Week of Contests

The title of this blog might be a misnomer because after yesterdays 24 hr contest I am not sure what week it actually is. I have submitted five different short stories or excerpts. This will be therapeutic for me:

Woven In Time – Epic Family Saga Historical Fiction Complete at 130,000 (status: to be pitched at WDC15 in NYC August 1)

The Tea Room – Historical Fiction Complete at 17,000 words

Flaked Tuna – Historical Fiction ( status: entered excerpt (2,600 words into the Writers Relief – Peter K Hixson Memorial Award for Creative Writers) Free Contest) August notification

Driven to Listen – Fiction Short Story Complete at 3,100 words (statis: The Masters Review Contest entered 7/15/15 $20)

Writers Weekly 24-hr prompt (statis: received entry 6 wks)

There, I am trying my best to be diligent on my part to be submersed (I almost used the word incorrectly in one of my submissions but fortunately goggled it first, (it is being used correctly here)fully into the business of getting my work published. Should I admit this on a blog? I WANT SOMEONE TO READ MY STUFF. there I said it. I figure in a contest they’ll have to read it to see if its a contender. Voila! Feedback.

24hr contest, I would have had the contest done in two hours if I hadn’t gotten lost in the story. When I checked the word count I had double what was required. I probably should have started over. But I spent the rest of the night till 3:00 am trying to make it right. When I finally pushed myself away from the computer I thought I might dream about it — but no. Just before the alarm went off (I had a big commitment and had to go) I did dream of a solution. I got up (before the alarm) and implemented it and finished with a reply notice, fifteen minutes before I had to go. That is cutting it short. I was pleased with the end product but I don’t think it will win. But I did learn how difficult it is to reduce a story and not loose the flow of the story.

So I have now experienced the contest, the blog, the website, twitter (which I now like) and facebook. the novel, the book, the short story and the excerpt. Unless something comes up my next big thing is WDC15 NYC July 31 – August 2. I am currently working on my Historical Fiction Story Flaked Tuna and still revising Woven In Time mostly because of queries and first ten page submissions because every time I read it I find things to change.

The Scene

I’m sitting in the library where I got my inspiration for my short story Driven to Listen that I submitted this past week. My original Memoirs of a Determined Mother turned into a fiction fantasy practically overnight.

I just re-read the 3,000  word short story and I was glad I took the time to enter my first literary contest. I had printed out a copy to give to the heroine in my story, but she isn’t here tonight. I firmly believe in fate and just figure that it wasn’t meant to be, it would have been a little awkward anyway. What if she hated it? But you can rest assured that if I win I will get her address and mail her a copy, I might even take the trip.

I am very excited about my latest story. It’s another historical fiction with a little time travel twist thrown in in a way I haven’t read before. That’s not saying much because up until fifteen years ago I had only read a handful of books not counting required reading in high school or college. Until the rise of Harry Potter which I got for my son and read voraciously  and haven’t stopped since. I read all the Hobbits, all the Dragons, the Thrones, the Vampires, Highlanders, and Romance.

The few I read in between were  Anna Karenina, Henry V and attempted War and Peace.

I always said that if I wasn’t an artist I would have studied History . But I wasn’t sure how I would work it in with my creative tendencies. Now I completely understand how it can be done — through writing. I wish it didn’t take so long for me to figure this out.

I mentioned before, the ability to write comes naturally and over thinking it is detrimental. I write without getting bogged down by names or minor details, especially in this day and age when FIND and SEEK can correct names you decide to change (just be careful) Ex.: I was beginning to think the last name of one of my characters wasn’t quite right so I started using a nickname and when I sought it out to “change all” it changed some simpler words as well. A minor disaster but nothing compared to the dawning of the age of desktop when mistakes meant a re-write. I shudder to think about it.

My time here is winding down two more shows after tonight and my “road show” will be over. However, I do have another contest I have entered. It’s the 24 hour story that I spoke about before. So I may not be posting anything new for a few days but I will be writing to keep up with the desire to improve.

