In case you hadn’t noticed, I no longer blog here.
Wordpress proved too tempermental for me, so I moved over to blogger. You can read the whole sad story and check out my new digs at: http://auntycindy.blogspot.com/
August 2, 2007
In case you hadn’t noticed, I no longer blog here.
July 9, 2007
In case anyone wanders through here (which doesn’t seem to be happening lately), the group blog I participate in is holding a contest between now and July 11th. We’re giving away chocolate, an autographed copy of “A Thief In a Kilt” by Sandy Blair, and a Jane Austen action figure.
To enter, whip on over to: http://romancebandits.blogspot.com/
July 7, 2007
My CP Aimee is moving to Missouri. In TWO WEEKS!
Okay, okay, she told me a couple of months ago about her plans. But I’ve been in denial (my favorite river in Egypt). After all, we’ve been face-to-face CPs for almost two years now and we’ve worked really hard at our writing and at being supportive and helpful to each other. No small feat!
I’ve had a number of critique partners and participated in lots of groups (both formal classes and organizations and less formal ones) over the years, both online and face-to-face. Finding a “good one” is %#&#@) DIFFICULT!
Losing one is an absolute B*TCH!
Finding a CP who “fits” is hard work. You need to find someone who “gets” your writing, and vice versa. You need someone who is equally dedicated to his/her writing and to critiquing. But most of all, you have to find someone you can “trust.”
The trustworthiness of a CP goes far beyond the trust in many other relationships. Like it or not, every writer imbues her work with a certain amount of herself. What you write definitely reflects who you are, but it goes beyond a mere reflection. In so many ways, our writing truly becomes “our baby.” Finding someone you trust enough to criticize “your baby” is tricky indeed!
Aimee and I will continue being CPs, but online rather than face-to-face. And I will begin my search for a new face-to-face CP. But I know it will take a lot of time and effort for me to find someone, and no one will completely fill Aimee’s ballet slippers.
I MISS YOU ALREADY, Kiddo!
July 1, 2007
Okay, maybe not REAL homocide, but ficitional. Or the intense desire to commit homocide. What a blood-thirsty mood I’m in! Obviously the rejections are getting to me.
Every writer who receives more than two or three rejections quickly begins to recognize certain “standard phrases” used by editors and agents. Phrases that might have once meant something, but due to extreme overuse in too many situations now mean absolutely nothing. Well, except as maybe an excuse for the recipient to beat his/her head repeatedly on the most convenient immovable object and/or seek his/her vice of choice.
You know the ones I mean…
And while you or I may scream,
“What was unlovable about it?”
“What IS RIGHT for you right now?”
We will never really know. And it’s that uncertainty — the NOT knowing — that is so frustratingly hard to accept.
Most of the AYUs I know (myself included) have this nagging unreasonable fear of the “Published Writers’ Secret Handshake”. Being published is like a special club and we don’t know the secret handshake that will get us admitted. Hearing or reading those ambiguous phrases like “…just not right for us…” serves as a reminder that we are NOT in the club. 😦
And of course, the big fear — We may never be in the club!
June 28, 2007
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Woody Allen and goes something like this: “If you aren’t failing now and then, you aren’t in the business.”
NOBODY knows this better than an AYU writer, or any writer for that matter. We get our proof of being in the business all the time. THE DREADED REJECTION.
Some writers keep a scrapbook of their rejections. I’ve heard of others who paper their office (or more fittingly, their bathroom) with them. Others ceremoniously destroy them.
One of my CPs claims there is a Cosmic Number of rejections that every writer must receive before they sell. Of course, the catch here is that you never know what your number is. All I know is, whatever MY number: a) it is quite large (over 3 digits) and, b) I MUST be getting close. PLEASE!
As part of my campaign to develop the needed thick writer’s hide necessary for survival in this business, I’ve set myself a goal of “A Rejection A Day.” To facilitate this goal, in the past 8 weeks I’ve sent out 18 queries and 5 partials (only one unsolicited). For awhile there, I really was getting back one (or more!) rejection a day. However, lately they’ve fallen off to dribbles and drabs.
