Writer Wednesday–A Confession

I have a bit of a confession.

I’ve been struggling with writing since summer. Perhaps it’s frustration at the system, perhaps it’s stress from an uber-busy work schedule, or perhaps it’s something else entirely. Okay, so I generally have ups and downs with writing (who doesn’t?) but this slump has been the longest of record since I started seriously writing three years ago.

I’ve considered quitting. I’ve considered small presses. I’ve considered self-pubbing. I’ve considered scraping yet another manuscript to focus on the next WIP to polish and query to agents.

While these ideas were all appealing in their own way, I still wasn’t sure what to do.

One thing happened, though, that I wasn’t expecting.

Due to some seriously awesome writerly friends, I had a chance to talk my thoughts out and get some opinions of people who’ve gone through the whole “agent–small press–self-pub” cycle. They’ve generously shared their wisdom and knowledge with me so I feel more empowered and prepared to combat the industry.

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m still querying my dystopian, but I’m also going to pull out my middle grade (which has been dormant since spring) and will start revisions on that sucker so I can get it query ready.

I feel like I’m heading back to basic training for another tour of Operation Get Published.

Anybody willing to join me?

Hey, check out Lydia’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog response on if she Nanos.

Wonky Wednesday–Wherein I Share Bits of Info, Including Contest Winners!!!!

~~Oooo0, the days are flying by and November 1 is fast approaching! Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

I’ve been working on an outline…hopefully (if I follow it) it’ll help me focus on one section at a time so I can pound out words without trying to connect too many dots all at once (AKA: wasting a lot of time plotting and sorting…not that it’s a waste, it’s not…I’m saying the outline is doing that for me…oh man, have I gone and put my foot in my mouth again???).

Anyway…

Good luck to all writers who are in the final days of NaNo prep. Stay tuned for Friday’s post–it’ll give us a lot of inspiration and perhaps a motto to live by next month.

~~Now, to announce the winners of My Berfday Giveaway!

The winner of a copy of The Near Witch is:

NATASHA HANOVA!

The winner of the vampiress glass (with boobies and fangs) is:

CATHERINE JOHNSON!

Congrats, ladies!!!! Y’all are on Twitter, so DM me your addy and I’ll send the presents ASAP!

~~I’m super excited to share with you guys that I am part of Ciara Knight’s “Knight of the Round Table Reviewers!” My review of Laura Eno’s TEMPEST CHILD is up today on Ciara’s blog. Please check it out and say, “Hi!”

~~Last, but certainly not least, check out Deb Salisbury’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog post about what influences her writing!

Mental Health Monday–Mental Status Exam

*****My 300/500 followers contest closed at midnight last night. I will announce the WINNERS on FRIDAY! Good luck to all the participants.*****

Ok, so part of a psychiatric evaluation includes what’s called the Mental Status Examination. Simply put, it contains observational information such as appearance, behavior, speech, mood, mental health symptoms (such as hallucinations, delusions, and suicidal thoughts), as well as a set of “formal” questions used to assess a person’s orientation (to self, place, and time/date), memory, concentration, fund of knowledge, ability to manipulate thoughts, and insight (knowledge of) their illness and ability to have sound judgment.

Most clinicians use the same questions in the same order (it keeps things consistent, standardized, and easier to remember).

Some clinicians have their own set of questions, however. One of my colleagues asks her patients to interpret a statement that for the life of me (and my fellow co-workers) I can’t figure out.

So, I’m putting it to you guys to see if anyone knows it.

Drumroll please (as if this long-winded intro isn’t enough of a lead in, LOL!)!

What is the SAME between and EGG and the MOON? 

Yeah. Anybody know the answer to this?

I found a link that states the full moon in April is called the “egg moon” because it coincides with the days getting longer and to chickens laying more eggs.

Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday post and Sarah’s post!

Choices…Not Just the Name of the Cafeteria

‘Kay, gang. I’ve got some choices to make. (Doesn’t everybody?) But the super cool thing is that I’ve got a whole bunch of peeps in the interwebz to offer their opinion.

So here we go.

First off, I’ve been thinking of changing the look of my blog. You know, a new background and such. There’s a lot of designs out there and I’ve had this one for about six months.

My question: Who likes the current background as is and who would love to see a change?

Next, I’m saving every spare penny for a down payment on a house (I have yet found my dream home, but I am looking in earnest), but I totally wanna get an iPad.

My question: Should I spend the dough (cuz who knows when I’ll actually find a house?) or fight temptation and keep the money in savings?

Seriously, people, I need all y’all’s input.

Thanks!

