Houses of the Broken and Other Stories

Posts tagged “writing

“The Call”

On Friday the 13th, under the Fullness of the Honey Moon… I’d like to announce that I got ‘the call.’

The call. THE call. The CALL.

I liked your manuscript! Tell me more!

An hour later, my head was spinning. Is this for real? Couldn’t be… my cautious nature waited for the other shoe to drop… and waited… and I reviewed the draft contract… and waited to hear that shoe go ‘thump’ and then… hard copy of the contract made out to me, notarized and in my hot little hands!

No thumps required.

Without fear and further ado, I’d like to announce my signing with Cliffhanger Press, for my debut novel manuscript Houses of the Broken.

I was thrilled to talk and work through everything with TJ Loveless, and can’t wait to see what kind of package we can put together. I just hope she doesn’t have to empty out too many red pens on my manuscript! *eep*

Buckle up for a new adventure! I still can’t believe it’s happening… But please, keep your shoes to yourself….

 

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Technically Writing

I miss my woodchippers. I truly do.

I’ve been writing my fingers off in recent months but it doesn’t feel like it because it hasn’t been anything ‘fun’. Agent queries, product specifications, legal transactions… yes, I’ve been trapped in the world of technical writing and it just makes me yearn for the greener page all the more.

Some frivolity of tossing ne’er do well bodies in the ‘chipper could do me some good. Not to mention the question of what’s in the ‘meat’ that has everyone going crazy for it? The muse is demanding 80 degree days and fish bowl size tropical drinks heavy on the pineapple and rum. I would love to indulge her, but the Great Lakes region is not so forgiving.

In the mean time, the morning commute behind the local woodchipper service serves as a good reminder of what’s waiting for me on the other side.

Maybe soon I’ll be sharing exciting agent news! At least for now I know I’m official as the rejections come piling in. Until then… we wait.


Changing the Rules?

Why keep trying to beat someone at a game you don’t want to play? Interests and focuses evolve and change as we learn new things about our world and ourselves.

THEY say “Hold On!” But whose dreams am I holding on to? What do you do when you realize you’re still trying to measure yourself by goals you set before you even  joined the adult world? Naive expectation based on the way things “should” be, informed only by hope, logic and fairy tales.

This is not the way of the world.

The legacy of civilization carries with it inherent flaws which have defied evolution, lurking in the shadows of subtext. A generation is a small window of time, educated by its peers and environmental influences; it fails to grasp the bigger picture of how the machine began or the necessary evils that make it tick.

There is no level playing field and there never will be.

I neither want nor expect to have the life I wanted at 20. The world changed, forcefully, not long after that. The bright hopes on the horizon flickered and faded. Things got harder, things got leaner and the competition for merely enough to pay the bills increased.

It’s been that way ever since. Wondering when the other shoe is going to drop has become a way of life. Someone stole the brass ring and sold it for scrap.

It’s a new game… the old rules are useless.


Waiting for the Door to Close.

The submission deadline is almost up for those of us throwing our hat in to the ring for ABNA 2014. I’ve been curiously watching to see if the submissions would fill up early, but much like last year, it appears they’re not going to… or at least it will come down so close to the wire, we won’t know if they truly hit 10k or not.

I have lots of questions about the process of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards… but there’s no true way to really quantify things. How many submissions do they really get? What’s the initial break down in categories? From what I’ve found there’s no true way to know, short of taking a survey of people willing to post in the forums. I think knowing the raw numbers alone would be helpful in figuring out market segments, and where to focus effort as you craft future work.

This is probably why they don’t tell us.

But maybe it’s better that way. A little vague competition keeps everyone wondering and makes it harder to work the system. For now, tonight marks the beginning of the real wait. I’m more patient than last year because I have a better idea of how things go, but I’m still insanely curious to see how far my submission goes this year.

Once again, I submitted Houses of the Broken. Last year HoTB made it to the Quarter Finals, but no further. In truth, I was pretty pleased for it being my first attempt. With nearly the same material as I submitted last year, I am more curious about seeing if I get the same results, than I am hedging my bets on my chance at winning.

Will I get kicked out at the Pitch stage? Maybe never make it past the second cut? I have little illusion that I’ll go ‘all the way’ but… you never know. Good readers having bad days can send your submission into the circular file. And bad readers… well… we all seem to get at least one.

Last year the one that made me chuckle the most was the review complaining about my use of ‘language.’ Serial killers? No problem. Child abuse? Whatever. F-word? Oh my stars, you vile little girl…

We all have our triggers, I suppose.

So now… well, soon… we wait. In the mean time I need to try and keep busy with other things, because I officially have no control over my fate until the dust settles.

Patience is not my virtue.


Third Life – The 7 year glitch.

The more things change, the more things stay the same … thoughts from this time – 7 years ago…

My Year

This is going to be my year. And no, this is not a resolution, this is a lifestyle change. To think it will all change at once is foolish, but over the past year I have been slowly laying groundwork and reevaluating certain priorities.

