Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What if I just suck?

People!  This “writing thing” is a lot of work!  Nobody told me it would be this hard!  I just thought I would put my half-baked little words down on paper, edit it a couple a times, drink lots of coffee and “Wham!”—Best seller, right? (Insert sounds of doggie-whining here.)

I wonder what’s happening in the stars right now, because it seems to me that many writers (and agents…but they write too) are blogging about the challenges of writing.  And I seem to be doing my fair-share of whining about it.  These blogs have been instrumental to me as as I have found myself, as of late, in the Dark-Hole of Inadequacy and Self-Loathing.   (F.Y.I.  Not as fun as Disney-World though it is located in Florida.) 
 My instincts (and others) inform me this is a natural process which occurs around the fourth full edit of a manuscript.  Let's hope.  I thought to share with you all some of the cheerleaders that have spurred me on to greater feats of bravery and fearlessness during the last week.

So perhaps you are feeling the pinch of fear as your CP lets loose with a manuscript which makes your own MS appear sophomoric at best, and you are wondering why the hell you ever thought you could write in the first place?  HiYah!  Take that fear!  Check out Kate Brauning’s blog entitled "A Writer's Poison: Fear" and get yourself a new pair of huevos. 

Think your manuscript is as slow as molasses in January?  Finding stinging criticism in your inbox flaying apart your most cherished passages and characters—or “your little Darlings”  as Chuck Wendig refers to them?  Ka-Chow! To that!  Get Busy!  Edit without mercy and do the nasty wherever and whenever necessary in your manuscript! Purge it in the fires of hell!  (Read how to do it here at "Terribleminds".) the liver!

Terrified to rewrite a scene?  Second verse same as the first?  You can rewrite!  You did it once, now do it again but be better!  Be Inspired (with horses), as Alex Yuschik advises in this marvelous blog . 

We can do this, right? 


What do you do when feeling blue?  Have you ever succumbed to the pits of dispair and just gone back to being a regular old non-writing mortal?  (Gasp!) Please share with us your tricks for getting through the fog!

~Just Jill



Monday, May 20, 2013

Editing the bugger down!

Ahhh, revising.  I don’t mean your friendly little cut and paste and then we’re done.  I mean the fourth-time-through-the-novel kinda rehash. When the written word starts looking like Sanskrit and you find yourself Googling the plural possessive of “ours”--more than once.  I actually woke up this morning from a dream in which I was editing my WIP.  Good Lord, how did I get into this?  I can’t even keep my sock drawer in order, not to mention sixty-five thousand words and all the rotten little dots and dashes that go along with them!  Criminy.  What was I thinking?

I’ve been reading a lot about the revising process lately.  Someone, I’m not sure who, recommended that to find all the typos I should read my manuscript backwards.  Oh yes, his name was Eloh-ssa.  Someone else suggested “it might be worth it” to spend three grand to get a professional edit.  Sorry, but it ain’t worth it in THIS house-hold.  What I really need to do is to stop obsessing on Twitter over the latest contest and go to work so I can afford to buy a new fridge.  The one we’ve got sounds like a clothes-dryer full of tennis-shoes. 

The best technique I have found for editing my manuscript is to submit it to an agent.  Then, when I reread the email I sent said agent, I will spot all the myriad of mistakes that somehow, previously slipped my eye:  A glaring incorrect “their” (it must be auto-correct, right?); the fact that I obviously think colons should be used for digestive purposes only; and the blatant overuse of my characters name as a mind-numbing form of thought-control.  (I really didn’t use it eleven times in the first 250 did I?)  However, this type of editing tends to be counter-productive.

So my dear talented Peeps, I thought perhaps you might be willing to throw me a bone and help a fellow writer embarking on this part of the journey.  Listed below are a plethora of questions for which I am seeking answers.  Rather than scan the web for unreliable answers, I thought to ask those writers near and dear to my heart. You have all been so helpful in the past.  I hope to glean as much wisdom as possible from your writerly experience. Feel free to answer all, some or none.  I'll still love you--and more importantly, will still read you.

