Category Archives: Writing

Denied


To start the new year, I got my first official rejection.

I know this is part of the process, and that it’s OK. It’s OK to get rejected–it doesn’t really mean anything. It doesn’t mean I stink (though that may be true), it just means she didn’t like it.

The thing is, she was so nice about it. I’m not sure which is worse: getting the smack down, where you can say, “Oh, she’s just mean,” or getting what is probably the nicest rejection ever, because then the problem is me. **Sigh**

The good thing about this is, I got the first one under my belt, and the world didn’t end. The sky did not fall. I’m not exactly happy about it, but I’m also not wallowing in despair, either. I found out less than half an hour ago, and I’m doing OK. It’s all part of the process.

MCC

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Waiting is the Hardest Part


Well, I’ve been asked for an update of what’s happening with the writing.

In short, nothing yet. But the process takes time–lots of time, and it’s only been a few weeks. I don’t expect to hear anything back for another couple of months, if then. Because being honest, while I know these things take time, I still don’t know how much. If I consider how long it takes to hear back the results of contests, I think it’s safe to say that three or four  months probably isn’t outside the range of normal. Some agents promise four weeks, others make no promises, and I’m pretty certain all bets are off at Christmas.

As for whether I’ve done anything else, the answer to that is… No.

I think the holidays are an insane time of year. I think that everyone–agents, writers, publishers, editors–have too much to do, and if I send my stuff off to them, I’m just setting myself up for the slush pile. So I’m going to wait before doing my cold queries until after the new year. I’m thinking late January or early February sounds good, because then they’ll have had time to go through all the email that piled up while they were on vacation. This is what I’ve told myself, anyway. It’s entirely possible that I’m just making excuses for why I need to wait “just a little longer” before sending my stuff out.

At this point, I don’t think I’ll be making any typos to my document. If I change anything, I’m just opening myself up to making more errors and typos, and not really changing the natural of my ms. I think, in this last round of edits, I fixed a couple of typos, and moved two sentences. That’s it. I think it’s as done as I can make it. And if I get some feedback on stuff I need to change, then I’ll change it, but up until then, I need to leave well enough alone.

So for now, I’m in a holding pattern.

MCC

Writing demons


You may have noticed I haven’t blogged in a while. I think it’s been just over a week now, and I had very good intentions to keep up with the blog, writing in it at least three time a week, if not every day.

Alas, I have met the writing demons.

Between the kids and work–and work’s been a nightmare–I’m finding it increasing difficult to write a coherent sentence, so I took a couple of days off. Didn’t write a thing. Watched a movie, watched some TV, caught up on laundry.

For the last 14 months, I have written something every day. Every. Single. Day. No exceptions. I think that’s how I managed to work full time and finish two manuscripts (both within the first ten months), and nearly finish a third in that time. I”m really only about 10-20,000 words away from finishing number three. And I’m about 30,000 words into book 2’s sequel.

But I’m finding it hard to finish… well, anything. Suddenly, after my brief time off, the writing demons have reared their ugly heads and I can’t seem to finish Book 3, and since I’ve gotten a partial request on it, I need to. I shouldn’t be working on anything else. I need to focus.

But I can’t. I don’t think I can scrap 70,000 words… The thing is almost done, and it really is a pretty decent piece of work. I just have to connect my two halves, and I even know what happens. I’ve written four or five 1,o00 word scenes, and yet, I can’t seem to connect them. So I tink with what I’ve already written on my second manuscript (but the first one I’m submitting), and rewrite the first three chapters of this manuscript. And I write random scenes that I may wind up scrapping because I just can’t figure out a way to fit them in.

I don’t know if what I’m experiencing is really writer’s block, or if it’s a milder version of it. I can still write, I still have ideas floating around in my head, but… I’m worried I won’t be able to finish this book. And it really is good. I like my characters, I like the plot, I have a great villain… I even like my characters together. But all of a sudden, I’m having trouble connecting with them, which I find terribly annoying.

So I thought I would go ahead and write my synopsis. And, like its predecessor, it is delightfully craptastic, and I can’t seem to finish that either. But my query letter is pretty freaking fantastic, if I do say so myself.

I wish I knew what was wrong with me. But then, I ran into issues writing this time last year, so maybe the problem is December, and not writer’s block.

