Back to the Grindstone

The last of my #PitMad queries came back this week. It wasn’t quite the yes I’d been hoping for. And in fact, wasn’t a yes at all. But to have multiple agencies request fulls was a beautiful thing. It means that people believe in my story, my ability. And in the end, it was a “fit” issue that led me to the beginning of the process once more.

But here’s what I gained: a successful query letter. A successful manuscript that people can believe in. Confidence.

I mean, I’ve been through this process a fair amount. I had a 90k manuscript that got rejected a LOT. And I put it away, to give myself a break. I started new projects, started new processes. Outlined. Drafted. Edited. You know, the writing stuff. And I ended up with this 60k piece of work that I enjoy reading, and that I actually LIKE editing. And that’s new. I believe in my work.

So as much as it hurts to have come so close (I’m talking that last gasp before a contract close) and leave empty-handed, I know that it’s a project that someone will take.

And in accordance with that, I sent out 2 dozen query letters this weekend. And I have another set that will go out in a month or so, pending any responses. It’s gone through an additional edit since this last round, and I feel even more confident about it.

I mean, how great is it to know-to just know-that you have something worth putting energy into, and participating in the process to do just that?!

Guess we’ll see where this leads!

Wish me luck!

And for those interested, #PitMad is a Twitter based manuscript pitch that happens 4 times a year. More information (including what hashtags to use, who/what/when) can be found at: https://pitchwars.org/pitmad/

Happy writing!

I Just Can’t Even

The thing about life is that it throws you curve balls and you think you have a handle on everything and then there’s another curve in the road and your car topples over, down a cliff and you think “Oh crap! This is it!” And then you wake up and realize it’s not it and you have to keep living each day, even if it’s hard, because you’re still alive and that’s all there is.

I have always been honest about the fact that I am opinionated. But what happens to opinionated people is that they take a stand, and occasionally because of that, they take a fall. I live in the state of Ohio, as I have all my life. And it’s like living in the middle of a political hungry, hungry hippo game, and the people are the balls. Seriously, if there isn’t one thing in the news, it’s another. For example, I go to The Ohio State University (yes, the “The” is capitalized). In this semester alone, we’ve had a bomb threat, a suicide and an accidental death, which resulted in the end of a tradition. Now, that isn’t to say that I do not feel safe, because I went to classes on the day of the bomb threat and came out just fine. However, it seriously has been the worst semester as far as bizarrely awful things. And I mean, with this being a hot spot for political rallies, our campus has been a zoo on the worst days, and little better on the best days. We’re a bunch of kids and early adults, and as developmentally immature future generations, I would like to speak up and say “What the hell?!”

I didn’t come here to complain. In fact, I’ve stayed away from my blog for the past couple days because I just wanted to be alone. I’ve been mad, sad, grumpy, selfish, whiny and a whole host of other not-so-graceful things. But when I started this blog, I said it was my outlet and while I GREATLY appreciate each of you who have followed me, I am not writing for you but rather, for me.

So here’s why I’ve been so angsty. I was writing my book for NaNoWriMo and reached 50k words (yay!). But as December 1 rolled around, I found myself unable to continue. I hadn’t hit a creative block, because I know where my story is going,but I hit a different kind of pause, one where I actually kind of hate my book. I can’t even look at it. So I thought “Hey! I’ll just start a new one!” And when I got to work, I was trying to figure out a working title so I googled my ideas and lo and behold, someone already wrote the damn thing! I was so happy to have come up with a new idea and then so furious that someone beat me to it without my knowledge. So I stopped writing, which led me to not blogging. And now I have returned, idea-less and a little wispy.

I don;t know what to do. Writing has always been “my thing”. I turned to it when I was blue, when I was happy. Words have been my walls, the things which keep me in and others out. I sound so much more elegant when I write than I do in person. And to have no motivation to even catch a line of poetry has been a new experience for me.

It’s like having an itch on your back at that spot where you physically cannot reach so you scratch around it, and it subsides, but you can still feel it. It’s like finally deciding what you want to eat, being able to taste it in your mouth but knowing you don’t have any of it. It’s like waking up mid-dream and vaguely remembering this great idea, but you’re forgetting a really important part. It’s like going into a room and forgetting why, then leaving without remembering it at all. That’s what this feeling is. And it’s so ungodly frustrating. Writing has been my sole way to escape, to create and process. I never thought I was decent at visual art, music is far too personal to be anything less than a blissful experience. Writing was the way I broke through to the inner me and expressed all the things I didn’t want others to see for the exact purpose of letting them see.

