Gmail Rage

Just a quick post today, as I’m expecting Toddler D to wake up any second. Kid A started Grade one today (what???) and I’m trying to keep to my promise that I would blog more often once he was in school.

I’d just like to take a moment here to point out that gmail is making me want to tear my hair out (and yes, this is writng-related). As I said in my last post, I’m at the point of querying now and I sent my first one on Friday. BUT, I couldn’t actually send it until my husband came home because gmail has this cute little quirk where it adds spaces between every paragraph. No matter what you do. I mean it. I googled the issue and apparently this is a well documented problem and one of the only ways they’ve found to fix it is to go in and recode things. Excuse me? For the query letter itself, this wasn’t a problem until my personal info at the bottom, since the rest is in block paragraph form. But the text samples are in, you know, actual manuscript format. The only way I managed to deal with it was to do it through my husband’s outlook and then he sent it to me and then I sent it out. I’ve been quite happy with gmail, but this is a pretty major failing as far as I’m concerned. And since, judging by the google results, this is a giant problem that has been going on for years at this point, you’d think they’d have gotten someone on that by now. So, come on google. Get on it.

That being said, yes I did get a letter out on Friday and I have another ready to go tonight once I can get it properly formatted. Hard to believe that I’m finally taking these steps after a lifetime of thinking about it. Almost as hard as it is to believe that I’m the mother of a kid in grade one!

Well That Answers That

Once again, I realize that it has been so very long since I’ve updated this blog. But, alas, that may be the case during the summers until my children get old enough that they both start disappearing off to camps and friends houses and such. Every spare second I’ve had this summer I’ve thrown myself into writing. And if I’m not writing, I’ve been reorganizing my house, which is quite the task in and of itself. (and, um, Pinterest). But the work I intended to do during the baby nap wound up taking me far less time than anticipated today and so here I am (until such time as I head off to build blanket forts with Kid A).

Before I say anything else, I would just like to give everyone the heads up that Miss Hill’s second book, Possession, will be available in two weeks. If you all read Bound (which I’m assuming you all did), you know that this is big news. It’s a great read and you should all go and mark your calendars. I’ll wait.

Done? Excellent. Well, then, onto my own writing updates. I have finally, as of today, pretty much finished my query letter and synopsis for Darkness Bared. Each of these took me several complete do-overs, but I have them at a point now where I think I’m okay with them. I just have one reader left to look over the synopsis and then I’m fully out of excuses. I’ve also compiled a short (thus far) list of agents and once I’ve contacted those I’ll be hunting for more.  A very exciting but nerve-wracking process, this. If you need me, I’ll be celebrating under my couch.

The relatively minor writing event that brought me to my blog today happened just now, and is the reason that I have a bit of time on my hands to update. I don’t want to give too much away here, but I will say that my intention today was to read through the first three chapters to see if I should cut the first and work the details that happen there through the next two. The reason is that chapter one is told from a specific point of view – the POV of the original protagonist who wound up stepping aside to another character by the time the novel was complete. (I may be a pantser, but that one even surprised me). As such, my novel opens with one character, but my query and synopsis focus on another and that concerned me. So I first asked my readers. A few told me it might be worth considering, chopping that first chapter. But the reader who wanted me to keep the first chapter was absolutely vehement. I got emails with capital letters and curse words. Nonetheless, I figured I should read through it and go with my gut. Chapters 1-3 are about 30 pages, so that was my plan for this afternoon.

Two pages in, decision made. The chapter stays for the time being. I like it too much. I was drawn back into that world almost immediately. If an agent or editor suggests cutting it later, I’ll be more than willing to have that discussion, but for now, it is staying put.

And with that question answered, I can move ahead with absolutely no more procrastination. Excepting Pinterest, of course. Nothing sucks the time out of my day quite like Pinterest. 🙂


Surviving Reading Night

Last night was the dreaded Reading Night and, as you can see by the fact that I’m posting this, I survived! (or else someone else hacked my blog, which is just creepy. Gah). I was about as freaked out about this as I’ve ever been about anything. Public speaking is, for me, up there with death and spiders on the Emily-phobia-chart – in fact, those three things make up the entire top tier of said chart. I hated speeches in school, hated seminars in university, hated having to do Toastmasters at my last job. I even freaked out at my own wedding because everyone was looking at me. And in some ways this was worse – this wasn’t me blathering about my department in a company or a bunch of already-said things parroted back for a room of dozing classmates. This was my writing. And it wasn’t even my novel – by which I mean that I’ve had lots of people read at least parts of the novel. This piece had been read by all of one person other than me and that was only to stop me from having a temporary “I can’t read this for Reading Night, this is terrible!” fit.

