Monday, December 21, 2009

On Hiatus...

Until after the New Year!!! Then I'll have LOTS to write about!! Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 18, 2009


Yes, I have PLANS. Because I am in the full swing of the Holidays, the writing just isn't happening. But I went over my GDRs yesterday (Goals, Dreams and Resolutions for those of you who wonder) and writing-related stuff was VERY high up on the list. Here's what I want to do:

1) Continue submitting my Fairy story to agents.

2) Polish and edit my YA Historical and Middle Grade Adventure stories. Have this done by May at the LATEST.

3) Submit THOSE stories to agents.

4) Basically, GET AN AGENT this year. But, also, I want an agent who is a good fit. So, I need to make my writing the best it can be.

5) Write early in the morning, and during Thing Four's naptime. This will give me 2 hours a day, for what I need to get accomplished.

I'm not going to be cynical about these goals. They are realistic.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Guess You Could Say...

Since I've been sick, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, the writing has suffered. Thus the blog has been...sporadic.

I need more hours in the day. Preferrably in the early morning, so I can hammer some edits out. I am really excited to get my edits finished, but the Holidays are sucking all my time and energy. That's what the bitter cold winter months of January, February and March are for. Staying indoors and spending time on Writing-related things. THAT'S when I'll get them edited and polished up. And after that, I'll start writing again.

Because I'm a major beotch when I can't!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Editing. Cause I'm Turning Into a Novelsitter...

So, I haven't done a lot of writing lately, per se. However, I have been doing some serious editing. The way I see it, I have three novels that I can polish up and stick out there on the query-go round, so, why would I write another, before the finished ones were made the best they could be?

That is my reasoning, at this point. I have one novel percolating, and I jot down notes when the mood strikes, but for the most part, I need to get the novels I have written edited, polished and perfected, and get them OUT there.

Doesn't make sense to write novels and sit on them, if you know what I mean!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Living on the Edge...

In a fit of craziness, I submitted a query to an agent yesterday. She just seemed like a good fit. I haven't submitted any queries since October. Not since my dream agent broke my heart and rejected me, AFTER requesting additional material.


Gotta get back into the saddle at some point, right? Besides, I wrote a pretty cool story, dang it, if I say so myself!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unfortunately, that day is NOT today. Or this month. I have had too much...well...crap happen to me. And I'm still going through it. One by one, I've had kids sick with H1N1, and pretty much ZERO writing has gotten accomplished.

I am not a failure. I really wanted to do NaNo, but sometimes, Life is more important. Or at least, it gets in the way, BIG TIME.

One day, I'll write again. For now, I must Nurse The Sick.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cold Feet.

I'm gettin' em. In a BIG way. Massive bock-bock-chicken-itis. NaNo is in three days, and I haven't had time to get ready for it. Because Halloween is rapidly approaching, and I'm stuck with...stuff going on. AND we had swine flu at our house.

Everyone seems healthy now, but we're not doing the homemade cookies this year (because I don't think all the people who knew we had swine flu would want cookies from us, ha ha) so that will be one less thing I have to do.

BUT, I was supposed to do massive research. And I find I've been researching other things. I'm getting pulled in another direction, which is exactly what happened to me last year. Right before NaNo, the story I was set to write faded away to the background, and FAIRIES became the hot topic in my brain.

I'm sticking with my original story. It has the most potential. It's weird and different from the stuff that's out there. THAT'S why I need to write it! To get it out of my system!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

NaNo Approacheth! Okay, that sounds weird when you say it out loud. Ahem.

ANYWAY...I am getting pumped! My whole "clean the house till it shines and organize everything" plan sort of got sidetracked by Swine Flu (not me, but my daughter) and SO FAR (Major fingers crossed here) she is the only one who has it. I'm hoping that she will be right as rain by Halloween. Tis' cold out there for a former sickie to be running around! She might have to pass out candy this year.

As far as getting ready for NaNo, my research time has been nil, too. I guess I'll have to just write and insert facts later, if I don't know them for sure. I certainly don't have the language down for 19th-century pickpockets living in England, so I am currently reading "Pickpockets, Beggars and Ratcatchers" by Kellow Chesney. I am muddling through it. Frankly, it sounds like a person with an infuriatingly large vocabulary (a.k.a. who is fond of being hard to understand) wrote their thesis paper on the subject of Victorian-era slums, and I'm having a hard time getting into it. Not exactly a smooth read. But I'm always up for a challenge. I was the weird kid in high school who LOVED reading The Iliad and Shakespeare and Jane Austen, where most of my peers were scratching their heads and asking me what it all meant. To me, it was all clear, to them, it sounded like a bunch of archaic mumbo-jumbo. (I believe one kid actually said that!)

So, I'm getting through this book, and I've printed up a lot of stuff online. But mostly, I get to make stuff up. Which is the BEST part. :-)

Five more days!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm Doing It.

I'm doing NaNo this year. I swore I wouldn't. Then I got the itch. And it full on became a rash.

50K here I come! I am psyched!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NaNo: A Kick in the Butt?

I'm in a writing funk lately. As I've proclaimed many a time before, I'm NOT a good balancer. If I do all the domestic stuff I'm supposed to do, I don't find time to write. When I'm "in the writing zone" the house is chaos and everything falls to the wayside.

Not a good thing. So, lately, since I still suck at juggling acts, I haven't been writing. Except in my head. Although last night I dusted off one of my stories I was gung ho about several years back. Like, about SEVEN years back. It's set in Victorian-era England, and it's like Oliver meets Harry Potter meets The Screwtape Letters. Okay, that sounds dumb, but it's close.

I have ZERO written on it, just a few paragraphs. But I have a whole filebox of research, and a plot outline. So, where is this all going?

NaNo. National Novel Writing Month. As in, in a couple of weeks. I could do it. I swore I wouldn't. But I need to get myself writing. I need a kick in the butt. Nothing like a good ol' challenge to get me going, eh?

I am considering it. I think I might NaNo this year, after all. I need to figure it out. And soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Would I Be A Traitor If...

...I got a Kindle?

