June 24, 2010 | By: Tracy

What if We had to Write in the Snow? Uphill? Both Ways?

Would you still want to be a writer if the technology we use didn’t exist?

Be honest. Serious.

Think about it. William Shakespeare – one of the most renowned writers ever – had to craft his plays (wordy, Olde English suckers that they were) by hand. He had to dip a feather quill into ink every other word. How the hell did he manage to keep his thoughts flowing? Not to mention, if Shakey (that’s what I call him) accidently spilled wine on his pages, they were ruined and he had to start all over again! *gasp*

That would make my recent soda incident an accident of suicidal proportions.

How about this: Stephen King’s prolific career began with a typewriter.

A typewriter. Keep in mind this was before correction tape was invented even. No wonder the publishing world was accustomed to 2-5 years between author releases!

I’m fairly certain I would never have been able to come up with a single clean, editor-worthy page of manuscript using a typewriter. EVER. The kerclack sound with each and every letter alone would have been enough to send me postal.

Knowing myself, I would not have had the patience or drive to complete 5+ revisions of a manuscript (heck, I’m on #7 now), using either the quill pen or typewriter methods. I’m soft, I’ll admit it.

And I wonder how many of my favorite current authors would have survived to become what they are.

What about you? Do you honestly think you could have done it in the old days? Do you think receiving rejections hurt even more after having to go through all those extra hoops?
June 22, 2010 | By: Tracy

You Know You're Good When...

You know you're a good writer when you leave me mourning for people who've been dead for five centuries!!

This has been a depressing year for me in TV land. I don't watch much television, so it is rather disturbing that so many of the shows I do enjoy have come to an end. First LOST and now .... The Tudors. *sobs*

What I loved about this show (aside from all the pretty actors - specifically the three in the middle) was the powerful writing. IMO, Michael Hirst is a genius. He was able to show us these historical figures we mostly think of as blocks of text in history books, and gave us a chance to see them as the humans they were.

Henry VIII is often portrayed as a monster. And given the fact that he did have two of his wives beheaded, you can see where that rumor got its momentum. The show didn't skirt around the obvious flaws in his decisions and actions, but it gave a glimpse into the events in all their lives that lead up to those moments.

If you haven't watched the show, it won't make sense to you. But if you did watch, then you can probably understand why I felt like I'd lost several friends forever the moment it ended. I'm not exaggerating, I took it hard.

Anyway, it required an extremely gifted writer to bring the dead back to life, even if for only a little while. For that, I wanted to give him a moment of thanks and recognition.

Dear "Supernatural" and "The Vampire Diaries",
If you even think about leaving me, I swear I will stalk you until you regret it.
 Love, Tracy
June 21, 2010 | By: Tracy

Do You Ever ...

Do you ever get pissed at yourself for becoming a better writer?

I know it sounds ridiculous, but hear me out.

Recently, one of my Twitter buddies mentioned Noah Lukeman's  "The First Five Pages".  For those of you who aren't familiar with it (I highly suggest you get it ASAP, btw) it is a reference guide to helping writers avoid the rejection merry-go-round. Some of the information was pretty standard, but it was explained in a way that helped me to not only recognize those things I missed that were slipping into my writing ... it also gave me solid ways to fix them. 

More importantly, it was written from the perspective of an acquisitions editor. The perspective of a man who is looking for reasons to reject a piece of work so he can move on to the next submission in his stack. Not only that, he places his chapters in order of what usually (in a bad way) catches his attention first. I'm about a third of the way through another round of revisions using some of the things I've learned in his book, and I'm surprised how much better the ms reads!

That's the good news.

The "eh" news, is that I already thought my ms was doing pretty good.

That sounds wrong.  What I mean to say is that I've finally had to admit to a major flaw of mine: not realizing I still had so much left to learn!!

Storytelling has always been a strength of mine. I'm good at coming up with ideas and finding ways to weave them together that makes it interesting from beginning to end. Through my school years, and with friends and friends, etc., my knack for high-stakes story lines and lovable characters was always enough to get me by with my less than precise writing. (In case you haven't noticed by reading my blog, I can be a little needlessly wordy at times)

Now I'm learning that when it comes to the big bad world of publishing, the littlest of details in the craft makes a huge difference. In fact, it's the difference between a decent manuscript and a wonderful one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really excited when I learn a tip or trick that makes me a better writer in the long run ... I just get a bit miffed at myself from time to time that it has taken me so long to realize the need to get better at what I do. For a "smart kid", I sure can be pretty slow sometimes!  ;o)

Reading Update:  So, I started reading Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" about a month ago. I'm still hanging in there -- just about 100 pages in -- but, I gotta be honest. I'm not really sure I have any idea what's going on in the story.  Anyone read it before and can tell me if it all starts to make sense at some point? Or is it just one of those stories that probably isn't going to click for me, if I don't love it already?
June 14, 2010 | By: Tracy

Weebles Wobble ...

... but they don't fall down.

