Realizing Representation

Once you achieve something that you’ve been working toward for a long time, it can take a while for the realization to sink into your bones. You have to keep reminding yourself that you’ve succeeded. That it’s time to look forward to the future, to whatever comes next.

In the last week or so, I’ve had many of those pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moments, usually whenever I get the urge to pull up QueryTracker or the latest post from the Guide to Literary Agents blog that appears in my RSS reader. That’s when I have to tell myself I’m no longer in the market for an agent.

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photo courtesy of Bridget Lewis of Flickr

I’m still trying to absorb all the nuances of what’s happened and what’s yet to come. I never would have dreamed my story of “the call” would include three compelling offers and two nerve-wracking weeks of PS3-playing to keep me from checking my email. Or that my love for the manuscript that got me my agent would be eclipsed by my excitement for my current work-in-progress (that I’m very eager to get back to after writing this post).

Within a few short weeks, everything has changed, and yet I’m still me, with the same insecurities, the same hopes and dreams, and the same stories in my head clamoring for attention. But I have an advocate now to make the journey forward a little less fraught. And that is an amazing thing.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to announce I’m now represented by Lana Popovic of Chalberg and Sussman. I know I’m in good hands for this book, and I hope our partnership flourishes going forward.

I didn’t get to this point alone. Lori M. Lee, Fran Wilde, Christopher East, L. Blankenship, Catherine Schaff-Stump, Laura Snapp, Christopher Cornell, the Critical Mass writing group, and my husband Eric all provided me with support, encouragement, and most importantly feedback, on this winding road.

Hopefully the news will sink in soon. In the meantime, please accept this GIF-free post as testament to the exciting next stage of my writing journey, whatever it brings!

The End of the Year as We Know It

And I feel fine.

I feel totally fine with saying goodbye to 2013.

It’s been a year of transition for me. I went into it with a lot of momentum—finishing and polishing another novel, writing four short stories, one anthology sale, two workshops, a Worldcon, a new crit group, and making handful of new writing friends. In fact, all told, that’s just the first half of 2013.

The rest of this year, I’ve been sidelined dealing with a family member’s illness. Productivity came to a screeching halt, writing time evaporated, and all that momentum has turned into regret at what-could-have-beens.

So yeah. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, 2013. I’ve got my eye on the horizon and what 2014 will bring. It’s going to be good. I can feel it.

Image by Amodiovalerio Verde of Flickr

What to expect next January? Well, more natterings on about my writing process, some subtle changes to the blog, maybe even some good news. A girl can hope!

In the meantime, whatever you celebrate, have a wonderful next few weeks and a happy New Year!

A Time for Thanks

Regardless of what you believe or how you choose to celebrate, taking a moment once a year to take stock and say thanks is a wonderful thing. And after spending the last few months caring for a sick family member, it’s a good time for me to reflect on the wonderful things in my life.
I’m thankful for…
1) All the projects I’ve been able to draft, revise, and complete (in some cases all three!) especially since my writing time of late has been drastically reduced. I’ve started or completed five short stories, and tinkered with a few more that haven’t found homes. My short stories routinely make it to the second round at markets, which has built up my confidence in my work even though it doesn’t always translate into sales.
2) The fact my story “Resonance” found a home in The Future Embodied anthology. Should be out sometime next year, and I can’t wait!
3) My growing community of writers. I went to Worldcon this year and was thrilled to catch up with some of my friends from Taos Toolbox and meet new ones. I also just got back from Paradise Icon, a neo-pro writing workshop in Cedar Rapids (which you can read more about here), where I met more talented writers. The workshop was a great break from my caregiving obligations and provided me with some much-needed inspiration. If you are looking to expand your own community of writers, applications to the 2014 Taos Toolbox workshop open December 1st.
4) That my latest novel project will be in this year’s Baker’s Dozen Auction on the Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog. Cross your fingers for me and see if you can guess which entry is mine!
5) My husband for supporting me in everything I do.
What are you thankful for this year? Happy Thanksgiving!

Humble Pie

With the exception of certain universal life experiences, no other process has been quite as humbling as learning how to write well.

Knowledge is proud that it knows so much; wisdom is humble that it knows no more. William Cowper

For one thing, everyone thinks they’re an expert on writing, by virtue of the high literacy rates in our society and the sophisticated narratives that populate our entertainment, our news, even our interactions with one another. Add to this the critique process that is often necessary to strengthen a writer’s craft and their work—a necessary evil but one that often shakes the resolve of many beginning writers (as well as those at every stage of their career).

Image courtesy of Jaypeg on Flickr

Criticism can be brutal, confusing, and sometimes even helpful, but I believe only a humble writer can learn something from it. You have to be open to the process, and that means you need to set your ego aside.

