Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Training wheels until chapter 12

On the writing front things have been slow. They've been even slower on the muralist front, though, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm stuck--as in writers block up the ying-yang. Of course my characters won't stop shouting me down from chapter 12 and all I can do is shout back that I'm not quite there yet...nor will I ever be if they don't be quiet for a few minutes (or months) and let me catch up.

What can I say, my characters have a tendency to take over. It's like the overly ambitious child you've just taught to ride a bike. You point them in the right direction and they take off without regard to all the obstacles in their way, leaving you in the dust knowing full well they will crash and the result will be rewriting 50,000 extra words just to make up for where they've left you. I don't know how many times I've been typing along a premeditated plot line and one of my characters out of the blue will do something quite shocking and in no wise planned. Not only do my eyebrows take the elevator all the way up to my hairline, but these !@#$ characters leave me with an all new plot twist that I have to make work throughout the rest of the book. Hey even authors can be surprised by their work

So the writers block, though being a much slower-paced way of life, has at least allowed me plenty of time to think about the shouted chapter 12. If I had started writing it out of order (as I am known to do) I would most assuredly have to cast it out at a later date to make way for all the new (self-propelled as opposed to character-propelled) things crowding my brain right now in regards to major plot lines. I am already seeing big changes that need to take place in my first three precious chapters, but hallelujah, every day the plot picture is becoming clearer.

Someone once said that writers block is your friend. It allows you to reassess your plot and characters to determine why you don't care enough about them to get past the block. Well all I have to say about that is, poo-poo. My trouble right now is that I care too much to make a mistake. I have written a higher word count of mistakes into first drafts than I have of words I've kept. Mistakes allow you to see what your book could have been had you not edited, rewritten, edited, rewritten again, worried, cared, and thrashed in your sleep until your husband kicks you out to go finish that !@#$ chapter so everyone can finally sleep in peace.

Well hopefully my most darling and scathing writers group can help me past this stupid block. Sometimes these meetings leave me at the point of running to my characters for sympathy (something that almost never ends well as the Commander usually ends up shooting Rose out of the blue or Justet plots a kidnapping, thereby causing me stress and extra writing, rather than the relief I'd hoped by running into their arms). However, group meetings never fail to get my fingers back on the keyboard to start pounding away on that skeletal and usually drivel-like first draft again.

Progress. Forward. Moving on. Hopefully it won't be on the wobbly character-ridden bike. I think I'll put the training wheels back on until I get to chapter 12.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alligators, Writing and Hope

"Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators."
-Olin Miller

And on that note what more can I say? A lot, actually. I figure I have a tough job. Raising four children (most of whom can out debate me on any given Sunday) would challenge the strongest, most intelligent person in the world. Well I am neither, though I feel I can hold my own against my nine-year-old--pulling out the old "because I said so" if I need to.

So why is it that I decided it might be fun to take on another challenging job? The answer lies in hope. I feel I have written an interesting, entertaining story--a story that has taken some of the best and worst from me. I have a great deal of hope that there will come a time when people can pick R.A.G.E. up at their local library and enjoy my characters. I hope that some day people will learn something from my work. I hope that I can publish R.A.G.E. and therefore have hope that future works will be published, and maybe those will entertain or touch someone.

Now granted, what budding author hasn't thought about that six figure advance, the book signings, or seeing their characters come to life of the big screen? I think about these all the time--sort of my own personal well of of hopes and dreams. However when I think deeply about what I want for my books, I have to admit to myself that I want people to meet my characters and like them, not unlike how I want my children to be well liked and admired.

Difficult, you say? Not if I've done my job correctly. Now if I could just leap the most agonizing hurdle into the publishing industry all this hard work could pay off in making my characters accessible to the world--and in so doing, launch me into the alligator pit of living by my pen (er...laptop, as it were.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Querying and the Dream-crushers

Querying is one of the most exciting milestones an author can get to. Here you have this manuscript you've been working on for____ (fill in blank, 6 months, 18 months, 20 years, etc.) streamlined to perfection and now is the time to bestow it on that select lucky agent who will sell it for a six figure advance as well as contact Tom Welling for the lead in the movie. I'm getting breathless just thinking about it.

Then comes that first rejection. I mean it was bound to happen and just because it was a form letter shouldn't bode ill for your baby, right? Wrong! And wrong again and again and again! *Sniffle* Now my breathlessness has turned to tension and tears as I remember the little dream crushers slamming me from my mailbox as well as my inbox. It finally gets to the point where a new email comes in and my finger hovers over the mouse button for a good 20-30 seconds until I get up the gumption to feel that pit in my stomach again.

So after having been crushed repeatedly, I let my querying peter out until I was only getting a lagging rejection perhaps once a month instead of once an hour. Revisions of the manuscript screamed obscenities at me, divulging perhaps the reasons for the rejections--the manuscript wasn't ready yet. An unready manuscript also equals an unready query letter. Curse them!

I haven't received a rejection in months and so the other day I decided to revise/rewrite my query letter again and send out another round of queries--more slowly this time. Last night I queried an agency exclusively and hope to get that rejection in the mail within a week or so...no wait, positive thinking is the key...get that offer of representation in the mail within a week or so.

Querying--what can I say? The anticipation is killing me. I'll post my most recent query letter here and if you would reject my precious RAGE on it, I'd love to know.

August 1, 2009

Dear Ms. XXXXX,

As my first choice agent, I am querying you exclusively given you interest in finding a great new voice in science fiction. Please consider my science fiction thriller 12th Dimension R.A.G.E.

A reverse-aged criminal from another dimension must remember her violent past if she is to save the future of Earth.

When young U.S. Army Specialist Kris Rose uncovers a plot to capture “Aliens” in the Sonoran desert, she unwittingly discovers the depth of her involvement going back to before she started her life on Earth. Having no recollection of her past life—a mass murderer from an alternate dimension of Earth—Rose must depend on her wits as well as her aggressive tendencies if she is to survive. With her good friend Corporal Devon Thurmond in tow, trying to save her from herself, Rose finds herself involved in one brutalizing mission after another in the noble pursuit of Earth’s continued existence.

Set in our modern world, 12th Dimension R.A.G.E. takes one step outside of reality, forcing Rose to explore her naturally dark nature in opposition to the moral person she would like to be. Her pleasantly cavalier voice and noncompliant attitude makes her strangely endearing. The unpredictability of the plot as well as deeply woven twists, create a distinctively commercial read.

My writing credits include nothing more than a nearly debilitating passion for writing. However, my experience as a Military Police officer as well as a Special Forces Counter-Intelligence Agent in the U.S. Army has provided me with the background necessary to bring authenticity to the military side of this work.

12th Dimension R.A.G.E. is complete at 78,500 words. I would be delighted to share the entire manuscript with you at your request.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Christauna Asay