All in a days work

I traveled back to the town where my daughter is interning at the Community Theater after having a few days off. A full day of hanging around waiting turned out to be very productive. I started another story. I am up really late blogging because I got carried away going over my new story. It is a historical fiction fantasy with some time travel thrown into the mix. I have been contemplating how I was going to handle an idea I had for this story and I decided to just take the plunge. I am satisfied so far with the outcome. Not sure if I will unveil this one on my blog like I did the Tea Room but stay tuned.

I got some feedback on my novel that I am pitching at the end of the month. I am grateful for the time it takes to do this and grateful for the constructive criticism. I don’t mean to argue but I guess it comes across that way. I just want to make sure I understand the suggestions.

As I mentioned before I put aside the time this weekend to enter a 24hr contest and I am counting down the hours till then. I will share my experience.

Covering all the details

My blog page has changed somewhat, I now have a picture that I did with photo booth (believe it or not) and PhotoShop. The theme changed as well I hope it is an improvement, — I think so. I am covering all the details I need to be as professional as I can in the process of getting my novel published. Since I am a first time novelist, I need to have an online presence. I was able to link my name.com to the schemeweaver.com blog site, so when an agent googles my name it will come up whereas schemeweaver never would.

Another area I needed to cover was winning contests, which you cannot do if you don’t enter. So I officially entered my first contest this morning at 1am. My short story “Driven to Listen” complete at 3,058 words was a WIP and when I realized that the deadline was 7/15 not 7/18 I had to step it up a bit. It was almost there just needed a little tweaking and I shared it with Catherine, who got a cameo in the story actually — she’s the heroine. So I thank her over and over, she really is my go-to person, a great sister.

I have also entered a 24hr contest which starts this Saturday, I am really excited about that one. I have always worked well under pressure and this will be a challenge. I will blog the outcome of that as well.

My biggest endeavor is the WDC 2015 in NYC at the end of this month. I have a pitch session, which I am practicing for, several workshops and networking. It’s all about my novel “Woven In Time” a Historical Faction Epic Family Saga which takes place in the Eighteen Century in A Multi-Cultural – International setting, complete at 130,000 words.

I am planning to enter another contest in the Fall with my “Tea Room” story which is a Historical Fiction, Eighteenth Century story about the cloistering of five princesses in a Royal Palace complete at 17,000 words.

So far I have not planned ahead for any of my stories. I had pretty good first drafts on all my stories so far, but I am not against trying something new. I also battled around the idea of a screenplay, I have been told that my writing is so vivid that my stories should be written as a screenplay. The novelist maintains complete control over its characters, setting descriptions, clothing, hair and eye color decisions. The screenplay  is a collaboration of several different people; director, producer, and the actor who adds his creative input.

Covering all the details also includes all areas of social media.

Follow your leads

I recently posted a quote that I truly identified with. It was “I was a not a writer to begin with, I was a listener. The quote came through a twitter feed and it stayed with me, until I thought I would claim it … it is true for me too. Erskine Caldwell (I googled him) was born in 1903 and lived in Georgia and wrote about the harsh life in the south during the Depression. His book “Tobacco Road” is on my wish list to read, I understand it is pretty raw but I intend to read it.

He was born six years before my father and lived to be eighty – three. He was handsome and married four times from what I’ve read so far. My curiosity is peaked. I can relate to his life because my own parents lived in that time frame. Erskine Caldwell was involved in WWII and when he came home he settled in California.

I too, was a listener before I was a writer. My mother had stories to tell, and as I mentioned before in earlier blogs —  I believed she should write a book. I listened to her stories, over and over and when she grew old I listened to them until the breaking point when I said “Tell me something I haven’t heard. You must have something else, you couldn’t have told me everything.”