One big step in ridding myself of negative influences has been my employment switch. The new job may not turn out to be all it’s cracked up to be, only time will tell, but regardless of that I will always have the fact that I looked out for myself and at least tried.

I really have to stop being so afraid of failure. I’ve taken a lot of chances this past year. Reconnecting with old friends, looking to better my career, trying to come to an understanding with my family, traveling abroad in a time of terrorism and uncertainty. None of those are safe or easy things. Some are big and some are small, but all it takes is a chance, and look where it’s gotten me so far: I have reconnected with my friends, and they didn’t reject me, I got a new job and got an offer from every interview, my family is a work in progress… every family is, but I think it’s getting better. We had a great time traveling and had no problems whatsoever, despite a bomb scare on the very flight we were scheduled for not two weeks before.

I think fear is healthy, but it shouldn’t be paralyzing. There are many times when I avoid activities or events because they’re unknown or uncomfortable and I’m afraid I’ll end up looking stupid or embarrassed or somehow fail. I’ve come to peace with that… I will look stupid, it’s what I do. It’s part of my charm.

Yes, I’m a dork, have always been a dork, will always be a dork, but you know what? The best friends are dork friends. They don’t judge you by your hairstyle or the size of your jeans. They don’t get jealous when something good happens to you, they get excited. They’ll be supportive, even if they might not agree with you. And at the end of the day, they’ll just be there ready to talk, or not talk; whatever you may need.

I’m sure there will be many times when I feel defeated and hopeless. Too tired to care or try anymore and discouraged to the point that I want to crawl in to a dark little hole and never be seen again. It’s hard not to be a self conscious little girl when you’re insecure and afraid. Hopefully I will be encouraged to not give up and have support when I need it. If I remember to listen to myself, that will be half the battle.

There will always be things I need to work on; it’s a fact of life. But I’ve been feeling more centered than I have in a long time, and much of that comes from being true to myself. Rekindling interests of the past, reconnecting with old relationships and the only people I felt ever really knew me, and sometimes just plain putting my foot down and not living my life by someone else’s rules and expectations. If I’m happy but someone else is disappointed in me, that’s their problem, not mine.

That settles it! I’m going to be a roller derby girl. If not now, when?


Some like a little warrior with their princess.

Some of my girls like conflict, I admit it. We… They … thrive on being able to best an opponent, no matter what gender, age or size. My dames dig damage. The rest of the world doesn’t always agree.

It’s not proper. It’s not ladylike. Don’t let them know that you’re stronger, faster, smarter. They don’t like that. Don’t talk that way. Don’t like those things…. it’s not appropriate.

Things that aren’t lady like are the best kinds of things. It’s no fun being a lady, I’ve had to do it a lot. No one says “Remember that time I knew what the shrimp fork was?” though they might fondly remember “Remember that time I ripped apart that entire chicken* with my bare hands?” Carnage is awesome.

Some of us are drawn to opposition, conflict and the like. Not because we want it, but because we’re not scared. It’s encouraged for boys to be brave. Why shouldn’t we be? Because it’s not ladylike….

I make a horrible damsel, it’s true. My hair isn’t long enough, I don’t wear dresses and I tend not to trip awkwardly when running away from things. IF I bother to run away. If a conflict can’t be neatly sidestepped, I’m more than happy to meet it head on. This tactic has had mixed results over the years but I rarely regret not running away. Bullies don’t know what to do with that, even as adults. It’s not always a matter of physical confrontation, but of self esteem and emotional control. You can’t make me cry. You can’t make me run. Your. Move.

“Princess” culture has never been my thing, despite being raised to know when to be a lady. Even as a kid, I wanted the princess’s horse, screw the girl in glass heels. (They’d hurt terribly anyhow. No wonder damsels trip.) What the modern self proclaimed ‘princesses’ fails to realize, is what the life of a REAL princess would entail. Extensive schooling, extensive training on etiquette, trivia, sewing, philanthropy, dance, strategy, arranged marriages for political gain…. it’s not all tutu’s an bon bon’s.

Keep your tiara, I’d rather have my soul.

I encourage all girls (and women) to add a little ‘warrior’ to their ‘princess’. Test your limits. See how well you can aim. Don’t be afraid of a friendly tussle. We get older and we forget… how we ran and played and bounced off the ground or tree or rock without a second thought. How we physically interacted with our environment beyond a keyboard and a screen.They are useful extensions for thoughts and ideas but they don’t compare to the feel of rough bark sliding under your fingers, or a cold stream shocking you awake as the water permeates the seals on your ‘water resistant’ shoes.

Learn strategy and how to pick your battles. Life shouldn’t be a constant fight nor a constant retreat. There’s no use ‘playing small’, because the more you do, the smaller you feel. You will be invisible if you act invisible. It’s a super power I’ve seen… or not seen… first hand.