MCC

Writing Update


Well, I finally did it.

I sent off my partial manuscript to an agent, along with the synopsis that was discussed in an earlier post.

I was going to talk about my feelings in this regard, but then I realized… I don’t have any. Zip, zero, nadda.

A part of me thinks I must be stressed, because I’m listening to angry German punk, and I typically don’t break out the Nine Inch Nails or the German punk unless I’m angry or bitter or stressed. Another part of me is so certain of rejection (because everyone gets rejected in the beginning in this business) that maybe I’m simply anticipating that and so there’s nothing to get overly worried about? Maybe I’m experiencing the feeling of “nothing ventured, nothing gained?” I mean, if I never send it off and never risk getting rejected, I’ll never get published, right? 

And maybe I’m just experiencing the relief of having done it. My partial is off, and an agent may or may not read it. Said agent was very nice, by the way. When I met with her, I found her to be direct but not cruel or self-absorbed… She knew we were all nervous and was nice about it. So if I’m rejected it’s not because she’s a bitch or can’t recognize talent… It’s because either a) what I wrote isn’t for her, or b) what I wrote isn’t up to snuff. I’d like to think that I wrote a good book, and I’d like to think that she will like it, but… Well, even Grisham and J.K. Rowling got rejected. Being rejected puts me in some pretty esteemed company.

Granted, when I get the reply, whether yay or nay, let’s face it: Husband will have to read the email. If it’s a no, and there are comments, he’ll have to read those too, and then tell me about them. Me and my diva-like tendencies. I have a hard time reading the comments when I finaled in a contest, even. I always do, all of them, even the ones where I know it’s going to hurt… I just always make Husband read them first. He’s good at that.

Maybe I’ll be nervous in a few months, when I’ll start thinking that I “should have gotten a response by now.” Yes, I know agents are super busy people, but I’ll start to worry that my masterpiece is sitting in someone’s spam folder, or is out in the ether, or that it accidentally got deleted. I will come up with all sorts of reasons why I should contact the agent in question and ask, but even I know it’s bad form to do that. Of course she got it. My brain knows that, but, like many writers, the neuroses run strong in me, and I’ll start coming up with all sorts of reasons why she didn’t get it, and then I’ll waste precious time worrying about it, when there’s nothing that I can or should do about it.

I should start writing articles about language development for parenting magazines. At least then, I know what I’m talking about. But the query letter and synopsis stuff? Yeah, I don’t have the foggiest notion what I’m doing. I just wrote a book. I have done research on the internet and read three different books, and each thing I read said something different about how to format the synopsis, query letter, etc. I just don’t know what to believe, so I went with the one I thought sounded best. It could be bunk and the poor agent will say,

“Oh, the poor dear just doesn’t have a clue.” (Which, actually, is true)

MCC

The Real World


I’m often asked, “Why can’t you write anything from the real world? Something contemporary that people will want to read?” (Actual question, I swear)

The simple answer is: I don’t necessarily like the real world.

I mean, it’s like the reverse of a vacation to say, Branson, Missouri (no offense to Branson, of course). Ok to visit, not that great to live there. Well, in my world, the real world is Ok to live in, but if I’m going to spend $7, I’d rather visit someplace else.

In the made up places in my head, the stakes are high, the world is in danger, love lasts a lifetime, but good will always triumph. I have no such guarantees in real life. First, the stakes are never really that high in my real life. After all, no one will die if I choose the store brand over Tide with Bleach, and society won’t collapse if I just can’t fix that kid’s /r/. The choices I make are… relatively mundane.

As for the second point, while the world might be in danger, I work in preschool, so I’m thinking that I’m not going to be the one to fix it. No one’s ever heard of an overweight preschool based speech pathologist saving the world, and I’m pretty sure there’s a reason for that. I’m squishy and I’m cuddly, and little kids love me. But take down some terrorist cell, yeah, not so much. I’ll leave that to the professionals. The most badass I get is when I go to the rodeo and pretend to be some barfly named Dixie to help my friends pick up guys while drinking my one Texas Punch. Sorry gents, this hot piece of extra-large ass is taken. I know, I’m wild and crazy.

