Thirty-eight soooo great

So in 2009, before my sister died and my life changed forever, I had a livejournal, and I tried to post there regularly. Sometimes I did well, sometimes not. One thing I tried doing was 100 journal topics that I found on this old angelfire site.

I did all right posting those. And then my sister died. And then I kind of stopped doing anything for a while. I tried to resurrect the 100 in 2010. Then, when I was getting this website going and really getting things happening with my big superfun wannabe author career, I did them again.

And now I want to get back into this blogging thing, I think, so get the creativity flowing again or whatever, and so I’m going to give it another try. Because I can’t just post about my regular life or where my mind is lately. Because it’s just too freaky deaky and I’m not ready to just blare that all over the place.

So. Presenting number 38 in the 100 Journal Topics project.

38. Did you ever know someone who had “everything?”

No. Ha ha, done.

Seriously, though. I don’t really think so. I mean, surely I had some jealousies about things other people had when I was younger, but I never really thought someone had everything. Oh sure, my neighbors to the north had HBO, back when it was actually called Home Box Office and was its own separate thing, not part of a cable package…and my neighbor to the south had horses, and a three wheeler, and a pool, but we had a pool too. And we had our ponies. And I had a sweet fort thing in the middle of a stand of mulberry trees, and like two hundred My Little Ponies, and the coolest swingset known to man. I didn’t have a treehouse, and that grieved me, but I still had it all right.

In high school, I had a car. Not the best car or the newest car, but I had a car. So again, yeah. I had it all right. Not the richest kid in school but not the poorest either. Not by a long shot. I had friends, I had reasonably cool clothes, I had parents who were pretty understanding and lenient. Things were all right.

You guys, this is basically what my car looked like and it was so big and old and flippin' sweet and I'm still a little peeved that my sister wrecked it. Its name was Tiger and it was such a good car. <3

You guys, this is basically what my car looked like and it was so big and old and flippin’ sweet and I’m still a little peeved that my sister wrecked it. Its name was Tiger and it was such a good car. <3


But I’ve always been like that. I’ve always been basically satisfied. Sure, there’s better stuff, and that would be nice, but at least I’m not starving or homeless or whatever. I’m a long way from that life.

Nowadays, I suppose I could look to my writing friends and look at what others have. Sometimes I do; I’m not gonna lie. But I still think that if I’m patient and cool, my time will come. It’s kind of fun enjoying my friends’ successes anyway. Like my friend Kim…her amazing book is coming out this month and I’m so excited for her! Yes, it’d be cool if I’d gotten there too already…but I also believe that all things happen for a reason, and there is divine timing. If I haven’t gotten published yet, it’s just because the time isn’t right. And that’s okay. I just have to keep trying so I’ll be ready when the time is right.

Anyway, when you get right down to it, I guess I personally have everything. Okay, see, I wrote this thing back when I was in high school, where we had to say what our life would be like so many years down the road. It was for our journals, for our English class. I said that I would be a writer, living in a two story old house, married with children. And there it is. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I got. So I should be pretty dad gum satisfied. And I am. I still want more, you know, but I’m content with where I am right now. The future will surely hold all kinds of surprises, and that’s cool too, even though I don’t really know what they are. I’m thankful. Thankful to God, thankful to others, thankful for basically everything in life. It’s a pretty sweet place to be.

happy-unicorn-rainbow

So…that’s my step back into my 100 journal topics. Maybe this time I will do more than two before lapsing again. Here’s hoping!

Two stickers

I have two stickers on my calendar as of today. One for yesterday, and one for today.

At some point in my past, I decided it would be an EXCELLENT idea to mark “good writing days” with a sticker on a calendar. I got the idea from someone on twitter. I don’t remember who, because I am rude like that, ha ha.

Anyway, I did really well with it at the time and finished the project I was working on. But since then, there have been some sticker days, yay, but more non-sticker days. Today is the first time in a long time that there have been two sticker days in a row. It looks nice.

