Monday, November 30, 2009

Finish Strong

The end of the year is approaching. I have something I would like to throw out into the blog world before it gets here. Because if you're like me, the new year is a reminder of everything you didn't accomplish. For instance, when January 1st 2009 rolled around, I was like: Yay. Crap! Still holding onto those five extra pounds. And yeah, wrote another book. Ouch... wrote another book and, double ouch, still no agent. Sheesh--not only no agent, but no one even wants to read my manuscript once they read my query. Hmmm. Did I write the wrong book? Or does my writing just plain suck? Or both? Now, this sounds like the most depressing post ever, I know. But read on.

New Years comes and goes... I mean, it only lasts for that fleeting wisp of time between 11:59.59 p.m. and 12:00.00 a.m.

So on to the not-so-depressing part. When I scraped myself up off the floor at 12:00.01 a.m., January first, I gave myself a swift, metaphorical kick in the A-double-S. And then I sat down at the computer. And wrote. And queried. And wrote. And wrote. And queried. And then, lo-and-behold, after a lot of years of doing this, everything sort of just slipped into place, like dropping a one-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces magically interlock to form a picture. Maybe not the exact picture on the front of the puzzle box, but a picture just as spectacular. My point is... for things to fall into place, you have to work hard. REALLY hard. And sometimes for a long time. And you have to finish strong. BUT! To finish strong, you have to start. Sometimes more than once. Sometimes more than twice. How many times did I start??? SEVEN. And I finished strong. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and start, or finish, depending on where you are. And be sure to finish strong.

This post is dedicated to some of the people who have helped Suzette and me achieve our goals and finish stronger than we ever imagined we could. Thanks...

Elana Johnson
Jaime Wiggins
and of course, thank you Suzette! Couldn't have made it to where I am without you, sis!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simplest Writing Trick Ever!

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Sounds like a procrastinator's mantra, don't you think? Actually, it's my key to making my writing career a reality. At every crossroads in my stay-at-home-mom daily life, I ask myself a question. "Laundry or writing?" Writing wins. "Sweep or write?" Writing wins again. "Clean toilets or revise?" Um, hello!

Of course the needs of my children come first, and I am proud to say that they are all well fed and their hair is (ahem) usually combed. But every day it comes down to a choice, and I choose to write.

One of the best ways to make writing a reality is create an Ideal Schedule. Mine looks like this:

Write 8-4
Kidstuff 4-8
Read, critique, or movie w/hubby 8-11

Volunteer 9-12
Errands 12-4
Kidstuff 4-8
Read, critique, or movie w/hubby 8-11

Home Improvement projects on house

Relax and read

This schedule is highly idealized, but most days I manage to at least follow it loosely. The past few weeks have been an exception because I've been going like gang-busters on revisions. (Yep, the house is in a near-constant state of disarray.) But now that my revisions are done, I'll be settling into my old routine.

What about you? What mental tricks help you turn to writing? What kind of schedule (or lack thereof!) do you follow?

A Treat for You from Us!

Some very exciting news - our blog has reached 300 followers!

Bethany and I feel so lucky to have all of you in our lives. We talk every day about our followers, what you are saying in your blogs, the little ways we've gotten to know you better.

Today we want to say THANK YOU! We've baked up a delectable cake so please choose a slice. There is also a warm cup of tea, which happens to be the Heartfelt Award, which we want to give you for your own blog. Just leave us a comment so we can link to you at the end of the post.

Thanks to Diana Paz of the Writing Roller Coasters blog for giving us this award. She is an amazing blogger and an incredible friend.

I want to shout out a very loud CONGRATULATIONS to Elana Johnson who has signed with her dream agent. We are so happy for you!

One last thing, I've posted an interview with a contest-winning author over on the QTblog and would love to share it with you! Be sure to let me know you stopped over there by leaving a comment.


Friday, November 6, 2009

All Because Erin Dyed Her Hair.

My friend Erin (see photo--yep, that's the beautiful Erin) dyed her hair black. So what, right? Well, when her hair was black, her eyes looked gold. And all I could think as I stared at her, and probably freaked her out with my scrutiny, was, "Her eyes look like cat eyes." What does this story have to do with a blog that centers around writing? Everything. When I saw those gold eyes, a character was born. An entire trilogy was inspired. All because Erin dyed her hair (thanks, Erin!).

And then the other day, I supervised youth dodge ball. And this boy, this teenager, walked into the gym. My jaw dropped. My eyes grew round. I stared at the poor teenage boy the whole evening. And I'm sure he got totally creeped out--I am slightly beyond my teenage years, way too old to be staring at him like that. But it was as if the character from my work-in-progress peeled himself off the page and came to that gym to haunt me. If I'd had my notebook, I would have been scribbling furiously. If I'd had a camera, I would have been snapping pictures until the battery died. If I had been brave, I would have talked to him. Instead I studied him from afar and memorized the way he moved, how his t-shirt hung on him, the angle of his cheekbones, how he smiled when he pegged someone with the ball. I went home and wrote him onto paper. And finally fell in love with my character. Sigh.

So where does it come from, your character inspiration? And do you love your characters like I do? Even the bad ones?

--Bethany aka Wiggy

P.S. Check out the Querytracker blog for the latest in agent news.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Agent-Judged Contest on the QueryTracker Blog!

Fantastic news - the QTblog is hosting another agent-judged contest! I'm honored to be working again with literary agent Anna Webman of Curtis Brown Ltd. This contest is for Young Adult Novels only. Come check out all the details on the QueryTracker blog!