So this week has been a bit of a rocky one for me. I can't really blame anyone but myself. Well, that and the fact that I want to be a published novelist. Well, that's still my fault huh?
February 2 marks two writing deadlines for me - which are of course self inflicted. I'm going to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and submit a bio/synopsis/excerpt combo for a podcast series Eric Maisel is putting together on his website. And I can't even tell you how much more challenging this has been for me than writing an entire novel.
First off, writing about yourself in third person is weird. Selecting an excerpt is difficult. Writing a 300 word query/pitch is HARD. In the mix of all this, I've also been getting the first feedback on my manuscript from one of my "beta-readers" and my NaNoWriMo writing group. While the feedback in terms of storytelling and writing style was great, the bad was revealed as well.
I make an exorbitant amount of typos. When working on my fiction, I average about 1400-1800 words per hour. I also do a very poor job of finding them when I'm editing. I'd put money on the fact that I've missed a typo somewhere in this blog post too.
So the train wreck started when I used wordle. This is a really cool tool, mind you. It's very fun to see what words are used the most in your writing. I filtered out all the names of characters and locations and was made privy to the fact that my most used word was back. While 532 uses out of 101,578 words might not seem like a lot, it ended up showing its ugly four letter face on every page multiple times. It helped though. I was able to weed out quite a few backs, realizing that I do indeed use the word in many cases where it really just isn't needed. Being that the other words in the cloud include stuff like eyes, head, nothing, around, face, hand, something, and even, I found myself having weird feelings. Feelings like maybe my writing is too simple and basic if these are the words popping up as my most used.
Then I got some feedback from my writing group about how many typos I have, including a comment about being an editor's nightmare. (Of course, this was said in a constructive way. It was also followed by encouragement to find an agent. One who likes copy editing. LOL.)Everyone from the group knows that they are looking at early drafts, and some of the problems I had already fixed by the time I received feedback. However, I began questioning what I might have to lose (not loose, my dear fingers. See, I know the difference, I swear!) if I submitted something less than stellar - as in less than perfect - to the ABNA.
Would I be marred forever as the author who makes tons of typos? Would this hurt my chances of picking up an agent at a later time if I put out a manuscript that isn't error free?
After some heavy thinking, accompanied by excessive whining, I decided I don't really think I'll be shunned from the publishing world for a submission that could very well not even make it past the first judges (ergo, never be publicly posted).
This, with the stress of trying to put together not one but two separate pitch things due on the same day, started to make me go a little insane. I don't think I've ever really doubted my writing, but I was seriously starting to doubt my ability to get an agent due to my apparent SUCKAGE at editing.
Piece of mind came when I decide I'm going to look into some copy editing services. I'm not looking for a writing coach or someone to refine my story. I like my story. I feel like I tell the story I sought to tell. I need someone with the skills I lack to go through it and pick out all the stupid shit I did when I typed it way to fast. Lose and loose, missing words, missing letters, extra commas and mistaken uses of semicolons.
I stop and question if I might be selling out or something. I don't think so. I think I'm buying time. I might never get my manuscript flawless in terms of errors, no matter how many times I go through it. I have no idea how long it would take me to become comfortable with "close enough." Six months? A year? Ten years? I could be querying in that time. I could be querying while working on finishing my next manuscript. For me this feels like an investment. Get a project out there now. A project that won't get rejected because I have an extra period at the end of a few sentences.
We all know agents are forced to reject more than they might want to. Agents are flooded daily with queries, and if something is an easy reason to cull the herd, who wouldn't take it? I do it myself in my own work. When I'm putting together a series of stories for the Good Works, I pick, as often as possible, the most complete submissions. I look for a story with enough information that I can write about and also that there is already a picture included. If I have these things I don't have to spend the extra time calling for more information and waiting two weeks for someone to get back to me with a photo. I don't think anyone elects to more work than needed, especially if they have a hundred other possibilities waiting for them.
I want my story be judged for the story it is, not the typos. I don't want to be auto-rejected for a mistake (lots of mistakes) in the manuscript. I want to give myself the best chance possible from the gates. I don't want to spend a year querying with something I'm not confident in. I'm ready now. I'm ready to realistically pursue my dream and stop just talking about.