I can see how other writers might shun e-reading devices, because it's been said the e-reader would usher in the age of "No More Paper Books" or something like that.

Folks, it's happening, whether we like it or not. And it's so much more...economical. Books take up space. Digital books...don't.

Hubby has been talking about a Kindle, and I'm going to get him one for Christmas. (There's method to my madness--he is interested in the e-reader Apple is supposedly coming out with soon, so when it does, he can get that one and the Kindle will be MINE, ha ha!)

My reasoning? I love to read, and I hate reading heavy hardbound books. Because I do like to buy them when they're first out, and those hardbound books can be cumbersome to handle. Not to mention they take up a lot of space. But a digital version, (which also COSTS less!) stored safely in my own "e-library" that I could read any time I want, and not have to search for it or worry about it attibuting to clutter or my sagging bookshelves...well...that seems worth it to me.

I've heard a lot of writers who are against the e-readers because they like the feel of a book in their hands. The smell of it. I like that too. Someday, when I get a book out there I'd like to have my own book in my hands, just to caress it and fondle it, you know?

Libraries are already almost obsolete. Because of Google and Bing and the Internet, libraries really are just places people go to "use the computers" or do things old school. Why would I drag myself to a library and spend time looking for books I might not even be able to check out (because they'd probably be reference) and copy notes down, when I can find out everything I need online, in the comfort of my own home?

So, since I'm rapidly going from "old school" to "complete digitilization," is that bad? I think my generation will feel guilt, but my kids' kids won't. They probably won't even know what a book is. So, no guilt, or lamentation over the "old school" ways.

Wow. Food for thought.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Painful Rejection.

I got the most painful rejection yet, on Friday night. It really REALLY hurt. This was my dream agent of dream agents. I queried her back in April. Because of her fabulousness, she took four months to respond to my query with a request for a partial, and then another two months to respond to that.

It was probably one of the nicest form rejections ever. But still a form rejection, and it HURT.

It was one of those "stop and make you reconsider your direction" rejections. To the person who queries and receives answers a lot, this is no big deal. But to me, who tends to get emotionally all my "eggs in one basket" despite what I know is smart, it IS a big deal.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Scratching the Writing Itch.

I am a writer. That's what I am. I love to write. I love to create something out of nothing, and listen to the characters come to life in my head. Love, love LOVE it.

So, why do I let my "other hats" get in the way? I've battled the "Put off Writing" demon for years. My excuse? I'm a busy mom with four kids who are in sports and other activities, and my life is dedicated to THEM, for now.

Those of you who know me, are probably rolling your eyes. "Here she goes again." But it's a battle I haven't quite won, yet. I have lovely writing friends who provide for themselves very nicely with their full-time writing. I have part-time writing/full-time mom friends who can empathize with me. I have friends who have given up on writing completely, succumbing to the demands of their responsibilites as mothers. All sorts.

I was so excited for school to start, because it meant uninterrupted writing time for me. Then suddenly my two-year old became obsessed with me, and decided he couldn't play on his own, without engaging me in some way--every few minutes. *lara pounds head on desk*

He misses his siblings. And I'm "it" as far as people. Unless we go somewhere or have a play date. So, I get it. But now I've gotten caught up in other things, and have been researching, but not writing.

I'm mad at myself. I know better. I know, I can FIND time to write, if I really want to. I need to figure out a plan. I don't like that itch that only writing can scratch.

I need to SCRATCH IT!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Latest Research Obsession

...but to what end? I'm still trying to figure that out.

For the last five years, on and off, I have been obsessed with Tudor England. The Tudor Monarchs, especially. I've gobbled up Philippa Gregory's novels, and ordered research book after research book online. I've found them in bookstores, too. I have two entire shelves devoted to sixteenth-century England, and I am compling TONS of information. My heroes are David Starkey, Alison Weir, and Antonia Fraser. I would give my left ear to have a peek at their accumulated research!

Why? I have no idea. I am just obsessed with history. Always have been. It was Edwardian history in college. Victorian and Tudor in my early married years. Book of Mormon and Medieval history a few years back, and now, I'm back to Tudor era. Even before Showtime's THE TUDORS aired (which I won't watch, because it is factually way off, and it annoys me). I love/hate the ELIZABETH movies too (with Cate Blanchett) because although they are fun, they are woefully incorrect in the fact department. (Robert Dudley wasn't even IN the second movie! WTHeck???)

I have been online gathering facts, gathering pictures, gathering everything I can. Yet I don't have story brewing. I have ZERO ideas. I just happen to want to educate myself about this time period in England's history. Yes, I am an anglophile (sad I'm not this obsessed with American history!) but I find it strange that after all this, I don't even have a glimmer of story idea.

Interesting. Which begs the question again: To what end???

Friday, September 25, 2009

Writing Doldrums

as in...I haven't been writing!!! I thought things would slow down when school started.

Um, no.

I haven't even been querying! I must get with the program!!!

I know, I'm rolling my eyes, too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Could This Be Mary Newman Drake???

For those who know me, they will know I am OBSESSED, with finding information about Mary Newman Drake, Francis Drake's first wife.
I'm naive. I'd like to think there is something out there about her, but alas, nothing has turned up. As historians before me have claimed. "Nothing is known about her." She has dates of marriage and death, and that's it. She was a nobody when she married Francis, and she died just shortly after he became a "somebody."

I've written a novel that has to do with Mary, and the possibility of lost Spanish gold...and where she might have hidden it. For research, I thought to myself "Okay, so, Nicholas Hilliard painted a miniature of Francis Drake in 1581 shortly after he was knighted and had become very rich, wouldn't Francis have wanted a miniature done of Mary, his then wife? If anything, to have with him when he went to sea?" Perhaps Hilliard painted it, but Mary was dead before Francis could claim it?
I went on a hunt: "Unknown Ladies" painted by Hilliard, circa 1580's. And I found this gem:

It could be her. The background has faded, but it is a similar color to the Francis Drake miniature. The lady is decked out in heavy finery (almost to the point of "over doing it") as perhaps the newly minted "Lady" Drake might have done? She's very pretty (as Mary was reputed to be) and it would be AWESOME if this was her.
No one knows. I'd like to think it IS her. I've put this picture in my ever-growing binder of Mary Newman research. I'll never tire of research. It's like going on a treasure hunt--in the comfort of your own home!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Agonizing Decision

After much thought, I've decided to skip Nano this year. I did it last year for the first time, and I loved the rush, the determination, and of course the elation of finishing successfully. In fact, I have the fruits of last year's NaNo on submission, currently.

