Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Day In Boston For a Writer

I recently spent two days in Boston for my daughter's orientation at BU. I took along books to read, my B&N gift card since their college book store is B&N. But I left my computer at home and took only a notepad along to jot any information I might want to remember. Well, when you've already seen five previous children off to college, there's only so much a parent can get out of those parent sessions at orientation.  So I skipped out on a few and ended up sitting at an outside table at a cafe and people watching.  People watching is always a constructive exercise for a writer, especially when you're in a new place.
Boston University

I actually saw someone walking their dog, and they looked alike. I never believed people could look like their pets, but his man and his little terrier really did.  Now Boston University is home to lots of really bright people, and I have to say I saw lots of nerdy attire. Some of it was so stereotypical I'm sure the people dressed that way on purpose. And age had little to do with the clothing thing. Young and old had the look going but they all seemed comfortable in their skin and carried off their wardrobe selections with poise.

Boston has a lot of brick sidewalks and I noticed lots of people trying to walk only in the cemented parts running in patterns through the bricks. I understood completely. Those bricks are really uneven and they do hurt your feet after a while.

Another stylish item that ran a gamut of types was the different bags people carried their laptops, iPads, books, notebooks and folders in.  Vera Bradley made lots of appearances but so did some really cool leather bags and plain old backpacks. I noticed the bag styles because my daughter has been searching for just the right thing.

Ipods, smart phones and other electronics were in nearly every had. I actually saw a young man riding his bike in the bike lane right alongside three lanes of bumper to bumper traffic and using both his hands to text on his phone.  I was horrified and impressed.

The city was clean and exciting but the only wildlife I saw were the sparrows pecking around my feet in search of bread crumbs. I think I prefer my back deck where I see cardinals, blue jays, gold finches and an occasional bluebird as I write. I usually hear or see the female hawk who has nested in our little woodland for the past three years.  And early in the morning or in the evening I often can watch deer grazing beneath the shade treees and maybe a skunk scampering through. Rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks abound though they're only mariginally more welcome than the skunk.

I'm a country girl forever.  What about you? Does the city energize you or do you prefer small town or country life?  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Epic or Not

I love epic fantasy.  I first read LOTR in ninth grade.  There's weren't many other choices back in those days but some great authors have stepped up to the plate. When I decided to turn my hand to writing, I wanted to write fantasy.  But the only writers' group I was aware of in the area was a branch of RWA, Romance Writers of America.  I went to a few meetings, joined, attended a conference, and wrote some romance novels.

Since then I've been sold manuscripts to two different romance publishers and have seven romance novels on the market. I'm proud of them and they're doing okay out here under my pen name, Susan Kelley.  But I still love epic fantasy best.

But every time I talked to an agent or an editor, or read what they were looking for, they all said 'no epic fantasy.'  'It won't sell.' 'There's no market for it.' 

Then LOTR hit the big screen and I knew the tide had turned back to my favorite.  I sold my first fantasy novel to a mid-sized publisher and dreamed of Peter Jackson making it into a movie. I'll pause here for laughter.  My publisher contracted three novels and published the first two before deciding they were turning their interests to zombies and self-help nonfiction.  I took my rights back and went the self pub route since it's very difficult to sell a novel that has already been published to a new publisher.  My dreams withered.

Then HBO came out with their epic fantasy series, The Game of Thrones.  I had read and loved the books, couldn't wait to see it, and they didn't disappoint.  But it revitalized my dreams.  I'm trying to sell my second epic fantasy series to a publisher.  I'm looking at smaller presses this round, hoping for a relationship where a publisher will work with me to build my career as well as their business rather than blindside me like the last one did.

While researching what publishers I should submit to, I noticed EDGE science fiction and fantasy publishers said in their 'want to see' list, NO EPIC FANTASY. 

So is epic fantasy a vital part of the market or must a tiny niche? Will readers every tire of werewolves and vampires and return to caring about an epic battle of good versus evil to save the world?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Feeling Good

After getting a few summer obligations finished, I put my shoulder to the plow lines(Yes, I'm a farmer at heart) and did lots of work on my writing. I finished edits on Book #3 of The Futhark Chronicles, Beneath the Mountain, and am sending it out for a final read through. I always need someone to check my commas.