Yesterday, I received my first rejection in over a week. It was from BIG NAME AGENT “B”, and I’d been expecting it. Deep down in my totally insecure little AYU writer’s heart, I knew I couldn’t land Big Name Agent. Plus, it had been over a month, and previous experience has shown me that the longer they take, the less likely it will be positive. At least B.N. Agent “B” softened the blow by saying some nice things, including an invitation to submit future work.
So if I’m to keep meeting my goal and toughening my hide, it’s time to send out more queries and proposals. UGH! I really hate this part of “…being in the business.”
June 26, 2007
I’ve been bitten by the blog-bug. I know, I know I’m waaay too easily impressed. And a geek for stats. Oh, and let’s not forget, the world’s greatest procrastinator when it comes to my writing.
Go ahead, leave a Comment! I dare ya!
June 24, 2007
Last week, I ambled through the living room while DH was watching a program about “luck” and I saw just enough to start me thinking about the luck factor in publishing. Like that infamous “rotting rhino under the rug” this seems to be something that writers and publishers know exist, but they don’t like to admit it. Is that because admitting that publishing involves a certain amount of luck is like admitting it’s not really within anyone’s control? Forgive me, that snorting sound you hear is me trying to stifle my gaffaws.
Like it or not, selling really does boil down to getting the right manuscript on the right editor’s (or agent’s) desk at the right time. All three of those factors involve a certain amount of luck.
Allow me to illucidate:
I just wrote a vampire, girl-detective time-travel romance (not really this is just an example). Unfortunately every major publisher in NYC has just come out with a time-traveling, girl-detective vampire book and NOBODY is buying them. BAD LUCK!
My time-traveling girl-detective is really a BOY and a werewolf. The agent/editor is UBER EXCITED over my fresh new idea! GOOD LUCK! (In more ways than one, but this is just a silly example.)
My wonderfully written, delightfully fresh and innovative novel features a hero who happens to have the same first name as the agent/editor’s ex-husband. (Do NOT laugh! I actually had an agent tell me that she rejected a book because the hero had the same name as her ex! Of course, I’m sure she didn’t tell the poor, unsuspecting author this tidbit.) BAD LUCK! Sad but true!
Okay, I don’t honestly know if it would be GOOD LUCK! if your hero had the same name as the agent/editor’s latest crush. But I suppose it couldn’t hurt.
The editor has just made an offer for a book and has now filled all her slots for the next three years. Or the agent has just accepted her 77th client, a NYTimes best-selling author whose agent was hit by a bus and was therefore, “between agents”. BAD LUCK! Especially for that former agent. 😉
The editor just had an author MISS a deadline, or become unable to fulfill his/her contract. (resisting the urge to repeat the hit-by-the-bus scenario) And lo and behold! My manuscript is on the top of the heap on his/her desk and is JUST WHAT S/HE WANTS, or at least close enough. AMAZING LUCK! And hey! It HAS happened! Just not to me or anyone I know.
The agent just went to lunch with an editor who says, “If only someone had a wonderfully written time-traveling werewolf story.” Then the agent returns to his/her office and my proposal is on the top of the heap on his/her desk. Maybe not quite as AMAZING LUCK as the case above, but CLOSE ENOUGH!
Okay, maybe these examples are a bit extreme. But there is a luck factor involved with publication. And while some of it is within the writer’s control (Probably NOT a good idea to mail your proposal right before the holidays or right after a major writing conference like RWA National.), plenty of it is NOT (rampaging buses, ex’s names and all)!
Hmmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to delete that chain email I got the other day.
June 19, 2007
While cruising through the blog-sphere the other day, I happened upon a list on another blogger’s site and discovered it was created by this hysterically funny Random Trivia Generator. So without further ado (but replete with snarky comments), here are:
Ten Top Trivia Tips about Aunty C!
