The Show Must Go On!

Hi folks, it’s been a hot minute. Several hot minutes. How are you?

Life has gotten a bit crazy the past few weeks, in very good ways. My day job has been taking off in exciting and terrifying new ways (note to self, get better at not oversharing with the big name donors and better at smiling and nodding).

I’m nervous as hell, because like the masochist I am, I decided to audition for the theatre I work at. We’re doing Fun Home next season, and I just have to try. It’s the one role I feel like I’m really perfect for, and it’s right in my range. I’ve been training my voice for it, with the help of an amazing vocal coach, and working on a monologue (not as often as I should, I’ll be honest), so I feel more or less prepared.

Don’t wish me luck, though. Tell me to break legs. Actually, do whatever you want because either it’s going to go well or it’s not, but I’m feeling positive.

On the book end of things (Heh, book end), The Heart of Chaos will be available soon! It’s going to be my first standalone release, so I’m very very excited about that. I can’t wait to share it with you. I’ll keep you posted!

First Rejection!

Yep, I sent out my first query and got my first rejection within 24 hours.

I typically will say I pride myself in being a realist, but honestly? I’m a dreamer. I’ve had that query sitting there in my drafts for several months now, edited and perfected, tailored to that specific agent I really had might sights on. In my head, I saw how it would happen. It would take a week or two, but I’d get the response back: She wants to read the first five pages! I’d send them, having perfected the full manuscript already, and she’d return with glowing reviews and tell me that she wanted to be my agent. Then would come the big book deal with a huge publisher, I’d see my book in the shelves as a featured read when I walked into a store, and then a movie deal! (Pretty sure most of us can admit to living out these fantasies in our heads, right?)

Yeah, I can’t call myself a realist. Not even close.

I’ve been very fortunate in my writing career so far. I’ve gotten published several times with more successes than rejections. It’s been great, it really has, and I have to admit now that I’ve let it get to my head.

This rejection is a good thing. It means I put myself out there, and I’m ready to do it again. I just have to remember that this is a process. I’ve been using theatre parallels in my head, since that’s a world I’m more familiar with. Agents and publishers, those are the directors holding auditions for their show. Me? Just an actor, walking in and hoping I can give them what they’re looking for. If I don’t make it, it’s not because I’m not good, it’s because I’m just not what they’re looking for right now. Maybe I’d be a perfect Juliet, but they’re casting for Hamlet right now.

Now that I’ve submitted my first query, I’m hoping the next rejections will be easier. Eventually there will be acceptance, but that part isn’t up to me. All I can do is keep putting it out there until I find the right fit.

Wish me luck.

I’m afraid of success.

I realized this today. I can’t remember what triggered the thought, but I started thinking about how I kept putting off submitting Rook to agents even though it’s in a pretty good place. I keep coming up with excuses, telling myself it needs more revising, more fixing.

It’s much safer to live in obscurity, to have only a few friends and family read your work and tell you how nice it was. It’s downright terrifying to think of a whole bunch of strangers reading it. They will see my precious stories without any rose-colored glasses and read them exactly as they are, and my books will have to stand on their own. They’ll be subjected to criticism (and rightly so), personal biases, individual tastes, and mountains of opinions if they get into enough hands.

Isn’t that the goal, though? I thought I knew that for the longest time, I thought I was prepared in every way a person can be. I thought I was ready to send my baby out into the world, armed with a full lunchbox and change of pants, just in case.

Now, I feel more like I’ve got my toddler on rapidly fraying leash and I’m just praying I can keep them from killing themselves by running out into traffic to follow an errant family of ducks.

Enough personifying my stories. The point is, I’m ready to let them go. Acknowledging my fear was the first step, now I’m setting deadlines. Rook is going to agents by the end of February. It’s time.

Wish me luck?

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! (Minus the Chicken)

You are looking at the blog of a (FINALLY) winner of NaNoWriMo! I’ve been trying to beat this thing for years now, and I am so damn proud. Y’all, I’m not even sorry for bragging. I’m just so pumped. And exhausted. I’m going to go home and try to scrape some of my sanity back together, I’ll give you a better blog post later. Reflections and all that fancy stuff.

