Adjusted Goals

Hello, hello! Welcome to July! How is everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already July? This year has flown by despite (or maybe because of) everything going on. Anyway, I stayed up late with Dad while he had some stuff on the smoker last night (a couple of briskets, pulled pork, and a “prime” rib… it’s okay to be jealous), so we got a late start today, which means I’m too lazy to come up with something decent to blog about. So, since it’s actually the first of the month and I haven’t done a goals post in a while, I’m just going to give you a quick update on new goals and how my old ones are going.

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Here are my goals from January and how I’ve been doing with that/what’s changed.

1. From January: Finish revising DS1.
Status: Complete. I finished in April instead of March because I got lazy, but I finished nonetheless and I love this book.
Updated Goal: Write a first draft of DS2. I waffled about starting this book until I see how DS1 does, but ultimately decided that it’s better to have a draft started and have no one want it than to procrastinate and have nothing if someone gets interested and wants to know where I’m at with book two. I’m aiming to have the first draft done by September 15th at the latest.

2. From January: Read 30 books.
Status: I have read 20 books so far this year. Six were from my “to re-read” pile, nine have been books I’ve reviewed (no idea how that happened), and the other five were new to me, but not necessarily new.
Updated Goal: My official goal is still 30 books. I still have six months of books to review. I also want to re-read at least two more books. And I’ll squeeze in at least two new to me books. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to more in the latter two categories, but I won’t push it.

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Amazon, but yeah.

3. From January: Keep submitting.
Status: I haven’t missed a week yet.
Updated Goal: The goal is relatively the same, submit two short pieces to magazines or anthologies every week. I normally do this on Mondays, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter which day as long as it gets done every week.

4. January Goal: Query 100 agents.
Status: In progress. I’ve queried 16 agents thus far and received a couple of form rejections as well as a couple of really encouraging personal rejections.
Updated Goal: I’m still going to query 100 agents unless I find one. I send out five queries a week and I will participate in appropriate Twitter pitch sessions. If I can’t find an agent, there are also a few publishers I will try querying before I give up and move to a new project or debate self-publishing.

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Accurate.

5. January Goal: Crochet.
Status: In limbo. I haven’t crocheted in a couple of months.
Updated Goal: I want to finish the shawl I’m working on and a hat by the end of the year. I’m just weird and can’t find the motivation for it. But I will get back to it soon.

Those are my revised goals for now. What are some of your goals? How have they changed since earlier in the year? As always, feel free to leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

The Agent Hunt Begins

Hello, hello! How is everyone’s May going? Are you still staying at home? Is your area opening back up? North Texas is opening new stuff every week or so, but Dallas county alone is still gaining around 250 new cases every day. Needless to say, Dad and I are staying home for the foreseeable future. What does that mean for my productivity? Nothing. I’ve been pretty lazy the last couple of weeks. I know what I should be doing, but I can’t find the motivation. At least I couldn’t find it until I got an email on Monday informing my that the next PitDark is on the 21st. That means I have about a week to get my shit together and get ready to start my agent hunt. What does that entail? Panic. And some other stuff I’ll ramble about right now.

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Borrowed the image from the site listed on it. Click here for the link.

First, if you’re not familiar with Twitter pitch sessions (and you haven’t clicked the link under the picture), you’re probably wondering what PitDark is. It’s a chance for writers of horror/dark fantasy/murder mysteries/anything on the darker side to pitch completed manuscripts to participating agents and publishers. Anything from middle grade to adult is welcome. Basically, you post a Tweet-length pitch with all of the appropriate hashtags (see the website above for that info) up to once an hour per manuscript from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern time) on May 21st and if an agent or publisher hits the little heart button, it’s an invitation to query them if you want to.

Luckily, I’ve finished my revisions of DS1 and also completed a round of edits for consistency and grammar and typos. I’ve just been trying to convince myself to prepare everything I’ll need in order to query agents. What does that include? Most importantly, a query letter that contains a blurb about the book to hook the agent (basically like what you find on the back of books to let you know what they’re about), a brief summary of my publication history, anything unique about me that informs my writing of this particular book, and a brief introduction reminding them if we’ve met or why we might work well together just to show I’ve done my research. Sometimes, that letter and the first few pages (or chapters) of the book are all you need. But some agents also require a synopsis. There’s the standard 1-2 page synopsis that introduces everything, but doesn’t necessarily spoil the ending. Most of the time, that’s enough. However, there’s also the 3-5 page synopsis that gives away everything. Some agents ask for that or both types of synopses. In other words, I have to write all of these things PLUS a Tweet-length pitch if I want to participate in PitDark and be ready to submit to someone if they like my pitch.

