Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Way of the Warrior - Or Keeping a Stout Heart

I've come to the conclusion over the long years of publication that along with talent, drive and wonderful ideas, it takes a stout heart to succeed in writing.

How many times have I read a rejection letter and thought I'd chuck it all in and never write again? Too many to count. Now, on the eve of my first novella's release (I know it's in December just not the exact date...) I am so thankful that I stuck with it and kept pushing myself even if it seemed like all I would see were doors slammed in my face.

I see myself as a warrior of words. I had to train long and hard, wear the blood of hacked pages and the gore of red ink on my hands, building callouses on my self-esteem until I could reach that ultimate goal of publication.

It took nearly 15 years to get that first sale.

I began getting serious about writing in '92. But I don't know if I can really count that year, since I didn't send anything out then. I don't believe I started sending out for publication until about '94 or '95. All that time, I wrote and worked on craft. But perhaps I should count from the first time I began to query agents and publishers. - If you take into account and subtract the years since I had my first short story published in Writers' Journal Magazine, in Jan/Feb of '05 then it decreases the time to 10 years. Oh...I like this math system. I don't sound like near the failure I thought at first. Hehehehehhee.

The first time I sent something to a publisher, I sent to DAW. I had read just about everything in their catalog. Being a lover of fantasy and sci-fi and doing a search through my bookshelf of who published most of the books I read and owned, I decided they had the majority vote, so I'd try. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Though they ultimately passed on the book, the letter I got along with my returned manuscript was lovely. The editor said he couldn't use the book, but liked my writing and would like to see something else from me. The year was '97 and I didn't have anything else. I switched to more of romantic flavored books after that since I've always loved and read romances, but I've kept the letter ever since.

I think for a first effort that was a great response, considering I look at that version of the book now and I cringe. Literally. I look like I've been sucking on a pound of lemons. I would definately send something to DAW in the future.

I remember opening the box with the manuscript inside and reading the letter. Both elation and disappointment warred inside me...but the bigger slice definately elation. Someone, somewhere with the power to say yea or nay to my dream had actually saw something he liked in my writing. Enough to invite me to submit something else. Now, though I was early in my writing career I wasn't green enough not to realize he'd given me a gift. Editors and smaller houses are too busy to invite an author to submit more material if they didn't see something there they liked. (If you know differently, don't tell me!!! You'll burst my bubble in retrospect).

After I joined RWA, I started noticing all these contests listed in the back of the RWA, and I joined some group loops for the special interest chapters and heard about the Tampa Area Romance Authors unpublished writer's contest. They were extending the deadline that year to give people more time to send in entries. (I think they must have not had enough for a particular category). I looked at the call for entries, and thought....Why the hell not? I hurried....hurried and wrote the first three chapters of a book. I had already outlined it, so I knew where it was going and basically the structure. Imagine my surprise when I finaled with that hastily written partial. Imagine my further surprise when I got a call telling me I'd actually won!! - The award hangs on the wall in my office so I can see it when I write. It's confirmation that someone else believed in me. Quite a few someone elses if you know anything about how contests are judged.

After that the sales started to come. I'd finally found the lucky star I wanted to stand under all along. But my journey is not complete and the warrior in me is still ready to do battle with plot and characters who refuse to do my bidding. - Even with the sales, I've still gotten handed a few rejections for other projects. I don't let them get me down near as much as I used to. Because I know, in my heart that perhaps that particular project just hasn't gotten into the right hands yet...and if it doesn't...well, I've got an entire stable of projects to send out. I'm never in want of an idea.

So... when you feel as if you're not getting any place, or you've just gotten a rejection...remember no warrior comes to a battle without a few scars in their past. It's what separates the casualities from the survivors.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Break in Routine

Don't you just hate it when you have a certain routine and suddenly one day...for no reason other than over sleeping, you break it?

That's what happened to me yesterday.

I'm such a creature of habit that if I don't do the same thing everyday at precisely the same time I start having a minor freak out. (La Freak, Say Chic...)

Perfect example: My shift starts at 7pm. I have about a 40 minute commute, so I always try to leave the house by 6 because you never know in Jersey when there's going to be a bad traffic tie-up. Generally, I wake up between 3-4 in the afternoon and sit at the computer, writing or critiquing, answering emails, ect. Well, yesterday I woke up at about 4:30 - totally threw me off. I still had to cook dinner to take with me, grab a shower, iron my uniform...the whole sheebang.
Needless to say, I was sucking the hind tit (my mother's expression for running late...swear to God. She's said it all my life.) before I ever left the house. Threw my entire night off.

