Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taking a Crochet Break

I have an admission to make. I enjoy crocheting a great deal. Now, that won’t be surprising to anyone who knows me. I’ve crocheted for years. But here’s something not everyone knows, mainly because I made the decision Sunday afternoon. I’m going to learn to knit. My goal is to know at least the basics by the end of the year. As awesome as crocheting is, I would love to be able to make a cable-knit sweater. I rarely find sweaters that are long enough for my tastes (mid-thigh is my favorite length with sleeves that fall to my fingers) and cable-knit looks nifty. I doubt I’ll be able to knit cables by the end of the year. I’ll be happy if I can knit and purl with the same ease as I can crochet.

I know, I normally connect everything to writing or editing. This time, however, there’s no connection to my writing. Needlecrafts are something I enjoy when I take a break from writing. Taking an afternoon to crochet or work on cross-stitch leaves me feeling refreshed when I go back to working with words.

All writers and editors need the occasional break from the written word to keep from getting burned out. If you always write and edit and never do anything just for the fun of it, you can lose your excitement for written words. An afternoon away from the computer is a great way to come back to your work refreshed and enthusiastic once more.

Crocheting is one of my favorite “downtime” activities. What do you enjoy doing when taking a break from words?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Wild Rose Press is giving away a SONY eReader!

Romance publisher The Wild Rose Press is giving away a SONY eReader to one lucky person! The rules are simple:

1. Buy a story by one of the sponsoring authors

2. Send in a copy of the order number, the title of the story, and the date you purchased it. If you order several stories, even in one order, you can send in as many entries as you have titles.

The Fall 2008 SONY eReader giveaway runs from September 22, 2008 to December 15, 2008. For more information, including a list of sponsoring authors, check out the contest page at The Wild Rose Press.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Summer colds...

Summer colds are the worst kind, in my opinion. They seem to hit harder and take forever to go away. I caught one last week (at the very end of summer; how unfair is that?) and every time I think I'm getting over it, it comes back. This morning in particular, I feel about like I did last Friday. Am I worried? No, because I know several other people who have or had the same cold and they're going through the same thing. It takes forever to go away, but every "relapse" is a little lighter and a little shorter. Maybe by next week, this cold will be gone completely! One can always hope, anyway.

Here's the fun (haha) part of having a cold right now: Not only am I trying to expand a short story (as requested by an editor) I also have a ton of other work to do as well. Work stops for no cold, though there are days I wish it would. But deadlines continue to march forward with no regard for a person's sinuses.

So I'm off to work and try to shake this cold once and for all. Check back Thursday for a more interesting post.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

100th Post!

Post number 100 has arrived at long last! This is a major milestone for me, since this is my first blog. Regular readers will know that I've blogged about a variety of topics from writing and editing to searching for a job and taking care of my niece. It all comes back to writing and the writer's life since writing is my passion and a huge part of my life.

Being able to share what I've learned about writing and editing in the last eight years is an amazing experience. Sharing my struggles on the road to publication so other writers know they're not alone is an honor. Publishing is far from simple and can be a difficult business to break into. But if you're willing to put forth the effort to learn and revise and learn from rejections so you can revise again, you're ahead of the writers who refuse to accept that their manuscripts might need a little more work. Persistence is everything, especially if you combine it with patience. This business is notoriously slow, but as you know from past posts, it's a business I love and hope to stay with for a very long time.

Thanks for joining me on the journey to this 100th post. Here's to another hundred posts and beyond!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wow, there's a lot of movement in the agenting/publishing world!

In the last couple of weeks, I've heard about several agents and editors moving from one place to another, getting promoted, etc. Here's a brief rundown of the agent moves I've heard about. If I tried to do the editor moves as well, I'd never finish this post.

Emmanuelle Alspaugh, formerly with Wendy Sherman Associates, has moved to Judith Ehrlich Literary Management.

Sheila Crowley left AP Watt to join Curtis Brown UK.

Anne McDermid & Associates in Canada will use British agency Rogers, Coleridge & White to represent their authors' rights in the British and translation markets.