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And that’s not all. I also need to research agents. This I can do as I go along or after PitDark is over in the event that I don’t get a bite. The list of participating agents on the PitDark website is a good place for me to start. I can look at their preferences and see if we might be a good fit, then query them if they’re accepting unsolicited queries. I can also look at other agents within the bigger agencies to see if I can find a better fit. Some agencies have the policy that a no from one agent is a no from them all. Other agencies allow you to query multiple agents (one at a time of course). So, it’s good to find agents who are looking for work similar to your own instead of randomly querying everyone. I have a list of 101 agents from when I queried for G&G, but most of them wouldn’t be interested in DS1. However, I can use my list as another starting point because I listed the agencies they were with as well, so I can look at other agents in each agency. Otherwise, there’s always Google and checking to see who reps authors of similar works and a million other sources it would take too long to list.

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Anyway, my next few days will consist of writing a query letter and two synopses. If you notice my Twitter feed spammed with hourly pitches on the 21st, now you’ll know why. I’m not crazy, I’m just searching for an agent. As always, feel free to post your thoughts or comments or advice or good vibes or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Happy 2020!

Howdy, howdy!  Welcome to 2020!  I hope you all have a wonderful year and even better decade!  The 2010s were a weird decade for me.  My mother passed away (don’t be sorry, I’m not), I finished my BA at SMU, got my MFA from Stonecoast, got published a couple of times, earned a LOT of rejections, lost some pups, got a new one, and the list goes on.  Ultimately, it seems like there were more ups than downs, and that’s all one can really hope for.  It’s all I want out of 2020 as well, both the year and the decade.  Anyway, since it’s the 1st, I’m just going to list my goals for the year.  I suppose I should have some kind of 10 year plan, but I don’t.  I never think that far ahead, at least not seriously.  So, you’re stuck with my plan for the year like usual.

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My 2020 goals in no particular order:

1. Finish revising DS1.  I plan on getting back to this today.  The only major change I’m looking at making is changing the tense of the story from past to present because it just reads better that way.  This goal is my priority for this year.  Hopefully, it will only take me a few months.  After I look at it, I’ll set a realistic deadline and share it with people who can hold me accountable.

2. Read 30 books.  I’ll definitely read 12 new/recently released books for the monthly book reviews (yeah, that’s still going to be a thing).  That leaves 18 books.  I’m planning on 8-10 of those being books from my “to re-read” list and the rest being books that are new to me, but not necessarily new.  At least that’s the plan.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Maybe I will start with Harry Potter. After I read some books my secret Santa sent me for the Pseudopod book exchange.

3. Keep submitting.  This will be my third year of consistent submissions.  At least two stories every week (or the equivalent if I get sick and miss some weeks like last year).  I’ve gotten about 210 rejections for my short stories since I started keeping track in 2014, plus 101 rejections from agents for G&G, so I’d say I’m doing pretty well.  The few acceptances I’ve earned make it not so discouraging.  All of my acceptances so far have been for semi-pro level payment and I’ve received positive feedback on rejections from pro level markets, so hopefully 2020 will be the year of my first pro level acceptance.  A girl can wish, right?

4. Query 100 agents (or fewer if I find one).  Once I finish the revisions to DS1, the plan is to query agents.  It’s drastically different from G&G, so I’ll have to go through the process of finding agents with a taste for this particular genre.  But at least this time I’ll have had some experience and know where to start my search.  I dread writing the query letter, though.  It’s harder to write than a novel.

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Except I’m not a lady and I have no stash yet, but one day it will be glorious.

5. Crochet.  Yes, my new hobby is still a thing.  I’m getting pretty far along with my first project (the unfinished hat doesn’t count).  And I already have like 10 free patterns saved to try and 20 paid patterns in my favorites on Ravelry to buy when/if I decide to do them.  But it’s just a hobby and will have to be done after my writing and revising each day.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  I’ll make it work.  Eventually.

Those are my goals for the year.  I’ll add new writing goals once I finish my revisions.  And I’m not even going to say anything about trying to be more social because we all know it’s not going to happen.  What about your goals?  Any plans you want to share for your 2020?  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Keeping Track

Hello, hello!  Thanks to my friend and fellow Stonecoast alum, Tony PisculliI actually have something halfway productive to talk about today.  After my last post, he asked me how I keep track of my submissions and gave me a couple of ideas for how to improve on it.  So, I’m going to ramble a bit about three options for keeping track of the things you submit and where you submit them.  The first two options are things I currently do, but the third is one that I hope to implement in the near future.

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As one should.

1. Duotrope.  This is a nifty website that offers a searchable database of magazines and anthologies looking for submissions.  It keeps track of acceptance rates and a bunch of other useful tidbits like what word count and genres these places accept.  Its information is fairly accurate, but always check the submission guidelines of each venue before you submit, just in case.  One of its main features is the ability to track what you’ve submitted where.  It’s currently my go-to way of keeping track of everything, but it is flawed in that some smaller venues aren’t listed, so I need a backup way of tracking those.  But for $50 a year, it’s a great tool for writers to invest in.

