Thursday, November 28, 2013

And Some Thanks are in Order...



This is me writing an acknowledgements page for the hundreds of thousands of words I've logged in the form of stories, articles, blog posts, and thoughtful little ideas jotted down on scraps of paper for all the worlds I've yet to create.

For the past few years I've been lucky enough to have family and friends who support my writing endeavors. They routinely ask me, "So how'd it go today?" Or forget all together because some days it doesn't go so well, and it's better left alone. To these special people, I am so thankful for the flickers, bursts, and long stretches of time to actually write, to explore my heart's desire, to design worlds, erect three dimensional characters out of paper and words against the bright background of my computer screen. I appreciate the enthusiastic offers too read the rough copies of my manuscripts and welcome their honest feedback.

In doing this thing called writing fiction, in middle grade, young adult, and even adult/NA, I've connected with other writers, readers, and supporters of the craft who inspire me, push me to be a better writer and storyteller, to link another word and another, even when I don't readily know what they'll be, I trust that they'll come. On blogs, Twitter, in contests, and forums you've all taught me so much about technique, grammar, and the art of story crafting, but mostly about myself.

This Thanksgiving there are handfuls —mountains,  heaps, and piles—of things I am grateful for and ones I get to wrap my arms around, but here, in this space, I am simply thankful for the connections the words make with the people I know and see everyday to the ones who're real living beings behind a thumbnail photo or avatar. To everyone who's helped shape my writing journey, I offer thanks.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Women, Food, and God

Some thoughts to share...



Tremendous wisdom. This is for all of us.
 Geneen's website. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Movember


The mustache craze that I simply do not understand aside (kids and mugs and well, ALL of the things with mustaches,) I'm an especially big fan of the imperial style. It says so much without uttering a word. (I recently used this for a particularly dastardly character in my recent MG) and the handle bar is a fave (my husband had one for a long time. When it became a fad he grew the red beard, which I almost like more, but I digress.)

Anyway, I'm not sure what kind of moustache/mustache I would grow if I could (although when I don't use excessive amounts of sunblock I get an unfortunate spot of melasma above my upper lip which even my children have commented looks like a mustache, so in the summer, I'm like the bearded mustached lady. I think I would like to grow a moustache, I prefer that UK spelling, yet, I digress again.

What I really want to discuss is the the Movember movement to raise awareness for men's health (I've spent SO much time focusing on women's health, I thought I'd give the fellas their due.) The idea is raising awareness,  funds, and proving outreach for testicular and prostate cancer and mental health. Getting involved ranges from participating in charity events—like the mustache dache, raising money, awareness, joining a team on campus or in the workplace, even Tom's shoes and loads of other brands are involved.

The values are solid and everyone is included because like with any health challenges the lives of loved ones are always impacted. We ladies are called Mo Sistas and there are loads of ways we can be involved and support our guys.

How do you Mo, let me know. Please leave a comment & tweet about it #movemeber. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A No is a Delay, Not a Denial


Is this tacky? Or is it therapy? I'm going with the latter. If you've been in the query game for any amount of time you've received emails stating things like this:

"After careful consideration I am sorry to say I do not think I am the right agent for your work."


"I’m sorry for the impersonal nature of this letter; please know we read each query we receive.
Unfortunately, we don’t feel we are the right agency for your project. We wish you all the best of luck in finding a home for your work."

"Unfortunately, your project is not right for us at this time."

"While your project isn't right for my list at this time, I appreciate the chance to consider it and wish you the best in finding the right agency home."

"I’m afraid I’m not the right agent for it.  The concept just didn’t grab me, and you deserve an enthusiastic agent who can champion your work."

It's all very polite and honest. I don't begrudge the agents AT ALL. They are doing their job. What I want to address is how this feels. (and then I'll get on with picking myself, dusting off, and honing that MS. But first...) Cue sound effects. 

Ouch. 
Thud. 
Sigh. 
Sob. 
Ahh!

I've been on the receiving end of hundreds (truly) of emails just like these over the years. I've also been lucky enough to receive some kind feedback, partial requests, and fulls. It is a glorious feeling that makes me all heady and forget which end is up. I do ALL the cliche things. But then when there's a no or many no's. It stings. Just a little. Sometimes a lot. 


Here is what I do to mend a broken heart and soothe a bruised ego when the rejections trickle (or pour) in: 

Regroup. It is a good idea to a great idea to do something that isn't writing, tweeting, checking email, etc. Pursue another  hobby for a few hours, meet a friend, do something (legal) to take your mind off things—sleep is always a winner. A good distraction gives me a bit of distance from how I felt in that moment (of crushing rejection) and provides renewed perspective. 


Step away. Sometimes the best thing to do is take regrouping a step further and actually step away from the project, queries, etc. for a time. A day, week, month. Ditto renewed perspective from above and also time. It's a miracle worker.  


Answer. Why do I want to write tell stories? What is my driving motivation? What is my intention with this endeavor? Write it down. This has helped me get back on track and reminds me why I do what I do day after day. 


