Personal

Writing, waiting for a diagnosis and Grant

I don’t have a diagnosis. I just have a swelling thyroid that has nodules. And it sucks.

My doctor for the past few years has always commented on my thyroid, that it looked big to her. Blood work, however, has always come back stellar and I’d felt normal. Then this last time (this past April) in addition to blood work, she wanted an ultrasound. I heehawed about the ultrasound, thinking largely of the expense, but then my thyroid did something it hadn’t done before — it swelled. Suddenly, I’m having trouble sipping from a straw; of course, panic probably didn’t help.

I instantly scheduled the ultrasound, but couldn’t get in until after a work trip to Tampa, FL  — joy, right? So here, I was waiting and dreading. Continue reading

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Post-Gen Con 2016: Reexamining Writing Goals

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My Gen Con 2016 badge and Writer’s Symposium program.

The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium was amazing. I walked away completely refreshed and with a bumper crop of information and ideas. I cannot recommend enough finding and attending similar events to get the latest information about what is going on in the publishing industry or just to get inspired to take your craft to the next level. The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium stretched from Thursday through Sunday (Aug. 4-7) and offered more than 200 hours of programming and events. There was also a Writer’s Avenue in the main vendor hall; however, since my day was packed with seminars, I missed the opportunity to visit and mingle with fellow writers in addition to agents and editors from some of the main publishing house. Next year I will be better prepared and make sure I leave plenty of time to visit that avenue because valuable connections can be made doing that as was pointed out during one of the seminars I attended.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

In all I attended eight and a half hours worth of seminars on Saturday, Aug. 6. I say half because I was allowed into Eric Flint’s “Business of Writing: Understanding the Publishing Industry” half way through its start. The bulk of the seminars I attended were Business of Writing related since that is where I currently am in my own creative writing career. I did– for which I’m extremely grateful for–work in a couple Writer’s Craft sessions and one Writer’s Life seminar, which was invaluable.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the highlights from the Gen Con seminars I attended. The first, which I hope to have up this Friday, will be from “Writer’s Life: Structuring Life to Support Creativity.” I have been struggling with balancing life, energy, and my need to be creative, so this one was a session I truly needed. I know many other writers also struggle with carving out time to write, so hopefully, they too will be able to glean something from the session’s highlights.

Since attending “Structuring Life,” I have been steadily been making progress on Heritage Lost‘s sequel, and I feel in a better place in my creative life, even if I still need to continue training my brain, but all in good time!

Perhaps my greatest take away is I’m halting my agent hunt, except for one particular agent that I have in mind. Instead, I will do yet another read-through of Heritage Lost before directly querying publishing houses that allow unsolicited manuscripts. All of the panelists (and they included writers, editors from publishing houses, and an agent) over several seminars agreed new writers were more likely to be published through the slush pile than through an agent. It is important to note they all stressed there is no one way to publishing; however, directly approaching publishing houses had been my original path. I diverted from it when I kept getting advice that I needed to get an agent first, so I caved.

Additionally, in a month or two, I will probably have exciting news about another venture that I’m hoping to see launch in October, but I want to make sure all of my ducks are in a row before I share anymore on that. Until then, I’m excited to share some of what I learned at Gen Con!

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Counting Down To GenCon

The weekend is almost here and I can’t wait! This Friday I will be attending another Next Indiana Campfires event, which marries literature, nature and the Indiana Bicentennial. Then on Saturday, I get to go to GenCon in Indianapolis!

I made it to the Next Indiana Campfires event in my home community, which was hosted by the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail, and enjoyed a roughly 5-mile hike around Syracuse Lake, drinking in nature and several piece of poetry from Indiana poets. I also had the good fortune of meeting Indiana’s current poet laureate, Shari Wagner, who was the facilitator for that event.

I enjoyed the event so much that when I saw they were hosting a walk in Prophetstown State Park near my alma mater, I had to sign up. Along the way, I enlisted my brother and sister-in-law to join me — the more the merrier, right? Once again, Wagner will be the facilitator, but I’m hopeful that she will have a brand-new selection of poems to go with the landscape of Prophetstown. Another perk to this particular excursion? Two words: campfire dinner! Yum!

Somehow, we (my brother, sister-in-law and myself) will then be getting up early to head on over to Indy and GenCon. While they hit up the games, I will be attending seven writing seminars: The Pros & Cons of Electronic and Self-publishing; Inside Publishing; The Role of Agents; Representing Unconscious Character Motivation; Structuring Life to Support Creativity; Selling Your Stories to the World; and Maintaining Mystery Without Losing Your Audience. Needless to say, I’m super excited. I had made room for personal development in my writing business plan for 2017, so I am getting a head start, but the opportunity just fell into place. Stay tuned because I plan to share what I learn!

Is anyone else heading to GenCon and planning to attend some of the writer seminars?

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Staying Uplifted While Querying

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The querying process is one of the hardest steps for a writer to face — even more so than the daunting editing process. A finished manuscript, after all, is our baby, and it’s hard to kick your baby out into the cold cruel world. And trust me, it can be a cruel world.