And love lasting a lifetime? I suppose it can happen. It’s gone well for me so far, but every day I’m surprised by the people in my life who are getting divorced. People I would never in a million years expect to divorce because they seemed so blissfully happy are suddenly calling it quits. These are couples that I would point to and say, “Hey, M, why can’t we be more like them?” I guess that means I’m glad M and I are the way we are, because however dysfunctional we may be (and sometimes we are), it seems to work for us. But in Meggan’s playground of pretend, my couples will be together forever, crazy in love and having magnificent sex. No taking one for the team or squeezing in a quickie between dishes and collapsing into bed exhausted. Every encounter is fabulous, and you’ll just have to believe me when I say that every encounter will continue to be fabulous forever.

Could I write a contemporary romance? Sure, I think I could (I have a couple of ideas swimming in my head). More likely, I’d do a romantic suspense, because I like the danger and the high stakes stuff. Again, I have at least one of those floating around in my head. If I ever get around to writing that book, it might be pretty good. But there are other people who are completely brilliant with the contemporary romance, and I’m not sure I’m one of them.

Creating worlds? I can do that. Supernatural powers? I can do that too. I can torture my characters to no end, and have a good time doing it. In a contemporary romance, these are supposed to be like real people with real reactions, and I think I’d actually start to feel bad for my fake people if I tortured them to the extent I do my supernaturals. My supernaturals are… well, special. They can take it. Granted, in my first historical, I guess I tortured poor Claire, so maybe I need to take that back.

So, why can’t I write contemporary? Well, for right now, because I like my worlds dark and broody, my characters a little tortured. I like to visit the dark places in my head and see what comes out. And even though in person, I’m pretty funny, other people do light and humorous contemporary way better than I do. Waaay better. Because if I tried to write a something with a little heat and a little humor right now, it would probably come out like a post WWII Germanic novella: the hero fails in some way, and while everyone starves, there’s a single loaf of bread sitting on a table in an flat in Lübeck, uneaten and growing stale. (Yeah, even I don’t know where that came from, but that Gruppe 47 literature stuff was pretty stinking depressing… but I’m sure you get my point.)

MCC

Getting Ready


Well, I’m supposed to be getting ready to send my manuscript(s) in to the agents who requested them.

But I’m not.

Because I’m a chicken (bock bock).

Actually, I amend the previous comment. While I am still a chicken, I am actually getting prepared to send in my manuscripts. The unfortunate problem: my synopsis sucks.

I mean, it sucks so bad I’ve actually named it J. Edgar (Hoover).

My writing can range from ho hum to really pretty awesome, but J. Edgar is so awful I’m ashamed of it. And it’s long: while other people are talking about their 900 word synopses, I’m looking at 2800 words (eight pages)… Eight pages of something clearly not my best work.

And I get that everyone hates her synopsis. After all, it must be a common enough problem since every time I go to one of my meetings (“Hi, my name is Meggan and I write romance novels”), the published authors complain about what one dubbed the “POSS” (piece of shit synopsis). I think those words are pretty adequate in summing up precisely how I feel about mine. It’s wretched. And boring. And not half so fascinating as the book I’ve actually written.

Because the book, in my humble opinion, is pretty good. It’s placed in a couple of contests, and since then, it’s only improved. I’m actually doing fairly well in my contest entries: I’ve finaled in 66% of the contests I’ve entered (though I think that number is actually 50%, but I haven’t heard official word about one, but it was one we had to include the synopsis for, and, as previously mentioned, my synopsis is horrid), and in the one I didn’t final in, I actually got pretty decent scores. High nineties, so it must have been close to finaling. Granted, I haven’t always finaled with the same story (shocking!), but I guess my finaling at least demonstrates I have some capacity to write… Someone seems to think I show some promise, anyway.

But back to J. Edgar. How does one go about summarizing a four hundred page novel in less than 10 pages, including the end? I built an entire world, and now you want me to sum it up–including plot points–in less than ten pages, and let you know how it ends? Impossible. Well, not impossible, but hard to do well. And all the advice I’ve gotten in regard to writing the synopsis (well, all the advice I’ve read) seems to indicate I should figure out a sentence that best describes every chapter, and then use that. But so much happens in my book that I’m finding that a very difficult thing to do.

