Procrastination: A Synonym For My Life

Procrastination is a crippling disease. While I don’t like to resort to medication to treat all of my ailments, for this, I would gladly take a pill and rid myself of all the damn excuses.

My second novel, or more accurately, the rewrite of my first novel, has been nearly finished the last 2+ months, and for these 548 reasons give or take, I’ve yet to complete the last few chapters:

  1. I have other writing assignments due which take precedence because they’re paid gigs.
  2. My book store has been busier than an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day.
  3. My mirror tells me I need to spend more time at the gym.
  4. I have a book review due soon, so I should be reading that instead.
  5. Bejewelled Blitz + Audio Books + no interruptions = 3 hours gone in what felt like 10 minutes.
  6. Can’t work on Monday nights. That’s Bachelor night!
  7. I’ve sold so much jewelry lately that I need to spend all my spare time purchasing more.
  8. I’m tired.
  9. I need to clean/shelve/organize books.
  10. James Dashner’s new book just came out! Must read until 3:00am.
  11. Tuesday and Wednesday nights are out. Got to review AGT and SYTYCD!
  12. I’m getting these weird symptoms. I should spend a few hours scouring the internet for all the possible diseases I might have. *cough*hypochondriac*cough*
  13. My friend is singing in a talent show. I’ll have to take the night off and watch her.
  14. Headache.
  15. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all about TV. I better catch up on my gym time on Thursday.
  16. Friends want to go out for drinks. Drop everything!
  17. I start making Scrabble tile pendants to sell at the store. Boy, are they time consuming.
  18. Beach!
  19. Text wars.
  20. Slow day at the store. I should use the time to write but I’m so depressed about there being no customers than I can’t find the inspiration.
  21. Twitter! (2 hours later…)
  22. Facebook! (2 hours later…)
  23. Humor Train! (2 hours later…)
  24. Pintrest! (2 hours later…) Zombified.
  25. I should probably learn how to cook…burnt omelettes won’t get me far in life.
  26. I’m going to a dinner party and I need to bring an appy. Google search: cheap, quick, easy, fat-free appetizers for dummies!
  27. End of the month. I should probably do my bookkeeping.
  28. Friday night. Can’t stay in because it’s…well, Friday!
  29. Saturday night (please see above for Friday’s excuse)
  30. I’m too hungover.
  31. It’s so beautiful outside. I just want to tan for a little while first.
  32. My mom wants to do a girls shopping day in the states this weekend.
  33. I’m sick.
  34. Sunday. My one day off and my only chance to write…I spend an hour in front of the computer editing what I’ve already written. Time for some lunch…
  35. I feel inspired to write today. So I write a blog post about all the many ways I like to procrastinate.

I won’t bore you with the other 513…

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A Manuscript Transformed

Someone once told me that the first book any author writes will wind up at the bottom of his or her desk, never to see the light of day, or a least not the inside of professional bindings. I was determined to prove that theory wrong. I spent three and a half years after graduating from college writing, editing, editing, editing, editing and editing my first novel. In those years, I managed to cut the book down from 138,000 words to 88,000 words – that’s 50,000 extraneous, useless, absolutely unnecessary words. The story was tight, just the way I’d hoped it would be at the end. I even started sending out my query letter to about seven or eight different agents (no bites, but I’m glad). Then I started to rethink it. This wasn’t going to sell. It wasn’t “up with the times.” It wasn’t even the genre I liked to read any more. So I made a decision, one that would ultimately make or break me as an author, and one that would undoubtedly set my life back a couple of years. I decided to lock my first book in a drawer, figuratively speaking, of course.

I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the world I’d created, so I wound up making extensive alterations to the original book. I changed the genre from magical to dystopian, the audience from  middle grade to teen, the perspective from third person to first person, and I ripped the entire plot to shreds. Most of the characters are still the same, and the setting is only altered due to the new plot restrictions. But now it is a brand new, much much better book. I can’t wait to finish it, not just to publish it, but also to read it myself 🙂

Persevering Through Industry Changes :: A Writer’s Struggle to Continue

UPDATE. Okay, so I didn’t actually give up on my first book. I just started an even more extensive tweaking session. It’s funny how, when I’m writing my novel, I get all these ideas for other books. But as soon as I put mine down and begin something new, I miss the old and familiar story. I miss the characters. I miss the plans I had for their futures. That being said, I returned to my original book. I’m still writing that second book when I get ideas for it. But nothing beats my original. All it took for me to see that was to put down the teen books and start reading in the YA (9-12) genre again.