I’ve been in the midst of querying since February, with a few breaks in between when I’ve been overly busy. And I have been met with rejection after rejection, in some cases where my name couldn’t even be copied and pasted — I have a new appreciation of “Dear John” letters, ha!

However, I keep plodding along in hopes that my book will eventually find the right agent who will click with it and be as passionate about the project as I am (which is extremely important in your agent). Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep going, especially when you continue to receive form letters without any feedback — no idea if your pitch is failing; if it’s something to do with your book or your writing; or if the market is just over-saturated in the genre.

Still, no matter how disheartening, a writer must press on if they are to have any hope of finding an agent or publisher. Here are some of the things that have kept me going during the process. Continue reading

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Finding the right beginning

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Some beginnings come easy; others, well, they bite, claw, and resist like no tomorrow, leaving behind frazzled writers. Take for instance my novel Heritage Lost: It’s beginning stuck from the very beginning, back when I conceptualized the novel in college. It’s sequel, which I’m am beginning, is already on its fourth (I think) beginning. None of them wanted to work; however, this one feels good. And funny enough, each “chapter one” has been moving forward chronological as I tried to nail down where the readers should be reintroduced into the world at. Continue reading

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So Begins The Jump

Keyboard and query letter start

The query letter is the writer’s rite of passage.

To borrow a phrase from Nick Fury (and countless other people over the years): “This isn’t my first rodeo.” I’ve queried before, often to no luck. Rejection happens more often than not: The publishing industry is a hard nut to crack. You just have to dust yourself off, get back up, and continue to submit, potentially with a new project. Doing just that was a tough decision for me. I put so much effort and time into Passage–its characters, its plot, its worldbuilding. However, as my SciFi novel grew and took shape, I had to acknowledge it had the best shot in the current market, so I put all my effort into bringing it to fruition.

Now Heritage Lost is wrapped up, and I’m putting together query letters and a synopsis while also toying with the idea of participating in #PitMad, which is Feb. 11. My ultimate goal is to begin querying agents throughout February, hopefully tantalizing one to bite. Continue reading

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How does a person get their $*** together?

Utter failure. That is really the only way to describe this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt. Illness struck quickly, taking a week, and then apathy swooped in and killed any desire to continue the trek onward. Really, does the world need my books? Are they really worth anything (not necessarily talking monetary value here)? I’ve been really delving into those questions a lot lately, among others.

One thing I can say about this epic car wreck of a failure is it did open my eyes: I have myself spread too thin and I’m not functioning in a productive manner. I need to break some bad habits and get back to being a functioning person, rather than responding to crisis after crisis and just generally being unhappy. Continue reading

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It’s the final countdown — NaNoWriMo prep

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Join in the madness at http://www.NaNoWriMo.org. It’s crazy, but so worth it!

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This is me right now. (Side note: I have my tablet working again!)

In the background of my head, Europe’s famous riffs loudly declare “It’s the final countdown!” And my countdown is now practically three days — three days and the madness of National Novel Writing Month descends upon me. I’m not ready for this! Frantically, I look at my outline: It only stretches from Chapter One to Chapter Fourteen — then there is only blankness. Also looming over my head is the incomplete final read-through, where I’m in Chapter Six of Eighteen. WHY IS THERE ALL OF THIS FINAL-NESS IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW?! And where the heck did October go?! Ah, yes. Work invaded my personal time and held it hostage. But no matter, it is times like this that test one’s mettle — or some other platitude that people like to throw out. Continue reading

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I’m not dead yet!

There's still some life in me, even after this summer!

There’s still some life in me, even after this summer!

 

Whew! It’s been a long time since my last post–about three months, actually. But don’t fear, there’s still life in me; it’s just that summer is always hectic at my place of employment. Luckily, it is wrapping up, and we are now down to two special insert tabs, so there aren’t a lot of extra assignments to worry about on top of my normal assignments. With this in mind, I feel positive that I will be able to resume posting regularly again.

For this return post, I figured I’d update everyone on my current projects and what else I’ve been up to before returning to the regular writing-themed posts. Continue reading

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The mobile writer

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Even though I'm at a market, I'm connected ... always connected.

I often find myself marveling at how wired in I am as a writer. There’s the various Google apps that connect me to my writing no matter where I’m at; Evernote allows access to my writing notes no matter what device I have; and, of course, I have my social media and email apps.

As a matter of a fact, I’m currently writing this post at a farmers market while helping out my dad: completely connected in even when not at home or on one of my traditional device,  aka the desktop or netbook.

And recently I’ve been considering adding to my plethora of apps and software with Scrivener. Back when they had the Windows beta, I was one of the testers. I liked, and this is despite it not having all the bells and whistles.

Yet, when the official version came out,  I never got around to buying it,  probably since I failed to capture the NaNoWriMo discount. Still, I’ve continued to eye it,  especially after continually hearing such great things from my peeps on Twitter.

However, I then get to thinking: why? Between Evernote, Word and Google Drive, I have a pretty good thing going that allows me access and productivity in a variety of scenarios. Is it really worth it? Sure, Scrivener would organize everything into one location,  but really, my spread across various apps is not too messy.

Am I missing out by not using Scrivener? Is there something that it offers that I’m really not factoring into my equations? Please share your experiences with Scrivener below, particularly features that you really love.

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