1. If every star in the Milky Way was a grain of salt they would fill Aunty C. But since I’m on a low-sodium diet, better make that a grain of chocolate. YUM! And the fill would only be temporary.
2. If you don’t get out of bed on the same side you got in, you will have Aunty C for the rest of the day. Better not take a chance, just don’t get out of bad at all.
3. Olive oil was used for washing Aunty C in the ancient Mediterranean world! Yes, I really am that old! And all that olive oil is responsible for the lustrous shine in my tresses.
4. Aunty C can taste with her feet. So howza bout a foot massage, cutey? heh heh
5. The porpoise is second to Aunty C as the most intelligent animal on the planet. Enough said!
6. Aunty C can squeeze her entire body through a hole the size of her beak. I think they meant backside. Now THAT would be a hole!
7. Scientists have discovered that Aunty C is visible from the moon! WHEN she is in a temper… Look out world!
8. Until the 1960s, Aunty C was not allowed to enter Disneyland. Now I have to be PAID, and a handsome sum at that, to enter the place! Masses of screeching children… UGH!
9. Aunty C can only be destroyed by intense heat, and is permeable even to acid! Actually, it’s not the heat, it’s the HUMIDITY!
10 It takes forty minutes to hard-boil Aunty C! This happened long ago in an unfortunate hot tub incident. So I am now permanently hard-boiled enough to frighten most small children and many adults. Thank Goodness!
Okay, that was waaay too much fun for one day. And some of those were too shockingly accurate to be mere coincidence!
You can try it yourself at: http://thesurrealist.co.uk/trivia.plim
Try not to have too much fun.
June 16, 2007
I was in my local library a few weeks ago, and picked up several flyers from the table near the door on my way out. One in particular caught my eye, because it said in bold bright letters: BEGINNING WRITERS WORKSHOP.
While I do not consider myself a beginner, I’m always curious about the local writing scene, so I read on. This workshop was given by a “local best selling author” and would be “an opportunity to talk to an author and get your questions answered.” And the author would be reading excerpts from two novels.
Hmmmm… I’d never heard of this “best selling author” or either book, so I went home and went on Amazon. And yup, there the novels were, both self-published. My Gramma had a saying and it is the most appropriate description for my reaction, “That flew all over me!”
Okay, I don’t know this writer and I mean no disrespect, but why does paying to have your two novels published qualify you to teach a beginning writers workshop? Or ANY workshop, for that matter? If I were a gambling woman, I’d bet that I know just as much about writing (I’ve been doing it long enough!) and submitting for publication as this (and plenty of others) writer. I’d also bet that this so-called “workshop” was simply this writer’s way of selling those self-published novels.
So why don’t I just plunk down my hard earned cash and self-publish one of my novels? I admit, the idea is very tempting. But the short answer is because I still wouldn’t feel “good enough.” I’m sure self-publication is a satisfactory choice for some writers in some instances. Just not for me.
Validation is a concept I struggle with a lot. At any point in time, the pesky doubt demons run rough-shod over my fragile writer-ego and leave me feeling like a Loser, not a Writer. If I’m writing to be read (and is there any other reason to write?), then I need someone to read my stuff in order to feel that I really am a Writer. Simply writing is not “good enough.” I know that in this case publication would NOT give me the validation I seek.
June 13, 2007
Recently my Bandita Buddy Donna M. went to a Deb Dixon workshop on “Goal, Motivation and Conflict,” not because she doesn’t know about GMC, but because hearing this stuff one more time never hurts. Also, you never know when you might hear something that will suddenly resonate with you.
So when Donna returned from this workshop, she shared this tidbit that resonated strongly with me:
She said, you get to a level where you have to find your log jam log. Apparently, studies have shown that log jams can be busted up if you can just move this one key log. You break that one free and everything flows free.
Writing to sell can be like that. You have all the basics down, a good plot, turning points, three dimensional characters,…but there’s something – one thing – that’s holding back that manuscript from breaking free and being in high demand. THe trick is finding that one thing that is unique to you.