Good times. But now, I've had to make a hard choice. I need to write the sequel to the story, and I've already written 20K on it. So, I wouldn't be completely honest if I started writing the story for NaNo. In fact, it would be cheating.

I loved my NaNo experience, and would do it again in a heartbeat, but at this point I need to get the sequel written, and that is my primary focus. So, I've given myself a December 1st deadline to get the story's bare bones written out, and that seems to be a good starting point.

Don't hate me because I'm not NaNoing!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The CARDINAL Sin of Querying...

Was googling my dream agent yesterday (I like to be educated) and I found a little tidbit from a blogger/fellow writer that made me cringe:

She posted her rejection letter, in its entirety, ON HER BLOG, with the names and everything!

Granted, it was a nice-ish rejection letter, but a form one. And I can bet this agent will not appreciate having such a thing posted ONLINE.

Quickest way to writing career suicide: posting your rejections for all to see, with names included. This poor writer is clearly young and clueless, but even *I* know something like that is a major no-no.

I even cringe when I read blogs where writers post about their agents--naming them and talking about them--unless they're doing some sort of feature, I think that info should be kept private--UNTIL you are published. But that's just me.

The wicked part of me will admit --seeing that rejection letter online DID give me some insight! (I know, I know--bad Lara!)

I find rejections, and the way agents handle them, interesting. (Well, the rejections are usually devastating, depending on the amount of emotional investment already had in said agent, but interesting all the same.)

Hopefully I won't rack up so many I have to start cataloging them...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Something is Wrong With Me...

or something is "right" as my friend Devon would probably say! Last night, I had the opportunity to participate in my guiltiest of pleasures--starting to watch my newly purchased set of "Gossip Girl" Season Two, and did I?


I felt the need to edit my story. Well, polish it up, rather. I do have a partial out on submission, after all. What if they request the full? It was great two months ago, the last time I looked at it. But now that I've got it with fresh eyes, I see some things that could be tightened up, and I've realized my middle is soft. No, not MY middle, but the STORY's middle. I have a good beginning and a great ending, and the middle is not so compelling in places.

So, I'm fixing that. And I did it last night. Because I'm all for my new motto: "Luck Favors the Prepared."


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

EDITING, Editing...

I've gotten excited about my Fairy story again. *grin* Well, frankly, I've been motivated to, but that's another story.

What is amazing to me, is how you can write a novel, and think it's pretty good, and once you've given it a few weeks or months and you go back to it, you suddenly think it's rubbish.

Complete rubbish. Suddenly things seem cheesey. Or silly. Or just plain awkward. And you need to edit, and rewrite, and tweeze and poke and cut and paste and...change it all.

I've had a published author tell me she wasn't "thrilled" with her book once it came out, she said there were still some things she'd change.

Makes sense. We, as writers, are not stagnant beings. We grow, we mature, we only get better at our craft. Of course we might cringe at some of our earlier writings. (Or in my case, earlier DRAFTS!)

So, I'm Editing. Edit Mode. Because everything is rubbish!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

It Never Rains...

...but it pours. Yeah. You know the old cliche.

I got TWO rejections yesterday, in my email inbox. Not one, but two. Boom, boom. I hear nothing for weeks, and then suddenly Thursday is apparently "Reject Lara day."


Oh well. I have three outstanding queries, but in about a month they will be "non-answers" which is equal to a rejection.

This is expected. Sure, I can make the excuse that we're in "tough economical times" and yadda yadda yadda, but the bottom line is, the rejections are starting to sound the same. "Your writing is lovely/confident/engaging but the PREMISE didn't draw me in/didn't make me enthusiastic/etc./etc/.

So, basically, it's telling me the storyline isn't that exciting. The premise is not "exciting" any of these agents.

Time to quit? Not yet. But the timing for this story may be off. Here's another cliche:

Only Time will tell!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writing Obsession

I get obsessed with topics a lot, as a writer. When I was young, it was Horror. Luckily for my tender young psyche, the "horror" fascination only lasted through the last Stephen King book I read, about age 18.

When I was in college, it was light Fantasy. Magic. Probably because I was stuck in the grind of school and work and I needed to "daydream" a little. In fact, I remember when my hubby and I were dating in college, I read him some of my stories. (He made fun of my names--"King Alfred" was "King Alfredo Sauce" and I ended up chasing him around the apartment--great fun!)

And since I've been married and a stay-home mom, obsessions have come and gone--sometimes more than once. LDS history. Archaeology. Tudor England. Edwardian England. Victorian England. (Yes, I'm a major Anglophile!) Fairies....etc. etc.

Now it seems, we're back to Tudor England. Namely, the 16th century. And Mary Newman. I've resurrected my quest for information on Mary Newman Drake (little-known first wife of Sir Francis).
I've recently learned of some new information about her, and discovered a source, and I've emailed him with hopes of an anecdote, or anything that might have been "passed down."

I discovered that one writer, Judith Saxton, has written an entire romance novel based on Mary Newman. The only available copy was a large print version on Amazon, but I snapped it up. I am interested to see what her "spin" on Mary is, because so little is known about her.

Obsessions are good, for me. They give me something to do, when I have moments to myself. Especially when I get good writing ideas from them!

I just hope I hear from my contact--it would be GREAT if he had something for me! Mary Newman info is practically my "Holy Grail" at this point!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I've been bad on the "Pen" blog. But I have good news. I've dusted off an old story, and I'm "revamping" it, from Third to First Person. Of course, this has presented a bit of a challenge, because my Protag is a 13-year old girl, but she's pretty smart, so I can get away with a bigger vocabulary.

