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Follow routine or be spontaneous?

July 23, 2010

I’m back. At home. In Hawaii. Sounds grande, doesn’t it? I’ve lived here for almost two years and yes, it’s beautiful. It’s where my muse loves to vaca and roll around in the sandy beaches, watch little Japanese golfers run around in pink plaid on the golf course and see crazy birds attack the window screens. Just for a good laugh. But this is also the place where my muse and I have formed a pact to get along and be best friends in our little cave, until the next time I get island fever and jump on a plane and get off the island.

Going from fast paced New York to slow, sluggish Hawaii doesn’t help with having a routine at all. My muse hates New York, because it doesn’t have the time to wake up, enjoy coffee, smell the ocean breezes and frolick around the beaches with my characters. NO, she just runs right back to the airport every time the plane lands on the mainland.

When I’m in New York or California, I follow a strict routine. I go to a day job, get out of work, go home, be an editor for hours, and then allow my muse free reign on whatever she wants to do. It’s like being a divorced parent who can only spend time with their kid when the court deems it. And it’s not very fun and not very fair to her.

But in Hawaii, there’s room to be mischievous and spontaneous at the same time. Every morning, I wake up, make coffee and sit outside on my front porch with my laptop. Swaying palm trees, annoying birds flying over my head, golfers riding their golf carts, and a gorgeous mountainous view greets me every morning. Calm, relaxing, and very very lazy. But I sit here and get serious as the editor in me for hours. I love my job. I love the ability to work with authors, watch them grow and revel along with their success. Then my muse pokes me in the shoulder and glares at me and says, “What about me?”

As dusk falls, my ‘foster family’, muse and I go walking on the golf course with our adorable pup (who’s a terror and chases the golfers and birds once we step foot on the short grass). The walk fuels my muse. And I come home ready to write, until my eyes threaten to close or just eyeballs fall out from staring at the computer screen. My night time is reserved for my muse and she loves it. I love it. The days start to blend together. Monday starts to feel like Friday and everyone is happy, healthy, and smiling. So, I guess in a way, I do follow a routine, once I can get back into it. But there’s always room for spontaneity. I write when the mood strikes. As an editor and freelancer, I’m allowed to take days off when I want. But I do treat my writing career and my editor work like a real job, just as any job should be.

Success requires perseverance, determination, and motivation. And I have all three, except maybe the motivation flees off once in a while. The past three months have been huge for me. With routine, I’ve managed to receive a contract offer from Lyrical (which Bachelor’s Return will be released next year) and also Decadent Publishing (Love By Auction should be out sometime this year). I’ve also received a partial request from Silhouette Romantic Suspense from a conference pitch, and two revision requests for my stories. Yes, I’ve been busy.

On the forefront, I’ve acquired great authors to work with, who give me reason to wake up and look forward to the day.

My adventures have only just begun.

Routine is important for success, but there always need to be room to be spontaneous. Live life a little and enjoy your surroundings and the people around you. You never know what you’ll find with the amount of hard work you put it, but there’s always a reward at the end, even if it’s just a smile or a compliment from someone.

So, what works for you? Do you follow a routine or are you just one to be spontaneous and make things happen when you want it to happen?

Nerves of steel…Pitching experience.

June 28, 2010

The clock rang five minutes before. Sweating hands, mind racing, I picked up my folders and quietly left the conference room. Each step, each raise of the foot, my heart started to pound. I slowly pulled the door open and slipped out. My feet trudged across the carpet, down the hall to the reception desk.

The woman greeted me warmly. “Good luck. You’ll do fine.” She lifted a hand and pointed at the table across the room.

I swallowed hard and forced my feet to move. As I approached the table, dark brown hair peeked over the high back chair. A stack of business cards and a notepad with the hotel pen sat on the shiny mahogany table. The editor stood up and smiled.

My heartbeat skyrocketed, sweat ran down my neck, but I pasted a smile on my face and held out my hand. “Hi, I’m Clarissa.”

Pitching at conferences are scary. I don’t care what people say, but everyone has jitters before each session. I did my first pitch at the Capital Region RWA annual conference the beginning of the month and it was the best experience ever. As a writer and editor myself, I don’t get out of my little cave that often. Okay, never really, but with my travels, I forced myself to attend this function since I was home visiting the parentals and I am so very glad I did.

I walked to that table, shoved on my business thinking cap and got right to business. My hands were shaking, even though I felt power in my newly pressed professional gear. Not one to public speak or get out of my pajamas, I admit it, I was stuttering like an idiot, but the editor was so nice and pleasant. She EVEN tried to calm me. It’s different when doing pitches online in live chat rooms compared to being face to face with a live person. It was great. Now I have an image of the editor and the editor knows I’m also a real person.

After a successful pitch session, I realized I was glad I didn’t chicken out and not do the pitch even though I was tempted to. Pitches are great opportunities to get yourself in front of editors, to allow the editors the chance to get to know you. I had always thought the big New York editors are scary people, but no, they’re just normal people like you who are doing their job, helping you become better writers and giving you a push in the right direction in your journey to publication.