2. File names.  I learned a long time ago to use the date, the story title, and the name of the publication when I’m saving my work for submission.  Labeling the file something like 2019.03.20_story_publication keeps everything in a neat chronological order.  However, the more submissions you make, the more unruly this method becomes.  One thing Tony suggested to help improve this was to give each story its own folder, that way everything isn’t mixed together and it’s easier to scan through and see where you’ve submitted individual stories.  I plan on giving this a shot before I send out too many more submissions.

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3. Spreadsheets.  This is something I’ve been meaning to create for a while now, but I keep putting it off because it’s going to take at least a couple of days.  It has been a long time since I’ve made any kind of in-depth spreadsheet for anything, so I’ll have to teach myself all the ins and outs of it again.  But I would love to not only track where I’ve sent things, but where I want to send them in the future and when.  It’s difficult to keep track of which venues have open submission periods.  I’ve almost missed a number of windows because I didn’t write it down anywhere.  Plus, a spreadsheet would allow me to personalize the information I keep track of, like which venues encourage me to submit again or random encouraging words for a particular story to look at when I’m considering trunking something.  When I do get around to creating a spreadsheet, I’ll make sure to give you all a glimpse!

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Sure…

What about you?  How do you keep track of your submissions?  Do you have any tips or tricks to share?  Have you ever considered a spreadsheet?  What kind of information would you include if you created your own tracker?  Feel free to comment here or on my social media profiles!

A Time For Goals

Hello, hello!  Welcome to 2019!  Since it’s only the 2nd day of the year, I thought I would share my goals.  I did this type of post for last year as well, but I failed pretty miserably.  In 2018, I finished the first draft of DS1, started revisions on LR1, wrote 3 new short stories/flash fiction pieces, submitted 2 short stories/flash pieces/poems a week (earning myself a publication and a handful of personal rejections), and I read 29 books.  I started out strong early in the year, but eventually lost steam.  Hopefully, I can find a steady pace that won’t wear out on me in 2019.  On to the goals!

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True.  Also, I guess 2016 just kind of disappeared into the aether.

1. Finish revising LR1.  I still have a lot of work to do on this book, but I adore the characters and the story line.  I’m shooting for a finish date of early April.  At least finishing the second draft, at which point I’ll have to find some trusty beta readers (always the hardest part in my experience).  I might even look into prices for professional editing, so I can get some expert feedback.  We’ll see how it goes.  First, I have to finish revising it.

2. Revise DS1.  My mind has been randomly drifting to this book for the past couple of weeks.  I’ve been reading so many cozy mysteries that I really want to get back to working on my own.  It’s a series I’m considering using a pseudonym for, though that means I’m getting ahead of myself.  I have to revise it and get an agent or publisher interested, then I can worry about names and all that fancy stuff.  A woman can dream, though.

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Non-existent Jekyll. Has a nice ring to it.

3. Submit short stories/flash pieces (at least 2 subs a week).  I want to keep this habit going for as long as I can.  It’s sometimes really difficult to find at least semi-pro paying places to submit a story that’s been out in slush limbo on and off for over a year, but I keep looking.  I haven’t had to retire a piece because of that yet.  Hopefully this year will bring more acceptances and more awesome venues for submitting!

4. Write 5 short stories/flash pieces.  A break between revisions is always a good thing.  Last year, I aimed a little too high on my short story goals, so I decided to be more sensible.  I already have one short story brewing for a project with some friends.  Maybe getting that one written will help grease the wheels, so to speak.

5. Shop LR around to agents.  This is a goal that is a tad ambitious, which is good.  It all depends on how well the revisions on LR go and whether or not it requires another round of them.  It’ll give me something to strive for.

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Look at the cute puppy!

6. Read 30 books.  I didn’t include a reading goal last year, but my goal was 24 books.  I managed to read 29 books, so I thought I would try to one up that.  But I’m a slow reader.  Hopefully, I can get through 30 books.

What about you?  What are your goals for 2019?  Feel free to share them or your thoughts here or on my social media pages!

Looking Forward: 2018 Goals

Howdy, howdy!  A couple of months ago, a friend asked me if I would be interested in creating some writing goals for the new year and sharing them with each other for accountability purposes.  I agreed, because accountability is the best way to motivate me.  So, since we’re (not so) slowly making our way through December, I thought I would go ahead and share them with everyone.  As I’ve probably said before, I don’t care for the idea of making resolutions, because they’re usually vague things (eating healthier, exercising more, going out more, spending less, etc.) that people keep up with for a few days or even weeks then forget.  Goals, on the other hand, tend to be more specific, thus easier to keep track of and definitively complete.  So, here are my writerly goals for 2018.

