – and they won’t. In writing, you have the luxury of outlines, drafts, revisions, edits, critique groups, and so on. Trust the instincts and jump out of the damn plane, already. Your chute will open, I promise.
If you’re in or near Louisville, Kentucky, you can check out my improv group, Project Improv. We have the Facebooks and everything so you can see when we are doing shows. We hope to do more shows with INDYPROV out of Indianapolis, too.
I’d love to tell you where to get my book but I don’t have one yet so you’ll have to wait for that.