Reflecting

I signed up for the agent bootcamp out of desperation. I attended it because I didn’t want to lose the money I’d paid. After some of the tougher critiques I’d received early in the week, I was more than ready to quit. It’s hard to stay positive and motivated when you’re crawling on your belly through the mud with no end in sight.

I told my husband the feedback could honestly make or break me as an author.

We were assigned agents—of the 4, only 1 was interested in the genre of my story. I was not assigned to her.
We were told to send nothing aside from our first 2500 words. The premise of the novel should be evident that early on.

Not unusual as I know many agents and editors skip the query and go directly to the sample pages.

After the webinar, I rewrote my beginning, losing what I thought had been a good first line. There was no time to do more than the MS Word spelling/grammar check. No one was around to offer a second opinion. It had to go as is.

When I got the email back, my husband and I prayed—he said he’d never felt my hands shake that much.

My husband wants a poster of this over my desk, and told me I’m never again allowed to utter the words, “I’m not a good writer.”

After a small revision (ha, that is such an understatement for what went into it!) to the ending of the first scene—making it stronger—she had this to say:

“It’s a good story–and one that I think will find an audience…onward!”

I have my orders. 🙂

Advertisements

Bootcamp

I used to think it laughable to use this term outside the military. After all, what could be harder than the real bootcamp?

Oy.

Trying to sell an agent on nothing but 2500 words.

With a query you have the chance to succinctly tell them your 50-word pitch. With a book you have the cover and back matter.

Pansies.

This weekend, I learned I could completely change the first 10 pages with no coffee, very little sleep and only the vaguest of directions…and still survive.

It put the lie to my “I don’t have anything left; I’ve given it all”. And that’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s where I found the will to keep going.

Capturing the Joy

It’s an odd juxtaposition feeling hopefully optimistic while sitting on pins and needles. The first 2500 words of Chap 1 are in the hands of an agent awaiting feedback.

I could tell you all the things that are wrong with it in my own opinion, but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to focus on what I do like about it.

  1. Starting it closer to the inciting event gets to the conflict sooner.
  2. My husband was impressed that I was able to move the key elements around so this scene works as the opening to the novel.
  3. It no longer feels like a completely different novel from the first scene to the second.
  4. I got rid of some unimportant characters.
  5. I didn’t fail.

The sun is shining outside. Come what storms may this week, for now there is peace.

Status Quo July

To say it’s been a crazy month would be to put too fine a point on it. I worked on Chap 27 a lot and edited more of the rest a bit. Chaps 1-5 were squared away in the latter half of June, but languished due to lack of interest.

Looking ahead: Aug 4th, I’ll attend a writing workshop with author Mark Mynheir, and I’ll go to the author panels at Star Wars Celebration VI.

This past week took the cake, though. I signed up for an agent bootcamp presented by Writer’s Digest. Knowing that my first 10 pages would be critiqued, I sent the first 12 to friends, begging for feedback.

Be careful what you ask for.

After a gut-wrenching 3 day meltdown couple of attempts to completely rewrite what was obviously a flawed beginning, I attended the webinar yesterday on very little sleep.

I painted my nails during the presentation.

Then I proceeded to scare my husband with the bold statement that I needed to start the story where we’d been trying NOT to all along. My next order of business was a nap. After that, I put on headphones and said goodbye to reality.

I sent my 2500 words to the agent around 5AM this morning.

Regardless of what happens, right now I feel the first sense of accomplishment on this story that I’ve had in a very long time. And that, my friends, is good. 🙂

Not Responding

There are two truths you learn when you try to do something creative: “Everybody’s a critic” and “No matter what happens, someone, somewhere will always be offended”.

Jeff Goins blogged about how to handle this kind of criticism. He reminds us that

criticism can be deadly to…creativity.

And says to

…stop giving it the power it doesn’t deserve; stop responding to people who aren’t saying anything.

It goes beyond the artistic realm, too. In every situation, there’s always someone who believes they know how to do it better. And they often don’t hesitate to offer “helpful advice”.

A friend posted about some advice she got at her church:

Oh I had a truly hard time biting my tongue today. I was speaking to a friend about Emmalyn’s sleep habits and another woman nearby interrupted to say, “Oh you need to stop that. You need to be in control, not let her control you.” Oh. My. Gawd. Where do I begin….
First off: wasn’t speaking to you.
Secondly: didn’t ask for advice.
Thirdly: she is my baby, not yours, and who are you to say who’s in control? AND this is putting aside just how plain wrong you are.
But I behaved and simply kept on speaking and then walked away.
I just don’t see how people can think a 5 month old baby is “controlling” me simply because she wants to be near me to feel safe and comforted. Oh, I fume just thinking about it.