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PS, that’s totally not the house I’m looking at, but don’t it look fun?

Flake-out Friday

When I was a kid, Shel Silverstein’s poems delighted me.

I ran across one of the books I kept from childhood, and I wanted to share one of my favorites from his book, A Light in the Attic:

LADIES FIRST

Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first,”

Pushing in front of the ice cream line.

Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first,”

Grabbing the ketchup at dinnertime.

Climbing on the morning bus

She’d shove right by all of us

And there’d be a tiff or a fight or a fuss

When Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first.”

Pamela Purse screamed, “Ladies first,”

When we went off on our jungle trip.

Pamela Purse said her thirst was worse

And guzzled our water, every sip.

And when we go grabbed by that wild savage band,

Who tied us together and made us all stand

In a long line in front of the King of the land–

A cannibal known as Fry-‘Em-Up Dan,

Who sat on his throne in a bib so grand,

With a lick on his lips and a fork in his hand,

As he tried to decide who’d be first in the pan–

From the back of the line, in that shrill voice of hers,

Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first.”

Point A to Point B

Okay, folks, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. (Remember the neuroticism post from Monday? Just thought I’d add another thought to the rumination stew, LOL!)

I’m gonna share with you a before and after of my most recent WIP. Yup. I’m gonna do it.

Ya ready?

‘kay.

So, here’s what my first draft, first paragraphs looked like, a la NaNoWriMo 2009:

“Nickie. It’s your turn.” Mom extended her arm out to me and smiled.

My fingers brushed against hers as I accepted the burning candle she held. I gripped the plastic holder tight to keep it from tipping. Even though it was ten degrees outside, the last thing I wanted was to get hot wax on my skin.

I stared into the small, yellow flame. The pressure of Mom’s hopeful stare dulled my thoughts. How was I supposed to say something profound?

Well, I’m gonna be brave enough to say, meh, not bad. But yeah, it’s not terribly good either.

Here’s why:

  • I opened with dialogue. Okay, it’s not the faux pas of all faux pas, but it could be better.
  • There’s a lot of redundancy here. Ex. Extended, out. Ex. Burning candle, hot wax, small yellow flame–okay, I got, there’s a fire. Hot. MOVE. ON.
  • I used 81 words to pass a candle between two characters. Geesh.
  • This gives the impression “nothing” happened! Grrr.
  • OMG, even my bullet points are redundant, LOL!

Fast forward five months, and here’s the latest opening paragraphs:

Tires squealed. A horn blared.

Each ghastly sound broke through my eardrums in rapid succession. But not in time for me to do anything about it.

The luxury sedan hurtled toward me. Swerved. Fishtailed. Maintained its collision course.

My hands flew to my face. Adrenaline surged though my body, sending my heart into an impossible rhythm and rooting my feet to the ground.

I closed my eyes and waited for metal to snap sinew and bone.

Air left my lungs at the impact. Pain wracked my body. I wanted to breathe in cool oxygen. But a heavy weight pressed me into the asphalt.

In just over 100 words, I’ve conveyed a lot of action. I’ve shared what the MC felt. The reaction of her body. Showed rather than told. AND, the writing is tighter.

Yay!

I’m not saying this is the best thing ever, but I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned over the past months with the help of some keen and knowledgeable beta readers. Comparing these versions helps me see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I have a long way to go, but I’m still walking.

Tell me, if you compared your first draft to your current one, what differences would you see? What have you learned so far on your writerly journey?

Mental Health Monday

The topic of today is “neuroticism.” Picture Woody Allen and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it means.

Basically, a neurotic person experiences more negative emotions than positive ones. Anxiety, guilt, anger, and depressed mood are common. People who tend toward neuroticism don’t tolerate stress particularly well.

It’s tragic really. At least for the neurotic person. For those around them, well, it could either be extremely draining, frustrating, or (dare I say it?) kind of comical.

I mean, really, who hasn’t laughed at a Woody Allen movie? (Ahem, or at Woody Allen?)

*ducks head as haters throw rotten tomatoes*

Anywho, I bring up this topic because yours truly will be taking her oral board examination for board certification in psychiatry in ONE WEEK. If I pass this test, then I will be a board certified psychiatrist. Bonus.

Too bad oral exams are like physical torture for me. *grins sheepishly, then looks for rock to hide under*

Yeah, so neuroticism pretty much defines me right now. Anyway, I’ll ask your forgiveness and understanding if I’m less attentive this week. I’m taking an intensive boot camp-like review course to prep for the exam during the days and I’ll be sticking my nose in a textbook during the evenings. Good times.

For those of you who do so, please pray for me! THANKS!!!!

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