But I've had to cut a LOT of stuff out, because it sounds like ME, and not her. Oh well.

Two Weeks. That's when I will have the kids back in school, and eight hours a day of only having a two year old. Who plays fantastically on his own in the playroom that adjoins my office. So, I will have WRITING time!!!

I am salivating, just thinking about it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Inspiration, for a writer, comes in many forms. For me, it was the angst of two rejections in one day, and I had some "reflective time." Granted, both were form rejections, and they were only over queries (no submitted material) but it still stinks that even the idea isn't grabbing them.

Oh well.

Anyway, I was thinking about how to proceed, and needing a little "encouragement" and I was prompted to dust off one of my stories and start working on it. It's complete, and I'm already 70% through writing the sequel to it, but I suddenly felt it needed to be in FIRST person, rather than third. Very tricky, because my protag is a thirteen-year old girl. Lucky for me, my eleven-year old acts about thirteen, and she hangs around a couple of thirteen-year olds, so I have the gist of what they're like. And my protag is a genius, so she can get away with a few big words here and there.

Trouble is, I fall into a big black hole when I write. Seriously. I sat down, started editing, and suddenly I'm getting a phone call from my daughter, wondering when I'm picking her up. I'd been at it a whole hour and a half and it had gone by like nothing! It felt like 15 minutes!


But now I have something to do while I'm waiting around for something to happen. That's always nice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If You Just Sit Yourself Down...

So, it's been bugging me that I can't remember what I was going to write about with my EMMA sequel. (See previous post.)

Last night I sat myself down, read through all my notes and research (took FOREVER) and started working on the synopsis (which handily, mentioned NOTHING about a "Lost City.")

I finally figured out what I was going to do, but I gave it a new spin. And I think I like where it will go.

All because I just sat myself down, and DID IT.


Monday, August 3, 2009


I'm frustrated. I started writing the sequel to my EMMA story a couple of years back, and sort of just "stopped" in the middle. (Writer's block.)

So, I pulled it up last night, and started reading, and really got into the story, and suddenly, I ended at a chapter called "The Lost City," and that was it.

Problem is, I can't remember why I titled the chapter like that, or the direction I was taking. What was I going to write about?

Very frustrating. For the life of me, I can't remember. Honestly. And it has been bugging me since last night.

Who knows what I was thinking in 2006? I certainly don't remember. I was a different person three years ago. I certainly hadn't outlined the story, or written a synopsis--I was "writing by the seat of my pants."

I guess for me, that's a bad idea. Because when I get blocked, and can't think of anything, and LEAVE the story for a while, I won't get the flow back. And in this case, I won't even remember where I was going with the story!

Highly Frustrating.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I guess the "Blogging about Writing" thing might be a little dry lately, because I'm not doing much writing. I have been pulling up my stuff and tweaking here and there, doing some edits, but the Creativity Bug has flown for now.

But I'm still blogging! That's a form of writing, for sure!

I expect to be back into the full swing of things starting Sept. 1st. Kids will be back in school, and I will be ready to rock!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No New Tale To Tell

Yes, I've been listening to Love and Rockets on my iPod. ANYWAY, it's the literal truth.

Plugging along, tweaking my outline for the sequel, wondering if Fairies are now officially overdone...the usual stuff.

I will admit summertime is not really a "sit down and write" time for me. I've finally figured that out. I mean, were I a writer who had a deadline, of course it could be, but summer is just a busier time for our family. Vacations, camps, sports classes, swimming, you name it. We want to be OUTSIDE, and enjoy the weather. (When it doesn't SUCK, as it has lately.)

During winter I am THE FOCUSED WRITER. Winter here is like being in Siberia. It never ends, and you just want to curl up in front of a roaring fire with cocoa. Perfect Writing Weather.

Am I crazy? Does anyone else feel this way?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Are Fairies the New Vampires?

I am beginning to think I'm a victim of bad timing.

I've written a story about Fairies. Well, more about other things, but Fairies are rampant in it. And I've noticed there is a large saturation of Fairy stories in the market right now.

So, have I missed the boat/bus/train/superjet? Am I a year too late in my story subject? I am worried that soon Fairies will be the new Vampires. As in, agents and editors will say "NO MORE FAIRIES!!!" just like they cried "No More Vampires" after Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga made vampire novels the genre du jour.

And now everyone has a fairy story.

Please say it ain't so...

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Your Mark...Get Set...

I've given myself a week to "recover" from vacation. Yes, you read that right. Next time you drive 28 hours straight, you tell me if you bounce back right away. :-)

ANYWAY, I am ready to go. I have started querying, and now it's time to get writing again. And what I need to write, is my sequel. I'm going to approach it the same way I did with NaNo. I'm just going to write out the bare bones, and get the story out, then go back and edit. I'm giving myself about two months to get the story out, and then I will spend probably a few months editing.

And if I get bored with it, I can work on my SOPHIE story and my EMMA story, interchangeably. Because I have ADD and will need to bounce around. ;-)

Although I may send out ONE more query, before I get started! I prefer the shotgun approach. The more queries you send out, the better your odds of getting a bite!

Or so I'm hoping.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Query-Go-Round

And I've started up, again! I really didn't get a chance to get into the querying process before vacation, now I'm back and ready to go. I found some really good agents and I've queried both of them. Still waiting for answers from two others. Wait times can KILL you, especially when you're prone to...impatience, like me...


In the meantime, I am working on the second book in my series. I have outlined it, and I think it's shaping up quite nicely. And I'm not going to waste my time worrying about my submissions because, after all, Life is the JOURNEY, not the destination, right?

Right. I would never check my email 975475 times a day/await the mail with sweaty palms/edit and re-edit my work while consuming copious amounts of stress food and freaking out.


I'm doomed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm BACK!!!

Back from a VERY long vacation, I might add. I am chomping at the bit, I tell you, to get back into the writing/querying-go-round part of my life.

I have a sequel to write. A few more queries to send off, and I need to update my query spreadsheet, as well.

