Friday, November 21, 2014

Cover addiction

 

I have to say, I'm addicted to beautiful covers. I know, it sounds shallow, but I have to admit it. I'm drawn to them. It's like my chocolate problem. It doesn't mean I don't read books that don't have a sweeping jacket. It's just an interesting cover catches my attention. Of course, the premise of the story has to fit my liking too. I don't buy them to sit on the shelf and look pretty, they must do their job and live up to what their shell is exposing.

I just finished RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo (yep, I'm a big fan). The writing is gorgeous as well as the story is interesting. It takes a lot for me to stay with a series. The cover is pretty, but it's not what drew me to the book first. Between reviews and word of mouth that's it's super awesome, I had to dive into the world of the Fold and the Darkling.


I just picked up SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch. The cover is what drew me to the book first. Then after I read the premise, the purchase was made. A first person, present tense fantasy--sold.

Snow Like Ashes

(Very pretty.)

Maybe it's the design gene in me to be visual first, but covers are important after the story of course. 
Then again, this whole business is subjective so this is my opinion and I hope I'm not coming off as stuffy. It's just an addiction of mine.

As you can see, I'm reading fantasies. It's not only for pleasure, but research. The book I'm writing now is, well, a fantasy. If you are writing or about to take that first step, don't forget to read, read, read. Know what's out there in the genre you want to be in and how others do it. They are an incredible teaching tool.

What is your favorite cover?

Am I the only one with this problem?

Have a great weekend!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pump it up

Well, I'm holding to my promise. I'm slowly getting back into this one day a week. I'm not guaranteeing me commenting  a whole lot yet, but I'll get there.

Last weekend, I went to the SCBWI of Eastern PA Fall Philly. I was only able to make it to one day of the two day event and had a critique with an agent, which was helpful. The one thing that this conference did was get me pumped. I've been up and down with my writing (sometimes to very extreme levels) and this gathering of writers put it all in perspective. I also went to the conference with a more seasoned mind. I'm not new to this so those dream expectations were held at bay. I went to learn, not to be discovered. That sort of mentality can overshadow what the purpose of going is. Not to mention a total downer because I'm not that lucky. Let's just say, I was being realistic.

I enjoyed myself and took in what the speakers had to say. Even though the agent I was paired with didn't represent scifi, she had some great points on why I wasn't getting great responses from agents. In the end, it was a help.

It's always great to hear inspiring stories. Kit Grindstaff won the Crystal Kite Award for her book--THE FLAME IN THE MIST. Kit is a wonderful lady. I was lucky to have the chance to speak with her.
The Flame in the Mist
The other thing I really enjoyed was the Keynote speaker, Regina Brooks of Serendipity Literary Agency. She was a wonderful speaker and her speech included lots of encouragement and inspiration.

My point is this. We writers need to venture out into the world of other writers that we don't know. It's not easy. I get caught up into life, wishes, hopes, dreams, expectations, and stories. But sometimes, especially when we are stuck or down, we need to get out and share. You might find out there are others just like you.

Have you been to any writer events lately?

What inspires you?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dipping my toe in the water.

So I'm trying to get back on a blogging schedule. I might go for once a week. Friday perhaps. I don't know, we'll see. I think I needed a break to find out how to balance things. I'm getting there. I don't thing you fully balance anything. It's a cycle of what you can deal with and how you can change.

As you can see, I'm sprucing up the old blog. This process will be slow, but I'm cleaning it up and getting it back in order. I think holding myself to a post once a week will get some of my practice back in. I feel a little rusty but that's okay. Some say blogging is dead, but I found the motion of blogging something little like a journal entry can't hurt the old writing wheels.

I also slowed down so I could read more. I'm a slow reader just like I'm a slow writer, but I'm beginning to fit it in here and there so I'm confident I'm going to make it work.

Right now, I'm reading RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo. I like it. This is the last book in Grisha Trilogy. I'm anxious to see how it all ends.

It's a part of a writer's life to read. To me the books are a teacher. I'm always trying to see how the author accomplished what they set out to do and if it worked.

