Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best for Last...

Friends... its almost that time again, the end of the year... woot, woot!! In just a bit, my 2011 book count will be erased and 2012 will begin anew!! YAY!! New books! New books! 

At some point, I have big plans to do a blog post on my absolute favorite reads of 2011, but tonight is not that night. Tonight, I have to give a big heads up and a whoppin' WHOOO RAW!! to my very dear blogging buddy, Barbara Kloss, for her FABULOUS book, Gaia's Secret.

I'm ashamed to say that this took me MUCH longer to read than it should have. Since getting my new job, I've been flying through audio books (ask me how much I love my commute to work)... BUT, my physical reading is put-putting at a sloooooow crawl. Unfortunately, this means that--try as I might--I couldn't read Barb's book as fast as I wanted. 

I decided, though, that I would absolutely NOT let the holidays pass without finishing it... and I DID IT!! 

Pshaw. Not like it was hard. 

I absolutely FLEW through the last half of the book, and finished it tonight!!

Which is, you know, is actually kind of fitting, since its December 30th, and Gaia's Secret will end my 2011 reading in a smashing finish. I saved one of the best for last! (Even if unintentionally!)

Here's the summary that I nabbed from Barb's blog (cause, lets be honest, I suck at writing my own synopsisessss):

Eighteen-year old Daria Jones feels trapped in the cow-strewn suburbs of Fresno, California. And with a dad so overprotective he’s installed video and thermal surveillance down the street, she doesn’t get out much. Until the night he disappears. Following the trail of notes he left, Daria gathers three things: someone’s after her, her dad’s gone to another world on a cryptic mission, and the only one left to trust is her ex-best friend, Alex.

After a heart-wrenching break and three years of silence, Alex is the last person she wants to see. But the more she learns about her dad’s absence, the more she realizes she must go to that other world to find him. Even if it means trusting the guy she hates. She agrees to follow Alex through the nearest of seven portals—the heart of Yosemite National Park. But finding her dad in a strange world isn’t easy with a brigade of dark sorcerers chasing her trail.

Amidst a world of diabolical creatures, ancient magic, and bizarrely intuitive vegetation, Daria discovers the truth of her past. But unless she conquers the dark force that’s hunting her, Daria will never see her dad again. And if the dark force gets its way, the world as she knows it will never be the same.

I absolutely loved everything about this book! Especially dear, feisty Daria! Oh how I adore strong female characters! And the love angst with Alex? Oh yeah, SO lookin' forward to the sequel there! Barbara captured the essence of Gaia's magical world with ease, while her smart, quirky, fun and dashingly handsome (ahemALEXahem!) characters leave you enraptured for more! 

You can buy Gaia's Secret on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Do yourself a favor... click on one of the links and get 'er read! You won't regret it. And don't forget to check out Barbara's blog too--she's fantastic! WAY TO GO, GIRLY!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night before Christmas...

... when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, dear readers!!

So grateful for this time of year to be with friends and family, and to celebrate the birth of our Savior. May you all have lots of holiday cheer celebrating your respective holidays! Eat (pastries), drink (egg nog) and be MERRY during this festive season!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lollipop Rejects

In response to my wo-is-me-ing, in my last Insecure Writer's post, my oh-so-fabulous blogging buddy, Mandi, sent me a fantastic article from Writer's Digest. The article was SO freakin' fantastic, that I decided to post the whole thing, verbatim [please don't get your panties in a bunch about copyright, Writer's Digest! I shall tag the link too!] Hopefully, you other struggling, REJECTED, an yet totally AWESOME writers out there will find the same inspiration from the article's amazing-ness that I did!