I feel like part of my life has been put on hold. It's been about four weeks since I've written a word. STAGNANCY!!! Is that a word?

I bought a new Thesaurus during my regular grocery shop today. I am really rearing to go.

As soon as I get my house all perfect! (That means I start tomorrow!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's in the Details.

So, my daughter read my novel recently (she's currently reading Jenny Storm's DIXIE DUST RUMORS) and she had a lot of questions. Especially since I left a bunch of things unresolved so I could write a sequel.

While I was driving her home from basketball yesterday, we spent the whole time talking about my characters. She wanted to know why so-and-so did what he did, and how things would change in the next book. She is actually emotionally invested in my characters!

That's the best news a writer can get--especially from their own kid!

And I was making stuff up as she asked me, stuff that isn't necessarily in the book, but background details that make my characters who they are, and motivate them to do what they do. I have an entire notebook filled with backstory on my main villian, and the world my characters exist in.

It's a lot of fun. And it makes it SO much easier to write out the story!

Unfortunately, since I will be on the road for the next two weeks (starting next week) I won't be doing much writing at all.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

I reworked my query. I think it is infinitely better. I even got the stamp of approval from two of my writing friends I trust.

SO--what now? I am awaiting responses from four agents, but they are those "if you don't hear from me I'm not interested" variety, so I am thinking after two weeks (in one case, three) no news is bad news.

Time to move on.

I read an article sent to me by a friend that says a lot of agents are "sitting" on material because of the economy, or passing entirely on good stuff. A friend told me today she suspects they are sticking to formulas that work, and not taking risks or really looking at new ideas.

SAD. Then again, my fairy story isn't really THAT unique as far as the subject material. Just the idea. I hope.

If only I can get someone past the query! That is the key.

I'm not ready to give up, yet. It took me twenty-seven tries the first time!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some Days...In this Business...

You feel like this:

"Nuff said.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I HAVE to write.

A fellow writer posed this question on a writing forum I frequent: "Why do you write? Do you do it because you have to, or want to?"

I thought about that. Truth is, I am compelled to write. It's a great outlet for me, because things get awful crowded in this brain of mine, and getting them out onto paper (or into a computer) helps relieve the tension. I don't technically "have" to write, because my husband supports our family very well, but at the same time, I HAVE to write, because it's just my nature.

I get grumpy when I'm in a writing lull. Or if Life gets in the way (as it does sometimes) and since I'm not on a deadline, the writing suffers. Sometimes it gets ignored for weeks, or even months.

Not lately, of course. Ever since I decided to "get serious" about getting an agent again, I've been writing/editing pretty steadily. Ever since I completed my first NaNo last year. That's when my writing turned a corner.

Hubby still sees it as a "hobby." He's very supportive, but until I start making some money with it, he will only see it as such. I can't blame him. I have a full-time job at home, with four very busy kids, and a house that unfortunately, doesn't clean itself. And I'm not super awesome at balancing the writing and my stay-home duties. (insert sheepish grin, here)

But writing is just as much a part of me as, hair or my big toe. I need to do it. Even if I never get published, I'll always write. (Okay, that sounds really pathetic!) But I will.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Love to Shower.

So, I've been mucking out my basement storage rooms as of late, and I've been taking a lot of showers. Cobwebs stick, you know. And, yeah, when you're sticky, sweaty and dusty, you just need to shower.

ANYWAY, the shower is the perfect place to get "inspiration" I have found, several times over, because the mind is relaxed, you're doing mundane things like washing your hair, and thoughts take over.

Generally, Writing Thoughts take over, for me. I've thought of the BEST story ideas in the shower. Yesterday, while I was showering for the first time (I had two yesterday) it came to me: The entire plot of my sequel to the Fairy story on submission. I got out, dried off (good thing for my computer) and hurriedly typed five pages out. Single spaced.

I have an outline for the sequel. From start to finish. I just need to write it. I have already written 20K from the first book (that got chopped because it was too long) and I know how I'm going to lay everything out.

Just finding the time to do it. That's the tricky part. I will be taking my HP Mini with me to all the swim and tennis practices this summer. I'm giving myself a deadline of September First.

I am actually pretty excited! All because of a shower...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I admit it, I use a Thesaurus when I write. Especially if you're writing a 70K+ word YA novel. With a lot of dialogue. Mine tend to be dialogue heavy, and you can only use "asked" and "said" and "replied" so many times. You have to be tricky. You have to eliminate those words altogether, or think up something ELSE. And when you're writing a big long novel, sometimes you find yourself repeating words. Sometimes. And sometimes it's not a good thing, because sometimes people catch the overused word--sometimes they're forgiving, and sometimes, well, I think you get my drift. Sometimes. ;-)

Hence, the need for a Thesaurus. I rather like mine. It's tattered and dog eared has diet Coke-can stains on it, and I probably need to buy a new one, but it's my friend. Especially when I'm EDITING. I have a nifty trick (I'm sure all writers do this but I'm giving myself kudos for thinking of it all on my own) where, when I go through a manuscript, I highlight a certain word throughout the manuscript with the "FIND" option. (In my case, I love "WAS," "LOOKED," and "THAT.") And I find all the instances, and make changes. With my handy Thesaurus.

I have decided to switch gears, and let my SOPHIE story rest for a while. Since I have my Fairy story on submission, I might as well get going on the sequel. I already have a good chunk of it written, and I've outlined most of it. So, I should work on it while the characters are fresh in my head. I've been thinking about them lately, and they've been acting out scenes for me, especially when I'm laying in bed at night trying to SLEEP... (you gotta love that!)

But I need to get my durn basement storage cleaned out, first. THEN I'll work on them. I can write in my head in the meantime. And my laptop is right next door if I need to dash over and get something down before I forget it.

Better get going!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Forest for the Trees.

I've been researching a LOT of agents lately. I have little file folders about each one, on my pc, where I've copied and pasted all their pertinent information. Their submission guidelines. What they like to rep. Interviews on blogs and websites, etc. etc. So, when I go to query an agent, I have a little file of information I can use to draw on and fashion my query after (well, personalize and "tweak" anyway).