Kudos for her ability to simply walk away.

But how do we keep that from sinking deep inside and derailing us? What has been heard often cannot be unheard, so how do we stop it in its tracks?

Combat it with truth.

The critics don’t know you better than you know yourself; they don’t have inside knowledge that has escaped you. In other words, they are not right. Their opinion is not binding on you!

You wrote your story the way it appeared to you, painted that picture as you saw it, played/wrote/performed that song as you were moved. If it’s to the best of your ability then you have nothing to worry about.

And in my experience, the critics are the unhappy ones, anyway. Their focus is on the negative (this work was great…but). There’s no joy in that. So, don’t let them steal yours!

Book Covers 31

Today’s theme is red.

Breathless     Before the Fall

My Lady VampireMy Lady Vampire 2My Lady Vampire 3Revenant in Training

(Images are from Amazon and owners retain all rights.)

Movie Experience: The Dark Knight Rises

Obligatory IMDB blurb: Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

I was not looking forward to this movie (*gasp, shock, awe*).  Batman has never been my go-to hero (my sister is currently wondering where she went wrong) and the Nolan series, though true to character, has been reeeeallly dark (pencil trick, ’nuff said). Then early reviews came in with less-than-stellar marks. My husband’s hopes sank even further than mine. 2 hours before the O-dark-thirty premiere, he wanted to hawk our tickets on Ebay.

However, said sister (who’d been in line since 11:30AM – a full 5½ hours before anyone else) was waiting on us, and we didn’t want to break her heart. Therefore, my expectations were low. And that, my friends, is when they dropped below zero.

A minute or so into the movie, the camera follows a vehicle holding some gun-toting characters (guarding 3 prisoners) to where they meet Mr. Clean-Cut-CIA and his plane. Once in the air, he blithely informs the 3 that his flight plan allows for only 1 of them and opens the door—
Everything went black

…except for the emergency lights. Could not have timed it better. Maybe it was a sign.

We sat there for the next 45 mins while the poor managers tried to keep 20 theaters full of people from rioting (17 of those were showing Rises). Tempers got a bit warm as did the air without A/C. I was never more grateful for the IMAX theater having single companion seats. I had my husband beside me and a whole aisle as my bubble of cool.

Finally, the power came back on. Then we had to wait for the system to reboot (IMAX would take the longest…) Fortunately, the movie started right away (though we wouldn’t have minded seeing Man of Steel and the exclusive Skyfall trailers again. 🙂 )

***Spoilers ahead***

Oh. My. Gosh.

This was a fantastic movie. A very fitting end to the trilogy and so full of win. I don’t know if just having no expectations made it awesome (even stale food is a feast when you’re famished), but I think the critics need to stop being whiny fanboys. (no offense to nonwhiny fanboys 😉 )

Let’s start with the things I didn’t like: Selina’s hair. Long hair left loose like that is a DNA nightmare for a jewel thief. She would have known that no matter how early in her career she’s meant to be portrayed. It didn’t add to her sexiness, either.

The douche bag who blew the bridge. I know, I know, you’re supposed to hate him even though he was just doing his job, so this was actually something I “liked” in that respect. But man, I wanted to…be unladylike.

Some people have pointed out the cliches in this film, and even I know there were a couple tiny plot holes. They just don’t bear being that nit picky in my opinion.

So, on to the win moments:

The Batcycle. How do you top that sweet move in the Dark Knight? Like this.
The Batplane was great, too.

“So that’s what that feels like.”

“Your wife said you’d be taking a taxi home.”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Just yes. Cillian Murphy. :firm nod:

The chant. I always liked it from the trailer; knowing the significance makes me love it.

On a side note—For those thinking Alfred would never have left Bruce (despite the storyline of the comic this came from…) I posit the following argument: Alfred has just admitted to his master that he lied. Good intentions aside, that cuts at the heart of his honor. And Alfred is very honorable. His logical conclusion, especially since Bruce didn’t argue, was for him to leave.
(Mr. Bates, Downton Abbey fans?)

All in all, I ended up really liking this movie. I highly recommend seeing it in the theaters, the final act just makes everything worth it.