Work in Progress: Update

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Well, it’s not Wednesday, but I figured I’d give a much needed Work in Progress update.

The book is done.

D-O-N-E. Done!

In the last few weeks, I’ve finished my novel, done a rewrite, and given it to beta readers for feedback. I’m now taking that feedback and doing my final touch up before Thrillerfest, which starts on July 11th. It’s fourteen days away, counting today.

I kind of can’t believe that it’s here. I’ve been working towards Pitchfest for the last several months. I pitched in OKC and now I’m going to pitch in NYC. I’m optimistic but realistic. I’m going to get to as many of the 50-60 agents that I can during the allotted 3.5 hours. It’s going to be, in a word, exhausting.

My plan for that evening is grand.

I’m going to get a massage, order room service, and watch the mid-season premiere of Impractical Jokers.

I’m especially excited about Tuesday. I’ll be working with nine other writers alongside Andrew Gross for some one-on-one feedback about our novels. I just got the e-mail with some other people’s work in it. Exciting stuff!

With two weeks until I plant my butt in that classroom, I’ve got a lot to do. Not just on the book but in my every day life. I’ll get it all done, though. I always do.

 

Work in Progress: Update

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Holy shit.

I have a completed manuscript.

75,568 words and 244 pages.

Not as long as it will be when I’m done with it, but damn.

It’s a first draft, but still. I can actually say that I’ve written a freaking novel. I kind of can’t believe it. I’m letting it cool off for a few days before I start working on it again.

I know, I know. That’s way too soon to start revising, but I have a deadline of July and I don’t have much of an option on waiting! So I’ll make the best of it!

Do what you can with what you have!

OWFI Conference Update

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Whew!

So last weekend was the OWFI Conference in Oklahoma City. It was held at the Embassy Suites on Meridian and in a word? Amazing.

I’d never been to a conference before. I’d kind of forgotten how awesome it feels to be surrounded by other writers with the same goals as you. Everyone there acted like everyone else there was a colleague instead of a competitor. I heard a guy on the phone, telling someone that an agent had just called, requesting his entire manuscript.

It was sort of surreal to witness that happening.

Kelley Armstrong was the keynote speaker and she gave a speech on coping with the uncertainty of being a writer. She said that she gets asked all the time if she could go back in time and tell her unpublished self one thing, what would it be? She said she used to think it would be, “Don’t worry. You’ll make it.” But now she doesn’t think she would tell herself that. She’s not sure she would have tried as hard or had the drive and determination that got her where she is today.

She gave inspirational insights into her own publishing journey, citing many times that she was rejected and told that she couldn’t write. In college, she wasn’t even accepted into the creative writing course that she submitted a piece to in order to even get a spot in the class.

I went to an agents and editors panel that was really enlightening. They told stories about the worst queries that they’d ever received. Most of which involved people either not being able to spell or threatening their lives if they didn’t publish the author’s work. No joke. People really are that crazy about writing.

Another session that I attended was put on by a fantasy agent named Sam Morgan. He was awesome! He told a story about the worst query he ever received, which devolved into the guy harassing him on Twitter and via e-mail. Again, how crazy are people? Like, does it not occur to you that you’re crossing serious boundaries? Apparently not.

Anyway, I left there feeling more like a writer and less like I’m playing pretend at being a writer.

The editor that I was going to pitch my book to ended up having to cancel her appearance at the conference due to a family emergency. I truly hope that she’s doing well. I was able to pitch to another editor and it went really well!

Thrillerfest is right around the corner and I seriously can’t wait. I get so excited thinking about it. And I get nervous. But mostly excited. For now. I’m sure that the reality of being in New York City without a friend at the conference is going to hit me pretty soon.

I would encourage anyone who hasn’t ever gone to a conference to sign up for the next one they can attend. It’s well worth it!

OWFI Conference Preview

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Eeeee!

Get excited! This weekend I’m going to my first ever writing conference and you get to go with me!

That’s right. A writing conference. With agents and editors and Kelly Armstrong.

I kind of can’t believe it’s taken me this long to do this, but a friend of mine inspired me to just jump in with both feet, brave the deeps, and pitch this book I’m working on.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m pitching my book.

I’ve never done that before so I have just as much of a clue as to how to do that as you do, dear reader. I’ll be doing my research this week and trying to brush up on my interviewing skills as well as polishing the first twenty pages or so and getting some business cards. Whew. All that along with taking care of mom and making sure she’s getting all of her physical therapy in. Yeah, I’m already exhausted, too.

I’m nervous about pitching my book. Duh, right? Wouldn’t anyone be nervous doing this their first time? Or their fifteenth? Or their forty-forth? It really hit me the other night when I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep. In a few days, I’m going to be sitting across from a Tor/Forge editor who is looking for women’s fiction and currently building her client list. That’s huge. It dawned on me how real all of this is. For so long I’ve just hid in my little cavern in there in my study and hammered away at my writing. I haven’t queried, I haven’t pitched, I haven’t done much of anything besides write. I’ve been terrified, quite honestly.

Terrified of what, though?

Rejection?

Humiliation?

Haven’t I been dealt worse blows? I would say so. I’ve survived some things that would have broken others. Natural disaster, rape, death, the list goes on.

When I look at it that way, there’s really nothing to fear. So what if the answer is no? It most likely will be! But that doesn’t mean I can’t be positive about it and look at it as a stepping stone! Every pitch and every query is just going to get me closer to my destination.

