Expensive Cat

There's really not much going on in my writing world. Still working away on the Sarah stories (Now Would Be Good). I worked up a new synopsis of Sadie Speaks to send to my mentor in a few weeks. I'm also really frustrated—I applied to a postgraduate semester in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts—I was hoping to work with a well-known YA author on Ugly—but they're taking a long time to get back to me. I think it's a rejection, which means I should get started revising Ugly again, but since I don't know, I'm stuck waiting. I'm kind of disappointed, though. I felt pretty confident in my application. But whatever.

I'm also trying to decide if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year. If I do, I'll be working on my second romance. It isn't totally planned out yet, which means I'll need to spend some of October prepping it. I haven't done NaNo since 2017, when I wrote Ugly.

I'm going to be running a sale (99 cents) on my book for a week in November and featuring it on Bargain Booksy again, on November 10th. I'm hoping to get a few more sales than I did when it was still $4.99.

Now for a little rant. This guy:

Maddox biting computer
Maddox trying to bite my work computer

Is in big trouble. I have a Macbook Air that I bought in July of 2019, and about four weeks ago the screen died. I fortunately have Apple Care, because they counted the chipped glass from Maddox's bites as accidental damage, so it didn't qualify for repair under the warranty (even though the tech at the Genius Bar agreed with me that it was unlikely to have actually caused the damage). That was $100. Within 3 hours of getting the repaired computer back, this monster bit the corner again, chipping it. Then, last Wednesday, the screen abruptly died. So, either his biting really is causing the damage, or I'm just really unlucky (no, I'm definitely unlucky, either way). I have an appointment at the Genius Bar Thursday. I'm hoping Apple Care will apply again and it will only be $100 again.

Sigh.

Release Date

Finding Frances Book CoverSo, I finally got my release date for Finding Frances (!). It is:

Monday, February 3, 2020

I’d hoped it would come out before the end of this year so I could enter it in a contest through PNWA, but this is fine (I’ll have to wait until 2021 to enter it).

Other than that, there’s not much news. I’ve got my MFA residency coming up in January, and I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be my third semester.

I’m working on finishing up the Now Would Be Good collection about my character Sarah, which I’ve now decided is going to be a novel in parts rather than a short story collection. Each part will just have its own arc, in addition to the whole book having one.

My critique partner is almost through Sadie Speaks, so I may pick that one back up and revise it.

I’m still shopping Ugly around, without much luck. I’m a little irritated about that one—I’m not getting as many bites as I think I should. They all say they want something different (which this story is) but it seems like they really just want the same thing as always. Frustrating.

A Release Date Is Coming

I made the last edits I’ll make on Finding Frances and my editor sent it off for formatting. Once I get that back, I’ll approve it and then I think I’ll finally get a release date.

One of my critique partners did a full read of Ugly and gave me a few recommendations. I’ve implemented two of the three I plan to deal with before submitting to the agents and editors who requested it at PNWA and ECWC. Just need to do the last one…

Another critique partner is working her way through Sadie Speaks a few chapters at a time. That book needs quite a bit of revising, but she’s giving me some good guidelines for doing it.

I’m still working on the “Now Would Be Good” story collection that I’m going to submit for my MFA thesis. My critique group is going through the last story I’ve written. I need to plan out the next (last) story, or maybe the last two if necessary—I can’t decide.

That’s pretty much what’s going on right now.

Shiny New Idea

I’m supposed to be working on my new YA book Ugly (plus the other one that’s under a pen name), but ask me if I’m doing either of these things.

Nope, I’m not. I mentioned being stuck a few weeks ago, and I sort of still am. But I replotted the pen name book and just need to get back to Ugly, but instead I’m working on some short stories. It’s the Shiny New Idea.

As I’ve mentioned, I wrote one called “Now Would Be Good” that’s about a girl in her junior year of high school. But now I want to do a whole series about her and I spent most of last Sunday at Starbucks with a friend plotting five other stories out. One’s about her in ninth grade and the others follow her from junior year through right before she goes to college. I’m pretty excited about these stories because I really like the premise of each of them. And they will naturally tie together.