For now: just YAY.

The Adept/NaNoWriMo Update

I have to admit, it’s taken me quite a long time writing The Adept (still a working title) to see how it’s going to end. Naturally, I had the basics in mind from the beginning: whether or not it was a happy ending, whether or not they all get out, etc., but I didn’t know how I was going to make it all happen. That’s one of the downsides of being a pantser. (*Fun fact, my computer keeps trying to correct ‘pantser’ to ‘panther’. I’m okay with this.)

I’d also argue that this is a benefit of being a pantser, really. It’s exciting, surprising, and a huge emotional journey for me to write so fluidly. Letting my characters take the lead adds a sense of surprise and authenticity to the story that makes it a fun experience for me, and hopefully for my readers as well.

Obviously I don’t want to give too much away, plot-wise. I’ll just say that I’m very, very excited for the next part I’m going to write. I didn’t plan on this particular plot point at all. Honestly, this character was only going to exist in memory based on my original plan, but now it just works so perfectly that I can’t wait to put it down.

Back to it, then!

38337 words, for the record, and still working on it! (I’m a little behind, but I blame the turkey.)

Confession Time:

I’m a serial pantser.

(For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it’s writing by the seat of your pants. Hence, pants-er.)

I try to start with an outline, even just a mental one, but my characters are truly the ones in the driver’s seat. I’m realizing that more than ever now, in the latter half of NaNoWriMo (33,663 words, by the way, BUT WHO’S COUNTING).

If I’m honest, I really prefer pantsing my novels. It’s exciting. My characters continue to surprise me and sometimes it’s even a little scary, but I love the thrill of it. The Adept is getting a bit longer than I’d planned, but in a very good way. It’s taking twists and turns and coming together in ways I hadn’t planned.

Any other pantsers out there that can relate? Or strategic planners that think I’m absolutely nuts?

(I tend to agree, but I fully believe that a healthy dose of insanity is essential for any work of fiction.)

The Great NaNo, Part II

I have to make a confession, I didn’t hit my word count one day earlier this week. Gratefully, I had gotten myself ahead to begin with but I was really worried about falling behind.

I decided to try a new strategy today: Just write. Don’t count words, don’t count pages, just write. And when I finally decided to stop…

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 7.05.20 PM

2,395 words in one session! Hell. Yes. It may only be the beginning of week two, but I’m really proud of this.

The point of NaNoWriMo is primarily just to keep writing, and it’s definitely kept me doing that. I’m such a competitive person, however, that having a challenging goal like this and knowing that there are so many people out there trying to hit that 50 thousand mark just makes me want to dig my heels in and CRANK. It’s hard to keep that drive at a healthy level, though. My wife is working her butt off at her own job, and mine can get stressful, what little time we do get together we do take advantage of. Lately, I feel like I’ve been so focused on this that I haven’t been as mentally present with her when we do have time together.

We’ll be sitting on the couch, I’ll have the laptop out while Lost Girl plays on the TV. Something will spur on a random memory from the day and she’ll tell me about her new employees and I find myself doing the classic “That’s great, babe. Uh huh. Yep.”

Sometimes I really just want to smack myself.

Yesterday, I finally had the good sense put the laptop down and help my wife with some scissoring (and by that I mean cutting a bunch of things out that had complicated shapes, but if your head is in the gutter, well, it’s not my job to take it out). We finished the task and I went back to my writing, and guess what? I made my word count. Everything was good.

Since the start of NaNo, I’m glad to say that I’ve taken my head out from beneath the couch cushions and everything is good. The lesson here is balance. And occasional scissoring together. (The couple that scissors together stays together? I’m going to stop now.)