I'll also post about different blogs or sites you can go to that will strengthen your writing. Currently, I have a piece up for critique at Dianne Salerni's and Marcy Hatch's Mainewords blog. It's called First Impressions. Every month they critique the first page of a writer's work. It's extremely helpful. Check it out if you haven't done so already. I think this is the third time I'm participating.

That's it for today.

What are you reading?

What are your favorite ways to strengthen your craft?

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Learning from something unexpected

Hey there. Yep, I'm still here. I haven't figured out how to fit in the blogging lately. Between drafting, querying, and the whole living life, it's been a struggle. But my blog is still here, and hopefully soon, I will make some changes and liven it up. One thing that happened is I'm going to be a part of THE BEST OF VINE LEAVES LITERARY JOURNAL 2014. To be released December 1, 2014. How? I don't know. I'm honored to be a part of. I think I'm still in shock over it.

It's nice to have things come unexpectantly. It keeps me going.

We have to learn from the little things that pop up. It does something to us, helps us grow. Sometimes we don't realize it till later. Over the past few months, I've been contemplating and debating on where I fit in in the writing world. I've said in past posts, I was always focused on one way to get to be published. Recently, I've been opening up to other ideas. Let's face it, my work (so I've been told) isn't sellable or just not the right fit. The subjective thing. It's not the story or the writing, it's simply not the time. The luck isn't there. I've become more of a patient person through this crazy world, but still, the waiting isn't the easiest. Publishing is a snail pace process. The thing is there are other avenues. I was so blinded by my one-way-for-me path, I never considered them. So like I said, other roads are looking a little bit more inviting. It doesn't mean I'm going to stop querying agents. It means I might try another direction on a manuscript that isn't working in the traditional path.

A couple things are sealing that thought and making me learn that I need to do what is right for me. If one door closes, open another. So here's what happened.

One: I've been watching Sonic Highways on HBO. It's Foo Fighters and how they made their recent album. Each week they go to a different recording studio to record one song for their album. They discuss the music history of that city. Last week was Washington D.C. They  went to Dischord Records and interviewed people who started that label and what went into it. The thing is they didn't care about what the big guns thought, they did what they wanted to do and started something as well as exposed people to bands that would've never been heard. They did their way. Handmaking album covers and recording in a house in the burbs. It was about getting the music to the public that wanted to hear it and exposing it to those who may have never gotten a chance to hear.

Two: My daughter has been writing little stories and books for a while now. She recently wrote a story in her journal. Her confidence and the sheer proud look she gets on her face when she talks about it is mesmerizing to me. I get happy watching her write her acknowledgements, summary, and her just going through the whole process. Today, she asked to make copies for her friends, which we did. It made me realize that you can do it yourself. She is so into what she did, she wants to share it. She's not worried about what anyone says (at least not yet). It's hard not to get caught up in her enthusiasm.

If you believe in something that much, who cares what the others think. There are other ways to get our work out there. So what, if it's not the in thing. I get that this is a business and with that money needs to be made, but for those stories that need to be told and waiting for the right time may never come. Keep writing and strengthening your craft, make it the best you can and share it with the world. I don't know where my stories will be or if they will ever be in print, but I have options and I plan to keep that in mind. I also will keep my eyes open and learn from those places I never thought would influence me.

So what's new with you guys?

What are your plans with your manuscripts?

Have you learned from something you didn't expect?

Have a great day!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Yep, I'm still here.

Wow! It's been a while. I'm still here though. I'm still writing and putting my work out there. There isn't anything really exciting going on so I haven't posted. I could talk about the craft, which I will try to do. I know I've said this before, but then life takes over and my writing takes over blogging.

I did take a break over the summer. Not by choice, though. Kids schedules were more demanding now than ever. My alone time was extremely limited. I was always anticipating one monster or the other needing something. "Mom!" was a common word in my house and there were times I'd rather be in a padded room.

I wanted to write and be into it like I was. I searched for that feeling. You know the one where you're super excited even in the tough time of slapping words on paper or even revising. But that feeling wasn't there. I thought it was gone for good. I also limited myself from the world of social media. It was making me feel unaccomplished.