My first novel has a lot of the stories my mother shared with me and I was pleased how I was able to relate a girl from the 18th century to a girl from the roaring twenties. I had contemplated that for a long time. She had the talent to write, she lived in an exciting time, and she led a colorful life. My mother was born in 1919 but I doubt she ever did the “Texas Tommy”. She passed in 2002 at eighty  -three years. She told me just before she died “You will miss my stories when I am gone.” I guess I did get a little exasperated toward the end, but my response was “I’ll miss you, but not your stories — they are burned in my memory.” Perhaps deep down in side I knew I would be using the information she shared with me to add believability to my stories.

If my book ever does get published I will be able to share the moments in the book that is insider information that was amazingly transformed to a different place and time. It make me “giddy” when I think about how it worked out. Catherine, my sister, picked them out right away, of course — she heard the stories too.

My own life story has some very interesting parts that I could possibly translate in the zombie apocalypse alien abduction story I am contemplating writing next.

Daily Dose

I spent a good portion of my night last night listening to a very helpful webinar hosted by Writer’s Digest. The topic was “How to Hook an Agent with Your Query Letter by Sara Megibow. Sara was a very good moderator and spoke at length on how important the query letter is. When I first considered the need to write a query I read some advice about not rushing through the process and take time for it to evolve. I did that and still was way off.

My queries have certainly evolved and as I mentioned before I put hope in my first rejection that my queries were getting a little closer to what it needs to be in order to be read and stand out from the thousands of submissions received each week. The professionalism of the query reflects the professionalism of your manuscript and a secondary mission (but just as important) to the writing, is the business aspect of selling your book.

The agent is all about the business of selling books and the quality of the query gives the agent confidence that you are ready to forge ahead with the business end of your creation. The log-line (the one sentence explanation of your book) is what the agent may use to present the project to the editor or publisher and needs to be unique and “sparkly” (no actual glitter) to get the attention of those making the money decisions.

Back in the day when I was a graphic artist and the boss came in with several Mac’s and desktop publishing I would have run out the door (some people did) if I had enough sense to realize the scope of changes that were about to hit the industry. That is how I feel about writing my first novel, there is a lot of information out there that may curtail your enthusiasm for writing. However, ignorance is bliss and I forged ahead only realizing after the fact, that the story is only part of it. Of course I am glad that I have the novel under my belt and I am now facing the daunting task of getting it read and eventually published.

Right now my online presence is inadequate, I need a website that can be found by using a search for my name which is all the agents have to find you by. This blog doesn’t have my name in the url, so I would recommend that you don’t make the same mistake because now I have to figure out how to keep this blog going while getting credit for doing it under my own name. Simply pointing my name.com to this site may be a quick fix.

I have entered a contest that has a twenty-four hour turn around time frame, the info (prompt, word count, etc.) will be downloaded when I sit to write. I am looking forward to the challenge, I think it will be fun. I am also considering submitting my third story to a contest that ends this Saturday as well, I am working toward that goal but I am unsure wether my story will be complete by the deadline.

Sometime when I sit to blog I have no idea of what will come out, that is usually the easiest blogging to do, when there is a specific subject then the planning can be cumbersome — details and such.

Keep those comments coming, I enjoy hearing from you.

A Novel Conversation

I started this blog to navigate the unknown world of writing and getting published. I am sure my knowledge now is a little more astute than it was when I started out. I have just sent out my eighth submission, this was a little different that all previous submissions. There was a form to fill out and a single page attachment was requested in a pdf format. There were also questions “What was the last book you read?”, “Who inspired you the most to write?” and my favorite “What is your favorite sentence in the sample chapters you are sending?” That last one made me smile and recall the instant that sentence came through my brain and spilled out onto the page. I had several in mind but only one was isolated, meaning it didn’t need the conversation between two characters to make the point succinct.

I did get an auto response shortly after submitting my work and a note explaining how it can take up to three months to be confirmed. So my previous “assumption” that after one month with no reply is just a good as a NO, may be incorrect, I may have to take that back.

I am still under the TEN submissions rule so I may send out two more and then wait till August 28 to send out more (hopefully I will have heard from someone by then).

I have now written two books and have started a third. This one will be different, it’s a Memoir and I am not familiar with the rules for that genre — there are always rules.