*How do you know when your manuscript is ready to send to Beta Readers? 
*Do your beta readers check for typos, spelling and grammar or just overall flow and feel?

*Do you send your readers a questionnaire (of sorts) along with the MS ?  
*What questions do you put on said questionnaire?
*Do you use Google Docs?

*Do you send it out to one reader at a time, and then fix the whatevers, and then send it out to the next reader or do you cast a wide net?

Many thanks.
~Just Jill
P.S.  My dream-editing was right on.  I axed the whole paragraph this morning.
P.S.S.  Please check out Kirsten Lamb's book, "We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media" on Amazon here!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Liebster for dinner!

My fabulous C.P. Helen Jameson has nominated me for a Liebster Award, which is way better than a Lobster Award, because I don’t like shellfish.  Many thanks to her for her undying Double-D support and the lovely nod my way.  I’ve dutifully answered her questions with my attempt at wit and aplomb and am passing it on to eleven other bloggers to carry the torch.
My answers to Helen's questions:
  1. What is the nastiest thing that you ever ate in a restaurant? Offal.  (Now there’s a great word in so many ways.)
  2. Who would you like to invite to dinner?   Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I’d serve her vanity cakes and lemonade and after bagging on Nellie Olson for a good long while, we would go down to the creek by my house.
  3. Name three vacation venues that you would like to eventually visit? (What alliteration…just saying.) Glastonbury, London, and York.  (I really, really love England.)
  4. What was your first pet? My first pet was a golden retriever named Jessy. Ruined me for dogs ever since.  She was the best.
  5. Who do you admire the most? Oh—most definitely my fabulous CP Helen.  She has this certain, je’ne sais quoi….  Perhaps it’s all those freckles. 
  6. Have you ever been caught picking your nose in public? Nope.  I mine in private.
  7. What three items would you take to a desert island for survival? A genie in a bottle, my family (counts as one—right?) and our cat.  (She would love it.)
  8. Are you a leftie or a rightie? Rightie. 
  9. Name your first grade teacher, and did she inspire you? Mrs. Jordan was my first grade teacher and while she was a nice-enough lady, her math work-sheets terrified me. She inspired me to get the answers from Robert Grossman who sat in front of me.
  10. Would you rather walk on green grass or a sandy beach? Sandy beach!
  11. Is your hair curly or straight, and did you ever want the opposite? My hair is that awful in-between.  Yes.  I always want what I don’t have.  It comes in handy when you’re seeking publication.  Keeps you going and all that.

My nominees are: (With a special shout-out to all my new "Writer's Voice" friends!  How's life after Twitter?)

Diana Wilder at "About myself, by myself".
Susan Swiderski at "I think therefore I yam".
L.G. Smith at "Bards and Prophets".
Wendy Parris at "Up in the Willow".
Elizabeth Dunn at "The Punchline".
Sarah J. Clift at "Sarah J. Clift's blog".
Jan Estes at " Jan Estes' blog".
Sharon Woolich at "Sharon Woolich's blog".
Michelle Hauck at "Michelle4laughs: It's In The Details".
Karen Lee Halem at "The Writing Journey...and all its stops".
Jennie Bailey at "Garden Full of Lily".

My questions for the lovely Liebster nominees are all pertaining to childhood:

1.      What was your favorite book when you were eleven?

2.      What did you want to be when you grew up?

3.      What was your first Barbie? (or Ken/ GI Joe as the case may be.)

4.      What was your favorite t.v. show from when you were a kid?

5.      How old were you at the time of your first (real) kiss?

6.      Where was it?

7.      What was your most embarrassing grammar school moment?

8.      What was the first album (or CD) you ever bought with your own money?

9.      When did you first learn about sex?

10.  Did you ever walk in on Mummy and Daddy doing it?

11.  What was your proudest childhood achievement?

 I apologize in advance for making you do eleven links.  (Do as many as you want. I won't tell!)