I'm pretty much that neurotic when I sit down to write as well. I will turn on the computer and usually go make coffee or heat up water for tea before I actually sit down. Then if I have a critique to do, I'll read that, or I'll print stuff to read at work. I don't like having my routine disrupted. I find much comfort in that routine and it soothes me before walking into a hectic night of saving lives. I find, one or two days away from writing and I'm climbing the walls. However, this past summer when Dave and I went to Gettysburg and Hershey, I didn't write a word for a week and I was just fine. Granted, I would fall into bed exhausted at night from walking. - If you want to loose weight, go on a vacation to Gettysburg. All the attractions (just about) are outside and cover miles and miles of terrain. We had a great time!!! - but I digress.

Now, today I am back into my routine and feeling much more comfortable about my world. It's funny, but I do try to break the cycle every once in a while just to prove to myself I can. All the while telling myself it's all right...I don't HAVE to do things the same way, and at the same time. The stars won't fall from the sky, the seas won't boil, and there will still be air available for me to breathe.

Today...I'm shaking up my routine by not packing my lunch before work. Gasp!!!

Tomorrow. Who knows? I may run with scissors.


Friday, November 24, 2006

One File Too Far

Oh boy! Dontcha' just hate it when you're editing a story. Streamlining for word count and clarity, and all of a sudden you realize...somewhere along the way that you've been editing a much older version of the file? Happened to me the other day. I wanted to scream, and curse and jump around in a circle gnashing my teeth and pulling at my hair. Yes, it was that bad. I was halfway through a 100,000 plus manuscript when I noticed some of the scenes I had added long paragraphs of explanation to were gone.

What could have happened to them? Did the computer troll come and eat away at my file? Have a woken in some alternate universe in the moderately-recent past? Could I have been halucinating and not written such profound words at all? - No, I merely pulled up the wrong file and started working on it like the nimrod I am. So, what did I do, you ask? Well, it was a simple solution, but one that made me a little nervous. I cut off the last half of the file I'd been working diligently on and erased it from memory, then pasted the back end of the more recent file onto it. I'll have to cut and paste several other smaller scenes, but essentially it's fixed. Not fun. Not fun at all. Anything so I wouldn't have had to do the damn thing all over again.
Speaking of which I should probably get back to working on that one file and then finished my WIP.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

And the Rush is On....

Well, tomorrow is Black Friday and what will I be doing? After I finish at the lawyer's office, (signing the papers for our refinance), I'll be going home and sleeping. Yes, that's right...because I have to work tonight I will not be in the crowded stores, I will not be singing Jingle Bells as I buy presents, I will not be wishing people Merrily....oh...wait...I hate crowds.

I'll do like I do every year and sit at my computer and buy online. This is truly a godsend for me, considering agoraphobia runs rampant in my family and didn't skip me. Every since I started doing my holiday shopping online I've been liberated by the feeling I can purchase everything I need in the comfort of my own home and not have to worry about finding parking, or wearing full hockey gear in order to get to the really good sales.

Some people really love to shop during the holidays, my sister for one. I just don't understand the logic or need behind getting out in public and fighting with other shoppers for everything from a parking space way out in the boondocks to the last bit of breathable air inside the mall. (I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about it).

This year, Dave and I are even making our own cards with pictures of his Jet-Pak Penguin character on it. Hey, what says Happy Holidays better than a penguin in goggles and a jet pack?

The only question is...how am I going to get all those cards to the post office without going outside?????


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Livin' Large

No, this isn't about guilt after stuffing myself on turkey and pumpkin pie last night. I was really rather disciplined in the meal and only had one plate of yummy goodness. Passed out somewhere between the stuffing and pie, to the strains of Gene Hackmen's rendition of Lex Luthor. (We were watching Superman.) - This blog is about expanding your range of writing experiences.

I started my writing journey with fantasy ficiton. Large, big opuses (or is it opi hehehehehe) that span half centuries and have casts of thousands. After beating my head against a brick wall of rejections for years - coming close with DAW once (said they couldn't use the project I'd sent, but liked my style and wanted to see more - unfortunately I didn't have anything at the time.) - I switched genres. Since my novels had romantic elements anyhow, I figured I'd add more of that and start targeting romance lines. I've always read romances, since that first Barbara Cartland in elementary school. I fell in love with falling in love. HEA's were my cup of tea. There is just something so wonderful and uplifting about the power of love everlasting. With so much horror happening in the world on a daily basis - the evening news filled with stories of murder, mayhem and corruption - it's nice to be able to sit with a book, or in front of the computer and read about people who are beating the odds to be together.

Now for the living large portion: Over the last few days, I've dusted off one of my fantasy series and polished it, streamlined it and submitted it for consideration at another publisher. This one hasn't made the rounds as much as my other one, but I gotta try. I think my characters deserve to see the light of day. I think as a writer I would stifle my creativity if I stayed to just one genre. I love to read all different types of books, so I want to write all different genres.

I've had people ask me how I can keep track of all the different stories and genres I write (most of which I write simultaneously). I tell them it's easy. They are all so different that I don't get them confused.