Ugh.

The hard part isn’t writing the book (though that’s no easy task, either)… The hard part is everything that comes after: the query letter, the pitch, the synopsis, the endless edits. And then there’s the waiting.

I want this so much I can taste it, but I’m terrified, too. Afraid someone will take one look at J. Edgar and say: “Holy cow, this is the worst piece of crap I’ve ever read.” Because, really, it kind of is.

So I will revise, and edit, and edit some more, and hopefully, come back with a synopsis at least vaguely worthy of the book it represents…

MCC

MCC and the Seven Deadly Sins


My sins, my sins, why have you forsaken me?

I love the seven deadly sins. I mean, what’s a good life without gluttony and sloth and a little envy?

Except, right now, the seven big ones don’t love me. Sad, but true.

7.  Wrath.

I’m not opposed to wrath, I’m just not really pissed off at anyone, and, as I get older, I’m finding it harder and harder to hold a grudge. I guess I’m just not as determined as I used to be. Now, when someone really ticks me off, I’m mad for maybe a day or two (if that), before I just simply… lose interest. Maybe my attention span is not what it used to be–I’ll blame modern media. Hey, everyone else does.

6. Envy

I’d like more money, and a house not on a major thorough fare, but if I never get those things, I’ll survive just fine. Again, I’ve got so much going on, I’ve kind of lost interest in envy. Sometimes I’m jealous of what other people have; for instance, I’d like to have the money to be able to stay home (not that I would, because, well, I like to work. That, and if I did stay home, my husband would actually expect the house to be clean, and of all the things I’m good at, housekeeping is NOT one of them… Just ask the ginormous pile of laundry on the landing just waiting to be washed… It’s calling my name, and I am pointedly ignoring it).

5. Greed

I think you have to have money for this one. Also, I’m pretty generous–when I feel like it. Actually, I think I suffer from Envy more than I do from Greed.

4. Pride

I’m chunky. I’ve got scars all over my belly (keg-style that it is). And the wrinkle between my brows just won’t go away. I’d Botox it away, but that would take effort on my part–and if I did Botox myself, the way my luck has been running, I’d come out looking like the joker… or, I’d randomly grow a set of testicles. It would be something bizarre, where the doctor would say, “Gee, we don’t know why that happened.” So much for vanity, right? I mean, I suppose you could make an argument that I do have some degree of vanity because Miss Clairol and I are very well acquainted, and I do wax the unibrow so now I actually have two brows… I’ll have to think about that.

3. Sloth

Oh, sloth, how I love you. In my younger years, I could stay in bed all day (though is it sloth if there’s also lust involved? Hmmm). Now, there’s kids and dogs and soccer practice, the church newsletter to write, the book and the blog, not to mention the full-time job. Yes, my house looks like a bomb went off in it (so does the car, filled as it is with kid artwork, empty water bottles, and some unknown substance that randomly makes my car stinky… I think I’ve got a science experiment back there).

Thirteen years ago, when I got married, my current pace would have killed me. Not now. Now I can make it with less than five hours of sleep… I’m not happy about it, but I can make it. So, sloth, in my quest to become a writer, I have now forsaken you. Sorry. But know, you are sorely missed.

2. Gluttony.

I don’t look this way because I spent years eating nothing but rabbit food. Cake and pie and ice cream. A medium-rare filet mignon. Pizza. Oh, how I love these things.

Unfortunately, I can no longer eat these things.

After years of eating eggs, I am now officially allergic to them. Goodbye cake and ice cream, so long sweet creme brulee and delicate chocolate mousse. I am also allergic to beef. Goodbye, tender filet, adios greasy bleu cheese burger. And, in their quest to fix my stomach, my doctors have now managed to make it so that all things delicious (e.g., containing fat) now make me so wretchedly sick that there’s no point in eating them anymore. And what things don’t make me sick, you may ask. Well, here it is: broccoli, a plain potato, plain chicken. Brussel sprouts. I actually like brussel sprouts, but not as much as I adored a nice filet and creme brulee.

Oh, and gluttony, you bastard, the only vice I had remaining–alcohol–has now been removed also. Like everything else, it makes me sick before I can even get a decent buzz on.