In the Tea Room story I enjoyed the diary entries, it was a chance to write first person and see the world from a different perspective, while at the same time being omnipotent and having all the answers, unless of course one of the characters refuses to do what you expected they would.

Jay, my very understanding and supportive husband, helped me with my ninety-second pitch. He does radio and knows a lot about squeezing a pound of information into an ounce of space. My query had morphed down into a synopsis type spiel, when one of my recent query submissions requested just a book jacket type description of the manuscript. Not so good for the query but good for the pitch, I need to go back to the drawing board to re access my understanding of the query and the synopsis.

Again, I go back to my earlier musings wondering if anyone is interested in my inner thoughts but at least if I am not standing in front of you can choose not to read it.

I saw this great quote I will try to find it to give credit were credit is due but it went something like this.

“I was never a writer, but always a good listener.”

I FOUND IT!

I was not a writer to begin with; I was a listener. ERSKINE CALDWELL

 

 

Write something everyday

I have never felt that what I had to say was important, but lately I have been driven, and if you pay attention there are stories going on all around us — all the time. You only have to have the desire to pick up on it, and pick up a pen. I am surely driven, since writing my first novel I have been compelled to continue writing. Now instead of boring one person at a time, I am boring (hopefully not) an entire world, all at once!

Trying to fit into the exclusive world of writers, I reason that I’ve written — some. Letters to teachers, post-it notes, e-mail to friends, etc. are forms of writing, no? The most legitimate writing I have done in all seriousness, is the letters to the birth mother of my two adopted children. That has to be one of the most soul – searching writing ever done by anyone, and there are a lot of us out there that have done so. I was definitely driven.

Driven also, by the desire to have every opportunity for my child, and driven by the intense desire to  “burst out” in this stage of  my life. I accepted the commitment of driving my daughter to the internship she was offered at a community theater, forty minutes away. The hours are tentative; depending on the schedule, success of the rehearsals, and the structural soundness of the set design. I ended up spending several full days “camping out” in the “quirky but quaint” little town nestled in the hills.

I thought the time would be useful to work on a log – line for my novel that I am planning to pitch in the near future. Fortunately, the small community has a library that is open twenty hours a week. I do have a lot of time on my hands in which to blog, adjust my manuscript and work on the ever-changing query letter.

The Tea Room (FRP part twenty-two)

Vasilly roamed the hallways at the Palace as if he were looking for someone, he had lost his credibility and was ignored by Katrina. He tried to get on the good side of the former Tsarina but that was getting him nowhere as well. The General that had taken Katrina.s interest was now at the same status as Vasilly — former lover and yesterday’s news. Vasilly had to do something to get back into the graces of the Royal Family. Vasilly had remembered the hidden hallways and tried to learn quick and easy entry and exit strategies. His drinking and womanizing had also taken a hit, but his attack on Irina was regretful. Had he really been reduced to such a letch by Katrina’s callousness toward him?

Ludmilla was on one of her many ventures into the catacombs of the Royal Palace when she thought she head footsteps she froze in place, she had never encountered anyone before. She had begun to think that it was her own secret domain. She waited for what seemed to be forever until she felt it was safe to continue.

Sophia was sleeping a lot more lately and Ludmilla feared that Sophia would loose her battle for life. As she put those thoughts to rest she turned to see the form of a man standing in front of her. Ludmilla shrieked and turned, dropped her lantern and was immediately plunged into darkness.

“Please stop princess, you’ll fall and hurt yourself, please allow me to share my lantern and get you safely back to your rooms.”

Ludmilla opted to be sensible and allow help from this stranger with the pleasant voice. The tall dark shadow walked toward her as she tuned to welcome his light into her darkness. She didn’t notice the red of his uniform until they entered through the back chamber of the Tea Room.

Vasilly wasn’t sure Ludmilla would recognize him — she did not, she was never curious enough to notice the winning smile, this time however  she did. She blushed and thanked the handsome officer for assuring her safe return. He bowed and left.