I also sent the first book in my second fantasy series, First Dragon, off to a number of small publishers.  I like the small publishers for so many reasons.  They get back to you quickly.  They're more likely to take a real interest in you personally. They understand the hurdles you face in promotion and in being a writer with a day job. I hope I can snare one of them to take on my newest venture in the world of prose.

I'm feeling good about getting something accomplished after weeks of devoting only minutes per day to my books.  My goal of the next few months is to make writing a priority for a few hours every day.

My last major commitment this summer is a visit to Boston for my daughter's college orientation at Boston University. I'm looking forward to exploring the city together including the college bookstore/Barnes and Noble where I can spend a little time with an ice coffee.

When I return home, I have to get busy on my newest project.  Once I decide what that is.

Is summer finding you with more hours to write? What are you feeling good about recently?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No Excuses

Nearly a year ago, I was cleared to work out again after some serious ankle surgery. I gave myself a 'no more excuses' lecture on getting back in shape. And I followed through and am nearly at my goal of being physically fit (for my age).

Now I need to do the same thing with my writing.  Some of my writing friends are busy promoting their recent works and making a huge splash.  Take Stephen Tremp over at his Breakthrough Blog. I missed his big push on Monday but I wanted the chance to mention him here.  I loved Breakthrough and have his second novel, Opening, on my TBR.  I'll be getting to it before his third novel, Escalation, is released this fall. 

Others of my friends have been promoting their books through conferences and panel presentations like Cate Masters.  Check out some great info she shares on her blog about things she's picked up at said venues.

Alex Cavanaugh somehow keeps his very busy blog fresh and interesting while working on his third novel and dares to post his progress on this sidebar. 

I could list even more of my blogger friends who make no excuses.  They have day jobs, families, active blogs and busy online presences, and still get their writing done.  So my motto for the next few months is no excuses. No excuses.

Any excuses you can do away with?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lotta Love

I didn't mention it earlier, but a few days ago, my husband and I celebrated our 30 year anniversary. That's a long time, over half of my life.  Like any marriage, it's been pure joy and hard work depending on the day. But we're hanging in there, stronger than ever.  It takes lots of love, compromising and shared dreams for two people to live and thrive together for so many years.

I'm trying for the next few months to approach my writing career with the same amount of commitment I've given to my marriage.  Well, nearly as much.  I love being a writer and I intend to work hard at it. 

When a married couple have children, it places extra stress on their relationship.  Suddenly there is important people who steal away the time the couple used to spend on each other.  Some marriages don't deal well with the added demands though some thrive.  The husband and wife have to make time for each other and not let their relationship take last place. 

For these summer months, I'm not going to let my writing take last place to everything else.  It's important.  I love it and it will get its share of my attention.

Married couples invest as they grow together, a house, cars, their kids' educations.  I'm going to invest in my writing.  Small amounts compared to the house, but there are some costs to the plans I have for the summer.

What have you invested in your writing career? Are you committed to becoming the best writer you can be?  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pool Time

I'm fortunate enough to have a swimming pool.  Anyone who has a pool can tell you its a lot or work but usually worth it.  Having a day job, PE teacher, that requires me to spend a lot of time in the sun, I'm careful to mostly use my pool during non-peak sun danger time.  There's nothing like floating on a raft around midnight and looking up at the stars.

CiprianoIngroundPools NJ

But getting my point, when I use my pool during the daylight hours, I often take a book along as does my daughter.  I've never dropped one in the water, but it could happen.  Currently, a large part of my reading is done on my eReader.  I expect that percentage to only increase.  So how do I read in the pool with it?  I don't. 

I would take it on the beach.  I take it to visit my mother. I take it to ballgames and to work.  I take it on overnight trips.  But I don't read it in the pool.  There's discussion about the demise of the paper-based book but I know there are places where an eReader just will not do.  The pool, a long, sudsy bath, the hot tub...