For me, this is certainly worth spending some money.
To carefully mask the mental breakdown I'm having over the possibility that typos, poor word choices and the overuse of the word "back" are doomed to ruin my writing career, I'm now going to blog about giving my cats a bath this weekend in lieu of describing the incessant whining and insecure ramblings I've been doing all day long.
Anyone who has cats knows that they aren't as clean as they want you to think they are. All that grooming and licking doesn't save them from the inevitable bath of doom. Kyra had achieved critical stinky mass last week and because poop is just not a lovely fragrance, the time was at hand. Unfortunately for Chunky I ain't doing this nonsense more than necessary, which meant Saturday was doomsday for her as well. Stinkiest goes first!
Heh. Need I saw more? I love my cats, but pictures like this make me feel better about all the times they've woke me up in the middle of the night or the butt crack of dawn, peed on something they weren't supposed to, or clawed me, intentional or otherwise.
Sausage Monster is most displeased with this turn of events.
I do believe this is the stank eye right here.
I almost felt bad for her here, sad little kitteh face. Then she jumped out of the tub and clawed my finger. Pity revoked.
I might look like I feel sorry for her in this photo, but this is actually me frowning because this was the point in bath time that my darling kitten started hissing at me. Somebody would apparently rather catch an pneumonia than be properly dried off. Which was just as well since I still had to give Chunky her bath.
Miss Priss looks a bit shocked in this photo. Really, you think she would figure it out after listening to Krya scream like I was skinning her alive.
Chunky sayz: "I does not approve." Otherwise known as "MRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!"
She took the towel off a bit better than Kyra, even though she was much more wiggly. Check out the whiskers on this old lady!
Ah yes, the sinister face of what will surely be my doom. To me, this look says kitteh plans to do evil, evil things at the first available opportunity.
I think it's time to put this away. For the record, here is the silly tally I kept while writing "Hound in Blood and Black" - aka ZG.
Genre: Speculative Fiction Guppies: 0 Screaming: lots Characters I've killed: 7, not counting the jeep Cannibalism: None - unless zombies eating zombies counts? Fingers removed and thrown at people: 1 Colored Chalk: Big box of it Lemon trees: 1 Broken Noses: 2 Broken Metacarpals: 3 Unrequited love: 1 Evil Plot Bunny: 1 Hate Mail For Jenn: Growing Sandalwood paste: 4 oz. White Dogs with Stupid Names: Cut - turns out I don't really want a dog in this book. Copies of The Divine Comedy: 1 Sharks: You can has them! Jeep: Back. Also green, something I didn't notice until about chapter 23. Agnst: Oh yea, baby! Enough for everybody! Ocean swims: 2 Significant rocks: 1 Moonshine: Four bottles Breach: 2 Bites: 3 Bath: 1 Black Flags: 2 Rooftop Promenade: 1S uper Tarp: 1 Nail polish: Yes Fork of Doom: 1 Cafeteria: 1 Coffee: 7 cups Fini: YES!
The undead are everywhere in popular culture, from video and board games to novels and films. Even my two-year-old nephew claims that zombies live in grandpa’s garage.
HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK, 102,000 words, is speculative fiction, and explores a new kind of future where it isn’t just about running from and killing the undead, but about the survivors who turn humanity’s leftovers into something spectacular.
It’s a dirty world. The center of the continents is filled with dust and undead. Clean water and peaceful sleep are things of the past. After all, a barricade of rusted metal, broken glass and people with guns isn’t always enough to keep the dead out. And for some, it’s all about letting them in.
Kumari is a wrangler, a poacher and a gambler who catches undead and fights them in the pit as gladiators. It’s not a pretty, but it’s good enough. All Kumari has ever wanted to do, just like everyone else, is to live and die without becoming a monster.
Kumari’s simple life is tested with a wager against her fiercest rival – a gamble that could cost her everything. The bet yields complicated results, and Kumari finds herself in possession of the slave and child-whore Heaven. Granting the girl freedom is the first in an avalanche of events, and Kumari faces the death of a treasured friend after she is forced to pull the trigger. From there, mere survival becomes much more complicated.
