Loving your story through rejection

 

Hi all. So I’ve been querying for quite some time, and safe to say, it is not going well. I had one spark of optimism during PitMad when my dream agent liked my pitch… yeah, that didn’t go anywhere.

But I’m not going to lie, querying has been this long roller coaster of dread, doubt and despair. Yay, alliteration.

As the rejections keep piling up, it gets harder and harder to stay motivated to keep chasing this dream, or to even think that I’m even worth achieving the dream. Cue tears. So I’m trying desperately to keep writing, keep pushing forward, and most importantly, keep loving my stories.

Because here’s the thing: If you don’t love your stories, who else will? GUARDED (the book I’m querying) means the world to me. Writing that story made me feel like my PTSD had a purpose, like there was a reason I went through that trauma. The MC Kjersten took on my MH struggles and was able to learn how to cope with them to create meaningful relationships with people, something I can only dream of one day being able to accomplish.

Somewhere along the lines, I’d forgotten these things because the rejections convinced me that the story was worthless, which in a roundabout way, meant that my trauma was meaningless, which of course lead down a deep, dark rabbit hole of awful. Woo!

Luckily, I have a brilliant friend who entertains my rants regarding what the industry deems “sellable.” Because that’s legitimately what publishing comes down to. You could do everything right. You could go to the conferences, take the webinars, take part in critique groups, enlist beta readers, and revise, revise, revise. But at the end of it, if whomever you’re querying doesn’t believe your story is sellable, it’s a rejection. Plain and effin simple.

That’s not a reflection on your writing or your story. And as difficult as it is to accept that – because believe me, I know that struggle – you can’t let those rejections tarnish your love for that story or how important that story is to you.

Wishing you the best,
B

An Update on Life, Writing, and What’s Next

Hey all,

So it’s been a couple months since I last checked in, and quite a bit has happened. I finished the latest version of GUARDED (book 1 in my YA series), went to NerdCon: Stories, and I was cast in a musical.

But here’s the thing about suddenly doing all the things after months of simply surviving: constantly attempting to be a “real person” exhausts you to the point that there’s very little energy to overcome those pesky PTSD symptoms. Which is why I fell off the blog bandwagon… again.

Recovery. It’s a slow process.

There is good news in all this though. I’m really, truly, only a round of revision plus polish away from sending queries out into the universe. It’s terrifying and exciting to finally be at this point. Especially after not being able to even look at the manuscript for so much of this year.

I promise I’ll do a whole post unpacking the phenomenal awesomeness that was NerdCon: Stories. I’m still recovering from all the socializing that was involved. Despite how exhausting it was, I’m beyond happy that I went. All the panels and talks were brilliant, I really hope they’ll do another one in 2017.

As for the future, I go to Chicago this week to meet up with a friend from Maryland for a Girls’ Weekend. I adore Chicago. It’s one of my two favorite cities. The other being Baltimore. Fantastic city plus fantastic friend. Should be a fantastic weekend. 🙂

Then there’s November right around the corner, which means National Novel Writing Month. Despite all the goings-on of this year, I am still planning on participating. And when I come back from Chicago, I’ll post what project I plan on tackling.

Hope everything is well with you all!

Bree

Community: Why it’s important for writers.

Writers. The majority of us tend to swing toward the introverted side of the social pendulum, myself included. If I spend too much time in a social setting, my energy reserves fall into the red.

But as exhausting as some social encounters are, I do think it’s important for us to get out of our own heads and here’s why:

Reason #1 – Your health.

I touched on this last week, but burning the candle at both ends = not a good idea.

As creative’s, we spend HOURS buried beneath our projects. From our characters and plot to the writing itself, we obsess over each sentence, paragraph and page. Being devoted to your work is awesome but you need to remember to take care of you! I’m speaking from experience on this one. I will push until I can’t push any more and I’m left with a migraine the size of the Pacific Ocean, pounding against my skull like tidal waves crashing to shore. My lovely business partner, Sookie, was a kind enough friend to tell me to stop being stupid and curl up with my dog and take a break! If not for her, I would have kept working through it, worse for wear, and our April Edition of our digital magazine, Today’s Man, probably would not have turned out as nice as it did.

If you’d like to see our hard work, check it out here. It’s free!

Reason #2 – The work will be better for it.

So yes, in order to have a clean, brilliant piece of work, you have to put in the effort to make it so. This is an undeniable fact. However, if during that time, you’re groggy or you’ve stared at the work so long the letters just look like shapes, you are going to miss some things. My YA Fantasy series’ first novel is currently with beta readers after I had spent two months just hacking away at it. Don’t get me wrong, I made a LOT of headway with those revision. However, I started rereading it last week (because I’m a glutton for punishment) and already have a laundry list of new revisions to make. Without that break, those issues would have gone overlooked.

Reason #3 – Your sanity.

For me personally, especially in the stage that I am in now, this is the No. 1 reason I need a writing community. A couple weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to have my query letter critiqued by Danielle Barthel of New Leaf Literary.

I received this opportunity by participating in Writers For Hope, an annual online auction, whose proceeds support RAINN, a campaign to fight sexual violence. Every ten dollars helps a victim of sexual violence, so if you can give, RAINN is an incredible cause! You can find out more about RAINN here.