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Pretty much.

1. Finish the first draft of DS1 (code name for my novel-in-progress).  I probably should’ve finished this by the end of December, but I hit a road block and decided to work on my fetish fairy tales for a little while.  I’ll finish the fairy tale I’m working on this week, then get back into DS1.  I should finish that by the end of January/middle of February.

2. Revise LR1 (code name for the shitty first draft of the last novel I wrote).  I’m actually really interested in getting back to this one.  No idea if it’s still as awesome as it felt while I was writing it (first drafts never are), but I’m looking forward to tearing it apart and making it better.  Hopefully revisions won’t take me more than two months, but we’ll see.  I’m not the best at revising things.

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It’s not wrong.  Though, I’m still using .doc instead of .docx.

3. Revise DS1.  Despite getting a little stuck on this one, I still absolutely love the idea and the characters.  I hope I feel the same way after I finish it.  My biggest problem is that I know the ending, I just don’t know how to elegantly connect it to what I have thus far.  I guess I’ll smash it all together and smooth things out during the revision process!

4. Query 100 agents for LR1 or DS1 depending on which is better.  I’ve decided to put G&G away for a while and focus on the other two novels.  Hopefully one of them will have more appeal for agents.  I can always go back to G&G later, but after 100 rejections, Bailey definitely deserves a nice little break.

5. Write 10 short stories/flash pieces OR 1 new novel.  I really want to use 2018 as the year of revision.  But at the same time, I also want to keep producing new work.  I’m leaning more towards the short stories/flash fiction option because I could take a couple of days off of revision each month to work on something fresh, but like I mentioned above, I don’t really know how long revision will take me.  If it doesn’t take too long, I wouldn’t mind working on another novel.

6. Submit short stories/flash pieces (2+ subs a week).  I admit that I’ve been neglecting my short story submissions this year.  I want to change that in 2018.  Maybe I’ll eventually snag someone’s attention!

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Maybe.  I doubt it.  Reassurance, please!

And those are my writing goals for 2018.  Do you have any goals for next year yet?  Feel free to share them here or on my social media pages!

Avoiding Becoming The Token Cripple

Howdy, howdy!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful week.  Today, I want to talk a little about some of my struggles with deciding how much to reveal about myself when submitting to publishers and/or agents.  I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, especially with Garnets and Guardians, because being cripple is the best asset one can have when writing cripple characters, right?  But, honestly, it’s really difficult to know how much to reveal about yourself and how that information is going to influence the people who are ultimately judging your talent (or lack thereof).

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There’s a thin line that I don’t want to cross.

When it comes to submitting short stories to various magazines, I don’t bother mentioning my disability.  Mostly, I keep it to myself because it has no bearing on the stories I submit.  There aren’t any cripple characters in my short stories, so there’s no point in mentioning it.  But, I also keep it to myself because I fear the concept of a pity pub (getting published because they feel sorry for me).  I understand that these are professionals who are supposed to be above such actions, but years of “cripple perks” (earning awards in high school for simply doing the work I was assigned, being called “inspirational” at college just because I preferred classes on campus instead of online, etc.) have made me wary of succeeding in subjective areas.  It’s just something I will always be worried about.

However, when I began submitting Garnets and Guardians to agents, I was forced to reevaluate the choice to keep my disability out of things.  On the one hand, I don’t want to take the chance of people judging my writing less harshly just because I’m cripple.  I also don’t want agents to become intrigued by me even if they aren’t enthusiastic about my writing.  I’m not interested in being anyone’s token cripple.  On the other hand, the protagonist of my novel has a disability, so my own crippleness gives me a unique perspective into her development as a realistic character.

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We can’t all write Timmy and Jimmy.

In the end, I chose simply to mention my disability in passing in my query letter.  I don’t know if it’s the correct decision or not.  Sometimes, I wonder if I should go into more detail, but then I worry it will seem like I’m hoping for special treatment, which I also want to avoid.  I was raised to never expect or ask for special treatment beyond the accommodations I need (but not to turn it down in certain cases either).  But ultimately, a brief mention of it to establish that I have knowledge about cripple experiences feels necessary.  Besides, if my query letter intrigues an agent and they decide to look at my website or blog, they’re going to find out about my crippleness anyway, so it’s not as if I’m hiding it.

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I try, but how much of myself should I be?

So yeah, while I don’t technically hide my disability from people, I remain wary about announcing it in a professional (virtually anonymous) setting just in case it will cause people to think differently about me.  What about you?  Is there anything you refrain from mentioning because of similar reasons?  What about completely different reasons?  Feel free to share here or on my social media sites!

Until next time!