By, Sue Fliess

I have the somewhat daunting task of organizing the lollipop fundraiser at my children’s school walkathon this year. You could say I represent the Lollipop Guild. So I call the local candy factory and inquire about how I can get my hands on 300 or so lollipops.
My business mind kicks into gear: Can I buy them wholesale? Do I get a discount if I pick them up? A perky woman on the other end of the phone informs me in a singsong voice that buying wholesale is “still pretty expensive.” But it turns out she’s the owner, having inherited the family business, and she kindly offers some insider advice: “Call me the morning you’re ready to make a trip to the factory, and I’ll set aside the day’s rejects for you.”
Yes, she calls them rejects.
Red flag! Are these lollipops unrecognizable as lollipops? Will I be the laughing stock of the Parent Teacher Association? Worried, I ask her, “What’s wrong with them?  Are they misshapen and damaged?” Clearly, there must be some reason these lollies didn’t make the final cut.
“Not at all,” she assures me. “They’re actually perfectly good lollipops. All of them are very pretty and taste great. We reject them for a variety of reasons.”
My heart skips three beats and my hairline tingles with sweat. I’m having post-traumatic rejection disorder as my mind flings me sideways into my writing world. I’m reliving the opening of letter after letter from editors who gingerly (or not so gingerly) explained why my story didn’t make the cut: “We decline manuscripts for a variety of reasons; we’re sorry, but this one just wasn’t right for us.”
Whatever the reason, rejection is rejection. “REJECTED” may not be stamped on the letter, but that’s the only word I see.
Returning my attention to the call, I realize the woman is telling me that some lollipops are too big, too small, too thin or too thick. Some come off the line with insufficient swirls, lackluster colors or slightly skewed designs. Some are too long while others are too short. The list goes on and on.
Overcome with a magnanimity that surprises even me, I proclaim, “I will save your rejects!” And I vow to take these lollipops and give them a home.
My first book was rejected 24 times. My story may not have been too fat or too long, but I heard other reasons, including, but certainly not limited to: too slight; too sweet, not enough guts; we just bought a book like yours. The colors were skewed. It lacked swirl and sparkle. In essence, my story wasn’t right for their palates.
I’d pored over those letters, some personalized, some form, some not even getting the title of my story correct, as if some kind of manuscript rejection wizard might leap from the paper and tell me what I’d been doing wrong, reveal the key to publication. To vent my frustration, I’d punished the letters—sending them straight to the three-hole puncher without dessert, and burying them in my not-so-thin Manuscript Rejection Binder (for which my spouse nearly had me committed).
But the binder had come to serve a deeper purpose. Eventually, instead of clicking my sequined heels together and wishing for home, I decided to view these rejections as poppies in the field, slowing me down but for a brief moment before waking me up and kicking my sorry behind back onto the path. No wizard appeared, but the rejections spoke to me in a way. They gave me the nerve to keep going. And I believed in my story. Even though I may have thought it was perfect the way it was, I sat down and made it better. I continued to submit that manuscript, determined to reach the Oz of the writing world: publication.
Thinking back to that binder makes me even more curious about the rejected lollies. The next morning, I call the factory and make the drive to the outskirts of San Jose to pick up my first batch of rejects. And are they ever glorious! Too long, too short, too swirly, too plain, too blasted with color, too void of color, too thick, too thin. I devour their random sparkle, their irregularity, their courage. I suck in their bravery. These lollies popped off the assembly line screaming, “I am different, and I am beautiful!”
I pay the young woman from the phone and she helps me carry more than 300 lollipops to my car. From the back of the factory, her mother smiles and waves to me. “Take good care of them,” she says. I nod. The kids at my boys’ school will love them.
The lollipops are amazing, each in its own way. Sweet, full of charm, and waiting to be opened by a child with a squeal of delight. They are all dazzling. And each one has a story to tell—they just needed someone to listen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Hate Your Stinkin' Guts

Its that time again.... Insecure Writer's Gang, here I am!

And--oh--am I SO all over the insecure thing or WHAT this month...

What happens when the agent you've just received a full ms request from,  declares after reading, that she does not like anything about your ms?

That was not a rhetorical question. 

I really WOULD like to know.

"Excited Julie" face
See, cause I just got sandblasted by this agent I was REALLY excited about the possibility of working with. Lets not even mention the fact that she was a totally like-minded individual that I'd probably be bosom buddies with in another life, and just go strait to the part where she asked for the whole freakin' thing after a COLD CONTACT EMAIL QUERY, THREE FULL CHAPTERS, AND A MEASLY TWO DAY WAIT!!!! I about died when I got her request. 

With happiness, that is. But then...


Not really, loser. Shoulda known it NEVER works out that easy. 

After another short wait, she contacts me back and--although VERY polite-- pretty much tells me she doesn't like anything about my book. Not my characters. Not my humor. Not my plot line. And not my third person writing style, which she called an "omnipotent narrator." 

Not that she wasn't nice about it, of course. In fact, I almost didn't even realize that she was telling me off, since she was so sugary-sweet-let-me-down-easy kind of nice. 

But then I got to reading... and reading... and REreading that rejection, and I done found out that she didn't really like ANY of it! 

"Sad Julie" face
Talk about crushed hopes and dreams. 

After drowning my sorrows in Diet Coke, taking my angst out on poor Hubbs, then seriously considering scrapping my ENTIRE ms and starting over from scratch (don't worry, my critique group talked me off the ledge), I started wondering if anything she said had merit. And if so, how do I tell?? When an important someone in the publishing industry tells you that some of your favorite (and major plot line) aspects of your book totally sucked.... what do you do?