Edit. Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees. You've read your ms. going on a dozen times. You printed it out, read it aloud, gone at it with the red pen...but there may still be errors, holes, parts that need professional TLC. Hire editing services, but do your due diligence and be sure they're reputable. 

Enter contest(s). This is a great way to not only to potentially win a request, partial, or query, but a decent way to receive critiques and connect with writers and folks in the biz. 


Be active. Pick your social media poisonous time suck, tool and get your presence on there. If you don't have a fave already find one that feels intuitive, accessible, and allows you to connect with kind and supportive peeps or tweeps. Yeah, I just wrote that. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, Tumblr, etc. 


Find support. Find support, give it, receive it with other like-minded writers, the kind who offer the proverbial chocolate and a hug when necessary as well as cheer-lead you through all the ups and downs. Do the same. Also keep in mind that although it may seem there are few available opportunities for publication, there's actually an abundance. And an open mentality will bring them to you. And to me. Ya?


Explore. So say I've had my heart set on a big publishing deal with one of the big six, my name on billboards, a VIP spot at ComiCON, and my name in the NYT. Okay, actually I have never aspired to any of those things. I mean it would be cool, but really my goal is to connect my story-telling to readers, role model what it is to be disciplined in pursuing your dream for my children, and therefore provide for them (food and all that.) So however that spells itself out, cool. I'm happy to sit at my lappy with my slippers on and write my heart out. Whatever you've been hoping for, if it isn't quite happening explore alternatives from small presses to self publishing. There are options folks. 


Patience. My husband has pointed out that when I want something done or to happen, I want it like right now. By product of generation-instant-gratification? I actually have no idea what generation I hail from, but I am sometimes accused of not having the most patience. This process—seeking representation for going on ten books, an EPIC lesson in patience, which I hear is way important when you're actually in the race, traditional publication is like a marathon, pace yourself, when you see the finish line it may just be a dehydration induced mirage. But keep at it, fingers to the keyboard. 

Find. A critique partner or better yet a group of them is often crucial, it is the lucky few who write something that's nearly perfection on the first pass. CP's can provide feedback, ideas for adding polish, shine, and of course a well of emotional support. Be as selective as you would in finding any kind of life (experience ) partner. Crit-Love-Connections can be made via contests (similar writing style genre or you are just stoked to read what they have written and hope they feel the same) or find them from blogs, social media, and the innumerable writing resources available...see this post. 


Shelve. Is that a word? Suddenly it doesn't look like a word. There are times when we just need to leave an ms or query alone for a month. Then reopen it. Likely we'll find things to tighten and polish after we've forgotten about it. The best litmus for this is when you finally do reread it, if you love the characters, story line, and world even more than you did before, you know it  is something to stand by.



And then. Keep at it. Keep writing.

 
One of the best things I read recently: 


"So, I'm going to keep the faith, and even if I don't get another agent with this MS or even the next. I write because I love it. I will keep writing because I love it. 

I will not reject myself too. That's just lame. And stupid." Thank you Erica Chapman

You are relevant. So is your voice and the story you have to tell. I also sometimes tell myself a "no" is merely a delay. Not a denial.



(self pep talk over.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: Brenda Corey-Dunne's Dependent


 I'm delighted to share with you the newly minted cover for Brenda Corey-Dunne's adult novel, Dependent. Drum roll and trumpets please...



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About Dependent

When 45-year-old Ellen Michaels loses her husband to a tragic military accident, she is left in a world of gray. For 25 years her life has been dictated by the ubiquitous They—the military establishment that has included her like chattel with John’s worldly goods—his Dependents, Furniture, and Effects. They—who have stolen her hopes, her dreams and her innocence, and now in mere months will take away the roof over her head. Ellen is left with nothing to hold on to but memories and guilt and an awful secret that has held her in its grip since she was 19. John’s untimely death takes away her anchor, and now, without the military, there is no one to tell her where to go, what to do— no one to dictate who she is. Dependent deals with issues ever-present in today’s service families—early marriage, frequent long absences, the culture of rank, and posttraumatic stress, as well as harassment and abuse of power by higher-ranking officials. It presents a raw and realistic view of life for the lives of the invisible support behind the uniform.
Release date (estimated) July 29, 2014.




About the Author

Brenda Corey Dunne grew up in rural New Brunswick, Canada. She originally trained as a physiotherapist and worked several years as a Physiotherapy Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before meeting the love of her life and taking her release.

She completed her first full length manuscript in 2008 as a bucket-list item and since then she has self-published a work of YA historical fiction (TREASURE IN THE FLAME), and has several other manuscripts in various stages of completion. DEPENDENT, an adult contemporary fiction, will be published by Jolly Fish Press in summer 2014. Brenda is represented by Jennifer Mishler and Frances Black of Literary Counsel.

When not working as a physioherapist or writing, Brenda can be found juggling taxi-mom duties, working in the garden or strolling through the horse paddock with a coffee in hand. She currently resides on a small hobby farm in Eastern Ontario (Canada) with her husband and their three children, two horses, a dog, a cat, several chickens and the occasional sheep.


