Monday, January 30, 2012

Meet Oreo

We call her the miracle dog because, technically, her mother was supposed to be fixed. I've had her about four years now. She's been amazing company since I moved to New York. Nothing like coming home from a long day to her overexcited greeting. How can you not smile at that face?

She did this herself.



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On a completely unrelated note, check out this awesome video for book lovers!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Case You Missed It

You know the drill;) President Obama's State of the Union Address.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Life Unemployed

It's like submitting a short story to a magazine. You spend hours polishing your submission, reading and rereading the guidelines, checking your manuscript more times than necessary to confirm you followed all the rules and caught all grammatical errors. Then, you submit it. Several days or weeks...or months later, you get an email or snail mail saying, "we like it but, it's not for us." No matter how many times you get that response, it cuts right through you.

At least you get a response. I spend hours catering my cover letter for a specific job, using the right words, proving I'm more than qualified, read and reread everything for grammatical errors and then... nothing. It feels like all my hard work goes down some black hole. Unread! The fun thing about it-you have to do it all over again.

I keep reading advice saying to contact the employer a week later to make sure they got your application. This is supposed to put your application at the top of the pile. It annoys me when I read this. I don't know what job ads they're looking at. The ones I see only include an email address; others have a link taking you to their online application. More often then not, the ad says no phone calls please. They never include a name. So, how am I supposed to contact them! I could email but what good would that do if the message simply fell down the black hole.

Articles telling us employers are looking for reasons not to hire you don't help. They're interesting but they do not help the nerves. I used to take comfort when employers told me they'd file my resume in case a position opened that I qualified for until I read this was another black hole. Unless the employer had a reason to look for it, my resume would never be looked at again.

I hate to sound old but, getting a job today is so much harder than it used to be- job hunting was never easy! Some days I think, "What's the point?" You don't even get a form email saying you didn't get the job. Your beautiful application was probably thrown away unread or sitting in someone's mailbox. Those days I step back and do something else for awhile. My cover letter would be less than what it should if I worked on it when I felt down.

I am so grateful for my writing. Now more than ever. I don't know what I'd do without it.
The frustrations of job-hunting don't bother me as much while I'm finishing my first novel, ordering business cards (They are awesome by the way. Did you know creating a QR Code is free? And, it's just like uploading an image), trying to figure out my brand as a writer and being more active on Social Media. It's so much fun. Getting my writing career off the ground makes everything else seem so insignificant.

The key is to keep moving forward. It's difficult when you have nothing to show for all your hard work and you're watching people's faces drop as you tell them you haven't gotten any responses. Focus on what you have to do next, the next job you need to apply for, how can you improve your resume and cover letter, are there any new job-hunting tips you need to know.

More importantly, I stay out of my apartment as much as possible. I go to the library around mid-day almost every day and stay until closing. The main NYPL is gorgeous and more importantly, it's free to use. I keep my mind busy so I only think about the things I need to do not the things that haven't happened. It works, most of the time ;)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Business Side

I attended a workshop over the weekend on how to develop your 2-minute elevator pitch and confirmed two things I really wanted to avoid. I've developed my professional brand to help me get another job. Now, apparently, I need my "writer" brand. It took me a month to come up with my first brand statement, I am not looking forward to creating another one but...it has to be done.

At the end of the workshop, everyone networked- you know, passing out flyers and business cards. I was the only one who had nothing to pass out. I have a lot to learn when it comes to networking. People asked for my business card and I had to tell them I didn't have one. So, apparently, I need business cards as well. Good thing I'm good with computers. I can make my own. I've done it before or, I'll use Vistaprint.

It would be so nice if my work sold itself but, sadly, it does not. Oh well.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Should've Known Better

I don't usually read my story notes. They simply help my mind iron out parts of my story- you know- the world, characters' motivations and personalities. I remember best when I write things down so, I never felt any need to read these notes.

Mistake.

While rereading my work-in-progress, I realized I didn't have a good handle on how many creatures lived in my village so, I pulled out my World Building journal and checked my (really) rough sketch of the village.

I was shocked. The village is a lot bigger then I remembered, I mean a lot bigger. It would be easier to keep things the way they are but I much prefer the sketch to what's in my head. 

I should've known better.

Before I kept journals, I used to craft these amazing scenes in my head. They'd stay there until I got around to putting them in the story. When that time came, I'd remember the overall scene but forget the small details that made it pop. It annoyed me to no end because it felt like I'd lost something important. I now write down everything to do with a story as soon as it comes to me because, sometimes, my memory cannot be trusted. 

