Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Goals

I don't often make New Year's resolutions, for the same reason that lots of people don't make them - can't keep them. But in 2009, I do resolve to have certain goals when it comes to life and writing. I also intend to keep them.

Goal #1 - Be more attentive, in every way.

Life has a habit of getting in the way of my writing, whether it's work, family or personal concerns. If I don't pay attention, I can be easily blindsided and thrown off course to the detriment of everything else. Unfortunately, my writing seems to always be the first victim of life's interruptions. My first goal is to pay more attention to my physical health, and spirtual and mental well-being. Then I need to extend that attention to my loved ones, my job and my passion for writing.

Goal #2 - Sell one, if not three, manuscripts.

I've spent many years working on Sultana, my first "real" story. A medieval set in Moorish Spain about the last Muslim dynasty to rule Granada. Two manuscripts heavily researched and detailed, tirelessly put through critique groups with more comments and suggestions than I thought possible. Then I completely revised the story from first to third person this year. Both manuscripts. Each in excess of 80,000 words. My first publishing contract was signed for Bound by Blood, also a medieval centered on the Norman conquest of England. When it seemed as if I'd finally see my work in print, it all fell spectacularly apart. Now I've three manuscripts and no contract to show for all that work. My second goal is to change this.

Goal #3 - Grow as a person and a writer.

I'm the stereotypical writer, who retreats into herself for weeks, focused on a story or new ideas. Unfortunately, other things tend to pass to me by in doing so. I finally caught up with best friends this past weekend and went to see a movie, which we haven't done in ages. Also, my writing interests have remained relatively the same and it's time to broaden them. So my third goal will be to expand my horizons, break out of the shell to enjoy life and writing even more.

Sounds pretty lofty, but I've never been one to avoid a challenge. Let's see how I do with these goals in 2009. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tis The Season...

...To be writing and editing!

At the end of another writing year, it seems worthwhile to take stock of how the past twelve months have gone. This has not been a prolific year for me, at least not in the first half, but I feel like I've hit my stride and can count the highlights of the year.

Number of agents lost: 1
Number of agents solicited: 20
Number of agents gained: 1

Number of story ideas flitting around in my head: at least 10
Number of story ideas committed to paper in draft or outline form: 4
Number of stories that I'm realistically able to focus on given timing, prior knowledge and research: 3

Number of manuscripts started: 3
Number of manuscripts languishing unfinished (but will be finished in 2009 so help me God I swear): 1
Number of manuscripts still actively working on: 2

Number of publishing contracts signed: 1
Number of manuscripts edited for publication: 1
Number of publishing contracts rescinded: 1
OK, so this was not really a highlight in my year, but it was a learning experience and anything that you can learn from is good for the writing soul, so, Yeah!

All in all, I'm happy with the direction I'm headed in at the end of the year and grateful to have the creative energy flowing once more. 2009 can only be better.

So, to all my writing friends and for anyone who loves the written word, Happy Holidays and a prosperous, creative and productive New Year!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Watch the Market"

Excuse me as I go off on a little rant here. Actually, isn't that part of what a blog is commonly used for? And last I checked, this is my blog. Hmm. OK, ranting away.

A dear friend of mine sent me an agent's musings the other day on how publishing trends are moving, in this particular agent's POV. Of course, I saw the words that make my eyeballs pop out of my head every time I see them: Watch The Market. What? Yes, watch the market; be attuned to what's hot and selling right now, so that you too can jump on the bandwagon with your homage to the style of whatever hot author is doing the aforementioned selling. Since I'm entirely too opinionated for my own good, my reply to my dear friend went something like this:

"You know what ticks me off? The agents who say as this one did "watch the market". It seems such impractical advice for those currently writing something and a disservice to everyone else. So you watch the market and see Gothic romances will be hot in the coming month. You go off and you write one. If you know the genre you get a head start but God help you if you don't. Six months minimum to write if you want something more than fluff, then edit the first draft because you're an ass wasting an agent's time if you don't try to polish it. Maybe you get requests for partials or maybe not. By that time historical mysteries are the next big thing coming down the pike. So now you've written this darn thing that no one can sell because you "watched the market". Whatever happened to writing what you love, pouring your heart and soul into your passion?"

Now I have seen variations of the advice the agent offered about watching the market - my favorite is "write what you love but make sure it's what hot and happening now". But I still have to ask; what's wrong with just writing what you love? Maybe I've got it wrong but for me writing is my passion, my love. If I couldn't do it for some physical or mental reason, I don't know what I would do but I'm sure it would involve going insane. There are so many stories sometimes bursting from my overworked brain that it takes true discipline to sit down and write a schedule of projects so I'm not dashing from here to there, and writing gibberish along the way. And it's safe to say in the years I've been doing this that I've discovered where one agent may hate a story, another adores it. Something along the lines of "one man's trash, another's treasure."

So my mantra and advice is: write what you love and then go out and find the agent or editor who loves it too.

Time flies when you're having fun, or writing novels.

It's been a tremendous twelve months. A new job and health issues have impacted my writing time, but I'm still at it, trying to wrap...