Yesterday, I stumbled on an agent I had written down, but not researched. The more I read about her, the more a big ol' lightbulb went off in my head: She's a great fit for your story!

The problem with that is, all I can do is query her, hopefully wow her, and cross my fingers/pray she is intrigued by my story. She is one of the agents who doesn't respond unless she's interested. (Frankly, those are brutal, because you have no idea how long "long enough" is before you give up on said agent, but some a**holes ruined it for us polite folk, so she doesn't respond with a rejection.)

ANYWAY, I am very excited about this one. She is AWESOME. I queried her last night, and I've got every finger and toe crossed. In the figurative sense. Literally, that would be quite uncomfortable.

Maybe you could cross a few fingers for me, too!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Out With the Old...

It's still Spring around here--the tulips and daffodils have gone the way of the Dodo, but my lilacs are still hanging in. Everything is still green and fresh, for now, until the summer heat kicks in.

And I'm working on a new project. It's actually an old project (I listened to my gut) but with all the changes I'm making, it's quite new. It's like in the old days, when they took a hat and ripped everything off of it and turned it inside out and stitched new stuff on it to have a new hat. That's pretty much what I'm doing with this story, that I wrote sixteen years ago. I'm making it timely, and current. And I'm having fun with it. And laughing at how melodramatic my writing was, back then. I was trying to write like Jane Austen, and NO ONE writes like her. Nope. No one. Silly me.

My good friend Devon pointed out that writers submitted TONS during the holiday weekend (I didn't, so I didn't assume everyone else did) and agents are currently machete-ing their way through their inboxes. Makes perfect sense. Only my submissions were the second week of May, so I'm hoping I'm a little closer to the top of the pile, if you get my drift. ;-)

In the meantime, I have this old hat to work on, and keep me occupied.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Too Quiet.

I haven't received anything lately. No rejections, no requests, NOTHING, but complete email and mailbox "silence," for a week, now. Crazy. It must be a busy time of year for agents or something. I'm the type of person who thinks hey, if it's going to be a rejection, just hurry up and REJECT ME, so I can move on, and not wonder, and not get my hopes up, thinking you're actually taking the time to read and discuss my query/sample chapters.


I'm an impatient little brat, I know.

Although requests for additional material are indeed welcome.


I especially like the "if you don't hear from me within six weeks/eight weeks/six months, you can assume I am not interested in your project" submission guidelines.

THOSE are the WORST.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Tale of a Story...

So, I have a story I wrote in college. I have a long, tawdry history with this particular novel. I first drafted it in 1993, and when I got married in 1996 I started to work on it again, because I was going to be a writer, dang it, and I was going to support us by selling a novel overnight and becoming famous and getting a HUGE advance, to put Hubby through Law School.

Heh heh. I know.

Well, I got an agent for the story fairly quickly, and her name was Melanie Mills. (Just Google her, I dare you--she was notorious and faked her own death, ran down her own mother with her car, etc. etc. etc. ETC.)

Believe it or not, she was only ever professional and super nice to me. Unfortunately, her M.O. was to have a major house interested in your story (in my case, Random House) and offer her (very expensive) services as an editor. I declined politely, and soon after, she "died." My hopes sort of died with her, because I never realized I was wasting my time and the novel wasn't getting subbed to any publishers at all. I was being conned. What a mess.

I rewrote the story, gave it a new title, and sat on it, for seven years.

Got excited about it again in 2002. After all, it was a good story, and it was my first. My baby, if you will. I started querying agents. Nope, not for them. Rejection after rejection. Finally, on my TWENTY SEVENTH try, I got a bite. With a real, honest to goodness agent, who himself, was pretty new to the agent business. He fell in love with my story against his will (his words--he doesn't like fantasy elements in stories) but he signed me and we began the submission process.

Eleven rejections later (and one REALLY close call where an editor raved about it and to our mutual surprise, did an about face a month later and rejected it, asking US if she was making a mistake) my enthusiasm waned. He wanted me to write more--only stories that didn't have magic or fantastical elements in them. I dragged my feet. I was overwhelmed with my three kids and so, eventually, we parted ways. Amicably of course, and I look at his website now, and he is a SUPER successful agent, and I am still grateful to him, but he doesn't like fantasy. We're not a good fit.

Now, five years later, I've pulled the story out of the proverbial "drawer" and dusted it off, and last night, I started reading. And tweaking. Then I began to get excited about it. *I* wrote this? It's a great story! (I'm also biased and super humble, I know!)

I changed the title. Changed the names of the three main characters. Grabbed a machete, and chopped and cut, then patched and sewed and now I have a story that I think is pretty darn good.

Problem is, NOW what the hell do I do with it???

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quiet...for now...

All is quiet on the query front for now. I haven't heard anything from anyone, and I have three queries out there as of this moment. I really want to wait to hear from them, JUST IN CASE, but part of me is urging to query one or two more--just for good measure.

And of course, I committed the most egregious of querying sins a few days ago, I realized I ACCIDENTALLY (as in UNWITTINGLY, I DIDN'T MEAN TO, etc.) queried two agents at the same agency! EEEK!

I screamed when I found out. Yes, screamed. Luckily Agent B rejected me, but I still haven't heard back from Agent A. Probably because Agent A was snail mail and Agent B takes e-queries.

So, I'm waiting for the rejection from Agent A, just because I didn't follow the rules. I could really smack myself! Agent A is my dream agent. Not a good impression.

I really am not very good at this process. But you have to start somewhere, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mea Culpa

It was bound to happen---is it me, or do agent's names start to sound alike after a while? They all seem to have traditional names, and if you're not REALLY careful with your agent research, you might end up querying simultaneous agents in the same agency (haven't done that yet, thank heaven) OR, the big boo-boo--querying someone who doesn't even represent the genre you write.

As was the case with me, and agent X yesterday. I got her name totally mixed up with another agent, and the rejection was polite and swift, but along the lines of "Uh, I'm not the right agent for this story, seeing as I don't rep Fantasy."

She didn't say it that way, she was a lot nicer, but I certainly got the point.