Mollie Glick has left the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency to join Foundry Literary + Media.

Mary Cummings, former McKnight Award in Children's Literature administrator and organizer of the Festival of Children's Literature at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, will represent children's books in association with Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises.

Melissa Jeglinski, formerly senior editor of Harlequin's Silhouette Desire line, has joined The Knight Agency as associate agent/submissions coordinator.

Michelle Andelman has left Andrea Brown Literary Agency to join Franklin & Siegal as a children's book scout.

Will Francis, formerly of Greene & Heaton, will join Janklow & Nesbit UK September 22.

Kathleen Spinelli, co-founder of agency and packager Brands-To-Books, has been hired as publisher of custom packaging at Quarto's art instruction and activity book subsidiary Walter Foster Publishing.

Trena Keating, editor-in-chief of Dutton, has been hired by Endeavor as an agent in the New York Office.

Thanks to Publishers Lunch for all of this great information! If you'd like to sign up to recieve the free Publishers Lunch newsletter (where I learned about all of these agent moves and so much more), just visit the subscription page and follow the instructions.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today is September 11. It's been seven years since the terrorist attacks that killed nearly three thousand people in New York City, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Is the world a safer place now than it was then? I have no idea. Our country's security is stronger, but the world at large is still pretty unstable. There will likely always be security problems all over the world. Human nature is a wacky thing that tends to think violence is the answer for disagreements. As I've said for most of my life, violence doesn't solve anything. It only exacerbates the problem.

That said, it's important to know that while I may hate war in general (I don't know of anyone in any country who likes war), I think going to Afghanistan and Iraq were necessary moves for our government to make. Through the effort and sacrifice of the brave men and women not only from the United States but several other countries as well, two countries who had been suffering under tyranny are now democracies. Those military operations destabilized both countries, but they now have a chance to rebuild into better places to live than they were when ruled by tyrannical dictators.

Today is the perfect opportunity to remember not only the nearly three thousand lives lost seven years ago, but also all of the men and women who have sacrificed everything to serve their country. Thank you to everyone currently serving to make the world a better place. A big thank you also goes out to the men and women who have served in the past. You and your families all have my gratitude for the sacrifices you've made in the name of freedom, not only freedom for our country but freedom for others as well. You are appreciated.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dogs and Toddlers

I adopted a one-year-old shih tzu over the weekend and I've learned something very important in the short time I've had him. There are a lot of similarities between young dogs and toddlers. They need attention often, they get hyper, they need naps, and they need to be taught everything. My favorite is the fact that if either the dog or the toddler is quiet, you better find out what they're getting into.

I love this little dog who's the size of my cat (he weighs about four pounds more than the cat, so he's a little stockier). It would be nice if he'd sleep later or go back to bed, though. I am not a morning person. I've never been a morning person, I've always been a night owl. My new dog likes to go to bed about eleven and get up at six or seven. This morning, I woke up to a furry little attack of licking and snuffling because my dog needed to go out. There are worse ways to wake up, I admit. But did he want to go back to bed when he came in? No, of course not. I tried to go back to bed and the little fuzzball had a massive hug attack. When I finally gave in and got up for the day (at 7:20...grr...), he was the happiest pup alive.

Obviously, we're going to need an adjustment period to get used to each other. I love this little dog, though, and he seems to have become my dog almost instantly, so it's all good. Now I just have to get used to early mornings, hug attacks when I'm in the middle of something, and checking to see what he's getting into when it gets quiet. Boy, does that last sentence sound like something I once said when my two-year-old niece came to visit.

I figure I'll be in great shape when my niece comes to visit again. My little dog should have me well-trained to deal with a toddler again. Hopefully, I'll have him just as well-trained by then and he'll know the meaning of the word "sit."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's Font-tastic!

I needed to find a certain font, so I went to a couple of websites that had been recommended to me. I didn’t find the font I needed, but wow! There are some awesome fonts I never knew existed! One of them would be perfect for a Halloween promotion. The letters have skulls decorating them. One site had an entire category labeled Horror Fonts. The fonts people create amaze me. Not only can you find your standard Arial or Comic Sans, there are hundreds—possibly thousands—of nifty fonts out there.

