Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNo or No?

It's that time of year again!  Gearing up for Halloween, my youngest's birthday, Thanksgiving and...NaNoWriMo!

For my non-writerly friends: NaNo is National Novel Writing Month, in which in a frenzy of frenetic writing, you attempt to compose 50,000 words in 30 days.  (See?  I'm already warming up, using wordy phrases rather than simple explanations like, "you write fast.")

One of the highlights of the SCWW conference was finding an agent who likes the idea of my book.  I pitched him the basic story, he asked several follow up questions and said he would be interested in reading  the first 30 pages -- after the book is closer to 90,000 words and "good."  Which means I still have at least 10,000 to 15,000 "good" words to write.

I did not meet my 50K goal for NaNo last year but did begin a new novel that I love.  Unfortunately, that one is still languishing in my hard drive at 30,000 words.

Can I write a novel in 30 days?  No.
Can I write 50,000 words in 30 days?  Yes.

Should I sign up for NaNo?  Probably not.  I just have a hard time resisting, even if it is just for that blue status bar and the pure joy I feel watching it creep to the right.

I'm not really from here

My backyard backs up to a corn field.  I live in Orville Redenbacher's home state.  I have no idea how long an ear of corn can last before, you know, things fall apart.

grasshopper largerMy son has to build a grasshopper for a science project.  (Each student has to research an insect, write a report and build a model).  We were thinking of using an ear of corn to make the grasshopper but my daughter reminded me that it will sit in a display case for "a while."  I have no idea how long that grasshopper would survive on display before it began to deteriorate.   I feel like I should know.

Looks like we're going with Plan B.  Or C.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to work

The good news is: I can still be taught!

The SCWW conference is over and I am ready to get back to work!   I knew the book was not perfect but I went to the conference anyway, knowing I would still learn a lot.  I signed up for a critique, query and pitch.  I was most afraid of the pitch.  When people ask what my book is about, I tend to ramble...

(If I could get the idea across to you quickly, I'd write short stories, right?)  Wrong.

While much of the information put out at conferences can be found on various websites or in countless books, it can sound different when you hear it.  Thank God I took Chuck Sambuchino's class on Friday afternoon.  When he said, "For those of you pitching at this conference..." I sat up and listened.  He talked about summarizing your book in one sentence.  (I couldn't do it then but I'm getting better.)   He went on to say that the second paragraph in your query letter should be about 3-7 sentences.  That paragraph should be your pitch when you sit down in front of an agent.  I heard the lightbulb click.

I learned many other useful things in that hour and fifteen minutes.  (There was more but I had to leave for a critique.)  I took those suggestions and reworked, revised and rehearsed my pitch all over again. It worked.  The agent requested 30 pages!

Of course, anyone can have an idea.  That doesn't make me a writer.  This same agent was not blown away by my first two pages in another seminar but now I have a second chance to impress.  I have recognized that I was not just rambling about my book before--I was rambling in it, as well.

None of this is a guarantee that anything further will ever happen with this book but it is a step forward.
I was going to skip the conference this year, knowing the book wasn't completely right, yet.  I was going to skip the pitch, out of pure and simple fear.  I went and was inspired and challenged.  If only I hadn't been too shy/embarrassed to offer to buy Chuck Sambuchino a drink at the bar, to thank him for the helpful advice!  Maybe that will be my goal for the next conference...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Olly olly oxen free!

My three-year-old still puts his hands over his eyes so that you cannot see him. He puts his head under pillows and, every Tuesday and Thursday, puts his head inside the back of my shirt as he walks into preschool.  (I have to spin rather quickly to "find" him!)  His actions are cute but not are not effective means of hiding.

I started this blog under a pseudo-anonymous name.  I thought if it didn't turn out too well, or if I posted something I shouldn't have, only a handful of people would really know it was me.  Over the years, I've shared the link in a few places so now it comes up as soon as you Google my name.  This was not an effective way to hide.

I say I need a critique group but I don't do the work to find one or start one.  It has been so long now--I hate to admit to anyone how long it's been since I have participated in such a group but waiting a little longer is not an effective solution.

Earlier this week, I impulsively commented on a facebook post from a local bookstore.  This store happens to be my new favorite place to sit and write.  I love going on Thursday mornings and often have the place to myself!  (As a writer, the peace and quiet amidst shelves of books is perfect; as a mom, the peace and quiet is priceless!)  Another writer was enjoying the space yesterday but posted on the site that she would love for other writers to join her.  I spoke up--on facebook--using my real name.