I was burned out, tired of the whole game. I was dealing with emotional junk that was the aftermath of it all. I thought I battled through the demons, when in fact, they were just waiting to strike. In their path, they sucked the life out of me, taking creativity and confidence with it. I had more confidence when I knew nothing a few years back and that's not saying much. I let it all get to me even though I said it didn't. But I put on a smile and said everything was fine. My life itself was, but my writing life was not. A piece was missing . . .lost and confused. That was the writing. It was being held hostage and tortured, making me doubt everything.

All along, I've been fighting them and repressing these dark demons, but I needed a break from all that got me here so I could  clear my head and start over. I stopped sending out queries as well. I wasn't hearing back from any agent and I was tired. My steam faded. Why was I doing this? I do want an agent. I still do. I know that's the path I want to go down. But something kept fluttering along with that reason. I also wanted an agent to prove that I'm worthy. That I can be an equal. That I am a writer. I wanted to be in the club. I wanted to say, yep someone in the biz finds me "good enough." Acceptance.

But is that what makes you accepted and seen as a writer? There are so many other opportunities to prove that. Right? At least, that's what I'm aiming towards now. There are options. An agent isn't the only thing that gains you respect. Excellent writing does. Whether it's published or not. I know and have been told so many stories of the life after signing that piece of paper. Some really fantastic and some total suckage.

I would like to aim for the fantastic side, but that might require a dozen manuscripts before one is good for the market. That's the main reason I get rejections. It's not sellable. But I'm not going to write stuff for the market. We are told to write what we want. Now, it's up to the writing gods to sprinkle a little luck my way.

That feeling has sparked back inside me. I have revisions to finish on a manuscript that I want to query. Yep, I said query. This will be the third one that I will send to trenches. I have to have hope or the demons will win. I can't let them. I'm better than that. Over the summer, I grew that thick skin everyone talks about, and so far, the rejection I just received didn't bother me as much. Sure it was bittersweet, but for once, I have hope that the next manuscript could be the one that grabs more attention. Maybe it will be better for the market. If not, I'll swallow it down and chalk it up with strengthening the craft.

I am also eager to work on something new, which I'm pretty excited about.

So, why tell you all this? These moments come and you may feel like you don't belong or are not accepted, don't, you're writing. If you continue, you will grow. It might take time or you might have great luck. I know I say all of this in one form or another, but I'm human. I give in to the dark side now and again because I get tired of the fight. The negatives win. But we only have one life (I do like to think there are other things going on after it, but I have to be realistic here. Let's leave that for my stories), we only get one shot to enjoy it. I see what the demons can do to people. And to me it's not worth giving in.

Although, I wish I had a superpower or was alien. But that's for my stories to tell.

So, how is everyone?

 What are you working on?

Have a great day!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

How I Found The Write Path Blogfest

Today, I'm taking part in How I Found the Write Path Blogfest. A big thanks to Carrie Butler for putting all of this together. Check out the other amazing participants here.

 