Connect with Brenda on: 


Pre-order on Amazon


Twitter @overdunne 

Follow on Facebook

Thanks Brenda for sharing the cover with us today!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday's Post Tomorrow

Copyright Deirdre Riordan Hall 2013


I've gotten myself into a good blogging rhythm with writing related posts on Tuesdays and general, life related posts on Thursday. However, this week I'll be posting my write-type post tomorrow because I have the pleasure to be revealing the cover art for Brenda Corey-Dunne's new novel Dependent. Check in tomorrow if you're a fan of adult contemporary fiction.

I'm aiming to do one cover reveal, book birthday/release, blog tour stop per month. So, if you have one coming down the line, primarily in NA/YA/MG fiction, please let me know. If we're a good match, I'd be happy to help amplify your work. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Top Five Green Swaps


Whether you call it green or frugal, I don't care, but here are five ways I swap out conventional-disposable for reusable so that I can help save the earth and some scratch. And if you don't do these simple things, shame on you. There so obvs. Like duh 'n stuff.

Bottles. Since I’m the annoying, difficult, you don’t want to wait on me "special diet" customer I often make up my drinks at home (smoothie, tea, etc.) which easily precludes me to using a reusable mug or my favorite, a washed jar that once held almond butter or whatevs. (If it had salsa in it or another pungent food item, wash it well!)  If you’ve got extra jingle in your pockets mason jars are what the cool kids use, or so I hear.
Ditto for water. Cue reusable water bottle. I had a lovely bottle like this one, (I know, I know, I was making fun of the cool kids and I lugged that thing around. I'm such a contradiction.) Anyway, it broke and did indeed smash on the mudroom tile despite the rubber reinforcement. Sob. Now I simply use an old milk jug.


Shopping bags. I forget mine in the car. A lot. So if anyone knows of a way to make sure you remember to bring them in, please do tell me. Besides, yanno, remembering. I wash mine from time to time because boy, do they get grubby. I'm actually turning into a bag kinda person. I have bags for every occasion. Even bags that were super strong, but advertised something that I had no desire to promote (Think "Dave's all-purpose shingle caulking now in bulk size - okay, I made that one up, but it did say something like that...) Before I covered it in fabric and made it look cute.

Pads. No, not for writing. Lady pads for lady parts. For more...read this article. I have a lot to say about the subject and used to blog about it frequently. 

Meat. Have ya heard about the "Meatless Monday Movement?" Yes? Hooray! No? My bestie hopped on the vegetarian gravy train and has shares her thoughts here. By going meatless one day a week, we reduce our carbon footprint, save lives, and potentially improve our own physical health. Bravo, I say when it includes eating delicious meals...Blogs, recipes, and cookbooks abound, or simply go to your favorite restaurant and see what they have that's veg on the menu. Also, check out the Meatless Monday website, they answer all your questions (see the drop down titled "overview.") 

Cloth. Yes, paper napkins and paper towels do decompose. And yes, you can by paper products made from recycled fibers, but the spinning blue planet we live on does take a hit during the production and shipping process. I opted to take out the lovely linens we received for a wedding gift, saved aside for special occasions and make every day a special occasion. We're so fancy using our cloth napkins, but not really because they're faded and kinda gungy now. Though, my trash can stays a bit less full and my kids don't mind folding the square bits of cloth. If you want to go all out you can add TP to this list, but I won't hold it against you if you don't. Well, just because. But it might be interesting to see just how such an experiment might go.


And that is my PSA for today. Please add any easy peasy green swaps you have tried. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Three Writing Gems

Taking a page from Natalie Goldberg, (and her sage writing wisdom, Writing Down the Bones among them) I have loads of spiral notebooks, filled with story ideas, starts, notes, outlines, character names, quotes, and doodles. It took me years to feel comfortable translating my thoughts, in the form of narrative, poems, snatches of dialog, never mind an entire story, from brain to computer keys. I was more of a smooth ball-tip pen and lined paper kind of gal. There, you know my secrets. I still am and in those notebooks my orignal ideas go. Now, my fingers can't keep up, so my trusty lappy sees the evolution of my writing.

This past weekend I created a semblance of order, noting some gems among the gritty rough of first thoughts, spirals of ideas, and stream-of-consciousness notes from these notebooks. I also found some valuable reminders. Thanks ladies.



This poetic description of the lyrical alchemy of translating an idea into words into a cogent piece of literature, or at least a really convincing story, speaks directly to the complexity of the entire writing process from seed to bloom. (Dang, that was a long sentence.)







...And you're well one your way to attaining the ten-thousand-hours Malicolm Gladwell argues in Outliers it takes to master something, or at least become incredibly proficient.







In other words, don't be a phony. Instead, write with authenticity, heart, and relatability. (Not sure that's a word, but just go with it.)



I'm taking these reminders with me as I write, revise, and polish—and keep it old school with my spiral noties. Wish me luck.