I’m awfully melancholy though. It’s probably somewhat due to the playlist I’m using for this novel. It’s soulful and something my late sister enjoyed. This book is about sisters – identical twins, actually – and this playlist is perfect. The book is going to be melancholy too, I guess. I’m feeling quite a bit of the emotions of my characters right now, which is also causing my disquiet.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still in my good place. I really am. But of course, there always has to be SOMETHING, doesn’t there, or life would be awfully bland after a while. Like a good book, there has to be conflict. It can’t be beautiful weather every day, or how would we appreciate the gloriousness of a perfect day?

There’s so much I want to say, to write, to release out of my mind. To reach out into the silence of the internet and ask who hears me. Who understands me. Who knows me. Who loves me unconditionally. I used to have anonymous places where I could cry out. But I don’t anymore. I can only think my innermost thoughts in my head or whisper them to God. That should be enough. But right now it isn’t quite.

I guess I should stop. Sorry that this got weird.

image

Writing and other abstract things

So I have this new checklist app thingy on my phone. I have several different checklists on it for myself, like a to-do list, a shopping list, and a list of things I need to deep clean (shed, I’m looking at YOU). The most important list, though, is my every day list. It’s helping me to have more focus to my day, and a sense of accomplishment in the small things of life. Brush teeth? Check. Make sure my son does his math? Check. Brush the little one’s hair? Check. Exercise? Well…sometimes I get that one. I’m not perfect, ha ha.

Also on the list is “Write Something.” I have to admit on some days I am much more lenient on this than others. There have been days that I have decided to consider posting on the SCBWI Oklahoma Facebook page as “writing something.” And technically that’s true, right?

I’m going to do better though. Much better. Turning that corner a few months ago has brought me to a new place. And happily, it’s a place where I once again feel the desire and need to write. I know this blog post will earn my checkmark, but I already know that I’m going to do a little fanfic after this. I haven’t written any fanfic since February 2016. But I really want to stretch my writing muscle. I don’t want to start anything new, because my agent is going to be sending me some edits in a few days and I want to be completely ready for those. But fanfic isn’t quite the insistent mistress that an actual novel is. I can leave her for a while and she doesn’t put up much of a fuss.

Ha ha, I just went to add some animated gifs to this and then remembered that I accidentally copied all of those over to my external hard drive and then deleted them off my computer. And the external hard drive is all the way over on the other side of the room. Guess that’s not gonna be happening this time.

Well, on with the fanfic!

I have arrived, world

I was interviewed for a blog a while back, and it went live today.

Writer Wednesday Interview with Regina Garvie

I think I sound reasonably competent in it, which I am extremely grateful for. But how bizarre is it that I have accomplished enough in my writing career to even be interviewed about it? It’s left me feeling a little weirded out. I mean, I’m pleased, no doubt, but it’s just odd, I guess. Like…since when am I a real writer? Surely there’s been some mistake, right?

Judi’s questions were awesome and really left me free to express myself easily. And how cool is it that she does this on her blog for people she doesn’t really know? (Well, we’re friends on twitter now, but we didn’t know each other when she decided to interview me.) And…she totally updates her blog REGULARLY. Weird, ha ha.

And…I just went to go snag a new animated gif to help express myself right now and I discovered that when I backed up all my old pics on my two hard drives and deleted things off my computer last month, I deleted those, too. It’s not the end of the world, obviously, since they’re still on the hard drives and just need to be moved back, but…I’m way too lazy at the moment to do that.

Wait. Wait. I’m not lazy. I’m just such an amazing, REAL writer that I don’t have to rely on animated gifs to get my point across. That’s it.

A REAL WRITER.

So check out the link, if you’re so inclined, and see if you agree. (Or if you at least agree that I’m doing a pretty good job pretending like I am.)

The Tsar’s Guard Parade

Guard Banner

I’m very honored to be a part of the Tsar’s Guard and to be participating in the Tsar’s Guard parade, spreading the word about the upcoming sensation, THE CROWN’S GAME by the amazing Evelyn Skye!!

Guys, I’ve totally read this book.

Okay. That’s not true. April Fools, hilarious. I figured that since I got the luck of the draw at getting this day, I should try to do something, no matter how lame.