I’d never won a contest – finaled consistently – but never won. Until this one person pointed out this one fairly small problem. SUddenly (my historical) came in first in a regional contest – first time ever for me. Next was the GH. My time travel that I’d entered in FF&P’s contest won
I was shocked. That one fairly small problem apparently was my log jam and it wasn’t anything identified by an editor.
So good luck finding your log jam and blasting it out of the way.
Lately, I’ve been trying my darndest to figure out what my own personal log jam is, but so far I haven’t had much luck. Except I’m pretty sure it’s tied to the bad habit I have of giving EVERYTHING else priority over my writing. But that’s a topic for another post.
June 10, 2007
Or: Which scares me more, FAILURE or SUCCESS?
I’m on the verge of “finishing” my third romantic suspense novel. I think, and my critique partners agree, that it is my best work yet. I’ve recently had some interest from a couple of what I consider Big Name agents and from one editor.
This is all Great News, right?
Then why have I been so paralyzed with fear in the past three weeks to the point that I can’t write ANYTHING (except blog posts, of course)?!?!?
On the surface, this seems to be a simple case of “Fear of Failure.” If I never finish the manuscript, then I can’t submit it and therefore it can’t be rejected. Simple. Straightforward. But I don’t quite believe it.
After all these years of submitting and receiving rejections, I KNOW all about failure.
This is familiar territory.
I know what rejections are, and recognize the good, the bad and the indifferent. I know how to act and how I’m going to react because I’ve been through this scenario many, many times. And while I do dread the inevitable rejections, I am used to them. I know how to shrug them off and go on. Why would it be any different with this manuscript?
Because this just might be THE ONE?!?!
I’ve had limited amounts of success with my writing, including finaling in a couple of prestigious contests and signing with an agent (who no longer represents me). But as the saying goes, “Close, but no cigar.” I don’t really know how to “do” success, even though it is the thing I’m pursuing so ardently.
Success is the unknown territory and therefore scary.
June 8, 2007
Last night I met with two of my local Critique Partners (CPs) for one of our regularly scheduled meetings. The three of us prepare a line-by-line critique of the other two’s work (usually a chapter each) and we meet to eat pizza and go over the critiques.
So my two CPs were going over my chapter when we came to the scene where my h/h are waking up in bed together. The hero gets out of bed wearing only flannel pajama bottoms and one of my CPs said, “Please DO NOT tell me those are plaid flannel pajamas!”And when I said yes they were she groaned, “Romance heroes do NOT wear plaid flannel pajamas!”
Of course I disagreed. After all, I’d already shown that he was a pretty conservative guy who wears blue pin-striped boxers, and they were in a chilly climate. Then I went into TMI (too much information) territory and added that my DH wears plaid flannel pajamas AND he even has a pair with green smiling monkeys (that I bought for him). Clearly this was waaay more than my CP wanted to know and forever ruined my DH’s chances of being a Romance Hero in her book.
Still, I was left wondering if what a hero WEARS makes him any more or less a hero? If so, then some of those historical costumes look pretty silly to me, and I’m personally not fond of cowboy hats (or most other hats) on ANYONE. And while I’m thinking about it my LC (lovely child) is a lot closer to my hero’s age than my DH and LC wears ratty old sweatpants to bed (at least when he visits me). I definitely can’t picture a Romance Hero in THOSE!
June 5, 2007
…OR Size DOES Matter And My Inferiority Complex Is Bigger Than Yours
Several weeks ago a lovely writer named Heidi Ruby Miller invited me (not me personally, a group invite to the Romance Bandits) to post on a featured spot on her blog called “Heidi’s Pick Six”. She has a list of fifteen questions and asks writers to answer any six. Then she posts those answers on a regular basis along with a photo and brief biography of the writer.
So what is Aunty’s problem with that?!?! The OTHER WRITERS who have already appeared on her blog doing the Pick Six. They all seem to be published. Make that multi-published. Some are even semi-legends (Orson Scott Card, anyone???)! One quick browse and I came down with a severe case of I’m-Not-Worthys. With all those established authors, why would ANYONE be interested in what Nobody Me has to say?