I’m going to self-publish the collection. No one will buy it, but once I have a book published traditionally, there will already be another book for people who liked that one to buy. That’s the plan, anyway.

Speaking of traditional publishing, I haven’t had any more movement on Finding Frances. I do have several people at work reading it, which is a little weird. Hopefully they don’t hate it. Since they wanted to read it electronically, I designed a cover to go with it:

 

Finding Frances cover

So many people have read this book. I look at the acknowledgments section of other novels, and authors thank their one critique group and a handful of beta readers (if that many). I’ll never be able to thank everyone who’s helped along the way.

Sadie Speaks is still idle at the moment, too. I just don’t know what to do with that one. It’s difficult.

A couple weeks ago, I submitted “Now Would Be Good” to Cicada magazine. I recently found out that they’re going electronic only. I still prefer paper, but I don’t know any other markets for YA short fiction. So now that story’s out for a contest and a magazine. We’ll see what happens.

Stuck

I’ve been trying to write lately with very little success. I went to a writing workshop with Mary Buckham last Saturday, which was great, but I haven’t done any real writing. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I have distracted myself with other work, namely painting my kitchen cabinets. They do look good, though I did have a tiny bit of trouble rehanging them with the new hinges I got. I have to make a few adjustments with my recently-purchased Dremel and a sanding block. I forgot to take before pictures, but I found an old one from when I moved in.

Kitchen Cabinets Before
Before

Kitchen Cabinets After
After

Much better, eh?

Anyway, it’s not helping me get any writing done. I’m (theoretically) working on two books right now: my third YA, entitled Ugly, and one other I’m writing under a pen name. I’m stuck on both. My writing group met yesterday morning and gave me feedback on Chapter 4 of Ugly, so that’s progress, but I should actually be going through my complete draft for my second pass because I’ve replotted some things and need to add a lot of details. The other book has also been significantly replotted and there is quite a bit to do on it (even more replotting, too).

I have sent Finding Frances out to a few more agents, but I haven’t heard anything back except a No or two. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I should take the hint or keep trying. But I guess I’ll keep submitting because otherwise I would probably get depressed. It’s strange that the constant refrain of “No” doesn’t depress me, but I suppose I have the illusion of eventual success.

I haven’t even looked at Sadie Speaks in months. I’m still not sure what to do with that one. It’s like my group said yesterday as we wallowed in self-pity—writing is hard.

Writing Update

It’s been a little while since I bored you with an update about what’s going on with my writing.

I’m working away on the third book, whose working title is Ugly. This is the 80,000-word novel I wrote in 28 days in November for NaNoWriMo. I’m taking it through my writing group chapter by chapter and met with them yesterday to go over Chapter 3. I like it and feel like it’s going to end up being a pretty solid book, though it’s going to take a lot of work. The first draft is pretty rough, though there is definitely some good stuff in there.

Sadie Speaks is still currently being neglected as I don’t know what to do with it. It needs major work, but it feels like I need somebody else to tell me what to do with it. A couple of freelance editors have seen it, but they didn’t quite share my editorial vision so I didn’t really agree with their suggestions. So I’m going to have to figure it out on my own.

Finding Frances is still getting nowhere with agents and editors. It’s currently with one of each, but I pinged them both Monday because they’ve had it for 3 months. The editor got back to me to say she had received it and would only contact me if she was interested in more. The agent never responded. So I’m not exactly holding my breath on either of those. I’m pretty worn out with querying it and am not sure I’m going to summon the energy to try again.

In related news, I decided to do an MFA (Master of Fine Arts). I got accepted to both of the ones I applied to, but I decided to go with Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA and its concentration in Young Adult Fiction. I’m pretty excited about this. It starts in July. It’s a low-residency model, which means twice a year I have to go there for an intensive 10-day residency, where there are craft talks, I’ll meet with my faculty mentor for the semester, and I can mingle with other students. Then for the rest of the semester, I’ll send packets of writing in to my mentor, who will send back feedback. I also have to read a lot of books, as some of the writing is critical annotations of genre books or responses to craft books. I have to attend a residency before each of my four semesters and then go to the one immediately after my last semester to wrap things up.