But I know some things about it. I’ve preordered from the Amazon page. I’ve read the Buzz  excerpt. I’ve viewed the trailer. Also, I know Evelyn, like, personally, and I’ve read another, unpublished novel of hers, and so I’m practically an expert.

She’s a great writer. And a great person. And if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have my agent. For reals. That’s why I’m so honored to even be part of this. I’ve stressed about it since I applied to be a part, because I didn’t think my stop on the parade would measure up to everyone else. But I do know that if nothing else, I can completely and without hesitation recommend this book.

The Tsar’s Guard Parade also includes a giveaway for an ARC of the book. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

CrownsGame hc cTitle: THE CROWN’S GAME

Author: Evelyn Skye

Release Date: May 17th, 2016

Pages: 416

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

 

About Evelyn:
Evelyn Skye head shot high resEvelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

 

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram

 

 

Giveaway Details:

 

1 winner will receive an ARC of THE CROWN’S GAME. International.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Rafflecopter

 

Find the complete Tsar’s Guard Parade Schedule at Evelyn Skye’s website!

Issues

So I’m having a bunch of stupid stuff going on my my life with now. Some of it is health related for me. Some is health related for family. One is health related for a far-away friend, which is resulting in me not getting to talk to this friend. That’s super stressful in itself, really.

I’ve been wallowing in self pity a little bit, but today I’ve tried to move my mind to other things and get some work done. It went reasonably well, except I did have to do some paperworkey type things for my health thing and certain family members kept haranguing me about things I felt a little overwhelmed to deal with. But I did get several things done for SCBWI that I’ve been putting off, and I got the downstairs part of the house fairly clean. Only about a third of the things on my to-do list are checked off, but some of those things have to wait until tomorrow anyway, so that’s okay.

I feel like a lot of things that have been happening to me will work their way into my future writing, so that’s at least a positive way to look at it.

In other news, I decided to listen to the soundtrack for Hamilton today, and it is amazing. I haven’t even heard all of it and I want to buy it already. I’m sad because I can’t listen to it now because I have company.

I also have an actual important blog post to do, for my friend Evelyn. I signed up to be part of the blog parade for her debut novel. It seemed like a really good idea when I did this, but now I’m afraid what I do is not going to measure up. I have no clear idea of what I’m going to do, although I might do better with that when my company is not talking to me about the things running through her head that are a little much for me to think about today.

I’m rambling. Time to check off the box next to “Write a blog post” and then work on the next one. “Write the parade post.”

#ok16scbwi

So. It’s February. Cold and wind and ick, right?

But today was different. The wind wasn’t attacking, the clouds were in hiding, and the thermometer was reasonable. It was a crazy seventy-four degrees today, so I went for a walk.

Even though I knew I was supposed to have already published this blog post, in anticipation for the conference. Whoops.

After all, the conference is sixty-five days away, right? There’s time.

But then…I went for my walk. And whoa it was nice outside. And suddenly, spring didn’t seem that far away anymore. Spring is just about here, and the conference is coming with it. And that’s exciting. But it also means that it’s time to dust off the manuscripts and get ready.

I just procrastinated here because this is such a rambly post, and went to twitter. Our social media coordinator, Valerie, mentioned that she was looking forward to some great animated gifs in this post. So I’m going to go find one now.

best croissant everBest croissant ever.

So, if you’re a procrastinator like me, you’ll really want to get going on this thing, because there’s less than a week before the deadline for paid critiques and pitch sessions and other awesome stuff like that. That deadline is Feb. 17. That’s seriously coming up.

You can check it all out on the Oklahoma SCBWI web site, and then get signed up.

Do that first. And then eat your croissant. But it won’t be as good as hers.

 

 

I have an agent!

IT HAS HAPPENED.

And I am so excited to announce that I am now represented by literary agent Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency!

yes

Every time I write that, it seems a little more real. It has happened!

But I already said that.

So.

Here is the story of how I got an amazing, perfect agent!!!

I went into this journey like many, with an optimistic attitude and a fresh new novel. First off, I was astounded that I was able to complete an entire novel at all. That was my sci-fi, PAIRS. And yeah, I still love it. And so did my betas.