As Heaven struggles between the acceptance of misery and the chance to live for herself, Kumari stares in the maw of her greatest fear when she is bitten by an undead and the death she believes so strongly in is threatened.
I finished my manuscript today. When I say finished, I mean all writing and editing the first draft. From here, I'm going to put together my pitch for ABNA, compile a similar item to be considered for an "Attention Editors" podcast series, and wait for some feedback from my post NaNoWriMo writing group. After ANBA, more editing and time to start querying agents. Also, I'm waiting to hear about my submission for Triangulation: Dark Glass and to get my contributor's copy of my first published piece of fiction. On the work front, I get to write/develop a new column for the magazine/web sites based off the concept of the TV show Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel.
Did I mention Erik got this huge TV? Since I was pretty sure we couldn't watch that big of a TV with out some Blu-ray, I picked up PS3. Both Erik and I are safe from layoffs (there was a big cut at Erik's company, Vulcan, which scared the shit out of me) and my fat cats have lost some weight. Dungeons and Dragons Online is finally raising the level cap to 20 at the end of February, and Fall from Heaven 2 for Civ IV is still keeping me mucho entertained. I'm planning a super vacation with my best friend Jenn and our two guys for next year, which hopefully will include Egypt and Greece.
I love my boyfriend bunches. Erik is my insanely goofy counterpart, and I can't imagine finding anyone closer to perfect (in the sense of a perfect match for how retardedly weird I am). I have a mini-me, my niece Isabell, who has got to be the coolest kid in the entire world, with my nephew Simon coming in at a close second. My two best friends are doing great in their careers. For the most part, all of my family and friends are doing well.
There is some sad news though. My Grandma (my mom's mom) has terminal cancer and we're not sure how much longer she has. On a positive note, my mother was able to take a trip to visit and is there now. All my well wishes their way.
On a whim I decided to check out the anthology listing today. I was pleased to find a new listing that my short story EIDOS fits quite nicely.
Triangulation: Dark Glass is a speculative fiction anthology. I put together a cover letter - which is becoming pretty easy to do for short stories - and sent off my submission today.
My plan was to wait until I was finished editing HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK before I went back on the short story submission rampage. I picked out a few magazines to try submitting to, which will still be the plan should nothing come from this submission.
So I was officially cut off this week. My boyfriend has revoked his unconditional support of my writing, at least as far as zombies and the end of days research goes. Not that I can blame him. I'm a big fan of the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genre anyway, so we watch a lot of those movies to begin with.
My research/motivational material that he has been subjected to include:
Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Dawn of the Dead, Resident Evil (the movie), Resident Evil: Extinction, Wanted, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Akira, I am Legend, Blade Runner, Naussica Valley of the Winds , Ergo Proxy, Babylon AD, and a few random B-movie zombie flicks.
Now, he enjoys this stuff too - but in moderation. The hammer fell when I presented the next two Netflix rentals: Children of Men and Undead. LOL.
He says: "Let me guess. Apocalypse and zombies?"
I say: "Yup."
He then slammed his head on the couch and announced he couldn't take it anymore. My zombie/end of world indulgences in his company are now limited to playing Left 4 Dead. At least for now. I watched Children of Men by myself when I was home sick, so that just leaves Undead. Maybe I can talk him into one more zombie flick... I have this thing about not returning my Netflix rentals until I watch them, so either he finds the strength to weather one more zombie movie or our Netflix selection will be one movie at a time until I break down his resolve!
I mean, I only have half a chapter left to write. How much more of this "research" can I possibly stand myself? I don't need more zombie brain food to edit. (Get it? Zombie brain food? HAR HAR HAR!)
Good thing he likes science fiction. I need to start researching aliens and space ships soon. Or genetic alteration. Or some good old epic war. After all, Mongol is up next in the queue!
I'm super excited! Time to take a lunch break excursion to the local Barnes and Noble to see if the anthology "Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror" is on the shelf. If not, I shall order and copy and never pick it up...bwhahaha!