So I’ve been on a break from myself. And I want to reconnect, but maybe I just need to let go first.

Critique Piece, Chapter 9

Hello all, I need some critiques on this passage. It’s for my NaNoWriMo novel. In the scene, I am killing off a secondary villain as well as my protagonist. Any thoughts you have would be lovely and appreciated. Sorry about the formatting, I can’t seem to get it the way I want it, so it’s just the way it is.
He held her by the jaw, his hands surprisingly warm, as the knife tenderly kissed her cheek. She screamed once more , the gag preventing her full volume but she’d really just wanted him to stop at any rate. He kept going, pressing the blade into the softest part of her face. It felt like white hot acid were being drawn across her cheek, the warmth of her blood flowing into the fabric securing her mouth and collecting. There was nothing she could do but scream, and yet it did nothing. Each swipe of his hand tore more of her humanity away than it did skin and Katerina was replaced with a trapped animal, fighting desperately for her right to live.
Tears pooled in her eyes, those which escaped mixing with the blood and just when she thought it could get no worse, he stopped. The pocket from which his knife came held one other metallic item which he traded the knife for. He opened the little mirror and showed her what he had done. She could just barely make out the two humps at the top and from the way his sickening grin was plastered over his pale face, she could only assume that the rest of the injury was a heart. He seemed like the sort of twisted person who would delight in the sick satisfaction of making his mark on all he came across. It seemed much smaller than it had felt, and she supposed she had the gag to thank.Her eyes moved to the other individual and as her worst nightmares came alive, her eyes gushed once more. The man from her dreams rocked back on his heels, noticing the direction her eyes had ventured. “Yes. It’s him. Would you like to say hello?”

Josh stumbled forward and caught sight of Katerina. Recognition didn’t cross his drunken face, but something else did.She’d seen it briefly the night she’d left the house in the care of Natalia and Ianna. 

“Shall I put her out of her misery, Alexander?” Josh’s voice slurred the words together, but they were unmistakable. Alexander, the man from her dream, looked back at him and moved out of the direct line. He took a moment in his move to pull down Katerina’s gag. He motioned for her to make her plea. She took a deep breath, steadied her nerves as best she could and watched Alexander remove himself from between them.

“I will not beg for my life from this pig. From either of you. Just do it.” Her cheek squelched with the injury, the pain from which screamed at her to stop. “I want to know why.” She swallowed the fluid in her mouth, the bitterness of bile, rusty pennies and saliva causing her to force it all down.

“You don’t even know who you are do you?” Alexander chuckled. “You’re the most crucial part of this plan and you haven’t even got an idea why. It’s a shame about all that, really. But someone should have told you before now. This is a task far more important than you.” His attention turned to Josh. “You will take the gun in your hand and you will use it on your useless self. Now.”

Josh’s face went blank, as though he felt nothing, knew nothing. He pulled a black object from his waistband and without hesitation put it to his head and pulled the trigger. He dropped to the ground and was no more. Katerina, although incredibly glad she would never be accosted by this man from her past again, found herself unable to do anything more than stare at the large hole where his head had been intact just moments before. He was bleeding out all over the dead leaves and she couldn’t find a reason to be sad about it. Alexander walked over and picked up the gun, waving it around.

“Now. It looks like we have business to discuss in private, then. You were born into a warring faction, you are the last living, direct descendent of the purest line of monarchs.” He waited for understanding to cross her face, but when it didn’t, he let out an exasperated sigh. “I can’t explain our entire history! You really should have pushed harder with those lunars to tell you about who you were, who your parents were. But you won’t have the chance now, I suppose. Really too bad about it, but I guess that’s the way destiny is sometimes. Anyway, the whole thing boils down to you have to die so that we can survive. As I said, nothing personal.” Alexander raised the gun to her chest, and offered one last time. “Any last words?”

“I hope you’re happy with yourself.” She began slowly. “Because in the end, I’ll be there, waiting for you when you least expect it.”