It’s funny how another published book can either shoot down your confidence or boost it up. My editor assigned me three books to review (for the website I write for). Two were supposedly “teen” and one was “YA”. After reading the first (and I’m not going to name any names, because I like and respect this author), I realized that the target audience was way off. I’ve read hundreds upon hundreds of books in these age groups, so I know a thing or two about target audiences. Well, this “teen” book was definitely not old enough for a teen audience. Also, (and I promise you I am not a cocky person AT ALL) that book had nothing on mine. It was so basic and yet hard to follow, the explanations for the goings on in that world were virtually non-existent and it was extremely challenging to visualize. It only took 50 pages for me to realize that my book has so much more depth and thought put into it.

Next I read, Michael Scott’s The Warlock, and I didn’t like it. Granted, this book is for teens. And also granted, I did jump into this series at book fire. However, when The Alchemyst (book 1) first came out years ago, I read it and was extremely disappointed. I guess I judged the book by its dazzlingly magical cover. Which I do. A lot. But since reading that book, I’ve had a ton of kids come into my used book store looking for Michael Scott’s series. And they all love his books. It shows me that there is an audience for pretty much any writing style. Anyhow, back on track: I read The Warlock and there were so many characters that I had a very hard time following the plot. Which, again, gave me another ounce of confidence in my own writing.

Then I read The Fourth Circle of Heck: Fibble by Dale E. Basye. I’m not saying the book was bad. It just wasn’t my taste. I found there were waaay to many h-e-double-hockey-sticks puns, and I found they interrupted the fluidity of the story. Again, I admit that I haven’t read the first three books in the series, so that hinders my understanding of scenery, personalities and continued plotlines. But I will say that over the years that I’ve been reviewing young adult books, I’ve read a ton of sequels without having read the first books in the series’. And there are very few that don’t stand on their own. Often, I don’t notice that the book is sequel until I finish reading it. 

So after reading these three books, I regained my confidence and my motivation to continue working on my novel. But thank you to those of you who are encouraging me to persevere. I wasn’t giving up because of the rejections. I’m not worried about those. I was giving up because of industry trends. But now I’m thinking, if you can’t join a trend, change it.

Scrapping Your First Book :: Three Years of Work Down the Tube

Today, I had an experience that was devastating and rejuvenating at the same time. I realized that the book I’ve been working for 3+ years is not going to hack it. At least not in the way I’ve planned. I put the book aside today and began writing another–a teen sci-fi this time. That’s what is popular right now. That is was agents will be looking for. So that is what I’m going to write. It’s a big decision. Life-changing even. And yet with my future prospects at stake, all I can think about is how I’m going to break the news to my mom.

I still hope I can make my first idea work one day. If only I could start with book two. Then it would be great. Maybe that’s what I should do then. Start with book two. Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea after all. Let me rethink this and get back to you guys.

Rejection Letter #4: Positive Feedback

Clearly it takes a new agent to finally recieve some positive reinforcement in a rejection letter. At least, that has been my experience so far. Today I recieved my fourth rejection letter (the rejection scrapbook is starting to bulk up!) from Rachel Stout, a newer agent at Dystel & Goderick Literary Management. I sent her my query on March 26, 2011, so her response time is still quite quick. Here is what she had to say:

Thanks so much for giving us the chance to review TITLE OF MY BOOK. Please forgive me for being so short in my response, but the number of submissions we recieve makes it difficult to respond to everyone personally. Brooke sounds like a great character, but unfortunately, this project does not suit our list at this time.

I wish you the very best of luck in your continued search for representation.

Sincerely,
Rachel

I must say, even if the positive comment about my protagonist is part of her response formula to soften the blow of rejection, it did the trick. It made me feel like all hope is not lost, not that four rejections is enough to crush my hopes and dreams. I’ll rediscuss dream-crushing emotions at rejection #14.

Rejection Letter #3

Today, I recieved my third rejection letter. I was a little confused by the response:

Thank you for your query. I do not represent novels in the genre of “title of my book” so I am not the right agent for you. Wishing you every success with your writing.

All the best,

Marilyn Biderman

Hmm. I’m confused because I did my research. She read online that she represents YA fiction. I wouldn’t have sent to your otherwise. Perhaps my novel was too “fantasy/sci-fi” for her taste, which is perfectly okay. This rejection helps me narrow my focus to agents that claim to represent YA fiction as well as fantasy books. Thank you Marilyn Biderman for your quick response to my query.

Rejection Letter #2

Today, I recieved my second rejection letter, which I sent to Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency. I will certainly give this agency a strong kudos for their efficent response time. I sent the email query yesterday, and they responded in less than 24 hours. Here’s what they had to say:

Dear Author:

Thank you so much for sending the Nelson Literary Agency your query. We’d like to apologize for the impersonal nature of this standard rejection letter. Rest assured that we do read every query letter carefully and, unfortunately, this project is not right for us.  Because this business is so subjective and opinions vary widely, we recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one “yes” to find the right match.  

Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.

I had high hopes for this agency, so this rejection was a harder hit than the last one. Fortunately, there are plenty more agencies out there, so I’m going to dust myself off and keep plugging away. And start writing book 2! Hurray!

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