Non-Rook Happenings:

“Rook” is my main baby right now, but I’m far too much of a multitasker to focus on one thing at a time. As much as I would like to be the kind of person who just cranks out one project at a time, that’s now how I function best, so while I was getting into one of my final rounds of edits to Rook, I got distracted. As cliche as it sounds, I had a book idea come to me in a dream and I couldn’t let it rest until I began writing it.

The working title for this ‘dream book’ is currently “The Adept” (should that be underlined? It’s not a complete book yet… eh, that’s what editors are for). It starts with a barefoot teenager getting thrown out of a plane without a parachute, so that’s fun. 

I also just sent edits back on a piece that will be part of an anthology, its romance featuring a polyamorous trio, but I don’t want to give much away other than that until it’s released. I can’t wait to share the info once it’s released, I really fell in love with the characters, and honestly I might end up turning it into a much longer story at some point.

I also received the absolute best rejection email I’ve ever gotten: my submission for a different anthology wasn’t accepted… but they want to turn it into its own ebook. I’d call that a WIN. I’m extremely excited to get this rolling, but luckily it’s already written, so I just need to await edits from the publisher and get back to work on other projects.

Long story short, “Rook” is still a priority, but if I don’t let myself explore “The Adept”, I would regret it. When inspiration knocks, you don’t wait for it to knock twice, right?

Nora & Eridan

My biggest project right now is Rook: Dark Wings, and though it’s not quite ready to publish, I’m itching to share these characters. My wife and I have often discussed which characters we find most of ourselves in, and they always seem to go back and forth between these two. 

Here are Nora and Eridan, as illustrated by one of my all-time favorite artists and my #1 favorite graphic novel artist, Der-Shing Helmer! (Check out Mare Internum and The Meek if you haven’t, they’re both phenomenal.)

Nora “Rook” Roccato

Constellation: Corvus

This is the main character: after losing her parents at a young age, she lived and grew up on the streets. She’s fiesty, relentless, and guarded, and when a mysterious stone falls from the sky and implants itself in her neck, she’s not exactly pleased. When she realizes that the stone has somehow erased her from the memory of everyone she’s ever known, she’s significantly more disgruntled and ventures to New York City to find someone who can remove it.

Naturally, nothing is quite that simple.


Eridan

Constellation: Eridanus

It didn’t take long for the Nova to find Eridan after the strange stone bonded to her hand, and she gave little resistance to the idea of abandoning her old name. The others all had, after all, and she wasn’t one to stray from the norm. The name ‘Eridan’ suited her, she thought, and gave her a chance for a new start. She’s a chipper little thing, bubbly and excitable, but having been raised in the lap of luxury, she has a long way to go to adjust to living in their forgotten corner of the world. Old prejudices often bubble up, and old habits certainly die hard for this cherub.
Eridan’s naïveté and old-fashioned views bring me back to when I was a teenager; I had a zeal for life and for my faith that often blinded me to the way I acted, and I was very much contained in a little bubble of privilege. A lot has changed since then, but I’ve channeled a lot of those experiences into her character.

Nora, however, has an undeniable grit that both my wife and I share, we’re determined to make something of ourselves despite the odds. On the other side, Nora is also stubborn, sharp-edged, and closed-off, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t relate to those aspects as well. I am a Taurus, after all.

The blog cherry

I’m popping it.

That’s not to say that I’ve never made a blog post before, but now that I’ve redone the site, I get to christen this thing all over again. Cheers! Anyone bring champagne? (Actually, moscato is my drink of choice, for the record.)

Enough drunken debauchery, I’m shifting gears into something actually relevant: writing!

I’ve recently finished another draft of Rook, and I am taking a very big step back to look at it, and I’m forcing myself to take off the rose-colored glasses. I’m still very excited for the story, still believe in the characters and the plot, but as far as details go… yeah, I have my work cut out for me.

In the process of stepping back from Rook, I’ve started working on adapting another story of mine into a screenplay, I’m quite excited for this one, too. Supernatural creatures, terrible government, a smart-mouthed selkie dude and a grumpy-ass she-werewolf with (surprise!) anger issues. It’s a fun one.