So if ever attending any event that offers the chance to pitch, grab it. AND BE PREPARED. Dig out your power suit, look presentable, and have your pitch memorized until you can recite it naturally. Whether it’s an elevator pitch, a live online pitch or even a face to face pitch, always be prepared. You never know. The big break you’re looking for may be right there.

For those who’s pitched, what has your experience been like? And what have you learned?

Summer is pitch time, so get those pitches ready and make it happen!

Rocky Road…No, not ice cream–Handling disappointments.

May 29, 2010

Chocolate melting in mouth, crunchy textures of nuts, chunky chocolate chips and smooth marshmellows–if only writing was as easy to enjoy.

Publication isn’t a simple feat and with the rise in competition and the change in trends, the industry is ever booming with writers and aspiring authors who look forward to reaching their goals.

There are bound to be many disappointments, but as long as you work hard, there will always be a sense of pride in what you’ve accomplished.

I choose to be optimistic. I think I’d rather grip onto that sense of accomplishment and say that I’ve attempted at something and will see to the end of that goal no matter what it is. Even starting a WIP is a great accomplishment, so open that word doc. Now!–its a start, a step closer than what you had before. Now you just have to forge to the end.

When you put your manuscript in someone else’s hand, it’s like holding your heart out and hoping the receiver will be gentle and give you good news. Sometimes that news isn’t what you want to hear, but you know what? It’d only make you a stronger person–a stronger writer.

Rejections are only a road block that every writer has to overcome and move forward. That’s where the tough skin comes in. Rejections are the ego-deflaters, but the only thing that matters is how well you, as a writer handles them.

My answer: Rocky Road ice cream, lots of chocolate and cake (preferably cupcakes). And wine. (Okay, maybe a little moping but not too much.) Then you start writing again. No excuse.

Disappointments and rejections are just a step in the learning process to publication.

I don’t think there would ever be an end to learning. There’s always room for improvements in a writer’s work and a writer, no matter published or unpublished should continue to make themselves better, no matter what roadblocks they face.

Sure, I’ve had my load of disappointments and rejections. I could remember my first rejection. It was like a knife gutted into my heart that twisted in different directions. Then I tried to be strong and thought to hang it up or frame it on a wall, believing that first rejection would only make me more determined to write. Sure, it did. I forged ahead and the more road blocks I came across, the more times I got knocked to the floor; I wanted to give up, especially when those rejections started to roll in like shocking waves that threatened to drown me. (I can’t swim.) My inflatable ego and dreams were lying pretty low.

But I’m still breathing. And writing. And nothing is going to stop that.

Every tidbit of feedback is a gold mine. It may not seem like much, but it could bring your MS closer to the end. I love giving my authors feedback and I love my CP’s who have only helped make me a stronger writer and editor. But being an editor and writer are two different things. I can never see all my flaws in my own work, which is why it’s important to have writers help writers.

Don’t be discouraged. Or disappointed. Journeys tough, but if you have determination, motivation, and will power and of course perseverance, it’ll happen. Have faith. Have hope.

Have your ice cream or chocolate and get writing!

What’s your excuse? How do you handle disappointments? Does it take one bucket of ice cream or two? LOL.

Should I save it or trash it?

May 20, 2010

You have a gazillion manuscripts sitting in your drawer. Each time you go near that desk, the alarm of dread sounds off in your head. You know you should pick up one of those rejected piece of craps that you’ve slaves hours, days, weeks, and months over. But it’s that alarm that stops you. The drawer opens and you remember that dreaded R that you’d received months ago from an editor.

Don’t be afraid. It is scary. You can open that file on your computer and say to yourself that it such a good story, why didn’t they want it? I think every writer goes through it. The key is being able to realize yourself whether or not that manuscript can be saved since you’ve poured your heart and soul into that story. The characters miss you.

Now that you’ve had a break from that rejected manuscript, it’s time to go back and ask yourself why it was rejected? Did the plot make sense? Were your characters shining through the story or were they just cardboard heads floating around? Or maybe they did something stupid or reacted obnoxiously wrong? Were there motivations and goals achieved or were they just along for the ride?

So many things to think about but it’s great to leave a story alone for a while and see how much you’ve grown as a writer since completing that first story.

My draw is filled, my computer holds file I dread to open but I’ve grown immensely as a writer. Some manuscripts can be saved and only you would know. Or actually a crit partner comes in very handy. I wouldn’t know what to do without my girls.

Every writer has their own unique strength and voice and it’s up to you whether or not you act on making things happen.

I opened an old rejected MS intending to resubmit to another publishing house and rewriting is a lot of hard work, but necessary for anyone who wants to succeed. My story had major character flaws, unbelievable event occurrences, and not enough emotional growth. As a writer and editor, I’m unable to spot my own flaws, but after putting it aside for months, I’ve opened my eyes and worked up the courage to open that particular story up because I know there’s potential.

It’s just how you learn from your mistakes and handle them, how you pick yourself up from rejections and keep writing. Anything is possible.