Thanks, Everyone. It's nice to have so many online shrinks to lend me some encouraging words when I have a mini-freakout (and it's free. How can you beat that?!)

I'm happy to announce that I'm feeling much better now. I think I was dealing with a little bit of post-travel fatigue. I re-read my post and realized how complainy (it's a Tracy word) I sounded.  Believe it or not, I wasn't stressed because I felt like I HAD to do all those things and couldn't ... I was feeling stressed because I WANT to do all those things and can't fit them in. Apparently, it has taken me this long to realize I'm not superhuman after all. Dammit!

I'm rather amused at myself. Seems I can handle agent rejection in stride, but I lose my cool when time refuses to bend itself to my will. Go figure.

If any of my buddies are looking for a fun contest to join in on -- admit it, some of you are totally addicted to blog contests and challenges -- Kay is having one over at her blog. It's a short romance scene, but it can be funny or zaney, etc -- which is why I think if the guys that follow my blog were to give it a go, it would be freaking awesome!

I know I've mentioned it before, but if any of you are looking for a great YA series to get into I highly recommend "Vampire Academy", by Richelle Mead.  I just read the 5th book while on my trip, and I can't find enough words to describe how much I love this series. Despite what the title suggests, the main character is NOT a vampire. Richelle has also managed to create a character I whole-heartedly swoon over.  I *heart* Dimitri Belikov!!!!! (Yes, I love him five exclamation points worth. It's that serious.)
June 11, 2010 | By: Tracy

Feeling Stressed

I know we all have extremely busy lives, so please don't take this as me selfishly whining and thinking I'm the only one who's struggling... I just need somewhere to vent. That's all.

I am really not doing very well  suck with keeping up on all the balls I'm juggling in my life, at the current moment.

I adore my new job, and I'm very happy with what I'm doing (not to mention the paycheck I'm making). That being said, it isn't my DREAM JOB. That distinction is still reserved for being a full-time author (or Towel Girl in the Orioles locker room -- though I think my chances on the first are better). So while I'm happy with my job - and I realize it's still early & I'm learning to adjust - I'm getting a little concerned with my lack of writing time lately.

Though, I can't blame the new job in its entirety. The Orioles - or more importantly, my season tickets - are taking up a good chunk of my time as well. It's really hard to squeeze any writing whatsoever in between the time I get home from work & have to head out to the ballpark. So the weeks when they are in town I'm getting zero accomplished!!

This past weekend, for instance, I got started on some GREAT revisions on the manuscript I've been shopping around. But that wonderful feeling of  "Wow, I'm making it even better" came to a screeching halt once Monday hit. (I've been praying for a rain-out, but no such luck).

It's not just the physical writing that is suffering right now. It's EVERYTHING about this portion of my life.
- I'm not being a very good blogger buddy to most of the blogs I normally love to read.
- I haven't been to Nathan's blog/MB in so long I'm afraid I've forgotten the way.
- And I haven't even looked at revising my query letter again yet.

Somebody do me a favor and tell me I'll be able to figure it out eventually and not have to drive myself crazy EVERY day. Tell me this is a very normal part of the life we're all trying to accomplish for ourselves. Because right now I'm stressing ... I'm not giving up on anything, mind you ... but I'm stressing. Big. Time.
June 7, 2010 | By: Tracy

What's tatters, Precious?

Yeah, my subject title has absolutely nothing to do with my post. I've just been on a "Lord of the Rings" kick lately.

Okay, now that that's out of my system....

I'm back!!!

I feel like I've been away from the blogosphere forever ... and in some ways I probably have been. But I'm back now, and I'm going to make a concerted effort to get back to posting more regularly (now that my training & trip to San Francisco are in the rearview mirror).

It may take me a week to get caught up with everyone, but I'mma do it!! In the meantime, if anyone has something I need to know about (I hate being out of the loop) please, please leave me a comment or drop me an email!

For those who are curious, my trip to California went really well. I found San Francisco quite charming. Would never want to live there, because ... well, I'm lazy and those hills would really start to get on my freaking nerves if I had to walk them every day.

And no earthquakes, yay!

I think I've got the traveling bug though, because now I'm looking for someplace to fly off to for a little vacay. There is a little voice in the back of my mind that is telling me to check on the RWA conference, coming up in Orlando. Not only am I really itching to get out to a writer's conference somewhere, I know for a fact some of my fav authors are going to be there ... and dude, its in Orlando. My old hunting grounds are calling me home.

Then I look at the price tag, and the voice of my old hunting grounds doesn't sound quite so loud anymore. I'm still down with going, but I think I'd need to find 2 or 3 roomies to make it plausible.

Alright, since I don't have anything valuable to say at the moment, I'm going to head off and start catching up on some of my peeps. See how things are going with everyone.

Off the top of my head I can't remember who recommended it (I'm too lazy to go back and look at my comments at the moment), but whoever suggested I check out Meg Cabot's "Queen of Babble" thanks. I've just started, but it is such a light, fun read. I really needed that!