But I didn’t get an agent with it.

But that was okay. Keep writing. Keep trying. So I did. I wrote THE LAST LETTERBOXES. I poured my heart and soul into it. And I queried that.

And I didn’t get an agent with it.

wait what 2

But I DID get chosen in Pitch Wars, an incredible contest ran by author Brenda Drake. Back in the olden days (2013), mentors in Pitch Wars selected a mentee and two alternates and helped polish their query and manuscript for submission to agents. And I was lifted out of the slush pile by the amazing, gifted Evelyn Skye, who helped me, and guided me, through a query revision and the first few chapters of THE LAST LETTERBOXES. It got SO MUCH BETTER thanks to her wisdom.

The first chapter was posted online, for agents to read and request. And request they did. I got ELEVEN requests, which was kind of a big deal. It was going to happen. Finally.

But…it didn’t. I got a lot of nice rejection letters.

And the nicest rejection letter of all came from Rena Rossner.

I teared up when I was reading it. She read my story (MY STORY!!) in one sitting. And it made her cry more than once. But ultimately, she thought she wasn’t quite the best person for it, and she referred me to a friend. And the friend seemed enthusiastic. So on we went.

But then…that agent never responded.

Okay.

So in the meantime, I wrote another book. Well, I actually wrote two, but one of those seemed a little more ready than the other. So I entered it in Pitch Wars for 2014.

And I didn’t get in.

I didn’t get in.

That was hard. Really hard.

Even though I knew not everyone could be picked. And I knew that the competition was amazing. It was still hard.

I was in a pretty dark place. So I did something to try to help lift myself up.

I read that old email from Rena. I reread how she had enjoyed the manuscript, and how she identified with the characters. How with a few tweaks, she thought my story had a great chance.

It had been more than a year since I’d heard from the agent she referred me to. And she’d been so encouraging with LETTERBOXES.

And I desperately needed some encouraging.

So I sent her CANDID DATES.

That was February 2014. In May, she requested the full.

And in June, she responded.

With a revise and resubmit!!

And the things she said! Like, if it was 20,000 longer she would have offered rep right then. And that she knew exactly what she thought I should do to get it to that point.

It was amazing!

And so I dove right in, right? Right?!?

Yeah. I didn’t. First, I had just started a new manuscript. So I thought I’d just get that out of the way. I’m a pretty fast writer – my first novel was done in about 21 days. And I was really excited about the one I was working on. Plus, another agent had a full of mine after we met at the spring 2015 SCBWI Oklahoma conference. And she had critiqued my first ten pages and chose me as the best of her conference submissions, and met with me. And I felt like we clicked. And she’d loved my first ten. So I thought I had a pretty good chance there. (And this wasn’t CANDID DATES. This was MAYBE, BABY, which I was incredibly swoony over at the time.) Also, revisions are HARD.

So I piddled around. Did a little here, and a little there. It was stupid. Incredibly stupid. This is what I wanted. What I’d been working toward for YEARS. But I’d had R&Rs before that hadn’t gone anywhere. Excitement that hadn’t gone anywhere. I really was losing my optimism. Even with an R&R.

But then an amazing thing happened.

Rena reached out to me. To ME. About CANDID DATES. In late August. Asking how revisions were going.

You remember those revisions. The ones where I basically had been thinking about it, but not actually putting anything down on paper.

So I patted the manuscript I was working on (YES, the same one, and YES, it had definitely been longer than 21 days) on the head and started work on CANDID DATES. Hard. For real. And that was September and October. (Yeah, that’s a long time, but it was like 27,000 new words and I homeschool my kids so be cool, okay?) My goal was to finish it before our SCBWI Oklahoma fall conference. And I did. With several minutes to spare. Seriously. I didn’t start packing for the conference until after I finished the rewrites. Which meant I had about an hour and a half to pack.

But I did it.

And then I sat on it some more.

Of course.

The conference was so good, and I felt so inspired. But I was giving the manuscript the old “wait a couple of weeks before rereading” treatment. I wanted it to be perfect when I sent.

And Rena reached out again, BLESS HER.