So I just kicked the power cord to my work computer and turned the PC off. Yay. When I opened word, it pops up with document recovery and my heart fluttered with joy. Then I clicked the document and it had three words. THREE WORDS.
I can't win this week. "First bacteria, now your big feet" says my friend the Wiley Minx.
The anthology Monstrous from Permuted Press is now up for pre-order! This is my first piece of published fiction YAY! My story is "Savage" under the very sneaky name of E. Anderson. Okay, not sneaky at all but whatever.
And I must say I got a little excited when I read the description:
Product Description Move over King Kong, there are new monsters in town! Giant beetles, towering crustaceans, gargantuan felines and massive underwater beasts, to name just a few. Think you've got what it takes to survive their attacks? Then open this baby up, and join today's hottest authors as they show us the true power of Mother Nature's creatures. With enough fangs, pincers and blood to keep you up all night, we promise you won't look at creepy crawlies the same way again.
See that in red? About felines? That would be my story. Tee-hee!
A nice pick me up as my horrible sinus battle continues. Nose has now teamed up with chest, and I've lost the day. The war, however, is far from over.
To help ring in the new year, I decided to take my niece and nephew to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey. Ironically, it's located about half a mile from the battleship. Needless to say, Nick and I had no trouble getting back to the notoriously cold harbor. And yes it was still butt cold on January 1st.
Accompanied by my brother, we embarked on yet another animal adventure. Normally, I try to take the kids to the zoo when I visit. Being that it was the off season this time, we opted for some indoor, under the sea adventures instead.
Things started off vividly. As in with the vivid stench of shit. The first room we walked in (located tastefully next to the cafeteria) was the hippo room. As physics and stuff dictates, the bigger the animal the bigger the poop. Times that by two, for two very happy hippos, and slap on the company of about two dozen birds, and it smelled terrible.
Lucky for us there were some warning signs posted.
And they were, if nothing else, supremely happy mammals. This one was taking a nap with his butt propped on one rock and his feet on another while he got a facial. As you might rightfully assume, we didn't visit the hippos very long.
Next room had some really cool jellyfish. My nephew was amazed. So was Nick, shown here leaning in to get a better look.
This photo hardly does them justice. These things were pretty darn spiffy.
Here's me with my niece, looking all sorts of pudgy. Don't worry. I plan on fixing that as soon as possible. Bye bye junk food! Its the new year!
Simon was very well behaved all day. This is one of the windows to the giant shark tank I believe, which was where we spent the most time. He kept yelling "another one!" every time a shark swam by. It was so cute.
Sea horse! Love these things. These two were swimming about all happy like. I also got to see a a few puffer fish, my other favorite fish.
Now this guy was perfectly still for my camera. Cool stuff huh? He looks a little angry though...or maybe it's just his paint job.
Simon liked him too. They stared at each other for quite some time.
Next big stop was the shark petting pool.
Simon was a little small for this, but Isabell enjoyed herself.
Of course so did I! We hung out for awhile comparing how the different sharks felt. She's so my mini-me. I love it. :)
We made a very brief stop at the outdoor section to visit the penguins, seals and the fake turtle. We saw some real sea turtles though, so it was all good.
Isabell made me take her picture in every hole she could pop her face through. I liked this one the best. After all, she sharks were her favorite part.
Another cool critter. This mini lobster also stayed nice and still. What is it about the red ones? Are they only still because they're contemplating eating my face?
And here I am with my nephew. Does he look like he's squirming? Because he was. This was the last room, and while Nick touched stingrays with Isabell, I played chase the Simon in circles.
With one final pit stop in the gift shop, we were on our way. Tons of fun. Makes me a little sad that I only get to see them a few times a year. Maybe soon they can come visit me. I'd love to take them to see Mt. Rainier. I bet Isabell would love it.
Createspace, the website hosting the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award, has set up a peer review beta system for reader feedback in the interest of getting people ready to submit for the contest. I figured I'd give it a try, even though some of the language makes me a little nervous. I can delete it any time I want to and that action erases all of the information as well as any reviews I receive. Also, it only stays up for 1,000 views and then gets archived. I guess we'll see what happens!
