Friday, September 25, 2009

When are you a writer?

A few months back, Nathan Bransford asked the question on his blog: When does one become a writer? It made me think, because in the medical field (my day job) credentials are a big deal. In order to call yourself something, be it doctor, nurse, physical therapist, there are benchmarks and specific criteria you need to achieve in order to demonstrate your proficiency and be able to use the credential. For example, you can’t call yourself a doctor without a doctoral level degree in something and usually some state licensing procedure.

But writing is different. Even if the only thing I’ve ever written is a drunken manifesto in blood on a series of bar napkins, I can call myself a writer. Even if I’ve written nothing, I can call myself a writer. There are no benchmarks, no credentials. (unless you have and MFA) It really doesn’t seem fair to me.

Personally, I’ve only been writing for about a year and, until this week, no one in my family knew I was doing it except my 14 year old daughter, who I wrote for. (I finally fessed up to my husband Wednesday night, after I signed with my agent.) So, the truth is, I was embarrassed to call myself a writer, even though I spent in the ballpark of 20 hours a week doing it. It just felt like I was overstepping, somehow.

But something changed this week. I had several agents read my work and love it. So, to me, getting the stamp of approval from industry professionals is a benchmark of sorts. And, all the sudden, it doesn’t feel presumptuous to call myself a writer. So, guess what! I’m a writer!

Author is a whole other matter. I’m not there yet. Maybe the benchmark for that is getting published?

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Remembering how to breathe again

Okay. So the dust has settled and here it is…

After twenty-one queries, twelve manuscripts requests and three months of agonizing waiting, I had multiple offers of representation. All from really awesome agents. This was not a problem that I had anticipated.

Each of them was amazingly encouraging. They all seemed extremely energetic. They each had a really great submission plan for my novel. And they all seemed so friendly.

I think I asked all the right questions and gotten solid answers. I talked to some of their clients. I researched books they’ve sold and to who. And they all looked wonderful.

I didn’t want to say no to any of them.

But, finally, I made my decision. And I’m really happy with it.

I just signed my contract with Suzie Townsend at FinePrint Literary Management.

Now to work on revisions! (Which, believe it or not, I love!)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

OMG 2!

I'm stunned...and speachless.

More later.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Okay...sooo...okay...the phone is ringing...!

More later!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


So, I mentioned that I entered Personal Demons in a few contests this summer, just for fun... Just got score sheets back from the second one and I finalled there too. Both judges were published authors and their feedback was awesome. One judge (multi-published and very cool) gave me a perfect score and called me "intimidatingly good". (Can you see my head swelling? Seriously. I'm gonna need a wheelbarrow if it gets any bigger.)

So, I'm gonna brag on myself some more, because she also said, "It’s hilarious, original, incredibly clever, and truly meaningful." And also something about letting her know when it sold and we'd watch it hit the best seller list. From her mouth to God's ears... She put her name on the score sheet and, though I don't really know her, it turns out we're following each other on Twitter, so I just tweeted my thanks.

Maybe I don't suck? Lots of manuscripts out...waiting for the phone to ring... *stares woefully at phone* Any second now...

I'm lecturing in Seattle this week. I love Seattle! And...what's that...? SUN? No way! The weather is beautiful, but I'm stuck in the Embassy Suites ballroom, as usual. Tomorrow they'll let me out to play. Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A funny thing happened on my way home from the bookstore...

I just realized that my favorite author isn’t very good. I’ve been really disappointed in his last two novels. His stories are interesting, so I keep reading them, but the writing really sucks.

I’m a relative newcomer, a mere novice, in the writing profession, so other than my status as a frequent book buyer and avid reader, I realize I’m in no way qualified to make judgments regarding someone else’s writing. But all the things I struggle so hard to avoid in my own writing—using the same phrases over and over…and over and over; using too many dialogue tags (especially the character’s name) over and over…and over and over; putting my characters in the same situation over and over—okay, you get it, I know—he does, over and over…and over. And his attempts at suspense are kind of lame and very predictable—which is bad, since he writes thrillers.

I’ve decided that I need to go back and read the first book of his that really sucked me in. Then I can figure out if I was just a less discerning reader before I started writing or if his suckiness is more recent—maybe due to deadlines and being rushed. He’s a NYT best seller and puts out at least two books a year, so he clearly knows more about writing than I do…

But it’s really disappointing to realize that someone I looked up to (and recommended to a lot of other people) isn’t as great as I thought he was.

I know. You’re rolling your eyes and yelling at the screen that I need professional help. Hero worship and all that… And you’re probably right.

I’ll reread some of his earlier books and report back.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My muse is a wannabe rock star

I went to one of the most insanely good concerts I’ve ever been to in my life last night—Saving Abel, Hinder, Papa Roach and Nickelback. My muse and I were in ecstasy. Saving Abel is the best new band on the planet and they rocked the house. If you haven’t checked them out, you can do that here. (Seriously—check them out.) Hinder and Papa Roach melted my face off and then Nickelback burnt the place down. It was seriously just about the most fun I’ve ever had. And I got home at one in the morning and wrote all night.

Being relatively new at this whole writing thing, I’m not sure how it works for everyone else, but my muse is the boss. I’m just the poorly paid help with the laptop. (Okay—slave labor, really. I won’t be poorly paid until we actually sell something.) And one thing has become glaringly apparent. My muse is a wannabe rock star. Which, I’ve decided, is a good thing, ‘cause so am I.

My last book, Personal Demons, started when my antagonist’s name popped into my head. That was the spark for the concept of the story. But his whole character was inspired by, and developed around, one song (Savin’ Me, Nickelback). My protagonist—same thing, different song (You Found Me, The Fray). I’ve had people read my novel and say that I’m really inside my characters' heads. Truly, I’m inside the song, but the songs become my characters. It’s really cool when I read back my work and it feels like the character embodies all the meaning and emotion of the song. (As I see it, anyway.)

So, thank God for rock stars and muses that want to be them. Another great song from the concert: Nickelback, Rockstar. Enjoy.

Going to bed now. G’night.