Because she was going to be in New York for two weeks, and she wanted to be able to talk about my novel with editors if she ended up offering me rep.

Whut.

I reread that bad boy IMMEDIATELY, corrected a handful of typos, and sent it off.

And after the longest eight days of my life, she offered representation!!!

AMAZING!!

I felt like breakdancing. I didn’t, but I felt like it.

Shot out the emails to agents who had my other stuff. No one had CANDID DATES, but I had some fulls and partials out. I even sent an email to the agent who had never responded to my other nudges. She didn’t respond.

But the others did! The congratulations and good luck passing emails came back in, nice and neat.

Except for one. A request for more time. And it was from…my dream agent. The one I’d had an agent crush on since meeting him at a conference in 2013. (Hey, just an agent crush, okay? He’s married. And I’m married.) But he was funny, and charismatic, and he liked my stuff. He’d had a couple of my manuscripts, always had good things to say, and always asked for more. I’d sent him LETTERBOXES. Because why not. And he asked for more time to finish it.

And this was a problem.

Because I talked to Rena on the phone and I fell head over heels. Her vision for my novel…the way she gets it…gets me…I don’t think it could ever be replicated. This was what I wanted. Exactly what I wanted.

But dream agent…

Did I mention that he’s consistently on the top sales lists for young adult novels? And he’s practically an icon in the industry?

And everyone I had let in on the secret kept asking. If he offers, what will you do? I tried not to think about it. To not put the cart before the horse.

To my overwhelmed mind, it looked like on paper, he was the obvious choice. But my heart wanted Rena. I really felt like she was the one.

And I’ve generally always listened to my heart over my head.

But I’m also a person who can’t let go of the past. I didn’t want to spend my entire life wondering what would have happened if I had gone the other way, regardless of the choice. I hate decisions. And somehow I’m the main decision maker in my house, which SUCKS. But this decision was a little different than buying a car or what color to paint a room. This one would be a life-changer.

And so I prayed. I prayed hard.

And my prayers were answered.

He passed.

His email to me was so complimentary, so encouraging, so warm and kind. No wonder I loved him for so long. (I still do, actually.) I teared up at the wonderful things he said about my writing. But he also said that it sounded like the offering agent was really excited about my work, and he would step aside for that.

And I couldn’t have been more grateful.

It happened just the way it was supposed to happen.

I can’t wait to get started.

Slump

In a bit of a slump lately.

sticker calendar

Every sticker means a good writing day. All those stickers mean I’m a winner. Unfortunately, the opposite also applies.

I got this sweet idea from twitter, to give myself a sticker for every good writing day. Of course, I don’t remember who I got the idea from (it was on a retweet from someone) but it sure sounded good to me.

So I finally flipped my Frozen calendar from the beautiful picture of Hans and Anna dancing together, from February (can I just mention how perfect it is that the calendar people put their picture on the same month as Valentines? Sigh.) Anyway, every day I did at least 500 words on my revision, I got a sticker. Most days I got more than 1,000, and some days were 2,000+, so even on the few 500 days it all worked out to some pretty good writing days.

Of course, I’m showing this picture because that was nearing the end of the streak. I wrote through the 12th, and then everything stopped. Just stopped.

Just like THAT

I did get one more sticker, for the 18th, when I met with my writers’ group for Friday writing lunch. Got a lot done. And the ending is so close on the revision that I can taste it.

But I’m still unmotivated to finish. I guess I have a lot on my mind. There’s a medical thing I’m dealing with, and money issues, and a new project I’m thinking about. I’m not 100 percent happy with one of the scenes I wrote in the revision, and that keeps weighing down on me too. There’s a million other things, but I know they’re all excuses, and even if it seems that all odds are against me, I really should just buck up and get back to writing.

hans pulls out sword

Yes. Because that’s what Hans would do.

And we all know that ended well.

Seriously, though, I don’t want to be that other Arendelle guard guy behind Hans, holding that spear but unable to move. Whether it’s a good choice or a bad one, I want to move forward. I want to attack my obstacles and fight to overcome.

I’m tired of standing still.