Okay, so if I HAD the nerve, here hare Heidi’s Pick Six questions and some of my answers:
HEIDI’S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Whoever is my current hero. I have a thing about falling in love with my heroes. If I don’t love them, how can I expect the reader to love them? This is never an issue with my heroines, probably because in some way they are all extensions of me.
2. Tell me about your travels.
Where do I start? LOL! I’ve visited 48 states and a couple of dozen foreign countries including most of western Europe, Turkey, Australia, China and Thailand. People often ask me which is my favorite and I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a place that I did not enjoy, at least in some aspect. Usually the thing I enjoy most is the people I meet. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve found people to be friendly. As long as you smile and act friendly to them, they will reciprocate.
Lately I’ve been on a cruise kick and have gone on eight of them in the past couple of years, two to Alaska and the other six to Mexico. They are GREAT! This fall I’m taking my first Caribbean cruise, and after that I hope to cruise through the Panama Canal.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The next one I have to write, whatever that may be. Any scene I haven’t written is always tougher to write than one I’ve finished, even if only in first draft.
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Everywhere, literally. (See my previous post on Ideas, Inspirations and Irish Royalty.)
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.
Make that crushES because one is never enough! Eric Bana, Hugh Jackman, and Paul Bettany are my current favorite Lust Objects (LOs). As you may have noticed, I like ‘em tall and lean. (heh heh) Also, all three of these gentlemen are married and (from all appearances) extremely devoted to their wives and children, which to me makes them all that much more appealing. They all also appear to have a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor and that’s another thing I find irresistable.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?
My son (aka LC or Lovely Child) forced me to watch a bunch of episodes of Sponge Bob Squarepants last time he visited and I have to admit, I found them pretty entertaining. Also, do animated movies count? A few weeks ago, I watched “Flushed Away” on DVD and thought it was charming. I also LOVED the original “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo”.
June 3, 2007
I started this blog to see what WordPress was like and if we might want to use it as a platform for our group blog Romance Bandits. Well, being bitten by the “blog bug”, I moved some of my writing posts over here and even stuck on a couple of things on my own. Just messing around…
Then — lo and behold! — I looked at the Blog Stats this morning and discovered that 15 people have actually looked at this blog! HUH?!?!
How can that be? I’ve told NO ONE, and I MEAN absolutely no one about this blog! So where did you 15 visitors come from? (No, not literally. I’ve heard all about storks and cabage patches.) Do you actually look under those categories I’ve been so casually throwing on my posts? Are you like me and click on the “next blog” button just for fun to see what you get? Or WHAT?!?!
I admit I’m fascinated. And also now motivated to post regularly here (for a possible audience of 15, how pathetic is that?) . Maybe I’ll even tell some friends and encourage them to leave comments. Maybe one of you UNKNOWN VISITORS will actually leave a comment.
I can justify keeping my own personal blog all kinds of ways… networking, name recognition, blah, Blah, BLAH! But the truth is, I just WANT TO (and here’s one more excuse not to work on my WIP).
June 2, 2007
Some fun and games from my BFF, Whit…
2 names you answer to:
2) Hey, you!
2 pets you have/had:
My current pets are
1) The Belle (and it’s ALL ABOUT The Belle!)
2) Missy Autumn
2 places you’d like to be:
1) any place with a beach (though a tropical beach is preferred)
2) New Zealand, because I’ve never been there. But after seeing the LOTR movies, I’m FROTHING to go!
2 most important traits in a friend/lover:
2) sense of humor
2 foods you can’t live without:
1) chocolate (in any way, shape or form)
2) Pepsi (I’m forced to drink caffeine free diet, but it’s still Pepsi!)
2 things you really want:
1) to be healthy (as in ditch those 5 Rx I currently take)
2) to have my book published! I don’t care which one, just ONE of them PUBLISHED!