“I’m sorry, my dear, but I’m afraid you’ll already be dead.” The sound of the bullet never really registered with Katerina, as she closed her eyes, shock already taking over. There was a gurgle of blood before her body went limp. The bullet had gone straight into her heart. Alexander was pleased with his handiwork. He cut the bonds away, wanting the chance to gloat over her dead body. “Now I have the power. And you are just a casualty of war. You weren’t worthy of all that could have been yours anyway.” Alexander backed away and disappeared into the darkness.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like A Novel

I’ve been hard at work on my NaNoNovel and there are some really amazing things which have occured. 

First, I’ve crossed the 16k word mark (32% done with NaNoWriMo 2015)

Second, I have a working title: The Queen of Souls.

Third, what started out as a YA Fantasy has now evolved into a ParaRom (something I NEVER expected)

And in honor of all that, for you week 2 spoiler, I have a working synopsis. It may change, but I’m confident that the main bits will remain (however, within 9 days I switched genres, so who knows where we will be by the end!)

Katerina Alkaevna has suffered through everything: losing her family to a fire as a child, an abusive boyfriend and being kidnapped. The only thing she’s never had a chance to do is fall in love. Upon meeting a tall, dark and steamy barista in her local town, she realizes that love might actually be the worst thing to ever happen to her-and that’s after she dies.

 Fighting to end a decades long war between the monarchs and the wasps and bring not only herself, but also her lover back from the dead, Katerina must embrace her destiny or lose everything she’s worked for. A crime of passion put her in this position and it will take nothing less to get her untangled from the threads of fate.

Chapter 5

So today, I’ve been madly noveling, and although I am glad to have a break from homework, it’s interesting that I never really escape it. Today’s thankfulness comes from being 1/6 of the way to where I was before. But the thing is, I’m writing an entirely new book, and so I think I’m really only about a tenth of the way there, which is even more exciting to me. Anyway, what I’m truly thankful for is inspiration. For me, it comes from life, coffee and great playlists. I think that’s really great, and there’s something quite amazing about taking a blank page, a nothing, and creating an idea, a something. So, in honor of that, I’m going to offer a small segment of my WIP (work in progress) and go back to work. I chose this because it’s one of those scenes I can’t descide how to rework. [This is part of Chapter FIVE, the main character Kat is reading from an old book called The Love of the Queen of Souls. It’s the scene I just finished, and it’s easily the flimsiest but it serves a purpose and well, PLOT TWIST.]

           There was once a summer princess who longed for the chill kiss of winter. She craved the balance and poetry of the cold and the warmth. Her heart was met each day by the warmth of the sun and she could take it no longer. On the evening of her twenty seventh year, she ran from her life and met a stranger in the woods. He was just the frost she’d waited for and she invited him to accompany her to back to her home and immediately fell in love with him.

           They were forbidden to be together, but the summer princess could not forbid her heart from feeling and she secretly married the stranger in the woods. They were very happy, each completing the other in ways they had never known before. They were warned about growing hostilities because of their love, but the summer princess had more news: she was with child. Still, their union did not make everyone happy and the forces of summer and winter, ever at odds, went to war.

           By the time the princess gave birth to not one child, but a pair of twins, the winter and summer courts were rapidly running through their supplies and soldiers and a truce could not be found. The summer princess and her stranger in the woods were betrayed by a most beloved friend and were forced to give up their children, a son and a daughter, in order to spare their lives. As the children were taken away, the summer princess sacrificed her life so that her children would have a chance. A great fire was set to their home and trapped within, the stranger in the woods and the summer princess became spirits, collecting the souls of the winter and summer folk who could not pass on. In a final act of desperation, the summer princess offered the sky people, who ruled the earth and all those within, her life forever in exchange for her babies, that they might be free.

           But the sky people were a vengeful sort, and did not suffer the summer princess lightly, as they blamed her for disrupting the harmony they had created. A curse was placed on her daughter, that she might never find happiness until the war between summer and winter was over. Her son was not cursed, but was stripped of his memories and destined to return to the winter, who would betray him. One of the sky people, a young mother herself, took pity on the children, knowing that all that had happened was because of love, and they were the product of good intentions. She knew that the curse of the daughter and the fate of the son would be what came to pass, but in the event that they found each other, a great alliance would be formed, one that would cause peace to regain control.

           For their unwillingness to compromise, both the summer and winter were forced to live out their lives and fight their wars amongst the humans. They would never be allowed to return to the sky people and their homes, nor could they pass on to the land of souls until the princess and prince are reunited and the war is ended.