Don’t be afraid to make them think. Make them nervous. Make them wonder… Even if you are wearing a skirt and a smile.

*Cooked. I’m no monster.


Third Life – Breaking Bitch

What a nightmare. You know about her, right? What… or rather who… she did to get that job? Then what she did to the other guy, throwing him under the bus like that?

Yes, I’ve heard it. From everyone. Twice. Because everyone likes to spin the yarn about the maneater – the one that got one over on them or their buddy. They tear her down over their highballs, in their clubs and run down bars tucked behind their conference centers, but it’s not because of superiority, it’s because they’re scared.

There are two options. Doormat or bitch. What’s a girl to do?

Is it true? The reputation she’s earned, the larger than life profile that leaves seasoned businessmen quaking in their khakis?

I don’t know… the bitch won’t return my calls.


Rekindling the brain waves.

January is sliding quickly by and I’m getting back into the habit of being a working girl. It seems that a little bit of structure suits me. Or at least that the more structure I have, the more I want to break out of the box when I have a chance. It’s a passive-aggressive work habit at best but it seems to work for me. Deadlines help.

Speaking of deadlines… In an arbitrary discussion with myself it was decided that the summer solstice might be a good time to try to get my next work in progress out in print. It seems so far away but with the pile of editing I have to do, I know it will be here before I know it. And that’s not even taking time to format and tinker and perfect the look and feel of the product.

After the winter hibernation – which still calls to me in its fluffy, wooly tones – getting the brain back in the game is taking a little more effort than I’d like. But like any great training program, I need to up the reps and stick to a schedule. Don’t touch my chocolate though, I do have my limits…

The problem with having more ideas than energy is finding which one to focus the finite amount you have on. As much as I’d like to multitask when it comes to writing, keeping a linear process seems like it’s working out best for me – especially in the editing phase. I pause long enough to scratch down ideas for future projects, but diverting any real attention often just pulls the train right off of the tracks.

In the hopper now is the cannibal love story that refuses to follow any outline I put in front of it. If it, and I, survive through editing, it might just see an attempt at a screenplay as well. Because… why not? I’m not sure if I can make it in time for HorrorFest this year, but it is a far flung goal I’d like to attempt. If not, being able to have a second book at my table would be an awesome enough accomplishment.

I’m sure life doesn’t have any designs on innovative new ways to thwart me while I’m busy making plans…


Reset.

My muse took the winter off. There’s no two ways around it. The minute I was faced with unlimited free time, my get up and go got up and went. (Cue Fell On Black Days…)

The end of the year synopsis… yeah, I avoided it. While my year was mostly dominated with awesome things, you remember most how things ended, not how great the middle was. The same holds true for basically any type of art or performance. When all else fails, finish strong and the crowd will be happy. Despite my reluctance to summarize my year in one easy nutshell, I did have a number of internal musings about the resolutions, clean slates, and starting over all over again. I came to a few conclusions…

There is no such thing as a clean slate. There will always be residue. Always. And that’s o.k. You wouldn’t be where or who you are without those traces of the past, both good and bad. While you may not like the past scribbles, they can’t be erased. But you can make them evolve into another sketch that is more beautiful. Build on the slate, don’t scour it. The depth of field will be all the more interesting when you’re done.  (Maybe some Shine On You Crazy Diamond.)

Resolution on resolutions: If you really wanted to, you already would have.

Starting over. Not a fan. Starting over is uncomfortable. But in truth, comfort zones were made to be broken, like it or not. And the thing that was scary today, is old hat tomorrow. Unless, of course, the parachute didn’t open…

Motivation. You want to get something done? Find a busy (wo)man. Having nothing to do made me listless, even as I tried to keep busy I just felt like I was trying to ride a solid lead unicycle under water. A soldier needs a war… a Katherine needs to be under insurmountable deadlines. (Which has put Blue Collar Man solidly in my head now…)

Long nights… impossible odds…

Feel free to rock out a moment, I’ll be here. *yawn* Better? I thought as much.

Into the fray, once more… and again after that, and another time or two. Maybe three for good measure. The muse, snowbird that she is, will be back. She always comes back. And the woodchipper will be waiting.


Blackest Friday

Things I need to do… staring at the screen blankly doesn’t accomplish much, nor does it give me much of a story to tell. But there are things, retail things, that I must pay attention to. It’s my duty as a newly published author to shill my work when the opportunity arises. So here we are, Black Friday.

For your purchasing pleasure, there are a number of options for picking up Houses of the Broken. I hear it’s a great stalker… I mean… stocking stuffer…

Kindle and print is available at Amazon.com

Print is available at barnesandnoble.com and I hear there’s a pretty good coupon code floating out there, so give a google!

CreateSpace is a personal favorite.

And, if you’ve already read it, and can’t wait to tell others about my twisted mind, check out GoodReads!

So there we are, one click for all of your needs! Stay out of the snow and curl up with a chill thrill.