I miss gluttony so much I would find a way to smoke it, drink it and/or eat it if I ran into it on the road. Unfortunately, I would then have to throw up.

1. Lust

Kids. Book. Blog. Work. Enough said.

However, lust, you are still, by far, my favorite. After all, you are a central theme in my books. I love lust (and your other name: fornication). As with my other forays into sin, you and I were better acquainted in my younger days (see: Sloth). However, I’ve learned that I can actually go longer without food than I can without sex. Hey, there’s a reason I’ve been with the same man for fourteen years.

MCC

It’s Not Quite as Crazy as it Sounds


So, as I was discussing my ideas for future novels with a friend of mine today, she asked how it is that I come up with my characters. And I told her how some of them have come together. For my first book, I just sat down at the computer and the story just kind of… told itself. For another, someone had suggested that I try writing for Harlequin, but I had no idea what to write. At the time, I was deeply involved in my present manuscript, which is somewhat… dark. I wanted something light and fun, and as the husband prattled on about the World Series of Poker, I thought: “Wouldn’t it be fun to see what happened if a guy won a girl in a poker game?” And that’s how The Marker came to life. Plot came first, the characters came second.

And then I let loose with this gem: “And for The Queen Killer, I was sitting on my couch and I heard Alek talking to me.”

It sounded completely insane, and, let me tell you, the expression on my friend’s face said pretty clearly, “Holy shit, I need to get out of here before this bitch blows her top and kills me.” She nodded faintly, as if she understood, but I could see that she didn’t. After all, I think she might have been in fear for her life, and I was, unfortunately, between her and the door.

“Do you hear these voices often?” she asked, her face carefully neutral.

I tried gracefully to back out of this. I really do know that the people in my head aren’t real, but, as was the case with Alek, sometimes my characters just show up on my doorstep. When he came to me, I didn’t know his name or his hair color or even when he lived, but I knew his voice, carrying a faint European accent and a whisper of menace, and I knew he had wings and fangs but was not a vampire, not really. Or, at least, that he was neither dead nor soulless.

But that still sounds like I’m a little unstable, and I swear, I am one of the most stable people I know. I just have a very active imagination. And trying to explain how sometimes a character speaks to me is hard to do, especially when I’m talking to someone who loves to read but doesn’t write. Because even I know it sounds nuts.

“Yeah, I know he’s not real, but yes, he does talk to me.”

Do I have conversations with him? No.  He’s not perched on my shoulder and chatting me up all day, and no, he does not tell me to kill the dog over my protests that I don’t have a dog. But maybe that’s because I actually do have a dog, and have no plans to kill him unless he eats another pair of my shoes or continues in his quest to eat the walls of my house. I always wanted a larger bathroom downstairs, but I’m not sure that the way to take out that wall is one nibble at a time.

But I digress.

Maybe it’s not normal to hear voices in your head, to have people just kind of… show up there. But I’m not sure that it’s entirely crazy either. It’s not that I don’t know the difference between fiction and reality, between the world I’ve created in my head and the one I actually live in.

I just prefer the one I’ve made up.

MCC

Top 10 Reasons Why a Werewolf Shouldn’t be Manscaped


Ok, I couldn’t handle it, so here we go. But before we begin, I will reiterate that I still love Alcide…

10. He would have to buy stock in shaving cream. And razors.

9. Think chinese crested chihuahua. Now imagine that haircut on a wolf. Enough said.

8. He’s part dog, dude. If he were a cat, I could totally see it, but my dog steps in poo and totally doesn’t give a crap. And he smells like a dog, even after he’s had a bath.

7. Speaking of, I can’t get close to said German Shepherd (who looks a lot like the wolves on True Blood, incidentally) with a brush, let alone with wax.

6. While on the topic of waxing, can you imagine? I mean, really? Think of the scene with Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and then multiply it by a factor of 10. I’m a big fan of the waxing (hairy girls, unite!), but even that didn’t look like a good time to me. A line must be drawn, my friends.

5. Would a guy who’s actually a dog part of the time really care if he’s hairy or not? I suppose he might if it were really hot outside or something, but don’t you think he’s got bigger fish to fry than if his ass looks awesome hairless? I think he’d be totally following lunar cycles. Or trying to find out what that awesome smell is behind my refrigerator.