 
Dear Past Self,
Hey there! It’s me, you, but in the future. Crazy, right? Anyway, this journey you’re about to embark on is crazy hard. Deep down, I think you know that, but you have to face it and embrace it. There will be a ton of rejection and heartache. Lots of tears and those demons that like to make you feel like you’re not worth much. Yep, they’ll come. When you query, they’ll double, well, triple in size.
Stay strong. I know it’s easy for me to say, but you must. You need to take the support when others offer. It’s okay. It’s doesn’t make you weak. You know the people I’m talking about. They’ll guide you and help you in so many ways. So listen to them.
And don’t compare yourself to anyone. ANYONE. Everyone’s path is different.  It’s true. I know you’ll try and ignore me, but it’s really true. All the feedback you get will be left up to you to determine. That whole follow-your-gut thing. Yep. It’s true. You need to keep writing everyday and taking the opportunities that you know are good for you. Trust me.
When you query, let things slide off. Rejection only makes you stronger. I know that’s something everyone tells you, but it’s true. It still hurts, but you'll learn how to channel the hot pokers that strike your heart. Always be aware that there are options in publishing so keep an open mind. Success is only what you make it. And opinions are just that—opinions. Throw them up and let them fly like petals on the wind. Make sure to keep the ones you cherish close to your heart. You’ll know who means well.
The confidence you have now will fade in and out. It may even get crushed. Don’t let it. Remain strong and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, it’ll show. Never EVER think you’re below anyone. Your path is different from the others. That’s all. When you’re at the point where it seems like everyone in the world is published or has an agent but you, you’re still not below anyone. So please, don’t think that.
Patience is also key. Now I know you pretty much have none so figure out how to deal with waiting months and months (possibly never) from agents. It’s how this all works. There are no short cuts. Everything takes time so distract yourself by writing something else. It’ll do you good. Think about it, the more you write the stronger you become.
And the biggy--this is all subjective. Not everyone is going to like your stuff. You don’t like every book you read so not everyone will like yours. All you need to do is keep writing and enjoying the process of creating magic. All those characters in your head need a life on paper; otherwise, they’ll drive you nuts when they talk all at once. No sense in that. You don’t want to look crazy.
So keep going. You’re on the right track. One day things will happen and some people will love your stories. Just believe in yourself and crush the doubting demons. They aren’t kind and only hold you back. You are amazing and you will get there.
Love,
Your Future Self

Christine Danek
Blog: www.christinedanek.blogspot.com
Twitter @christinedanek

"I give permission for my entry to be included in the e-book compilation without royalties and/or separate compensation."

 

 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Social media--blessing or curse?

Social media. Is it a blessing or a curse? I'm not sure if it's either. Actually, it depends on how you look at it and really how you use it. At one point, my journey towards publication relied on it. I craved it. I looked forward to it--everyday. It was a community for me. I can't say it's entirely bad. I've made a ton of connections and friends to which I'm so so grateful for.  I've learned tons and tons. And have gotten so much support from many folks I've never met. A blessing. Plus, you can find anything you need without leaving your house--research. Bonus.

On the other hand, social media can bring you down. For a few years, I was on it a lot and what I began to realize is social media became more like a cursed object. So much information was thrown at me I didn't know what to process. It awoke some things in me. My depression demons would whisper negative thoughts into my head. It brought me down. Way down. I would compare myself and see tons of things happening to others and nothing was happening in my corner of the world. What was wrong with me? Could I not learn? Or even keep up?  I became numb and distant. I was angry at writing when it should make me happy. I got frustrated and fed up. I pushed myself but what I was writing was forced and not thought through. I wasn't enjoying it. Any of it. I wanted something, badly, and I was so caught up in social media, I couldn't focus on me. It definitely held me back. It created a mindset that spiraled me backwards. Confidence dropped and I felt that I was so below everyone, I'm never going to get there.

So what happened. I stopped. I stopped blogging, I limited my FB time, twitter time and all around email. I stopped checking my email every five seconds for responses from agents. I didn't want that to rule my life. I can't control what they want so I shut it off. It can be a distraction and overwhelming. I wanted to keep up but I kept putting myself below everyone because I wasn't there. Why would I be accepted if I'm just a writer? Bad thoughts from not so nice demons. Once I limited things, the weight on my shoulders started to lift. I stepped back and instead of trying to keep up with everyone else, I'm only trying to please myself. It's okay to say no and it's okay to take your time. It's okay to limit things, and guess what, it's okay shut it off for a while. The whole world doesn't need to know every single thing you do. You're writing. That what counts. You're thinking about how to change a problem child in your story. That counts too. There's nothing to keep up with only with yourself.

So where am I now. Still querying and not trying to think about it too much. I'm also revising my fourth novel and prepping it to query one day. And writing my fifth novel. Keeping busy and keeping me happy. I've decided to take my time with this next manuscript and see where it goes. I write because it helps me escape and one day I would love to share it with others, but I need to think clearly and move forward with out looking back and to the side.

I think in the end, social media is what you make it. I think you have to decide the best way to use it and focus on it. I think for the longest time, I did, but got lost, and now, I'm jumping back on the tracks and moving forward.

Hope everyone is well!

What are you working on?

Have a great day!!