I cannot express how thankful I am for Danielle’s notes. They were everything I had hoped they would be – helpful, encouraging and gave me insight into how I needed to clarify certain things to make my pitch as strong as possible! And on top of all that, she sent me the critique within two weeks! But that incredibly quick turn around didn’t keep me from itching with anticipation. If it weren’t for my CP’s Lynanne, Chelsea and Hanna, I would have surely gone mad (in the Hatter way, not the Hulk way). So if for any other reason, you should surround yourself with a community of writers to help keep you sane throughout the submission process.

Reason #4 – Did I mention that the work will be better?

A few posts ago, I talked about the importance of finding a writing buddy. I bring it up again because YOU SHOULD REALLY HAVE A WRITING BUDDY! Seriously, along with the sanity bit, since I found my writing community, my writing truly has improved . . . exponentially in fact. I still have issues with gerunds, but hey, that’s what revision is for.

On Friday, I celebrated [one of] my critique group’s fifth anniversary. The anniversary was so much fun. We talked about writerly things and caught up with each others lives. It also reminded me of how much I’ve grown since I joined a little over a year ago and how excited I am for my [hopeful] continued growth, personally and professionally.

Moral of all this, even though you could hold up in your laptop all by your lonesome, slaving away on your WIP, should you? Even if you’re super anti-social, I think finding a community, even an online one, is worth the additional effort. You’re way more likely to get a return on your investment than not.

Happy writing!

Using Music for Inspiration & Motivation

“To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.” — Quentin Tarantino

Anyone who’s seen a Tarantino movie knows that for the weeks following, at least one song from that soundtrack is playing on repeat in your head. For me, it was “Twisted Nerve” by Bernard Hermann (aka. The whistle song from the hospital scene in Kill Bill: Vol. 1). I may have re-watched Kill Bill over the weekend . . .

I have a couple theories why this happens (some more scientific than others), but that’s not quite the reason for this post.

When it comes to music, people listen to different things for different reasons. The runner listens to music that keeps them motivated. The late-night driver uses music to stay awake. The insomniac uses it to attempt to fall asleep.

But as creative’s, we use music in a different way. For me, music works as inspiration, motivation and reprieve.

When I’m working on a particular scene or chapter, like Mr. Tarantino, one of the first things I do is find a song that suits what I’m writing. (Granted, not exactly like Tarantino — I’m devoted to the print art form of writing novels.)

I create a play list for a couple of different reasons:

  1. When you get stuck at 400 words, music can help inspire the next sentence to get you onto your next writing spurt.
  2. When I’m transitioning from one thought to the next, music helps me take a step back to formulate a proper transition.
  3. Depending on the scene you’re writing, music can help you pull more emotion from your characters than you initially anticipated.

So if you’re getting stuck or feeling uninspired, take a minute to look at your iTunes (or whatever you use to store your music) and create a play list to help motivate you.

Happy Writing!

5 Steps to Becoming More Productive

We’ve all had those moments where we shout at our deadlines, “if only I had more time!” Lord knows I’ve prayed for 28-hour days more than once. Unfortunately we mere mortals only get a measly 24 hours to accomplish everything on our [if you’re like me, then an extremely long] to-do list.

IMPORTANT NOTE: After my eighth formal submission for the 4-hour daily extension, I got an email reply from the universe saying that due to the rotation of the earth and the delicate cosmic balance that makes our planet inhabitable, my request was indefinitely denied. Sorry, folks.

So how do we juggle all our responsibilities and still find time for our creative endeavors?

1. Get a planner.

Seriously, whether it’s on your phone, tablet, computer or you wanna rock a tradition print copy, a planner is an invaluable resource to keeping your responsibilities and projects organized.

If you’re in the market for a great print planner, take a look at “Passion Planner.” Along with monthly calendars and weekly breakdowns, Passion Planner was designed to keep you motivated [and organized], so you can achieve your goals. You can find more information about Passion Planner at www.passionplanner.com.

2. Make a list of what’s important.

I know this seems ridiculous, but sometimes it helps to see what’s important to you in an itemized list. When you’re allocating time for everything in your week, it’s a lot easier to look at that list and start carving out appropriate time for each item. For me personally, my dog and my writing come before social engagements. It’s not the most popular choice I make, but if I haven’t met a writing deadline, I’m not getting to drink that brewsky on Saturday night. Thems be the rules.

3. Make REALISTIC goals for yourself.

Here’s where it starts to get tricky. All of us want to complete that novel in 30 days, but let’s face it, if you work 40 hours a week, have kids [including the furry kind], and have [some other required miscellaneous engagement], odds are you’re not going to have the hours to punch out 80k+ words.

So set little goals. Instead of having the mantra “I’m going to finish this month,” change it to “I’m going to write 1000 words a day.” Believe me, simply changing the verbiage in your goals can turn something overwhelmingly dreadful into continuously motivating.

4. Cut out what doesn’t need to be there.

Trust me, I’m just as addicted to TV as the next person, BUT finding out who GoT killed off can wait until after the current chapter is written.

5. Remember that LIFE HAPPENS!

Though deadlines are important, please remember that life happens. There are going to be days where your 9-5 demands some overtime or your friends need a favor. Your goals are important, but so is your sanity. So strive for success, but don’t stress if it takes a little longer to get there.

Happy writing, everybody!