Why did I think World Building would be any different? 

Now, I'm wondering what other important details I got wrong. Before I do a final review of my novel, I'm going to read my World Building journal. It sounds like such an obvious thing to do, doesn't it? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Possessed by the Story

Characters have been fleshed out, the world building is done, the story arch is set- now, my novel is writing itself. My characters are telling me what they would say or do in this situation. The world is showing me what would happen next.

It's telling me the powers don't work that way, they work this way. I didn't make the decision to describe what my characters were seeing when they walked through the village (I hadn't planned on them walking through it actually) but, when I reached that point in my story, the words just came.

I didn't decide my characters would react this way to what they were seeing, their reactions sort of came out of me. I didn't think, "In the end, this character will marry this one," they just fell for each other.

It's strange thinking of the story, my characters and their world as though they were living beings but it has to be done. If the story doesn't come alive for me, will it for the reader?

Do I maintain any control over how things unfold? I'd like to think I do but only in the sense that I could stop writing it.

No, not even that is under my control. This series wouldn't let me stop until it's done. It's haunting me all the time with character interactions, places where more research is needed, characters' past and how it affects them in the story. I even dream about them! My mind is putting the characters in situations that have nothing to do with the story.

I've passed the point where I could stop writing- if that point existed in the first place. Do we really make the decision to write the story or does the story make it for us?

In my case, the story or scene comes to me and I have to follow where it leads. Okay, I could ignore them when they pop into my head but, in the end, they wear me down.

It's far easier to follow the story.

 I've said this in other posts but I see it now more as I'm reaching the end of my first novel and watching how everything is falling into place so perfectly.

This is how it's supposed to be. I needed to distance myself from my novel to reach this point. Things can't be included simply because I like the way they sound. In the end, the story is not about me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pop Culture Reference in Fiction

I just finished reading The Guardian by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It was an interesting story. I might have to check out her other books. What bothered me about the story, though, were the pop culture references.

I don't like them in my fiction, especially not my fantasy. They pull me out of the story. They date the book. I want people ten years or even twenty years from now to be able to understand my stories. I'm pretty sure this topic has been discussed countless times. I guess it comes down to personal preference.

I get annoyed when I read technology articles written in the early 90s that calls the internet the World Wide Web. Every time read it I go, "No one calls it that anymore!" I know an article is not fiction but it still annoys me. An author using technology terms runs the risk of, down the line, turning readers off. The Guardian mentioned an iPhone. Ten years from now people may not know what an iPhone is. Okay. We all know iPhones aren't going anywhere anytime soon but that's beside the point.

Some stories written several years ago mention movies, music artists or events I've never heard of and the metaphor goes right over my head. Even now, an author runs the risk of using a pop culture reference the reader's never heard of. Needless to say, I don't use them in my stories. I don't mind coming across them in books as long as the story is well written and they're used sparingly. I liked The Guardian well enough. Even though the pop culture references pulled me from the story, they didn't turn me off it. I liked the male protagonist so much!

What's your take on pop culture reference in fiction?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The New Year

I used to make New Years Resolutions, don't anymore. I never keep them. I have goals for the year. Hmm, is there a different? To me, goals sound more...tangible.

Since I'm finished with school, I have a lot of planning to do. You know the whole- what do I do now kind of thing. Fortunately, I've been giving this a lot of thought so; I have an idea of what I want to do.

First on my list- get a job. This one has a giant star beside it and probably needs its own post. As they say, getting a full-time job is a full-time job and it's gotten much harder since I'm competing with like hundreds of people. Job hunting has become more like marketing. This is good practice since the success of an author rests on how well they promote their book.

Next, I want to finish my novel by mid-January so others can read it. This has a huge star beside it too. I still have a lot of editing to do but if I work on it every day, I should be finished in time. I'm forming a plan of attack for what to do after this novel is finished. Some details still need to be ironed out.

I'll also add being more active on Social Media, cause I really need to be. That requires its own plan of attack. Social Networking is a lot of fun but a lot of work and it can be time consuming if you let it.

I've been slacking off on my reading and obviously, my writing is suffering. I need to do something about that. I'm reading this fantasy book and noticing it's gotten easier for me to form scenes for my novel.

I'll have more goals and more plans down the line. Hopefully, by then, I'll have nailed down a plan for these.
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