*Lara hits forehead* D'OH!!!

It was a waste of her time, and mine, and I could smack myself for being so careless.

ALSO, I am having the big problem of my opening chapter wasn't compelling enough. So I switched it with one that is pretty action-packed...AFTER I queried my dream agent with the first ten (boring) pages!!!

Yeah...waiting for it to get sent back to me in my SASE any day now...

Live and learn. The trouble is, you only have one shot with these people. You have to make it your BEST and really leave a good impression. Because once they've rejected you, unless you've written some other fabulous story, you're screwed.

I have three or four of them I've queried just as many times over the years, (with different stories, mind you) and I've noticed a couple of things: A) the response time, which might have been 24 hours years before, is now 6-8 WEEKS, possibly more. And B) I swear some of them deliberately prefer snail mail queries only because it might weed out all the "lazy" writers who only want to get the instant (or not so instant) gratification of an email query process, versus the old fashioned "watch for the mailperson with white knuckles" routine. And yes, shooting off an e-query is SCADS easier than printing it all off, stuffing it into an envelope, TRUCKING YOUR BUTT to a post office to get proper postage for your SASE, mailing it, etc.

I have the running spreadsheet in Excel I update. And I've discovered that I HATE querying, because no matter how many things I throw myself into, I find that this general feeling of "ants-in-the-pants" never goes away, no matter what. It's like a toothache, festering in my brain, making me run to the mailbox (or stand by it as the mailtruck comes) and check my email 36759363857 times a day.

Querying sucks. But it's a necessary evil! Therefore I embrace the Antsiness...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I have a story out on submission. I got my first official "Not-Right-For-My-List" rejection yesterday morning. Boo. I was saddened, but hey, it's part of the process.

Hubby's reaction to the rejection surprised me.

"You should resubmit that GARDEN story you got the agent with. You know. It's been five years since you had it out on submission. They probably won't remember it. It's the best work you've ever done."

I wasn't sure if that was a compliment--Hubby seems to think that I would have a better chance if I resurrected a story that was rejected TWELVE times by publishers (although one editor loved it and we came thisclose to a sale--only to have it fall short). Granted, the last rejection was in 2005, but as one blogging agent wrote in his blog--"What worked in 2005 would not necessarily work in 2009."

I would have to dig it out of my archived files (I seriously haven't looked at it since 2007) and see if it's worth saving.

But is it even worth the effort of trying? I certainly haven't given up on my Fairy story, but what about dusting it off?

That is my dilemma. Do I try and put it out there again? Would editors remember?


Monday, May 18, 2009

And....We're OFF!!!

Now that my story is marinating and out on submission, I need to find another project. I have the rewrite of one novel pulling at me something fierce...but I also need to work on the sequel to the project on submission. I won't lie, I'm wishy washy. I love my story and my characters, but I'm "kinda still sick" of editing them.

So, I think I will pay some attention to the project that's "pulling" and give it some love. If I get interest (as in AGENT interest) in the other one, then I'll go back to work on the sequel. I still have to write a synopsis. I think I'll tackle that first, and THEN work on my EMMA rewrite.

I have EMMA written in third-person. I think it will be much more snappy if I make it in 1st person--Emma's POV, because, frankly, she's a hoot, and the stuff in her head needs to be shared with the reader. :-)

I am UPTIGHT and WAITING on the query-go-round right now, but I think this is just what the doctor ordered. DIVERSION.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Query Cold Sweats

You know how you hit "send" on the computer, and send your query to a dream agent?

Yeah. Did that twice yesterday.

I felt the need to throw up, and curl into a ball all at once, because yes, I'm not embarrassed to admit it, I have high hopes for this story!

So, I have THREE queries out there. It may be months before I hear back. So, I sit, and I wait. Because three queries is my limit for now. I want to hear from at least two of them before I query more. Because the more you query, the less chance you have of giving an agent an exclusive look at your material, should they request it, and frankly, I am old school. I think it's tacky to SAY you're giving it to them exclusively, when it's not the case. A big No No in my book. But that's just me.

Heh heh, clearly I haven't run into the "exclusive dilemma" yet. ;-)

Here's to some hopefully good news one day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen, I am IN THE ZONE with my edits right now. I am nearly finished, and OF COURSE Life is piling up activities and things to take me away from it.


(Okay, I've been reading that "Pirates Don't Change Diapers" book too much to my two-year old. ARRGH!)

I edited heavily last night, and when I went to bed, I still had a scene running through my head. Hubby laughed when I jumped out of bed to look for a pen, and write some key things down. I can't help it! I wanted to stay up, but I NEED my rest. It was past 11 pm.

It's SO Murphy's Law. When nothing's going on, you don't want to write/edit. When you have a zillion things going on, the writing pulls you. At least, that's what's happening to me.

Extremely frustrating.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Black Hole of Editland...

That sounds like a great story title! ;-)

Except it's the literal truth. I get sucked into a "black hole" when I edit. I'm reading and tweaking at the same time, and I block out noise, kids, everything. It's a gift, really. I can block out pretty much anything. Much to the chagrin of my kids...

I accomplished quite a bit yesterday. On the Writing front, that is. Not so great on the domestic front. That's where I need to learn to balance. I am horrible at it. If I go all domestic, the writing suffers. If I write, the family/home/responsibilities suffer. Because I don't do stuff halfway. I focus on one thing wholly, and everything else falls to the wayside.

It's a glitch, I know. I need to figure out how to BALANCE my responsibilities.

My husband said something to me that really resonated with me the other day. He was encouraging me in my story, and he said "I think it's great that you are doing it. You obviously like to do it, and it brings you satisfaction. I think it's a great hobby for you to have."

I guess the word "hobby" sort of got me--I'd rather it be a career, one day. Although pitiful amounts of writers really ever do make writing their career. I can't remember the percentage, but it's low. A lot of writers write as a "hobby," just like me. They don't quit their day jobs.

I know writers who write for a living. Most of the writers I know, however, work for a living and write on the side. It's a tough business. Unless you have the time and stamina to devote to it, (and the SUCCESS, which is a whole other can of worms) you will always be a "Hobby" writer.

