Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sweeping Out, Welcoming In...

With the New Year just about here, I like to declutter and downsize. And not just broken Christmas ornaments, old toys, clothes that don't fit. I go deeper. This is what I'm doing now:

Reconnecting with an old high school friend.

Letting go of a dead friendship.

Welcoming new people in my life.

Stepping away from a toxic person.

Clearing my mind of failures, disappointments, and hurts.

Opening my consciousness to possibilities, opportunities, and challenges.

Throwing away a manuscript that won't work.

Freeing a new idea to develop.

Learning to accept new views and differences.

Refusing to harbor outdated or hurtful opinions.

It's not easy, and I won't accomplish them all. Kind of like cleaning out the refrigerator- looks good for a while, but it's something that has to be done over and over. Even if you hate it, it's got to be done-and when you finish, you feel a sense of accomplishment.

So in 2016, I'm ready to forge ahead with a clean(er) slate.

Be careful, stay healthy and safe, look forward.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Oh, That Novel's Not Finished...

Before we start the great NaNoRevMo in February, (NaNoWriMo org does their revision program in the summer- I don't want to wait that long so if February doesn't work for you, do theirs in the summer), please read the sign.

Rejection is important. Painful, yes, but important. Just because you finished your novel doesn't mean it's good. Actually, because you wrote with determined speed, it's probably crap. If you submit it to an editor or agent now, not only would you get rejected, you'd be the butt of office jokes because it's that bad.

Don't despair. Rejection is the natural order of the universe.


If anyone knows about rejection and failure, it's Thomas Edison. He racked up more failures and had his ideas rejected by more people than Stephen King or Dr. Suess- and even me. Sirenz had over 60 rejections. Today, four books have my name on them. I know the pain of rejection. Sure, I hate it, sometimes think it's unjustified, but see above again.

This is the lesson I learned, that every writer learns. Or artist, inventor, musician, student, businessman, etc. Even when you finish your NaNoWriMo revision, you have only begun the process. You will revise multiple times; until you're satisfied, the critique group/beta reader is satisfied, an agent is satisfied, the editor is satisfied.

It's going to hurt, I won't lie to you. There were times I threw stuff, cried, yelled, and vowed to snub everyone who rejected me once I became a famous author. 

But I kept writing and revising and imagining and learning. I didn't stop. You can't if you're serious about writing. I've met too many people who say that they were too busy right now to finish the revisions, or the editor/agent doesn't know what they're talking about, or it's good enough, I'll just self-publish. (The good self-published books are thoroughly edited or they don't sell so that's not an option to skip more revisions.) Currently, I'm revising four novels. None of them have stayed the same since I wrote that first draft. Characters were removed, changed gender, given bigger roles. Places were changed, dialogue shortened or lengthened, events were put in or they were deleted, word counts increased or drastically reduced. 

This is all waiting for you. Embrace it. Learn from it. Use it. Accept it. 

Keep writing, keep the faith. Next week- a list of books to help you edit your manuscript so save your holiday gift $$; you'll want some of these.

Have a Merry Christmas, a wonderful New Year, a Happy Holiday for the path you follow--


Monday, December 14, 2015

Seven Rules For Peace

I want peace in the world, but I also want it in my house. If everyone would just follow these seven rules, everything would be almost absolutely wonderful.

1. If it's not yours, don't touch it. That means don't steal it, don't use it without permission, Whether it's a sweater in the store, another author's novel, or your brother's car, hands off and get your own.

2. If it's broken or not working, either fix it or recycle it. It doesn't matter if it's a bicycle or a manuscript. If it doesn't work then it's not doing you any good. Replace that flat tire or rewrite that chapter. If it can't be fixed, then put it in the recycle bucket. The metal from a bike can be remade into steel cans, scenes from a novel can be reworked into a new book.

3. When you're done with it, put it where it belongs. If I allow you to use my stapler, return it to my office, to the spot on my desk where I keep it. Don't leave it in the laundry room. Same with tools, books, or quotes. The proper place for everything, and everything in its place.

4. If you broke it, you own it. Knock over a vase in a store and you own it. Break your word and you own the consequences. Be responsible and do the right thing- make good on whatever you broke.

5. Do what you're supposed to do. If your job is to take out the garbage, then do it. If you have to send revisions in by the end of the month, get it done. No excuses, no whining. Just. Do. It.

6. Pitch in. Everyone needs a hand sometimes- whether it's doing the dishes for your mom or a newbie writing that first book. If everyone gave a little back, there would be more happiness in the world-and my house.

7. It's not all about you. Everyone needs their time in the spotlight. Don't make it always about you or others will get tired of hearing you talk about you. Just give it a rest once in a while, sit in the background. The time off will give you a fresh perspective and an appreciation for relaxation.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Long and Twisting Road...

You write a book.
It gets published.
You get famous and make lots of money.

Well, not exactly.

Actually, no.

Let's skip talking about the millions of adoring fans throwing money at you for your latest epic for another time.

To become an author is like having a child. You decide to bring a work of art to life. You prepare (gather ideas, write the book). You get lots of nasty and/or painful tests- getting blood drawn, swallowing sickly sweet concoctions to see if you'll have high blood sugar, and we won't even talk about the internal exams. These are akin to looking at your manuscript and noticing the flaws and the holes, then having others critique it and they point out more problems. Just when you think you're done- there's another test (plot problem). 

Thankfully (hopefully) you get past all that and get to the point where you send it out to an agent or editor and you wait. And wait. It's like the last two weeks of your pregnancy- you want it over, but you're afraid. Will everything be all right? Will I wish I hadn't wished that blissful ignorance away?

Then comes a response. This agent/editor tells you, great, but not for us. False alarm (akin to fake contractions called Braxton-Hicks). Maybe it happens a number of times. Pretty soon you don't care anymore (or at least you tell yourself this) and you want it over. You want to return to a normal life. (Unless you walk away from writing- put that child up for adoption- 'normal' as you know it is gone.)

Finally! An editor/agent calls or emails and they want to deliver your 'baby!' But first... there are a few changes. Pages of changes. Painful, feel like they'll rip you apart changes. This is the revision letter. All you can do is dig deep and breathe as you 'labor' to get through them. Then you get a break. You're exhausted. 

But you know it's not over. It may have just begun, with still a long road ahead of many more revision letters (contractions). 

After one last push (revision) it's done. The editor/agent accepts it and you can sleep, rest, do other things.

Wait- before your baby can go out into the world, there needs to be more suffering- vaccination shots- (we call them editorial changes). Ouch. It's hard to watch someone hurt your baby, but it's got to be done. And then suddenly the baby is free to go out into the world (book debut!).

It's dangerous out there...mean people (reviewers) who say bad things. People, like kids at school, who don't like your baby and won't put them in the bookstore for various stupid reasons. Your baby may be alone, unnoticed. Not popular.

For a long time you deal with this, pieces of your heart broken because your beloved has to suffer.

So what do you do?

You decide you want another.... And it begins again...

Happy writing! (Happy parenthood too.)


(I'm in the painful delivery stage- breathing through another set of revisions. For #NaNoWriMos, this is generally the hardest stage... We'll do it together on National Novel Revision Month in February, so rest up and get ready!)