After many hours debating over what might be a fun idea for New Year's Eve, Jenn, Nick and I decided on visiting the Battleship New Jersey to see some fireworks. At least it seemed like a good idea. The two days before New Year's Eve had been remarkably warm, as in like 60-65 degrees. Of course, come the holiday evening, the temperatures plummeted and by nightfall, with wind chill, the temperature was a balmy 16 degrees.
It was so damn cold, I can't even begin to explain it. We bought the cheap deck tickets for $7 and those limited us to outside access only. We were able to enter one place to buy hot chocolate and coffee, but we didn't want to leave the chairs we froze ourselves to secure. A few drinks, three hot chocolates and a pretzel later, we still had forty-five minutes to wait for 2009. At this point, we all were discussing how much we hated 2008 and wished the damn year would just end already so we could go back to the car and possibly feel our toes, thighs and hands again.
Here's a very crappy picture of the boat from the shore, right before we got on board for the festivities.
Nick and I managed to entertain ourselves with Jenn's camera when she scurried off for a hot chocolate run, creating our own version of the Blair Witch project on the deck of the boat. Once she came back, we played the "words ending in 'shun' game" until the fireworks started. You know, that game? Alteration, sanitation, obliteration, nation, translation, revolution, etc, etc, etc. It goes on forever.
Don't believe the smile. I think my face was just frozen like that.
I must say the fireworks were very cool. Worth the pain? I'm honestly not sure. I do know I wouldn't do it again, at least not without paying for the $60 ticket and inside time, or with the weather being slightly more agreeable. Despite the frozen-ness, time with my two best friends is priceless, so I guess in the end it was worth freezing my metaphorical nuts off for the sake of good time. :)
Nothing says home for the holidays like insanity and chaos. I mean...
Nah, that's exactly what I mean. You can all deny it, but you know it's true. Visiting family isn't the relaxing kind of vacation. It's hectic, often jam packed with events and cracks filled with every edible culinary creation known to man. You get home and you sure as hell don't feel refreshed. You feel more like you've been hit by a bus, and in passing that bus also magically gave you five extra pounds around the midsection.
But within the scope of the crazy and the exhaustion, fun does seep into holiday time like rabid tadpoles. So here are some examples of the fun stuff I did with my family in between eating and being dizzy. (I put captions for each picture underneath the appropriate photograph.)
My dad, featured here in his lovely gray sweater, picked this wonder out for the kids. I think he got as much enjoyment out of putting together the marble maze as they had having marble races.
This was a present from my Aunt Luann for the family. How did she know? Just what my insane zombie loving family wants! Mind you, I'm not the only one fixated on zombies currently. Both my sister and dad have a fondness for the undead, and one of the first words my nephew learned to say was "zooooombbbiiiiieees!" He also thinks zombies live in the garage.
Here is the miniature horde for the board game. Can you hear them begging for brains through their plastic baggie?
And here's Simon making an unintentional, yet alarmingly accurate, zombie face!
This is our resident doctor, Isabell. I was going in for a standard check-up, after paging her and calling on her emergency line. Fortunately, she had an opening right then to take a look.
Unfortunately, I needed brain surgery. I tell ya, hospitals these days! She just ripped out my brains and left me there, didn't even stitch me up! I should sue!
But how could I, really. With a face like this?
Isabell, er Dr. Isabell, got these things too. Kenexts...or something. They were interesting. This guy is saying: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DON'T TAKE ME APART!!!!!"
So on to the next phase of entertainment. My sister, Kayla, and I call this "interpretive photography." One of us shouts a feeling or a concept, then I snap the photo. The first one was just your plan old "say cheese" moment.
I believe this one was "do something stupid."
Followed closely by: "Let's do another stupid one!"
"Bringing Sexy Back."
"Sadness with blanket."
"And we stared into the eyes of the zombies and knew the fear."
"That's foul, yo."
Art gave way to harassment. You would think it impossible for my brother to sleep through such an attack, yet he did.
And let this be a Christmas lesson to one and all. Sleeping on the sofa during family gathering will result in getting made fun of when you don't know it, complete with photographic evidence to be posted on the webs for everyone and their mom to look at.