           
Katerina came to the end of the story and looked up. Natalia’s eyes were glassy with tears and she couldn’t look at Kat. At the end of the story was a page that looked like it had been added in, but Katerina couldn’t read it. It was in some sort of loopy lettering in some language that she’d never seen. 

Things, Excitement!

A little while ago I wrote about how my computer crashed and sent all my things-including the story I had been working on for over a year-to the abyss. I wrote about how I had an early edition on paper and that from the ashes I would rebuild. I’ve found that my scenario is the best thing that could ever happen to my creative license. 

As I look over the words that I wrote before, I can see what the editors and publishers saw. I can laugh about the mistakes I made in an eager attempt to get it done, the amateur manner in which my characters behaved. That was not the story I should have written. It was a mess.

So today, instead of fervishly trying to copy down the words that I had written to produce a terrible tragedy of a book, I scrapped the project for real. Not just starting over, but an entirely new story. Sure, the key points are still the same, and my ideas are really similar-but the presentation is completely different. I have new desires and so do my characters.

It will be darker, more believeable, more like the story I wanted to write but failed to before. What’s more, I will be able to say that I’m writing an entirely new story for this NaNoWriMo, because I will be. This time around, I won’t be hanging on to over-used lines and stereotypes but jumping into unknown territory with characters that feel as real to me as people I went to high school with. 

I think this is a great metaphor for my own life. I have a predetermined plan in my head, where I follow a plan that I made ages ago, saying the words that I have heard over and over before. I know that there are options out there, and that I have complete freedom to reach out and take hold of the new and the bold, but I’m so attached to the story I’ve already made. Believe me, I cried so hard when my manuscript disappeared. And I think that’s an entirely acceptable metaphor for life. I fight so hard to keep the outdated parts of me, just for the sake of saying “But see? I did this!” when what I really need to say is “But see? I’m making new paths!” I never like the change that is imposed upon me: graduating, moving, starting new jobs, making new friends, but in the end those changes are the exact reason I want to keep revising my chapters, my life.

So goodbye first draft, it’s been really nice getting to know you, but it’s time for a serious revision.

Hello new draft, I can’t wait to dig in and see where this story leads.

  

Opinionated

When I was young, I was stubborn. My dad knew that one of the best ways to get me motivated was to make me mad. Once I moved half a ton of gravel by myself in an afternoon, because he’d made me so mad. But the thing is, I learned how to use my frustration in beneficial ways. I harness that energy into two things: proving someone wrong, and being productive. And that’s been one of life’s most valuable lessons.

You see, I don’t have everything figured out. I barely have my day-to-day figured out. But that doesn’t stop me from having opinions and ideals about it all. In fact, if anything, I have more opinions than I know what to do with. Some of them are completely harmless (like my pumpkin spice latte obsession that only lasts two months and then I think it’s ludicrous to have one) and some of them are educational (like how I think that history of religion-all religions- should be taught in public school) and some of them are down right political (like my stance on pro life-pro choice, or how I feel about vaccinations). They don’t agree with other people’s, they aren’t the exact same as everyone else’s and they don’t have precise boundaries.

And that’s okay. 

  
I haven’t got everything all figured out. I’m going to be 23 in a matter of weeks. I have a great many years before I become a crone and I know that life has quite a few more lessons for me. But what I do have is passion. And a voice. And that’s why I started this blog, to get the best out of both. 

So if what I say offends you, that’s really unfortunate. I try to be polite in all my interactions, try to be considerate in all things. If I’m genuinely being unreasonable, call me out on it. If what I say causes you to reevaluate your position in the world, I am doing my job. I don’t have to have the same opinions as you, nor the same beliefs and values and for you to demand that of me is both offensive and it shows how immature you are. I’m sure, though, we have some common ground somewhere. We cannot progress as a human collective if we have the same mindset for hundreds of years. We cannot progress if noone ever asks the hard questions and waits for actual answers.  So here’s to progress.

For the past several weeks I have been focusing on mental health. Not only has it been awareness month and prevention, but because it is a big button for me. However, I also have other buttons: feminism, poverty, religion, culture, anti-20 something behavior and beliefs and a whole host of other things. So, if you’ve grown tired of me being on my mental health soap box, I’m getting ready to unveil a new one. I just haven’t decided which one it is yet. Although, I have a feeling it will be domestic abuse for a while, as that is what my NaNoWriMo novel is about and I really need ot express some thoughts. But we shall see.

Thanks for reading!