Finally, in unrelated news, I started a new job at work. I’m no longer a software developer and am now a data scientist (my actual job title is Analytics Analyst, which is hilarious, and not deeply meaningful). I will leave you with a picture of my favorite parking space at work:

Parking space blocked by post

Upcoming Conference

Starting this Thursday, I’m going to be at a writers* conference, run by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. It’s 3.5 intense days of talking to writers, learning about writing, and learning about the business of writing. I’ve been the last two years, as well, and this time I’m staying at the hotel, which is expensive but saves me the hassle of the hour on the road every day, a drive which is especially frustrating because said day runs early morning to 9:00 or 10:00 at night.

I managed to get two pitch sessions. At PNWA, the sessions are kind of a mad house, quite different from ones I’ve done at other conferences. Here, you are in a room with 150 other people for an hour. Agents and editors sit behind a line of tables at the back of the room. And you line up in front of the one you want to pitch next, get four minutes with them when it’s your turn, and move on to the next line. Depending on the popularity of the people you want to pitch, you usually get two to four pitches done. It all sounds a little intimidating, but I actually have found it’s not. Most of the agents are nice, even if they say no. Still, it’s helpful to have a pitch semi-memorized so you don’t have to read off something. I’m meeting with a friend this evening to practice.

However, I have a dilemma. I can’t decide what to pitch. I feel like I should wait on feedback from the other people on Finding Frances before querying/pitching anyone else. Maybe I’ll get more feedback. I ended up sending the revised manuscript to the agent who said she’d take a second look. (Though the more time passes, the more I’m thinking I should have figured out more things to change…). I was originally planning to pitch Sadie Speaks, however, I just sent that to a freelance developmental editor and she came back with recommendations that I change almost everything. Now, I’m not going to, but many of her points do require some serious reworking. The other option is to pitch a romance I’m writing under my pen name, but I’m only halfway done with the third draft on that one, and that won’t be the final draft, for sure. One thing that is also different about this pitching is that they don’t have a rule that you have to have the manuscript ready to send—you can wait weeks or months to send it. So I could do either.

So, quandary. I guess I’ll prepare two pitches and practice them with my friend tonight and fly by the seat of my pants on Friday, pitch day.

 

* Okay, I admit I never know if that should be “writers’”, “writers”, or even “writer’s.” It drives me crazy, the not knowing.

Progress

I’ve made a little more progress in making my house look like a real house. I finished painting last weekend and then manually extracted each stupid carpet-pad staple from the subfloor. I got about 75% of the drywall compound off the floor by mopping it earlier in the week, making a bucket full of drywall mud in the process. I primed the floor in two coats so now it’s solid white (well, it’s two different whites because I had to use the two different primers, but still). At least it’s not subfloor-colored with various colors of paint and plaster all over it. I mean, it looks ridiculous, but if you use your imagination, you can sort of see a great room in there. (I don’t mean a “great” “room”, but a “great room”.)

Painted floor

Friday I got my Ikea furniture delivered—in 12 boxes. Sigh. I spent most of yesterday alternating between painting the floor and putting the furniture together.

Dining Room Chairs

Before
Before

After - completed chairs
After

Yay! Marvin only left his paw prints on some of them.

Dining Room Table

Before
Before

After - table in boxes
After

Spiffy Red Sofa

Before
Before

After - sofa boxes
After

Okay, so I wasn’t 100% successful. You try it. It will be so nice when it’s really all together. I have a couple of rugs to put down once the floor is more properly dry, and then I’m hoping the electrician will finally come and finish all that work up (I still have no heaters and have an ancient chandelier), and then I really will get the rest of the furniture put together. I can’t wait.

Old chandelier
Old Chandelier

Lights in box
New Chandelier and Hall Lights

Really, it can happen. I’m convinced.

Oh, and on top of that, my last class finished a couple weeks ago so I’ve finally been able to get back to my writing, like I should. I’m working on getting Sadie Speaks ready to query at the PNWA conference in mid-July, so that’s a lot of work, but it will be good to start getting that one out there.