Until today, I didn’t know I could download a font that looks like it might be used on a store sign in Tokyo. Want to add a little Celtic flair to your words? There’s a font for it. You name it, you can probably find a font that looks like it or at least comes close to what you want. There’s even a font with creepy little faces full of fangs for kids. I can picture elementary school age boys in particular loving that one.

One thing I learned in my browsing through a multitude of fonts is that I can download a Mkhedruli font. That’s the modern Georgian language, which I think is beautiful. Something else I learned is that if I have the time and patience, I can insert the Georgian letters using Arial Unicode MS. You can do the same thing with several other alphabets, including Bengali and Kannada. How cool is that?

I never did find the font I was looking for, but that’s okay. I found an entire art form I didn’t realize existed. The designers of the fonts I saw today are such creative people and sometimes downright artistic. If you’re looking for an awesome font to liven up that flyer you need to make or your website, or you’re just looking for something fun to do, I highly recommend checking out some of the free font sites out there. My two favorites out of the ones I visited today were Fontstock.net and Simply the Best Fonts. I’m sure there are dozens more out there with free fonts as well.

Have fun looking through all the fonts. I plan to go back to those sites and download a couple of fonts myself. As I keep saying, those font creators have done some awesome work!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wahoo!!! (And Yay for Critique Groups)

I'm so excited! I received an email last night to let me know the newest issue of The Chick Lit Review is up on the website...with my short story in it! Spunk is my first successful attempt at first person writing as well as my first successful attempt at chick lit. This has to be the perfect way to start a week.

I ended last week on a good note as well. I submitted a short romance story a few weeks ago and heard from the editor Friday. She likes the plot and everything, but it needs to be longer. After reading her note, I understand what she means about it needing to be longer. All I have to do is lengthen it and make sure it's as perfect as possible, then resubmit. My writing life is good.

I'll be honest. When I first got that request to lengthen the story it scared me a bit. I had no idea where to take the story next to make it longer. I'd originally written it until the ideas stopped flowing and it came to a natural conclusion. After a day and a half of beating my head on my desk to try to come up with a way to make the story longer, I finally did what I should have done in the first place: I sent a message to one of my online critique groups. Four people volunteered to take a look at the story and see if they had any suggestions. By yesterday afternoon, they'd sent their ideas and those messages sparked off ideas in my mind. I now have another short scene written and I have a fairly good idea of how the story ends. All I need to do now is write a scene or two to go in between, then I can revise the story and send it off once more.

This is a perfect example of why I'm such a supporter of critique groups. If I hadn't belonged to this group, I'd probably still be beating my head on my desk. Other writers in the group have been stuck or needed something critiqued on a tight deadline, and I've been there for them. It's nice to see the group work the way it's meant to...writers helping writers, providing encouragement and support during the writing and submitting process, offering sympathy when someone receives a rejection, and celebrating when someone is published. They're also there to offer moral support during difficult times in personal life.

I wouldn't trade this group for anything. They're my writer buddies, and a couple of them have become friends, even though we've never met in real life and probably never will. I'm sure an in-person group is just as great, but I've never found one in my area to know for sure. I can guarantee there are great online groups for those of us unable to meet with a group in person. Of course, just like anything in life, you're liable to find groups that don't meet your needs or that you just don't click with. I've been lucky so far. The first online crit group I joined turned out to be a great place with wonderful people.

Now for a bit of encouragement for anyone feeling like they'll never make it as a writer. This good writing news of mine? It comes after years of writing, learning more about the craft, and countless rejections for various projects. I also thought I'd never be able to write a good short story since I'm mainly a novelist. Obviously, I was wrong since I've had two short stories published and an editor interested in another one this year alone. I encourage you to expand your writing horizons. Not only is the change of pace refreshing, you just might find success in the new branch of writing while you continue to work on whatever area your heart truly lies in.