Where do you see the paper-based book as always being needed?  When do you prefer a book instead of your eReader?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Finally have my laptop back, more memory, other updates and it works so fast!  And except for two inservice days next week, school is over until August. I have tons of outdoor chores to complete in the next week to get ready for my daughter's graduation party, but my evenings will be free for writing and blogging.  Call me excited. I'm going to start off my summer blogging by thanking Jan over at begin...begin again for tagging me in a recent post of hers.

If you don't know Jan, you are missing being acquainted with an incredible person.  Read about her recent mission trip and you'll become her fan for live.  She journaled her trip with a storytelling skill that makes you feel like you were with her. 

Jan posed some questions at me as when she tagged me so I guess I'll have to reveal a little about myself.

What are you most excited about in your life right now*?
Right now I'm very excited about the start of summer and getting my daughter ready to attend Boston University in the fall.

What is it that gets you down?
See above.  My only daughter, the youngest of my children, is leaving for college in the fall.  I can put into words how much I'll miss her. 

If you had a million dollars, what is the first thing you'd use it for?
I would use it to help my children achieve their dreams and after that the rest of my very large family.

Do you believe in the power of prayer? Why or why not?
I believe in praying and hope the power is what I wish it to be.

What is your one big regret?
There are many but I do regret not starting my writing career earlier.  Then again, I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of those hours with my children when they were younger.

What or whom are you most grateful for in your life right now*?
I am grateful every day that my children are healthy and have grown into good people.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
I would start with those parts of the states I haven't seen yet. 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Why?
I would like to find a way to not worry so much about so many things out of my control.  I know it's not healthy.

Are you a loner or a groupie? Why?
I grew up in a large family and have a large one of my own. I love alone time and wish for more.  I'm never bored when I'm by myself.

Thunderstorm or snowstorm, if you had to pick? Why?
This one is difficult.  I love the power of thunderstorm but I don't care for rain.  I love snowstorms that are without wind and fall straight down in silence. There's nothing like the hush of the countryside when its convered in a new layer of pristine white.

What is one thing you feel you must still accomplish in your life?
I mostly want to see my children happy and settled into careers. If somewhere through those years ahead, they meet and marry wonderful people and give me some grandchildren, I'll be really thrilled.

Thanks, Jan, for tagging me.  I'm not going to pass along the tags at this time, but I'll be doing some interviews with fellow authors over the course of the next month and try to come up with interesting questions like Jan did.

So care to share any of your own answers to the questions above?  Did you visit Jan yet?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Insecure Writers: Guilt

Welcome to another day of insecurity.  Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this time of sharing encouragement and advice.

For those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you have heard this before.  I've really enjoyed my foray into doing more with my blog over the past twelve months but it does cut into my writing time.

The dilema then is where to spend my limited hours. I want to work on my WIP but I also like to keep up with my blogging buddies. I feel guilty for neglecting either one.  I know this problem is common to many writers, not just me.  The secret is to find a balance.  But even when I divide my time between the two, I feel guilt for not doing more for both. 

There is no answer, but there is comfort in knowing this problem is shared by all who have to promote, network and grow their online presence all while working on their latest writing projects.  A shared pain is better than a lonely pain. 

I won't even go to that spot of feeling guilt because you neglect other things in your life to work on your writing or blogging.  Please share your guilt issues and we'll all feel a little better for being one of many and not the lone sufferer.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nearly There

I've been absent from the blogosphere, including my own, for most of the past week. Still using computer choice C so my time is limited. The good news is how much work I've completed on my final editing before I have a professional do a final check for book #3 of The Futhark Chronicles, Beneath the Mountain.  Did I ever mention how much I hate commas and all the rules that go with them? That's a story for another day.

I found so many wonderful blogs over the past few months, as soon as I can take a breather from editing this book, I'm going to redo my favorite blog lists to include a bunch of my new friends.  I still have a long list of things I want to do for promotion and networking that I made during the A to Z Challenge.

One more week of school and then it's summer.  By the end of June, I'll have all my obligations for my daughter's graduation and college orientation done.  If I can keep up with the cleaning, yard work and my running, I should have lots of hours to work on my writing. Wish me luck.

Seven days and counting down.  What are you looking forward to in the coming summer months? Vacation? Staycation? Just to enjoy the warmer weather?