Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blogging (The Job) and Other Things

In the shadow of a calling I found myself . . . 
                                                 Delving deep.

Musical Moment
        ~ “Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe”  Live

Blogging is not for the faint of heart.  It is a job that must be tended to like a garden.  Unfortunately, I do not have a green thumb.  I have struggled with this blogging gig as life has jumped in, twisted me around and kicked at me (a wee bit) like rag doll, but I am going to try to keep it up, even if it’s once a week.  There has been so much to say over the last few months (I played paintball for the first time, attended my first ComicCon which was freaking cool, and I saw acoustic guitar duo Strunz and Farah and the awesome Howard Jones (80s anyone?) in concert) and yet this blog has experienced radio silence.  

Well then, let us begin again.

This year I made a commitment to myself to attend writer’s conferences, network, work harder at my craft and begin the serious pursuit of getting published.  I have happily met each commitment.  I attended to two conferences held by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI), one of the larger conferences held in New York City and my local regional conference in New England.  Both were fantastic and overwhelming.

In New York, I attended a Writers Roundtable Workshop, where you sit with 8-9 other writers and an agent or editor.  You read the first 500 words of your novel or picture book and the rest of the table critiques it.  It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  Not even jumping out of the plane had my heart racing as this did.  Reading from the baby I’ve slaved over for so long, out loud, to a bunch of strangers was intimidating, but also liberating.  It pushed against my comfort zone and kicked me so hard I came to the realization that this is what will happen when I do publish my books.  People will read it.  Some will read it out loud.  Some will like it.  Some will hate it.  Some will not care either way, but I don’t own their reactions to it.  I’ve done my part in the storytelling and the rest will unfold as it’s supposed to.  After this, anything that happened the rest of the conference was a piece of cake.  I also met some great people there, but one of the highlights though was meeting Henry Winkler.  Oh yeah, Arthur Fonzarelli (from the Happy Days series for those of you too young to know what I’m talking about) put in an appearance. Not only is Henry Winkler an actor but he is an author as well and a sweetheart on top of all that.  I also rubbed elbows with a few other writers. Can you guess who?
Henry Winkler

Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments Series

The (always wonderful and inspiring) Jane Yolen, author of Owl Moon

The New England conference, well, that was another beast altogether. The NE-SCBWI conference is smaller than NY, but packs a bunch just as impressive.  I was lucky enough to sign up for a Query Letter and a Manuscript critique.  I’ve never done either before but was so excited to find out what an agent and editor thought of my work.  I knew ahead of time that my query letter was trouble.  Writing a query letter is an art form (aka a torturous, mind-bending act that makes most writers cringe and weep) and I knew my query was crap.  Well, it wasn’t total crap, but it was great sitting with the agent and for her to tell me what worked and what (definitely) didn’t work.  I was excited although I am still struggling with writing the thing.  The Manuscript critique was fabulous and horrible at the same time.  I woke up that morning with a fever, the shakes, a migraine, and the sweats.  I made it to the Manuscript session.  I mean, I sucked it up until the second I walked out of the room and then stumbled to my hotel room falling into a miserable heap on the bed.  I don’t remember most of the critique.  Luckily, the editor did give me a write up of her thoughts on my story.  She liked it (Yeah) and requested I send the entire novel to her (WOOHOO).  

Unfortunately, I was sick for over a month after this (and hopefully, she escaped the plague that took me down.)  I was so sick I was out of work this entire time and didn’t begin my final edit and read through for a couple of months.  I am happy to say that I mailed out the manuscript last week.  It was one of the best moments I’ve had in a while.  

Next up for me is to not, I repeat, NOT think about the manuscript.  I am going to work on Book Two of what I hope to be a planned series.  I am also going to dust off the Suspense novel for adults I put aside to work on my children’s book. I hope working on different genres will stimulate both sides of my brain and make an interesting writing experience for me.

I’ve been debating putting up the first pages of the novel I submitted.  It will be yet another step in getting over any shyness I may feel sharing my words with the world.  

The debate continues....

One more thing.  A few years ago, I published a flash fiction piece called  The Gravedigger.  If you popped over to my WIP & Other Writings page you can read it.  The magazine who published has closed its doors and it’s such a shame to let it go into the abyss.  Enjoy.
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