Getting ready to enter the black hole, now. Perhaps...someday, things will change?

Monday, May 11, 2009

"A Good Writer Writes Makes Time to Write Every Day."

That's the best advice I got in college. All my courses seem to blur together, but my one Journalism class I took--I remember the first day, the professor told us we were WRITERS. And a good writer finds time EVERY day, to write.

That really stuck with me. So, in the spirit of attempting to be a good writer (and since it's good practice) I have attempted to write, every day. Whether it's a journal, a blog, a wip, as long as I devote some time each day to writing, it's all good.

What I love about Writing, is it's not a stagnant thing. Writing grows, it matures, it only gets better with age and practice. Every writer knows this, because every writer at one time or another has pulled out a piece they wrote in their earlier years (in some cases MONTHS) and read through it and cringe.

Did I really write this? It's awful! Or at least, it's not as "good" as what I write now!

We are sponges. We absorb what we read, see, hear, and we implement it in our writing. One good book can change our whole perspective. We are sentient beings. Times ten!

I only feel accomplished each day, if I write something. And that's the honest truth. I really feel it, when I don't.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Welcome to the Waiting Game!

It's been a Loooong time since I've been out on submission. Years, actually. Now that I am querying, all the old memories (most of which I've blocked from my psyche) have come flooding back like elephants riding a tank on rough boulders through my tender brain. Unwelcome memories.

My husband has been very encouraging. He's always been my #2 fan (the #1 spot belongs to my mom!) and although he doesn't "get" the masochistic aspect of querying, he's excited for me to "put myself out there."

I've realized (with help from writing buddies I've lamented to) that the key to NOT going starkers while waiting for a reply from a potential agent--is to immerse myself in another project, or other things.

I try. I really do. But there's that little voice at the back of my brain, which I call a Doubt Demon, who sometimes acts very naughty. Sometimes he likes to stand RIGHT in the front, on the rooftop of my brain and scream YOU HAVEN'T HEARD FROM (DREAM AGENT) YET! HE/SHE MUST HATE IT! YOU WRITE RUBBISH! HE/SHE IS READING YOUR SAMPLE WORK AND THROWING UP IN HIS/HER MOUTH RIGHT NOW! WHY DO YOU EVEN TRY? GO EAT AN ENTIRE BAG OF HERSHEY'S KISSES!

Yeah, that little voice is naughty. So, I have to call on the other voice, (a.k.a the voice or REASON) to occasionally knock him over the head with a frying pan and drag him back to the back of my mind, where he belongs. Silly little Doubt Demon.

Lucky for me, he's keeping pretty quiet right now, because he knows just as well as I, that any query I send out is sitting in a slush pile somewhere, and it takes time.

Of course I read the other day that this agent can respond anywhere from 8 days to 4 months, so my little Doubt Demon will probably start to get "antsy" in about two weeks.

*sigh* Gotta love the Waiting Game.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Novel Burn Out?

This is a phenomenon I'm experiencing lately. Is it possible to completely "burn out" on a project? You get to a point where you know you have to look at it, but you'd rather stick a pin through your eye?
Okay, perhaps that was a bit severe, but I am thinking it IS possible. I have a story I've written, and I thought the first draft was...Okay.

Second draft--MUCH BETTER.

Third draft...PERFECTION! Hurrah! I'd written a fabulous story!

Then I sent it to a handful of trusted readers.

I'm currently on the SIXTH draft, and I think I'd rather change poopy diapers or clean toilets before I sit down and pull it up again. I'm sick of it. I'm too close to it.

So, the next question becomes, how long do I give it, before I look at it again? Because it must be looked at. I'm thisclose to being finished--and it is a "worth it" story, in my humble opinion.

Tick tock, tick tock...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


MAN what is up with me lately? I've been slower than a slug with a heart condition on my editing. That's what happens when I write an entire novel in 30 days. I have to EDIT it for six months. When I take six months to write a novel, 30 days of editing are usually sufficient.

Funny how that works. But it makes sense.

I've got one submission out, and I'm editing said submission. Once I've finished it, I need to get started on the sequel, which is 25% written. I'm getting a pull from a different story, but I need to focus on my Evil Fairies for now.

So, I was reading the most excellent Nathan Bransford's blog the other day, and read how he hates rhetorical questions in his queries. Oooops. I have not one, not two, but THREE fabulous rhetorical questions in my opening paragraph of my query.

Here I was, thinking it was such a cute hook. Actually, I haven't gotten any critiques to the contrary, but who knows. Some agents might like (or at least not MIND) rhetorical questions as openers. My sub out there isn't to Nathan Bransford (he doesn't rep what I write) but it sure made me think.

I've also realized that these agents who blog are invaluable. They flat out TELL YOU what they like and don't like. How to do certain things. That's advice worth something.

But I still like my rhetorical questions! Let me know what you think:

Dear (Super Fantastic Dream Agent),

As Humans, we’ve all heard of Fairies. They’re magical, sweet, and grant wishes, right? What if Fairies were actually…bad? What if everything we’ve been told about them is a lie?

Yeah, boom boom boom. I sort of lay them right out there, don't I? ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Time For a Change!

I'm not new to this business. Rather, I'm "new" as in I'm unpublished, but I'm not new to the "Acquiring-An-Agent-And-Trying-To-Sell-A-Manuscript" thing. I had a fantastic agent a few years ago, but we parted ways because I wasn't serious enough about the Writing business. (*insert where Lara kicks herself in the head*)

I had written a story, yes, but I wasn't willing to write others. I let other stuff get in the way. So, I'll admit, it was my fault we parted ways. He was super nice about it, and at the time, I was ready to be done with writing for a while... but the itch to write wouldn't let me go.

Over the last few years, I have written. And written some more. And now I'm ready to stop sitting on my (work) and try for an agent again!

I just sent my first (snail mail) query to the top agent on my list. It's probably sitting in her query slush pile right now. Hopefully, her assistant or under assistant or whoever she has reading them will like my idea. I guess we'll see!