~Just Jill
 P.S.  Is anyone finding my link takes you to a "Bible-study" site?  Please let me know if it does...
Dad-burn internet.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Writer's Voice

Hi All! 
I was fortunate enough to land a spot in an online writing contest called (you guessed it) "The Writer's Voice" organized by Kimberly Chase and hosted by Cupid from Cupid's Literary Connection, Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.), Monica B.W. of Love YA and Brenda Drake, who writes ...under the influence of coffee.  Many thanks to these ladies for their philanthropic nature and willingness to offer such a great opportunity to wanna-be MG and YA authors everywhere.
The contest involves posting a query and manuscript snippet on my blog so please pardon me while I use my blog to bare my query and the first 250 of my MG fantasy novel Dreamwalker: The Isle of Glass.  (Cue the trumpets, please.)

Crickets chirping...

Ahem.  I'll keep you posted.

~Just Jill

Genre: MG Fantasy
Word count: 65,000

Dear Writer’s Voice Agents,
       Twelve-year old Gia Harding didn’t know exactly what she saw that night on the Tor, but she did know two things: It scared her enough to make her run away, and-- she had dreamed it all the night before.
      Before Gia was required to give up everything she loved and move to Glastonbury, England for a whole year, she could only dream of real adventure. But once there, she gets to live at her funky Aunt Bethany’s B&B called the Pink Palace, nestled right at the foot of that mystical hill called the Tor, a place otherwise known as The Isle of Avalon: Fairy Central, and soon, her dreams become her reality.
        Through a series of ominous dreams, a dusty tome of a book and a mysterious mentor masquerading as the garbage man, Gia discovers she is a dreamwalker, and is being asked to travel back in time through her dreams to the nineteenth century to save her fourteen year-old thrice-great-grandmother Georgina from certain destruction at the hands of an evil, creepy Fey with a nasty agenda.  Somehow, Gia must rise to the challenge and throw herself into a battle she’s not sure she can even find, much less win.  Only then can she save herself, her beloved family, and secure her own crazy destiny as one of Morgan le Fey’s chosen prophets in a group of Goddesses called “The Sisters of the Nine".  And she thought these types of things only happened in books.

Dreamwalker: The Isle of Glass  is an M.G. fantasy book of 65,000 words; the first book in the Gia Harding:  Dreamwalker series. 
      I am a graduate of Sonoma State University in California with an MFA in English. Several of my short stories and poems have been published in my alma mater’s literary review, Zaum (1998,1999).   I also maintain a blog called “I had a little nut-tree…” where I have interviewed other writers, posted reviews and commiserate with my blog-mates about the writerly life. More recently I have been honing my craft, hammering out a few hard-won words between sinkloads of wishes and trying not to drive my family off the next cliff-hanger. 

Many thanks for your consideration,
Jill Haugh (pronounced “Hawk”)

Genre: MG  Fantasy
Word count: 65,000
(first 250 below)


            “Leah looked behind herself --horrified!  There were wings sprouting from her back!”
             Gia Harding slammed shut the book she was reading.
             “Horrified!”  She thought.  Seriously? Why were crazy book characters always freaking out because they got to do something fabulous-- like sprout wings, or find out they were half-fairy, or discover they were the key to an important plot to save the world from total destruction?  Gia wouldn’t be horrified.  She would love it, adore it, gladly rise to the occasion and save the world with grace and style. But she could only dream about such things. 
            She tossed the book onto the seat and caught her mother’s eyes watching her from the rear-view mirror.
           “Something wrong?”
            “No,” said Gia.  “I just don’t feel like reading is all.”
            Gia’s mother Fran was a writer—an author actually, of fantasy books for teens and Gia did not feel like getting embroiled in a conversation about story arcs or literary devices or anything else with her mom at the moment. Fran said Gia was the best book critic she knew, since Gia was the “target market” age of twelve for Middle Grade or “M.G.” fiction as it was called.  But to Gia, this was less of a compliment and more of a burden.  Her mother was always grilling her about books, but sometimes Gia just wanted to read without thinking about red herrings, or narrative voice or any of the other techno-weanie-gear-head things her mom was always so interested in.  Reading should be like breathing.  You shouldn’t have to think about it so much.