Do you have an MS you’re afraid to look at? Whip it out! Decide for yourself whether or not it can be saved. Maybe with the right corrections and fixes, it could be a best-seller! Not all pub houses have the same preferences or likes. You never know if you don’t try!

Happy writing!

Is this what I really want to do?

May 5, 2010

There comes a time in a writer’s career that they ask if this is what they really want to do for a living and why they put themselves through so much torture working to crank out stories to succeed in publication. Worse when “R”s start rolling in. It may be a hobby turned sour, but the need to write may still be there.

Being a writer entails many characteristics to survive and move forward, all characteristics that may be hard to come by, but can easily be learned and adapted to.

Determination, Motivation, Perseverance, and Patience.

I’ve heard these words so many times that they are literally tattooed in my mind. But there comes days where you blame your lack of success on your muse or you find that writing is just plain damn hard. It’s normal. My brain knows it’s normal, but the inner critical self doesn’t. The devil side of me tells me to give up, there’s too many writers out there. Yes, it’s true. I read somewhere that there is INDEED a writer in everyone and all those everyone has a desire to be a writer or has some sort of story to tell.

No matter how defeat tries to beat a person up, one should never give up. It’s an open field out there. Anything can happen, if you believe.

So take a deep breath. Do some reflecting. Why do you really want to write? What’s in it for you? What drives you to continue toward your goals as a writer?

Journey in iPad Hell

May 2, 2010
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iPad 3G came out Friday night with a national launch at 5PM for all stores.

And Hawaii was sold out within two hours. How is that possible? I waited and waited since the WiFi iPad came out a month ago, believing that not everyone would want to shell out so much money for an oversized iPhone, but boy was I wrong.

Friday, August 30th, I woke up and called Bestbuy in Aiea. They told me that there was a national launch at 5. I called Bestbuy in Honolulu. They told they didn’t know when they would get any in and didn’t know about the launch. I drove to Bestbuy Aiea around 6:30, sold out an hour ago. Frustrated, I drove all the way to Honolulu and they were sold out half an hour ago, which made me even more mad since the guy didn’t know when they were getting any in. I went home with no iPad.

Saturday, the hunt continues. I went to Apple at ala Moana Mall. They were sold out Friday within an hour. Saturday, they received a shipment that morning, but sold out within two hours of opening. I called the other two Apples stores on the island in Waikiki and Kahala. They were sold out and no stores expected any until Monday.

Hawaii sold out on iPads. I’m living in the wrong place.

I called Bestbuy in New York since my brother informed me in breezed in there on Friday and bought one with no problem. They were sold out and didn’t know when they would get any in. I called the Bestbuy in Saratoga. None. I called Apple at Crossgates Mall, NY. They were sold out, too. I’m willing to fly to New York to pick one up since I’m going there next week, but obviously someone is determined not to sell me an iPad.

I could order online, but then I’d have to wait and I’m not sure where I’ll be yet. So, yes, frustrated.

Why do I want an iPad?

Well, besides for work and having internet wherever I go and I don’t have to carry my heavy laptop with me, it seems practical, but NO. I’ve been waiting a whole year for this thing since I heard about it.

I want to be able to write and edit my assignments wherever I go. Pages and Keynotes are great at an affordable price and now only if they could get Microsoft office and Scrivenor on there, my life would be complete.

I don’t necessary look at the iPad as an e-reader since I have my trusty Sony Daily Edition, but the portable office that the iPad offers is a big draw. Internet pricing is reasonable.

Did anyone but me get an iPad 3G out there? How is it? Will I ever get my hands on one? Or maybe Apple hates me. Writing frustration. Blah.

I’d write, but I have to walk the dog…

April 21, 2010

Procrastination. As much as everyone hates that word, it’s happens. More often than not. There are a million reasons, I’m sure that you can come up with to NOT write: walk the dog, make dinner, take care of the kids, go to work, ‘oh, I’m too tired, maybe tomorrow’ or even the sun is shining so let’s just go out and play.

As an editor and writer, I really don’t have an excuse. I live on a gorgeous island, have the ability to work and write whenever I want, but I find myself staring at the television or just listening to music, drowning out the soothing sounds of palm trees and annoying birds that like to chip at my window. No. There isn’t an excuse.

After mulling over time management and my progress as a writer, there needs to be some priority stated. How bad do you want to write? Do you really want to share your story? Do you want to be published? Or are you just doing this for fun?

No. This is a career and you should treat it as such. Day jobs consist of forty hours a week–okay, maybe forty hours a week of writing may seem surreal since most people have normal jobs, but even if its to write an hour a night or a thousand words a day is a lot closer than NOT writing.

Caught up in the world of social networking which seems like another full time job falls onto time management. The need to turn the internet off for a few hours a day seems to help. You’re really not missing anything and if you did, the world isn’t going to be over because you missed what someone ate for dinner on Twitter.

So my goals against procrastination are: turn internet off for two hours a night and write, blog at least once a week, and get out of cave for a day to relax each week (I have to find an outlet to recharge my batteries and watching TV won’t do that.).

How do you tackle procrastination? What are your writing goals? What excuses should you stop using?