Then there’s the whole rejection thing, and how you’ll probably accumulate dozens or more rejections for every acceptance you get.

Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble. Shahrukh Khan

I’ve wrestled before with the idea of the arrogant writer, and still believe that writers are guided by the hope that our words have meaning rather than the expectation that they do simply because they’ve been recorded.

I’ve never had a humble opinion. If you’ve got an opinion, why be humble about it? Joan Baez

After all, our first amendment right to write is a privilege not every one in this world enjoys. To have the time to indulge in writing is another privilege not everyone has.

I know that writing has humbled me. Not only in what I do and do not know, but also in the knowledge that the odds are so very great. Each and every time someone further along in their career takes a moment to reach out to me, I am humbled.

Am I alone in feeling this way? What is it about writing that has made you humble?

How to Survive Your First Worldcon, Part One

Over Labor Day weekend, I attended my first Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas. I decided to go for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important one was to slowly increase my visibility in the field by networking with my writing colleagues.

The view from my hotel balcony.

I had no idea what to expect, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned so you’ll be better prepared if you plan to attend an event like this in the future.

1. Never Take Off Your Nametag

This could be my own issue, but I’ve never been a fan of nametags. Whether it was the first day of school, my work as a waitress back in the day, or attending work conferences, my initial impulse was always to whip off the tag as soon as possible.

Do not do this. The whole point of conventions is to meet like-minded people, right? But unless you already know someone’s a writer, it can be tough to spot one out in the wild. At a convention, if you see a nametag, you can be reasonably sure they’re a serious SFF fan or writer or both, whether you are crossing the street between the hotel and the conference space, hunkering down in the hotel lobby for the free internet, or getting a drink or a bite to eat in the hotel lounge. So this is one of the few times where it’s okay to let your freak flag fly.

The nametag also makes introductions easier and seeing a printed name (as opposed to just hearing it) can reinforce retention.

That said….

2. Be Prepared to Reintroduce Yourself A Lot

You will be meeting a lot of people. And just as you will have difficulty keeping everyone straight, the people you meet will also have trouble putting the name to the face. If they don’t remember you, don’t take it personally. Be gracious, and if the opportunity presents itself, remind them that you met them the night before at a party or last year at another event or that you share a TOC together… whatever it is that will help jog their memory and put you into context.

 

You want them to remember your face, your name, and something pleasant about you—not how you gave them a hard time for not remembering who you are from a 15-second introduction. That just makes them feel guilty, and they will then avoid you to avoid experiencing that negative emotion again.

3. Dress to Impress

I’m not talking business casual. Personal hygiene is important to handle (especially in Texas in August). As Mary Robinette Kowal said in a panel on schmoozing, you want to be the best possible version of yourself—whatever that means to you.

For me, that meant wearing clothes that had a consistent feel, styling my hair in a similar way, and wearing the same necklace and bracelet combo across the days at the convention so that people would recognize me, even if they didn’t know my name. Think of it as professional branding.

4. Ribbons Ribbons Everywhere

As this was my first con, I didn’t realize there were special “ribbons” you could affix to your nametag. These little pieces of fabric were issued to people who had pub’d in certain magazines or talked to certain con personnel or supported a particular author or whatever. I later found out there was even a ribbon for attending your first Worldcon. Many people (though not everyone) had them. I even saw one kid walking around the convention hall with so many ribbons they dragged along after him.

As with the nametags, the ribbons provide quick visual reinforcement in identifying people in your “tribe” and often served as a source of small talk. Now, I’m not saying I was ignored because I didn’t have any ribbons—I wasn’t. But it did reinforce my newbie status because I had no idea how they worked.

The exception of course were the bright green ribbons identifying the panelists and invited guests to the convention. Which leads me to….

5. Pay Attention to the Social Hierarchy

At the con, I was pretty insignificant compared to the writers further along in their careers and the editors and agents that were there. And the ribbons often reinforced this.

Unlike other cons, there were no pitch appointments offered. The only way to get an agent or editor’s attention was to either get introduced by someone they respected or small talk your way into their hearts.

Both are hard to do and are extremely dependent on luck, your social abilities, and the kindness of your colleagues.

People can sense desperation. If someone powerful has a bad opinion of you, it could haunt you the rest of your career. So don’t be that person who stalks the important people all over the con or the person who turns into a squeeing mess the second you get to talk to your writing hero, dream agent, or whathaveyou.

Instead, be sure to act courteously, and if at all possible be interesting. You may not get an opportunity to talk about you or your work, and that’s okay. Take the long view. You want to leave people with a favorable impression no matter what because who knows what could happen the next time you meet them.

Stay tuned for Part Two next week!