4. Winter. It’s not like you can just go get yourself a parka if it gets cold out. Last I checked, while they make life vests and shoes for dogs, I haven’t seen a parka.

3. And before you go all “I have a Yorkie who wears a sweater in winter” on me, seriously. How sissy is that?

2. Shape-shifters everywhere would make fun of you. Hell, I know I would.

1. While in wolf form, there’s no excuse to lick your balls if you’re hairless down there. It just doesn’t fly, man. It’s like cutting holes in the pockets of your sweatpants–everyone knows what you’re actually doing, so there’s no point in doing it.

Hairy guys are hot, werewolves! Remember that and embrace your hairiness! (Ok, maybe I’m just saying that because I wouldn’t want to date a guy who has less body hair than I do–and with that statement alone, I have narrowed down the dating pool significantly. Lucky for me, I don’t have to worry about dating anymore)

MCC

What I’m ACTUALLY thinking about


I spent a good deal of time today considering what I would be blogging about tonight. Would I be expounding on my theories on why girls like vampires and boys like zombies? Would I enthrall everyone with my opinions on whether or not a werewolf should be manscaped (the answer, my friends, is no–what’s the point of being a werewolf if you can’t be hairy? He’d be shaving more often than I have to, and let me tell you, that’s a lot. I think Alcide on True Blood is as hot as the next girl, but honestly, manscaping? I would imagine that a manscaped werewolf would just look like the hairless chihuahua of the paranormal kingdom… And don’t even get me started on the point of being hairy from the chin up but bare from the neck down. Then, they would be larger versions of the chinese crested chihuahua, and that’s just weird, because let’s face it, those dogs are kind of creepy looking. Give me a hairy werewolf–and a hairy guy–any day). I even had a debate with myself over whether I should be blogging at all with a *self-imposed* deadline looming over my head.

But instead of these things (though the hairless werewolf thing is still preying on my mind), I was actually thinking of how surprisingly sad I am to see the saga of Alek and Maggie come to an end. I know that they will be showing up in the next books, but not as main characters again for some time. And over the last 10 months that they’ve been in my head, I’ve grown to love them. Let’s face it, I liked Maggie from the start, but I loved Alek from the moment I heard his voice in my head, before I put a single word on paper.

I remember those words very clearly. It was January, and I was sitting on the couch, contemplating what I was doing with The Silver Cord, my first book (a historical western), when an accented voice said in my head:

“Vampire. Incubus. Angel. Demon. I am all of these and none of these. I am Nephilim.”

Yeah, yeah, melodramatic–Maggie thinks so too. But no, he’s not a fallen angel–he’s an alien. Or at least half. He is, in fact, the product of the union between a son of heaven and  a daughter of man.

I am strangely sad to see their story end. As I finished my final edits today (on paper, I still have to make the changes in the manuscript), I felt oddly… weepy.  Still do, in fact.

Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love Simon, the hero of Mystic, the next in the series. In fact, in the original concept of this story arc, Simon didn’t even get his own story, but I liked him so much that I decided his tale needs to be told too  (as do the tales of Cash, Finn and Nikolai).  But let’s face it: though I love Simon, I could not have conceived of a character so completely different from Alek. Simon’s not as broody as Alek, but in his own way, he is significantly darker. It will be fun for me to write his story. But I think a part of me will always miss Alek–even though I, as the author, know precisely what’s in store for both he and Maggie in the coming books. While their story is the second book I’ve finished, it’s the first I’ve ever pitched, the first I entered into a contest, the first to final in said contest, and the first I’ll send off to agents. I’m sure that it won’t be picked up by the first place I submit it to (though here’s hoping!), meaning it will be the first story I’ve written to be rejected. Hopefully, it will be the first story to be published.

It seems like a major milestone, like graduation. You’re happy that you’re done with school, but you’re sad to see this thing that has been such an enormous part of your life for so long end. And I get it that 10 months isn’t that long–certainly not akin to the amount of time I spent in college, that’s for certain–but in a way, I’ve known Alek and Maggie their entire lives. I know the traumas that shaped them, the desires they harbor in the secret spaces of their hearts; I know things about them that they don’t know themselves.

As I move on to Simon’s story, I will miss them.

I miss them already.