So when last night rolled around, I was not exactly feeling zen. I hadn’t eaten very much, but I did have a lot of unrelated errands to run yesterday which meant that I really didn’t have time to give the looming event any thought until we were pretty much leaving. My husband and a very good friend (the same one who kept me from setting fire to the story) came as my guests. I had never been to this cafe before but I was happy to see that it was smaller than I had anticipated. But then it started filling up. My class was there, but so were a lot of people from my writing group and it seemed pretty much everyone had brought guests. Which I expected, but still. My hope was that I’d get to go fairly early on and then I could sit back and enjoy everyone else’s reading. No way. I wound up being third from the end.

I had rather stupidly neglected to have a drink before I showed up, so I had to make do with coffee and cookies. Having a lot of other people before me actually worked out – listening to them shut up my inner distraction. When my turn came around, I took the VERY long walk up to the front (I was sitting near the back so had to go around the whole group). Then I sat down, gave my little intro and read.

And it was here that I remembered something very important about public readings. Yes, it is your art. Yes, you are reading something you really, truly, care about. However – and this is key: you don’t have to look at anyone. You’re reading. Your paper is in your hands and you’re looking at that. And that made a huge difference to how sick I felt up there.

I’m not for a moment saying that I wasn’t nervous. My hands were shaking for a good few minutes after I’d finished and I’m sure my face was beet red the entire time (photos were being taken throughout so if anyone did happen to take mine, I’ll know for sure soon enough). But at least I didn’t have to pretend to make eye contact or any other those other toastmaster-y things that I tried to learn during my short stint with them.

And then it was over. While I was reading I was a little startled when I realized I was at the bottom of page one (of four) and I was sure I’d only been reading for about five seconds. Despite my worries about the time limit I didn’t have the rice-filled tupperware shaken at me (my husband suggested bringing a large hook). Then I finished, got up and walked back to my chair. I assume got applause (everyone did) but I was in a bit of a daze so I didn’t hear it. I did hear my writing teacher ask when the published full version would be available though, and that made me pretty damn proud.

And then it was done. There were only three people after me so the night was over very quickly after that. And the final highlight of the night? A complete stranger wandered over to tell me how much she’d enjoyed my piece. So, in the end, a good night. Not that I’m running to sign up for doing anything like that again any time soon, and I’m sure I’ll have another complete freak-out if and when I have to do it again, but in the end I’m glad I did it and I’ll be able to look back on it as a success.

All of that being said, last night was also pretty bittersweet. This “Reading Night” was actually also our last critique class of this semester. I’ve been taking classes with the very talented Brian Henry since we moved here almost two years ago. I’d fallen away from writing a bit and I’d made a promise to myself that once we had settled into our new house, I was going to either find a writing group or create one. So, a week or so after we moved, I googled writing in my town and Brian’s class was the first to pop up. I joined and haven’t missed a semester since…including the one that started this past March when I was 9 months pregnant. These classes did provide the much-needed kick in the pants I was seeking, but they did more than that too. I suddenly found myself within a group of other writers in a town where I knew virtually no one. I’ve made some very good friends in those classes, and I’ve received excellent mentoring and encouragement from Brian (and from my classmates). In short, these classes have been a consistent – and much-loved – part of my life for the past two years.

And now that’s probably going to end.

Fact is, these classes cost money and I’m a stay at home mom now, trying to make it as a writer. While the possibility of my taking the course next semester isn’t completely off the table, it might as well be. And that makes me rather sad. I do have the Wordsmiths (and I LOVE the Wordsmiths!) so I’ll still be meeting up regularly with a group of fellow writers – in fact, many of the Wordsmiths are from Brian’s courses and they do include the friends I met there. But it still feels odd to think that I won’t have this class any more come January. I think there will definitely be a sense of something missing…it already feels that way a bit, to tell the truth.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I might be able to swing a workshop or another full course down the road.