When Ludmilla visited Sophia she was awake and she shared her adventure in the passageway that wasn’t a story she had to imagine. Ludmilla took to reading the stories of Dobrynya Nikitich, the brave knight, and his lady who stoically awaited his return.

“Which one was it? Didn’t you ask his name? Sophia asked.

“No I was so caught off guard I didn’t think to ask.

“Maybe next time you won’t drop your light and talk to him instead.” Sophia said yawning.

Ludmilla shut Sophia’s chamber door and went to her corner of the room when the door burst open and Katrina burst in with their mother.

“Is he up here? Is Vasilly up here with you?” Katrina stormed around the Tea Room certain she would find the errant Streltsy Guard like a bee floating around the blossoms.

“No” Ludmilla technically wasn’t lying. ” No one has been in the Tea Room, I just said good night to Sophia I was completely alone until you arrived.”

“He’s not here Katrina called to the Commander who remained outside the room, out of view.

With that they turned to leave.

“You should visit more often.” Ludmilla quipped as she shut the door behind them

She reached for the Atlas and sat to write, all of a sudden she didn’t want to see her hero vanquish th dragon. Despite all the death and destruction she felt sorry for her lonely beast. If she’s writing it she can do it, right?

The decision to send the boys and their leaders to the Crescent marsh lands at Kittridge proved to be a mistake, the Swedish army was reported to be heading that way for a final showdown in a battle that had been raging for several months. The sudden movement after long months of what seemed to be indecision was not planned for. The boys would be moved back to the Capitol City and the freshly trained and well-equipped Russian army would advance. Pietro refused to leave and some of his closer friends demanded to stay by his side. The marshy land and excess snow made for difficult conditions, supplies and shelter would determine the outcome of this battle.

When Fordham welcomed the boys back he fumed when he realized kirill and Pietro weren’t amongst them. He set out with Sergeant  Menchovick while Uri Piolotsky stayed behind. Irina did her best to be outside to see the arrival of the Kittridge contingent return. Sergeant  Menchovick was conspicuously absent and she made it to her destination with no trouble.

Disheartened she returned to the scullery and poured her heart out to Mage, the cook, who turned out to be a good listener and friend.

 

My Novel Rejection

I was happy to see the e-mail from the last agent I submitted to, bittersweet though —  it was a no, but it was the first reply I received out of six submissions. My query had undergone some significant changes, and now I’m wondering if that is what propelled this submission over the cyber trash bin, and into the eyes of this agent. We must stay positive after all .

Today, I am in Chester, MA doing research while I wait for my daughter who is interning with the chestertheater.com, I normally blog on my Mac but I am working off my iPad, there are some serious adjustment issues.

My daughter has a wonderful opportunity here, it’s a very professional organization and I am grateful that someone starting out, can get involved at this level.

Back to my rejection, I read that up to ten submissions are acceptable as long as the agent isn’t associated with any of the publishing houses you have queried. So I  do plan to get one or two more submissions out in the next few weeks. I think it’s a safe bet to say that the other five queries didn’t make it past the inbox. The process is quite convenient though, all filed electronically.

Not sure if I was clear on the fact that it was my novel WOVEN that was passed over. I have not put it out here on my blog like I did with my TEA ROOM story, which just passed the 12,000 word mark. I’m aiming for 17,000, I just made an exciting decision for the story and it may take on a little more of a fantasy element.

I am sitting in my own little corner at the Hamilton Library it’s a quaint old structure and this is a quaint old town. I am stumbling through the touch pad novelty as opposed to the good old keyboard I am used to. But you should know, I was just thinking on the long drive up here, that it will be an excellent way to force me to use my mobile devices more efficiently.

I am still getting registrations on my blog and I hope I am blogging information that is beneficial, but I know it is benefiting me, I really enjoy it. I have the MS with me from my first novel to go over, and I keep finding things to add or change, I imagine that will be the case until someone hollers stop.

One additional thing, I got a chance to see inside the theater when I went to pick up my girl and I also met the director, who spoke about the play and the exceptional venue.