I’m pretty sure the time I contacted my junior high crush on Facebook years later and he blocked me was a lot more embarrassing and excruciating than getting a simple no from an editor/agent on a query or a pitch. Maybe not, but there’s really only one way to find out.

The advice I was given was to jump in with both feet and that’s what I’m doing.

Time to hold my nose, plunge in feet first, and swim for the surface.

Twitter: @mnvinge

Facebook: @marnievingebooks

Motivation Monday! Week 18

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I love this quote.

I’ve seen it many times and just came across it on Pinterest this morning as I was searching for some words to get me going.

I’ve settled many times in my life. For boys, men who were actually boys, jobs that I hated, friendships that were toxic, and in many other areas of my life. That being said, in the last couple of years since I sought treatment for PTSD, I’ve learned to settle less. I’ve tasted how sweet life can be on the other side of the cage that my experiences had put me in and I’ve realized that my only limitation is myself.

I have a friend that I talk to a lot about dating even though I’ve been out of the dating scene for some time. At one point we were talking about what we were looking for in a guy and she said, “Well, he doesn’t have to be great-looking if he’s got a good personality.” That really struck me.

I remember saying back: “I really want to find a guy that has it all. I’ve had good-looking guys with awful personalities and bad-looking guys with great personalities. I’m sure there’s someone out there who has it all going on and I’d like to meet him.”

Maybe that sounds vapid. Maybe I’m a bitch for wanting a guy who I think is hot. I don’t really care at this point. I’ve paid my dues in that area of my life and in many others. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to have the whole package and not settling for anything less.

This translates to every area of life.

I want to have a career that makes me eager to get out of bed in the morning and a partner that makes me eager to crawl back in at the end of the day. Maybe I’m a fool for believing I could have that, but I’d rather be penniless and alone than have a career I hate and a boyfriend that I only half-love.

Life is too short to love things in halves.

Don’t settle.

Over the next ten years, make choices that bring you closer to your goal and see how that works for you. I guarantee you’ll be happier than you would have been if you had settled.

And P. S. If you think you might have settled, you did.

Work in Progress Wednesday! Belated Week 17

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“Yeah,” I said.

What a boring quote for this Wednesday! I promise what was going on before that was exciting… Well, maybe.

After a font change, I’m sitting at 127 pages and 40,397 words! The 120 page curse is broken! On to bigger and better things!

That’s been the struggle the last two weeks, other than just squeezing in time to write. I’ve been beating myself up thinking that I’m not living up to my potential when it comes to writing but a friend gave me some great advice.

I did a writing exercise that was about 1,000 words long and I was super happy with it! The words flowed, the sentences were spellbinding, and the tension mounted throughout! It had all the qualities that I want this novel to have…that it doesn’t have right now. My friend told me not to stress. She said the small piece was a sprint and the novel is a marathon. Of course in a sprint I would perform better. Things would be quick, tight, and solid. The marathon will be messier, but the good news is that it’s not the final product.

If I’m able to pull that off in a sprint, I’ll be able to pull it off on the polished version of the marathon.

Hopefully that makes sense because it really made me feel better!

Anyway, I better get back to writing and making sure mom is on her CPM (Continuous Passive Motion machine). Time to get to work!

Tuesday Thoughts: Why You Need to Read to Be a Writer

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Lately I’ve seen numerous posts in the various writing groups I’m part of on Facebook and on the forums of Writer’s Digest that say it’s not essential to be a reader in order to be a writer. I want to go on the record as saying this is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. You must read if you want to be a writer.

The argument that people are making is that they don’t want to be “influenced” by other writers. Oh, okay. So you’re so amazing that you don’t want Stephen King or Leo Tolstoy to have a monopoly on your thought process? This may be an unpopular opinion, but if you think like that, there’s a good chance that what you’re writing is crap. Hell, there’s a good chance that what everyone is writing is crap at first. First drafts are meant to be unpolished and where ideas are worked out and the story is told, bare bones; however, that’s an entirely different post.

Back to the topic at hand.

Let’s talk about why reading is imperative for the writing process.

Would you trust a mechanic who refused to drive cars? Or a vegan who insisted on grilling a filet mignon for you? No! Not unless you had no idea what you were getting into, and most readers have a pretty good grasp of what they’re getting into. They know what they like and they know what works and what doesn’t. They recognize talent and they recognize storytelling.

Where do we first learn about story? Usually as a child. It might have been at bedtime or it might have been listening to your grandpa tell you stories about his childhood. It might have been someplace entirely different, but by the time you’re seven years old you know how to tell a story and it’s not by instinct. You learned it. Probably from being read to, told stories, or—ding ding ding—by READING.

It’s been my experience in college and afterwards that it’s painfully obvious when people don’t read anything but the words that they put down on a page. And most of the time it usually sounds like they haven’t even read their own words before they subject the rest of us to an awkward and floundering reading of said words. I’ve witnessed it and it’s not pretty or fun for anyone involved.

If you want to be a writer, my first and most important piece of advice is this: READ. Read in the genre you want to be published in. Read outside of that genre. Read best-sellers. Read unknowns. Find your favorites and dig deeper. Be a critical thinker. What about this story works? What about the way this writer crafts a sentence works? Don’t be an idle reader. Be active. Highlight phrases that strike you. Make notes in the margins. Make it a messy process. Get offended. Learn something. Reading not only makes you a better writer, but a better person in general.

Trust me on this one.

Now go read something.