Write what you know...hmmmm...don't necessarily agree with that. If I only wrote what I knew, I wouldn't be expanding my horizons, stretching my imagination, and learning from my research. I say...write what you don't know, learn something along the way, and most of all live it large!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Early Turkey Trot

Well, it's that time of year again. When we stuff ourselves full of triptaphan and pretend we're not sacked out on the sofa while our spouses are trying to talk to us. I ate so much turkey last year, I actually don't remember much of the Thanksgiving weekend. I spent it horizontal on the couch with strains of "A Christmas Story" playing in the background.

I'm off to the grocery store soon to buy the gobbler for tonight. Dave and I will be celebrating it tonight instead of Thursday, since duty calls for me the next two nights. (They made me an offer I couldn't refuse...and who am I to say no to cash?)

I remember holidays being a huge deal when I was a kid. Not so much now. It's usually just Dave and I, with the cat camped out at the foot of my double ovens eyes glazed over waiting for the bird to come out of the oven. She's addicted to fowl of any sort. It's really very sad the way she carries on at the holidays.

Generally, Dave and I will get a bottle of the bubbly and toast what we're thankful for in the previous year. This year I have much to be thankful for. I've sold 3 manuscripts since last Thanksgiving and Dave has gotten his website up and started school. We've been both moving forward on our creative endeavors and with some marked success. We are both relatively healthy and we seem to be making our bills on time. That in itself is a major accomplishment.

Speaking of which, I better go and get the bird so we have something to eat this evening.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Now I Have A Headache!

Geez Louise --

It's taken me about an hour to figure out how to get back to where I can post another blog. I screwed up when I did my screen name yesterday and couldn't find the dashboard. Only after I started to scrap this blog and create a new one did I realize what I had done wrong. Now, if I can only figure out how I got back here next time I go to publish a post I'll be swimmin' in gold.

Me and techonology are not very good friends. We agree to disagree most of the time. Even my spellcheck has contemp for me. You know you're a bad speller when the letters "WTF" pop up instead of suggestions. Hey, I never claimed to be a good speller. This amazes my friends at work. They are constantly coming to me..."Hey Kat, how do you spell...?" This question usually garners a look from me and the answer..."I don't know." The stock answer from them is: "But you're a writer." Why does it follow that because you're a writer you can spell? I think if you're a writer you just have unlimited resources on where to find the correct spellings. I have become a better speller due to my writing, but it wasn't a natural ability for me. Some people are just better spellers, as some are more inclined to pick up different languages with ease. - I'm not good at that either. I've often joked that I speak convincing Redneck from spending so many years in the Deep South. And when I get mad I can hear the Southern creeping back into my voice. I'll say something like..."I'm fixin' to get my Southern on." - I've cleared rooms with that phrase. Hehehehehehehehe...which brings me back to today's topic. Technology headaches....

Why is it that the very things that are supposed to make our lives easier, are the things we spend the most time cursing and damning to all the hells? Example:

My husband recently went back to school to learn 3D animation. He's trained in 2D, but to be competitive in today's market he really needed to learn the skills required to do Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark and Flash. On most days the air in our house is painted blue by his colorful expletives directed at the computer. The cat looks at me and says, "You let him kiss you with that mouth?" What can I do? I shrug. It's nothing I haven't said to my computer about a million times.


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Hello, and welcome to my blog.

I've resisted opening up my own personal blog space because I know how I am about keeping up on correspondances...(I'm not very good at it. I spend most of my time writing books and reading research materials.)

I'll start by telling you a little bit about myself. I live and work in NJ with my husband Dave and our cat Kittygirl. When I'm not writing, I work in the healthcare industry. In addition to writing, I enjoy movies, books, art and cross-stitch. History is a favorite obsession of mine, if there is a documentary on television dealing with almost any period of history you can believe, I'll have my nose stuck in it soaking it all up. - Though to be honest, any and all documentaries capture my attention. I'm pretty much a documentary junkie and have often wondered if there are twelve step programs to help me quit the addiction.

My husband, Dave, is a kick-but cartoonist, who's created "Digby and Bernard" and "Jet-Pak Penguin" daily strips. They are both all ages comics, so don't hesitate to let your kids see them. You can check them out at dmancos.atspace.com

He's also busily working on his newest creation, Roxy Brimstone. Roxy will also be an all ages strip. For those of you who like comics with a big more grit to them he's working on his vigilante graphic novels, "Tales of the Motor City" and "The Return of Buster Crash."

Now a bit about living in NJ. I know this state has a reputation for being the bastard brother of New York, but I tell you that it's a state that you can't really appreciate until you've taken time to notice all the varying landscapes we have here. Trust me, there are mountains, cities, the Shore, and Atlantic City. For that reason a majority of my novels are set here. Or Florida. I spent 14 years living in Florida and it's kind of hard to leave that behind. Not when there are so many possibilities for story ideas to be had there.

So, that's enough about me for now. Thanks for stopping by. Drop me an email, or wonder over to my website by clicking on the prompt. You can read blurbs from my books and see the covers, or read some short stories.